Stage 1 that starts and finishes in Escondido is sure to crush some Tour of California dreams. It most definitely crushed mine.
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Today we pre-rode Stage 1 of the Tour of California which kicks off tomorrow, starting and finishing in Escondido after 103 miles and 11,000 feet of climbing. Thank God I’m not a professional cyclist. Tomorrow’s stage will be a kick in the crotch with steel-toed boots followed by a sucker punch to the face with brass knuckles, all while being conducted in a Bikram Yoga studio thanks to the heat that will be pushing 100 degrees.
I joined the local Escondido cycling club, The Ranchos, and pre-rode the course with a camera in hand to give you a peek at what the peloton is going to be faced with tomorrow. Being that Escondido has been my hometown for the past five years, I’m very familiar with the challenging terrain which has been home to former Tour winners including Chris Horner and Floyd Landis.
There are five notable climbs in tomorrow’s race. After leaving Escondido and dropping into the hotbox of San Pasqual Valley, riders will tackle Highway 78. Normally a total death trap due to no shoulder and the notorious tweekers and drunks driving their lifted pickup trucks between Ramona and Escondido, the peloton should have no problem negotiating this mild climb that gains about 1,000 feet over five or so miles.
Once through Ramona, the road goes slightly uphill for the next 20 or so miles with a few short downhills, hitting Old Julian Highway before rejoining Highway 78 where riders will roll to Santa Ysabel at about 3,000 feet elevation.