LAS VEGAS, NV (BRAIN)—A group of two dozens riders arrived at Outdoor Demo tired and sore but in good spirits on Tuesday afternoon after pedaling nearly 600 miles over six days as part of the annual epic ride to Interbike led by Specialized founder Mike Sinyard.
“The scenery was amazing,” said Jennifer Johnson, owner of Adventure’s Edge in Arcata and Eureka, California, and a first-timer on the ride. “I’ve seen stuff I’ve never seen before, and on a bicycle. To ride through Death Valley on a bicycle was amazing.”
Johnson said the biggest lesson she learned from riding nearly a century every day for the better part of a week was to have better “butt management” as she struggled through the pain of saddle sores for much of the time.
The group, which included 13 retailers from shops around the country, grinded out 33,000 feet of climbing over six days starting at Specialized headquarters in Morgan Hill, California, traveling over Highway 108 by way of Sonora Pass, down 395 to Mammoth Lakes and through Death Valley National Park into Nevada.
A highlight for many was the haul over Sonora Pass, where the grade maxed out at 26 percent. After the grueling 3,000-foot climb surrounded by the peaks of the Sierra Mountains, riders were rewarded with a long, fast, steep descent.
For Dennis Coffman, owner of Rincon Cyclery in Carpenteria, California, conquering Sonora Pass was one of two of his goals for the ride. The other was riding through Death Valley. Coffman underwent his third and final heart surgery a year ago to correct an atrial fibrillation, and the Specialized journey was his way of celebrating his properly working heart.
Lee Rogers, owner of Bicycle Therapy in Philadelphia, and another first-timer, said he expected the ride to be difficult, but found it even more taxing than he’d imagined.
“The climbs were tougher and the winds were stronger than I ever experienced for that length of time,” Rogers said.
The group battled a brutal headwind during the final stretch of Highway 395 between Mammoth Lakes to Lone Pine with many riders tucking in behind the support vans for the last 15 miles for shelter from the wind.
Despite the challenges, Rogers said he’d happily join the ride again.
“I’ve wanted to do it since I first heard about it three years ago,” he said.
The ride was started four years ago by Sinyard as a fundraiser for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation.
Specialized is in the final year of a five-year partnership with Susan G. Komen, during which time it’s raised $850,000 for the foundation through the sale of limited edition bikes and accessories.
It’s committed to donate another $150,000 this year, said John Hammarley, vice president of communications for the foundation. Hammarley joined the first day of the event, a 130-mile push from Morgan Hill to Turlock Lake Recreation Area.
“[Sinyard] really wanted to raise awareness, that’s part of the genesis of the whole ride. He’s dealt with cancer in his family in the past few years; it’s important to him. That personal commitment is how Komen started 29 years ago,” Hammarley said.
Specialized wrapped up the event with a dinner on Tuesday evening where Sinyard recognized riders with tongue-in-cheek awards for things like smallest bladder, best oldest rider and most time riding alone.