Muir Beach Breathtaking views abound at the Muir Beach overlook, near the Pelican Inn at the intersection of Highway 1 and the Muir Woods turnoff. Though most of the dramatic action in the peloton will have already occurred coming over the hill through Muir Woods, it’s hard to imagine a more scenic place to watch the racers whiz past. ETA: 11:27am&–11:32am.
Point Reyes Station Point Reyes’ sprint line, a race-within-a-race whose winner scores time credits and is often laurelled for the Most Aggressive Rider award, offers West Marin residents a chance to catch some action in an otherwise flat section of the day’s route. Residents and employees are out in full hooting, screaming, cow-belling force to cheer the victor. Other sprint lines are located in Tomales and Bodega Bay. The only downside is that the race will go by very, very fast. ETA: 12:14pm&–12:27pm.
Stage 1, Feb. 18: Sonoma County
Coleman Valley Road Parking is sketchy and restrooms nonexistent, but from certain locations along the roadside, it’s possible to watch the entire peloton’s ascent from the ocean to the top of this vigorous climb. The diehards are in force, scrawling chalk messages for their favorite riders on the asphalt, and the views are incredible. Don’t plan on being anywhere soon thereafter, though—the tiny, winding road is jammed with cars afterward. ETA: 1:33pm&–1:58pm.
Downtown Santa Rosa With the circuit route looping around the entire downtown area, there’re plenty of places to watch the thrilling final moments of Monday’s Stage I. Rooftops and parking garages, particularly near the Third Street finish line, fill up quickly; street-level viewing along Fourth Street offers thinner crowds. Complete strangers commune in front of large LED television screens, mapping the race’s live progress together—”Have they passed Occidental yet?” “Yeah, there’s Gravenstein Highway!”—until the furious circuits, riders narrowly avoiding utter catastrophe in a two-wheeled competitive ballet. Tents, booths, live music and food options abound, and community spirit skyrockets to the red zone. ETA: 2:23pm&–2:58pm. Stage 11 starts from Santa Rosa’s Railroad Square on Feb. 19 at 10am.
Stage 11, Feb. 19: Napa County
Trinity Road Near the top of Trinity Road is a fire station marking the final stage of a seemingly endless 2.5-mile, 1,200-foot climb. Parking, once again, is tricky, but in contrast to downtown Santa Rosa’s smooth morning start, this is the grueling make-or-break vertical battle—with hardly any shade—that hardcore enthusiasts won’t want to miss. (Trivia fact: Gavin Chilcott, general manager of Santa Rosa’s own BMC team, famously cycled this climb during the Coors Classic in the 1980s.) ETA: 10:40am&–10:46am.
Lake Berryessa On the easternmost border of Napa County, riders will skirt the Monticello Dam along Lake Berryessa—a good viewing spot—although there’re also a number of places along Highway 128, before the dam, to watch riders duke out a Category 4 climb. ETA: 11:58am&–12:17pm.
TV-50 in Santa Rosa hosts a live broadcast of the Stage One race with erudite commentary and interviews by Jim Keene, owner of NorCal Bike Sport (11am&–4pm); that night, cable channel Versus will air condensed highlights at 8pm.
Maps, trivia, times, tips and etcetera are at [ http://www.amgentourofcalifornia.com ]www.amgentourofcalifornia.com.