Tuesday Nov 24 2009
Old Town Auburn out" Foresthill Bridge in" Tour of California cycle route decision time
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
The Foresthill Bridge is getting some new looks from Amgen Tour of California race officials as they map out the Nevada City-Sacramento bike race’s first leg. But a scenic setting for TV cameras as cyclists ride over the 730-foot-high span near Auburn could come with a price. With plans for the route still up in the air, Old Town Auburn may be bypassed. Duane Strawser, racing proponent and owner of the Tour of Nevada City Bicycle Shop, said since the announcement last month that the tour’s first stage would start in Nevada City and finish in Sacramento, he’s been supporting a route through Auburn. He’s been working with organizers on the route and logistics. One of the keys for the stage moving through Auburn would be the stunning visual imagery of racers in their colorful jerseys cycling en masse across the pea-green Foresthill Bridge hovering above the American River canyon. But that route hadn’t been included in initial test rides, which included pro cyclists and cycling journalists taking a 100-miles-plus excursion through Colfax to Iowa Hill and Foresthill before coming through Downtown and Old Town Auburn. Now, routing the tour along the Foresthill Bridge could mean some parts of the initial route tour organizers were looking at may be left off the final map, including Old Town Auburn. “There are definitely changes being made in potential routes,” Strawser said. “It’s still going to include Auburn and I’m urging them to include the Old Town section.” The latest route test riders are looking at would turn at Colfax and travel through Meadow Vista, cutting about 20 miles off the course. “Iowa Hill is out but they’re not sure how they’re going to have the route through Auburn,” Strawser said. “They’re now looking at going along the Foresthill Bridge and then into the American River canyon. After that it’s unclear where they go (either up Highway 49 to Salmon Falls Road in El Dorado County or through Auburn along Auburn Folsom Road).” The May 16 first leg also appears to have expanded to include a ride for amateur cyclists along the same route, Strawser said, couching his remarks with the proviso that nothing has been set. Strawser, organizer of the Tour of Nevada City and a leader in the successful drive to have Nevada City at the start of this May’s tour, said he’s been a proponent of including Auburn in the ride from the start. “To me, it’s the right thing to do as a neighbor,” Strawser said. “And from a logistical standpoint, it’s a good central hub, where the race could take off in various directions.” Harvey Roper, owner of Downtown Auburn’s Roper’s Jewelers and a supporter of the tour coming through Auburn, said that whatever route organizers decide on, he knows the city is willing to work with them to create a safe, fun stage through the area. “We also have a multitude of volunteers who are willing to help,” Roper said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to be part of a great event.” Strawser said that with several routes still being looked at, organizers are scrambling to keep cycling teams happy while trying to fit in a ride along the route before the Nevada City-Sacramento stage for amateur cyclists. This week, two Tour of California staff members from Southern California will be driving routes with a Global Positioning System to better make a final decision, he said.