Having hosted the Individual Time Trial on two occasions, the City of Folsom has been a fantastic partner of the Amgen Tour of California. For the 2018 race, they commence the start of what is guaranteed to be a memorable Stage 6. From the start, the route heads uphill. Over the course of this 123-mile route, the peloton climbs nearly 16,000 feet over four KOMs, even finishing uphill at the Heavenly Mountain Resort in South Lake Tahoe.
The race processes out of Folsom on the city's newly completed Johnny Cash Trail, a unique three-mile pedestrian and bike path that honors the memory of Johnny Cash and his historic 1968 performance at Folsom Prison. Turning right at the intricately planned Legacy Park, the riders start their uphill trek into gold country. Twenty-three miles into the Sierra Nevada foothills is historic Placerville. Originally known as Hangtown, Placerville was the epicenter of the 1948 Gold Rush, with places like Sutter's Mill not far away. The entire town is a California Historical Landmark, but there is a rich history in the surrounding hillsides too. One of the best places to dig into this past is at Gold Bug Park, only one mile north of town (and the route). The Gold Bug Mine was a working mine 170 years ago. Today it serves as a wonderfully fun and educational museum that kids will love. Guided tours of both Gold Bug and Priest Mines take visitors underground to experience what it was like for the original gold seekers, albeit now in a safer and more enjoyable environment. Get your hands dirty trying gem panning in a trough or get out in the backcountry to explore the hidden gems of this 60-acre park on hiking trails through forests and past hidden mines or stamp mills.
Not twenty-miles up from Placerville, the peloton makes a right turn at a fork in the road onto the historic Mormon Emigrant Trail. The Tour follows this same route for the next sixty miles into Nevada. The history of the Trail, however, is one that is little known, but is marked with overlapping history and breathtaking scenery. In 1848, about fifty members of the famed Mormon Battalion from Sutter's Fort decided to rejoin their families in Utah. With the usual passes further north still covered with snow in early May, the group decided to try a different route, one further south and previously explored by Kit Carson four years earlier. Setting off from the present-day location of Jenkinson Lake, the Battalion cleared a new trail that would become a preferred alternate route for new migrants heading west. Now the world's best cyclists retrace this route, passing many roadside markers along the way. Perhaps catch the race as it turns onto Highway 88 and then follow the trail yourself, taking time to stop along the way to marvel at the result of these trailblazing soldiers.
Forty miles after turning onto the Emigrant Trail, the race comes to the highest point of the stage and the Tour, just under 8,600 feet at the crest of Carson Pass. Just as majestic and green in summer, Highway 88 is a winter wonderland between November and April. Near the pass is Kirkwood Resort, a small but highly regarded ski mountain in the South Tahoe region. With a vertical elevation of 2,000 feet and a skiable area of 2,300 acres, Kirkwood is certainly cozier than its sister resort at Heavenly. But its location seventeen miles south of Lake Tahoe (as the crow flies), causes the snow to be deeper and drier than those resorts along the lake. Skiing or staying in South Lake Tahoe? Heavenly even offers a shuttle to those wanting to try another mountain for a reasonable fare. The Tour will be here in summer, but come back in winter when the tall pines are dusted in white and the roads are defined by walls of snow.