If you haven’t checked out my week’s preview of the Tour of California, you can find a link here.
Hey 818, there’s never been a stage before to get as excited for as Stage 2 of this year’s race.
It’s one thing to touch down in the SFV, but another to hit one of our iconic roads.
Little Tujunga is on this year’s docket and is one of my most favorite climbs in the southland.
Let’s head up Angeles Crest Highway!
It’s quiet, challenging, serene and now the best riders in the world are going to tear it up!
Before I get all googly about it, let me cover the whole stage, because there is a lot to like.
First of all, the day will cover 92 miles of racing with 11,300 feet of climbing. That’s a lot of vertical for that amount of distance.
The ride starts out with a neutral start from South Pasadena, which is a good thing since they’ll be rolling across the frequently traveling Metro Gold Line. Smart move, because you don’t want this to happen mile one:
They’ll be turning onto the steepest portion of the Angeles Crest Highway to start their 8 mile climb before they reach the Clear Creek junction.
It stays for a pretty steady 6-8% grade for the majority of the climb save for a little reprieve in the middle.
Clear Creek is a popular rest stop for local cyclists.
While the peloton will maintain a steady pace, I expert somewhere along this stretch for the yellow jersey leader to call a pee break and the breakaway to form a 3-4 minute lead.
After the first KOM points of the day, they’ll turn left onto Angeles Forest Highway where they’ll start a 25 mile loop that faces a chance of sabotage since I have some Strava recognition somewhere along this stretch.
AFH has a nice downhill in the middle bookended by a couple of false flats before they turn onto one of my favorite roads, Upper Big Tujunga Road.
Upper Big T is one of my all-time favorite roads.
Not only is it perfectly paved in the middle of gorgeous scenery, but there’s rarely a time I come across another car out there. Look above. Why even two lanes?
The road gets progressively steeper as you go along, but the final section after a hairpin turn never seems that bad with the shifting of the winds.
After passing another KOM checkpoint, the riders will return back onto ACH with a series of rollers before they’ll be shredding the downhill past Red Box.
They’ll then finish the loop turning again onto AFH before making their way down Big Tujunga Road. It never seems to be that much fun going down because you forget about the little inconvenient hills that make you work along with the crosswinds.
At the bottom, they’ll officially make their way into the San Fernando Valley where we’ll see some of the top teams put in work to bring back some time on the breakaway.
After TV coverage gets some shots of grazing horses, they’ll make their way onto one of my favorite climbs, Little Tujunga.
The road rises very slowly with a couple of punchy inclines to keep you awake. If the breakaway wants to maintain their lead, they’re really going to have to work hard across this stretch.
So much loneliness/pain/joy on Little T
After the last downhill section, a small bridge welcomes you to a steady 2.2 miles of climbing at a steady 7.5%. This is a tough, but fun portion as your joy will come once you find your tempo.
It’s at the top of the first peak where I think is the best vantage point for cycling fans, as you’ll get a good mile view of the leaders coming up.
Over the top, riders will take in a number of sharp turns, but what I’m curious about is the final one which as a quick right turn I have always found deceiving.
After flattening out briefly, the riders will be greeted to a short, but steep 1.4 mile climb that gets called as Cat 2 climb for averaging 7.6% upward.
This is the last major climb of the day and I expect a lot of fans to be at the top of Bear Divide, but I don’t think they’ll get as much of a view as they wish.
My only regret is that they didn’t turn left onto the Santa Clarita Truck Trail to finish up at Camp 9, but then again, with all the fire helicopters leaving for duty, maybe that’s a good thing.
It would have been cool if the stage ended as those blades were spinning. Just saying…
Continuing on, the descent is fast and remembering how many times I’ve smelt the friction coming from braking carbon wheels, I expect the chase to be full on with the last twenty miles, seeing the peloton blast at high speeds, save for a couple of spots on the Old Highway.
I really hope with the firepower coming from the top end classics riders that a breakaway will stick, but they’ll have a great distance to cover with the hope of fending off a peloton.
It should come down to a sprint finish in Santa Clarita, but who am I to complain? The Valley will get plenty of air time and a lot of people will be exposed to a couple of our great climbs.
Will you see CiclaValley out on the course? How else would I keep my name?