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The Tour Del Mar Bicycle Race, August 27-28, 1966

The Tour Del Mar: A Unique Event in American Cycling

by David Steffen

When I first started looking at these pictures, I had no memory of this bike race. As I looked closer, what I originally took as pictures from one bike race due to shared scenery seemed to be two different races as evidenced by different jerseys on the same riders. Much confusion ensued until I did some research on the web and reconstructed that this was a two-day bicycle race, a Criterium on Saturday and a Road Race on Sunday, held in the town of Pescedaro, California on August 27 and 28, 1966. Still, some confusion remains, perhaps due in part to changing road names and other changes to the topography that may have occurred during the last 50 years. Expect this page to change as I continue to puzzle this out.

Whatever the problems with picture identification that may remain, there is no denying the fact, confirmed by the historical record, that this was a most unusual bike race! In the first place, stage races were very rare (nonexistent?) in amateur bicycle racing in the United States in the 1960s. In the second place, this bicycle race included an associated rock concert featuring both The Grateful Dead and the Quicksilver Messenger Service, two bands which were quite hot even at the time and reached superstar status shortly thereafter. In the third place, Playboy Bunnies! Politicians! A Ford Mustang Shelby Cobra Pace Car! Check out the amazing program (PDF) for this race.

Day 1: Criterium

Before the start of the race, as we get our bikes out of our cars and reassemble them. Fred Brockman is in the center of the picture in the plaid shirt, Jeff Cowdrey in the yellow Modesto Roadmen T-shirt.

This race started with the Pledge of Allegiance. There is what I believe to be a Ford Mustang Shelby Cobra, used as a pace car, but given that this was a criterium, I'm not sure how this was used.

The race is on! Near the center of the picture, between the church steeple and the telephone pole, is Eldon Rosenow in the yellow jersey with red and blue sleeves.

I believe that the rider to the far left (in front) is Jeff Cowdrey, based on his very characteristic arm position.

I believe the two riders to the left are Eldon Rosenow, closer to the camera, and another member of the Roadmen, perhaps Jeff.

Eldon is the third rider from the left of the picture in the yellow jersey with red and blue sleeves. Behind him may be Jeff, and behind Jeff, perhaps another member of the Roadmen, probably Tom?

If you look at the previous picture, you can see where this one was taken, on the bridge in front of the church. Tom Woods, in the yellow Modesto Roadmen T-shirt, is just to the left of the telephone pole.

Tom Woods, leaning into the corner marked by the diagnostic street sign.

Now we are out in the country. Eldon is the second rider from the back.

Now we see Eldon leaning into the same corner as Tom, two pictures ago.

Tom and Jeff are closest to the camera to the left and in the center of the picture.

The sprint finish of the Junior Race. Sadly, no Modesto Roadmen are in this picture.

Tom Woods riding back to the cars after the completion of the race.

Day 2: Road Race

"Lest we forget." I was being silly on the way to the race so took a picture of Dad driving me there. I am now glad I have this as a memory and thank you to Dad and all the adults who allowed us to race by providing all kinds of support, including transportation.

At the start, before the race. If you look at the first four riders positioned on the white line down the middle of the road, they are Eldon Rosenow, David Steffen, Jeff Cowdrey, and Tom Woods.

Just as the race starts. Jeff is in the yellow T-shirt in the center of the picture.

Racing off into the fog. I think number 98 in the middle of the picture might be David.

David chasing an unknown rider.

Tom Woods. Not sure what he is doing.

The sprint finish of the Junior race. No Modesto Roadmen in sight.

David, well after the previous picture, finishing his own race.

Eldon and Jeff, debriefing after the race.

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