August 2, 2012 /
Sara Turner, Urban Forestry Manager

Sara: “Getting Ready for Tour des Trees, with Some On-the-Job Training”

There are less than four days before the Tour des Trees kicks off on August 5th! I’m getting excited about the trip out west and the ride. I signed up for the Tour in March and quickly raised a significant portion of my fundraising goal, but more recently my efforts have shifted away from the fiscal matter to physical training. I have the basics down. I ride about 3 miles to and from work each day. It’s a city commute mostly on shared road and a little section of bike lane, fractured by lights and stop signs. About a mile stretch has no impediments and I can get a good pace going. I wanted to get some greater distances under my belt before the Tour, and DC and the greater region offer some great bike trails to explore as part of my training.

Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial beginning of summer, I did my first semi-long training ride. My partner and I rode our bikes out to Mount Vernon covering about 40 miles. It’s an out and back kind of trip with a good amount of hill work. The scenery along the river was great. The 90 degree heat was what made the ride most difficult. The next weekend I did a much shorter ride on the Capital Crescent Trail that connects Georgetown to Silver Spring.

Lastly, on the fourth of July, I took the Washington & Old Dominion trail out to visit my Dad; there’s access right behind his house. I rode about 35 miles from my apartment in DC out to Sterling, VA. It wasn’t my longest ride but I set a good and sometimes brisk pace. The trail is paved and, minus the frequent road crossings, it’s a great ride; I even saw a few horseback riders and a man riding a unicycle. Last weekend I took the C&O Canal trail (crushed gravel) out to Great Falls. The overlook view is GORGEous and spectacular to say the least. It was well worth the bumpy ride.

I figure I’m averaging about 12 to 15 mph for these rides, and that’s on my slow bike with chubby, knobby tires. I have a new slimmer and slicker road bike for my Tour ride that should help me along. It’s like swimmers shaving before a race: I’m shedding the extra weight and drag. Though I’m not after a gold medal, just the finish!

Another important part of my training has been on the job. Filling in for a staff member on vacation, I had the opportunity to captain the Water By-Cycle team over 4 days. As captain, I haul a cargo trailer loaded with a hydrant meter, 200 feet of hose length, a few buckets, Ooze Tubes, and tools and ride with two Summer Crew students to water and care for trees that are in their first one to three years of establishment. The last day I was out, my team watered 54 trees before our work day was abbreviated because of the 105 degree heat. We covered 3 miles on our watering route that included two schools and one park. It’s a short distance but the weight of the trailer adds difficulty and to make it up a hill requires some serious effort and some hard pedaling in the lowest gear. I liken my duty on the Water-by-cycle team to my weight training; at the least it might help make the climbs in the Cascades a little easier.

But, now it’s time to rest! We’ll be leaving for Oregon and the Tour on August 2nd, and I will be blogging about my Tour ride every few days as we bike, so please check back to see how I’m doing! Check out the path we’ll be taking through the Oregon country on the STIHL Tour des Trees website.

Talk to you soon!

You can follow Sara here on Tree Speak and catch all of the real-time action on Twitter with the hashtag #CTdT12. Feel free to tweet back and send your support!

If you’d like to give Sara and Neil a gift to help them reach their fundraising goals, check out rider profiles for both Sara and Neil.