Tag Archives: Verdi Loop

I love my new speed coach!

My husband is a former bicycle racer who competed in Northern Nevada and California races. He still rides almost daily and he rides at a much higher pace than me. On Saturday, July 16, our 10-year-old son left for a week at a mountain lake cabin with his best friend’s family. I asked Stan if he wanted to go for a ride with me. He said yes but also said he would want to go for a workout ride later. I said, maybe we could find a ride where we could both get a workout, like a ride with a good long climb. He suggested Geiger Grade. The last time I climbed Geiger Grade leaving from home was 2 years ago when I was training for my first Ride to Defeat ALS and it nearly killed me! It’s about 40 miles round trip, with about 3000 feet of climbing. But I’m in better shape this year so I was game.

As we rode through the valley toward Geiger Grade (the road to Virginia City), Stan worked with me to try to get me to draft behind him. I have not learned drafting techniques before and I don’t really like riding right behind someone so I can’t see the road in front of me. When we started the climb, Stan worked with me on shifting up and down according to how I can sustain my pace as the gradient changes and as the wind shifted to and from a tail wind. I always used to just grind up hills in the easiest gear. He was still much faster than me and he would zoom ahead doing speed intervals and then he’d ride back down to meet me. When we got up to the false summit at the Virginia City Highlands turnoff, Stan decided to head back. I had never gone beyond this point but I felt great and for once I didn’t have to get back to pick up my son so I continued on to the summit.

It was a very windy descent and I had to stop to rest both at the Highlands turnoff and at the Scenic Overlook. When I got back down to the valley, I had to think of a way home with minimal climbing, since I was pretty beat. I ended up going over the Double R hill to AirCenter Parkway. I had to climb that hill but then got a nice high-speed descent as a reward. From AirCenter I turned on Meadowood Mall Way to Neil, thinking I would ride home on McCarran. But McCarran was all torn up for repaving so I continued on to Peckham. Then I only had to climb the hill to my house. After 3.5 hours of riding I was really glad to be done!

I used some of my speed coach’s tips when I did my hill repeats the following Thursday. Using MyTracks on my Droid phone, I was able to compare my speed and time to the week before. For the same distance each Thursday, the new techniques let me finish 7 minutes sooner and my average moving speed increased from 9.66 mph to 10.55 mph!  Oh yeah! Anything that can help me finish century rides sooner is a good thing!

Sign in for the Ride for RAVE at Sports West. Indoor spinning was an option too.

My speed coach rode with me again last Saturday in the Ride for RAVE. RAVE provides respite babysitting for parents of special needs kids, as well as volunteer experience for high school kids who provide the babysitting. We had used RAVE babysitting when our son was a baby. He was a preemie and had special feeding needs. The ride left from Sports West Athletic Club (where I work out) and the route was our tried and true favorite Verdi Loop. We rode at a high pace for me (our average moving speed was 16 mph). Stan kept urging me to ride closer to him. The pace was slow for him but since he pulled the whole time mostly into a head wind, he was happy with his workout. We ended up being the first to finish – a new experience for me! The ride had a great rest stop on Bridge Street in Verdi, and a really great buffet brunch after the ride.

The Bridge Street rest stop in Verdi

After the ride we went home and watched the Tour de France Time Trial which we had recorded. Then there was just enough time to shower before going to pick up our son, home from the mountain cabin.


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Riding season with riding weather, finally!

I’ve had some really great rides in the last couple of weeks. On June 11 (Saturday) my husband and son hopped on the tandem and I rode along with them south on Lakeside and all the way to Saddlehorn and up the hill to our friends’ house above the very top of the loop. It was a beautiful day for a ride and the downhill ride back home was quick.

I did my hill repeats on Tuesday that week, since I had another ride planned for Thursday. On Wednesday I met Tracy for a nice little Mogul loop ride, with a return route along the river with lots of chances to see the high water from the snowmelt runoff. We finished the ride with a cruise down Arlington’s wonderful bike lane.

On Thursday I drove to Auburn, California and met my friend Erika who drove up from Sacramento. We started at the Fairgrounds and rode the route of the Auburn Century ride that was held the week before. The arrows were still visible on the pavement. The entire route was nice riding with adequate and nicely paved shoulder on all roads. We rode just over 23 miles with over 2300 feet of climbing. We made plans to ride the same route again, but start above Foresthill and avoid the ride through town.

On Saturday June 18 I rode in the Tour de Nez Truckee River Gran Fun-Do. I had made plans to ride with my friend Michelle. She injured herself running the day before the ride. She had recruited her brother to ride with us. Tim is also an old friend of mine so we did the ride together. We started at The Hub on Cheney Street and rode to Lake St. and the river and got on the river bike path. We rode east along the river to Sparks Blvd. It was good to get caught up with Tim as we rode. Our first rest stop was in one of the parks along the river. We got a poker card at each stop. We rode north on Sparks Blvd. and had our next stop at the Vista Grille. Crossing I-80, we stayed on the west side of the bridge, where there was a place to ride outside of the jersey barrier away from traffic. There was a large group of riders on the other side of the bridge, riding in the traffic. After the bridge we hooked onto the large group. The didn’t turn off to our stop at the Vista Grille and we found out that they were a shop ride, and not part of our Gran Fun Do. We continued north on Sparks Blvd., crossed Pyramid, and began the climb up Highland Ranch Parkway and into Sun Valley, where we encountered our 3rd rest stop. From Sun Valley we turned west on Seventh St. I was kind of worried about the climb up Seventh because there is no shoulder and it’s a winding road. But it turned out to not be a problem because there were about 5 of us climbing it at the same time so we were very visible. Traffic was good about giving us a wide berth. We rode North Valleys Road to Lemmon Drive to Military Road and on into Stead. Then we wound our way through the industrial streets of Stead and emerged on Red Rock Road. We rode west, under US 395, and turned south on N. Virginia. Our 4th stop was at Sierra Safari Zoo. From there we continued down N. Virginia all the way to McCarran and then headed west. We missed a stop at the Squeeze In, which made the next leg long and painful. We turned west on Mae Anne and rode that all the way to 4th St. Then west on 4th for the standard Verdi Loop. We were fighting a headwind all the way west. Our next stop was way down the hill in Crystal Peak Park. We sat for a while and rehydrated and popped a Gel Block, then got back on the bike. I felt like a new person with a downhill road and the wind at my back . We were cruising so well that we missed another stop at Eclipse Pizza. We headed back downtown for the post ride BBQ at Craft Wine and Beer  on Martin St.  It was a 64 mile ride on a pretty nice route, much of which I hadn’t ridden before. Riding with Tim made it fun too!  Since we missed a couple rest stops, we were short a couple poker cards. But then it turned out you had to stay until 3pm and be present to win. Both Tim and I had to leave for other obligations so it didn’t matter anyway.

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Mom turns Bike to School into 29 mile ride!

It’s Bike to Work and School Week and while Dad has done a stellar job of bike commuting all week, no matter what the weather, my son and I had to wait until a day with sunshine and no before school commitments. Today was the day!

Finally a nice day to Bike to School

The temperature was 48 F when we left home. But since it’s all uphill to school, and a decent climb at that, my son soon stopped to take off his sweatshirt.

It's uphill all the way

 When his school bus passed us, we had an idea of the time. At the last stop sign before school, we heard the first bell. By the time he got his bike all locked up, he was a little late. We’ll have to leave earlier next time.

It's nice to see a couple other bikes in the rack today.

After my son went into school, I headed down Caughlin Parkway to Plateau, then headed out to Verdi to do the Verdi Loop. It was a beautiful morning and lots of other riders were out. One of the things I love about bike riding is that you see so many things you never would see otherwise.

It's not every day you see highway patrol has pulled over a helicopter!

  On the way back home, I decided to ride through the construction on Mayberry, between McCarran and Hunter Lake, to see how bad it is for riding. Traffic is reduced to one lane in each direction. The eastbound lane is very wide with plenty of room to bike, except for one short span of about 100 ft. where bicycles have to ride in the traffic lane. Going westbound, you’d have to be in the traffic lane the whole time. My whole ride was two and a half hours and 29 miles.

Since my last post, I have been diligent about Thursday morning hill repeats. Yesterday, there were some cable company guys working on my street the whole time I did repeats. On my fourth climb past them, one of them said, “Are you looking for the Amgen Tour of California?” I didn’t tell him that right then (the steepest part of my climb) I was thinking about Andy Schlek’s and Chris Horner‘s legs on the Sierra Road climb the day before.

Last Saturday, I tried the new Carmichael trainer workout from the 2010 Tour of California. It’s a good workout with lots of race footage from last year’s race.

Three days before the Tour of California was supposed to start, three members of the Garmin-Cervelo team visited our local REI store. We got a nice autographed poster and a chance to chat with three professionals.

My son with Christian Vande Velde, Dan Martin, and Andrew Talansky of Team Garmin-Cervelo

 I headed back up the hill to meet my son for the fast downhill home after school. The temperature was 70 F,  the downhill slide was sweet, and it’s Friday!

Another successful Bike to School Week



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Springtime ride in January

On a spring-like January afternoon with temperatures in the upper 60s Farenheit, I took off on a ride while my husband, dressed in his cycling clothes, was tied up at home on a work conference call. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is kind of a pseudo holiday for him so he had to work some but could do it from home. I asked him to try to catch me when he finished. I headed out toward Verdi. Not knowing how long he’d be on the conference call I had no idea when or if he’d catch me. He’s a much faster rider than me and he did catch me on West 4th Street. He blew past me and I yelled, “Sure, pretend like you don’t know me!” and he replied, “I’m just looking for my wife”. Such a comedian.

I was only planning to ride for 1.5 hours and was going to turn around in Mogul. But Stan talked me into riding into Verdi and we ended up doing the Verdi loop. He pushed me at times to get me moving faster and he was working on  having me draft. We were planning to sign up for Levi Leipheimer’s King Ridge Gran Fondo in Santa Rosa, California on October 1. Riding with 7499 other people, I’ll need to be used to riding close to other bikes.

It really felt like a spring ride – passing joggers in shorts, kids on tricycles, people working in their yards, and many many other bike riders. I even smelled a bbq. Such a glorious day for a bike ride and probably especially wonderful because it’s mid January and we know winter will be back.

On the way back, Stan turned up Plateau because he wanted to do some climbing. I went back home the usual way. I’ll build up to it but I’m not ready for that kind of climbing yet.

Levi’s Gran Fondo website got overwhelmed twice yesterday. I managed to get myself registered after the ride but then they shut it down again to expand their system. They opened it up again today at noon and I easily got Stan signed up. Facebook and Twitter have changed sign ups for events like this. Most of the people who are interested in the event get the notice of the sign up time, and they all try to sign up at once. I’m sure they learned a lot from what happened and registration should be better next year. It’s supposed to be a really great event. I have over 9 months to train so I think I can be ready!


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My Ride to Defeat ALS – the disease that killed my mom

Since my mother died from ALS 16 years ago, I decided to volunteer to help the Somersett Challenge Ride to Defeat ALS in Reno this year. I was asked to help mark the course the day before the ride. We got kind of late start, meeting up at Somersett at 3 pm. We had to wait for everyone to arrive and then had to get some volunteers who were not from Reno oriented on the part of the course they would be marking. I had my 9-year-old son and his best friend along to help. We volunteered to do the last third of the route, including Somersett Parkway up to Beaumont Parkway and down to Verdi and Belli Ranch. I volunteered for this part because there would be less traffic and it would be safer for 9-year-old boys. This picture shows arrows for the 3 different routes: 82 miles (really 88), 50 miles, and 30 miles.

Placing route markers the day before the Ride - a big job

The boys tried to get the arrows ready before we stopped by peeling them off and sticking them around the car. But I ended up with an arrow on a car window and we still can’t get the adhesive off. The best system turned out to be that I would peel one arrow off and hand it to one of them, peel another off and hand it to the other, then peel two off for me. They would place the approach arrows and I would go do the one at the turn and the confirming one after the turn. The boys were pretty patient but they got bored and they were ready to start their planned sleepover. We started at 4:45 and got all of Somersett, Verdi, and Belli Ranch done. At 7 pm I called the race director and told him that I had to quit to get eat a good dinner and get a good nights’ sleep before the long ride. Luckily, our section was the end of the ride. He said he would have time to finish the course marking (Caughlin Club to Mogul) the next morning after the 6 am registration. I decided that was not the best way to spend the day before a long ride but I was glad to help out for a good cause.
6 AM came quickly. Registration went very smoothly. I was pleasantly surprised at how warm it was. I decided I wouldn’t need a jacket at all. We gathered our group of riders: my husband Stan, his friend Spencer, my friend Tracy, her friend Chris, and my friend Renee’. We knew we wouldn’t see much of Stan and Spencer but the four women stayed together for most of the first half of the ride.

The first rest stop, staffed by ALS of Nevada folks, at Picollo School

We did see Stan and Spencer flying down Geiger as we slowly climbed. Tracy and Chris climbed faster, while Renee’ and I chatted the whole way up.  

Four Gorgeous Gals on Geiger: Meg, Tracy, Renee', Chris

The rest stop at the Geiger turnaround was fun. 

Geiger Rest Stop

Renee’ had to leave right away because she had to be somewhere by 1 pm. Descending Geiger was interesting because a strong southwest wind had developed and we really got buffeted around as we flew around the corners. The pavement on much of the descent had recently been scraped, probably in preparation for paving. Between the wind and the rough pavement, it was the toughest Geiger descent I have done. 

Now a group of three, we cruised across the valley. When we got to the Zolezzi/Arrowcreek intersection, the 50 mile route went up Zolezzi and the long route went up Arrow Creek. Chris headed up Zolezzi, while Tracy and I climbed Arrowcreek into the headwind. This is about when we started feeling occasional rain drops and the closest cloud was about 5 miles up wind. We climbed to another great rest stop at Sage Ridge School, which was about the mid-point of the ride. Once I started climbing into the headwind, ie, once the cycling got a little tough, I stopped even thinking about taking photos. 

After a little rest at Sage Ridge, we climbed up and around Arrowcreek Loop. Then we worked our way through the valley mostly riding into the wind to Caughlin Club, which was the next rest stop. By this time we had mostly cloudy skies and occasional rain drops.  Here my odometer read 62 miles: a metric century and the previous farthest I had ever cycled. Tracy took off here because she had to be somewhere at 4 pm. 

I rode into Verdi and saw that many riders had turned around to head back through Verdi to the finish. The course was set up with lots of options to shorten it. I had made a personal commitment to cycle 82 miles, so I continued on. I stopped at the last rest stop in Verdi at Coffee and… and then I headed up Bridge Street. From this point on I didn’t see anyone else. It was just like my training ride the week before. I told myself, “this is just another training ride”. I rode through Belli Ranch and after descending the gravel road to the river, I was crossing the bridge over the Truckee River and I startled a man on the bridge. He said, “Where did you come from?” I said, “From Belli Ranch, down the gravel road.” Then he saw the number on my back and he said, “Are you in a race?” I yelled back,” The Ride to Defeat ALS”. I was moving pretty quickly at this point. I had popped a Clif Sureshot gel at the last rest stop and I was impressed at the amount of quick energy those little gummies gave me. I wasn’t really thinking about how hard it is to ride that far – I just told myself that no matter how hard it was, it was easier than what my mom went through. 

I rode back to Mogul and back up Silva Ranch Road, again. This time I turned up Del Webb Parkway. I was watching my odometer as it approached 82 miles. I decided I would flag down a sag wagon once I hit 82 miles. I had complained that the ride was longer than advertised. And it was interesting how my whole body and brain were committed to 82 miles and no more. 82 miles was at the T intersection at Del Webb Parkway East and West. There was a nice thick patch grass where I could sit. When it became clear I was unlikely to see a sag wagon, I called the Race Director and asked him to send one. As I waited, I thought about my ride. I probably could have made it up the climb to Somersett if it hadn’t been for the headwind I fought all day. The 82 miles took me over 7 hours, which would also have been less without the head wind. The sag wagon arrived and took me up the last few miles to Somersett Towne Center. Much to my disappointment, the after ride party was over and the chairs and tables were being put away. But I was in luck because they had not yet put away the food. I had a wonderful chicken stir fry. Another nice thing is that my husband came back and was able to eat with me. He did not ride the whole route so he had already showered and he had even been out to work for a while. 

In my final analysis, I am proud that I rode 82 miles even when most others were quitting. I am pleased that I felt better after 82 miles this year than I did after 62 miles last year, when I only trained 6 weeks. And even the two days after the ride, I was not sore, just tired. I took 4 days off from riding, and felt great when I went out again on Thursday and Saturday. 

My next goal is to ride 100 miles, and I want to do it before my next birthday. I’m thinking Chico Wildflower on May 1 might be the one.

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To Blog or To Ride, that is the question

When you blog about riding, to blog or to ride is the question and my answer is RIDE, because by 82 mile Ride to Defeat ALS is only 3 weeks away! It has been hard to find the time to write blog posts the last few days, but I have had some great rides and I attended a great Bicycle/Pedestrian workshop put on by the Regional Transportation Commission.

First the rides: Thursday was my hill repeat day and I had to do them midday, which was pretty hot (upper 80s F) but not the hottest I’ve done them in. The heat did sap my strength pretty quickly and the 4th repeat was much slower than the first. There were some clouds but very scattered so I only got about 1 minute of cloud cover on the entire ride.

not much shade provided by these clouds!

For Friday’s ride I met Lynne at Roy Gomm and we decided to ride to Verdi and do the Belli Loop. I had heard that the dirt road back to Mogul had been pretty washed out by a large thunderstorm earlier in the week, so I wanted to check it out. It was fun to ride with Lynne on her last day of vacation! Too bad she has to go back to work Monday! When we got to the dirt road, we decided to walk our bikes because their was more gravel than the two earlier times I had ridden that road. We headed back toward Reno, and it would have been nice to climb up to Somersett but my time was limited because I had to pick up my son. So we just headed back on Mayberry to Roy Gomm and then I rode home.

For today’s ride, I decided to copy the ride my husband did earlier in the day. I rode south, and it turns out mid afternoon on Sunday was a very nice time to be riding on Lakeside south of Windy Hill – not much traffic. I wound my way south to Thomas Creek, Foothill, Broili, Zolezzi, and Thomas Creek again and took that to Mt. Rose Highway, and rode up to Timberline. That gave me a total of over 2000 ft of climbing for the ride. On the way back, I saw muddy mountain lion tracks again, this time crossing Holcomb just east of the turn onto Lakeside.

Thursday night I attended the RTC Reno Sparks Bicycle & Pedestrian Plan Open House and Public Workshop.

RTC Reno Sparks Bicycle &Pedestrian Plan Open House/Public Workshop

It was a cool event because they had large maps and sharpies we could use to mark the streets we ride on. There were many young planners on hand to listen to cyclists concerns and answer questions.

The workshop - large maps on the tables, informative posters

I made sure they knew about the safety issue in Lemmon Valley where Kevin Albertson was killed while cycling – where the road narrows to two lanes with no shoulder from four lanes with a shoulder bike lane. I also asked about the California and Keystone intersection where the bike lane disappears for about a quarter of a mile. I was told they are considering different options, and the most likely is a shared lane with green colored pavement. I also marked all the roads I ride regularly. They were not aware of the high use of Lakeside/Holcomb/Thomas Creek/Foothill etc. for cycling through southwest Reno. I also requested a bike lane on Plumb and on Hunter Lake between Plumb and Mayberry. And at my husband’s request, I marked the need for  a bike lane on Vista over I-80 for his lunch time rides.

Bikeway Types

Treatments to make intersections more bike friendly

Long term bicycle parking

Short term bicycle parking

Other enhancements for bicycling

More enhancements for bicycling

It was great to be at an event where they wanted us to shoot for the moon and ask for every bicycling enhancement we could imagine. There is no way they will all be implemented, but it was refreshing to even have them considered. It is nice to see that the Regional Transportation Commission is planning for the rise in popularity of bicycling which is bound to continue for years to come. You can add your own comments about what’s needed to improve bicycling in the Reno/Sparks area at www.renosparksbpp.com.

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Tour de the SW Foothills and bike with Mike

I had a couple great training rides this week. On Thursday, I met Lynne at 9:15 am at Roy Gomm School, only to find out she had already been on her bike for two hours! She recently completed the Death Ride, so 5 hours of riding is nothing to her! We rode around the foothills of southwest Reno for 3 hours, starting with the climb up Plateau and Caughlin Parkway.

Our 3 hour tour included this resort-like setting

As we rode, Lynne told me about her Death Ride experience. We were climbing Caughlin Parkway, up the switchbacks, and chatting, when we noticed a gal running up the hill who was passing us. We decided to kick it up the hill aways, and then got back to chatting. Near the top of the hill,  she was passing us again! We kicked again! Needless to say, we didn’t set any personal best times for climbing that hill.

We wove our way around the foothills, and ended up on Plumas south of McCarran. There was a lot of traffic when we were trying to turn left on Ridgeview, so we decided to go up instead. We were rewarded with a fabulous view of the whole valley.

Our tour also included this valley overlook

We went south over Windy Hill and did a loop in the ranch lands. All together I did 27 miles and 2,423 ft of climbing. Lynne did all that plus the Verdi Loop and the Somersett Loop. Once a Death Rider, always a Death Rider, I guess.

Today, I went to meet Kim and her friend Mike at Dorokstar Park. It turns out Kim had called Mike to say she couldn’t make it, so Mike and I rode without her and did the Verdi Loop with the Belli Ranch return. We had not met before but it was nice to get to know another rider and I showed Mike some new routes and he showed me some too. That’s the best thing about riding with someone new! This was a longer ride for me: almost 33 miles and 1,715 ft of climbing.

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