Thursday, July 03, 2008

America's Most Beautiful Bike Ride - Ride Report

I've been a total slacker.  It's taken me forever and a day to get around to writing a ride report from Tahoe.   Apologies to everyone. 

Let me go through a quick rundown of the ride.

First and most importantly - THANK YOU! 

Team in Training raised $7.5 Million for leukemia and lymphoma research at the ride.  The National Capital Team, which was the largest of any in the country, raised $388,872.28!! This is all money that will be plowed back into supporting research and education for families and patients fighting blood cancers.  It was really amazing to be part of a such a great effort and be around 1900 people who had focused six months of their lives on working for a cause and making a difference.  All of my Teammates made huge personal improvements and it was great to be a part of that. 

A quick run down of the ride.  If you're interested, there is extensive live blogging at the site at:  http://528000ftbyjune5.blogspot.com/

The ride basically breaks out into four parts:  Emerald Bay, Spooner Junction, everything in between Emerald Bay and Spooner Junction and the Finish.  

Emerald Bay is a gorgeous spot in the "corner" of Lake Tahoe.  It is the first of two significant climbs in the ride.  The climb consists of a set of switch backs (see the little zig-zags on the map) that takes you up to a crest over looking a cove in the lake.   Now while it's no Alpe du Huez it is a pretty decent climb and will get the blood flowing in your legs. It's hard. 

I was really pleased with the way I climbed this year.  I made it up to the top of the climb feeling solid and much better than I've felt any of the other years I've done it.  The training this year combined with dropping 25 lbs really helped make the climb much easier and more enjoyable.  While I wasn't quite smiling when I got to the top of the hill where the photographer was I wasn't suffering as bad as I could have been.

The area in between Emerald Bay and Spooner was relatively flat and pretty darn enjoyable.  I was able to jump onto a pace line into the rest stop at the midway point and felt really good when I got in.  Coming out of the midpoint was a little less fun.  We were pace lining to help knock down the wind and make the ride a little easier on the way out (to conserve energy for the climb to Spooner).  Unfortunately during the pace line we got a little ragged and the pace line piled up on itself.  Three riders went down, but no one was hurt and the only casualty was Coleman's tire.  We were back on the road and heading towards Spooner in no time. 

Spooner is clearly the most challenging part of the ride.  It's an 8 mile climb at a roughly 5 % grade.  In the past it had really kicked my butt.  As hard as I had tried it had really torn me up and killed my legs.  Fortunately this year it was by and large, unremarkable.  I sat back, chatted with my teammate Sally and pedalled up the hill.   It was long and hard, but it wasn't as exhausting as I had remembered it.  I finished it feeling really good and ready for the ride back into the finish. 

And if I had known there would be a bucket of Jelly Bellys at the top I would have pedaled much faster.  {In addition to being a great cycling team sponsor, they taste great - popcorn of course being the best!} They were oh so satisfying at the end of a long climb!  And btw check out those great cycling jerseys!!!  Jelly belly's should be everywhere!!

The ride to the finish was pretty smooth.  You'd think after the 8 mile climb to Spooner that you've finished the hard stuff but the route throws in a couple more climbs just for kicks.  These climbs aren't hard per se but your legs have 90 miles on them and they're getting relatively close to feeling like jelly.   The hills definitely felt harder on Sunday than they did on the warm-up ride on Saturday.

Happily, I rolled across the finish line and felt great.  It was without question my best ride ever and I'm looking forward to doing it again next year.

We had a great and amazing team this year.  92 people came out of the ride and made it a huge success.  We did alot of great work while having a really good time.  You can see all the photos from the ride at my flickr site.  

Thank again for all your support.  I couldn't have done it without your help and support.

Thanks so much,
Tom

P.S. if you wanted to still donate to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Noel, is working to raise $10,000 this year and you could donate at: http://pages.teamintraining.org/nca/nattri08/nturner


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