I woke up early after one snooze so I could walk over to the Chuckwagon Restaurant and have the Deuces Wild Special breakfast. I wanted to start the day right and $3.99 sounded like an awesome good deal for two eggs my way, two sausage patties, two strips of bacon and two buttermilk pancakes. Since breakfast is the most important meal of the day I thought the Deuces Wild Special breakfast would be an awesome good way to start the big day before the big ride.
I had about two hours and five minutes before I had to start climbing the 3255 feet of elevation gain to checkpoint one at mile 27 as I headed out of the motel room into the dark of the predawn at 5:25 a.m. and right away the dry crisp cold of the morning slapped me in the face. Pow! I could see my breath. I pondered Rule 9 and wondered how many of the 150 or so registered riders might actually show up for this Tri-States Gran Fondo. It felt like winter had come to the desert.
Wow it was cold. I decided to drive instead of walk and was surprised to find the perfect closest to the door front row parking spot through the van's frosted up windshield behind the casino. The clouds of my breath just kind of hung around in the cold desert air that felt void of humidity even though it had rained hard for hours the night before. As I walked through these lingering clouds of my breath that were struggling to dissipate, my eyes fogged up from the shock of humidity and temperature difference.
Inside the casino the air still smelled of stale cigarettes from years and years and years of tar and nicotine staining the air filters that struggle mightily night and day in the losing effort to clean the air in this cigarette smokers' mecca of beer and gambling and cigarette smoke. I wonder what is the equivalent amount of cigarettes I had unfortunately been forced to enjoy since arriving here from the stale and putrid second hand smoke that is pervasively invading my lungs every moment I am inside or near an exit to this casino and I wonder how that's going to affect my riding today.
The Chuckwagon Restaurant is pretty much empty, just like the still noisy casino, and I am served my Deuces Wild Special breakfast right away - so fast in fact that I suspect it had been prepared for me the night before and then set to wait patiently under the salamander all night for me to arrive. I am however impressed because for once I have a breakfast special that looks bigger in person than it did in the point-of-sale material.
I had checked my blood glucose at 5:19 a.m. and my reading had been 115 mg/dL which I thought was an amazingly outstanding result after I spent two and a half hours with my family at dinner the evening before on Seafood Friday Night in the Sierra Buffet eating BBQ ribs, split crab legs, slabs of prime rib, sweet corn on the cob, plates of salad, cooked peas, baked rolls, various cheeses, sweet chili mussels, beer battered cod, crispy fried shrimp, slow roasted turkey breast, crab stuffed mushrooms, ice cream, oysters Rockefeller, chocolate sauce sundaes, California rolls, chocolate brownie volcanoes, smoked rope sausage, chocolate chip cookies, southern fried chicken, German chocolate cake, seafood something or other that I think was spicy newberg, pickled cucumbers, cheesy deep dish pepperoni pizza, more California rolls, Diet Coke and decaf coffee from the all day coffee pot.
Last night I kept looking for other cyclists, figuring they should be easy to spot in the casino or at Seafood Friday Night in the Sierra Buffet or eating the $5.99 prime rib dinner special in the Chuckwagon Restaurant with their funny tan lines, gaunt, healthy physiques and event t-shirts from valiant past conquests but all I saw were slow moving weather-beaten wrinkled dried up cigarette smokers swilling a Bud Light that had been nursed for far too long and was now mostly room temperature backwash and a few well-tanned overweight golfers that needed neck trims talking way too loud about how the cold and wind had affected their golf game and chugging their ice cold Michelob Ultras much too fast.
I imagined that all the cyclists were tucked away in their rooms, getting a good nights rest after shaving their legs and sucking down a few energy gels or something and watching reruns of the Vuelta or Giro in low-def on Universal Sports while they debate with themselves about which chamois cream to use tomorrow morning. I liked my plan better.
Before my feast with my family on Seafood Friday Night at the Sierra Buffet I had checked my blood glucose and figured I had room for some real food with a reading of 99 mg/dL. Things were going just as planned except for the part about moderation and my family and I left the Sierra Buffet feeling very well fed like someone had stuffed a bowling ball up under my diaphragm which made my side hurt a little more whenever I breathed in. I figured fighting the Battle of Large Numbers with 12 units of insulin, injected six units at a time into the subcutaneous tissue on either side of my stomach should keep me on track for some real food at breakfast in the morning. After all I would need the energy for the big ride tomorrow.
Back in the motel room last night a hot shower felt great as it washed the stale cigarette smell out of my hair and off my skin. Every 28 seconds I had to chase my 11 month old away from my bike as it leaned on the wall between the bed and the bathroom. Everybody's clothes got piled up in the stinky stale cigarette smelly dirty clothes pile in the corner of the room and we all got ready for bed excited about the big day tomorrow for different reasons.
On the local Las Vegas news channel in between breaking news stories about someone getting shot or stabbed or dying in North Las Vegas every other news story seemed to be about how it is colder now than anyone can remember for this time of year with man-on-the-street videos of people amazed that they can see their breath or reports about the snow around Mt. Charleston or Red Rock Canyon or over excited weather casters not use to so much airtime stumbling over their words while finally getting to talk about something other than hot and dry.
Before getting into bed I had thought about reducing my injection of basal insulin to help my blood glucose balance up better against the effort I needed to put forth on tomorrow's big ride but I decided not to and injected the 15 units of Lantus into the tissue below my stomach. My daughter asked "daddy does that hurt?" like she always does "no" I lied because sometimes it does hurt and sometimes it stings like crazy "the needle's really small" and I hope that none of my kids will ever have to find out for themselves.
After a careful inspection of my Deuces Wild Special breakfast this morning I figure the buttermilk pancakes which are each about a half inch thick and the lukewarm hot maple syrup will equate to about 75 to 80 carbs or so. I think 5 units of insulin should do the trick that my pancreas can't as the well dressed wrinkled weather-beaten old lady sitting across from me pretends like she isn't watching me inject it into my stomach above the waistband of my jeans. I want to start the ride with my blood glucose above 120 but below 140 mg/dL and during the ride try to keep it up over 100 mg/dL.
The Deuces Wild Special breakfast is surprisingly quite good in spite of the telltale signs of the pale sausage patties and pale bacon strips being a precooked thaw-n-serve type product and everything is washed down perfectly with the lukewarm hot maple syrup and three big mugs of even hotter lukewarm coffee from the all night coffee pot that is quite good as well. I had read somewhere once that caffeine was supposed to enhance cycling performance so I figure three big mugs to be about right and then one to-go cup for back at the room.
I pay, tip well and leave, walking the gauntlet of stale cigarette smoke that is beating my lungs into submission through the mostly empty but still noisy casino back out to my van with my lukewarm to-go cup of coffee from the all night coffee pot and notice that there is snow on every mountain I can see in the pale light of sunrise that is starting to break on this cold and frosty morning. When I get back to the motel room and get out of my van, I meet up with another cyclist pedaling up from what looks to be a warm-up ride. I notice the multiple energy gels in multiple flavors taped to his top tube and he smells strongly of chamois cream.
We both stand there admiring our clouds of breath that never seem to quite dissipate in this crisp morning air and have a brief conversation about how glad we both are that the pounding rain from the night before has stopped, how surprised we both are to see all the snow on the mountains surrounding Mesquite and how hard it's going to be for us to figure out how warm or cold we really need to be when we start this Tri-States Gran Fondo so we don't have too much or too little with us and on us as we ride the 112 miles with the 7500 feet of climbing.
When I get back in my motel room my entire family is still asleep in the dark and it's time to get ready for this big ride, this Gran Fondo, with the help of the little sliver of pale light that is streaming softly from the cracked bathroom door. I find all my stuff, fill my bidons both with water because I forgot my Powerade Zero, pull on the wool blend knee-high Walmart socks, the Nashbar thermal leg warmers, the Giordana bibs no chamois cream, the Pearl Izumi thermal arm warmers and the Tour de Donut jersey.
I put some sunscreen on my nose and cheeks. I pick up my riding gloves, my windproof full fingered gloves, my The North Face Windstopper beanie and my helmet off the floor at the foot of the bed. I guess my getting ready has stirred the wife and she has moved, knocking them from their positions of readiness where they had been staged a little earlier.
I debate whether to bring an extra spare tube before deciding yes and stuff it in my left jersey pocket along with three chocolate chip granola bars after spending about seven minutes figuring out there is not a way to stuff it into my small seat bag with the other spare tube, two CO2 cartridges, the inflator, the tire levers, the dehydrated towel, the lens cleaner towelette, two Cliff Shots and the little package of Jelly Belly Energy Beans just in case I have a blood glucose emergency.
My seven minutes of reorganizing my seat bag did create some extra room so I fold up a fourth chocolate chip granola bar into a u-shape and stuff it in there too. I notice the charm hanging on my zipper next to the ichthus - "vis vires" - and I'm going to need some today I think as I strap it on my seat rails. I double check my test strips, my lancet and my meter, add two pen needles to the pouch and zip it up as I'm wishing it was smaller before stuffing it into a Ziploc bag with my windows phone, driver's license, debit card, course queue sheet and my Novolog Flexpen.
That goes in my middle jersey pocket along with a few lens cloth towelettes. I roll up my rain jacket as neatly and tightly as I can and stuff that into my right jersey pocket along with a mandarin orange energy gel and two teriyaki beef sticks that were folded in half the night before and have now permanently assumed the u-bend position in their wrappers ready to slow the absorption of any carbs I eat along the ride.
I check and double check everything again, stumbling around in the dark, trying not to make any noise and wake the family. I wheel my bike into the bathroom as quietly as I can and shut the door behind me and pump up my tires to 110 psi. I check and double check the bike over in the light of the bathroom and reset all the settings on my computer before wheeling the bike out of the light and into the dark room to lean it against the bed the kids are sleeping in.
I pull on my The North Face Windstopper beanie and remove the backing from the sticky side on the timing chip and number tag and check the instructions one more time in the little sliver of light from the bathroom door. I put the timing chip on the top of my helmet, carefully following the instructions for placement that were provided in my race packet. I am number 115 and the number 115 goes on the left side of the helmet and I hope that neither will leave any sticky residue that I won't be able to get off later.
I snap the helmet on top of my beanie turning the cam to readjust it quickly and straighten the windproof toe covers on my carbon soled LG ErgoAirs, slip them on and try to ratchet them down as quietly as I can and I'm glad I remembered to change out my Cool Stuff insoles for my Hot Stuff insoles before we left home. I pull off my wedding ring and put it in the top dresser drawer and feel bad for not wearing it but in the cold weather and with putting on and taking off of the windproof full fingered gloves I don't want to risk losing it. I pull on my cycling gloves and pull the full fingered windproof gloves over them and attach the Velcro to keep them tight.
I quietly clomp over to where my wife is sleeping and kick the Hot Wheels version of Lightening McQueen under the bed. I put my gloved hand on my sleeping wife's shoulder and she rolls instinctively toward me and whispers "be careful" before kissing me goodbye and I can't really tell if she is awake or not when we each say "love you." I open the motel room door and wheel the bike outside on the balcony and head to the elevator listening to the pawls clicking in the hub as if announcing the bikes readiness to tackle another ride, to reach another goal and to bring me home safely one more time to my sleeping family.
I pinch the charm hanging next to the ichthus on the zipper of my seat bag - "vis veris" - and I can feel the goose flesh forming on my skin under my Tour de Donut jersey. I swing my leg over the top tube and clip in and wheel off into the parking lot trying to avoid the puddles that are still there from the pounding rain the night before and right away the dry crisp cold of the morning slaps me in the face. Pow! I look at the snow on every mountain surrounding Mesquite. I can see my breath. I ponder Rule 9 and wonder again how many of the 150 or so registered riders might actually show up for this Tri-States Gran Fondo. It feels like winter has come to the desert.