Monday, February 20, 2012

Riding for our supper

Sunday morning (Day 1) the weather was fine and warm. We Supper Tourists started as a group, rolling together down the hill from the campground toward Furnace Creek. After that, the route would be all uphill to Dante's Peak.

I hadn't paid much attention to the route description. This was an out-and-back with 2 turns. But after a few miles some comment about an 'increasing grade' began to tickle my memory. It was getting steeper. And steeper. The last push up to the peak at 5654 feet was 15%! The grade was particularly unkind to those of us just beginning to train for the season.

We sat at the lookout point, enjoying the views and eating the sandwiches from our jersey pockets.

After a descent back to the campground, it was time to hit the showers at Furnace Creek and chill out for an hour or two. Relax, apply ice to the lower back and take ibuprofen. This pattern would repeat each day, with different terrain and mileage.

Here's the rundown of each day's route:

Day Destination Mileage Climbing
Sunday Dante's Peak 51 miles 5600 feet
Monday Badwater with Artist's Drive 51 miles 2300 feet
Tuesday Scotty's Castle 72 miles 4400 feet
Wednesday Stovepipe Wells 51 miles 1000? feet
Thursday Golden Canyon Hike 4 miles? n/a
Friday Ashford Mill to Shoshone 58 miles 5925 feet

These routes were suggestions - there was always the option to hike or do something custom, if we felt like it.

Overall we found the roads in great shape and traffic much lighter than at home. With no competition for space, drivers gave us cyclists plenty of room. High temperatures were in the 70's most days. Scenery varied greatly from ride to ride, and sometimes a 10 minute interval on the same road would reveal different geology, different light, different views.

The epic landscape was the backdrop for our training, with high mountains ringing the valley: to the west, the Panamint Range and to the east, the Grapevine, Funeral, and Black Mountains. As you can see from the routes above, we climbed plenty of hills.

Conditions would have been textbook and boring, except...

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