By Karen Brainard
Ramona Chamber of Commerce, gearing up for the crowd of cyclists and spectators who are expected to travel through Old Town on May 12, is putting out a call to business owners and volunteers.
The 2013 Amgen Tour of California, a professional cycling race, has included Ramona in its Stage 1 route that begins and ends in Escondido.
An event that is compared to the Tour de France, the cycling race will attract national, international, and aerial media coverage, said Sally Westbrook, chamber secretary.
“It will be huge recognition for our town,” she said.
From Escondido the route will take cyclists on State Route 78 through San Pasqual Valley and into Ramona, where they will continue east on 78 through Ramona’s Old Town.
Westbrook said the chamber is asking store owners between 10th and Third streets to promote their businesses and offer special sales that day.
Plans to draw attention to the town’s historic section include setting up U.S. flags along Main Street, and putting out red, white, and blue streamers and a welcome sign. The chamber plans to sell bottles of water, said Westbrook.
Most of the activity in town will be before the cyclists enter Ramona, she said.
The race will begin between 11 and 11:45 a.m. and is expected to end around 3:30 p.m.
“We’re anticipating they will come through between 12:30 to 1 p.m.,” said Westbrook, adding that cyclists will be through town in a matter of minutes.
The chamber needs volunteers to help with crowd control and traffic.
“We need 30 volunteers for that day,” said Westbrook.
Those interested in volunteering in Ramona should go to www.amgen2013escondido.com and click on the “Be a volunteer” link.
Once cyclists are through downtown Ramona, they will turn at Third Street to journey down Old Julian Highway and eventually connect back with Route 78. In Santa Ysabel the racers will turn left onto State Route 79, head north for a few miles and ascend Mesa Grande Road to State Route 76. The route then takes racers up the East Grade Road of Palomar Mountain, about a 12-mile climb.
“This is a climb that is often compared to the arduous Alpe d’Huez at the Tour de France,” states the Amgen website.
After descending Palomar Mountain, racers will head east on State Route 76 through Pauma Valley and climb Cole Grade Road to Valley Center. They will pass by Bates Nut Farm and then take Lake Wohlford Road back into Escondido. The cyclists will finish where the race began — at Grand Avenue and Broadway. The entire route, according to Amgen, is 102.6 miles.
The May 12 race is the first of eight stages of the Amgen Tour of California. On May 13, cyclists will ride from Murrieta to Palm Springs, followed by a ride the next day from Palmdale to Santa Clarita. From Santa Clarita, cyclists will race to Santa Barbara on May 15, and then the next day to Avila Beach. On May 17 individual time trials will be held in San Jose.
Stage 7 will be a ride from Livermore to Mt. Diablo on May 18. The race will conclude on May 19 with the final leg from San Francisco to Santa Rosa.
For more about the race, see amgentourofcalifornia.com.