Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Bicycling on the Brain - Tour of Calfornia + more two-wheeled updates

FULL SPEED AHEAD for this busy sports/travel writer! In this blog entry, I report on my Tour of California (TOC) projects for TV - Comcast, print - Good Times, Adventure Sports Journal and my pet project, Facebook TOC group.

I biked to a Tour of California press conference in Santa Cruz with my Apple laptop.

• The 2009 Amgen Tour of California, Feb. 14-22.
For the first time, the Tour of California (TOC), will include Santa Cruz, my city, on the route! World class bike racers - including Lance - will cross the finish line in downtown Santa Cruz on Monday, Feb. 16, President's Day.

- This professional stage race, the largest of its kind in the Unites States attracts the best road cyclists in the world - some of whom live right here in Santa Cruz.
- Lance Armstrong, the seven-time Tour de France champion (who is returning to racing after a three-year retirement) will compete in this grueling race.
- The international field will ride more than 800 miles - nearly the length of California, from Sacramento in the north, to Escondido in the South.

Professional cyclist Ben Jacques-Maynes, a Santa Cruz County resident, will race the Tour of California, more than 800 miles, Feb. 14-22. I interviewed him yesterday.

Santa Cruz will witness a dramatic sprint finish of Stage 2 of the race. Thousands of spectators will line the streets of downtown Santa Cruz, along with international media. The scenic Stage 2 starts that morning in Sausalito and will travel south over the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and then head down Highway 1 to Santa Cruz! I am thrilled to have such a prestigious event coming to Santa Cruz.

Pro cyclist and defending champion in the Amgen Women's TOC race, Brooke Miller was a former collegiate volleyball player before she found success in bicycle road racing.

I'm involved in multiple TOC media projects:
Comcast cable television show on TOC - A 30-minute segment produced by veteran newswoman Paula Mahoney will focus on Santa Cruz County as a hub of the cycling industry and Stage 2 of TOC. I am serving as "the talent," which means I am conducting a series of interviews with local bike industry leaders and pro cyclists over the course of January. Learning a lot about broadcasting. The show will begin airing Feb. 1. I will provide the schedule in advance.

I have enjoyed interviewing Santa Cruz bicycle frame builder Paul Sadoff of Rock Lobster and Santa Cruz-based pro cyclists and twins Ben Jacques-Maynes and Andy Jacques-Maynes. Teammates on Team Bissell, the pair will race TOC. I was also very inspired interviewing Brooke Miller, of Team Tibco. She's the current national champion in road and crit racing! She will compete in the Amgen's Women Tour of California.

Paul Sadoff builds custom bike frames for his company Rock Lobster, in Santa Cruz. He has been in the cycling industry 30 years. I interviewed him last week.

Good Times newspaper cover story on TOC
I am conducting interviews with pro cyclists and city folks to write a preview of the race.

NOTE: One of my first jobs in Santa Cruz was working at Good Times weekly newspaper, 1994-96. I started as the calendar editor, publishing hundreds of listings for local events. It was a wonderful way to learn about everything Santa Cruz had to offer! I worked my way up the editorial ladder to Arts and Entertainment Editor. By the time I left, I was writing cover stories, managing writers and loving my job. I left Good Times to launch my freelance journalism career. To this day, I have dear friends whom I met at the paper.

* Facebook Group - Tour of California group
My enthusiasm for Tour of California needed a social media outlet, so I created and maintain a Facebook group page called 2009 Amgen Tour of California - Stage 2. I spend hours updating lists of events, answering people's questions and sharing my love of Santa Cruz and cycling.

Mark "Howie" Howland meets author and former pro cyclist Joe Parkin at a Tour of CA event in Santa Cruz at The Bicycle Trip.

* Adventure Sports Journal
My feature story on TOC has been published in the Winter issue. Here's a copy of the story, online. The publication is available in Northern California only.

MORE STORIES I'm working on about 2008 trips:
• ROW Adventures raft trip in Idaho
• Montana bike tour with Adventure Cycling Association
• Tips for people new to speaking on camera for t.v
Sacred Rides Mountain Bike Holidays. I'm pitching stories about my 11-day mountain bike in Peru's Sacred Valley this fall with the Canadian-based company. Run by Mike Brcic, Sacred Rides was recently named one of the world's best bike expedition companies by National Geographic Adventure magazine. I have amazing high-res digital Peru photos from this singletrack cross country adventure that I'm saving for exclusive publication! If you know of a website, magazine or newspaper that's a good fit for my story, email me: