What a great day! Just did the 50 mile Tour de Big Bear ride.
I just started riding a road bike about a year ago, (I’m mainly a mountain biker) and find cycling to be a great sport! I think I’m hooked! I’m still completely green around the gills and am getting the hang of what equipment I need as well as how big your bike should be, what clothing to wear (the clothing is the best part, love the crazy colors and graphics), etc.
About the equipment: I didn’t realize how important seat height is as well and I need to send a big “thank you” out to Tom Sitton who got me all dialed in by cutting my seat rod down, adjusting my seat and making sure my equipment comfort was spot on!
I’m pleasantly exhausted, and my backside is very sore, ha, but I’m so grateful to have enjoyed a fantastic time with friends and fellow Big Bear locals.
What a great turn out! I’m not exactly certain of how many cyclists came out, but I am told that it was upwards of almost 2000!
The event started and ended in “The Village” which is the center of where most everything happens in Big Bear.
I was asked to do The National Anthem (thanks “The Young Americans”) to kick off the Tour so I had to get there before my buddies to sing before the ride. It’s always an honor, a bit of added pressure too, but I’m apparently a sucker for working under pressure, as well as patriotic songs, especially that one.
After the National Anthem, the 100 mile riders kicked off at around 7:15 am followed by the 70 mile riders, the 50 mile riders and last but not least, the 25 mile riders.
The 50 mile trek, which I’m going to be most informative about because it was the one I rode, took us West on Big Bear Blvd. to the dam, across the Arctic Circle dropping down into Snow Valley where we stopped to grab some fluids and grub at the Aid Station and get some relief at the Port-A-Potty’s. I also have to say that the volunteers were amazing and attentive! The grub was tasty and there were tons of choices. I’ll tell you more about the food in a bit. Namely…the BACON.
I’m all about the experience so I wasn’t hitting it “balls out” to win this race or even place. I rode with a small group and we stuck together for the most part and met up at all of the stops.
Mother Nature decided to rain on the parade a little, but she mostly opened up her showers on the 100 mile riders which was kind of a bummer for them. We were lucky and managed to stay cool and dry. I was grateful for the cloudy, ominous looking weather and that we didn’t get overheated.
After leaving Snow Valley, we had to climb back up “that” hill (it was a butt kicker causing me to mumble an expletive or two along the way) heading back over the Arctic Circle to the dam where we made a left towards Fawnskin. I love getting a different perspective on the other side of Big Bear Lake and there’s something so magical about Fawnskin which is a sleepy little town on the North Shore of Big Bear where locals live in seclusion. There are a few little shops, a restaurant or two, and my favorite, a Bed and Breakfast known as, “The Inn at Fawnskin.”
After cycling through Fawnskin, we stopped at the next refreshment Aid Station area, “The Discovery Center.”
As soon as I crested the hill at the top of the parking lot, the smell of bacon hit me square on. Imagine throngs of sweaty, tasked and tired riders curiously walking up to refreshment tables and seeing a smorgasbord of yummy food including healthy fruit like watermelon, orange wedges, healthy nibbles of celery with peanut butter, homemade granola bars, chocolate bars, marshmallows and graham crackers for instant s’mores bars, bananas, hard boiled eggs, potatoes, and yes, BACON!
Sadly, it was time to get back in the saddle and hump it around Baldwin Lake where the winds picked up and the art of “drafting” came in handy as I fell in behind my BF who generously blocked the wind. What a life saver for myself and a few other friends who fell in line behind him.
The next Aid Station was at BBARWA off of Shay Road. Another quick stop at the Port-A-Potty a quick BBQ rib (yes, more amazing food), some electrolytes and fluids, and off through Big Bear City we went. We traversed through the back side of Forest Springs and got right back on the North Shore via Paradise Road to Division and soon we were fighting the winds yet again that were blowing from the East.
We headed up Division all the way to McCalister Road and that hill was my nemesis. My lungs were screaming and my thighs were seizing up. I totally wanted to die, for at least a good ten minutes. Ha ha! At that point, several of the 100 mile riders flew past me, on the uphill no doubt. Those guys and gals are crazily fit!!
McCalister Road took us to the back side of Moonridge where we ended up going straight up Moonridge road (another butt kicker hill) where we passed all the golfers on the Big Bear Mountain Golf Course under the grey, dark cloudy skies.
Our last Aid Station visit was a short one but I do have to say once again how awesome the volunteers were. Someone took my bike and parked it for me while I freshened my water bottle. There were Popsicles and a rendition of a “car wash” that you could ride your bike through and cool off which I remembered doing last year when the heat was unbearable. The rain was definitely starting to break this time and we could feel sprinkles so we didn’t stay long. Down Clubview Drive we went, enjoying the downhill! Wheeeee!
We traversed over the Boulevard (Big Bear) where the route took us through Eagle Point, around the Eagle Point peninsula where we admired what happens to be one of my favorite neighborhoods, then we rode past Meadow Park and up Georgia Road for one last butt kicker of a hill. Oy!
I knew we were in the last stretch! I think I had an inkling of a thought that I had more in me, that maybe I should do the 70 mile ride next year? Nah. Why mess up a good thing. Ha ha!
As I rode over the finish line I felt a sense of accomplishment. I also really enjoyed a lot of the aspects that made my day a perfect one. I thought of how wonderful it was for our community that we were able to share how awesome our town is. I am so proud!
I also loved the comments I heard from many serious cyclists who do the cycling circuit. Some said this was the best cycling venue they had ever been to. Most raved about the food and hospitality. As a side, I comically told a few of my friends that next year I was going to issue official “Tour de Big Bear” T-shirts that say, “Tour de Big Bear…I do it for the bacon!” All kidding aside, I’ve come to realize that Cyclists are athletes who are generally healthy and dig eating right, but after hearing all the ruckus about bacon, I’m beginning to think secretly, they just want to come out of the closet! The Kiwanis who manned the “bacon booth” have caused quite a stir throughout the Tour, however, they may have some competition with the BBQ rib guy at the BBARWA Aid Station. LOL.
In closing, I definitely took the time to “smell the roses”, eat a slice of bacon and a BBQ rib as well as all the healthy stuff, I enjoyed the company of my friends, and the views of the Big Bear Valley on this amazing ride. I encourage you to do this ride if you love to bike. Training in high altitude helps, so definitely prepare ahead of time if possible. I look forward to doing it again next year!
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Real Estate Consultant in Big Bear since 1992 and lover of the great outdoors!