More Cowbell: AMGEN Goes Santa Ynez

Fans'll ring the bells as the world's top cyclists zoom past.

THERE MAY BE A ZIPPIER SPORT... than pro bicycling, but we're not sure that we know it. Take the fact that you spend much of the morning lining up your roadside location, your binoculars, your water, your hat, and then? Froooooooom. There go the bright jerseys, the spinning spokes, and the frenetic energy rises for a minute, among the people watching. And would the people watching do it all again? Show up at the same road-close spot next year to see some of the most celebrated cyclists in the world frooooooom by? Definitely, and fans do, year after year. And when it comes to AMGEN Tour of California, a number of people show up at multiple road-close locations at all or nearly ever stage of the race. "Spectator Info" is front-and-centered on the mondo race's site, and cycling buffs open up their schedules and gas up their cars, the better to follow the competitors around the Golden State from May 11 through May 18. And while each town along the way will have its own convivial welcome, the people of the Santa Ynez Wine Country will have their cowbells out, ready to ring, "a European and Solvang traditions."

ONE OF THE BEST SPOTS... to watch from wine country is "the corner of Foxen Canyon Road & Highway 154 in Los Olivos," says a representative of the region. The date? Thursday, May 15. The stage? Stage 5. The route? Riders'll be pedaling at top speeds from Pismo Beach to Santa Barbara. Is the San Marcos Pass involved? You bet it is. You're also invited to bring your own cowbell -- BYOCB, in short -- so line one of those up if you don't have one at home. (But of course you have your own cowbell, right? A whole line of 'em?) For all the info on all the stages, read on, AMGEN aficionados. The ride starts in Sacramento and winds it all up in Thousand Oaks on May 18.

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