Time is rolling on towards the Grand Depart. Since the Stagecoach 400 I have been traveling for work virtually every week. I try to squeeze in a weeks’ worth of training over the weekends. The need to ‘train’ vs just go for a ride gets old, old and old, but with only 46 days and only about 10 of them real training opportunities I have to keep at it. I want to hit my final weight loss goal but it’s not looking to good. I want to ITT the KT but question if I should do that type of effort close to the TDR. Mostly I just want 40 or so days to go by………….
Soon I will be making my usual pre-race ‘must do’ check-off
list. Little things like ‘secure a well-padded
laptop shipping box’ to send my work computer home in from Banff. And critically important things like replace
the BB and drive train will go on this check-off list.
I have a new frame bag, its oversized and easily holds 4L
(3L bladder and 1L soft bottle) plus assorted tools etc. Of course now that I have it I can see how it
could be slightly ‘tweaked’ to be even better…….
Still planning on a sub 30 lbs bike + gear but need to
get this and that gear choices finalized….
Still trying different combinations of riding shorts
creams but also testing pain numbing ointments as I know the problem (impacted
hair/follicles) will rise its ugly head around Lima MT regardless of what I am
wearing or sitting on………
Sometimes, but not really, I think I should just chuck it
all and drift over here…
Yes, yes the smooth still current of the last year+ TDR
prep is changing and building momentum, to a faster flow, soon to be a nose-dive
over the lip of the trail head in Banff……….
Sunday, April 26, 2015
Thursday, April 9, 2015
The last day of the SC was the best from both a physical point of view and finishing up in just under 3 days. I toured most of the day, riding easy and relaxed. Took a nap or two and never overextended myself till the end. I stopped at the Hideout motorcycle bar near Lake Henshaw and ordered two huge hamburgers, one to eat and one wrapped to go. The bar itself (a weekend only type place) was just about ready to shut down the kitchen so my timing was good. Later some strategic munching on the huge to-go burger became part of why I was able to ride on into the night and make my self-imposed cutoff time.
I stopped at the fire station in Warner Springs and chatted with a couple of crew who were enjoying the evening air. They offered me some ice and a cold coke. While there Michael Grosso rolled up and joined me. He was the first rider I had seen all day and we agreed to ride together for a bit. Kinda funny because he and I finished together in 2014. I went ahead with a plan to stop and join back up at the end of the pavement. While waiting for Michael I saw two sets of lights coming up, Daniel Jesse had rode up the climb with Michael (here is a nice article from the local paper with a pic of Michael and Daniel, as well as the overall winner Neil Beltchenko).
As soon as we started Daniel quickly shot off the front, this surprised me a bit as I was expecting some casual “chit chat and ride’ but instead it felt like the three of us were racing. I don’t know what Michael and Daniel were thinking but it felt like 'race on' to me so I just went with it. It was dark, nice and cool and I had been sort of soft pealing all day so it just felt good to go with a slightly higher pace. First I stopped and changed out the batteries in my light so I would be able to see, both to pick out good climbing lines and later to see enough to descend at a good solid clip.
At this point, about 9:00pm there was only about 40-45 miles left but several good climbs. Anyway long story short Michael was tired from some huge hours and soon dropped back. Daniel was stopped and making some gear adjustments near the top of the first climb and said ride on, so I did. Just hammered on to the best of my capability expecting Daniel to fly by any mile but only saw his lights behind me a few times. Ate that hamburger bit by bit at the top of the next few climbs and felt powered up till near the very end. Finished up at Hub Cyclery at 4:39am and signed out on the finish list that was left out on the porch (12th place I believe). Hit my van for about 6 hrs of sleep woke up feeling good and drove back towards Colorado the rest of the day………
Lessons from the SC 400:
· While still a rather weak rider compared to those around me, relatively speaking, I ride much stronger at 154 vs 167 lbs. My TDR weight target is 148lbs, and I should get there as I am bumping up and down around 150 right now.
· For the TDR I have decided to go back to a frame bag vs. large water bottles. I do not want to carry a backpack yet want to be able to drink from balder tube vs nasty dirty bottles. Also I drink more consistently if I don’t have to reach down and detach/re-attach a bottle
· Don’t bonk, and if I do probably better to stop and recover vs push on at a crawl. Although on night 1 of the SC it was the right thing to do, pushing on, to get to only real re-supply before they closed for the night.
· Be more willing to skip a recovery hotel if I feel better later in the cool evening. IE: don’t get overly “set” on the idea of a hotel room. I tend to focus on securing the room vs reading my body.
old man, photo bombed by the hog in a Harley bar..
Monday, April 6, 2015
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????
Saturday, April 4, 2015
Profile, day 1, ha it looks so easy on paper
Day one of this year’s Stagecoach was quite a roller-coaster. Some good and some really really bad.
The route started with a rather long paved climb. Normally I am one of the huffer-puffers, firmly entrenched in the back of the pack. So that’s where I deliberately placed myself at the start of the climb. But as the climb progressed I slowly let myself open up and found the cadence and pace that felt right for my current fitness level. And somewhat to my surprise I was soon near the top third of the pack. So this was good, very good. I knew I would be a bit stronger than my normal but the difference I could visibly see vs my fellow racers was quite encouraging.
Soon we were bombing down some fire road and single track. With the still cool morning air and residual starting day excitement it was a blast and hard not to overcook it.
A few hours later we hit the first desert sand and I stopped to slip off the knee and arm warmers and slip on the white leg and arm coolers. The heat was coming on and those coolers would now stay on till the very final night hours, near the end about 3 days later. But that's jumping ahead.....
Around 6 hours into it comes a fast re-supply stop at Borrego Springs, then we cruised for some miles on baking hot pavement over some big rollers. I was feeling so good I stupidly toasted myself a bit on these rollers, play racing with a couple of faster riders.
Then we were hitting the real desert sand. At this time, by rough tire track count, I was banging around somewhere near the top 15 or 20 and really didn’t know how to back off, it felt so strange to be that far up in the pack 75 miles in. Never ever legitimately been there but for the one time in the 2010 TDR.
It was now probably 100 deg or more and I soon ran out of chilled water and mini disaster struck. What I quickly learned is when the heat gets to you, regardless of one’s current fitness level you start crawling. This is bad really really BAD. Just so damm fast, in the blink of an eye almost, I was now stopping, puking, riding for few minutes and repeating. Watching smarter riders, one after another, pass on by.
At 8:30pm and around mile 112 I finally rolled into the store / SC 400 pit stop at Agua Caliente park.
I would like to personal thank all the fellow racers who offered aid, support and encouragement to me at Agua Caliente by name. Unfortunately I was so out by this time I don’t remember anyone’s name, just vague faces and offers of support and encouragement. After lying around for a few hours and rather embarrassingly moaning in distress most of the time with a little sleep tossed in the expected finally happened. My nausea had gone away and my thirst and appetite had somewhat returned. Sitting there on a padded recliner I had a bag of ice, assorted food items, including two oranges and a banana. And slowly, ever so slowly, as the body took in nourishment my mind wrapped itself around a rather vague plan about how to continue.
Stay tuned for day 2