Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Hi from the Reno Int'l Airport & Casino

Here we sit, one tired person (me) and two absolutely dead wiped out people (MC & Berger) waiting to hurtle through the stratosphere in an aluminum tube. Ya ever wonder what Orville and Wilbur Wright might think of air travel a century after they first flew? I sometimes think they'd just apologize then go home and burn their Flyer.

Then again, without the $5 stale peanuts and flabby, smelly seatmates, I wouldn't have gotten out to the Lake Tahoe area for the past couple of days. I got to see a JDRF ride from a different point of view, and it's pretty much just as cool. I got here Sunday mid-afternoon, and had the slightly discordant experience of following a couple of fully kitted up JDRF riders as they rolled their bikes across the casino floor to the Bike Room.

Lake Tahoe is almost indescribably gorgeous - shades of blue going from pale to deep as the lake gets deeper, with rocky, wooded mountains all around. Indeed, the only ugly spot - the pimple on the supermodel - is Stateline, Nevada, home of the Montbleu Casino and the headquarters of the Ride. As MC said, it's a pretty blah place, at least 20 years older than the Vegas Strip places. Without the casino, it'd just be a kinda meh hotel, I guess. What made it not so hot for us was that the Bike Room was a windowless conference room in the bowels of the place, with inadequate light and distant bathrooms. And we spent a LOT of time in there. Maybe that's why we got through packing the bikes quicker than we'd expected; the urge to get out of there was powerful.

Out we got, though, for some good foodstuffs and, yesterday afternoon, a drive around the course backwards from the ride direction.

Just, wow. There are ride-off-the-side-of-the-road views almost everywhere. I wanted to be on my bike really badly, with a whole day to kill and full batteries in a nice camera.

So, would I recommend riding here? Well, mostly, yeah. The route is a no-brainer. It's only 72 miles, no option for 100, but it's very hilly and at high enough altitude to make a big difference. I think you'd need just as much fitness to ride this as you would to ride a full century. You could approach this ride differently, too - you could push and be done by noon and hang out for the rest of the day, or loaf your way through, stopping and soaking it all in. Did I mention the views?

The road surfaces are very good, but there's not much shoulder (or room for a shoulder!) in a lot of it, and the traffic can be tight as a result. But, they do get 1800 riders around the lake; there were lots of event-specific signs and such.

Being a piggyback ride, it'd have a very different feel than the DV all-JDRF all the time enforced cameraderie. Getting away from the casino would help some, at least.

So, basically, yeah, I'd recommend it, as long as you keep your expectations away from the Death Valley standard. Unfortunately that's kind of a damning thing to say about the ride. The DV standard is perhaps unreasonably high - but deservedly so. That place is special.

Anyway, on a more practical front, we WILL have a team ride this Saturday morning. We'll ride from Richmond Park in Grand Rapids at 9 AM, with the intention of doing roughly 50 miles. There won't be a dual-start option this time. We'll roll through the JDRF Walk event area too, so I'd suggest wearing your favorite ride day jersey (the Hincapie ones with the full zip, not necessarily the Pink Peloton jerseys, unless you want to).

4 weeks from today we head to DV! Pahrump! Supplies! The Date Palm Grove! The Pool! The Wonderfulness of Being Us! Daaamn but I can't wait!

See you Saturday...

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