Stage 2 of the Amgen Tour of California passed through town today. It actually was the first stage of the race because Stage 1 was cancelled yesterday due of the dangerous snowy conditions at Lake Tahoe. The second stage was shortened, too, because of weather and instead of starting at Squaw Valley, it started in Nevada City two hours after the original scheduled start. We arrived at the corner of Pleasant Grove Rd. and Riego Rd. near the levee in Sutter County more than an hour before the Break and the Peloton were due to arrive. We barely found a place to park. The cars were lined up in the one parking area at the corner which I discovered yesterday and stupidly thought no one would know about. A lone CHP motorcycle officer was stationed at the intersection. There were lots of cameras mounted on tripods and one enterprising person affixed a digital HD video camera to a sign post facing Pleasant Grove Rd, down which the cyclists would be riding before turning onto Riego Rd.
We followed the action on the Amgen Tour of California App on my iPhone so we knew that the Break, four riders out in front of the Peloton, were about 3 minutes ahead of the Peloton and we could guess about when they would arrive. Two groups of a few riders passed by us but no one could figure out who they were. Since we were following the race on my iPhone, we knew they weren’t the real racers but everyone took pictures anyway. When the news helicopters arrived we knew they were close. CHP motorcycles, CHP cars and CHP SUVs passed by, seemingly again and again. I hope it was the same guys circling because if it wasn’t I think I know where some of the problem with California’s budget lies! Then an Amgen truck arrived and a guy with a push broom swept debris from the turn. Finally, an official Amgen car with a speaker mounted on top stopped at the corner and thanked everyone for gathering and told us the Break would be arriving in a few minutes followed by the Peloton in another few minutes.
The Break whizzed by and were gone almost before I could take a photo. I had positioned myself on the north west side of the street, after the turn. I snapped a couple of photos as they rode toward the turn, then as they turned, and as they rode away. All in 20 seconds. I just held my breath and hoped for the best. I had read advice about photographing bicycle racing and the two things I remembered were to keep a short focal length because you can always crop later, and a large aperture to get the best chance of distinguishing the riders from the background.
Less than two minutes later, the Peloton swooped by. I photographed them on Pleasant Grove Rd. before the turn, coming around the turn, riding by me, whizzing away, and in the distance snaking out along onto E. Levee Road. This took less than a minute.
When the Peloton whooshed by, the wind they generated almost knocked me back. I was astonished at the velocity of it. I stood on the shoulder of the road and could have reached out and touched the riders. The photo I chose today makes it look as if I were standing in the middle of them.
Focal Length 135mm