I want to Ride my bike

Adventures in Tahoe and beyond

Archive for the tag “tahoe”

Riding in Nevada: Up and down and round and and round

A couple posts ago, I described Mill Valley as a strange place. The truth is, Northern Nevada is strange too.

Thoughts on the number of cyclists:

Hate: On most of my training rides, I see more cows and horses than people. On the busiest summer days, I might see 30-50 people while out on my ride or later as they zip by my backyard. There is a small group of cyclists who enjoy low speed century rides over grueling passes but those rides don’t often fit into my schedule. All this is to say that I’m normally training by myself. I tend to grouse about not having people to train with especially after a weekend in Sacramento, Davis, or the Bay Area.

Last weekend I went out to the backyard to let the chickens out of the coop. I grabbed a puffy jacket, a hat and gloves on my way out the door. The sun felt nice so I started cleaning out the nesting boxes. A few seconds later, I heard cyclists whizzing by. In the span of 10 seconds, I inventoried my supply of clean bike shorts and calculated how long it would take to catch those cyclists. On the brink of dropping my shovel full of chicken poop and running inside to get ready to go, I came to my senses. It was 26 degrees outside and I was feeling cozy thanks to the puffy jacket. I am sometimes desperate for riding company, but I do have my standards.

Love: the pros train mostly by themselves. If they have partners, the partners do the pros workout. I just keep telling myself that I’m training like a pro!

On a beautiful ride on my favorite loop last weekend, I stopped at my favorite spot and propped my bike against a tree. No houses, no cars, and no other people around. Endless pit stop opportunities. (Where do people in I soaked up the sun and looked around at the views of the mountains and the valley. At that moment I appreciated the solitude. I didn’t have to dodge cyclists or weave in and out of the masses. I didn’t have to jump on any bike paths and look out for runners, dogs, strollers, or cruisers. With a podcast providing background music, I was on autopilot for most of my ride. I didn’t have anyone pushing the pace or secretly racing me uphill. But sometimes, that’s fine by me.

There are tradeoffs, but I’ll take scenery and solitude any day!

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Under the weather, Over the weather: A strange December in Tahoe

After winter training camp, I came down with a cold which seems to be circulating around Tahoe. The worst of it only lasted a couple of days, but the last little bit has been lingering.

I felt pretty motivated to get out and ride after the long weekend in Marin, but the temperatures here were less than inspiring for most of December. A lot of days, it was only really warm enough to ride outside from 12pm-2:30pm and while I do have a lot of flexibility with my work schedule, it didn’t always work out. I’ve finally figured out my magic temperature numbers for outdoor training in the winter: 37-42 degrees is ok only if it’s at the beginning or tail end of a ride. So if I’m expecting it to warm up after I get started or if I’m expecting the sun to start going down towards the end, then it’s bearable. Otherwise, I’m not riding outside when it’s that cold. 42-45 is mostly comfortable, but it’s important to keep moving. 45+ is warm enough that I will definitely choose riding outside over riding inside.

I’ve also made some huge leaps with my indoor riding. Instead of banishing myself to the dark and cold garage, I brought the trainer and rollers into the living room (semi-permanently) where it is much warmer and more inviting.

Everyone in this region has been lamenting the lack of snow. December was the 2nd driest month that we’ve had in years. This means that back country skiing has yet to takeoff this year since the only snow around, literally, is what the resorts have made. Many people have been hiking to the frozen lakes to ice skate since it has been cold. I have taken to doing short morning jaunts up the groomers just for variety and because I miss skinning. Just as everyone was adapting to the cold yet snow-less weather, it has warmed up substantially (upper 50’s-60 degrees). Yay for riding outside, but bad for melting the little snow we have. I’m sure that it will start to snow as soon as cycling season starts. Until then, the lift-served territory skiing, indoor, and outdoor training shuffle continues.

Race Around Lake Tahoe: A lesson in no-person’s land

At the last minute (less than 12 hours before the race), I received a phone call from a friend who had an extra entry. After thinking about the classic Tahoe event for 3 minutes, I decided to go for it. After all, it would at least provide motivation for a nice early morning ride around the lake.

It was still slightly dark and slightly chilly as the race director encouraged everyone to roll to the start line just outside Zephyr Cove Lodge. He called out how many minutes remained until the shotgun start by gesturing with his shotgun. A white-haired man waiving around a shotgun before 7am? This should have been my first sign as I bobbed and weaved to protect myself behind other cyclists.

The shotgun went off and I warmed up during the first 10 miles through town. When I woke up and started looking around the pack, I noticed that there were a fair number of people on triathlon bikes. Tri bikes are great – for triathlons where drafting is prohibited. They are no good for riding in a group. I noticed people braking and not being able to get to their shifters quickly but I didn’t realize how unsafe and out of the ordinary this whole scene was until really thinking about it later. A classic Tahoe junk show indeed.

On the climb up to Emerald Bay, I was too far back in the pack (story of my life?) and so I lost the first group of people (pace pushed by a few Marc Pro Strava locals). The climb felt good, but my legs were a little sore already. After the descent and a few rollers, I found myself in no person’s land between big groups. I was working too hard and not getting anywhere – the dilemma of no person’s land.

Finally, I wound up with about 5 guys who were incapable of executing a pace-line. Excellent. After an experiment in moto-pacing, I was by myself in no person’s land. Almost halfway around the Lake, I decided to just go at a pace that I thought I could hold for the remaining 40 miles. And then I made probably the best decision of the day: I ate a power bar. It’s entirely too easy to forget to eat/drink during a long/fast ride.

After some time by myself, a second big group caught up to me. It looked really disorganized, but I welcomed the opportunity to catch on and sit in. I was looking forward to resting up and then going all out on the Spooner climb. Unfortunately, I made a simple gear shift error and dropped my chain for the first time this year. Impeccable timing. Were my components mad at me for replacing my chain but keeping them in service? Whatever the reason, I had to stop to put the chain back on, and I lost the group.

I kept motoring along trying to enjoy the scenery and focusing on catching a few people on the climb. The Lake is incredibly beautiful, calm, and flat in the mornings. Through Incline Village, I got some cyclocross practice as the course wound through a narrow bike path and then through some dirt/straw. Coming out of the detour, the straw path was barely wide enough for one cyclist yet I had to contend with runners coming from the opposite direction. I clipped out and put a foot down, but didn’t dismount. I can only imagine what a cluster it must have been for the big group at the front to go through this detour.

I passed a few people, enjoyed the climb, and time-trialled it back to the finish line all in no-person’s land. While it was not an ideal race-or one that will ever be sanctioned by any respectable organization- I was psyched to have gotten a good workout and to have finished a scenic 72 mile ride before 10:45am!

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