About 13,000 feet of climbing on day 2
Agua Caliente Store, mile112: It was a little surreal sitting on a recliner at 1:00am, watching late incoming rider's lights coming up the road, while other riders, now rested and packed were leaving. And yet others were sleeping on concrete benches, lawn chairs and in light bivy bags. The activity had me up and slowly eating and drinking. I could tell my body was now willing to accept some food and liquid without the accompanying nausea I had been battling for the last few hours. Time to make a move, even a feeble one.
In 2014 I had a difficult time getting up the Oriflamme climb at around mile 125 (about mile 15 in the above profile). That year the sun caught me at the base of the climb and within 2 hours I was toast. So I knew getting to the top of this climb in a timely manner was in essence my entire race. Make it to the top with enough energy to ride vs crawl thru the ensuing single track was the requirement to reach the ferry crossing and a shot at a sub 3 day finish. By 2:30am I was cleaned up, packed up, had a bite or two of some hot backpacking pasta mix (3 bites was all I could eat, thanks Paul) and off I rode. The cool night air felt good and as I climbed the pave it got almost cold. I could tell my body was on a knifes edge, too much effort and I would fall back into nausea, just the right amount and I was gold. When I reached the actual climb I simply began walking, even some of the rideable sections. There was a stronger rider ahead and I could tell from his slowly fading light that briskly walking was ‘almost’ as fast as riding but much much easier. I walked for one hour and when the grade leveled was able to ride out the remaining climb. Once I hit the single track and Sunshine hwy I was weak but riding everything. I took a short nap in the morning sun and got up just as Paul was riding up to me. Here is the bike that Paul was on http://www.kokopellibikes.com/#!warthog/ctnq a sano Ti 29+.
We rode together thru the Noble Canyon and Indian Trail single track sections and I was very impressed with his 29+. If you want a true 'all-around' do everything adventure/bikepacking bike I suspect you could not do better than one of these warthogs!!
Shortly before the Oakzanita RV park store/mile 157 we were joined by a third rider. The three of us got some tasty homemade burritos, cold drinks and talked about the upcoming trail. There was some talk about riding together but as the weakest of the three I tried to explain that I was not willing to commit to riding together. Sitting there in the shade of the store I could not eat all of my food and knew I would only be able to continue if I focused 100% on my own pace. They were ready to leave before I was so I was solo again. I made a quick stop in Descanso, mile161, and got a huge foot long squeeze pop.
There were three other riders just leaving and they all sort of made fun of my humongous squeeze pop but I knew it was exactly what I needed to continue. I could only eat about ½ of the darn thing but it got me to Alpine, mile 175. Again I stopped for just a few minutes and got something cold. Later, in San Diego on Bonita Rd, at around mile 205, I stopped at a 7-11 and got some ice cream and fresh ice in my bladder. You see the pattern? Something cold at every convenient spot combined with a smooth easy pace and by the time 5:30pm came I was at the 7-11 and knew I would make the ferry with 1-2 hours to spare.
I reached the ferry area, mile 226 at 8:06pm, got a single whopper at Burger King and ate it on the 8:30 ferry. Man that whopper was good, it was the first thing I could eat and actually want more. The stomach was 100% back in action and I knew I would finish my recovery that night.
At this point I made a tactical mistake and while not major one it probably cost me 2-4 hours overall. I had made up my mind to get a hotel (not easy to do in SD on spring break). The plan was to hit a convenience market and then a hotel room, stocked up with lots of cold surgery drinks and tasty food to complete my recovery. It did work but in retrospect I could have simply kept riding at my modest pace while stopping at convenient locations for more food and continued for another 2-4 hours. The night was cool, the bike path easy riding with lots of re-supply. In short I should have made more miles while the riding was so cool. Had I done so I could have knocked out some hard climbs in the cooler early morning sun of day 3 vs doing them in the hot afternoon sun as actually happened. Oh well, in hind sight every rider can look back and see areas they could have saved time. Myself, I am still searching for that ‘perfect’ multi-day race. That’s part of the attraction for me…………
Day 3 up next, and is there any way I can knock out 20,000 feet of climbing, 150 miles and do so as to finish in sub 3 days????