Ray's Blog

Thursday, October 04, 2007

2007 September 9: Tour de Tahoe

Last year Analisa and I tandemed the Tour de Tahoe and had a lot of fun doing it, although Analisa's knee started giving her some serious unwelcome grief towards the end. This year, we decided to do it again (minus the knee issues) accompanied by her father. In the 11th hour (well, technically, the day before the ride), Schuyler announced that he really wanted to do the ride as well, so he joined our posse as well.

We got off to a bit of a late start because of a pedal/cleat snafu that Analisa's dad had that resulted in everyone but me going back up Kingsbury Grade to the house so he could do an equipment changeout. While I waited for everyone to come back down to the Horizon Casino to start, I biked around solo on the tandem for half an hour to stay warm. I've never pushed the riding-solo-on-a-tandem-gee-did-I-forget-something gag so hard before! Eventually my homies showed up and we got going.

The first part of the ride took us along Route 50 to the South Lake Tahoe Y (this Y is a road feature, not a community center kind of place). This chunk of road has more traffic (and traffic lights) than the rest of the route, so it was a little bit nerve-wracking. Since it's pretty flat, we were able to make good time on it to get to the more pleasant parts of the route. At this point, the four of us were sticking reasonably close together. Analisa and I tended to be a bit faster, but we got passed up when we stopped to adjust her cleats. It didn't take too long after that for us to regain the lead, however.

Shortly after passing by Camp Richardson, we hit some sections of climb that slowed us down significantly. We both felt that we were going a lot faster than we did the previous year, though (it's slow going uphill on a tandem). And we definitely made good time on the big downhill just before the first rest stop at Emerald Bay. The four of us regrouped there, took care of bodily needs, and adjusted our clothing, since the day had warmed up nicely from the chilly early morning.

For the next chunk of the day, we ran into Analisa's dad and Schuyler at random times on the road and at every rest stop. We were enjoying ourselves and making [what we felt was] pretty good time the whole way. At the Homewood rest stop, I ran into one of the guys I know from Sports Ltd, and I also ran into 40% of the ├╝bertandem I once met while biking in Carson Valley. (One day a year or two ago I was biking down there when I came upon a family tandem with four active riders-- the last of whom was reading while pedaling-- and a little kid in a trailer. I rode for a bit with them, chatting and marveling at their steed, which could be configured for anywhere from two to five riders. The father of the family and the daughter (one of the daughters?) were riding around the lake on two-fifths of the full bike.)

Finally we hit something I'd been looking forward to for a while: the official lunch stop at Kings Beach. We stayed there for a while, and I stuffed down more food than I'd been expecting. I'd been PowerCranking the whole day, and my hip flexors were getting pretty sore, especially on the right side (does that mean I have a nasty asymmetry in my pedaling stroke?), so the nice long rest felt great for me.

But eventually it was time to move on. Analisa and I left the rest stop, seeing Analisa's dad and Schuyler for the last time until the end of the ride (this is foreshadowing. We didn't know this at the time!). We powered up the hill out of Kings Beach, passing all kinds of people. We went at a more moderate pace through Incline Village, because I kept taking little "holidays" where I would stop pedaling for 10 seconds or so to give my hip flexors a rest. Once we were out of Incline Village, though, we made pretty good time on the rollers and the big climbs in our path-- good enough that another couple on a tandem found it desirable to get in our draft. We talked with 'em some, and they seemed very friendly. They hung with us for quite a while, until they stopped at a water stop that we bypassed.

After a long climb (given the state of my hip flexors on those PowerCranks, it felt like about 50 hours or so!), we finally reached the last rest stop at Spooner Summit. That was quite a relief to me, and I was looking forward to the nice descent. While we were chillaxin'-- and earlier, while we were riding, too-- we received props from various other riders who had been impressed at the wicked pace we'd been maintaining over the course of the day.

Analisa listened to a voicemail from her dad, who said that Schuyler was kind of flagging (this was a nontrivially longer ride than he'd ever done before), and so the two of them were going to ride the rest of the way together. (Or, if Schuyler was feeling sufficiently cooked, he'd catch the sag wagon to the end of the ride.) Analisa and I wanted to get more information on how Schuyler was doing, but cell phone coverage was a bit spotty, and we couldn't get in touch with her father or Schuyler. So eventually we hopped on our bike and headed down from the summit, figuring that no matter what, we'd all get back together at the end of the ride.

We were in the mood for some speed, so we pedaled hard down from Spooner. We got up past 50 mph, which is faster than I'd ever gone on that hill! (Of course, it helps that we were on a tandem.) Anyway, we flew by everybody and got back to the rolling hills starting around Cave Rock. From then it was an easy and relatively quick ride back to the start of the ride, except that I kept on taking more little pedaling holidays and whining about my hip flexors.

We waited around for a while, trying and failing to contact the rest of our group. Finally we saw them riding past the finish-- Schuyler had gutted it out and done the whole ride, finishing with Analisa's dad. Good stuff! Analisa's dad bought Schuyler an official jersey from the ride, which amusingly enough he hadn't been interested in the day before when we signed him up and I offered to get him one.

Interlude: it turned out that in addition to Schuyler having gotten kind of tired, his butt was bothering him a lot for the latter portion of the ride. When Analisa's dad noticed that Schuyler was spending most of his time riding out of the saddle, he figured out what the problem was, and the two of them came up with a somewhat unseemly solution involving Analisa's dad's gloves.

We were all relieved to get back home, clean up, and stuff our faces some more.