Monday, August 26, 2013

Epic riding...

Last week I was fortunate to be based in the Lake Tahoe area for an entire week of cramming focused training as Kona is now less than seven weeks away. While the week was comprised of lots of swims and runs, the real joy for me is the mileage I was able to put down on the bike... about 400 miles in total!

The first of the big rides was the "Gold Lakes Loop" out of Sierraville, a small ranch town in the high desert plateau 20 miles north of Truckee. This ride gives you a flat and fast 5 mile warm-up before heading uphill, climbing 1700ft to the top of Yuba Pass. It might have been my best ever ascent of this climb as I followed coach's strict instructions and maintained my target watts. Yay! Unfortunately, you give up all that altitude on the descent to the teeny town of Bassetts which connects you to the Gold Lakes Highway, where you climb once again! But you are rewarded with great views...
Climbing the Gold Lakes Highway with the support of SagMonkey

While the first half of this ride is all climbing and descending, the second half is practically flat and usually quite windy... perfect for some Kona TT training! Coach's orders were to hold IM watts as long as possible... suspecting, quite rightly, that the wheels might come off towards the end with all the earlier climbing. By this point, I had caught Mimi and we rode most of this section together...
Head down TT-style - cute kit courtesy of Betty Designs
The second planned big ride of the week is quite possibly my favorite ride of all time... a loop of Lake Tahoe. By this point, Beth and Luke had joined Blanco and I in Tahoe and were excited to explore some new roads (to them). I decided to tack on one of the Ironman Lake Tahoe course climbs (267 to Brockway summit) to give our SoCal visitors a feel for the difficulty of the new Ironman course. I believe I did say "I f@#%'ing hate that climb" when I reached the top! The roads around Lake Tahoe are not always the greatest and the traffic can be annoying in places, but I just love that the only thing you need to do is "keep the lake on your right"... and some of the views are spectacular.
Luke and Beth with Lake Tahoe on their right
The last 20 miles of the ride are usually my favorite as you descend from Emerald Bay and ride the west side of the lake with a prevailing tailwind... I love to ride along the flats at 27mph! Unfortunately, on this day, we were treated to a major electrical storm and really bad traffic. By the time I hit Tahoe City, our quartet had splintered and I found Blanco sheltering under a gas station canopy.
On this day, we controlled neither the wind, rain, hail or lightning!
The third epic ride of the week was intended to be 5 hours plus on the Ironman Lake Tahoe course, battling my nemesis: "the Brockway summit climb". But the smoke from a nearby forest fire has made the air quality around Truckee and Lake Tahoe rather noxious. Blanco and I decided to return to the Bay Area and tackle a notoriously challenging local ride: Point Reyes Lighthouse.
No matchy match.

We began the 100+ mile round trip ride under the blue skies of San Rafael but I dressed for cooler weather as I knew that misting fog was more than likely the weather of choice as we rode out to the westernmost point of Marin County. After leaving the small town of Inverness, the road is remote with just a few spare cattle ranches along the 16 miles of undulating road to the Point Reyes Lighthouse. On this day, the view was not worth the ride. ;)
The lighthouse is off in the foggy distance.
I had forgotten how challenging the last 5 miles to the lighthouse are. I always forget how challenging the last 5 miles are... I am writing it here so I will not forget! Coach's orders had been to ride the first 3 hours on the easier side and then to bring it home strong, with some specific quality intervals... ouch! Thankfully, we would have a tailwind so a negative split ride was a sure bet.
The wind is picking up this sign - tailwind!
My intervals were further assisted with the lure of a stop at the Busy Bee Café in Inverness Park on the way home. I would need fuel for a transition run...
I nailed my paces... need a slice of quiche at Kona!
Now for a few days of recovery before taking our training on the road once again... destination San Diego for a family Labor Day gathering... Blancopalluza!


  1. FUN!!! Tahoe is amazing, I have been once (in college to para-sail?)....anyway, If I lived closer, I would get out there and ride that....we have NOTHING like that. Instead today it is 100+F heat index and hotter than hell and a LOT OF CORN. :)) Happy Training!

  2. The ride around the lake is fun, but I'm not nuts about the traffic in Tahoe and it can sort of be a mess. Did you ride up Mt. Vision by the lighthouse?

  3. We did not ride Mt. Vision this time...

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