I was fortunate to be invited as a guest liasion officer for Team NetApp during the 2013 Amgen Tour of California, May 12-19. Along the race route I was able to ride my bike with distinguished guests of Team NetApp as well as explain the intricate details of the racing tactics as it unfolded before us. Here are a few brief notes of the last few days as we hosted the co-founder of NetApp, James Lau at various sites along the race route.
Friday, May 17 – Tour of California Individual Time Trial
NetApp had 6 employees signed up to race the time trial course (race against the clock) themselves, 30 minutes before the Pro’s! The course was 30km long and had an elevation gain of 2,149 feet, the last of which was 942 feet. The wild card was the strong head wind which weakened everyone’s legs before the final ramp.
James, one of the co-founders of NetApp in 1992 led the way with a valiant effort, punching his way through the wind and up the final climb without stopping. An incredible effort considering he has just starting ride his road bike within the last year.
Saturday, May 18 – Tour of California Mt. Diablo Road Race
Today was a tough day for the pro riders and also tough for us! The Pro’s raced 91 miles with over 10,000 feet in elevation gain, including the final climb up Mt. Diablo of 3,455 feet. I met up with the NetApp group including Mr. Lau at the base of Mt. Diablo to ride this climb together, in advance of the race.
We rode the climb together and James was able to ride the entire climb without stopping, save for a forced stop when we had to display our passes.
We then changed into our ‘normal’ clothes (which had been shuttled to the top by our support van) and watched the race live via video from the VIP tent.
As the race approached, I described the team tactics that Team NetApp was deploying to the NetApp employees in attendance as well as their customers including “Williams Sonoma” and “The Gap”. The team had 1 rider in the breakaway (David “the clown” de la Cruz) who acted like a fully redundant data drive in a RAID array – running at full speed. Leo “The King” König remained ‘idling” in the draft of the field as if he were a RAID DP drive – in case David faltered. As David tired, and at the critical moment, Leo attacked from the lead group and sprinted up the final, 300 meter ramp of 18% to take the win! A perfect display of how team work is always stronger than the individual. As a bonus, AEG, the owner of Tour of California invited Leo to watch a Stanley Cup playoff game in San Jose – a life-long dream for Leo who grew up playing hockey in the Czech Republic.
James was able to greet and personally congratulate Leo on his amazing win as he beat some of the best Pro’s in the world on a very demanding day.
Later that evening, we attended the Chairman’s Dinner in Santa Rosa as guests of the Local Organizing Committee and sponsor, ZD Wines. Great conversation ensued along with world class wines!
Sunday, May 19 – Tour of California Santa Rosa Road Race
Sunday’s stage for the Pro’s started in San Francisco and took them over the Golden Gate bridge, finishing with a flat circuit finish in downtown Santa Rosa. In the morning, before the Pro’s arrived, we took part in the Chairman’s ride with James and Phil, Vice-President at NetApp. We rode the hilly 50km route as a team and finished strongly together.
Just when we thought we had enough excitement, we watched the final sprint in awe as Daniel “The Speedster” Schorn of Team NetApp sprinted to 2nd place on the stage just behind Peter Sagan and ahead of Tyler Farrar, both previous stage winners at the Tour of California.
More Team NetApp photos from Tour of California are here.
Monday, May 20 – Corporate Day at NetApp HQ, Sunnyvale, CA
Today was “Meet the Pro” day at NetApp Inc. in Sunnyvale. Team NetApp arrived at the NetApp Campus for lunch at the corporate cafeteria and then held an autograph and photo op session with NetApp employees.
The team then went over to the NetApp Executive Briefing Center for a presentation from James about the history of NetApp.
Chris Cummings then explained the solutions NetApp provides to their customers.
Chris then shared this video as a great example of NetApp’s dynamic data storage capabilities.
Next on tap was a 50km bike ride with NetApp’s employees. About 25 riders including James gathered outside of NetApp’s fitness center for a fun, conversation-filled ride around the Sunnyvale neighbourhoods.
After a wrap-up dinner and visit to downtown San Francisco, the team flew back to Europe to prepare for their next series of races including the Critérium du Dauphiné (June 2-9) and the Tour of Spain (Aug 24 – Sept 15).
Good luck to the team!