Sunday, February 10, 2008

Tour de Palm Springs

And just like that there were 13.

2 months and 2 centuries down, with 13 more rides to go...

The Tour de Palm Springs was a pretty big success. Not only did I finish it, which is required for what I'm doing, but I completed a sub goal that I had of doing it in less than 5 hours, 4:58:11 to be exact.

For those of you who aren't familiar, the Tour De Palm Springs is a Century ride that starts and finishes in Palm Springs, and that takes you through some absolutely beautiful sections of the Southern California's deserts. The ride is one of the Largest, and with no rider cap, it gets bigger every year. I heard there were 9,000 people this year. One annoying side effect of this is it attracts some real dumb asses, Like the guy in the black Chevy Avalanche with bikes in the back, who not only almost clipped Joseph with his mirror, but then almost right hooked him turning onto Farrell st. Real nice buddy, way to watch out for your people. There were a lot of dummies on this ride, but the ride itself, was awesome.

Joseph and I left Los Angeles around 1 p.m. and drove to Cathedral City, where his family has a condo, our home base for the ride. We'd operate our mad plan out of this location. We arrived, brought our bikes in, got organized, and then rolled out the check in at the registration place in Palm Springs. We drove, to check the mileage and determine if it would be reasonable to ride there in the A.M. We checked in, said hi to some friends, walked around and looked at the different booths and then went to take advantage of the Pasta Dinner. A couple years back the Pasta dinner was managed by the organization. It was pretty good. This year it was handled by the Macaroni Grill. The pasta was something like a Penne Bolognase, only not as good. The pasta was over cooked, and they only gave you two, smallish scoops. It was all you can eat, but with only two scoops, Both Joseph and I had to make multiple trips to the service table to get more pasta. I ate 4 or 5 plates, I think Joseph had 8. The bread and the caeser salad was good though. The highlight of the trip was came later that night. We got back to the condo and found a tube of toothpaste that was older than Joseph. I promised him I wouldn't let that go, so here it is. The toothpaste older than Joseph! Thanks to Bernie for leaving his good toothpaste with us!

Joseph, Ryan and I Rolled from the Cathedral Condo at about 6:00 a.m. It was dark and cold, not to cold, maybe around 45 degrees, so cold enough to need warmers. We rode the 5 miles or so to the start and got there around 6:30. We rolled around and looked for breakfast. I found a Starbucks and got some bagels and brought them back for the guys. We waited for David, my friend from Portland to show up. David was in town for his teams training camp, and had just closed out the week with 550 miles and 50,000 ft of climbing. I wasn't sure what he meant by take it easy, but I later learned that David's "Taking it easy" was my Haulin' balls.

David, Joseph, Ryan and I bullied our way to the front of the start by slipping between the local high school's Color Guard and Orchestra. We were on our way. David set the early pace. My heart rate was immediately up at 170, we were passing people like nothing, and we ended up leading a HUGE group of people out with the help of some guys from Simple Green. This lasted until we crossed the I-10 freeway. At that point I couldn't hold the pace. David and I slowed up a bit. I was still way high in the zones, but David even admitted that he had overestimated his recovery from the previous week, at this point we were doing 18 mph up a 5% grade. We had lost Ryan, and Joseph had gone off the front. David and I stopped at the first SAG stop as we had discussed it with Joseph that we would meet back up there. Right when we got the the SAG I ran into John from Anaheim. He was with Veloce Santiago group, 12 in total, 10 of which were paired up on tandems. I've written about tandems before, about how great they are to be with on long rides. This was no different. 5 tandems created the "Train of Awesomeness". There is nothing quite like coasting down the road at 42 miles an hour. Along the way we picked up other riders who gladly latched on. One of those guys was Gene from PAA. It's always good to see other club members. It was during this high speed coast that we ran into the first of the many dumb asses that we'd run into. We passed this guy decked out in a complete HealthNet kit, on a HealthNet Cannondale and everything. As the tandems were passing him, he shot into the line, cutting one of them off (don't ever cut the tandem line) and then was rubbing elbows with the stoker on another. The Stoker put her hand on the guy and gave him a little nudge, and he flew off the handle. David brought it to my attention that any real pro wouldn't have cut the line like that, wouldn't have flew off the handle like that, and then wouldn't have tried to fight for the tandems wheel like that after the fact. Obviously this guy wasn't a pro, but instead a major tool dressed up like a pro for whatever reason. After the unrelenting pace of the group spit that guy off the back we rolled to the 3rd SAG stop, skipping number 2 and dropping a few other Know-it-all -wanna-be-pace-line-generals in the process. It was during this time that Gene took a fall, scraping his knee and elbow pretty bad. Apparently it was caused by a buddy, I think another PAA member. And the 4/5 guys wonder why I don't race... I keed.

We took a nice long break at SAG 3, listened to the high school jazz band's rendition of "Come Sail Away", and ate some bananas and PB&Js. We talked about what we've run across thus far, and gave Joseph an update. He caught back up with us somehow at somepoint between sag 1 and 3. I took sometime to catch up with John and Kevin (Planet Ultra X-mas Century) and took pictures of the Tandem teams, (catching some shenanigans by accident) and then rolled out. After SAG 3 we ran into another dumb ass trying to railroad his way into the Tandem line. Joseph started to get a little antsy so he jumped off the front, taking myself, David, and the dumb ass with him. We managed to stay off the front all the way to the next SAG stop. There wasn't a lot that happened during this time frame worth talking about other than the fact that we managed to lose touch with the dumb ass after the SAG. The Tandems met us at this SAG and we rolled out again like a big happy family. A big happy family that's lost. That's right, we got lost. But what would a century ride be without a little being lost. That's just what happens. We rolled through some neighborhoods and got back on track after about 2 miles.

We were now in the last 20 miles. We were setting a good pace, but kept getting stalled by the stop lights. The pace was hectic, and on one of the last rollers leading to SAG 5 I blew up. I couldn't do it anymore. I had lost sight of David and Joseph and pulled into SAG 5. I got some water, ate and rolled out quickly as I saw Gene and John roll by. I caught them at the next light and rolled with them to the finish. The final 10 miles was pretty miles was pretty uneventful, a lot of cramping, and a Santiago Tandem team on the side of the road with a flat. Oh, and I didn't get a patch...again, but instead got a medal, a medal I'm so excited about that it's still in my car.

This ride was fast. Fast and unforgiving. The problem with these fast and unforgiving rides is that I forget to eat, or drink or anything that I'm supposed to do when I'm riding long fast rides and then I blow up. So all those lessons I learned at the X-mas Century, yea... well, I learned them all over again. I did learn something cool about Google Earth and KML though, thanks to Ryan.


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