Run Your Own Race- America’s Most Beautiful Ride!
At the beginning of 2016 I told my personal trainer, Jill, that for the new year I wanted to train for and complete a destination cycling event and she suggested only one, the best one to be done by all adventurous, tenacious and fitness minded persons: America’s Most Beautiful Ride in scenic Lake Tahoe. The title of the ride immediately captured my attention, and without too much investigation I said, “Yes, I’m in.” Jill even went as far as to tell me she would support me on this ride by doing it with me, so with that said we began the preparations.
I already owned a road bike, riding shoes and helmet but I needed access to an indoor trainer so I bought an Keiser bike, which came in very handy for winter workouts. Jill came up with a 12 week training plan, got me started on Team Beach Body performance nutrition (Ironman recently endorsed this line their official nutrition) combined with Shakeology meals and assured me that if I followed her master plan I would successfully do this ride.
Initially I wanted to sign up for a century ride, but thankfully Coach talked me out of that one because the event we would do included many challenging climbs at a high elevation, which I did not take into full account when I accepted her recommendation. We agreed on the #72 mile ride which was still a challenging feat for this location. In February I began the program to prepare for my first destination event. The difficulty in many cases was not the training, but carving out the time to train in one of the busiest seasons of the year. I had to figure out how to train for lengthy, weekly workouts while managing my life routines, 3 trips, 2 holidays, and one graduation; this was the toughest aspect of training, the time it took to schedule and get the workouts completed in the midst of such a hectic period. I’m proud to say that in 12 weeks of training I only missed one session, and the mental focus it took to make the workouts happen, paid off June 5th.
June arrived before I could say “BOO,” and all of a sudden it was yesterday and I was getting on my bike to put all my work to the test and experience one of the most exhilarating, challenging and wonderful rides of my life. Jill and I arrived in Reno, Nevada on Friday evening June 3, checked into the event hotel and settled in for a well planned out weekend. Jill had it all mapped out for us from when and where to take our bikes for assembly to what we would eat each day, leading to nutrition during our ride. We talked about pace and we discussed how we were going to ride; her in back keeping me on track with our strategy.
She also suggested we drive the actual route on Saturday before we offically rode on Sunday so we would know almost exactly what to expect. We did that, but I was so caught up in the beauty of the landscape that I did not fully comprehend the elevations we would climb on our bikes the next day. That is probably a blessing in disguise because the hills and were not small or short, but very steep. Hills from a car are quite different than riding them on a bike.
At 6:15am Sunday morning Jill and I headed out to the starting line at the Hard Rock Hotel and began our adventure around Lake Tahoe, the second highest alpine lake in America taking us and 3,330 other riders through 2 states, passing through 4 cities, 8 communities and 5 counties. These statistics should give you and idea of the variety of terrain we rode.
THE TOUGH PARTS
The toughest aspect of the actual ride were the climbs, and the amount of climbs, riding with traffic and much of the time through construction. For about the first 9 miles the ride was super enjoyable and pretty and then we began our assent up Emerald Bay, it was the steepest climb and I started breathing very heavy to make it to the top. I’m not gonna lie, my shortness of breath did put me into seconds of panic, but I pushed through and remembered what so many others have said, “Just breathe.” Jill was waiting at the top of the hill, and then we proceeded the route together again, until her bike tire went flat. Jill called the emergency SAG people and they said they would take a little while to arrive and attempt to mend her tire. She suggested I proceed without her for the time being, and that ended up being the entire ride. I was disappointed to separate from Jill, but she did eventually get her flat repaired and get on her way to finish the ride. I went on, and after that point the ride was manageable and lovely with several rest stops. Because I was accustomed to Jill navigating me through everything, I failed to take my Beach body liquid protein at the designated time and instead ate the food at the lunch stop. By this time I was at mile 40, very hungry and I ate a lot including the chocolate chip cookies. Elmo’s cookies were ablsotuly delicious as I gobbled them down, but this intake hindered my performance later on. However, I am glad I stopped because I could rest a little, go to the bathroom and enjoy the festivities in the most beautiful setting over looking the clear blue lake, stunning tall trees and mountain air to the booming sounds of Earth Wind and Fire; a fun break to say the least. When I left the lunch stop, Jill text me that her bike was repaired and she had already passed where I was, so she was now ahead of me. I was happy she was back on the road and I also resumed the trek. At about mile 45 the road narrowed and traffic was increasing. All the cyclists and I began to ride single file in a very skinny bike lane probably the width of a foot. The cyclists were very respectful when passing always shouting the direction they were going as they passed and when a vehicle would be approaching, a cyclist would shout “car behind,” but at one single point a man behind me was getting impatient and wanted to pass me neglecting when one of the other cyclist shouted, “car behind.” As he passed, the vehicle came on and “Mr impatient” bumped into me, knocking me over and throwing my bike in the street and throwing my cat eye device into the middle of the road. This was the most frightening time of the ride, and it actually caused me to be overly cautious and apprehensive for the last 27 miles, which turned out to be a real grind. The end of the ride was at Spooner Mountain incorporating a 7 mile stretch of steady, non- stop inclines that seemed to last forever and tested my enduracnce and mental fortitude. I did take about 5 tiny breaks to catch my breath and regroup. At some point I had climbed an elevation of 7,000 feet.
The biking community in general is very nice and willing to help, it’s like one big family on the road keeping an eye on each other . I met so many cool people from all over the country, but mostly from the Bay Area and all over California. Everyone was enthusiastic about sharing tips for the ride, and many I spoke to were on their 4th and 5th year riding around the lake. One guy had come the last 10 years, by the way this is the 25th year for America’s Most Beautiful Ride, and he said each year was better than the last.
The view of our ride was heavenly-actually! You can’t believe nature is so breathtaking with the deepest blue/green water that is so calm/still and serene set in front of rugged, giant vast mountains, sprawling trees under crystal blue skies with perfectly scattered white fluffy clouds. There were also several refreshing peaceful waterfalls on the route which transported me to nirvana. Overall, the luxurious sights, delightful sounds and the opportunity to witness nature in it’s purest form made it hard to take my eyes off of God’s brilliant creation, which words do no justice. Lake Tahoe has to be one of the prettiest places I’ve ever seen. The organic, heavenly view set the scene for a momentous milestone, but the difficulty of the ride around this beautiful landscape gave me an indelible sense of accomplishment I will cherish forever.
My epic ride around Lake Tahoe wouldn’t have been possible without the direction, training and sincere care of Jill Albright who guided me for this event the past 12 weeks. Her education of nutrition and excercise science coupled with fierce discipline rubbed off on me to the extent that I was ready to successfully ride and finish #72 miles on my bike in a breathtaking yet mountainous setting. I learned a lot about Jill this weekend. She is strong, smart and always prepared. ALWAYS PREPARED- AND NOT EASILY DISTRATCTED like yours truly. Jill brought out the best in me, and she fostered the belief in me that I CAN DO IT, now I want to prove to myself that I can make PREPARATION a priority at all times! THANK YOU JILL FOR CONTINUING TO IMPROVE YOURSELF, RAISE THE BAR FOR YOURSELF & OTHERS- I want to join you in the 2%!
RUN YOUR OWN RACE
Preparing for America’s Most Beautiful Ride was my personal race, one that encompassed excitement, adventure, accomplishment, determination, courage, planning, mental focus and commitment. This big ride was for me, to make me better mentally and physically, and it did. I learned a lot about myself, most importantly that I can do what ever I set my mind to, if I prepare properly. My lesson and my experience relates to my sincerest belief that life is meant to be lived, fully and wholly, in other words #KefiLife.
Consider the tremendous potential you possess, and get busy discovering it by engaging in activities that help you evolve into the person you are meant to be. Don’t feel compelled to do what other’s do, do what you are born to do and seek that which is right for you. If training for a race helps you become better through all the planning and preparation for it, by all means do it, but refrain from getting caught up doing it like someone else, better than someone else or as fast as someone else.
Work to improve yourself so you can shine not like another, but like the exceptional person you are born to be!