5am came early Saturday morning, and even though I’m not usually a happy camper in the morning, I’m at a minimum able to put a fake smile on my face and go about the things that have to be done. Saturday morning wasn’t that way however. I woke up with a gnarly stomach ache that I was pretty sure was going to lead to a hospital visit if I had to visit the porcelain god at any time. I was determined though to get out there and ride the metric century in the Las Vegas Tour de Cure. I had come all the way from NM to do so. So, I set my basal rates to 60% of their usual rates and hopped in the shower wishing away my stomach ache. When I was done with my shower, I put my pjs back on and crawled back into bed. I knew that I wasn’t going to make it 60.2 miles and so I’d better get a little more sleep and hope that my belly ache went away because I was going to ride the 35 mile route whether I felt better or not.
6:30 comes around, my stomach is still hurting but I get dressed, go load the car, and I head towards the Henderson Events Plaza. Check in begins at 7:15, I’m checked in at approximately 7:45 because I was moving slow. I had gone in my pants and a long sleeve shirt under my jersey, but it turned out to be nicer than what I thought it appeared, so I had to change into my shorts and loose the long sleeve shirt. The temperature was pretty perfect for the ride, there was one point where I thought it warmed up way too much, but it didn’t kill me. The wind was perfect too. Not too much, and just enough during the hot times of the ride to feel like a nice breeze.
I go and get checked, in, there was a pretty decent assembly line going:
I first had to do form completion because I didn’t register in time to get my packet before I left the state (it was waiting for me when I got home).
After form completion I went and handed in my form and my collection envelope
The last stop for check in was to get my number
I was number 183, I had the usual bib, and a new one to me, I had a sticker on my helmet, I’m not exactly sure what the purpose of it was, but best I can figure out it was supposed to be for finding our photos.
By the time I got checked in, I knew that I was going to have to eat, I hadn’t eaten breakfast because I knew that if I did eat I was going to be sick. But at this point, I knew that if I didn’t eat, I wasn’t going to make it through the first leg of the ride. I downed two Luna bars. Assumed my position at the starting point, put a great big smile on my face and took a picture.
As usual there was the pre-ride mumbo jumbo, most of which I couldn’t hear. I did catch that I was supposed to follow the blue arrows (which is always important to me because if there’s no arrows, I’m lost.)
(And just moments before being told what arrows to follow, I had asked the guy next to me if he knew, he had no clue and said we should follow the maps we were given).
I myself, didn’t use my map during the ride, I didn’t think it was necessary as I’m capable of following signs. I did however follow the map after the ride when I drove the route to film it, and the directions seemed right enough. I didn’t get lost. I also try to stay with the pack when I’m riding because I don’t like to ride by myself for fear that I will get lost (it’s scary riding your bike in an unfamiliar place).
While the signs were visible, and the route was marked, and there was NHP (Nevada Highway Patrol) at every major turn, I’ll have to say that the Phoenix, AZ Tour de Cure has every other ride I’ve ever ridden beat as far as signage and markings go (gotta love those arrows on the road). I didn’t manage to get lost and there was only one turn that should’ve been marked far before the turn itself was to be made because of construction and traffic it was near impossible for us to make the turn at the time we arrived and so we used the crosswalks.
So the ride began and I was feeling decent about it. The weather was fine, there was a small breeze that wasn’t even a pain, it was usually welcomed or it went unnoticed. I went up a slight hill and down a hill, I was a happy camper, I was with the front of the pack, and my thoughts got ahead of me “this won’t be too bad”. And then I turned onto Boulder HWY and I wasn’t so happy anymore, the hill went on for ages, ok, maybe not ages, but it felt like ages. And it wasn’t a steep hill, it was a low grade, goes on forever hill. So these hills went on and on and on. I’d get small reliefs every now and then, like the steep down hill from the overpass from Boulder HWY to HWY 93 (yes, I actually was riding on the highway).
I had fallen from the pack at this point, getting onto HWY 93. That overpass just killed me, I’m a hill slug, no doubts about it. I’ve hated hills since I started riding again, but it’s strange because as a child, I don’t remember having any problems with hills. I remember I could fly up them on my little 1 speed bike, with the brakes in the pedals. Ah, those were the days.
A guy goes flying up HWY 93 and comments that I have a cute bike. I was all like “thanks” *rolls eyes* and then I was cruising along all by myself keep the speedy peeps insight because I didn’t want to not be able to follow anyone. About half way up HWY 93 I met TJ. He was one of several to pull up to me and say hello and ask how I was doing. He was the only one to stay by my side and ride along with me. I appreciated that. It was TJs first ride worth mentioning (so he tells me). I believe he had gotten involved in this ride because his boss’ husband has diabetes. His boss was riding in the 100k ride.
Him and I rode together all the way to the 1st checkpoint. Both of us every now and then would comment on how we hate hills. Probably me more than him. I told him how at one point I had to chant in my head “hills are my friend” not that I fully believed that at all. I really do HATE hills. Much to the relief of both of us, there was this sweet down hill that we got to go speeding down, it was on this one particular hill that I achieved my fastest speed ever on a bike, 36 mph.
I was so excited to be going so fast, I was crouched down and my knees and elbows were tucked in. I tried to pedal in my hardest gear (which I think is 18, but I can’t remember how many gears are on my bike) but there was no resistance whatsoever. I was so bummed that I couldn’t pedal to go faster. I was equally as heart brokened that there were people in front of me and I had to brake because I didn’t have the guts to pass them because we were on the busy hwy. But i’m fairly sure that if there hadn’t been anyone in front of me, I could’ve breached the 40 miles per hour mark. (When i was telling a friend she told me “you gotta leave something for next time, courtney”)
The first rest stop was at approximately 14 miles. I was halfway excited because the restrooms weren’t port-a-potties. Of all the rides, these were probably the least impressive rest stops of all the rides that I’ve done. I don’t know what it was, perhaps I’ve been spoiled by the rides this year and the peanut butter & banana sammiches. I didn’t stick around long. Long enough to be happy that my blood sugar had dropped from the 241 it started at to 94. It was still a little lower than I would’ve preferred, but that was running at 60% of my regular insulin intake. (In phoenix, I was running at 70% of my regular intake, perhaps the next ride I’ll try dropping it to 50% of my regular intake, I’d really like to run in the 120s, that would be my ideal blood sugars).
I rode through the second leg by myself, TJ had gone ahead with his buddies which was cool because I wasn’t ready to leave when they were. I could see all of 2 people in front of me while I was riding, I passed exactly 1. This leg was seriously all up hill. I had an average speed of 6 mph on this leg.
When I got to the next stop, at about 20 miles, I was happy to just not be going up hill. The peeps at this rest stop said, “Oh, it’s all down hill from here” HA! Down hill my butt. It was more uphill. At least the view from this rest stop was pleasant, you could see the lake. I kindof wished that somehow we had ended up down at the lake (but now I’m grateful that we didn’t because that would’ve meant I would’ve had to go down a hill and thus back up a hill).
At the second rest stop I met Francisco (or was it Fernando, I can’t remember) and he told me that I’d at least live to be 89 because that’s how long his dad, who had diabetes, lived to be. That made me smile
I did the usual blood check thing, I was still hovering in the 90s. I downed a gel, a bottle of water, and some shot bloks. I also met with TJ again, he was at the second rest stop so we got to ride the third leg together. There was 15 miles to go and boy were they grueling. They were, of course, mostly uphill (or so it felt). There was this one hill where they put the photographer, I was like, oh my gosh, is that the photographer, it’s hard to smile when you’re exhausted and you’re going up the hill and you’ve got no energy, but I managed to smile, and they got a good picture of me (ZaZoosh was responsible for the pictures, they did a good job and I was ecstatic that there was a photographer there to take pictures so that I could have a good one of me in action)
TJ and I declined the semi-official third rest stop, it wasn’t a complete one, in that it didn’t have restrooms or shade, it was kindof in the middle of the road, where we could turn if we wanted to go to a full service rest stop, but that was going to add miles to the ride, and we would’ve had to go downhill to get there. Neither TJ nor I were interested in going downhill. Then there was a couple impromptu stops where cars were pulled off the side of the road and they had water and gatorade and stuff but we went past them too (in retrospect, we should’ve stopped at one of them).
At one point TJ fell behind so I kept checking to make sure he was still there. I hollered “TJ you still back there” and he yelled back “I’ve got your back all the way.”
I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited to get back to the finish line. It was a rough ride, it probably had everything to do with the fact that I wasn’t feeling well when I started. I did, however, finish the ride and if I had been feeling well I know that I could’ve done better.
The ride ended up being 34.55 miles and I completed it in 2 hrs 49 min 43 sec with an average speed of 12.2 mph and a max speed of 36 mph.
I got the best post meal ever as Outback Steakhouse was there serving lunch. They were very friendly people too.
We had the choice of chicken or steak, since I had had chicken the night before (at Outback, interestingly enough), I chose steak, and it was delicious!
The Las Vegas Tour de Cure did something I’d never seen before (and that could be because I’ve never hung out long after a ride, this one is probably the first that I hung out at for a great deal of time after the ride). They had drawings. People that had raised over $500 were entered to win bicycles. People were inducted into the hall of fame. There were raffle ticket drawings with various prizes (I missed the part where you had to visit the tables to get the tickets, I didn’t get to the vendors in time to get the tickets, but still, it was pretty cool that they were doing that).
Overall I’d say that this ride was pretty intense for a 50k. But it’s only my 6th ride. I’d say that it was more challenging overall that the Phoenix, AZ Tour de Cure 100k. It really had me questioning why I do these rides, at one point I was so frustrated with the hills and not feeling well that I thought to myself “why am I doing this, I hate this”. Now that I’m feeling a little better, I realize that I really don’t hate riding as much as I hate hills, and that I just need to train to learn how to deal with hills better.
It was an experience, an overall good one, I wouldn’t mind giving the Las Vegas Tour de Cure another chance.