The city of Visalia hosted a pre-party Wednesday evening with a deejay, beer garden, and farmers market. Children and adults also had the opportunity to write chalk messages on Main Street the cyclists will see as they prepare for the race. "I've waited a whole year for this. It's just so exciting to see it come," said Daryl Schapansky of Exeter.
City officials estimate 20,000 people lined the streets for the start of last year's race. This year, the route also includes neighboring cities. "This year, we're thrilled because it truly is a showcase for the entire county. The route goes through some of the most perfect countryside you've ever seen, but also showcases our partner cities: Exeter, Lindsay, Farmersville, and Porterville, on the way to Bakersfield," said Nancy Loliva with the city of Visalia.
The city of Porterville also hosted a pre-party Wednesday. Live music played in front of city hall, while kids participated in a bike rodeo down the street. Stationary bike races also entertained the crowd and gave people a taste of what the cyclists experience daily. "They're crazy. 10 minutes, I was done. I was exhausted. I was through," said Andrew Phipps of Strathmore.
Thousands of Porterville school children will line the streets as the race makes its way through the community. Bands are will also perform throughout the route. "We're doing what we call a band on every corner. We have a 8 middle school and high school bands that will be playing along the entire route that comes through Porterville," said Porterville Chamber of Commerce President Donette Carter.
Throughout the South Valley, city leaders are ready to show off their communities. "This is the premiere race for the nation, really. And we were a little jealous last year when the race went west over the coast," said Porterville Mayor Pete McCracken.