ABOVE: Map of America's Most Beautiful Bike Ride
On May 22, I blogged about my participation in the upcoming 18th annual America's Most Beautiful Bike Ride with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training program. The ride took place on Sunday, June 7. Our team flew out to Tahoe on Thursday, June 4 and returned late Monday night on June 8.
Bus Ride to Tahoe?
Well, not exactly, I'm just being a bit sarcastic. Our trip out to Tahoe wasn't the most relaxing. We flew out of the Ft. Lauderdale airport on Thursday, June 4. The first flight took us to Minneapolis, Minnesota, don't ya know (they have funny accents in Minnesota), where we changed planes. Then we flew from Minneapolis to Salt Lake City, Utah where we changed planes again. Our final flight took us to Reno, Nevada. From Reno it was another 2 hours, by charter bus, to get to our hotel in Tahoe, Nevada.
We left Ft. Lauderdale at 1:40 PM and got to our hotel at around midnight. But Tahoe time is PST which is 3 hours earlier than Ft. Lauderdale which is EST. So midnight in Nevada was really equal to 3 AM in Florida. We were all a bit tired, to say the least, when we finally got to our hotel. But my husband still had enough energy to go down to the casino and loose a whopping $3 on a slot machine. We aren't big gamblers, so wasting $3 is a big deal. Subtract that from your time trial bike fund, was it worth it!?!
ABOVE: Palm Beach Team in Training cycle team. Nice palm trees!
We stayed at Harvey's Casino while we were in Tahoe. I think all the hotels in Tahoe are casino hotels. I have exercise induced asthma, so I wasn't too thrilled when I realized the casino allows indoor smoking - BLECH! It was hard enough breathing at high altitude, add my asthma and constant smoke filled air and it was a wonder I didn't pass out everytime I left our room. Made doing 100 mile bike ride around the lake very interesting.
But, there was a Starbucks in our hotel lobby - SWEET! And there were also many shops and restaurants in the hotel including a Hard Rock Cafe and Cinnabon. I think this is the first bike trip event I've been too where I've gained weight - BAH!
Our bikes traveled by truck out to Tahoe. We picked up our bikes on Friday at 4 PM from the Horizon Casino. Horizon is right next door to Harvey's so that was convenient. The century ride also started/ended from Horizon, so we only had a couple of yards to ride from our hotel lobby to the ride start.
ABOVE: First rest stop at Emerald Bay on Lake Tahoe
Team in Training at Tahoe
Of the 3,000 bikers that participated in the 2009 America's Most Beautiful Bike Ride, approximately 1,800 of them where members of Team in Training. TNT is the largest fundraising program for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Team in Training chapters from all over the country took place in this event, and this year they raised $6.8 million dollars for the society.
Each member of our team, from the Palm Beach Florida chapter, pledged to raise a minimum of $4,800 for the Tahoe century ride. We got creative with our fundraising efforts this season including a scavenger hunt, spaghetti dinner and mad scientist's party.
ABOVE: Bike Diva with Starbucks coffee, trying to stay warm in Tahoe. The crazy guy with shorts and t-shirt is my husband, he's also one of the cycle team coaches.
Cold Weather Gear
It's a good thing there was a Pearl Izumi Outlet Store just down the street from our hotel. Each team member made at least one trip to Pearl Izumi. We also checked out a couple of the sports and bike stores while we were in Tahoe. It was quite a bit colder than we had originally expected.
Thursday through Saturday was very cold, rainy, blah. I had brought quite a bit of clothing with me for the ride, but still ended up getting one of those velcro, fleece-lined headband thingys to keep my ears warm.
It warmed up to 41 degrees the morning of the ride, and the sun was out. We were worried about rain, but only got a few drops at the very beginning of the ride, so the roads were nice and dry. Glad we didn't have to go screaming down the mountains on wet roads - that would have been horrible.
41 degrees is still a bit cold for us Florida flat-landers. I dressed in multiple layers the day of the ride, thinking I would peel off layers as it got warmer. But unless you were standing directly in the sun, while at a rest stop, it never really got warm enough to take off any layers. As soon as you got back on your bike and started riding in the mountains, through shady forests it got cool again. And going fast downhill, really got things CHILLY!
ABOVE: Bike Diva, super model?
Bike Diva Super Model
Here's the run down on what I was wearing the day of the Tahoe century ride. Despite all this gear, there were times when I was still cold. My ears were still a bit chilly and except at the very beginning of the ride, my feet were still pretty chilly. But now I know what it's like to ride in cold weather, so when we move to western North Carolina I'll be all set to ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway - always have to look at the positive side of things.
- Team in Training socks
- plastic bags over my socks
- road bike shoes
- leg warmers
- cycling shorts
- arm warmers
- Team in Training short sleeved cycling jersey
- long sleeve cycling jersey
- wind breaker
- full finger gloves
- fleece-lined headband
I'm surprised I could even move with all those layers of clothing on.
ABOVE: King's Beach on Lake Tahoe, official lunch stop.
1.92 miles into the ride, your very own Bike Diva was having problems shifting. I couldn't get my bike to shift from the big ring to the little ring up front. I was ahead of most of our team, so I pulled over at an empty parking lot and flagged down the rest of the team. They were easy to spot, each Team in Training team puts a different ornament on top of their helmets to help them identify each other throughout the duration of the ride. Guess what the Palm Beach team had, palm trees!
My front shifter was broke, so my husband Rob and cycle team member Paul, manhandled my chain from the big ring to the little ring. I certainly wasn't going to be able to get over any mountains stuck in the big ring. If I ever do Tahoe again, I would want a bike that has 3 rings in the front, not just two. Oh wait, my front shifter was broke, I only had 1 ring in the front - GEEEZ!
I wasn't the only member of the Palm Beach cycle team to run into mechanical difficulties. Here's a run down:
1. One team member had 3 flat tires during the day
2. My husband had 2 flat tires and had to replace his back tire at King's Beach. Luckily he had a couple of dollars in his bike bag, and was able to buy el-cheapo road bike tire at the bike shop across the street from King's Beach. After flying really fast down some hills, he got his first flat and pulled over to fix it. He has some kind of expensive yellow tires. The yellow had mostly worn away on the back tire, and you could see the black layer underneath. Not too safe, still had to tackle/conquer Spooner mountain.
3. Another team member had to get 2 patches added to her back tire. It was falling apart, and she didn't have any $$ to get a new tire. Luckily she made it through the ride without the tire exploding.
4. Another team member was having brake issues. Luckily there was a mechanic at the second rest stop that was able to do a quick fix so she could finish the ride.
5. At least 2 team members threw a chain during the ride. Easy enough to fix, but a pain in the butt anyways.
6. And my front shifter stopped working less than 2 miles into the ride. Okay, old story, WAAAAAHHHHH - poor me. Let's all have a pity party for the Bike Diva.
ABOVE: The Floridians want to know what that white stuff is on top of the mountains!?!
A Bit of Climbing
As you can see from the elevation profile pictured below, there was a bit of climbing to do during the ride. I have exercise induced asthma, so it was a real struggle to get up all the hills. I had to do quite a bit of walking, just couldn't freaking breath and my legs felt like they were stuck in quicksand most of the day. And that was even when I was my easiest gear. Had my rescue inhaler with me, but it didn't seem to help much.
I actually kind of freaked out coming down some of the hills. Didn't like going downhill, too fast around sharp corners near people I've never ridden with. I rode the brakes hard and never got above 28 MPH during the first half of the ride - don't know what my problem was, but I was FREAKING OUT bad. Got a little better by the time I was coming off of Spooner, but I think that's just because I wanted to get the ride over with at that point. Still only got up to 34-36 MPH max coming off of spooner.
I also SAGged up the steepest part of Spooner. Thought there was over 10 miles to go, just couldn't do it, even walking with my bike was EXTREMELY difficult. I was actually only around 4 miles from the top of Spooner, so I was more than half way over, but for some reason I thought I hadn't even started the climb to Spooner, so when a SAG car came by and asked if I needed help I took it. I think my brain was back down at sea level at this point, couldn't barely think straight. I forgot to put my front brake lever back down after I put my front tire back on after SAGging to the top of Spooner. So that's probably why I was going a bit faster than I had planned on - FUN TIMES!
3 other team members SAGGED part of the ride, it was that freaking difficult. This was the 4th century ride I've done with Team in Training, so I'm not exactly new to riding. But of all the 4, the Tahoe century ride, while certainly the most beautiful, was also the most difficult ride I've ever done.
I think my husband did around 40 MPH coming off one of the mountains, and the couple on our team that rode a tandem bicycle said they got up to 47 MPH. WTF! Are we riding bicycles or race cars? I felt like if I hit a bump my entire bike was going to fall apart at those speeds - freaking CRAZY!
ABOVE: Elevation profile of America's Most Beautiful Bike Ride
My husband had to stay in Tahoe an extra day for a Team in Training coaches training. And then he had to fly straight to Houston, TX on business. He still has our camera with all the Tahoe pictures on it. So the photos used in this blog post are mostly from team member Mike Kennell - thanks Mike!
Lynn Smythe AKA the Bike Diva