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Specialized Ride to Vegas Begins

Published September 18, 2008

MORGAN HILL, CA (BRAIN)—It was late Tuesday afternoon and the 17 riders who leave this morning on a 600-mile ride to Las Vegas were kicking around some thoughts on the route, daily mileage and elevation gain.

But Specialized’s Chris D’Alusio managed to grab everyone’s attention when someone asked, “What time do you think we’ll finish the first day.” With a smile—sort of—D’Alusio responded 3 p.m. So let’s put a calculator to his prediction.

It’s 141 miles from Morgan Hill to Lake McSwain, a man-made reservoir in the heart of California’s Central Valley where the group will spend the first night in tents, on the ground.

Along the way there’s an estimated elevation gain of 15,509 feet. And it’s all to be ridden in 8 hours, as D’Alusio suggested, at an average pace of 17.6 mph and that’s without stopping. In talking with Ben Capron, the company’s global marketing director, I was assured that D’Alusio could nail the eight-hour mark—easy. For most of the rest, maybe not.

This is the second year that Specialized has organized a ride from its office headquarters in Morgan Hill to the start of Demo Day at Interbike. Last year the company used the ride to focus attention on sustainable transportation and global warming.

But this year, with October slated as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Specialized’s staff wants to increase awareness for the fight against the disease. “Four people who are close to me are battling cancer, so this cause is very close to home,” said Mike Sinyard, Specialized’s founder and president.

For each person on the ride, the company is donating $1,000 per head—$17,000 total—to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure—a partnership between the foundation and Specialized Designs for Women. About 40,000 women died last year of breast cancer.

To help support the foundation, Specialized designed a series of limited edition women’s bikes, equipment and apparel and is donating 10 percent of retail sales with a minimum contribution of $250,000. (For more information, go to

Still, the Specialized ride to Interbike is an audacious event—604 miles in five days over some of California’s most rugged roadway. Besides the first day’s long mileage and elevation gain, the second day takes the group through the Sierra Nevada range passing by Yosemite, up and over 9,945-foot Tioga Pass, before descending into the historic town of Lee Vining.

Among the riders are six retailers: David Guettler of River City Bikes in Portland, Oregon; Dave Nazaroff of Toga Bikes in New York City; Doug Emerson of University Bikes in Boulder, Colorado; Joe Howard of Richardson Bikemart in Richardson, Texas; and Glen Fant of NorCal Bike Sport in Santa Rosa, California.

Nancy LaRocque, Sinyard’s assistant and the ride’s organizer, assured the group that the event shouldn’t be considered a race. Two sag wagons will shepherd the cyclists along the way and, if the day’s pace gets to be too much, hop in and enjoy the scenery, she said. LaRocque managed last year’s ride.

(BRAIN’s publisher, Marc Sani, along with four other journalists, Roy Wallach, L.A. Times, Paul Newitt, Pedal Canada, Ben Edwards and Matt Benko,, are also riding. Sani said he would undoubtedly spend some time sightseeing from the comfort of the van.)

—Marc Sani

Topics associated with this article: Events

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