At 10pm, I promptly went to bed ... but restless anxiety woke me around 3am; I paced the hotel lobby until the breakfast bar opened at 04:30. Finished off a quick meal of cereal, juice, fruit and hash browns and waited some more .... with a roll time of 05:45, I checked and re-checked my gear while other cyclists slowly trickled to the breakfast line.
With over 3,500 total cyclists on this century ride, we were placed on a very tight staggered launch schedule; each wave was set to depart in five-minute groups. The first ten miles were smooth and flat - and as we hit the first switchback hills at Mile 12, I realized how valuable those training rides have been; while riders from flat states (like Florida) were struggling up the incline, I was able to make steady progress, passing rider after rider along the first thousand-foot climb.
During the descent from Mile 17, I saw our first casualty - Nevada police stopped traffic to make way for an ambulence to take a fallen rider to the hospital. The next 20 miles were uneventful as we took in the scenery and watched the midmorning sun burn off the fog to uncloak Lake Tahoe in all its glory.
At Mile 55, I hit a patch of loose gravel on my rear wheel and felt a moment of impending doom when I realized it was sliding out from underneath me; on instinct, I go limp to minimize the impact of my fall and hit the ground, bouncing one, two, three times before coming to a stop. During the crash, I held my hands out to break the fall - and felt a sick *rrrrrip* as my palms dragged across the asphalt; the thick, neoprene gloves I wore was torn to ribbons, sparing my palms most of the damage.
Injury assessment: bones, unbroken. Knee and elbow, bloody, but treatable. Moderate bruises on hips, shoulder and hands. With a SAG stop just a mile ahead, I pressed forward, and got my abrasions dressed before continuing on. This pretty much said it all.
Mile 81 to 88 was the hardest part of the ride - crawling at 6~8MPH up an eight-mile ascent with no rest stops or refueling opportunities until we crested the rise; It was a test of a rider's resolve and the greatest pleasure of the entire ride was uttering the words "Passing on your left" over and over again, as I ground out the brutal eight miles past other cyclists on the way to our final rest stop before the finish line.
Eight hours and 16 minutes later, I crossed the finish line - exhausted, a bit wobbly, but in excellent spirits.
Must get to work - so I leave you with highlight photos from this past weekend.
at the pre-ride Pasta Feed
Pre-ride group meeting with Roger Rinatala
"Oooooh ... ice sculpture ..."
The gear that will carry me a hundred miles ...
Breakfast line ... yes, that's my laptop in the corner. :)
Cycles at the ready for the big ride
30 seconds to our roll time at the hotel
Inspiration point ... wish you were here ...
SAG stop - load up on energy food, refill water bottles ...
Water's edge ... the hard part is still ahead of us ...
Happy as a clam ... those gloves would be shredded an hour after this photograph was taken
Gibbous moon in the midmorning sky
Affectionately known as 'the mousehole' by cyclists
15 miles to the finish line ...
Roman Seguerre ... leukemia survivor, father, husband and century cyclist.
(Lake Tahoe Century Ride Aftermath - Part 1)
PS: Totally off-topic, but did anybody Tivo the Ronald Reagan memorial service on June 9th? Watched the entire thing at my friend Kevin's place up in Reno, and was incredibly moved by the eulogy delivered by Cheney (!!!)- please let me know if you have a copy you're willing to send along. :)
PPS: Thanks to the generosity of bride, I will be able to give away FOUR gmail activation codes for the Gmail drawing I am offering on the 15th. More details on that in a future post.