Tour of California Viewing Spots -- Suggestions?

The Tour of California will cover a lot of new ground this year. Feel free to send suggestions my way. I've outlined some of my spots I've used in the past based on previous experience. I usually finalize my plans for the next stage the night before or even the morning of -- you never know what opportunities come your way at the last second. I generally look for 2-3 prime stops to stop at along the course to shoot photos, or even just 1 stop if there's a can't miss location. Some people can do two or even three times as many stops, but I like to keep my sanity.

As a general outline:

  • Prologue: short course, not much planning required
  • Stage 1: I'll probably be shooting in Santa Rosa all day to catch the womens' criterium. Santa Rosa shows up for the ToC so I'm sure the festivities this year are worthwhile.
  • Stage 2: Golden Gate plus one other location, possible chosen from Fritz's excellent Santa Cruz Shooting Locations Guide. This is the only chance to shoot Pacific Coast Highway this year, so it's hard to pass up.
  • Stage 3: Sierra Road plus somewhere else? Sierra Road is not likely to be the shooting spot it has been in past years due to the proximity to the start
  • Stage 4: Entirely new route, who knows?
  • Stage 5: Another new route, who knows?
  • Stage 6: Solvang classic -- I personally like shooting in the scenic Los Olivos. There's farms, windmills, trees, and vineyards. Lots of people like shooting the climb, though I'm looking for doing side profile shots instead of head-on this year.
  • Stage 7: The route just after Santa Clarita is a really interesting rocky landscape. The top of Millcreek Summit itself is rather boring. They do enough laps around Pasadena that you can follow the race into the city, park, and see the finish if you're efficient.
  • Stage 8: Palomar is obvious, but the key is where. From the AV list I found a couple of links that the El Camino Bike Shop put up for Stage 8:

related articles: Tour of California Tour of California 2009
tags: (11) (126)

Comments (12)

I like your list. I'm wondering what your thoughts are on the GG bridge viewing? With the parking lots closed @ midnight, what's the best way to get onto the bridge, and then off quickly to make it down to Santa Cruz? :)

Also, on Sierra Road, are you thinking that since its so close to the start the field won't have fragmented yet? Do you think Patterson Pass may be a better shooting location? I was thinking of trying to do the climb up Sierra near the summit, then trying to get down and around back to the finish in Modesto - am I crazy? :)

My plan for Monday from the GG Bridge -- I'll be on bike and meet my wife, who will be parked in the city somewhere with easy access to Hwy 280. I'm working on timings, so I don't know yet if Tunitas Creek will work before hitting downtown Santa Cruz. Definitely a lot of good shooting spots along Highway 1 where it's close to the coast -- for me, probably close to Davenport before I race the 10 miles back to Santa Cruz on my bicycle for the finish.

Stage 5 Visalia to Paso Robles -- the scenery is pretty sparse, and the tour completely bypasses the most interesting scenery in Kern County, which is the huge Lost Hills Oil Field. Just west of I-5 the cyclist will cross then parallel the California Aqueduct for a little while, which can look interesting if shot under a blue sky. There are pretty good grades approaching Paso Robles with somewhat interesting rock formations for backdrops.

You won't believe this: Google Streetview extends even into rural Kern County (along Stage 5).

At least the rain will turn those hills a little green.


@Chris: I'm not sure what the best way on-off the GG is going to be. I'm planning on winging it and parking my car where ever I can; it's the photo way. As for Sierra, yes, I think that it's just going to be a single wall of riders going up together. I could be wrong, but there's really no reason for them to string it out. I imagine that someone like Nydam will go off the front to go for KOM points, but that's it. Patterson Pass may be better, but also, unlike in year's past, there's not much incentive to push it because there's no way you can hold a break until Modesto. I'll probably shoot Sierra myself, keeping in mind that the goal will be a good group shot instead of a bunch of individuals.

@Fritz: thanks for the Visalia/Paso Robles info. Paso Robles is always beautiful, so hopefully the shots pick up there.


Hey Ken. Really looking forward to seeing your pics next week. Good luck out there.

kwc Author Profile Page:

Thanks Isaac! Should be fun.

So for Sierra Road, any suggestions on parking? I'm assuming we can't drive up and park anywhere along the road (I've never been there)... do we have to park at the bottom and walk/ride up?


kwc Author Profile Page:

@Chris: yes, park at the bottom and ride on up. It's easy to find parking near the bottom if you have a bike. There's a shopping center nearby and I've usually been able to get street parking right at the bottom without a hitch. The steep section at the start of the climb will get your heart racing, so take it easy there.

Sierra Road should be interesting next week -- extended forecast shows a strong storm system moving in about next Monday/Tuesday. Wind, heavy rain, probably snow on Mt Hamilton.

Chris Callanan:

The whole race looks like rain... may not be pleasant viewership... :)

Chris Callanan:

I've been at the first 3 days so far..... 1 more day to go for me....

Check out :

Stage 1 (lots of rain prevented any good shots...)

Stage 2

Chris Callanan:

Stage 3 Sierra Road, Patterson Pass, and the Finish...

Post a comment