PATTERSON -- The children of Patterson came out in force two years ago for the first visit of the Amgen Tour of California, lining the streets of the town, noise-makers in hand, waving signs as simple as "Good Luck! Don't Crash!"
But the route into Patterson from the west, from Sperry Road to West Las Palmas Ave., around the traffic circle at Plaza Park and across Highway 33 is likely going to be less crowded when the Tour returns Wednesday afternoon.
Wednesday is an early dismissal day for all Patterson schools and most of the school-aged kids will be home by the time the riders scream through. The above-mentioned roads will either be closed to traffic or have restricted access starting around 2:30 p.m.
The closure includes all access to the restaurants and gas stations adjacent to I-5 at Sperry Road. As soon as the pace car goes through, roughly a mile ahead of the peloton, the exits off I-5 at Sperry will be closed to traffic for 10-15 minutes.
In 2008, when the tour went from Modesto to San Jose, through Patterson, the school kids were ready to cheer on the riders.
"Last time through I helped organize all the schools for the race," said Adrienne Chaney, Patterson's director of parks and recreation. "But this time there won't be any kids at school at this time."
There is one silver lining. The planned arrival time of the racers would have coincided with the regular school release time.
"That would have been a challenge," Chaney said.
Bee staff writer Brian VanderBeek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2300.