The 2014 Las Vegas Tour De Cure was a success. Thank you to those who donated to this worthy cause. The goal for the event was to raise $175,000 and I am happy to report that the event blew that number away, raising over $200,000! Way to go!
OK, I have to come clean though. I did not ride all 20 miles in the Tour De Cure. Sure it was a tough day with Temperatures hitting the high so far this year - 97 degrees and winds blowing 25 mph with gusts into the 40's. Sure I hadn't ridden as many miles before the event as I should have, but these were minor factors in my not riding all 20 miles. The main reason was my back started cramping about 10 miles in. It was between my shoulders and up into my neck. I suspect the culprit was the camelback I was wearing with the extra water in it in response to the heat plus having had to deal with riding on rumble strips for the first several miles of the ride.
Regardless of the reason, I made a promise to those who donated for my ride that I would ride the entire distance or I would match their donations. Since I didn't make the whole 20 miles, I am making an additional donation of $121 to the ADA.
Now for the ride. I woke up early and got everything ready to go. I had the carrier on the car, bike tires inflated and bike loaded on the carrier, water bottles full, gear in the car, all before 7:30 am. The 20 mile ride wasn't scheduled to start until 9:30 am which meant I didn't need to leave the house until 8:15 or so to get there, get checked in and ready for the start. So once I had everything ready I sat down and waited to go. I have to admit I was anxious as I knew the temps were going to be hot and the wind was starting to blow.
Finally at 8:00 I couldn't wait any longer. I kissed my wife good bye and headed out the door. As I started towards the M casino I thought it might be a good idea to get some fuel in me before the ride so I stopped to pick up a Sausage McMuffin with egg and a large orange juice which I ate and drank on the way to the start. Even with the stop and the slow service I was still at the M by 8:40. I decided to make a trip inside to use the restroom instead of using the port a potties by the starting line. For some reason I got a few strange looks as I walked through the casino to the restroom.
Once I had taken care of business I went back to the car and got my gear together and bike off the car. I installed my frame bag, put my Fat Cyclist water bottle in the holder (I love this from last year 100 MON - thanks Fatty!!!), strapped on the camelback and rode over to check in.
Check in took all of 2 minutes and I got my ride number - 325. One of the volunteers helped to pin the number on my camelback. I took my coupon over to the tent to get my event t-shirt which I then took back to the car. It was 9:10 by this point. I had some time to kill so I found our team tent (I was part of the BikingLasVegas.com team) and had a seat. Seems like the other members of the team were doing longer distances as there was no one else there.
Finally they were calling for all of the riders to line up for the 20 mile ride. One last trip to the rest room and I got into the queue at the start. We had a wonderful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner for a student adn the Las Vegas School of the Performing Arts, we said "Stop Diabetes!", we sang happy birthday to Chris who is a red rider and celebrating his 12th birthday by riding in the event. For those unfamiliar with the Red Riders, they are riders who have diabetes, themselves.
It was then time to go. 9:30 on the dot. With the band playing we headed out of the start area and into the wind. It took a while for the group to get themselves sorted out. For the first mile or so I think we were moving at less than 6 or 7 mph. When we made the turn, heading north on Las Vegas Blvd, the riders started stringing out and the speeds started coming up. There were 2 factors helping out speeds at this point - a tail wind and a slight downhill. I mostly enjoyed the first 5 miles of the ride, pedaling very little and reaching almost 30 mph at one point! Due to the gravity assist I was able to actually sail by a number of riders. This left me away from the back of the pack, which I wasn't used to.
Once we reached Pebble and mad the turn to the East, the wind became more of a crosswind and the road leveled out with a few minor ups and down along the way. My speed slowed down and I started getting passed back, especially since it seemed I ended up stopping at each and every light. Seems my timing was just off enough to catch every light just as it was turning red. The other riders then accelerated away from me when we finally got the green light.
It was along here I saw two young women on the sidewalk. I asked if they needed anything as I approached and they said yes. I stopped to find they were having issues with a flat tire. Their CO2 inflator was giving them issues. I was grateful for my frame bag as I had various items that might come in handy. One was my own CO2 inflator. What appeared to be the problem was their inflator was for schraeder valves not the presta valve on the tire. I quickly pulled mine out, put in a cartridge and inflated the tire for them. Unfortunately this was a sort lived solution as the tire immediately started losing air. Apparently there was a sizable puncture in the tube. She had skinny 26" tires and no other tubes. My spares were entirely the wrong size.
While they thanked me for stopping, I was unable to get them back on the road. Fortunately at that point on of the safety riders rolled up on their motorcycle and called back to the command center to get them assistance. They thanked me and I was back n my way. It was about 2 1/2 miles to the rest stop from this point. I was now in the position I was used to - basically riding by myself near the back. I passed 2 more riders, both taking care of flats. I asked if they needed any help, but they said they didn't. I kept going.
I was a mile from the rest stop when my back started getting tight. I had been feeling some extra strain in my arms and neck from the position of the camelback, but didn't think much of it. Just as I hit the overpass across the 215, my back got really tight and started to hurt. I stopped and try to stretch it out. It seemed to help and after a minute or so I started again.
I had no momentum so decided to drop to my small ring on the little climb up to the rest area I could see ahead. I shifted and immediately dropped my chain. I stopped and bent down to fix it and my back started cramping again. I got the chain on and managed to get into the rest stop. The great volunteers helped me make it with their cheering and enthusiasm. The volunteers were from Target. Thank you!
They took my bike, offered me cold drinks, fruit, etc. I grabbed a chair and had a seat, trying to ease my back and neck. While it did loosen up some, I knew I was done. I texted my wife that I was at the rest area, but wasn't going to go any further. She wrote back Good Job - you did what you could. She is always so supportive of my efforts - thank you dear!!!
As I sat there in the rest area, there were other riders who had arrived before me and they were acknowledging that it was hot and they were done as well. We talked to the volunteers who made a call to the command center requesting a SAG vehicle to pick us up.
One of the riders I had passed who had a flat came in and had to change his tube a second time. He also needed to adjust his rear brakes as they ended up being too tight after he changed his tire. Fortunately I was able to oblige with my multi-tool from the frame pack. He got his brakes adjusted and was ready to go in a few short minutes.
As we waited, a few more stragglers came in that were behind us. One of them was a 6 year old girl who was a Red Rider. I'm sad to say I cannot remember her name. most of the riders fueled up and took off. There were 5 of us in the rest stop who were looking for a SAG ride back to the start. 3 of the other riders were Red Riders, one being the 6 year old girl and another her older brother. Eventually the SAG vehicle arrived and the 5 of us loaded up our bikes and 3 riders got in the bed, while myself and the 6 year old got into the cab. I had tried getting in the bed, but was overruled. We then headed back towards the starting line.
As we rode the young lady and I got to talking. It was a 30 minute ride or so and we talked about many things. I found out she had been diagnosed about a year earlier with diabetes, that she was turning seven in a month and that she had been camping the previous week in California. She said she needed some biking shorts and biking gloves. I suggested that those might be a good suggestion for her birthday. She agreed.
We talked about many other things as well on the way back. In the back were her older broth and her step-dad. Her older brother at 12 was also a Red Rider. She said her step-dad rides all the time and he stopped because she did. I have to say I was very impressed with that young lady. I wish I could remember her name.
On the ride back in the SAG vehicle we passed several other riders who were stopped at the side of the road. We stopped and talked to some of them. All were waiting on a SAG ride. Unfortunately we had no more room in the vehicle. Finally we determined that we needed to get back and not keep stopping unless the riders looked hurt or in need of emergency aid. We passed several more riders, but none seemed to need emergency assistance.
The driver said that they were down a couple of vehicles this year because there were a couple of other events going on this weekend, the biggest of which was the Susan G Komen walk for the cure. There were also fewer radios. We called the base on his cell to let them know there were other riders in need of assistance, but the connection kept cutting out. We eventually got the message through.
Finally we were back near the finish line. We unloaded the bikes and all 5 of use rode over the line to the finish area while the driver headed back out to get more riders.
There was cheering and clapping as I rode in, but I felt like a bit of a fraud. Sure I was successful in raising awareness and money for the cause, but I hadn't accomplished my goals.
I met my wife and daughter in the finish area and they congratulated me on doing what I did. Thank you! I love you!
Part of what made the ride more significant for me this year is that my wife was just diagnosed with diabetes on Friday. Right now she is at the lowest reading to be diagnosed with this disease and we know that through diet and weight loss we can beat it, but this added one more reason to why I ride. I also ride for my mother, my Aunts, and friends who have this disease.
So I didn't make the distance, but I did have a great experience and will be back again next year and hopefully my wife and daughter and maybe my grand kids, will be joining us.
Get on your bikes and RIDE!