By Dennis Pedersen
The American Diabetes Association organizes this fund-raising ride every year and this year I was once again captain of the Hewlett-Packard team. While I felt I did a better job promoting than before, the team was only half the size this time and so was our fund-raising... I suppose the economy didn't help, but I was still bummed. This year I dedicated my ride to my wife's aunt Rosa, who passed away from type II diabetes just two days before my ride... we went to her funeral the Wednesday after. But I'm happy to say that many friends, coworkers and family donated to the effort against this increasing disease. Thank you everybody!
My teammate John and I both signed up for the 120K route (78 miles), so it made sense to carpool and do the ride together. I knew ADA had signed up some good sponsors, including Hobee's who supplied their delicious coffee cake! So I didn't have to eat breakfast at home... but I still had to get up at 4:45AM to make the 6:30AM opening of our route (the shorter 25K, 50K and 75K routes opened later).
Even though I rode almost 70 miles in the Pescadero Road Race the day before (and got dropped from the furious pace!) I was hoping to get in some long intervals during the Tour de Cure... It's not a race, but that doesn't mean I can't hit the big climbs hard. I was dubious that my legs would be up for the task though, and figured that mere survival would be hard enough, but it was my goal. Then I could give my legs a well-earned break on Monday!
After a nice warmup through Portola Valley we turned through Woodside to get to King's Mountain Road. I pushed myself at a hard "L4" pace, just short of my endurance race power. I couldn't believe how good my legs felt as I powered past other riders with John holding my wheel. Maybe the rest station at the junction with Skyline Boulevard, with more treats, motivated me! I sure didn't feel like I was well into a 150-mile weekend.
It was very cool to see the many "Red Riders;" people with diabetes who joined the ride anyway, with careful attention to blood glucose levels en route. Sure makes my ride seem easy!
After flying down HWY84 we turned onto Pescadero Road and up Haskins Hill; the same climb that killed me in the race the day before. It's much nicer at a sane pace! Then we dropped into pretty Pescadero town for another rest station stop. Yummy. We tried to make good time so we set off quickly and up another reminder of my race; Stage Road. Ugh. But again I felt good.
Next up for me was the steepest and longest climb, up Tunitas Creek Road on the way back up to Skyline. Before the road went up there was a small rest station set up in a really neat red and white-striped shack with a cool steel sign reading "The Bike Hut." It was built as a place for cyclists to stop and refuel on this cycling popular route. The weather was pretty nice and blue sky was peeking through as I started my next interval. I powered up Tunitas Creek almost as hard as I did earlier on King's Mountain, even though it was 35 minutes long... but this notoriously bumpy road has been repaved and maybe the smooth asphalt helped.
At the Skyline rest station again, I was amazed that I still felt good, and after John and I dropped back into Woodside we were dodging big crowds of riders from the shorter routes on Alameda de las Pulgas. Much more of a party atmosphere! And the party continued as the volunteers cheered us upon our return, which was lots of fun for we racer wanna-bes!
We got back to HP a little after 12:00, earlier than last year, so we rode 4 hours and 55 minutes at an average speed of 16 MPH. I burned 2749 calories. This year the HP team had an awning with nice HP banners (thanks Jessica!) and it served as a meeting point for us as we swapped stories and enjoyed fish tacos from Wahoo's.
Another bright spot was HP Vice President Joe Beyers' visit to accept a jersey signed by 3-time Tour de France winner and ADA promoter Greg Lemond himself! That was a real morale booster for me. Thanks Joe! Getting support from upper management is key to building a strong team.
With all of your help I hope to ride again in 2010 and make the team even more successful! And if you missed this year, it isn't too late to donate. Thanks!