The bicycles that whiz through Modesto during the visits of the Amgen Tour of California start with a custom-made carbon fiber frame, and by the time they're ready to ride cost upward of $7,000.
Meanwhile, for the past five years, the bids submitted by the city of Modesto to be a host of the event were compiled by hand, printed on paper and delivered by mail carrier.
This year, however, as Modesto lobbied to regain the race for which it was a host from 2008-11, the city's formal bid was every bit as high-tech as the bikes.
For the first time, Modesto's application to be a Tour of California host city was digital. Rather than a snail-mailed packet of letters, charts and spreadsheets, what Modesto sent to Tour owner AEG was a Web address: www.ci.modesto.ca.us/amgen.
"We've done the traditional paper submission in the past, but this year we wanted to change it up a bit and up the ante," said Jessica Smart, Modesto's public information coordinator. "We like the idea that it's Web-based because it makes it much easier to digest all of the information."
Smart, whose office oversaw the creation and content of the Web site, said the idea came from other cities that have submitted digital bids in past years.
The multipage online document includes a complete statement of Modesto's organizational, financial and promotional plans and its history with the Tour of California.
But what the Web site also provides that a paper presentation can't begin to offer is a visual representation of Modesto as a Tour- and bike-friendly community, presented in still and video forms.
"You can't convey the video on paper," Smart said. "This was a cost-effective way to do this without losing any of the informational value."
The bid was sent to AEG on Aug. 14, three days ahead of the submission deadline for the mid-May 2013 race. Last year's unveiling of host cities took place Nov. 3, and the precise route was revealed Feb. 8.
According to Smart, Modesto was asked by AEG to submit a bid for the 2013 race, as it was for the 2012 event.
But a growing trend over the past few years has been for AEG to request bids from cities it would like to see be a stage host for the first time. Such was the case last year when Sonora, which never had shown formal interest in being a host, was courted at the last minute, then chosen by organizers to be a start city. Sonora is hoping to be a host city again in 2013.
Sonora's inclusion on the Amgen route and proximity to Modesto was a major reason Modesto was bypassed by the Tour for the first time in five years. Now, a new Tour-stop rival has emerged.
In August, Turlock city officials confirmed that they had submitted a bid after being contacted by organizers.
AEG is good at keeping mum on the host cities and race route until it's ready to formally announce such matters, but Tour history indicates it's highly unlikely Modesto and Turlock could be included in the same race, again because of proximity.
"We've shared some information with Turlock, since all host cities that bid for the first time reach out to find out what's involved in the bid," Smart said.
"Modesto always wants the Tour, but at the end of the day, it's obvious they like something about the Central Valley," she said. "We've done such a great job as a host that you can't blame AEG for wanting to look at other cities in our area, and we wish Turlock the best of luck."
Whether a bid is shipped by mail or parked on a Web site, some things never change when it comes to cities wanting to play host to the Tour of California.
"We've haven't heard anything since we submitted everything via the Web," Smart said. "You're always nervous and waiting and wanting to hear.
"Once you've had it, you want it back every year. It's so great for our community, but it is nerve-wracking until they actually announce the host cities."
Bee staff writer Brian VanderBeek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2150. Follow him at http://twitter.com/modestobeek.