Hi. I’m Walking Bob. I walked downtown early to be sure I’d get a chance to see the 128 riders as they began the second stage of the Amgen Tour of California. Fortunately the rain that dampened everyone’s spirits when they were in Davis for the 2009 race pretty much stayed away this year. Yes, there were riders with names like Lance and Levi who drew the crowd’s attention, but the biggest cheers for the day were for the two Davis Riders, Paul Mach and Max Jenkins, shown above with announcer, Dave Towle. Mach and Jenkins would eventually finish 27th and 43rd respectively in the grueling eight-stage race that included over thirty hours of highly competitive riding, steep climbs and some nasty weather between Davis and Santa Rosa.
Neither Paul or Max had much time to recuperate between races because they were both heading off to Oregon for the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic that begins June 1. Mach is the defending champion there after winning the 2009 race.
I was able to catch Paul for a few minutes after he had completed a local ride with some of his friends from the Davis Bike Club before heading off for Mt. Hood. It took me a moment to recognize him for my interview because he had shaved off the impressive mustache that he grew as part of a fundraiser for Ronald McDonald House. The 28-year-old U.C. Davis grad student didn’t start racing bikes until he moved to Davis after growing up and doing his undergraduate work in Seattle. He credits the Davis Bike Club, the team he raced with from 2006-2008, for preparing him to go pro in 2009 and he still goes on rides with them when he’s in town. He is working on a PhD in applied mathematics while making room for the 70 days a year when he’s competing. His wife is a math teacher at Davis High School who adds her moral support and joins him when it works with their schedules.
The photos of Paul in this blog all show him with the King of the Mountain (KOM) jersey over his Bissell Pro Cycling uniform. He earned that privilege by being the Stage One winner of the KOM, which focuses on his strength, climbing. Even though this was his first time in the Tour of California, Paul’s overall time for the eight stages was only about 2% behind the eventual winner, Michael Rogers. That is less than six minutes per day of racing. The fact that Mach and Jenkins both finished the race is a testament to their endurance since only about half the riders who began the tour in Nevada City completed the race in Thousand Oaks.
You can read Paul’s comments, see photos from the Tour of California and follow his progress as he defends his title in the Mt. Hood competition by checking out his blog at http://paulmach.com
Since you took the time to read about our local heroes already, I’ll close this out with one shot of Lance Armstrong who was unable to complete the race after an accident. However, the man standing next to me as I took these photos was a cancer survivor who had flown down from Ontario, Canada just to catch the race and get Lance’s autograph, which he did so I have to say “Thanks, Lance.”