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Tour de Big Bear

When you do rides like the Tour de Big Bear don’t forget to stop and look around, enjoy where you are. I, for the most part, didn’t do that on this ride.

I got to Big Bear on Friday afternoon around 2PM. I wanted to get there early to acclimate to the altitude and to avoid Friday evening traffic. There was a Friday evening ‘poker ride’ that I wanted to do to get used to the elevation.
I also lucked out that my hotel was in the same location as registration and a block away from the start-finish line. So I pulled in, registered and signed in to get my room, then moved the car to in front of my room and my car sat until it was time to head back down the hill.

The Friday evening ride turned out to be a good idea, as it gave a small preview of Saturday’s ride. It was a loop around the lake. On Friday and Saturday that first little hill was tough as I was affected by the altitude, but adjusted pretty quickly. The loop around the lake was only moderate and rolling rather than any real climbs. Easy and a nice warm up.

On Saturday the start felt like it took forever, but eventually we were off. Again that first rise got the heart beating, but when we crossed the damn and started the first real climb I was fine. Heart rate was probably a little higher than it would be in the valleys, it was in control. I didn’t have any trouble keeping it between 150-160bpm.

Quite frankly I expected the first few miles to be a lot harder than they were. The climbs were all there, but they were not as steep as I anticipated and there were a lot more flat sections than I imagined.

On the downhill down to the first aid station there was a big truck with heavy equipment on a trailer. It was a two-lane highway with cyclists on both sides so the truck driver was doing the best he could, but around this particular corner he took his half out of the middle putting the trailer with the back-hoe or whatever it was pretty close to the riders going downhill. Unfortunately this unsettled a rider who promptly hit the deck. It looked to me as though she turned her wheel too sharply and went over and down on her left shoulder. It was a pretty hard hit. No idea how serious it was as I was past in a second.

The next few miles were pretty uneventful as it was to Snow Valley, turn around and back to the damn, only this time we turned left on toward Fawnskin and the next rest stop at the Discovery Center. This was familiar ground that I covered in the ride the evening before. But instead of turning across the bridge back to town we continued on N. Shore Drive. The rolling went on for several miles around the north end of the valley. I had never seen this part of the valley. It was different than the west end of the valley, but beautiful just the same.

I made sure I ate extra at the last station before the climb up Onyx where they were recording times for KOM and QOM. I headed up the hill. This is a relatively easy climb. It would have been real easy if it weren’t 6-plus miles long and started at around 6800 feet and topped out at over 8300 feet. As it was, it felt like it took forever and it was enough to convince me I didn’t want to go for the 100 mile route instead of the 70 I signed up for.

Annoyingly the aid station was about a mile downhill from the top which meant we had to climb back up to top to actually descend back down to the valley. But what a descent. Not really fast, but over 6 miles over hardly any pedaling. According to the data I hit 40mph which had to be on this section.

Next was some looping around on the same roads we were on earlier until we swung back around the east end of the lake and headed up to the zoo where the final aid station was located. Then it was back down to town and around some really nice neighborhoods with some rather spectacular houses/cabins. Then back up some small, but steep hills, and these really hurt, around to the village and the finish.

Even though this was to be a 70 mile ride, the Garmin said it was 68.6 miles. Next year I’ll suck it up and tough out the 100 miles and about 3K more feet of climbing.

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