The Tour de Palm Springs is billed as the largest charity rides in America, raising funds for over 151 local charities. It started out in 1999 with 300 riders and this years ride had over 11,000 riders. What drew me to the event was the fact that you could pick a charity that your entry fee would go to. I choose the Desert Hot Springs Jazz Band, which is the marching band & jazz band programs at the Desert Hot Springs Middle and High School.
The day before the race, my friend David Serna and I went over to pick up my rental bike at TRI-A-BIKE in Palm Desert. The antics and zaniness of the bike guys at the shop made me feel right at home. The guy helping me with my rental totally punked me into believing I was getting this sweet tricked-out bike for the ride. I ended up with a K2 road bike.
Afterwards we went down to the Bike Expo to register. The Expo was situated along Palm Canyon Drive, between Tahquitz Canyon Way and Amado Road.
After registering, we wandered thru the Expo looking at the various wares and bikes the vendors had for sale. David is just getting into the sport for health and fitness reasons and I was amazed at how versed he is and his knowledge of the various bikes. I, of course, told him this, but also keep ribbing him to ” just get your ass on a bike and RIDE”
As we passed by the Trek booth, David pointed out a bike that he said cost $10,000. The rep confirmed this. I jokingly suggested that he let me take that bike out on the tour and said: “yea, we can do that, that’s why we are here. To let people try out our bikes. But that one’s too big for you and the one that would fit you we just let someone take.” Grrr.
David dropped me off, and I went and took the K2 for a ride, just a quick five miles to get used to a road bike, as I usually just ride MTB’s.
The supplement Mixture
I woke up four hours before the start of the ride and two hours later drank the supplement mixture I use prior to major rides and/or skate marathons. It is similar to my workout mixture, just tweeked atlittle with extra energy enhancers & fat burners. It’s basically a mix of chemistry ( amino acids), herbs and protein to enhance performance by effectively turning stored fat into fuel, to bring mental clarity and reduce fatigue. It is mixed with water and a tablespoon of safflower or olive oil. It is completely natural.
The morning of the ride, my friend Marti wanted to take some pics of me before the race so she snapped the following:
I rode down to the start point three miles from base camp at Amado and Palm Canyon Drive. I entered thru the registration point at Tahquitz Canyon Way, there I was handed a map and told of the extreme wind conditions that were blowing bicyclists off their bikes at Indian Canyon Drive and I-10, and that alot of riders were turning around and opting for the 25 mile ride instead. I was alittle nervous with this news, but figured I would give it a go and if I could make it up over I-10, then I was good.
The start of the 56 mile Tour de Palm Springs
As I approached the start, I snapped this at 8:14am.
The first couple few miles were low key easy going as we headed up Indian Canyon Drive. At the five mile mark, I saw a guy at the side of the road changing a flat and realized, “shit, I have no gear to handle that.”
Once in North Palm Springs, passing the windfarms, the wind was blowing thru the San Gorgonino Pass from the west.
I had to lean sideways to the left into the wind to keep upright. Most of the riders in front of me were doing the same thing. We made our way steadily north along Indian Canyon Drive, passing thru road construction that had created a trench to the right of the road. With a gust of wind, one rider was blown off the road into the trench. Other riders began getting off their bikes and walking. I dropped into a lower gear and stayed my course, leaning to the left, keeping a safe distance from the trench.
At the seven mile mark, we turned off of Indian Canyon Road left onto Garnet Avenue directly due west into the wind. The wind was just howling, making a rippling sounds in my ears. It was slow going as I made my way . I kept telling myself, “If I can make it thru to the other side of I -10, I’ll be set.”
I kept with the pack as we crossed over I-10, and directly into the middle of the windmills of the windfarm. The road started up and into the farms, I again dropped into a lower gear and started to climb slowly passing other riders and people walking their bikes.
The uphill lasted for about 1.5 miles, the it leveled off, then it was another up hill climb and at the top of the hill,
at mile 13 the winds subsided and I took a break.
Riders making their way North along Wesley Avenue towards Pierson Blvd.
At Pierson Blvd, we turned left, and headed down hill with the wind at our backs. Riders where flying by me like I was standing still. I was geeking out and starting to tense up at the speed, after all I am not used to riding a road bike nor it speed. My Garmin tracked me at 31 mph at this point.
Located at Mile 20 was the first rest stop at Two Bunch Palms Elementary School.
When I arrived there were three kids rocking out, jamming Carlos Santana, I went up in front of them and howled and gave a couple of fist pumps. The girl played bass, smiled, nodded and acknowledged my goofiness. I went over to the refreshments and had a couple cups of dried fruit consisting of dried bananas, dates rolled in oat flour, apricots and raisins. I grabbed some water and waited in line to the port-a-potty. As I waited, the trio of young musicians played a variety of tunes: jazz, rock, and blues. I was impressed. They where good and played flawlessly. I was pleased to see the charity I had chosen in action.
The ride went thru Desert Hot Springs east along Hacienda Avenue. At one point along Hacienda, there where three little kids,2 girls and a boy, eight or ten years old along side the road. The girls were doing cheerleader moves and yelling cheers ” GO BIKERS!! GO GO GO BIKERS!! YA BIKERS!!” I started moving my body to the chants and the little boy joined the girls in thier movements. I jsut laughed and yelled “RA RA YEAH!!! Thnaks you guys!!!”
The thing that amazed me most on this ride, as I got into it 20 or so miles, were the handicapped riders in specially designed bikes that they pedal with a rowing motion of their arms. As I passed each one, I gave them a thumbs up and shouted words of encouragement: “Way to go! Looking Good! Nice Form!” one guy just laughed and asked me if I was crazy. I can’t imagine how these guys must have felt after biking 56 miles with their arms!
The route continued along Hacienda Ave. onto Dillion and at the 24 Mile mark was the second rest stop out in the middle of Sky Valley. A volunteer asked to hold my bike and I handed it over to her. I ate an energy bar and drank some protein drink that was being handed out. I went back to my bike and chatted with the volunteer holding my bike. She knows my former employer, Cy Breen and we chatted about him for a while. Such a small world.
The second rest stop in Sky Valley.
Mugging for the camera at The Sky Valley Rest Stop.
From Dillion, the ride turned south onto 1000 Palms Canyon Road and thru the Coachella Valley Nature Preserve. I picked up speed going along this leg of the route, but it wasn’t as fast as along Pierson Road earlier, but I was more comfortable in the ride at this time.
From there along Ramon Road to Washington into Palm Desert. At Mile 46 was the Rest Step at Trent Beverage. Here I refueled on bananas, mini Cliff Bars, electrolyte & protein drinks.
This was the last stop and I began the last leg of the ride into Palm Springs. From Washington Avenue South to Country Club to the east. There were quite alot of riders along this leg of the ride. I would follow behind a herd for awhile. Then pass and follow another. Riders kept gathering up at lights, waiting for the lights to change.
At Monterey Ave. I followed a pack of bikers thru the intersection heading west. This was the only confusion during the route. We should have turned north on Monterey to Dinah Shore. A the next intersection, Bob Hope Drive, I stopped and looked at the map and realized the error. I turned north on Bob Hope Drive and headed north to Dinah Shore Drive, passing the Annenberg Estate, Sunnylands.
At Dinah Shore, I turned left and headed west thru Rancho Mirage, Cathedral City and then into Palm Springs. As Dinah Shore became East Mesquite, the route travel by Demuth Park then turned north on El Cielo up to Baristo. I chuckled as I passed the back of the Palm Springs Police Station.
It was this last mile or so that I began to feel a sense of satisfaction as I realized I would be completing the ride without any situations.
Turning north on Baristo, the route went up to Tahquitz Canyon Way. Once on Tahquitz, it was just a matter minutes and I woul be crossing the finish line. At Tahquitz & Indian Canyon the light changed and I was forced to stop and wait for the light to turn green. I could hear the music and the cheering of the finish line and I pulled my camera out and cued it up to to shoot. The light changed and I proceeded thru the intersection towards Palm Canyon. The Palm Springs High School Cheerleaders were there chanting similar cheers to the little cheerleaders in Desert Hot Springs 2 hours earlier.
Approaching the finish line.
I crossed the finish line, wandered thru the Expo again for a bit, then rode back to ‘base camp”
All said and done: 66.61 miles in 4h 45 m.
Here is a link to the info my Garmin collected: