Sunday, December 30, 2007

Balcom Canyon- Tour de Francis Feb-2007

A look back at the 2007 February Tour de Francis. If you didn't go last year, perhaps these photos will persuade you to make it this year.

Above: AdoboVelo boys at the KOM at Balcom Cyn
This was an easy 80-mile ride from Castaic to Balcom Canyon and back, along Highway 126. It coincided with the 6th stage of the Tour of California.
Above: Route from Castaic to Balcom Cyn, and back
The highlight is Balcom Canyon Road, a very steep hill (with some pitches of 20%+), where the Tour of California's "King of the Mountain" competition was marked.
Above: GoogleEarth image of Balcom Canyon. The white line with red dots is 1 mile long. The steep section starts in the middle. If you're going to do it in front of the gathering spectators, and you're not a strong rider, suggest that 5 miles before reaching Balcom Cyn Rd, take it easy (in other words, reserve your strength).

The AdoboVelos and other participants of the Tour-de-Francis stopped at Balcom Canyon, and waited (partied?) for 2 hours along with hundreds of other like-minded cycling spectators, waiting for the peloton to arrive. The scene was like Alpe d'Huez.

At Balcom Canyon Road, people were having good wholesome fun barbequeing and playing music.
Above: It's still early, spectators are starting to gather at Balcom Cyn Road

Above: Balcom Canyon Road packed with spectators and tail-gate parties.

Spectators in full cycling kits would go up and down Balcom Canyon Road just for fun. (If you're going to do it in front of everyone, make sure you have the lungs and legs, because it's embarrassing to run out of steam in the middle of the climb and walk.)
Above: Wannabe's in full kits went up and down the hill repeatedly.

Above: Moe taking photos of Adobo boys posing at the KOM placard.
Above: Fans take up position in the slopes and atop RV's

Above: Fans stood on trucks to get a better view

It's also a great place to meet friends. Adobo's met Rosalie there.
Above: At left is Rosalie, before she was an Adobo. L-R: Rosalie (in Amgen jersey), Mang El, Albert, Kuya Abe, Louie R., Efren, Ramon, Deo

It's also a chance to bond and swap stories with fellow cyclists.
Above: Very happy to be at Balcom. L-R: Tour director Francis, Mike G., Jeff S.

Above: L-R Mang El, Jaimer, Roy, Ramon, Efren (with the beard), Henry, Cheryl (seated) and another rider

Above: Vendors gave away cowbells, t-shirts, cycling magazines, balloons. Francis Jr spars with Vince.

Above: Cheryl poses with the venerable Mang El while Regina looks on

Above: Waiting for the peloton, at the KOM marker.

Finally, the peloton arrives! The spectators go wild when they finally see the peloton enter into view, at the start of the climb.

Above: The Pros start climbing.

To spectators who had themselves tried the hill on a bike, at 3MPH to 5 MPH, it was amazing to see the Pros go up the hill so fast, probably twice the speed of the wannabe's. But even then you could see the pros swaying their bikes left-and-right like they were having difficulty.
Above: The Pros are unbelievable up the steep sections.

But first, you have to get to Balcom Canyon. The TOUR DE FRANCIS group started at Castaic's Del Valle County Park at 7AM, which is 40 miles from Balcom Canyon. About 30 riders went.
Above: TdF starting Line, Castaic, 7AM

Then they biked about 30 miles along Hwy 126, a flat course, and 10 miles in the gentle hills. Only Balcom Canyon is the difficult section, and that's only 1/2 long.

Above: Hwy 126 (connecting Castaic to Fillmore and Sta Paula)

The road conditions along Hwy 126 were excellent.
Above: Jaimer having a blast
The scenery was beautiful.
Above: Efren and Mang El working in the front.
The air quality was great.
Above: Edgar O. pulling this group

At Balcom Canyon, vehicles were not allowed to enter after a certain time. This was a problem for the TdF's SAG volunteers, because they needed to deliver food an drinks to the top of Balcom where the Adobos riders were waiting. So the SAG cars had to park at the bottom of Balcom, and carry the things uphill for a mile. We should be very grateful to them: Francis and his 2 kids, Albert and Dong Javier, Allan Messara, Ricky Herrera, Regina.

Because of them, the AdoboVelo's TdF "party" was excellent.
Above: Checking out the bikes at Balcom Cyn

Above: Having fun at Balcom Cyn

Above: Camaraderie at Balcom Cyn

Above: Francis' 2 kids having fun

Above: Pete says "What are you looking at, me, or something else?"

Above: Just chatting

Above: Chatting some more

Above: Super-clown at Balcom Cyn

Then the pros arrived. Above: Super-Clown runs alongside the pros at Balcom Cyn

Above: The Discovery Channel boys

In yellow was Levi.
Above: Levi on Julich's wheel

At the KOM, the Discovery boys were pulling Levi.
Above: Levi following his team-mate in Discovery kit

Above: Adobos watch the pros wheeze by at Balcom Cyn

Above: What a show !
Above: Tony Cruz

Above: Fans line up the street

After the "show", it was time to get back to Castaic, where a complete feast was waiting, care of Francis.
Above: A feast awaited the TdF riders at Castaic

Above: The SAG volunteers: Emre, Regina, Francis, his daughter, Ricky, Allan

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