Beyond many of world’s best cyclists, including top Tour de France contenders, world titlists and Olympic gold medalists, the 800-mile Tour of California, like other cycling events, features a caravan of automobiles, motorcycles and recreational vehicles.
An estimated 300 vehicles are traveling start to finish in sponsors’ cars, including Nissan, the co-sponsor of the RadioShack team, and Acura, the co-sponsor of BMC. Each starting and finish city also has its own law enforcement jurisdictions with a sizable array of police vehicles.
The caravan of vehicles is nothing new to bike racing, but the sixth annual Tour of California this year began in South Lake Tahoe, California. Inclement weather, including snow, rainy and wet roads, prompted the cancellation of the opening stage. The nasty weather also forced the shortening of the second stage.
Cars with all-wheel drive systems fared the best, but my test car for the week, a 2011 Toyota Camry, held its own. It was parked for two nights in an outdoor Casino parking lot. Temperatures fell into the mid-20s both nights.
The Camry wasn’t exactly enveloped in snow, but a healthy supply covered the hood and front and back windshields. Nonetheless, the Camry didn’t hesitate when starting and it drove well from South Lake Tahoe to Squaw in a steady, light snow and on slick roads.