Rain won’t stop Amgen’s Tour of California Auburn start

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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With rain in the forecast and a chill in the air, Auburn is awaiting its Amgen Tour of California moment in the sun Tuesday. And while the National Weather Service isn’t forecasting any rays to poke through at the 10:15 a.m. start time for the 3rd phase of the cycling classic from Auburn’s Central Square, spectators like Christian Valley’s David Holloway aren’t going to let a few sprinkles – or a shower for that matter – rain on their Amgen parade. “You can’t rely on the weather to keep you from doing a lot of things,” Holloway said Monday. The race’s Stage 1 at Lake Tahoe was cancelled Sunday because of icy road conditions and Monday’s second-stage start was moved from Tahoe to Nevada City because of the continuing danger to cyclists. Amgen race officials have consistently expressed confidence this week in light of the higher-altitude snow cancellation that any rain won’t stop the 190 Amgen tour racers from taking off Tuesday morning from Auburn for Modesto. “Rain doesn’t affect the ride,” said Auburn Police Capt. John Ruffcorn, organizing committee chairman. “As for as whether they ride or not, snow doesn’t normally have an impact either. The issue was ice on the road and the danger to riders.” But the people who have been making plans for an influx of up to 30,000 race watchers into Auburn have now been dealt a wild card during a time of year that is usually sunny and warm. Linda Robinson, Old Town Business Association, said Monday that the rain Sunday had already washed out the twice-yearly antiques street fair. With the possibility of more rain Tuesday, Robinson said event participants should be in the moment and ready for anything Mother Nature can throw their way. Old Town walls have been decorated with old bicycles bought for $150 from a junk lot in Colfax and the city has painted a giant white “Endurance Capital of the World” sign on a stretch of Sacramento Street leading out of the rustic business district. Stands were being put up Monday in both Downtown and Old Town in anticipation of not only locals turning out but an influx of visitors. “This is one thing we don’t know how to handle (the weather) because we’re not in charge,” Robinson said. The weather bureau office in Sacramento is forecasting a 70 percent chance of rain both Tuesday morning and afternoon in Auburn, with temperatures dipping to an unseasonal 48 degrees. Meteorologist Johnnie Powell said the skies should be mostly cloudy all day and winds could whip up to 20 mph. Unlike Sunday’s storms, no lightning or thunder is in the forecast, though, he said. At Sierra Moon Goldsmiths in Old Town, co-owner John Lynch has been inspired to create bicycle-themed pendants and bracelets, hoping that visitors would linger and shop after the morning start. “I think we have a lot to offer for people from out of town who perhaps have passed us by while driving on the freeway but are coming here for Amgen,” Lynch said. “I know how much time has been put into this effort.” Lifelong Auburn resident Marty McCortney said he’ll be another local resident watching the start, rain or shine. “It’s really nice to see big, high-profile stuff like this finally in Auburn,” McCortney said. “It’s going to help the small businesses who can capitalize on a good turnout, even if the weather’s kind of nutty.” McCortney said that with the recent work to beautify the Downtown area and attracting Amgen, the city has done a good job to improve the area, especially in a down economy. “Hats off to the city,” he said. “They’ve done their part to help give Auburn a higher profile.”