A long, grand day on the bike (no poker content)

by Lou on February 11, 2008

A while ago I mentioned the Tour de Palm Springs, a big bike ride I was involved in this past weekend. Attendance was up this year, as nearly 10,000 riders converged on the town to take part.

It was a charity event, and each rider paid to enter. You could choose to ride either 5, 10 25, 55, or 100 miles. I chose 55 miles. We rolled out at 8 o’clock Saturday morning. The hundred-milers left an hour before we did and those riding shorter distances left later. We all followed different, though sometimes overlapping routes.

While it was decidedly not a race, but a ride, I was up toward the front when we began and rode out fast, to keep ahead of most of the masses of cyclists behind me. The first half of the event was mostly up hill, as we headed north on Indian Canyon from downtown Palm Springs toward the windmills, turned left and then right over the accurately named Wall Road—a short, but very steep climb—that took us to Dillon Road, which pretty much runs on or right near the San Andreas Fault, paralleling it from West to East.

After a few level miles, there’s a long, seven-mile hill on Dillon Road. It’s not particularly steep, but it is unending, and the first SAG stop was about two-thirds the way up that hill.

The day was warm and beautiful, just the kind Chamber of Commerce types hope for when they stage events like this. It had been very cold earlier in the week, especially early in the morning, and I had gone on some training rides earlier in the week when the temperature around 8 o’clock in the morning was in the 40s, and it never warmed up much beyond 60 degrees. It was also windy earlier in the week, but on this morning, the temperature was over 50 when we started out, and warmed up to 82 by mid day. Because we were climbing for most of the ride’s early miles, I was warm and had my jacket tied around my waist by the time I reached Dillon Road’s long seven-mile hill.

Once we reached Thousand Palms Canyon all the hard climbing was done and it that road is a fast, five-mile descent past the visitor’s center and the start of some hiking trails to the road’s end, at the point where Washington Street turns into Ramon Road. At that point I had put 33 miles in, grabbed a fig newton and some water, and was off again.

Another 6 miles put us back in civilization, on Country Club Drive, and the route went right by my house. The next stopping point was a few miles away, in a Lowe’s parking lot. I was getting hungry and devoured a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich along with an orange, and then forced myself to swallow a horrible-tasting liquid gel that I had with me. It’s awful stuff—some riders put it in their water bottle and mix it with water—but I’d rather swallow it down all at once, take a nice, long drink of water, and get it over with. It does give you instant energy, though … and works better than energy bars or Shot Blocks.

From there it was a fairly level 10 miles back to where it all began, in downtown Palm Springs. It was loads of fun and I’m counting on doing it again next year. Photocrazy, the guys who took pictures for the event, mentioned that they are processing 50,000 pictures from this event, and expect to have all of them posted by Wednesday. If I can find one or two shots of me, I’ll put them up later in the week. Until then, I’ll just have to illustrate this post with a shot of my bike …

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