Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Epic Lake Tahoe Adventure

This weekend I went up to Lake Tahoe to participate in a bike ride around the lake on Saturday. Kev and I headed up on Friday, leaving work around 3:00 pm. It was a long drive up there since we hit traffic on 37 between Novato and Vallejo, then again at Vacaville and Davis. We finally made it to the Biltmore hotel in north Lake Tahoe around 8:00 pm.

By the time we got to the hotel, checked in and unloaded the car, everyone was starting to come back from dinner. We were told that there were still a few people down at the restaurant so we headed down to see if we could join them. Unfortunately, when we got there they were just leaving. Oh well, we sat down and got some dinner on our own. When we got back to the hotel we met up with some people down in the casino. I ended up hanging out with Jamie and Scott and watched them roam from slot machine to slot machine. At one point Scott was up a whole $16.80, until we lost it all plus his original $20 he was gambling with. I say we, because both Jamie and I had a hand in his loosing. I gladly walked away with as much money as I had going into the casino (that is what happens when you don't gamble). 

Anyways, on to the actual cycling part of this trip. After all, that is why I keep this blog, to track my training rides, not loosing money in casinos. :) 

On Saturday, we all got up and hit the breakfast buffet at 7 am when it opened. Then we met up outside in the parking lot at 8:30 am. I went down to the lobby a little early to meet up with Gino to get my GoPro, which I had ordered through him earlier in the week. I'm so excited to be able to take shots while I'm riding. Can't wait for all the epic photos I'll be able to get during ALC. I just need to figure out how to use it now... 

 Yep, it's working. :)

We gathered to go over the route which was pretty simple... other than the left out of the hotel parking lot, we only made right turns; always keep the lake on your right. 

We did some stretching and listened to the safety speech. Then it was time for a group photo. Including our SAG support, I believe that there were 65 people there that day, maybe a couple more.

The morning started out a little chilly but once we got going the muscles started to warm up. A couple miles down the road I noticed that my friends had pulled over to get a shot with the lake in the background so I joined them. We knew that there were going to be many beautiful views throughout the day and we wanted to take our time and enjoy as many of them as possible. 

Me, Scott & Michael. These guys have really helped push me to be a stronger and faster rider this year!

We only had a few more miles till we got to the first rest stop. The rest stop was only at mile 7 so we didn't really need to rest too much or fill up the water bottles. So, of course we just took some more photos. How could you not with scenery so beautiful!?

Me and my tent mate Jen. She said that I made her pose like a lady :)

Shortly after the rest stop we started our climb on the east side of the lake (it is the first giant mountain on the elevation chart above). Even though the climb was longer, it didn't seem as hard as the climb later in the day.

I managed to get a couple nice shots with my GoPro. Not bad for not knowing what I was doing. I need to make some adjustments to my mounting bracket position and will mess with the settings before ALC. 

I really like this shot of Jen & I climbing. I think that Sasha, one of our wonderful SAG drivers, took it.

Finally, after all the climbing I was rewarded with an awesome downhill. It didn't feel that steep, but I definitely got up some speed. If I would have known how to use the GoPro better, I would have switched it to take a video. 

Shortly after the descent, we went through a little tunnel. This was pretty cool because the only other tunnel I had even been through was the Cal Park tunnel and that is just for pedestrians. This was a bit bigger. With it being right along the lake it was very windy as well, dare I say it was a Wind Tunnel :)

We made our way towards the border and into South Lake Tahoe. Along the way we passed by Zephyr Cove. I had been there before, but in a car. I kept thinking, I didn't remember this many hills between there and South Lake Tahoe. Everything seems different on a bike than when you are in a car. Soon enough we were crossing the state line and headed into South Lake Tahoe. We were having lunch at Heidi's. Kev and I had breakfast there last year when we were in Tahoe for my birthday. 

After lunch we had our second large climb of the day. The climb up Emerald Bay was shorter, but steeper. This climb was harder for me than I was expecting it to be. I think that the altitude was starting to get to me. I just felt weaker and my muscles were getting tired faster. We stopped several times so that I could stretch and catch my breath. I think that Emerald Bay is my favorite part of Lake Tahoe. The views are just amazing around the bay.

Thanks for the great photo Gino! 

On the descent I managed to hit a max speed of 42 mph. We made our way towards the last rest stop, however, just before we there it had started to snow. I didn't realize it at first, it almost looked like pollen or something falling from the trees. Jen started to yell "SNOW!" and I stopped to see what was going on. The snow/hail wasn't even sticking, it would melt as soon as it landed on you. It was pretty crazy and we were not expecting it. 

We made it to the rest stop and went in to the store to get warmed up. I called my hubby to say that I had 20 miles left and should be done in about an hour and a half. He told me that it was snowing pretty good up north and to be careful because the roads were getting wet. Little did I know just how much it was snowing and how soon I would be hitting that craziness. Despite the cold and snow, I wanted to keep going and was determined not to have to get SAG'ed back to the hotel. 

We headed out of the rest stop and a few miles down the road I stopped because I realized that I had dropped Jen. As I waited for her to catch up I turned my cap around so that the bill would help protect my eyes from the snow and wind. I waited for what felt like forever, but no one was coming. I tried to call Jen but she didn't answer. I was starting to get worried so I decided to head back. I didn't make it too far before I finally saw a couple cyclists heading my way. I crossed the road and asked them if they had seen Jen. One of them informed me that she had stopped a little while back and was getting picked up by the SAG car. Now that I knew she was safe, I decided to keep going. I only made it a couple more miles before the crazy blizzard just got to be too much. I couldn't see more than a couple feet in front of me, which also meant that drivers were having visibility issues and would most likely have a harder time seeing me. I knew I needed to stop but I just had to find somewhere that I would be protected while I waited to be picked up. Thankfully some fellow cyclists saw me and called out. They had found shelter under a deck at a nearby cabin. I gladly stopped and turned back to join them. 

I called Kevin to have him come pick me up. I gave him the address of the house and waited for him to get there. The other guys that were there had already called for a taxi and were working on getting a hold of the SAG vehicles. Our help was on the way.

The taxis, my husband and a SAG vehicle all showed up at the same time. I slowly walked my bike down the driveway so that I wouldn't slip and fall. I got my bike into the car, grabbed the blanket out of the trunk and sat down to take my wet shoes and socks off. Thankfully Kevin had the heat on already so the car was nice and toasty. I was never more thankful for all the times my dad would make sure that we never left the house without having a jacket or blanket in the car. Growing up in Pennsylvania you never knew when you could get stuck in the snow during the winter. 

By the time I got back to the hotel there were already a couple inches of snow on the trees and cars in the parking lot. This storm came out of nowhere!

Many of the riders who had already made it back to the hotel, had got in their cars and headed back out there to help rescue any riders that were still out in the cold. The coordination between the TRLs, SAG and impromptu SAG was amazing. Every rider who started the ride in the morning, made it back safely! 

As much as I really wanted to finish the ride, I am happy with how many miles I did manage to get in and how well I did considering the altitude. This was an AMAZING weekend and will be a ride that the SBB will be talking about for years! 

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