Stage 7 — Santa Clarita to Pasadena

Apple Valley resident and one-time track cyclist John Hill contacted representatives of the Amgen Tour of California to recommend Apple Valley as a host city for a future stage. Their response was to invite him and one other person to attend a stage of the 2014 Amgen Tour as their VIP guests. John contacted me to accompany him.

We selected Stage 7, a road race stage from Santa Clarita to Pasadena, primarily because with the driving involved to get there and back, Saturday seemed a better travel day than the Friday stage (Santa Clarita to Wrightwood).

Neither of us knew what to expect: Would we be expected to suggest routes? Would we be selling them on Apple Valley? Would we be talking with anyone at all?

The one thing we did know is that Apple Valley not interested in putting up any money to be a host city, if for no other reason than that there are no motels in Apple Valley, so most of the money that comes from having a big event come into town would go to other local cities. Therefore, even though I volunteer for the Transportation Subcommittee for Healthy Apple Valley, we would not be officially representing the town, and could not commit to anything on the town’s behalf.

We arrived at the Westfield Valencia Town Center (the location for the start of the stage) and pulled into VIP parking. No one blinked at eye. So far, so good, and the VIP parking was right next to the VIP entrance.

The Michelob Ultra VIP Tent wasn’t set to open for a few minutes, so we wandered across the street to the hotel where many of the teams had parked their support vehicles, and took some photos of the bikes.

We then went back to the credential table where we were immediately handed two VIP passes, no questions asked, no ID required. Just as quickly, we met Claire and Mo from AEG, who we soon discovered were our designated contacts. They ushered us into the Michelob Ultra VIP Tent and sat us at a table occupied by Allison Steinkamp and Joanne Zanella, the two Michelob Ultra Event Ambassadors (AKA “podium girls”), for a bite of early lunch. We discussed what it mean to for a city to host a Tour event, as opposed to being a pass-through along the route, and what we thought might be good routes in the area. Claire seemed to like the Route 66 tie-in for the Tour of California provided by the Mojave by Moonlight route.

I kept expecting them to cut us loose to wander around, but instead, Mo took us across to the podium area for the pre-stage activities and rider check-in. From there, we had just about the best seats in the house to see the riders, the crowds, and the eventual start of the stage. To top it all off, before we left, Mo gave John a Tour of California poster signed by each of the riders.

We don’t know what may come of this meeting, or if the Tour of California will ever come through the High Desert. No matter what happens though, our experience shows that AEG does a tremendous job putting on the Tour of California. Thanks Claire, Mo, Allison, Joanne, AEG, and Amgen for this wonderful event and for being such wonderful hosts.

See more photos here.