Wednesday, June 10, 2009

America's Most Beautiful Bike Ride..

It was...I think..true...

Now I have not been everywhere and as someone mentioned, Jackson Hole is pretty spectacular and then there is Alaska of course-but do they have century rides like this? I do not know.

We left on Thursday after a swim lesson with Coach Eric, where we learned to reach and pull. Wow-talk about sore arms! It is hard work getting faster....better pay off! We drove the long 9.5 hour drive to Barstow, CA, where my head hit the ever so fluffy pillow at the Hampton Inn there. I love the Hampton. The fluffy beds, the big "free" breakfast in the morning, all of it..H & I are in the habit of just getting we eat in the car on the fly. H is in charge of "car meals", well all meals for that fact. We managed to fit both bikes in the car, without both wheels, with plenty of room in the Pre-Ass for all our other sporty stuff and suitcases..This makes for better gas mileage. We found that dragging the bikes behind the car affects the gas mileage like by about 10 MPG. Got a good night's sleep in Barstow and woke up to a sunny California day to make the last 7 hour drive to South Lake Tahoe. It took us longer than we thought but the drive was beautiful through several mountain ranges. Of course I forgot my was going to take flip videos, which I had with me, but that seemed too much trouble so alas I have no real documentation. Except my cheesy Blackberry pictures, which after seeing IPhone pics-mine look like they were taken with one of those brownie cameras I use to have as a kid..

Got to Tahoe around dinner time and it was raining. Apparently had been raining and cloudy for about 7 days. We read that it only rains a few days a year and we happen to hit right in those few days I guess. We could not really see Lake Tahoe or the mountains and did I mention it was cold? Around 38 in the morning and 50s in the day. Waking up Saturday to more rain, we managed to squeak out a run for about an hour before the rain started up again and it rained..and rained.. and rained..well you get the picture..I spent alot of time cleaning our bikes and at the local grocery store, gathering food for the morning and beyond..We ate dinner at one very busy Italian restaurant, where the food was, meh...ok..
3,000+ people descended upon South Lake Tahoe, populations 23,000 for this ride. So it was a very busy little place all day Saturday as folks were going stir crazy in the rain. I must admit I was a bit grumpy thinking about riding 100 miles anyway and in the rain? I don't think so. The weather forecast was somewhat encouraging for Sunday. Rain in the afternoon-OK so we have to be done by the afternoon, that is all.

6:15 AM-that is the time we started AMBBR, as it is called. We rode the 1.5 miles from the Best Western, where we stayed there (OK place, GREAT pancakes for breakfast made up for the crappy cell service and no wireless Internet-certainly not the luxury hotel it was cracked up to be)..There were the 3000 plus cyclists at the start, staggering to begin but still a clusterf&*#k for much of the first 50 miles or so...H and I wore our Outlaw jerseys but who could see them under the 5 layers of clothes we had on? It was friggin' cold in the 30s but we are Outlaws and we train in the winter here so we can take it, right? Really was not so bad and hallelujah, it was cloudy but no rain! We were so happy about this. I would not have gone in that pouring down stuff, which would have made for one long trip for no reason..

This ride was so well supported, I do not think we will ever be treated any better on a century ride. About every 15 miles or so there was a rest stop which had bars, fruit, cookies, pretzels, Cytomax, etc, etc...There were drop bags at each stop so you could lose the layers and layers of clothes you had one, which we did...Bike pumps, bike techs, everything you could imagine were at these stops and tons of porta potties..I can't say enough about those support areas...We stopped at the second one and hung out for probably 30 minutes just to hang out! This was after the first "hill" out of two hills on the ride. My antiquated Garmin only held a charge for part of the ride so here is the first bit of elevation:
So the hill was right at the beginning, which was good because it warmed me up enough to peel clothes...

The views from the top of this pass were...well I can't even describe it except to say mountains behind a beautiful clear blue Lake Tahoe, with the sun peaking out from the clouds finally was well, breath taking..

After around mile 33, we did an out and back on the most beautiful bike trail I have ever been on. It went right past a river/creek that was as clear water as I have ever seen. I kept say Why this really IS the most beautiful bike ride! Oohs and ahhhs abound here. It was a bit technical trying to keep from running into the person in front of you. Well imagine hundreds of cyclists trying to fit on one little bike path for 5 miles or so and well, you get the picture. People were polite and all and no run-ins which could have easily happened.

Around mile 70 was lunch. Now this was no ordinary lunch. As you came into the lunch area, there were about 200 folks cheering you in just for lunch! Out of the 3000+ cyclists, 1800 were Team-in-Training peeps. These folks are really organized!! Spectators abounds for these motivated people, many of whom I assume were doing their first century ride..We saw people from all over the country as the jerseys had TNT, with where they were from..I finally got to sport my Outlaw jersey and of course had some great compliments about that!

Lunch..well what can I say? What wasn't there to eat? Now I am not one who can eat alot on the bike, or my stomach rebels but I had to have the vege sub and chocolate brownie and chips..just had to...I have never seen so much food in my life! We stayed another 30 minutes at this beautiful rest/picnic area right on the lake, sun shining at this point, full on!

Now by this time I was getting a bit tired. My legs felt fine, I was just tired..So we stopped at one of the many quaint little coffee shops along the lake and I had an espresso, which seemed to kick me into another gear for the rest of the ride. H & I were pinching ourselves asking ourselves if the happy police were going to come and take us away now!

Miles 80-86 were a bit tough as we had another long, long, slow climb. I was getting grumpy by now-at one point when there was about 2 miles to the summit, some (I am sure well meaning yet out of shape looking) volunteer told me it was 7 miles to the top. I had no Garmin by now and well, I was not a happy camper!! I was very happy he was wrong!

Finally at mile 86 wheeeee!!! We flew downhill the next 12 miles or so..It was exhilarating! As we sailed back into S. Lake Tahoe town, there were alot of those "grate" thingies on the side of the rode. So heard and yelled alot of "Grate!" warnings... Just as I thought wow I wonder if these things are really all that dangerous?, I watch as a lady gets caught in one, right in front of us and goes flying over her handle bars and face plants..Holy chit! We stopped..I went back and told her not to move her neck, as I remembered one of our Outlaws, who recently broke her neck and neck immobility when it happened probably saved her from being paralyzed. Well, this woman was having none of that as she tried to get up. I told her You snapped your neck, I saw you..please do not move! But she was insisting she wanted to finish the 100 miles. One guy told her..I think it counts you are at mile 98 or something. The sag people arrived immediately..I told them it looked like she snapped her neck as she face-planted to me (her face was bleeding too) figured they would take it from there, as there were also tons of people there to help here up..Oh well, I tried! I hope she is OK. We did see the medical helicopter take off soon after we finished so maybe she got airlifted out..Will never know I guess...

That kind of dampened my finish to the 100 miles. I was getting tired by now anyways. My legs were beginning to feel the distance although surprisingly not so bad. I was so glad since the longest ride I had done recently was 72 miles and that was in April. H & I rounded the corner at the finish line and there were all the roaring crowd again-you would think we just finished the Tour' de France, the way they were cheering. It was awesome!! I think it took us about 7 hours bike time but who knows..H accidentally zeroed his bike computer and then there is my whole Garmin issue! Anyhow, I deem it a 7 hour century!

Just to make sure we got enough to eat..they had quite a spread at the end, by the pool at the hotel/casino host hotel. There was pasta galore, salad, marinara sauce, more pasta, bread sticks, etc...Seriously, you really got your money's worth of food and support at this beautiful ride!! We ate, then rode back to the hotel, where I collapsed after a bath and Kentucky Fried Chicken's new grilled chicken dinner. It was fabulous!!! We ate on the beach, a bit cold and windy but at least we can say we were on the beach at Lake Tahoe!

I slept like a rock...

Conclusion: The America's Most Beautiful Bike Ride was spectacular. Would do it again in a heartbeat. Great support, food, roads, very organized..the views-well it was ridiculous!

To top it off we stopped off south of Las Vegas on the way home and spent the night. The next morning we did a 1.4 mile open water swim in Lake Mead, equipped with our own Formulaic as a tour guide. He is going to to IMCDA in 2 weeks so just happened to know all the buoy inside swim info and took us through a great swim in a stupendous lake. I am jealous they have this in their back yard! Johnny Tri was there too. Was so great to see these friends as the last time we were all there was the horrible Rage in the Sage half IM last year, in which I was totally traumatized but met great people! The swim yesterday was so much more pleasant. After the swim, we met up with Formulaic's wife and brand new baby son-11 days old! Very very cute and little and Kelly looked better than I did and she just had a baby! We had a great lunch and said goodbye-see you JT at BLST in 3 weeks!

So I have a new found confidence in the swim and bike. Now I just need to get that same energy on the run and I am there-watch out Lubbock!


Anonymous said...

Watch out Lubbock is right!

You are tearing up the road on your bike!

Combine that with your fish-like abilities and BS don't stand a chance!

Formulaic said...

Dang! That was supposed to be from me.


IronSnoopy said...

You guys are having a great year so far! I'm living and racing vicariously through you!

Sounds like a great ride, except for the grate thingy. I'm glad you were there to keep her from hopping back on her bike.

LBTEPA said...

no photos = did not happen LOL. It sounds a gorgeous ride, and a lovely trip as well

Molly said...

Wow, great job!!! Sounds like a fun ride I will have to check out!

Jon Gilchrist said...

Great post...sounds like you all had a fantabulous time. And I'm glad to hear the swim is improving too. Lubbock yeah? ROCK ON!!!