America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride 2011 Recap {Team In Training}

It’s not too late for an event weekend recap, right? Only a little over a month ago…whoops. ๐Ÿ™‚

Seeing as I’ve had over 70 keyword hits for Team In Training, America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride photos, LLS, etc…I feel that I owe everyone the rest of the story.

Where to begin…

My trip out to Tahoe began on Thursday, June 2nd. I spent the day working on our Gleevec trial up in Milwaukee. A drug that I would hear mentioned many times throughout the weekend. {Still makes my heart swell with pride that I work for Novartis}

Friday early AM: Fly to Denver. Sit next to a lady that’s husband has cancer and is being treated by a doctor I previously worked with. Small world. Connect on a flight to Reno. Tell the professional bowling couple sitting next to me I’ll be biking 100 miles on Sunday. They looked at me like I was crazy, asked me if I was being paid to do it, and then started coughing and complaining they needed a cigarette. {And yes, I did give them the anti-smoking lecture and told them what lung cancer will do to them someday. I am that person.}

Friday afternoon: Get to Reno airport, meet my parents outside–who drove all the way from Northern Wisconsin with their two bikes on the back (go saris bike racks!) Buy groceries. Head to condo. Go meet Team Madison at Holiday Inn Express. Bike pickup. Then head to Team Novartis dinner. Smile at the growing number of colleagues that I actually know this year (5 from ClinOps-woo hoo! compared to just the 2 of us last year), and see many familiar faces from last year (nearly 40 total Team Novartis riders this year). LLS awarded Team Novartis with a plaque and a $100,000 research grant for a CML investigator. Oh, and icing on the cake…we all got to meet our honored patient who has CML, and he and his wife would be doing the ride with us. Awesome craziness. So proud of what TNT and LLS does. Also, check out the video I produced: Team Novartis.

{Team Novartis 2011}

Oh, and let’s not forget the weather report…Friday–maybe a high of 55? I think that’s being generous. Believe me…it gets better and better. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Saturday morning: Acclimation ride with Team Wisconsin. An out and back quick 16 miler. Get the lungs used to the altitude and make sure the bikes are in good condition because they are one of the best spin bikes 2018 in the market. Also make sure you dressed warm enough…it was a brisk, slightly drizzling morning. Again, maybe in the 50s? Bib pickup for TNT from Embassy Suites.

Saturday afternoon: Driving and shopping with the parents. More rain gear is needed. Bib pickup for the parents. Team Wisconsin meeting with the coaches. Feeling nervous about the conditions. If it snows or has bad lightning, it could be cancelled. Yeah…snow…they weren’t even kidding.

Saturday night: Inspiration Dinner. Without giving away too much, you just have to be there to understand. You can FEEL the emotion. If you don’t have tears or goosebumps or a lump in your throat while you’re there…you aren’t human. They announced that this year’s event raised over $6.8 million dollars. Wowza. Again, so proud of what TNT can do by bringing people together. After the party, back to the Holiday Inn for jersey signing. A favorite tradition of mine. Quotes, sayings and photos on our jersey to remember our teammates, honored patients, and why we ride. After that…off to bed.

Sunday morning (event day): Get up around 4am, which really doesn’t feel that early due to the time difference. Eat some oatmeal and chicken noodle soup. (Yes, of course I would get a food poisoning bacteria for the entire week prior to the ride. Do not recommend this method to dehydrate yourself. ๐Ÿ™ ๐Ÿ™ ๐Ÿ™ ) Made sure to keep my sodium and electrolyte levels up, as I would need it during the ride. Head down to the start line by 6am. Find Team Novartis. Team & family photo ops.

{Me & My Parents at the Start}

Weather report: It’s raining. Not super hard, but it’s steady. You start hearing that such and such team isn’t even riding. 40% of the course has rescheduled for a ride in September. etc etc I tell myself…your entire training season has been cold and wet, this is nothing new. You can do it. We start. It’s cold. In the 40s. My butt is wet within 5 minutes thanks to the back spray off the tires. By Emerald Bay (17 miles in) this won’t matter…everything will be wet (except my upper body that had a rain coat on). Before Emerald Bay they make you go through a narrow chute so they check and make sure you’re a registered rider (with an arm band and sticker on your helmet). There was a big bottleneck, and some guy yelled–You think we’d be out riding this for fun today? (through the now steady rain) Yeah–they stopped checking us after that and let us through. Met up with Team Madison who got ahead of me by starting from the Holiday Inn Express. Stinkers. ๐Ÿ™‚ And then came Emerald Bay. Switchbacks. But honestly, one of my favorite parts of the ride. Yes the hills are steep, but it’s also not a super long hill(s). Put it down into my Granny Gear and just kept pedaling.

{Emerald Bay Switchbacks. Photos taken a few days after the ride, thus no bikers.}

I was all smiles by the photoshoot at the top (note to other bikers: try to distance yourself from other bikes, get as far left or center line as possible, and make sure there’s no dirt on your face. Smile and pretend you’re having a great day. You can buy the print for $20 at the finish line. Well worth it.) First rest stop above Emerald Bay…couldn’t feel my toes. Coach Art (bless him) took off my shoes and socks and massaged my feet until I had feeling and color once again. (Remember, it’s in the high 40s and we’re WET). I even drank hot coffee with mostly milk to try and warm up. It actually helped. Of any of the rest stops, take photos here–you won’t regret it. The place is so beautiful that I’m even thinking on take my kids on a bike ride when I’m out of training, after all myย kids ride wild and they will keep up.

 

{Emerald Bay}

{Looking up at Jessie at Emerald Bay. Happy the sun is shining}

Onwards and down the mountain…a bit chilly coming off Emerald Bay.ย  The rest of the ride to Truckee was pretty uneventful. The rain let up, the sun came out. We all sang and rejoiced. Errrr…I did in my head at least. ๐Ÿ™‚ Oh, tip…for a more scenic, pretty route–take the bike path to and from Truckee. May not be as fast as the road, but I enjoy it greatly. Stop at Truckee to fuel up. Eat lots of pb&j bagels, some amazing powergel candy things, and drink two more water bottles of gatorade. Definitely staying hydrated. See some Team Novartis, but continue to ride with Team Madison {we’re a loyal bunch!}

 

{The storms a brewin’ at Truckee}

And then comes my 2nd least favorite section of the ride…from Truckee to Kings Beach/lunch. Coach Art, again, helped me zen my way through the stomach pains and lack of feeling in my toes. Stories of Canada, maple syrup tapping and lots of imagery helped me make it. Great Coach! Lunch stop. Didn’t feel too hungry, but ate anyways. Tip: Don’t spend too much time at lunch. Oh, and there’s a big hill right after. Dollar Hill. Then keep at it because you have my least favorite part…Spooner Hill. A 7 mile long hill with a decent elevation climb. By this point, I’m just tired. The ride was taking much longer than last year, and the conditions weren’t ideal. When people were cheering on the side of the road (in the rain–oh, and it was awesome if they played music!) I wanted to stop and hug them. So Spooner Hill was tough. It was me, Art and my inspiration–Jessie (my teammate who has CLL). We stuck it out together and made it to the top. And oh what a sight it was—there was the rest of Team Madison (the guys) waiting for us and cheering us on. One of the happiest things I saw all day. Cue the tears. I was too tired to be in a bite me zone, so I went straight to the emotional zone. After Spooner Hill, it’s a wonderful descent (and fast one–I reached over 50 mph this year), but still has a few darn pesky hills thrown in there at the end. Again, my amazing Team Madison waited for us all to ride to the finish line together, with Jessie leading us across.

{Team Madison crossing the finish line}

 

And we had done it. The entire Team Madison accomplished our goal. To bike 100 miles. After finishing, we checked in, got our bling, bought our Emerald Bay photos, and took the obligatory bike over our head shot. Many hugs and tears were shed. I also was able to see more of my Novartians cross the finish line and cheer them on. And then it’s off to get cleaned up and ready for the Victory Dinner.

{I DID IT!}

Monday morning: I’m supposed to head down to the Holiday Inn to bring my bike over to the semi for pickup. Well, Mother Nature had other plans. My dad woke me up at 4:30am by saying…we can’t get off the mountain. The roads are impassable unless you have chains. Huh?? I thought through my groggy state. I look out the window and sure enough—SNOW. So while Mother Nature didn’t want me to return my bike to Wisconsinย  (it still got there, thanks to my amazing team), Mother Nature did cooperate on event day by letting us finish the ride safely (but my parents did get held up a bit by hail on their route).

{Snow on June 6th, 2011. Lake Tahoe.}

 

So all in all, a very mentally challenging event weekend. The thoughts that went through my head to get me up Spooner Hill were not pretty. {If you stop riding, Matthew will die of cancer someday.} Yes, that honestly is how I had to trick my brain into continuing to ride. Morbid and twisted, but it worked. And earlier in the ride I had more pleasant thoughts–you are helping raise thousands of dollars for your cancer patients and family members that are affected by this. We are going to find a cure.ย  In the end, I am so proud of myself, my parents, Team Novartis and Team Madison for completing the ride. Under normal conditions, it’s a grueling but beautiful ride. Under wet, cold, dreary conditions, it’s much more challenging. And even if you take away the physical aspects of it, the accomplishment of all of the TNT riders to raise over $6.8 million is such an achievement.

 

If you rode this year or in the past, I would love to hear what your experience was like. Better? Worse? Same? Will you keep doing it?

As for me, my future Tahoe bike rides may be less likely…because I just might take up running with the team. And who knows…maybe a triathlon in my future? ๐Ÿ™‚ Either way, TNT has me hooked. I’m so proud of this organization. GO TEAM!

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