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Organizers reflect on Amgen

Sound system, earlier orientation possible changes, Bike Auburn members say
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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Even though the cyclists have left Auburn, the enthusiasm behind the city’s Stage 3 start of the Amgen Tour of California was still in the air Wednesday. Capt. John Ruffcorn, chairman of the Bike Auburn organizing committee, said he was pleased with the way the event went off. “I think it was a great day for Auburn,” Ruffcorn said. “We couldn’t control the weather, but everything we had control of, the plans, the decisions that were made, in my opinion they were all perfect. I think as we were setting up yesterday, Amgen was basically watching how we treated and checked in our volunteers. They made (positive) comments to the fact that this doesn’t happen in other cities. Again, it was precision in motion.” Ruffcorn said he was told about 10,000 people came out to celebrate the race. There are some things Ruffcorn said he would have liked to have done differently. “There are a lot of things we could have done to enhance our planning efforts,” he said. “I would have liked to have seen our Jumbotron have a sound system so people around the corner on Lincoln Way could have heard what was being said on the stage. We have an airport in our community. I thought it would have been a nice touch to have a fly over after the national anthem. But I think if you look at the entire event from a global perspective, I think it went pretty well. Obviously we didn’t make everyone happy, but I think the city should be happy.” Ruffcorn said his favorite part of the day was the Breakaway from Cancer walk that happened before the race. Doug Cahill, Bike Auburn community volunteer director, said although not all volunteers turned out, the process still ran smoothly after a few adjustments. “I think reflecting on just specifically the volunteer piece … we saw about a 65 percent turnout, which we were pretty happy with considering the day,” Cahill said. “We had a couple of things we had to reassign because people didn’t show and they were going to be in leadership positions. I think in terms of VIP everything went stellar. Everybody made it from the VIP support group.” Cahill said he would have done a couple of things differently including having volunteers sign an electronic waiver that could be submitted directly to Amgen officials, because some volunteers didn’t bring their waivers with them. Cahill said it would have also been better to hold the volunteer orientation closer to the day of the race, so the information was fresher in everyone’s minds. Cahill said he thought the volunteers hit it out of the park, and his favorite part of the day was seeing them all so excited about the race. “I was on my bike, and I rode from the far reaches of town, one side of town to the other,” he said. “I was asking all the volunteers, ‘Are you OK?’ And they were all giving me thumbs up at every single place. All of them were just excited and ready to go … so that was the positive part of my day. The race was good, too.” Cahill said if Auburn were to try to secure another spot in the Tour, it might try for a finish city. “A start city, it’s a whirlwind … and people don’t get a chance to schmooze very much,” he said. “If we are going to go to anything, we would sure like to go for being a finish city, I think.” Guillermo Velasco, of Denver, Colo., was still in Auburn Wednesday after visiting the city for the race. Velasco said he saw his first live bicycle race in 1985. “I just love cycling,” he said. “I started following cycling when I was a kid.” Velasco said the Tour of California riders are very pleasant, and Auburn hosted them with a celebration that rivals the Tour de France, which Velasco said he has seen in person. “They are very approachable,” he said. “This is a sport where riders are extremely approachable. They are not Hollywood stars like football or baseball players. They are just regular dudes. I think (Auburn’s Stage 3 start) was great. A lot of European cities should come back and take a look at Auburn, the way they did it. It was better organized than some of the Tour de France stages.” Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com