Visit California Dream Big Sweepstakes winner Andrea Barron talks about her VIP trip to ATOC2014

May 28, 2014
Category: General  Host Cities  Women's Races  Ride 2 Recovery  Stage 1  Stage 2 

California has always been the place where big dreams come true. The Amgen Tour of California and Visit California teamed up to make Glendale, Arizona’s Andrea Barron’s dreams come true when she won the Dream Big Sweepstakes sending her and a guest to watch the first two stages of the 2014 Amgen Tour of California. Barron received VIP access and treatment all weekend in Sacramento, including roundtrip airfare and hotel accommodations along with an official Amgen Tour of California merchandise package and an autographed leader’s jersey. The vivacious Barron introduced herself to me while hob knobbing with race execs, sponsors and VIPs at a private ZD Wines event in Old Town Sacramento the day before the race started. Overflowing with infectious joy, Barron’s warm and generous spirit is evident in her winning smile. We’ve kept in touch and recently I chatted with the Senior Technical Project Manager at AT&T about her experiences visiting the Amgen Tour of California.

ATOC Insider: Did you ever dream that you would win the Amgen Tour of California and Visit California Dream Big Sweepstakes?

Andrea Barron: Honestly, I'd forgotten entering when I received the email about winning the prize and already had my own travel arrangements to attend Stages 1 and 2. My mom lives near Auburn so I’d planned to drive over and watch the peloton roll through downtown (Sacramento) for a sprint stage and have lunch with my mom on Mother's Day before driving over to Folsom for the TT. I was comped additional nights at the host hotel in Sacramento, VIP tickets for both stages, the ZD Wine tasting event and a ride along at the TT in Folsom. The prize included a signed stage winner's jersey and I received a signed jersey by ALL the male pro riders on the podium during the Friday afternoon press conference (Jens Voigt, Bradley Wiggins, Peter Sagan, Mark Cavendish, Matthew Goss, Freddie Rodriguez, Ben King, Peter Stetina, Laurens Ten Dam and Taylor Phinney). Total score!

ATOC Insider: What did you do while visiting Sacramento and Folsom?

Barron: Saturday morning, I participated in the 35-mile Ride 2 Recovery before attending the ZD Wine tasting event with one of my high school friends where I met Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen. I also ran into the Champion System's team who supply our LUNA Chix kits and met the owners. On Sunday, my mom joined me in the VIP hospitality tents to watch the tour start and then the women's crit. Earlier this year, I attended Kathyrne Bertine's documentary debut of “Half the Road” in Tucson so to be there watching her, Women’s Cycling Association president Robin Farina and the rest of the women's peloton sharing half the road…the spot light was pretty epic. On Monday, I drove over to Folsom and met another high school friend who's a photographer for the TT.
ATOC Insider: What was your favorite part of visiting California for the race?

Barron: Sharing the experience with my mom made it the BEST Mother's Day ever! I missed my guys, but to have a girl’s weekend with my mom and high school friends watching the best cyclists in the world battle it out on the streets I grew up on was ridiculously awesome. Also, I'd received several extra VIP hospitality passes and shared them with families who'd brought their children. I'd ask them if they were planning to stay and watch the women's crit and if they said yes, I shared the passes.
ATOC Insider: Had you ever been to the Amgen Tour of California before? Have you ever seen a big pro bike race in-person before?

Barron: I've watched the Amgen Tour of California on TV and tracked the riders on the Tour Tracker the last couple of years, but never attended in-person. I just started cycling in 2011 when I bought a bike and signed up for the LIVESTRONG Challenge in Austin in support of my best friend, who was battling breast cancer. My WOW moment was at the start/finish line when the peloton came through on their penultimate lap. The power and energy of the peloton was overwhelming. I'd never experienced anything like it and I've been to MotoGP races and the Indy 500, but they just doesn't compare.
ATOC Insider: Did you meet any of the riders? If so, who?

Barron: I stalked a couple of my fave riders - specifically Mark Cavendish and Jens Voigt. After Jen's TT run, I got a photo op with him. I just love that he's out there getting it done in his forties with all the young riders and makes it look so easy. He was so personal and accommodating to his fans and I'm glad I got to watch him finish 8th in the TT in his last year of racing. On my TT ride along with (driver) Chris Wherry, who's a crazy driver by the way, we followed Alex Howes. I also got to hang out with Team Vanderkitten in the VIP tents. Fun ladies!

ATOC Insider: You brought your bike with you as we met after you did the Ride 2 Recovery Honor Ride in Sacramento. How was the ride? As a military veteran, I’m sure that particular event meant something to you personally.

Barron: As a Navy veteran, it was an honor to participate in the R2R and give back and support those who've sacrificed so much in service to our country. I ride the American River Bike Path at least once a year when I visit (Sacramento) so it's my fave ride. For a first-year event, it was well attended, organized and supported. I'll definitely ride in support of R2R again.
ATOC Insider: Will you come back to the race next year? Will you enter the contest again?

Barron: I'll definitely be back to experience the Amgen Tour of California in-person and hope to see a women's stage race next year...a girl can dream! Totally entering the contest again, too.