Well , I thought Day 4 was going to be the toughest day (so far). Thursday started off as a very easy ride — slowly climbing alongside a river to Lake Tahoe; 8 miles around (the absolutely stunning) Lake Tahoe in perfect weather. Our group gets along well together, and there was a lot of banter. Everyone was tired from yesterday and in a good mood.
We crossed the Nevada State Line without even knowing it was the Nevada state line — first thing you notice is there are a couple of casinos, but none of us saw the sign. Guess Nevada has its priorities.
And then we started climbing. Turns out Mount Rose is the highest peak in the Sierras (or at least that is what the sign says). It’s pretty high up — 8911 feet, which is about 2900 meters. My dad once said there was no such thing as a tough steak, only dull teeth. I could blame my cardiovascular system, but I guess it really comes down to the gears. I’d go a ways, then stop, let my heart rate and breathing get back under control, and then I’d start again. My legs were fine, but there just wasn’t enough oxygen up there for a sea level guy who trains on highway overpasses.
One of the most interesting characters on our trip is a guy named Ole Agesen. He’s Danish, and a computer programmer. From what I can tell, a very, very good one — he has worked at VMWare for many years, one of those technology companies in Silicon Valley that do the really heavy stuff for data centers. The first day he kind of startled everyone with what came across as a very cutting statement; knowing what I do about top computer science guys it was just how he felt. The lead organizer for the trip is a guy named Gene Emborsky. He’s a good guy, very committed. He also serves as the mechanic for the group. Ole’s question to Gene was “can I borrow your tools if I need one?” Gene’s reply was “why would you want to do that?” Ole’s reply was “because I don’t trust anyone to touch my bike.” Ole wasn’t saying anything about Gene, he was more establishing the point that people shouldn’t be reliant on other people for something as important as your bicycle.
We develop an intimate relationship with our bike’s — every meter forward is pushing that pedal. A breakdown is a huge inconvenience, or it can become a safety issue. If it is working well it is a joy — smooth, highly efficient transport. If something is wrong, it can be a major inconvenience. For example, yesterday a bolt on my pannier came loose. I could hear a small change in tone back there, but I kept pedaling. Eventually it came loose. If I were at the top of my game I would have pulled over when something sounded funny; I could have just screwed it in. But I didn’t. So I lost the bolt. Fortunately not a huge issue — the pannier is safe with only one side attached, and I repaired it overnight (one reason this blog is late). But I’m now getting in the habit of cleaning and inspecting my bicycle every night. Even then, I’m not up to the standard of the others — I was watching Marlon clean his bike, and he was cleaning (and inspecting) all of the derailleurs, the spokes, etc. with various solvents and lubricants. I don’t know how to inspect my own derailleur, let alone service it. Guess a short mechanics class is in order at some point.
Ole and I were talking earlier in the week about stretching. I must say I wondered whether I was overdoing it a bit coming up with 2 45-minute deep stretching routines. Was that really needed, or was I just going overboard? I’ve been surprised how much I need it. One night I didn’t stretch (the night I had dinner with my sister Kathy) and I felt really tight the next day. Now I generally do stretch #1 (which I’ve cut to 30 minutes) every afternoon AND stretch #2 (which I do a full 45 minutes) in the morning before leaving. Before I stretch in the morning I really do not feel like I want to get on the bike; by the end of the 45 minutes I’m ready for breakfast and the day.
Anyway, I told Ole I’d worked with a yoga instructor to come up with two routines, and he asked me a question that I think is one of the most powerful questions you can ask: “what did she teach you that you didn’t already know?” I’d say there were 2 things Yun reinforced that I knew but had let slip, and 2 things that were new:
Reinforced: 1. Hold stretches a long time (usually 3-5 minutes) . 2. Use deep and rhythmic breathing to stay relaxed and push the stretch a tiny bit further with each breath 3.
New: 1. Yun has me use a tennis ball to create an acupressure point on sore spots in my neck, back and leg. I don’t have these often in Singapore, so I didn’t see as much value, but I can tell you that tennis ball is now one of my best items in the bag. Right now I have a sore spot between my neck and my shoulder, and a few minutes with most of my body weight on that point with a tennis ball underneath is really helpful. 2. there were a few new postures that I had just not done (like downward dog with one leg pushing on the other).
By the way, one other set of stretching exercises I do now twice a day are some neck exercises my Dad gave me for migraines. I add these at the end of my leg and back stretches; they’re critical.
Most of the cyclists seem to be stretching 30-60 minutes each day. I wonder how many people who have back, knee, hip or neck problems would benefit from 30 minutes of stretching, every day. It’s a very good time to relax and think about things — the time goes by very fast.
Ride Summary. 67 miles / 108 kilometers. 4085 feet / 1245 meters of climbing. Crossed the highest peak in the Sierras. I think I fell asleep before 8:30 pm.
Today’s Song. Mount Rose was a tough one. On the other side was Reno-Sparks Nevada, and then the lonely desert. So Jackson Brown’s “Rosie.”