Monday, June 25, 2012

Hills, Heat, Headwinds and Heartbreak - 2012 RATPOD 2/3

Saturday, June 23 marked the 11th annual Ride Around The Pioneers In One Day (RATPOD) in Dillon, Montana.  The event benefits Camp Mak A Dream in Gold Creek, MT for kids and young adults affected by Cancer.  The Pioneers are a mountain range just outside of Dillon that rise almost 9,500 feet above sea level.  The ride is limited to about 650 riders which was part of the draw the first time I rode it in 2010.

The ride is also notable for its incredible scenery, pristine rivers, great support and 6,000 feet total climbing over the 130 mile route.  The vast majority of the climbing is done well before the temperature starts to rise and in my opinion is the best part of the ride which is about 38 miles in.  Pacing myself it takes about 45 - 60 minutes to cover the 8 miles to the 7.900 foot summit of the Scenic Byway which essentially bisects the range.  The summit is followed by a screaming 50 mph descent on curvy mountain roads and incredible views along waterfalls, mountain meadows, and a roaring river punctuated by a lunch stop at mile 75.

Then it is winding rivers, flat lands, farmland and a few grades for the next 55 miles.  That is the ride in a nutshell.  I committed in early March when I was able to get a spot before the registration was declared "full".  This meant that I needed to get "serious" on my riding and put some long miles in to ensure I was ready for the event.

Even the best laid plans don't always work-out and I found myself wondering at the 6am start how the day would unfold with only 2,300 miles under my belt for the year and nothing longer than 77 miles at one time.  Some may find this hard to believe, but I was also a pound or two over my ideal riding weight.  My wife had even declared me "sag-wagon material" the day before as we were eyeing the mountains while driving south on I-15.

In the next installment, I will detail how the day unfolded - stay tuned.

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