After three days of incredible riding and spectacular sunny weather in the San Francisco Bay Area, the inaugural Haute Route San Francisco came to a close on Angel Island.
On a fresh, misty morning, the 200 participants of the 2018 Haute Route season’s first event, boarded a private ferry headed to Angel Island, which was shut down to the public for the morning’s event. The riders took on two laps of the 4.9-mile perimeter road around the island in a time trial format. The Haute Route San Francisco was the first road cycling event to be held on the island and riders enjoyed totally empty roads and expansive 360° views of the San Francisco skyline, the Marin County Headlands and Mount Tamalpais as they pushed hard to catch the rider who set off ahead of them.
With rolling terrain, punchy hills and a meandering road, riders had a blast on the third and final day of the event as expressed by Canadian David Staples: “Stage three was spectacular. It was nice to have the closed roads. The views of Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge and the city in fog during the sunrise were incredible. It couldn’t get any better, it was like a dream. Riding a time trial that is closed to traffic is the best. You don’t have to think about what’s coming around the corner, you’re not worried about your line, you can just choose whatever you want to do.”
Echoing David’s feelings, Kris Johnson from Colorado added: “Today was almost a euphoric experience. Usually a time trial is a “sufferfest”, but we had amazing visual impressions as we were riding hard. I’m from Colorado and never in my life have I had the experience to come around a corner full gas and see an epic ocean view. It was a privilege to be the first road racers here on the island. The course was fantastic and so diverse. It pumped me up.”
The first-ever Haute Route San Francisco featured nearly 200 miles of riding and over 20,000 feet of climbing, with countless memorable moments. The first stage kicked off with a 12-motorcycle police escort through downtown Oakland during morning rush hour before riders took on the 10-mile ascent to the summit of Mount Diablo. The next day, the peloton rolled across the Golden Gate Bridge with exclusive access to the west-side pedestrian path before riding through Marin County and climbing the iconic Mount Tam, enjoying endless redwoods and ocean views.
First-time participant Chris Rudy of San Francisco most enjoyed the other riders he met during the weekend: “This was my first Haute Route and the highlight for me was the other people. Everyone was awesome. There was a nice mix of really good cyclists and really cool people all in one place. My favorite experience was riding Angel Island, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ride around the island without having to worry about traffic or people. I would absolutely do another Haute Route.”
Kris Johnson added: “This was the best organized cycling event I’ve ever been to, and I’ve been cycling a lot of years and been to a lot of events. The highlight for me is standing here at the finish and being able to say, “I did it”. I will never forget this.
Following the first three-day Haute Route event in the U.S., Haute Route North America chairman Alain Lambert was elated: “The biggest question we have at Haute Route is, ‘how can we make the experience better for the riders?’ and I think the inaugural Haute Route San Francisco offered an outstanding three days of riding and an incredible overall experience.”
He added: “The roll out from Jack London Square with a 12-motorcycle escort was especially memorable. Closing down the city streets of Oakland during rush hour with a police escort is usually only done for the pro peloton. The total shutdown of Angel Island so riders could enjoy private roads free of cars and pedestrians for the final stage time trial was also very special. The event was capped off with a prize ceremony aboard a private ferry ride with the Golden Gate Bridge overhead. We’re looking forward to more amazing moments during our next event, the three-day inaugural Haute Route Asheville.”
After a hard-fought contest at the front of the peloton, American rider Andrew Shimizu took the overall win with 1:09 over fellow riders. American rider Breanne Nalder won the female category, 4:48 ahead of Caroline Nolan.
Following the Haute Route San Francisco, the 2018 Haute Route Cycling Series continues on American soil with the inaugural Haute Route Asheville on May 18th, followed by the 7-day Mavic Haute Route Rockies starting on June 23rd and Haute Route Utah on September 14th.
In Europe, the Haute Route events start with three 3-day events: the Haute Route Stelvio on June 8th, the Haute Route Alpe d’Huez on July 13th and the inaugural Maserati Haute Route Norway on August 3rd. Then come the two classic seven-day European Haute Route events starting with the Haute Route Pyrenees on August 18th and the Haute Route Alps on August 26th. The 2018 series continues with the revamped 3-day Haute Route Dolomites on September 21st and finishes atop the Giant of Provence with the Haute Route Ventoux on October 5th.