Amgen Bike Tour comes through Ramona Sunday; expect traffic delays this weekend

By Karen Brainard

Drivers in Ramona should be prepared for rolling road closures on State Route 78 between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Sunday, May 12, when the 2013 Amgen Tour of California professional bike race comes through downtown Ramona.

Caltrans also cautions that there could be traffic  delays on State Routes 67 and 78 between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 11, as cyclists and race officials may be in the area.

The race will begin in Escondido around 11:15 a.m. Sunday. Cyclists will ride through San Pasqual Valley and come up Route 78 into Ramona. They will turn left on 78/Main Street and turn at Third Street to journey down Old Julian Highway and eventually connect back with Route 78 toward Santa Ysabel.

With crowds expected to come through Ramona to see the cyclists, as well as ground and aerial media coverage, Ramona Chamber of Commerce has asked businesses to help promote the town that day. Ramona Rotary Club will have U.S. flags lining the street.

Kirk Newell, owner of Kirk’s Bike Shop in Ramona, is excited about the race and has planned a storewide sale with all bikes on sale, and discounts on clothing and accessories.

“We’re expecting a lot of bike enthusiasts in town,” said Newell.

He’s also trying to have a flat screen TV in the store to air any live coverage of the race.

Newell said the first sprint of the race is scheduled in front of Ramona’s Town Hall so there will be an official presence and photo finish there. A race like the Amgen tour has two or three sprints, he explained, and certain racers compete for sprint points and the money that comes with it.

“The biggest sprint, of course, is at the finish,” said Newell.

Racers are expected to cross that first sprint line between 11:59 a.m. and 12:11 p.m., according to the Amgen website.

“It flashes through pretty fast,” commented Newell.

He said about 160 riders in a big pack will take up the whole road. Team cars follow with spare bicycles and wheels, he added.

“It’s a real interesting spectacle to see,” said Newell.

The road should open soon after the team cars  are through, he said.

Other businesses in town plan to have sidewalk sales, including Unicorn Books and  Gifts, said Chamber Secretary Sally Westbrook. Sun Valley Florist will have a Mother’s Day special, and Bonnie’s Nook will have complimentary refreshments.

The chamber will be selling bottled water at strategic places along Main Street, and a food vendor will be at Sixth and Main streets in the Farmers Insurance parking lot.

Once the race leaves town, Newell said he plans to hop on his motorcycle and head on Route 78 while the cyclists are on Old Julian Highway and catch them in Santa Ysabel.

From 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 takes them up the East Grade Road of Palomar Mountain, about a 12-mile climb.

After descending Palomar Mountain, racers will head east on State Route 76 through Pauma Valley,  climb Cole Grade Road to Valley Center, and take Lake Wohlford Road back into Escondido.

The cyclists are expected to finish at Grand Avenue and Broadway between 3 and 4 p.m. The entire route, according to Amgen, is 102.6 miles.

For more about the race, see amgentourofcalifornia.com or www.escondido.org/amgen-tour.aspx.

   
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