Sunday, September 20, 2009

Riding to Vegas for Breast Cancer

Most of the time when I am riding I am either training and looking at the powermeter or I'm worried about getting home before Liam gets to sleep or before Tiiu gets really pissed off. The summer months offer extra hours of daylight which is nice but as many of you know balancing riding with family and work is challenging. So when the fine folks at Specialized invited me on their annual epic Morgan Hill to Las Vegas ride it didn't take me long to say "Hell Yes". This was to be the trip of a lifetime.

When I say epic I mean EPIC. Six days, 650 miles, over 40,000 feet of climbing and excellent support from western spirit . And we are doing it to bring awarness and funds to the Susan G Komen Foundation in their fight against breast cancer.

On day one we left Morgan Hill and rode 150 miles to Lake McSwain where I got to experience my first night in a tent. Waking up in front of the lake was better than any Four Seasons I've ever stayed in. Yeah for the outdoors! The ride was amazing going over Mt. Hamilton and climbing around 7,000 feet for the day. We were a group of about 35 people including Specialized employees and Specialized dealers as well as some members of the press. One thing I'll say for the Specialized folks is that they take their riding very seriously from Mike Syniard to Chris D'Alusio one of the product guys they are all amazing riders and love to ride their bikes.

Day two was from Lake McSwain to Yosemite (70 miles). An amazing ride into the park and right in front of El Capitan the epic rock climb. That night I had my second experience in a camp ground but as soon as I heard there were bears I didn't get much sleep and spent most of the night in the fetal position saying my hail mary's. A raccoon did come into the tent (they are open) but he quickly moved on. No site of bears and I am happy to say that I am still alive. The climb into Yosemite was great and I got to open my legs a little bit although my fitness isn't very good and this is a lot of climbing. Thousands of River Road repeats I'd imagine.

Day three was an epic ride all by itself from Yosemite to Mamoth going over Tioga pass (100 miles). One of those things to do before you die. From Yosemite through Tioga pass the road goes up to 10,000 feet and a total of 50 miles of pretty much riding up. I managed to stay with Chris, Glenn (a dealer from Santa Rosa and Levi Leipheimer training partner) and Rick an incredibly strong dealer from LA who weight 200 pounds, for about 15 miles on the climb and then I had to set my own rhythm. The park rangers weren't too happy with having us all on the roads so everybody except Chris, Glenn and Rick made it through the entire thing. I got pulled with 20 miles to go in the park. Once we crossed Tioga pass and descended for 12 miles (100Km/h top speed) we made a right turn and hit an incredible headwind into Mamoth for 25 miles of not so much fun grinding. It's one of those times when you think. Geez bike riding isn't that much fun and I should take up Golf. But then you make it in with a great group of people and have a beer and go man that was cool.

Today was Day 4 and it was the best 100 miles I've ever spent on a bike from Mamoth to Lone Pine. The road was all pretty much downhill (2,000 feet of climbing) and straight with a great rear wind. Payback for yesterday. 100 Miles in 5 hours. Perfect.

Tomorrow we go to Furnace Creek from Lone Pine (105 miles). For those of you who don't know Furnace Creek perhaps you've heard of Death Valley. We are riding all the way across. From a high of 10,000 feet on Tioga Pass to a low of negative 200 or so feet in Death Valley. Temperatures should hit 115 or so. It's a good thing we have full support on this ride and are never without water or food. Just raise the hand and the van comes right up.

Our last day will be Tuesday and we will ride from Furnance Creek to the Outdoor Demo of Interbike just outside of Las Vegas for a ride of 130 miles.

Hopefully I'll get some photos to post in the next few days.