Team In Training: America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride

On 5 June 2011, I rode 100 miles around Lake Tahoe for the America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride event.  This event was in support of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) as part of Team In Training.  This group gets people to train, as a team, for an endurance event while raising money to support LLS’s mission to find a cure for blood cancers.  I completed this ride in honor of three people close to me who are survivors of one of these blood cancers.

My fiancé mentioned Team In Training to me and told me about this event that she’d raised money for a few years back but wasn’t able to go.  This year, we both participated.  For me, it was my first full century ride.  Prior to this event, the furthest I’d ridden was about 70 miles, and that was when I was about 15.  We trained with our team every weekend (and a few times during the week) from the end of February until late in May, progressively riding further each time.  By the end of this training, I was getting pretty adept at climbing hills with energy in reserve and coving long distances.  Unless you do a lot of digging, most people don’t realize how important fueling your body is for endurance events like distance cycling.  To keep up my energy and prevent cramping, I had to consume electrolyte replacement drinks and energy bars at least once every 15-20 miles.

Unlike the rest of the team, we decided to make a vacation out of the trip, and we drove from central Oklahoma out to Lake Tahoe.  It was my first trip out west, and it was simply breathtaking to see the incredible scenery change as we drove.  Stops along the way were in Amarillo, Albuquerque, the Hoover Dam, Las Vegas, Mono Lake (Yosemite), and Lake Tahoe.


Unfortunately for us riders, the weather was about as bad as you’d like to see and still be capable of finishing.  We started the ride with light to moderate rain and about 45 F temperatures.  To say it was uncomfortable would be putting it mildly.

Most veterans of TNT events proclaimed that as bad as the weather was, it still beat chemotherapy…I’d tend to agree.  This thought combined with many people on the side of the road cheering us on made swimming pools in my shoes not only tolerable…but maybe even fun.  Climbing roughly 1000 ft and descending the same in the rain was a bit scary with twisting passes and slick roads.  For safety, I rode the brakes the whole way down topping out around 37 mph.  After our first stop around the 50 mile mark, the rain stopped and things started drying out.

About the time we got to our lunch stop around 72 miles, you could see the rain approaching from across the lake.  We quickly wolfed down the rest of our food and settled in to the cold rain, one pedal stroke at a time.  As the miles ticked by, we finally came to the biggest climb of the ride, Spooner.  We ascended about 1200 ft in about 8 miles.  On the one hand, Emerald Bay was more challenging as you climbed more steeply, but Spooner came up around the 85 mile mark…we were exhausted by this time.  Luckily, Spooner was dry when we got there, and I decided it was time to set my speed record for the ride.  On the descent, I pushed as hard as I could muster and topped out at 44.3 mph, nearly keeping up with traffic at 55 mph.  This exhilarating descent set the stage for the final 10 or so miles. All said and done, I burned just over 3500 calories and averaged 13.9 mph, climbing just about 4700 ft.  After 7:18 hrs in the saddle, and just over 9 hours on the course, we were exhausted, but overjoyed to have finished.  All through the ride, when they were visible, we say incredible mountain vistas capped with fresh snow.  After all, it was called Americas Most Beautiful Bike Ride for a reason.  Now that I’ve completed my first century ride, I hope that it is not the last.  So far, I have nearly 1000 miles on my bikes (road and MTB) for the year, also a record for me.  Perhaps by the end of December I will be closer to 1500 miles.

As an added touch, it was snowing as we climbed the pass out of Lake Tahoe towards Sacramento. While nothing was sticking to the roads, I was glad to be in my trusty Subaru.  Now that this ride is finished, I have my eyes set on a 70.3 Half-Ironman.  I have a lot of work ahead of me, mostly in the running department, but I think I can do it!

Indoor Karting

Since about 2007, I’ve known that Oklahoma City had an Indoor Karting track.  However, it’s taken me more than 3 years to finally get over there and try it out.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done the outdoor, gas-powered karting that you get at family funland, etc.  But until today, I’d never been in an electric kart capable of around 45 mph…assuming the track is fast enough to allow it.

My first race, I was blown away by the shear acceleration that these karts are capable of.  Hit the “gas”, and you’re instantly pushed back in the seat.  Until of course the first turn comes up in mere seconds and you slam on the brakes to bleed off speed as you prepare to punch it coming off the apex.  It was incredible.  Now I thought I was doing pretty well, they’d put me in the lead kart, as I was taking all the turns smoothly at what seemed a decent speed.  Then, the kart nearly came to a stop as the operators allowed a faster driver to pass me.  That was it.  Now that I had someone to chase, I was on his six for the duration of our time in that race.  I ended up winning, overall, with a time about 0.75 seconds faster than the number two driver.

During the second race, I had one guy “pass” me by ramming my kart into the wall, then I kept trying to get under him on the inside of the turns but couldn’t quite pull it off.  Oh well.  This race I wasn’t paying as much attention to my line, and ended up coming in third.  However, I was within 0.01 seconds of my previous best lap.  The problem was that my competitors managed to go faster still, besting me by about a second.

I look forward to my next opportunity to go up there and race again.  There’s no way to explain how exhilarating it is until you’ve been there.

Redbud Classic 2011

Today was the Redbud Classic, which contains a bike tour for the first day of the event.  As part of Team In Training, we rode the 50 mile event.  I can’t say I’ve every been a part of a cycling event quite so large with a mass start before.  There were people everywhere, and most didn’t know how to ride properly.  When I say that, I mean that they didn’t think to ride to the right if they were clearly slower than everyone else.  I heard of and saw several people go down hard because of accidents with inexperienced riders crashing into others.

The beginning of the route through Oklahoma City was essentially closed to the cyclists, so everyone took up the majority of the road.  I noticed, immediately, that my hill workouts have been paying off a lot…unfortunately, most of the other riders were unprepared for the hills.  To make matters worse, they continued up the hills at sub-10 mph speeds while taking up the entire lane.  Apparently they didn’t care that others, myself included, were flying up these hills at 15-20+ mph.

The mess continued this way over most of the course, but probably the worst down the 4 mile stretch with a strong tailwind.  I was flying down this stretch averaging 30 mph, going by people like they were standing still.  Unfortunately, they were also riding three abreast at times, making it very difficult to pass.  People need to learn how to ride in groups.

Apparently, near the end of the ride, the traffic detail started turning everyone at the wrong road, so we ended the ride with about 2 miles missing.  I was unhappy and decided to tool around a neighborhood to make up the remainder of the 50 miles.  All in all, the ride was exhilarating.  I was riding solo for the majority of the ride, and didn’t draft anyone.  Despite this, I still finished in about 2:52 moving time, and with an average moving speed of 17.5 mph.  For me, that’s a great average, though it was certainly aided by not having to stop for lights and stop signs thanks to our traffic detail.

TNT NE OKC Hill Training

Good evening, campers.  This weekend was supposed to have been the new date for the Osage Hills race, but the weather had other plans.  Instead, Team In Training was riding a part of the Red Bud route in NE Oklahoma City on up to Pops and along Route 66.  Today was fairly warm, in stark contrast to most of our rides this year, and fairly windy as well.  Finishing the day with just over 50 miles on the clock and 3.25 hours in the saddle, this was the longest ride I’ve probably done in about 3 years.  With Tahoe just 2 months away, it was a rude awakening that I am still a ways away from my goal of 100 miles in the mountains.

Oklahoma, and the rest of the plains for that matter, make riding interesting much of the year.  When the wind comes blowing down the plains, it’s as if you’re riding up a perpetual hill.  Then try adding actual hills to the mix, and it makes for some challenging riding.  One member of the TNT group told us Tahoe was easier…I’m hedging my bets until I get there myself.

Though I’ve been to Pop’s before, I hadn’t gotten the chance to see the round barn. Now I have.  In doing so, we cut about 9 miles off our ride inadvertently and had to make that up before the rest of the group met back up with us at Pop’s.  I died around mile 42 as I passed under an overpass during a wicked climb.  But look on the bright side, I’m up over 300 miles for the year now.  At this rate, I will probably hit over 1000 miles by years end.  Hills make you stronger!

I will make it 100 miles in Tahoe!  If you’d like to contribute to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, please donate through our Team In Training site:

Draper Trails Personal Best (28 March 2011)

While I haven’t been keeping this blog up to date recently, I have been quite busy training for my 100 mile ride in Tahoe.  On 28 March 2011, I rode a lap of the trails out at Draper and absolutely killed it.  My previous personal best was 1:04:30, and I dropped around 7 minutes with a time of 56:49.

Now, the trail was in pristine condition with relatively little sand and perfect weather conditions.  I think they may have even done some trail maintenance that weekend.  In addition to that, I inadvertently left my shock locked-out after the hill climb at Mt. Scott the day before.  I didn’t realize that until I’d gotten part of the way into the yellow-loop.  This may have contributed to the hot-lap, but I can’t know for sure other than after unlocking it, I got a slight delay in turn-in on the bike.

With all the training rides on-road, off-road, and hill workouts, my cardio and respiratory capacities have increased significantly.  I am really looking forward to Tahoe on 5 June.  Please consider contributing to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society via my link found in the top-right of this blog, or here:

Mt. Scott MTB Climb

Today marked a few firsts for me.  Rather than racing around Osage Hills State Park with the Tour de Dirt, we headed down to the Wichita Wildlife Refuge and decided to do some trails there.  The primary reason was actually to climb Mt. Scott, which is one of the highest “peaks” in Oklahoma short of Black Mesa in the panhandle.

Mt. Scott has a paved roadway winding its way up the “mountain”, climbing about 1050 ft in 3 miles.  Meredith and I managed to climb this on our MTB’s in just over 32 minutes with a fun descent taking much less time.  Let’s just say that I was glad we took the MTB’s instead of the road bikes.  Climbing with a 22×43 gear ratio was much easier, and the disc brakes were much nicer on the way down.  Additionally, I got to see buffalo for the first time!

TNT Draper Chilly Hills

Well, today was to be the Osage Hills pre-ride for the 2nd race of the Tour de Dirt 2011 series.  Unfortunately, while most of Oklahoma is experiencing drought conditions, Bartlesville received enough rain to derail our teams plans of having the race.  For those unaware, I ride for Team Phoenix, and Osage is our teams race in the series.  For now, the race is postponed.  Instead, we decided to do the Team In Training ride instead…although we found out so late, it was a mad dash to get the dog back out of jail and retrieve my road bike.

To make things even more fun, when I got home to grab the road bike, I found that the front tire was flat as a pancake.  If not for the fact that I was already going to be a few minutes late getting back up to Draper, I probably wouldn’t have cared.  To make matters more interesting, turns out that the stem had pulled from the tube…completely severed.  Perhaps it’s time for a new pump?

Our ride took us around the south side of Draper and then out 104 th east of the lake.  Let’s just say that it gets rather hilly out that direction.  Despite the cold, we had a blast and burned a lot of calories.

America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride 2011

I’m training to participate in an endurance event as a member of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Team In Training. All of us on Team In Training are raising funds to help stop leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin lymphoma and myeloma from taking more lives. I am completing this event in honor of all individuals who are battling blood cancers. These people are the real heroes on our team, and we need your support to cross the ultimate finish line – a cure!

I’ll be participating in America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride, which is a 100 mile ride around Lake Tahoe. Although I’ve been biking since I was old enough to walk, I’ve never ridden more than a metric century (62 miles) in one shot. I can’t think of a nicer place to try for my first century on the bike!

I’m sure that most of us can think of at least one person that has suffered from either Leukemia or Lymphoma…I know of at least 3 off the top of my head. They are the reason I’ve decided to participate in this program.

Every little bit helps, so please make a donation to support my participation in Team In Training and help advance LLS’s mission!

Be sure to check back frequently to see my progress in the progress meter in the top-right of my blog.

If you’d like to donate to this cause, please use the link in the progress meter, or here:

Thanks for your support!