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We wake up in a motor lodge in Visalia. It’s misty and there is some light rain. Today’s route leaves from the center of town, which is easily rideable, so we meet over breakfast in room 115.

We roll into town and commence with the too-many lefts and too-many rights that make up the start of Stage 5. Like the Prologue three days before, this portion of the day’s ride is a dull formality. This same setting, with fans, will serve as a much needed boost for the long day ahead when the pros come through. For us, however, it’s the start that never really comes, a hurried procession through a misty ghost town. As it turns out, it’s an appropriate beginning for Stage 5. A 130-mile plus route that runs from Visalia to Paso Robles, it includes some of the more uninspiring terrain of the tour. Today is about hard work and nothing more.

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