Mike and Brad at Loon Lake

Scott McKinney’s Train for the Tour (TftT) series is Cycle Folsom’s most grueling set of training activities.  These 10 progressively more difficult century rides from February to June will get you in condition to do almost any extreme endurance cycling event you can find – including the Death Ride. One of the hallmarks of this series is the camaraderie that the ride creates.  All participants, whether you are the fastest or the slowest rider, are embraced.  In many ways, this training creates more memories than the “big event” everyone is targeting.

Yesterday was the 9th ride in the 2016 series – One Cool Loon.  This is a 100 mile out and back from Cool to Loon Lake and features 10,000 feet of climbing with about 7500 feet of that being on the way out. This type of ride is always a challenge for me. Being a Clydesdale sized rider, a big climbing ride is always tough.  This is especially true of rides where the climbing is grouped into one section as this does not allow for recovery time.

One Cool Loon Elevation Profile

The first part of the ride is relatively flat as we headed toward Georgetown.  Georgetown is a great little town of about 2400 people that epitomizes “small town” America.  There is a small baseball diamond that reminds of the one where I learned how to play baseball as a kid in a small Indiana town.

Stumpy Meadows

On leaving Georgetown, we stayed on Wentworth Springs Rd for about 35 miles. Most of the effort is climbing. The climbing is not terribly steep, but there are a couple of challenging sections that make you take notice. A short break at Stumpy Meadows was a needed relief as we had climbed 4,000 feet and completed 29 miles.

Enrico near Loon Lake

From Stumpy Meadows, we continued climbing on Wentworth Springs Rd all the way to Ice House Rd where we pause for a quick break before the final 7 mile climb to Loon Lake.  This section of road is beautiful and there is an amazing view looking east into a picturesque canyon.  This 20 mile section from Stumpy Meadows to Loon Lake is mostly climbing with an additional 3500 feet adding to a total of 7500 feet.

Vu dunking his head in Loon Lake

At Loon Lake, the elevation is about 6300 feet, about the same as Lake Tahoe.  This is about a 5000 foot elevation gain from the starting point in Cool.  This alpine lake is beautiful and right off a postcard.  I was happy to get to the turnaround point and take a break.  While I felt good at this point, I was struggling to eat and drink. Neither food nor drink sounded good and I had to force myself to consume something.

Before we started heading home, Vu put his head in the water following Mike’s pre-ride announcement of this head dunking tradition.

The trip home started off great.  The first 7 miles leaving Loon Lake were all down hill.  During this descent, we gained more appreciation for the actual climb.  Turning back onto Wentworth Springs Rd, we started a 5 mile climb that was very taxing.  A couple guys stopped for a moment, but I was afraid to stop as I wasn’t sure I could restart.

10 miles later we stopped in Stumpy Meadows for our final break.  There is a small climb out of Stumpy Meadows and I had the misfortune to get a flat.  Both SAG vehicles stopped to check on me and I used a floor pump to fill my tire.  Unfortunately, this also meant I was on my own for the last 30 miles.  Being tired and aching when alone seems much harder than suffering with others nearby. Nevertheless, I was able to let my mind wander and the time went by quickly.  I kept a steady pace and was relieved when I arrived in Georgetown as I knew there was only about 10 miles to go.  When the remaining distance gets to single digits, it is a great relief.

When I finally arrived in Cool, I was fully spent.  This was a very tough ride and I think I underestimated the difficulty.  I think the 7500 feet of climbing to Loon Lake took more out of me then I expected.  The return trip, while a net descent, was much more difficult than I thought it would be.  There were several challenging climbs on the return portion that really tested my stamina.  It is probably a mistake to underestimate any ride that has 10,000 feet of climbing.  I built some mental toughness doing this ride.

Special thanks to the SAG support from Lois and Cindy.  We all appreciate the extra help in accomplishing these challenging rides.

Chris Mumma also made a video of the ride that I am sure you will enjoy: Link.