For many local merchants, the Amgen Tour of California was more than a chance to see Lance.
On a dreary Sunday morning in Davis that would have normally kept most burrowed deep in bed, several thousand cycling fans and onlookers braved the conditions to see the race, spending money in downtown on the way.
Customers visibly swarmed Ciocolat at the corner of Third and B Streets. Many were seeking a pastry or a Mexican hot chocolate. Others just wanted shelter from the strengthening rain. The ten-minute wait indoors for a regular coffee suggested that perhaps this was not just another day of business.
Kate Hutchinson, owner of Ciocolat, saw the day as a welcome rush.
“So far it’s been really busy. Really happy customers,” Hutchinson said. “It was a little bit scary beforehand, trying to plan for it, whether the weather would impact us. You never know if for an event like this you bought or prepared too much food.“
On the other side of Central Park the story was mostly the same. Around 11:30 a.m., nearing the start of the first leg of the Amgen tour, crowds moved in a kind of gradual, glacial throng to the corner of Third and C Streets, close to the starting line. A thin passing lane was created among the people on the side of the road to accommodate the riders, whose warm-up laps around the park generated increasing levels of excitement. Kids in ponchos squeezed between their parents to get a glimpse. Amateur photographers jostled in for a treasured close-up. An emcee roused the crowd on a raised platform. The rain continued.
Crepeville and Burgers and Brew, at opposite corners of this buzzing intersection, were both packed with paying customers. Derar Zawaydeh, co-owner of both restaurants, said that on a day like this, one has to prepare for the onrush.
“Definitely it’s been a great day, fun, with some really amazing people,” he said. “We’re normally busy on the weekends, but this takes us a notch higher, so we just have to work a little bit harder.“
Zawaydeh praised the City of Davis for its work in bringing the race to Davis.
“I know this is good for the businesses, and hopefully it’s good enough that it brings more events like this to Davis,” he said.
The large crowds weren’t overwhelming, said Lt. Colleen Turay, whose job was to oversee smooth management of the crowds and the traffic flow.
“Things went pretty smoothly,” Turay said. “We were geared up for much bigger crowds, so it was not as packed as we anticipated it would be. So, therefore it was pretty easy. We didn’t even fill up all the parking spaces.“
Beth Annon-Lovering, owner of B&L Bike Shop downtown, had set up a promotional stand along a stretch of the park that a day earlier had been lined with produce stands from the Farmers‘ Market. For her, this day was not so much about sales as it was about the sport itself.
“It creates a positive impact on cycling, which in the long run, benefits the bike shops,” she said. “Today it was all about the race. It brings awareness to cycling.“
Annon-Lovering said the rain didn’t put a damper on the event.
“Nobody’s going to melt,” she said. “The riders are gonna ride no matter what the weather is.“
TOM MORRIS can be reached at email@example.com. XXX