that’s what the recent century that I rode around Lake Tahoe was like. I couldn’t have dreamt better weather, and our entire team rode swift and strong. With no official time goal other than completion before course closure (roughly 12 hours or 6am to 6pm), and since I’m mad, and afflicted with cycling sickness, I set a personal goal of six hours. Don’t let me fool you, it’s not as aggressive as it sounds. While it certainly is challenging given the topography, it’s not impossible.
I did this ride for a number of reasons; To celebrate a decade since the last time she asked me if I was ready; To celebrate the memory of a friend’s son whose tour of life was way too brief; And to reconnect with a worthy cause.
If that's not sufficient there is the scenery.
Our pace-line had five riders. We covered fifty miles in 2:20:00. We put seventy-two miles behind us by 3:20:00. The remaining distance of 28 miles, was spent cranking up the slopes of Spooner Peak at a swift pace of 8-10mph. Of course once we crested that hill, the downhill pace increased to 40mph. Total ride time: 6 hours. Average speed: 17mph. Of 3500 riders we finished in the top 10%. Sweet!
There are side effects that accompany training for such a challenging event. One becomes swift, strong, and focussed. Simply put...
One becomes an athlete.
Another fully awesome outcome of this effort is that I’m now a cycle coach for Leukemia, Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Team in Training (TnT). They are the organization, and training program I’ve been participating in.
My madness knows no bounds.
I’m on a plane, bound for Tahoe to ride a century. For those wondering what that is; it’s a 100 mile road race/ride on a bicycle (yes, completed in one day). If you’ve read my profile, you already know that I enjoy cycling. Immensely. If you haven’t read my profile, you know now - ‘cause I just said as much. Cycling is awesome! I enjoy it at least as much as I enjoy architecture (more so even) because cycling works my body, like architecture works my brain. If it’s not obvious, I intentionally use the term “cycling” in lieu of “bicycle riding” in an attempt to convey relative intensity. I break it down like so:
For “bicycle ride-ists” there are two types of intensity; not so intense, and just intense enough. Which is to say not so intense as to be impossibly difficult, and just intense enough to result in positive fitness. Most “bicycle ride-ists” can cruise all day, at speeds that’ll get ‘em to wherever they’re going, in a reasonable amount of time. All the while getting some sun, and scoping some scenery.
For cyclists too, there are two types of intensity; intense speed, and intense distance. Some cyclists can crank their mechanical steeds at speeds in excess of 25 mph, others crank them for vast distances of 125 miles in a single sitting, still others do both - which is decidedly un-human or “god-like”. I personally mis-fit into this spectrum clocking a respectable speed of 16-18 mph (average), maintaining such for up to 100 miles.
“Bicycle ride-ists” and cyclists both are fully awesome, it’s just that cyclists are on a different plane. Most say we’re sick - I’ve often felt that my madness knows no bounds, but I digress...
I’ve done this before, this exact ride. Ten years ago. Starting my training regimen six months after the last time she asked me if I was ready, and completing the full 100 miles in just over 6 hours. This time I’m aiming for 6 hours flat (or less).
The training is complete now. Travel time has me reflecting on how fun the training has been. The team will arrive and the “high-landers” will rib us “flat-landers” about how the hills, “are gonna wipe us out”. Their good natured laughter will be stifled when they find that we’re pulling them over the mountains. ‘Cause we've got wind baby! And wind is like a constant hill. No respite, none! Just hunker down ‘n’ crank through it - call me wind-slayer : )
Speaking of good-natured ribbing, there’s been plenty of that amongst our own team. After our 80 mile training ride we were sitting around admiring our rookie marks - we’re all seasoned riders, but we all still get the greasy “tattoos”. One of the other riders pointed out that I had TWO! I looked at my calf, and sure enough there were two greasy chainring marks there. One behind the other.
Me: Wait a second *observing a little more closely, and pointing to the marks* This one looks like the chainring profile, just like those you all have. But this one here looks like the chain. The only way that could happen is if my chain was on the biggest chainring! Evidently, I was grinding the big chainring, and you weren't!