Saturday, February 12, 2011
Michael and I headed south to participate in the Tour de Palm Springs. We’re attracted to the wonderful weather and the opportunity to take in the gorgeous mountain scenery.
It’s a charity event to raise money for many non-profit organizations in the
Coachella Valley. The event organizers offer 5 different routes which makes it
very appealing to riders of all cycling abilities. The shorter 5, 10 and 25
mile ride is great for families with children. The majority of riders are
signed up for the 55 and 100 mile ride. The ride takes you through all the
desert cities; Palm Springs, Desert Hot Springs, Thousand Palms, Coachella, La
Quinta, palm Desert, Rancho Mirage and Cathedral City.
We are pre-registered and arrive on Friday for the early check-in. There is no registration packet to pick up; they check off your name and give you a colored wrist band for entrance to the rest stops which they called SAG stops. There is a 2 day bike expo with plenty of vendors, live entertainment and food stalls.
The starting point is at the Spa Resort Casino. There is ample parking in their parking lots and the dirt lot adjacent to the event lot. There are plenty of porta-potties with no lines.
The start time for the 100 milers is at 7 AM. It’s getting very crowded in the parking lot and there’s live entertainment in the foreground along with a short pep talk by the event organizer.
The wait is about half an hour to exit the parking lot. The crowds are massive! I already feel great tension riding amongst all these cyclists. There is a lot of CHP presence along the route. They block off a lane for the riders to safely get out of the city, yet many cyclists choose to ride in outer lane anyways. Go figure, there’s no way to control a mass of this size.
We head north on Indian Canyon Dr to Garnet Ave; which parallels I-10. From there we turn on Wall to 20th Ave which turns into Worsley Rd. This is the land of the windmills. Fortunately for us, the winds are not bad for today. The temp is already starting to creep up and we stop to remove some layers.
We stay on Worsley for the next 7 miles. There are a few climbs here and the gradient maxes out at 5%. There is absolutely no traffic here except for the huge groups of cyclists on the road. The first rest stop at mile 15 on Worsley is packed! It’s crazy, volunteers are throwing water bottles and energy drinks out to the crowds and you have to work your way around to get some food. I manage to get a few pieces of banana and a cup of Chex mix. They also had live entertainment.
We turn on Indian Ave and the terrain is pretty much flat for the next 6 miles. The mountains serve as a beautiful backdrop to this ride.
The next turn is on Dillon Rd. At this point, the 55 mile route converges with the 100 milers. It’s a massive group of cyclists on this road. The CHP is out directing traffic and it’s a complete bottleneck. We have to ride with extreme caution and flexibility. Every time I stop someone from behind bumps into me.
We continue east on Dillon for the next 23 miles. This whole section is nothing
but fast rollers and flats all the way to the next rest stop at the Travel Center.
We cross over I-10 and continue on Hwy 86 to Airport Blvd for the next 5 flat miles. We ride pass palm orchards and open fields.
We make a series of turns through many residential neighborhoods and get to the next rest stop at Fritz Burns Park. All the roads are nicely paved with wide shoulders.
There is one short little climb on Avenida Bermudas after exiting the rest stop. We continue on Eisenhower to Washington and make many other turns through more residential neighborhoods and ride pass fancy resort casinos. The terrain is mostly flat.
We take Country Club and make another series of turns through more neighborhoods to the next rest stop at Lowe’s. I noticed that a lot of the roads here are named after celebrities/famous people; Eisenhower, Washington, Jefferson, Frank Sinatra, Gerald Ford and Dinah Shore.
We ride pass more palm tree-lined neighborhoods and there’s a lot of traffic lights to contend with. This applies to the second half of the ride.
One lane is blocked off for the last few miles for all the riders to get to the finish. The volunteers are cheering as you turn into the event lot. We’re also handed a free event T-shirt at the end. There is no post-ride meal.
This ride is Coachella Valley’s version of the Bay Area’s Cinderella Classic. All the climbing is done within the first 30 miles. Thereafter, it’s all flat with a few rollers through the desert cities. You get the fabulous mountain views with palm trees galore.
Total event riders: 10,000 with over 60% doing the century route.
Multiple accidents within the first 21 miles and plenty of people off the side of the roads with flats throughout the day.
104 miles with 3323′ of elevation gain.
Weather: Spectacular! Sunny, warm and breezy. Starting temp of 50 and reaching a high of 88 for the day.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>RIDE, RIDE, RIDE!>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
This is the route for Tour de Palm Springs