Wednesday, October 8, 2008

XTERRA Nationals - Day 2: Course Pre-Ride

Friday - 10/3/08

Friday morning I wandered around the course to check out the venue.

The geese were still asleep:

The beach where the swim start would be was right behind a resort:

One of the many bridge crossings on the run course:

Wonder if we'll be required to do situps during the run?

I picked up my rental bike (Nate and Liane would be arriving with my bike later that evening), and hit the course for a pre-ride around noon. I had made the bike reservation late in the week, so they only had a 14 inch and a 16 inch bike left. I went for the 14 as my Fisher hardtail is a 14, but discovered it was a WSD (women's specific design) Trek 4500, so the top tube was really short. I raised the seat as high as I could, and shoved the seat all the way back on the rails. Then I started the 21 mile bike.

Here is the map of the trails that I was following. The bike course starts on Tunnel Creek road and climbs for 4.5 miles. I almost turned around and headed back down. But I wanted to see the famous Flume Trail, so I plugged on.

Looking back on the start of the climb:
More climbing:
Me somewhere in the middle in the climb (the lake is getting smaller):
At the top of the first climb. Where was the shuttle and why wasn't I on it?

It took about an hour, but I finally reached the beginning of the Flume Trail and the singletrack. The Flume Trail is named for the wooden flumes that carried logs down the mountain during gold rush days. The wood from the old flumes is crumbling down the side of the mountain, and there are tens of thousands of nails falling down with them. Bikers have to watch out for the Flume Trail Nail that may be buried in the sand of the trail.

The Flume Trail is about 5 miles long, mostly flat, and skirts along the side of the mountain above Lake Tahoe. What was freaky was that it was open to 2-way traffic, and some corners are completely blind. I was hoping I wouldn't come up on a rider while skirting around an exposed edge of the trail.

This was the mandatory dismount area. Apparently landslides are a problem.

Quite fun to drag a bike over this:
If someone messed up, this is where they would fall:
Getting back into the woods:

One last little bridge to cross before the end of the Flume Trail:

After the Flume Trail, it was back on a dirt road that went around Marlett Lake. The wind was horrible in this area until I got back around behind the mountain.

Where they stocked the lake with fish:

The trees change color here. Strange.
One of the more scenic outhouses I've seen:
This part was called Hobart Road, and of course, started climbing again for several miles.
I reached the beginning of the Tahoe Rim Trail when my camera battery died. This was the flattest part of the trail:
The Tahoe Rim Trail climbed and climbed and climbed. Lake Tahoe was down around 6000 ft, and this trail topped out at 8728 ft. The weather was turning crappy with wind and clouds moving in. I had to do a lot of hike-a-bike up this steep trail. After I reached the top the trail went down for a little bit, then back up in a granite boulder section. After that, I was able to ride the rocky downhill section after that, and wanted to be DONE with this trail. Unfortunately, I took a wrong turn on the way back and ended up going down a very sandy, steep hill. I saw a sign pointing to Red House, so I pulled out my map and realized I was going the opposite direction of the lake and needed to hike back UP the sandy hillside. Ugh. I finally made it back to Tunnel Creek Road and as I descended, could see rain moving across Lake Tahoe. I pulled into the driveway of the condos right as Nate and Liane arrived. We got the bikes unloaded, and the loaner bike loaded and turned in just before the 6 PM cutoff. The rain had moved in, so we went and got dinner at a different Mexican restaurant, which turned out to be much better than the first.

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