LAS VEGAS, NV (BRAIN)—Specialized employees, retailers and journalists rolled into Outdoor Demo yesterday amidst a champagne salute to celebrate the finish of a six-day ride to Las Vegas.
Specialized’s third annual ride to support the Susan G. Komen breast cancer research foundation covered more than 600 miles crossing California’s Sierra Nevada mountains and rolling across scorching-hot Death Valley before arriving in Las Vegas.
Mike Sinyard, Specialized’s founder and CEO, said an off-hand comment from a Specialized employee led a half-dozen Specialized employees to ride to Interbike three years ago. The ride has grown each year, swelling this year to include 32 employees and guests.
Some retailers like Doug Emerson of University Bikes in Boulder, Colorado, returned to do the ride for the second time. Emerson said this year, which split one day’s itinerary into two days, was easier than last year’s route. Emerson said last year riders were so worked they couldn’t even hold a conversation over dinner; this year's dinners (cooked outdoors by the Western Spirit staff) were low-key but social.
The first day was the longest on the six-day schedule as the ride left Morgan Hill and ended at Lake McSwain, a reservoir in the foothills of Mariposa County. The 150-mile ride took riders over 4,200-foot Mount Hamilton just east of San Jose before heading across California’s Central Valley.
The second day riders climbed 12,857 feet over 70 miles to Yosemite, where they spent the second night with a view of Half Dome in the distance. The next day they wound their way from Yosemite over Tioga Pass to Mammoth, though the ride was cut short by a park ranger who forced the riders to get in support vehicles through the last third of the park because of a missing permit.
The fourth day riders took advantage of a nice tailwind, setting a blistering pace of slightly over four hours for 100 miles from Mammoth to Lone Pine. The following day riders did another century from Lone Pine through Death Valley to Furnace Creek in temperatures that soared to 117 degrees.
Riders climbed out of Furnace Creek at dawn yesterday and battled fierce cross winds to reach Outdoor Demo yesterday afternoon.
Between the mountain climbs, high temperatures and shifting winds, the ride challenged all of the riders but created a sense of accomplishment. For John Brown of Family Cycling Center in Santa Cruz, California, the ride brought a number of firsts including longest single-day mileage and most vertical feet climbed in a day.
At least one retailer wanted to make the round-trip by bike: Rich Bartlett of Block Alternatives planned to ride home to Santa Monica after Interbike.
PHOTO: Dan Hughes of Sunflower Outdoor and Doug Emerson of University Bikes enjoying some downtime post ride.