HIGH-ELEVATION ACTION: The wonderful thing about a state-wide bicycle race, or at least a tour that takes in several legs of California, from the shores to the deserts and mountains, is that a fan of spoke-hot whizz-bys can choose the backdrop in which to enjoy the sport. Want to see the AMGEN Tour of California pedal through the northern Gold Country region? Find yourself a spot along the Nevada City to Lodi route during Stage 2 on May 11. Have to be near the sand? Then Stage 4 is for you, which is all about the scenic wend from Pismo Beach to Avila Beach. Or you say you like the mountains, and need to stick closer to Southern California?
YOU'RE IN LUCK: There is a mountain situation in the AMGEN Tour -- hello, Big Bear -- and it does happen to be within shouting distance, or at least a couple of hours' driving distance, from San Diego, Los Angeles, and the desert cities. May 15 is the date, the scene is Big Bear Lake, and it is the tour's Individual Time Trial with "a one-of-a-kind waterfront finish" for the participants. Will there be "thousands of fans" waiting to welcome the riders? You bet. Will a lot of spectators just want to bunk down atop the mountain, given that it is a Friday night and the weekend'll be opening for both locals and the many AMGEN fans? Again, you bet.
THERE ARE RESTAURANT DEALS, luckily, for any finish-line fans looking to make a night of it. The upshot? Book lodging in Big Bear -- be sure the hotel or property is participating first -- and "receive discount wrist bands for everyone in your party." The deals are at restaurants and businesses around the community, so look for 15% off your bill at Bistro at The Mansion and 10% off an Action Segway Tour. The full rundown of cycling fan-oriented discounts can be found by pedaling this way. But if you're planning to stay the night up the mountain on May 15, best lift the kickstand on that plan. A lot of other AMGEN enthusiasts are thinking in that direction, too.