Just to repeat some of the info from part 1. (Published 7/15/09) With plenty of time on my hands, and no way to actually watch this year's Tour de France, I've worked up a possible scenario for a North American grand tour to be run in the fall, late October through mid November. While I've used some of the routes from past Tours of California, mostly I've used Mapquest to piece together a 21 stage bike race around, and in a couple of cases, just outside of California. When I have an exact start point, I'll list the address, otherwise, I've just typed the name of the start and end cities, and allowed Mapquest to pick a starting point. I'm not going to type out all the street names and route numbers, so if anyone is really taken by this article, go to Mapquest, feed in the info, and then set filters to avoid highways and for the shortest route. I've ended each stage with mileage for that day followed by cumulative mileage to date. Part 2 starts with stage nine, following a rest day...
9. Merced to Fresno. This stage almost duplicates a route from the 2009 Tour of California that started in Merced at city hall, the intersection of N St. and 18th. St. and ended in Clovis at the intersection of Bullard Ave. and Pollasky St. Clovis is a suburb of the much larger Fresno, so I just pushed things to the campus of Cal. State Fresno. The route follows CA 140 and 49 into the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Climbing, but nothing really serious. 118.5/912.9.
10. Visalia to Paso Robles. This route follows, exactly, a route from this years Tour of California. Starting point, the intersection of Aceqia Ave. and Church St. in Visalia and ends at the intersection of Spring St. and 11th St. in Paso Robles. The route starts in the San Joaquin Valley, and goes over the coastal mountains. 134.3/1047.2.
11. Monterey to San Luis Obispo. As I've noted before, there are some drives between stages. Monterey is a two hour or so drive north of Paso Robles. The route follows the coast highway through Big Sur and past San Simeon, William Randolph Hearst's Xanadu. Also Moro Rock. This should be one of the most beautiful stages of this imaginary tour. Perfect for television. 137.1/1184.3.
12. Bakersfield to Kernville, going around the southern side of Lake Isabella. Time for a time trial. After a fast, flat getaway from downtown Bakersfield, the route goes up an extremely steep and winding road that follows the lower Kern River, one of America's great white water streams. At the top things get flat again, as the route goes around Lake Isabella to Kernville. Some undulating climbs on the northern side of the lake. 66.6/ 1250.9
13. Lake Isabella to China Lake. This is the one stage where I couldn't get an exact distance. I don't think that the National Forest road this route uses is in Mapquest's data base. The route goes north from the town of Lake Isabella, through Kernville, following the river. Then it makes a sharp right turn into the Sequoia National Forest. The climb is steep and long, with many very steep sections and switchbacks. After it peeks, there is a long and technical descent to Kennedy Meadows, and then climbs again, before starting a long, switch backed descent to the Mojave desert. Safety nets will have to be put up along this section of road, since going over the guard rail would probably be fatal. Once the road ends in the desert, it follows frontage roads along CA. 14 and then cuts over to China Lake, an entrance town for a military base. I'm guessing around 120 miles, though I wouldn't be surprised to be off by 20 miles either way. Estimated 120/1370.9
14. There are lots of National Parks in California, and this is the only route from this tour that goes through one. The Park Service already allows a running race from Bad Water in Death Valley to Whitney Portal, so it wasn't much of a stretch to think that permits would be obtainable for the Death Valley National Park section. The route starts in Lone Pine, gateway to Mount Whitney, goes through the park, and ends in Beatty, Nevada. 114.7/1485.6
15. Las Vegas, to Lauglin, Nevada. This isn't a particularly long or difficult stage, but any tour organizer would be foolish to exclude Las Vegas from the route. Laughlin is another casino town, located on the Colorado River. 95.2/1580.8.
16. Needles to Barstow. I've done some reading about the history of the Tour de France and was surprised that there was a time when the route would often use gravelled roads. In the first five miles out of Needles, there are several short, gravelled sections. Expect flats, but as part of a neutralized role out, that shouldn't be a problem. Following route 66, the most famous road in the United States, it will be necessary to have race referees stationed at several railroad crossings. If any riders have to wait fifteen minutes for a slow moving freight train to rumble by, times will have to be adjusted. Also the longest stage of this made up tour. 160.3/1741.1.
Rest day and part three to follow.