My trip to the 2001

San Francisco Grand Prix

I made it up to San Francisco for the first Grand Prix. This is the first time that Lance has raced in the US since 1998. He wasn't feeling well, but he did his job before dropping out and riding back to his hotel. I decided I didn't want to just sit for five hours waiting for the next lap to go by, so I ventured out to walk the course during the race. This way, I was able to get some exercise, enjoy the scenery, and watch the race from 10 different vantage points. Besides having blisters on my feet from walking up and down the hills, I am glad I did it this way. Next year, I will bring my bike though! Or I may just camp out on Fillmore Street since you can get some good video and photos of the riders here. (they are going pretty slowly after all)

The crowds were amazing. At the Start, Finish, and Fillmore St, people were climbing over each other to get a good view and photo op. Of course, the entire course was not like that as some reports would have you believe. For the better part of the course, you could walk for 100 meters and pass only a handful of people.

Disclaimer: All of my pictures were taken while simultaneously taking video with the other hand, and using a cheap camera (snagged it at a white-elephant gift exchange!) so none of them came out that great, except maybe for the close up of George at the end. :-) But hopefully, they will give you a feel for the course, etc...

In case you aren't familiar with the course.

Click on the thumbnail to see the full size version...

(Most of them are less than 25K)


Lap 2 - the peloton approaches the crosswalk between Pier 39 and the parking tower across the street. I was amazed that this spot was practically empty. I expected ABC to have a camera mounted up there and police not allowing people to stand and watch from up there. It was a cool angle. That thin line across the back is the Bay bridge between SF and Oakland, and Pier 39 is just off to the left.


This is the same location after the peloton passed under the bridge. If it wasn't overcast, you would see the Golden Gate bridge in the distance. They did have an announcer down at the front of the Pier, and a few other festivities going on, such as some sort of spinning class set up. Also I stocked up here with Cliff Bar samples, Gatorade, and JointJuice. Mmmmm.... breakfast! They were also giving away the SF GP poster which will look nice hanging in my garage.


Lap 3 - across from the feed-zone on Polk St. just behind Ghirardelli Square. I was hoping to be on the other side of the street, but I didn't get there in time even with brisk walking and occasional jogging. Too many Cliff Bar samples, I guess!


Lap 4 - Marina Blvd at the gradual curve just before hitting the stretch in front of Marina Park and the Yacht Harbor. Mmmm... more JointJuice. Notice not much crowd here! There were some people looking down from the windows of the houses. No, I can't afford any of those houses either!

After the riders passed, I walked towards the Golden Gate bridge, and was able to pause as I passed Fillmore St. and watch the riders slowly move up it. This was about 10 blocks away, so they were just ants, but you could still tell how much they were struggling. You could barely tell that they were moving.


Lap 5 - The Presidio, at Crissy Field just after the Yacht Harbor and just before the part of the course that was farthest from the start/finish line. The Golden Gate bridge was just off to my left. Here the road narrowed down to one lane for a brief moment, and made for some good views of the field. I was up on a raised deck all by myself when Lance, George, and Eki were chasing down the Klasna break. I had on my "USPS Pro Cycling Team" shirt and was yelling "Go Postal!" as they went by. I believe it was George who looked back after they passed by to figure out if I was somebody from the team or just another looney fan! ;-)


Lap 6 - Just after turning off of Lyon & onto Greenwich - a few blocks up from the Palace of Fine Arts, and leaving the Presidio area. There was a pretty good crowd at this intersection.


Lap 7 - Fillmore St - I didn't get any photos of the riders here as I was busy taking video. It took both hands to hold the video camera above the heads of everybody in the crowd! Look how small the people across the street look that are about 1/2 block away. You can see some steps cut into the sidewalk right in front of me. It was steep. You can see Marin across the bay in the background.


Lap 8 - At the top of Fillmore, the riders turned left onto Broadway and had a nice descent where they could recover a bit.


Lap 9 - Yes, I was still at Broadway here because I sat on somebody's front steps to eat lunch! Hey, it was 12:30, whadda' ya' expect?!


Lap 10 - Polk St. - not much further down the course on Polk around Green. This is when we noticed Lance was not going by anymore. This picture got messed up by one of those pesky moto guys ;-) Later we learned this is after Lance and Eki had gotten George up to the Klasna break.

I was running out of film so I didn't take any more photos of the race as I wanted to save some picts for the end. Also, I was headed back towards the finish line during the last few (smaller) laps, and at this point, the course was too crowded (Columbus, Taylor, Union, and Broadway) so I was moving in parallel to the course one block South of it. In retrospect, I was disappointed that I didn't get to see the field go up Taylor. Next year. Thumbnail

George and his Dad from Columbia. When George was on stage (but not on the podium) he was shaking hands and signing autographs for the fans in the crowd. Very cool. Somehow I accidentally switched the camera into "Panoramic" mode here.


George throws his gloves into the crowd. People started cheering when he took off his jacket, but he wasn't going to throw it. The awards ceremony was very light-hearted. Klasna started spraying the press, crowd, and "dignitaries" on stage with Champagne and Barry and Hincapie followed suit. I think they missed Willie though - darn. You can see him to the right of George stylin' a yellow suit and hat! I'm betting the winners will not receive champange next year.


This is really the only photo I am happy with from the entire day. Here, George stops to sign one or two autographs as he is quickly ushered to a press conference, leaving many disappointed fans behind (including me!) still wanting autographs.

Can't wait until next year's race!

The official SF GP website

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