Was the Amgen Tour of California prologue better than 41 Kings games?
Lance Armstrong and I have only one thing in common: Our bikes were stolen in Sacramento this past weekend.
Armstrong’s one-of-a-kind time-trial ride was jacked along with three other team Astana bicycles on Saturday; my ’84 Raleigh with a busted left cotter pin was jacked near J and 20th streets. His probably cost over $10,000; I found mine, abandoned. Rewards are on the table. (Lance, I feel your pain and will gladly track down the scum on your behalf, Boba Fett style.)
Anyway, Saturday’s Amgen Tour of California prologue in Midtown was unforgettable. Front-row seats were not only plentiful, they also were free. There was no $10 parking or Slamson or overpriced taco salads. The prologue drew close to 100,000 attendees; the average Kings attendance for this season is 12,358, worst in the NBA. It was also Second Saturday, which draws 15,000 a pop during the summer.
Basically, Sacramento doesn’t need a new Kings arena. We need 41 events that’ll get the locals to converge on Midtown/downtown en masse, just like the Amgen tour. This is the future.
For many, the day began well before 9 a.m. Two women already had lawn chairs planted at the southeastern most corner of the race, 19th and N streets. Volunteers hadn’t yet set up orange fencing and it was barely 50 degrees, so the women seemed crazy, but by 2 p.m. I’m sure they were stoked, cyclists flying by at near-40 mph speeds just inches away.
My day as spectator began on the 19th Street leg at a house party, the kind of shindig where as soon as you stepped on the porch, someone made sure there was a Simple Times in your hand. A guy said he hoped to see a big crash, but someone explained that today was a solo-ride time trial. He seemed bummed and confused—as were most onlookers, who expected a large peloton caravanning through Midtown.
This format, however, allowed time for walking the entire course, taking in the different vibes. Where 19th and N was house-party chill, L Street and 19th was VIP: a wealth of European out-of-towners; penthouse views; bros perched over L Street atop a loft overhang, the proverbial When Good Times Go Bad seating. Dogs marked up Midtown like taggers. The crowds grew stronger further west on L until 10th Street, where streets were shut down for the main attraction.
Midtown is the new Kings arena, no doubt.
Around 3:40 p.m., the N Street crowd blew up as Armstrong’s entourage—cops on motorbikes, security cyclists, some six vehicles and the man himself—approached. He cut north at 19th, up off his seat and pumping, and like that was gone.
I’ve never seen locals go so crazy over an athlete like they did for Lance. (Sorry, C-Webb.)
The highlights on TV were like watching scenes from Spain or France, and commentators on Versus likened the mob to any scene from Barcelona or Lyon.
Like clockwork, at 4 p.m. the day was over and the crowd dispersed into the grid. And, after threatening all day, it started to drizzle.