Woman has front-porch view of tour hot corner

February 16, 2009 

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Modesto's Marci Fikse has definitely heard of Lance Armstrong, but she didn't know until Saturday that the world's most famous cyclist would be riding his bike twice by her house today.

"My kids are really excited," Fikse said. "Guys working on my house said they were excited and wanted to make sure they could stop by and watch the race."

Fikse lives on the northwest corner of Coldwell and Sycamore avenues, where dozens of Amgen Tour of California riders are going to pass by twice on the final stretch of the third stage of the race.

The riders will start in San Jose at 11:50 a.m., and the first ones to arrive in Modesto are expected to be racing by Fikse's house by 3:30 p.m.

Well, they might not be racing if they know what's good for them.

The Coldwell-to-Sycamore right turn has to be one of the harshest turns to negotiate in the entire stage.

With cyclists expected to average 22 to 28 mph for the entire stage, they actually might be going faster on that half-mile straightaway on Coldwell from College Avenue to Sycamore.

But they'll soon have to hit the brakes as they approach the T intersection. There's very little room to swing out wide and cut the corner, and the road is crowned, making it even more difficult.

Augusta has Amen's Corner. The Boston Marathon has Heartbreak Hill. Modesto? How about the Sycamore Sandwich or the Coldwell Crush?

Julie Hannon, Modesto's acting director for the Parks, Recreation and Neighborhoods Department, said "we were nervous that (Amgen organizers) wouldn't want to go on that corner."

They apparently did, although of the 30 hay bales that will be in place throughout the course in Modesto, the Coldwell-Sycamore corner will have the most, Hannon said.

Hannon mentioned that she's heard of people along Coldwell and other parts of the route who are going to throw parties in advance of their few minutes of fame.

Fikse, who moved to Modesto from Chino Hills about 18 months ago to be closer to her children and grandchildren, said she's going to have family over to enjoy the view from her elevated porch. She joked she'd charge a reporter $10 for a spot with a view, and when he mentioned it could be worth more, she playfully upped it to $25.

Fikse knows people will line up on the sidewalk in front of her house, likening the spectating experience to watching her daughter run a marathon in November in Monterey. She asks that if you are one of the many out front, tread lightly if you can.

"As long as they don't trample my bushes, I'm fine," she said. "I just want to be able to see."

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