Wednesday, September 25, 2013

2013 Viva Bike Vegas Gran Fondo Pinarello Part 2

If you missed part 1 it is here.

Ride Day

When we picked up our packets, we were given our assigned start times and I have to say I was a bit disappointed. Where last yer I was able to ride the strip while it was still dark since our wave started at 6:00 am, this year we weren't starting until 8:20. The sun was well up by then and that was a bit of a disappointment.

With an 8:20 start it wasn't necessary to get there too early since we would be sitting around and waiting. We agreed that we would start loading up the bikes, etc. at 6:30 with an eye to a 7:00 departure for the 15 minute ride to Town Square for the start. Well I was up early as was my dad and we got the new bike rack sorted out and installed, the bikes loaded and were ready to go by 6:35. We didn't see a need to hang around at home so we headed over to Town Square with a stop for some gum and powerade on the way.

We got to town Square about 7:00 for our 8:20 start time. We unloaded the bikes, checked tire pressure, put our race numbers on our bikes, helmets and my jersey. Then we put our timing chips on and were ready to go with well over an hour to kill.

We decided to ride around a bit to warm up and check out the area.  We saw many riders on many different bikes.  As some of the longer waves hadn't left yet, there were many riders in full kit on expensive bikes.  There were also many others on hybrids, single speeds, hybrids, beach cruisers and even a pennyfarthing!  The rider was decked out in old fashioned dress, complete with knee socks and handlebar moustache.

Stock pennyfarthing photo

Since we had so much time on our hands we decided to find a bench and relax until it was time to line up so we found a bench and relaxed for a bit.  While we were sitting there we talked with a woman who was also riding the 17 mile route.  She was doing this as her first group ride.  She said that she rides just about every day and it wasn't the distance that had her worried, but riding with other riders.  I assured her it would be fine as this group would be very relaxed and tended to give each other lots of room.  She was suitably impressed that my dad had driven all the way from Michigan to do the ride.

The bench we had found was strategically placed near the open restrooms. As we were talking there I realized I had left my cycling gloves on top of the car so took a quick ride back to get them.  Fortunately they were right where I left them.  By 7:45 we both decided on one last trip was needed to be ready for the ride.

At 8:00 or so we rolled into the starting coral and I was surprised at how few riders were actually there.  I thought that maybe they had already let a wave of 17 mile riders go.  As we were there we noticed the gentleman on the pennyfarthing lining up near us towards the back of the group.  Also there was a tandem and a husband and wife with the husband pulling a trailer with their daughter.

Music was playing, the MC was talking to the crowd and the excitement was building.  Finally it was time to count it down - 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 GO!!! everyone was starting out, some a little less sure than others, but it was a clean start as we headed out onto Las Vegas Blvd and made the left headed north towards the heart of the famous Las Vegas Strip.

We started off slowly but the main group quickly started moving away.  We knew we would be among the slowest riders on the day.  We actually were maintaining a faster average than my dad was normally used to.  Looking at the record from my garmin, we were running 15 to 18 mph down the strip.  We found ourselves with a group of cyclists including the tandem and the pennyfarthing we had been close to at the start.

They had warned us at the start that we would be detoured into the Southbound lanes near the Venetian as the police were investigating an earlier accident. Fortunately for the cyclists it appeared the crash involved 2 cars and no cyclists.  It certainly felt interesting riding along the strip while the police held up traffic for us.  As we passed each of the officers my dad and I thanked them.  We certainly wouldn't have had the experience without their work.

Farther down the strip we passed Gold and Silver Pawn of the TV show Pawn Stars fame.  Unbelievably there were probably 20 or 30 people already lined up to get into the store before 9:00 AM. Once past them, we were nearing Downtown Las Vegas.  This is where the old casinos are and it is experiencing a rebirth.

As we made the turn off Las Vegas Blvd, the officers near us were warning us to sty to the right as there was soon going to be traffic around us as we had left the closed road part of the ride.  Looking around we were astonished to see the pennyfarthing was still with us. Up until this point it was just a matter of turning the cranks for him, but now it was going to get interesting as we would be dealing with the stops and starts of traffic lights.  Pennyfarthings don't have brakes.

Having left Las Vegas Blvd, we realized the easy part of the ride was over and now we needed to do a bit more work.  We had enjoyed a relatively flat ride so far with a 1/2 - 1 % downgrade the length of the strip.  Now we had to deal with regaining the 200+ feet of elevation we had lost. Certainly not  lot of climbing, but it added a degree of difficulty to the ride.

Once back out of downtown we headed through much less picturesque parts of the city.  Along the way we crossed under the Sahara overpass and we decided to stop in the shade for a drink.  Pennyfarthing had kept going and we honestly never saw him again.  After a quick drink we got back at it. 

Further along we passed under the I-15 expressway and hit one of the steepest sections of the course as we climbed back up from the underpass.  I was super impressed with how well my dad did, pulling away from me on the uphill.  He had far less trouble on the climbs than I and I had more gear choices.  A bit farther along after  couple of more steep sections we hit Valley View and it was time for another drink.  We pulled over into a lot and had a nice drink.

We then took off to tackle the last 3 miles or so of the ride.  We rode down Valley View to Sunset road and made the left towards Town Square.  That's when the last obstacle came into view - the overpass back across the I-15.  It seemed a bit cruel to put the toughest climb of the day at the end of the ride. There was a slight downhill run up to the overpass and I took full advantage of it.  I made it up and over and was enjoying the wonderful downhill, but had to make a u-turn back to the service road under Sunset Road.   It wasn't fair that we had to slow down and stop for the light to make the turn.

Once under Sunset we were in the final stretch with a turn into the finishing chute.  There was the finish line.  We had done it!  We hit the dismount line and walked our bikes towards the volunteers. 


We were given our finisher medals and offered water bottles and Gatorade right at the finish.

Here are our official finishing times:

The official time was 1:45:11 but according to my Garmin it was over 12 minutes less than that.  The reason for this is the starting timing mat was well before the start and we crossed it heading up to wait for the start of the ride.

I have to say it was great fun and I totally enjoyed the ride with my dad.  At this point I'm not sure if he will do it again, but I just might.  Thank you Dad for doing this ride with me!

Monday, September 23, 2013

2013 Viva Bike Vegas Gran Fondo Pinarello Part 1

This year I was fortunate enough to ride this event with my father.  Here is the tale in 2 parts.


Last year I rode the 2012 Viva Bike Vegas Gran Fondo Pinarello and I had a lot of fun.  You can read the report here.  I decided then that I would ride this event again this year.  It was a great ride and I loved starting in the dark and seeing the strip all lit up as we rode down it.

My father had done numerous bike rides with us as we were growing up in Michigan in support of the March of Dimes.  We had ridden several 50 mile rides and even done a 100 mile ride from Detroit, MI to Flint Michigan and back.  The thing was the last of these was over 30 years ago.

Back in May as I was talking about the upcoming rides I had planned, I knew that my dad had started riding a bit again and I threw out the idea of him riding in this event this September.  At first there wasn't a lot of enthusiasm for the idea.  It must have stuck, though as there was more discussion and eventually my dad said he might be interested in doing it, but he wasn't sure if he could do the distance.

My wife and I decided that as a bit of incentive, we would gift him with a registration as a combination Father's day and birthday gift.  My thinking was that it might keep him motivated to ride knowing that we had gotten his registration for him.  It seemed to do the trick.

He started riding almost every day throughout the summer in Michigan.  Personally I think it was a good thing this summer in Michigan was a bit cooler than normal as it kept him out there riding.

As August rolled around both he and my mom decided to take me up on my August Challenge.  My dad rode every day and my mom walked on the treadmill every day in the month of August.  In fact in terms of total miles, my dad actually rode 2 miles farther than I did for the month.  His longest ride of the year was only 12.8  miles, though.  He was still was leery of the 17.3 mile distance.

Finally on September 12, he got in a 17 mile ride. and was satisfied that he could make it the distance.

The Journey

Now Mom and dad had to get from Michigan to Las Vegas in order to ride in the event.  They don't like to fly, so they loaded up the motorhome and started a leisurely 6 day trip across the country.  They left on on Friday, September 13.  Unfortunately this would prove to have been an unlucky choice as there were several challenges on the way.

The first challenge was a leaking air line.  Fortunately, my dad being a mechanic and always prepared was able to make the repair and keep on going.

The second challenge happened on Tuesday, September 17and was a blown tire near Winslow Arizona.  It was the left front tire and not only was it blown, but as it blew it tore apart some of the wiring.  They stopped for the night in Winslow after the courtesy patrol helped him change the tire, putting on the spare.

On Wednesday, after a stop at an auto part store, they made it to Williams Arizona where they had planned on staying for 2 days to possibly do a side trip to the Grand Canyon. Then they were planning on rolling into Las Vegas Thursday evening.  Well, that day after they got set-up in the campground my dad set to repairing the wiring and making sure the motorhome would make it the rest of the way here.  He got it taken care of in a couple of hours.

Unfortunately Wednesday evening my mother started having severe abdominal pains which continued to get worse.  So my dad called the emergency numbers at the campground.  No answer.  He went back to the unit and started packing things up and getting ready to move.  Then he called 911.  The closest emergency room was 30 miles away in Flagstaff so rather than wait for them to come to him, that's where he went.

11:00 Wednesday evening I heard from him that they were there and getting her checked in but had no idea what was wrong as yet.  Eventually after an examination and a cat scan it was determined that she had a kidney stone.  The plan at 2:00 am was to fill her with fluids and hope that it would pass.

There was concern since my mom is 74 years old, has asthma and is diabetic.

By 9:00 am, it hadn't passed. So the day attending brought in the urologist who was concerned that there might be infection behind the stone.  He determined that the best course was to put in a stent and use a laser to break up the stone so that it would pass.  He said he would get her in as soon as he could.  Surgery was just after lunch and everything went well.

With her medical history, they decided to play it cautious and kept her overnight to make sure there weren't any complications from the anesthetic nor the medications.

Friday morning they determined she could, in fact, leave.  With the need for release signatures, etc.  they didn't get out of the hospital until after 11:00 and headed towards Las Vegas.

Now there was a bit of a time deadline as packet pickup was only open until 7:00 pm and the ride was Saturday morning.  The original plan had been to arrive Thursday evening and then we would have had time on Friday for a tune up ride to check the bikes and then take our time heading over to packet pick-up.  Obviously that didn't happen.

Getting away when they did, and with the need to stop for gas and lunch, we figured they would be showing up between 4:00 and 5:00 with plenty of time to do what we needed to.  At 2:40 I got a text that they were near Kingman, AZ and still on schedule.

Unfortunately Tom Tom led them a bit astray and at 4:52 my mom called for directions to get beck on track.  For some reason instead of coming all the way across the 215, Tom Tom had sent them on the 15 north.  They got turned back around and I had them come the most direct route via Blue Diamond Road.

At 5:11 I got another call, this time from my dad that they were off the side of the road near Blue Diamond and Buffalo (less than 2 miles from the house) and that they had blown a transmission line.  The motorhome was out of traffic so we decided that Michele and I would pick them up, get to packet pick up, drop off my mom's prescription at CVS, and then have dinner before attending to the motorhome.

We got to packet pick up and as usual things went smoothly.  I was wearing a Hawaiian shirt and on of the volunteers suggested I wear it for the ride hte next day.  I told her I had last year and will again this year.( you can see it in my photo here).

We then dropped off the prescription to be filled and had a great dinner at Montana Meat Company where our daughter met us.  The girls then left to pick up the prescription while my dad and I went to the motorhome for what was hoped to be a 5 minute fix.  Unfortunately it took a bit longer as the line had to be replaced and then the engine cover had to be removed to put enough transmission fluid in to get moving.  It took about 45 minutes, but the repairs were successful and the motorhome finally made it to the house.

More on this tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Reflections on my 51st birthday...

Its been over 3 years that I've been posting to this blog and honestly, I've not made much progress towards my title's goal of losing weight and getting healthy.  In the last 3 years I have done some thing I never would have imagined.

I've completed a very challenging triathlon, I've ridden more miles than I can count, I've completed several group rides including Last year's Viva Bike Vegas, a metric century for Fatty's 100 MON 2013 and The previous year's Corporate challenge bike race.

Over the last 3+ years I've lost and regained over 200 lbs.  I've restarted my efforts numerous times and am restarting again.  Today.

More importantly I've figured out a few thing about myself and made a few friends through this wonderful medium of technology.

I've ridden along with so many other riders who have accomplished significant, awe inspiring things.  I've also re-ignited my love of cycling fro when I was a kid.

As I reflect back on the these things, I also have to look forward and start to shape my future plans.

This Saturday I'm looking forward to an awesome ride with my dad in the Viva Bike Vegas.

Beyond that I'm doing the Bike MS Vegas Challenge in November, the Tour De Cure Las Vegas next April and I hope to complete Fatty's 100 MON next year as well with a true Century.

While those are personal goals, I have others as well. I want to encourage my grandchildren to ride more and take them on longer and longer rides.  I am going to look into adding a different form of riding to my repertoire - Mountain Biking.  As I become at least a little proficient in that, I'm going to look into the local MTB scene and possibly look at starting some type of MTB team in the local schools.

There is so much more I want to accomplish and I recognizer that I need to be healthy for many years to do it.  Riding is just not enough.  I need to tackle the food demon that has me constantly eating more than I should.  I need to keep away from those foods I know that are bad for me and focus on the good.  I need to also focus on portion control and impulse control.  I can and will conquer this.

Funny, but it seems easier to me to ride 100 miles than to constantly focus on what I'm eating.  I guess the reason is that when you are riding there is a set distance and a beginning and an end and the progress is very real and self evident.  In the eating arena and losing weight, there really is no end to the eating right and the progress is so much slower that it is easily doubted.

I am using this occasion to get back on track and into the groove  My goal is that on my 52nd birthday I will be at least 100 lbs lighter than I am right now.

As fizzhog so eloquently puts it.

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Best laid plans...

As I posted last week, I had been planning on riding in the 3 Feet for Pete ride.  The date of this ride was 9/14/13 which also happens to be my daughter's birthday.  It is also the date when my nephew and niece needed to get to the airport early.  To make a long story short, I was babysitting the grandkids instead of riding on Saturday morning.

I didn't mind not riding.  Its always fun spending time with the grandkids. We had breakfast together and watched some TV and they played.  When my wife and daughter got home, we then got the kids ready and went out for a combined birthday lunch for my daughter and myself.

Now, I didn't ride Friday morning, thinking I was going to ride on Saturday.  On Sunday morning I was plan lazy and didn't get out to ride before the temperature shot up into the 90's so I didn't ride then either.

So the weekend was a bust in terms of getting miles in.  I did get out this morning and put in 10.4 miles so I'm getting back into the swing of things.  I'm planning on riding at least 10 miles per day the next 3 days and then a bit less on Friday as my parents will be here and my dad and I will do a last ride before the Viva Bike Vegas ride on Saturday. This will be a shake down to make sure the bikes are ready for Saturday morning.

So, this morning's ride takes me over the 100 mile mark for the month of September.  In fact I'm at 102/2 miles for the month.  Not bad, but I have to make up some miles to hit my goal of at least 240.

I hope the rain isn't too bad across the country and you are able to...


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

OK, maybe I am a fair weather cyclist...

When the alarm went off at 3:45 this morning I wasn't ready to get up, but knew it was time.  As I struggled awake I heard what sounded like water dripping.  I knew they had said there was a possibility of showers overnight, but they've said that before and it hasn't happened.  So I decided to check the radar map on my phone to see what was up.

I got on to and zoomed into the Las Vegas area and lo and behold, there was a swath of greens and yellows across the area.  It really was raining this morning.  With that confirmation, I reset the alarm, rolled over and went back to sleep for an hour and a half.

When i again awoke at 5:15 I heard a definite steady drumming of rain on the roof, it was pouring at that moment, thus confirming that it would have been a wet ride if I had ventured out.

Now, let me assure you that it wasn't the fact that I might get wet that kept me from riding.  To meet my challenge last month I rode in a pretty significant rain as detailed here.  What I learned on that rainy ride, is what convinced me that riding in the rain, in the dark wasn't the best of ideas.

You see, when it rains, ones tires and wheels get wet.  Then wheels get wet, applied brakes, which rely on friction to stop, don't work nearly as well.  in fact one website I saw a while ago estimated their effectiveness at about 40%.  (OK, granted they were making a case for disk brakes, but still that number stuck with me).  Combine the lessened stopping power with reduced visibility and the propensity of at least one car pulling out in front of me in the mornings and I felt like it might be a recipe for disaster.  In this case I think I really made the right call.

So, no miles this morning, but perhaps a ride this evening after dinner might be in order depending on the evening's schedule, but that might not happen as its open house night at my grandsons' school and it will likely be a late dinner.  Have to wait and see how the evening unfolds.

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I am considering riding the 3 feet for Pete ride on Saturday morning.  Anyone else interested?

Get on Your Bikes and RIDE, but be safe out there!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Another morning, another early ride.

The alarm went off at its usual (of late) 3:45 and I was up and ready in what seemed like record time.  A quick perusal of the radar showed possible light showers in the area.  When I got downstairs I saw nary a drop, so I decided the ride was a go.

I aired up the tires, turned on my lights and headed out by 4:00.  I took it real easy my first lap as we had had a pretty good drenching rain the night before and I knew there was likely to be debris, rocks and sand on the roadway.  I was especially worried about the area on Quarterhorse where they are building the new sub.  Fortunately my fears weren't truly realized as there was a light coating of sand and not much else on the road.

Once I safely navigated the first lap and found the streets in not bad shape, I started the second lap only to have it start sprinkling on me.  I hoped that it wasn't really going to rain.  It stopped by the end of the second lap so I felt confident I would get my ride in.

2 laps later it started drizzling and I was seriously starting to think I might have to call it.  Its not that I mind the rain so much as I don't feel too safe with wet rims and possible inattentive morning drivers.  Most everyone must have been sleeping in this morning, though, since I saw 3 cars all morning.  Anyway, the drizzle lasted only 7 minutes or so and was done, having barely wet the roads.

The 3 women I've been seeing on their morning walk/jog/run for the past month or so, were out there again this morning.  On lap 8, there was a bit more sprinkles happening and I was seriously thinking of cutting the ride short, but decided I needed to get the full 12 miles in this morning, so I did.

This morning's ride takes me to 79.6 miles so far for the month of September.  Seeing as its the 10th, which is 1/3 of the way through the month, and I'm basically 1/3 of the way to my monthly mileage goal of 240 miles I'm feeling very good with my progress and my prospects of hitting my goal.

I found a ride this coming weekend that I think I am going to do.  Its called the 3 Feet for Pete ride and its a fun ride to raise awareness for cycling safety.  Its named after a local cyclist, Pete Makowski who lost his life June 19th on a training ride.  I'm thinking this would be a great cause as well as a way to meet some local cyclists.

Be safe out there and Get On Your Bikes and Ride!!!

Monday, September 9, 2013

A ride to Blue Diamond Nevada

Living in Southern Nevada, the riding season seems to be year round except for 2 things - the heat and the wind.  SO far this summer the heat hasn't been as unbearable as it has been in previous years, provided you can get out and ride early enough in the day.  The wind hasn't been a major factor this year either.

Saturday, was even more pleasant than usual for this time of year.  We've been in the midst of some monsoonal flows for the past 4 weeks or so.  This has introduced some humidity, which is unusual for us.  That humidity has also been known to spawn some clouds and even a bit of rain.  Saturday it was clouds which kept the heat of the day down.

Since the clouds were covering the blazing sun, my procrastination Saturday morning didn't have an adverse effect on my ride.  When I rolled out about 11:30, it was only in the low 80's with a 5 to 10 mph NNW wind.

I had decided to depart my house and head out Blue Diamond road to the west.  When I got to the intersection with Highway 159, I decided to follow that towards the town of Blue Diamond.

My objective for the day was to ride an hour away from home, then turn around and head back to home.  Now the interesting thing about this ride is that I am climbing the whole way on the outbound leg.  This has a great benefit in that once I reach the turnaround point, its all downhill back to my house.

I started off with an easy gear and decided to try something a bit different.  Normally I try to crank away at a fairly low cadence and fairly high gear.  This time I decided to start on my middle ring instead of my big ring, and try to keep my cadence up in easier gears just to see how well it went.  The verdict is it went fairly well.  I wasn't nearly as tired in my legs when I got to the turn around, but I was feeling it in the conditioning department as I'm not used to turning high cadence.

Of course the head wind, light as it was helped to keep me cool and slowed me a slight bit as well.

As I approached the one hour mark of the ride I noticed that I was a bit over 8 miles from the house.  Now I was doing some quick math in my head and realized that if I could get past 8.6 miles or so, then I would be covering the distance for the upcoming Viva Bike Vegas ride.  So I went just past the one hour mark to get the distance I wanted and turned around for the glorious downhill ride home.

I do truly appreciate the gravity assist I get on the declines, slight as they might be.  Understand that I'm riding a hybrid with a fairly upright riding position.  This is important because the wind resistance does tend to limit my speed.  I tried to tuck down a bit on some of the steeper downhill sections and managed to get over 28 mph.  It seemed that tucking in gained me 1 to 2 mph just rolling along.  My hour long trip to the turnaround was only 27 minutes or so to get back home.  I even did my second best time from Highway 159 to Fort Apache Rd. according to Strava.

It was a beautiful day to be on the bike and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Hope you are able to get out there and ride you bike!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

September Challenge update #1

OK, so we are now 5 days into the month of September and I've ridden 3 of those 5 days for a total of 31 miles.  Not bad, but I have a long ways to go to get to my monthly goal of 240 miles.  Looks like its time for a longer ride or two this weekend.

I am happy with my rides so far.  Both yesterday and today I got in a nice 12.5 mile ride.  Yesterday it took 53:29.  This morning I pushed it a bit more and did it in 52:06 with a 14.4 mph pace.  I feel really good about that.

One other notable item from this morning is that I've passed the 700 mile mark for 2013.  That is a pretty good total, but not nearly what I'm hoping for in 2013.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

September challenge

This September I've challenged myself to ride at least 240 miles.  That would be my highest mileage month by 20 miles or so.  That will be quite an achievement.  Along the way I'm going to be riding the 17 mile Viva Bike Vegas Gran Fondo Pinarello on September 21st with my father.

Now, I have to give him big props.  He also met my August challenge, riding every day during the month and beat my total miles by completing 222.6 miles for the month!  Outstanding job!  The important point here is that he turned 71 last week.  I can't say how proud I am of him for doing that.

He is worried about the distance for the coming Viva Bike Vegas ride, but I keep reminding him that he can do it and that its not a race.  We can stop and rest as much as we need to along the way.  I think he would like to take on my September challenge as well, but he will be driving out here to Vegas from Michigan and then driving back so for 8 to 10 days he won't be on a bike.

Now, I would be remiss if I didn't also mention that my mom took my August challenge and met it but in her own way.  She doesn't ride, but she committed to walking at least 20 minutes each day on the treadmill and she did it!  Way to go Ma! I won't mention her age, but she might be 2 or 3 years older than my dad. :)

She is also not taking on my September challenge due to the trip out here this month.  I do know she will be walking every chance she gets, though.

So, anyone else want to commit to a mileage total for September?

Regardless, please get on your bikes and ride!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

August Challenge Wrap Up.

Its been a long month but I am happy to report I made the challenge of riding every day in August.  Surprisingly the last 2 days were among the hardest to get in as the weather wasn't very cooperative.

I am happy to report that I pedalled a total of 220.2 miles over the month.  That gives me an average ride length of 7.1 miles.  My longest ride was 12.5 miles on the 27th and the shortest was .48 miles on the 18th in the rain.

Looking ahead to the month of September I plan on challenging myself, but with an overall mileage goal and not with a daily riding goal.  My goal for the month is to better my August total by riding 240 miles.

Hope you are able to get ob your bikes and ride!!!!!