10 Long Years

Just as 2015 marks the 10th year of racing with PRO on my license, this is also the 10th anniversary of the Amgen Tour of California. With that, a rousing round of applause goes out to the organization, sponsors, teams, riders, and fans who have made this such a staple of not just the domestic race calendar, but that of the entire ProTour.For those of you who have paid close attention to my schedule this year, you noticed a swap-a-roo from originally being slated for the Giro d'Italia but then to the Tour of California. This happened for a variety of reasons, coincidentally none of which I was a part of, but as I've been saying for years: until you're actually lined up on a start line, take any race roster you see with a hefty grain of salt. Furthermore, while I heard from some supporters that they were sad I wasn't headed to Italy, truth be told I was stoked. Why? Because California is sweet.So with the 10th edition of the Tour of California just hours away, let's go back and see a sliver of where these fond memories come from, all while scanning over a speedy series of snapshots throughout my career, shall we? Yes, let's.2006 was the first year in the pros and guess what, I didn't race it. Of course, our entire team didn't make the cut, so I wasn't really missing out. 2006 I raced with Priority Health which is a great because in addition to racing elsewhere, I learned how to ride a unicycle.Unicycling_1024 Next in 2007 we did get the nod and here I am making an awkward frown face. Here's a fun game: who do you recognize in this picture? By my astute calculation, I see one Will Frischkorn, a Robert Forster, and the Danny Pate. Anyone else?PICT0190_1024 I'm bummed that I can't find the photo during the 2007 edition that I took after reaching into my pocket and surprisingly finding my phone instead of an energy bar. Being 2007, this was pre-smart phone, so I couldn't do anything super witty like send a tweet. But even then, I was smart enough to snap a selfie with Boonen in the background -- this would have a lot more bandwidth if I could find the pic.Ahh yes, this was also the year we stayed at the Madonna Inn where my then teammate Ben Jacques-Maynes donned the local attire. This place is ridiculously awesome... or awesomely unique. The countless buffet line-up of 10" tall cakes is only outdone by the absurdly themed room. I'm pretty sure Ben was in Love Nest while I was in Misty Rock.Niiice Ben_1024 2008 Priority Health turned to Bissell and here I am about three feet into the prologue in Palo Alto. That was a sweet start venue.PICT0534_1024 What happened in 2009 you ask? Great question. I was a Cervelo TestTeam rider and there was a prologue in downtown Sacramento, where lo and behold I am penning this entry up right now.875A5632Low Resolution_1024 Next in 2010 I was at the Giro d'Italia which took place in Italy so I wasn't at the Tour of California.2011 was my first year donning the Cannondale colors and after two stunning weeks of weather in which I trained around Lake Tahoe, on the actual day of the race the weather went south -- or maybe it came from the north -- and we had a blizzard on stage one. So instead of a bike race, we had an on-stage interview followed by a drive in the snow.neckgaiter_1024 Yup, it snowed.2011-05-16_09-27-41_68_1024 By 2012, Peter Sagan was already carving a name out for himself as the most prolific rider in the Tour of California, but I wanted to remind him who he was. Or who he was not: me.IMAG0750_1024 Speaking of which, there's no better time to mention that we're offering the very limited 2015 IAMNOTTEDKING kit by Castelli. In both men's orange and women's blue, I recommended you order yours NOW if you want to jump on the style bandwagon, because this super duper limited edition kit will only be available by order through the week of Tour of California. My friends, to all the Not Ted Kings out there, don't miss out.M-Jersey In 2012 I also introduced the guys to Starbucks. As exhibited by this blurry photo in which they scampered about, they were as elated as they were overwhelmed by the robust, American portions.IMAG0475_1024 2013 was a good year because Skratch Labs was half way up Mount Diablo. Ergo, they were also half way down Mount Diablo, so that when we came down after the stage. I introduced the Aussies of Orica to maple syrup shots. They loved it of course.C2C_4821_1024 Plus I got to hang out with my good friend Timmy Duggan. Patrick McDreamy, however, poached the photo. Good guy, we'll let it slide.hanging with my boys_1024 I would be remiss if I didn't add this picture. Here I am tugging the peloton along as we ride north towards Santa Rosa via Highway 1. This stunning stretch of highway is the same as we rode this very morning, albeit not at race pace, with the World Bicycle Relief ride with Joao.966715_10151577153316390_68627261_o_1024 Last year's 2014 was a fantastic most recent Tour of California with another round of maple syrup shots, this time with Tim Johnson. This is actually the pre-race, 1/2 maple syrup, 1/2 espresso shot which I will add is the best 1-2 combination you've not yet tried. Do it.IMG_3095_1024Here, the Wilcox passes up a recovery beverage as we approach the finish of a toasty hot stage. Thanks Dave!IMG_3078_1024 So there you have it, the blow by blow, year by year, 10 great year and 10 great Tours of California. Let's make 2015 one for the ages!