A bicycle race, a college graduation, a volleyball tournament and a theater matinee all converged in downtown Sacramento on Saturday — and the city rolled along without missing a beat.
Despite concerns of traffic congestion and delays caused by the rare confluence of major events, few issues arose as thousands flocked to the blocks around the Capitol and Golden 1 Center to celebrate athletic and academic achievements.
"It's a whole day of excitement," said Ashley Long, who showed up at 7 a.m. to grab a prime spot, across the street from the Capitol, at the finish line for the final stages of the Amgen Tour of California. He said the race crew hadn't even set up yet when he and his wife , Veronica Long, arrived.
The Longs, who brought camp chairs and a cooler with snacks, said they learned from last year to come better prepared. They drove from Richmond on Friday for the sixth stage of the race, which started in Folsom, and were thrilled to watch world-class riders they had been following from afar during previous tournaments in France, Spain and Italy.
"Seeing them here, it's like, 'Oh my god, I just saw you on TV!' " Veronica said.
In the spirit of the event, many spectators wheeled their own bicycles along the race route.
"Who would want to try to park up here?" said Taylor Miller, who rode from his home in Land Park. Like other patrons crowding the sidewalk seating of restaurants along L Street, he watched the women's race, and followed live results of the men's race on his phone, as he enjoyed breakfast at de Vere's Irish Pub.
Miller said he camped Thursday night in Sly Park to see the men complete a grueling summit on their way to South Lake Tahoe during the sixth stage of the tour. He planned to watch the conclusion of the race from a spot at one of the turns, where the riders get inches apart and the "action is very dramatic," he said.
As the women's peloton rode past the Sacramento Community Center Theater, where the musical "An American In Paris" played Saturday afternoon, a group of 13-year-old girls in volleyball gear ran up to the barricade to get a closer look. Their team was in town from Reno for the Northern California Volleyball Association regional championship at the Sacramento Convention Center.
"It's an added little bonus, because we've never seen a bike race before," said Tamatha Schreinert, whose twin daughters play on the team.
Waiting to enter the Golden 1 Center for Sacramento State's spring commencement for the College of Arts and Letters and the College of Education, attendees said they had little trouble reaching the venue, even with the maze of street closures for the Amgen Tour.
Quincy Wong, who was visiting from San Francisco to see his brother graduate, had reserved a parking spot in a nearby garage online that morning before leaving the house.
"Always trying to think ahead," he said.
And even for those, like Oralia Suarez, who said it had "been too crazy," the stress soon melted away.
Suarez, who was getting her degree in communication (public relations), said it took her 51 minutes on Friday evening to drive the 15 blocks from Zócalo to Golden 1 Center for her friend's graduation. In anticipation, she had come "two hours before all this" for her own ceremony on Saturday. Standing in her cap and gown, she felt the weight off her shoulders.
"Now it's all worth it," she said.