IN YOUR FACE! An action packed ride alongside the 2011 TOC Peloton


New Member
Mar 23, 2011
Sponsored by the 2011 Amgen Tour of California

Wishing you could have been part of the 2011 Amgen Tour of California race action, but couldn’t make it this year? CyclingForums was lucky enough to get updates straight from the heart of the peloton via our very own VIP Car Ride Experience winner, Greg Smola!

Greg mingled with contestants, rode alongside the peloton, went behind the scenes at the media compound, and was given star treatment in the Michelob VIP Lounge. Here are his thoughts as he was living the dream during the last three stages of the race (prepare to be jealous):

DAY 1 - Hanging around Solvang

“With my 1st day in heaven, I mean at the TOC, it really could not have gone any better. Perfect weather, perfect setting, as Solvang is a beautiful Norwegian-like town. The course setup was nice, where you could watch the start of the TT, then walk a few hundred feet over to the right and find the finish right there.

The Michelob Ultra VIP tent was right on the finish, loaded with 5-star food, full bar, and some plasmas to watch the riders rip the 15-mile course up, only then to turn around and see them fly by you in person. Awesome...

I got to meet a bunch of riders like Dave Zabriskie (I'm in a photo with him) who won the TT, Rider Hesjedal, Christian Vandervelde and of course Levi. I won't get into the stats, since everyone will know them before I finish typing.

It's Mt.Baldy tomorrow, and the VIP car ride.”

DAY 2 - Breaking away at Mt. Baldy

“So, Stage 7, Mt.Baldy.... Insane !!! Since all of the other people that were in the VIP car ride (which was made up of about 4 regular cars) were all in pairs, and I was the only one by myself, I got invited to ride with the Sram team in one of their Volvos. I can't really even put it in words. Our car was in charge of the breakaway group. I [took video], frankly because a simple photo wouldn't do it justice.

Imagine goin down the switchbacks on a 15% grade, at 40-50 mph following the descent. A roller coaster has nothing on this. We were glued to the bumpers of the team cars (8 teams, Garmin, Type1, Spydertech, Bristel, Liqui, Rabo, BMC, United), passing each other back and forth.

No wheel swaps for us, but the ride was awesome. “

DAY 3 - Thousand Oaks, covered in Champagne

It seems that by the final stage, Greg was lost for words amidst his continued adrenaline rush:

“First of all, I want to thank you and Steve and the whole for this opportunity. It was a once in a lifetime experience that I will carry close to me for the rest of my life. I can't even describe it in words how amazing it was. Cyclingforums for life!!!”

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Active Member
Aug 13, 2009
I just want to thank Steve and Ranjani for this opportunity, because You really went far and beyond with this. You guys are unreal, and I am forever grateful. I plugged the website as much as I could out there, telling everybody I met about how I got there, and everyone was amazed and couldn't believe it.



Well-Known Member
Nov 28, 2010
Great story and I loved the pictures. Glad you enjoyed it sounds like an unbelievable trip.

Did you get to ride any of the course?


New Member
Mar 23, 2011
GMAN - It was our pleasure to facilitate your prize and we thank you for sharing your experience with the community. For everyone else, keep looking out for future giveaways - you could be the next lucky winner (bragging rights included)! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/cool.gif

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