Tahoe – Prepping for the Alta Alpina (June 2012)

Several months ago, Coach Ben announced our next training goal was to get ready for the Alta Alpina. So we kept up our training rides and exercise routine through the winter and the following spring.

Meanwhile, much of the training has been solo for me, as Ben’s shoulder and neck ailments prompted him to transfer his registration to another GPC member.

When we registered for the event (both of us planning on the 110 mile, 11,000 ft Wild Sierra Century course), we also looked for lodging up in Tahoe area, the idea being that we would work in some training rides at altitude the week prior to the big day, then head over to the eastern side of the Sierra for our normal group camp gathering near Mono Lake for the July 4th holiday. Since the 4th falls mid-week this year, we thus committed to a well-earned 2-week vacation from work.

We looked for an exchange through my time-share system, and of the properties with available vacancies during the time we needed (extending into July 1st to have at least 1 night to decompress and pack after the Alta Alpina), and Ben chose the Stardust Lodge in South Shore for its easy proximity to all the happenins for our training week, yet still relatively easy for getting to Turtle Rock Park early a.m. in Woodfords for the Big Event on June 30th.

The Stardust is basically a remodeled motel, with teensy little rooms but done up in fun Sierra alpine motif… wooden cutouts of grizzly bears in various states of relaxation and/or play along the walls (shown here in apparent migration over the top of the sofa).

Grizzly Bears for the Grizzly!

Our unit is a one-bedroom and is equipped with plenty of closet space and drawers for the both of us, an “apartment” size refrigerator, portable two-burner electric hotplate, coffee-maker, toaster, microwave oven and an odd assortment of cookware and dining ware, including exactly ONE cutting knife!! On the other hand, the Stardust gives us complimentary continental breakfast in the lobby (donuts, hardboiled eggs, orange drink of some type — Sunny-D or Tang, not sure — coffee, tea, hot cocoa mix). Additionally, there’s a popcorn maker in the lobby and fresh popcorn, coffee/tea, and free DVD “rentals” are available 24/7, so all in all, not such a bad little place. . . . even if the rooms could be a bit roomier. Thankfully, the remodel has included extremely comfortable mattresses, so getting a good night’s sleep, one we get the ceiling fans dialed in just right, has not been an issue as it can be when sleeping away from ones own bed.

So, no ride on Sunday, although that’s not quite true, either — as Coach Ben instructed me to go out for a quick 2-hour fast-pedal of my own choosing in the morning before we packed the car and headed out, so I chose Solano Ave up and over to GG Fields, down to Cesar Chavez park and around the trails there for a bit, up and over the University Ave bike/ped bridge and an out-and-back along the east side of Aquatic Park before continuing on the Bay Trail down to Emeryville and then doubling back on the Bay Trail down to GGF and then up/over Solano Ave to home.

Arriving at the Stardust after a nicely speedy trip on Sunday afternoon, we checked in promptly at 4pm along with several other RCI exchangers, and found our little vacation “house” in the section on the back side of the property, thankfully the furthest point away from Hwy 50 on which the lobby sits. We settle in and i cooked up some chicken/basil sausages, fresh yams and artichokes, paired with a nice glass of Rosenblum Zin (Lyons Reserve, i think). Motel camping can be so very civilized! After dinner, Ben turned on the TV and found one of our favorite “hot middle-aged folks” movies (“Unfaithful” with Richard Gere and Diane Lane, not to mention that extremely appealing and not middle-aged boy-toy, Oliver Martinez, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0250797/)… plenty of eye-candy for everyone!


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