The community of Big Bear Lake is excited to be host to what is sure to be one of the most exciting and viewer friendly stages of the 2015 Amgen Tour of California, the Big Bear Lake Time Trial. Our world renowned four-season resort community, surrounded by majestic alpine peaks with pristine Big Bear Lake at its center, will welcome the Amgen Tour of California’s riders to their one and only chance to individually “race against the clock” in hopes of picking up valuable time in the General Classification standings, and for some, the opportunity to vie for a coveted Amgen Tour of California stage victory. With our local race theme being “Aero at Altitude”, riders will have their hands full (or should I say their lungs full) as racers will be challenged by Big Bear Lake’s thin air at nearly to 7000 feet above sea level.
The main focal point of the Big Bear Lake Time Trial will be The Village at Big Bear Lake, the location of both the race’s start and finish. It is here that spectators can get up and close to Tour riders warming up next to their team buses, watch them charge down the starting ramp at the corner of Village Drive and Bartlett Road, and rocket through the village streets through their first mile on course. At the same time, just a short walk away, you can see other riders making their final surge to the finish line at Pine Knot Marina. (More on that later…)
The aforementioned walk between the start and finish will be down historic Pine Knot Ave, where you will find plenty of activity as it is host to the Amgen Tour of California Lifestyle Vendor Expo, the Michelob Ultra Beer Garden, and many local shops and restaurants. In our goal to make the Big Bear Lake Time Trial spectator and bike friendly, there will be a FREE bike valet at Robinhood Resort conveniently located on the course right between the start and finish at the corner of Big Bear Boulevard and Pine Knot Ave.
Although The Village at Big Bear Lake will certainly be the main hub of action for Stage 6, being that individual riders will be occupying the 15 mile course throughout the day , this stage offers the unique opportunity to see racers competing from a variety of locations. With much of the course on closed roads, accessing the course by bicycle is perhaps the best way to see the action from many scenic and exciting viewpoints.
As the riders leave the village area they barrel east down Big Bear Boulevard before turning north, then east heading along Meadow Park. For those looking for a course-side picnic type venue, this is a great option as Meadow Park has picnic tables, play areas and other such amenities. And being an out-and-back course, you’ll see riders passing by in both directions with those going out just finding their rhythm and those coming back digging deep as only a mile or so remains between them and the finish.
Further down the course, after snaking through a few other residential streets, the race turns north once again and crosses Stanfield Cutoff. This two lane, straight, flat stretch of road takes riders across the lake to its North Shore. For the first time, riders and spectators will be exposed to spectacular lake views and a unique opportunity to see racers coming from both directions from a longer than usual distance.
Once you’ve crossed the lake via Stanfield Cutoff, the race turns west down North Shore Drive (Highway 38) and heads towards the cozy hamlet of Fawnskin. But just before reaching North Shore Drive, across the street from North Shore Elementary School, to the west you will see the Alpine Pedal Path. This pathway is a meandering paved bike path that runs between the course on North Shore Drive and the shores of Big Bear Lake. The Alpine Pedal Path offers perhaps the most scenic and advantageous viewing opportunities as you will be surrounded by the lake, snowcapped mountains, and some of the best bike racing our country has to offer. This path is relatively flat and takes you about two miles to where the course passes Serrano Campground just a few miles short of Fawnskin. This location is as far west of a viewing location as you can get.
Another exciting “ride to” location, if you wish to watch the race from the turnaround location in Fawnskin, is along the western route around the lake to the north shore. Starting at the start/finish location in The Village, you will ride west on Highway 18, towards the dam. Having crossed our new award winning bridge at the west end of the Valley, you will turn right on Highway 38 at the light. Travel four miles until you reach downtown Fawnskin. As host of the turnaround of this out-and-back time trial, Fawnskin is a place where you can see the riders in more detail as they will be at slower speeds as the make a 360 degree reversal of direction in the Fawnskin Triangle in the center of town. As riders decelerate in approaching the turn, it will give spectators the opportunity to see the sweat and pain on their faces as they reach the halfway point. At slower speeds, the racers become more aware of their surroundings offering spectators the perfect chance for their race favorites to hear their shouts of encouragement. Fortunately, for those not on bicycles, Fawnskin is also accessible by car by approaching from the Big Bear Dam to the west via Highway 18.
Leaving Fawnskin, the riders will head back along the same route on which they came with one small deviation at Serrano Campground. When reaching the campground, riders will veer right onto North Shore Lane for about 1 km taking them farther along the water’s edge, passing the New Jersey Institute of Technology Solar Observatory and the Alpine Pedal Path where it will once again merge with North Shore Drive (Highway 18).
Finally, the finish!
As riders wind their way back towards the village, about a mile from the finish, they will eventually turn right back onto Big Bear Boulevard. Here they will be greeted by a straight-shot, slightly downhill drag strip that will take them at speeds approaching 40 mph before a high velocity 90 degree right hand turn at Pine Knot Ave. Here they will charge with maximum effort over the last 200 meters of the course out onto the Pine Knot Marina Jetty, over the panoramic waters of Big Bear Lake, for the Amgen Tour of California’s first ever “Over Water Finish”.
With lake-centric, panoramic views of Big Bear Lake, the surrounding peaks, and what is sure to be one of the most unique and spectacular time trial finishes the Amgen Tour of California has ever seen, we hope you can come experience the best that Big Bear Lake has to offer for Stage 6 of the Amgen Tour of California Friday, May 15, 2015!
By: Paul Zamoyta, Technical Director