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Old Town Auburn feels the Amgen spirit

Race could bring benefit to business in the future, owners say
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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Old Town Auburn spectators showed their love for the Amgen Tour of California Tuesday morning. Stage 3 of the race started at 10:25 a.m. Tuesday, and Old Town was ready with its cowbells and cheers. Some local businesses felt the event could have a positive affect on the community in the long run. Auburn resident Van Cummings, who was watching the race with family members, said he was excited to see the cyclists come through the city. “I saw the clip on what Auburn was doing to get them to come here,” Cummings said. “I was pretty impressed. It looked like a great idea, and it’s good for the community.” Linda Robinson, president of the Old Town Business Association, was wearing a cow hat and passing out cowbells to spectators, urging the crowd to root for Team Old Town. The Old Town crowd was a smaller one, according to some, but race attendees lined both sides of Sacramento Street in anticipation of seeing their favorite riders and teams. Robinson said before the cyclists arrived that this year’s stage start reminded her of seeing the Tour come through Auburn as a pass-through city last year. “It is so exciting when you hear the whirl of those tires,” she said. “I started crying. I couldn’t hold it back. It’s an overwhelming feeling you can’t control.” As the cyclists came down Lincoln Way to Sacramento Street for the first time there was a split second where the crowd seemed to hold its breath before bursting into cheers, shaking their cowbells enthusiastically. The blur of team colors blended together as the cyclists made their way up the Sacramento Street hill to continue on their lap, followed by team cars carrying spare bicycles. Those watching continued to cheer as the cars rolled through. Heather Olson, who works in Old Town, said seeing the cyclists ride by was exciting. “I guess having so many athletes that have worked so hard and dedicated so many hours to the sport, it’s amazing to see so many of them riding through Old Town. It’s energizing. It’s wonderful that Old Town can be a part of it. The roads are a little bit wet, and it’s slippery, but (the cyclists) see through that.” Auburnite Diane Davey, who works at Serendipity on Sacramento Street, said she was most looking forward to cheering on the riders. “I think it’s great,” Davey said. “I think because we are a small community, and we still have that small town feel to it (Old Town is an ideal place for the race).” Colfax resident Francine Parr said she was happy to experience the Tour, something she had never seen in person before. “I have never seen a race before,” Parr said. “It’s exciting. It’s just another highlight of my life. It’s fun to have something going on in my hometown, too.” El Cerrito residents Sharon and Victor Lewis took the week off to follow the Tour. “We have seen it on TV,” Victor Lewis said. “We watch the big grand tours every year and it was a nice way to follow it without actually having to go to Europe. As a cyclist it’s nice to see them cycling on some of the roads I ride on. It’s fun to see the peloton as well.” Auburn was an ideal place for the race, Victor Lewis said. “We really like Old Town Auburn,” he said. “We spend a lot of time up here in the neat shops and restaurants. It reminds me of the occasional times I have been in Europe, the small town feel of some of the towns in Europe. So, it’s kind of like the Tour de France.” Auburn resident Jill Carson, who said she participated in the Breakaway from Cancer walk in Downtown Auburn Tuesday morning, said it was thrilling to see the cyclists. “It was absolutely beautiful,” Carson said. “I loved it, and I live down here. It’s quick but quite entertaining. I took a video and took pictures.” John Lynch, co-owner of Sierra Moon Goldsmiths on Sacramento Street, said he thought the crowd was smaller because the race took place during the week and there was drizzly weather. “But they were very vocal, and it was exciting to see the cyclists go by,” Lynch said. Lynch said while he doesn’t expect a huge group of people to rush into his store because of the race, he thinks it will be good for Auburn. Ralph Osborne, owner of South of the Border on Sacramento Street, said he had a couple out-of-town customers come into his shop Tuesday, but there wasn’t a heavy flow. “Long term we will benefit,” Osborne said. “Short term, it didn’t mean much. It keeps Auburn on the map. I think it’s got to be a boost for the community, no question. It’s just great to have more people than fewer.” Doug Cahill, Bike Auburn community volunteer director, was riding his bicycle Tuesday, making sure there were enough volunteers staffing the event. “The feedback has been really positive from folks with Amgen and from the community that walked by today,” Cahill said. “The volunteers were spectacular. We had a great turnout despite the weather. No major glitches. We want to do it again. All the volunteers said, ‘Let’s come back again, baby.’” Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com