Tuesday, June 26, 2012

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

In the last installment of Hills, Heat, Headwinds and Heartbreak - 2012 RATPOD I was contemplating my fate at the start of the ride being under trained and overweight.  Another thought that started whispering to me was the fact that every part of the ride occurs somewhere between 5,000 and 8,000 feet above sea level resulting in less air pressure to put oxygen into my bloodstream.

The day broke clear and cool with the high to be over 86 and "some" wind from the south after 1pm.  Doubt really began to creep in to my brain, but I shrugged-it off and rode off into the morning with the other starters.  The group rode steadily until the first climb of about 1,800 feet where it broke apart - no sweat, just ride steady.  I could not believe how quickly my heart rate and breathing went up on this climb - oh yeah, under trained, overweight and altitude.  I reduced my effort and set into a steady rhythm.

I was rewarded a the top of the climb with a gorgeous view of the valley below bathed in early morning sunlight and a long descent.  The next 18 miles went by uneventfully and we arrived at the breakfast stop.  Again, it is hard to describe the panoramic view of meadows, wildflowers, and mountains as we rolled to a stop.  These guys take their food stops seriously and had burritos, fruit, bagels and pancakes complete with sausage ready for hungry riders.  I REALLY wanted to sample all of the above, but knew the 8 miles of climbing was next, so I settled for half a bagel and some fig bars.

Next came the climb up the Scenic Byway and again, I just settled into a sustainable pace and alternated between standing and sitting for the 8 mile ascent.  By the time I reached the summit, I noticed the temp had started to climb - no big deal since the fast ride down to Wyse River and the lunch stop was next.  About 3 miles from the stop I noticed that the wind was picking-up and seemed to be pretty serious - Uh, Oh.

I was once again tempted by an amazing spread for lunch but stuck to bread, a cookie and fig bars knowing the next 55 miles could be a hot, windy suffer-fest.  I also was downing Hammer Heed, and Endurolytes to keep hydrated and avoid cramping on the final climbs on the ride.

In reality, if I had just stopped at mile 75 it would have been one of the most glorious rides I had ever done.  Instead, I pushed on mile after mile with a good group of guys into 91 degree heat, 28 mph sustained headwind and 40 mph gusts.  On the very last grade I got shelled off the back and saw the 3 other riders in the group fading into the distance when I reached the top. I felt my will and heart break at the same time.  I knew if I had to go solo for the next 15 miles in that wind I would never make it. I gathered my remaining energy and gave chase for 2 miles solo in the headwind - all or nothing.

Somehow, I finally caught the group, but could barely hold a wheel.  I rotated to the front for a pull and lasted all of about 45 seconds before I started cramping after my previous all-out effort.  Each pull became a little longer, but we were only averaging about 14 mph in that wind. At one point a gust hit me from the left and pushed me onto the dirt shoulder.  I did my best cyclocross impression for about 100 meters and bunny-hopped back on the pavement.  This was really getting ugly.

 Dillon grew larger and after 7 hours on the bike we were finally pulling into town.  The finish is at the end of a 3/4 mile straightaway section.  The four of us lined-up side-by-side and spun-up to about 22 mph to cross the line together to hoots, hollers and cowbells.

2012 will probably go down in the records as the windiest and one of the hotter conditions for the RATPOD.  I could hear the radio chatter as I sat in the shade near the finish sipping chocolate milk.  Riders were going down and others were pulling-out on the course - not good.  In the end, I did not hear how many riders finished, but numbers would be down for sure.  I stayed long-enough to congratulate some other Spokane riders as they finished and then went to find a hot shower and some hot pizza.  I had made it thanks to the good fortune of finding a group of riders I could work with, but not climb with.  If I ride again next year, I may not be so fortunate - so I better get training.

See you on the road.

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.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Hills, Heat, Headwinds and Heartbreak - 2012 RATPOD

Stay tuned for a full ride report of the 2012 Ride Around The Pioneers in One Day.  The above Elevation Profile only tells half of the story.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Shop Ride Tonight - 85 Degrees - Be there!

Tonight is shaping up to be a wonderful shop ride at 5:30pm. 85 degrees with a chance of attacks on the hills. See you all there!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

So Much Cool Bike Stuff This Week

Summer Parkways between Manito and Comstock Park 6 - 9 tomorrow - weather should be great. Title Nine/ Two Wheel Transit Ladies Bike Ride Saturday at 11 am FROM Title Nine on South Perry. Last, but not least Shop Ride Thursday at 5:30pm.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Shop Ride Tonight 71 Degrees - Be There

Last week, we endured rain and spray for a great ride followed by pizza.  This week looks to be 71 with no rain after yesterday's Old Testament flooding.  Should be a blast.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Shop Ride Report

Really can't add much to this photo - so wont try since it accurately represents feelings about tonight's ride followed by pizza.  What may be difficult to see is all the "freckles" on her face.  In reality it is road grime sprayed-up from other riders' tires.

The Long Route

Recently, it occurred to me that the Ride Around Pioneers In One Day 130 mile ride I had signed-up for in March was less than 3 weeks away.  My longest ride of the year was only 50 miles and I needed a couple of long rides to double-check my on-the-bike nutrition and build some endurance in my legs. I also wanted to get some climbing and rollers in and knew the Valley Chapel Loop would provide those and some nice headwinds too.  The loop itself is about 32 miles of climbs, rollers, descents and headwinds. 

The loop is defined as a turn onto Valley Chapel Road where it intersects the Old Palouse Highway about 4 miles south of 57th Ave and riding it to Hwy 27 just outside of Rockford.  Head north on 27 about 7.5 miles and turn west on to Old Palouse Hwy until intersecting the starting point at Valley Chapel Road. 

Still not a long ride, I needed to add some miles.  Should I ride the loop twice or continue south for a modified out and back course?  Fortunately I decided on the latter and took off solo about 6 am.  The air was still cool, but not uncomfortable, so I was able to ride without layering-up.

Normally, I would ride the loop to Rockford and turn north on HWY 27, but instead continued south on Jackson road to Fairfield and beyond.   After Jackson ended, I went south on the highway until turning onto E Waverly Rd.  Hwy 27 south of Rockford is not the same as it is north of Rockford since there is very little shoulder to ride on so be careful to choose a time where traffic will be light - particularly during harvest since there is a lot of machinery and grain truck traffic then. 

East Waverly Rd is where the ride becomes scenic and joyful since it is a sheltered valley that was lush and green with some moderate rolling hills.

The road goes surprisingly enough into Waverly where I headed south and onto S Prairie View Road toward Rosalia.  This road was also a delight as it was wide with smooth pavement and very little traffic.  There were also lots of side roads with interesting names like Pandora and Spring Valley heading-off in various directions that need exploring on another day.  Finally the road ends at Old Hwy 195 just north of Rosalia, which also begs to be fully explored.  It also appears that it intersects the John Wayne Trail, but not sure if there is a trail head at the intersection.

I picked-up a tailwind once I turned around and even saw a group of riders heading south just before I got to Waverly again.

The total mileage from Hangman Valley was 77 miles and proved to me that long rides are a good idea before a big event since I was sore and tired after riding just over 4 hours on this route.

I probably need another long ride or two before the event on June 23rd so watch for those reports plus a report from the RATPOD itself.  

See you on the Road.

Shop Ride Tonight

Weather permitting, there will be a shop ride tonight at 5:30 pm followed by pizza afterward.  If ride is called due to weather, pizza will be served at the next ride.