Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Week 28

Date
July 16, 2017

Distance
106 miles

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Week 28

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This is a beautiful and difficult route. I went over Monitor and Ebbetts and kept going on 4 until I hit 50 miles, then turned around and did the other side of Ebbetts and Monitor. 4 is great. It's super scenic and there are some pretty steep sections of road. I should ride the rest of it one of these days.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Week 27

Date
July 9, 2017

Distance
103 miles

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Week 27

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I drove to Phoenix this weekend, so I stopped along the way in Big Pine to do some climbing. There are a ton of great climbs in the Bishop/Big Pine area and I've never done any of them. That's pretty stupid considering how close I live. I drive through at least once a year during the winter or early spring on my way to Death Valley and I always say to myself that I should come back during the summer. I've never actually done it.

I focused on 3 climbs that are very close together: Glacier Lodge (9.6 miles at 7%), White Mountain (19.4 miles at 6%), and Waucoba Canyon (13 miles at 5%). In total it was 103 miles and 14,000 feet. I'm pretty sure that's the most climbing I've ever done in 100 miles without doing repeats. I also rode at 10,000 feet high for a short while, which I don't think I've ever done before.

Glacier Lodge wasn't as difficult as I expected. It's long and steep, but I was still fresh and there weren't any ridiculously steep sections. It reminded me of the east side of Monitor Pass because it starts off relaxed, has a long and steep section in the middle, then finishes off with a flatter section. The road surface is pretty good and I didn't see much traffic up there at all. What more could you ask for? I highly recommend this one. There are some campgrounds near the top that looked like a nice place to stay, especially considering that it got over 100 degrees down in the valley today.

White Mountain is really 2 climbs in one. You start out on 168, which is 10.5 miles at 6%. Again, the roads were smooth and there wasn't much traffic. It's not a steady climb at all. The road is always changing from steep to not so steep, with a few short downhills thrown in for fun. That's good because it keeps your mind focused on the task at hand and the miles go by quickly. It's bad because it's hard to find a rhythm.

There's a little downhill, then you turn on to White Mountain Rd and begin the second portion of the climb. That part is 9.3 miles at 6%. It's even more of a roller coaster and the last 3.5 miles are the steepest. I found it very difficult. A lot of things were working against me at that point. As mentioned, I'd already been climbing for 16 miles or so and couldn't really find a rhythm. On top of that, you start riding over 9,000 feet, which is something I don't do that often. Was I feeling the altitude, fatigue, or both? It's hard to say for sure. What I can say is that the scenery was fantastic on this portion of the climb. Again, there's hardly any traffic out there. The road was in good shape, but the descent was pretty tricky on that 3.5-mile steep section near the top. There were a lot of tight corners, the roads were narrow, and there was some gravel on a few of the turns. You know me, though. I'm a wimpy descender even on the best roads.

Waucoba Canyon was the last climb. It was "only" 13 miles at 5%. It was also a fairly steady climb, so it was a good one to finish with. I had 3 issues, though. 1. I was tired. 2. There was a headwind. 3. It rained a little bit near the top. No serious problems, but it made for a long, slow grind. There was hardly any traffic on this road. Notice a theme? This climb had the worst road surface of the 3 (cracks), but I wouldn't call it bad. This was a fun climb and the scenery was pretty good. Anywhere else in the country and it would probably seem like a great climb. However, compared to the other 2 climbs (and the many more reasonably close) it felt a little less exciting than it should have. Or was I just tired and in a bad mood by then?

I need to head back to the area again to do some of the other big climbs.We'll see how it goes. I have a lot going on this summer. I'm trying to get my house ready to sell, plus I still want to ride across NV and get an Everesting done before the summer is over.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Week 26

Date
July 2, 2017

Distance
105 miles

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Week 26

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Ride Report 
I'm back in Nevada and things are back to normal, I guess. With the rough winter, the weeks I spent trying to do 400-mile rides, and RASN, I haven't done much climbing this year. Now it's July, the weather is great, and all the passes are open. That means I can do whatever I want. I just need to get my climbing legs back so I don't kill myself in the process.

I did 3 climbs today- Kingsbury, Luther, and Monitor. It wasn't too crazy of a route (just under 10,000 feet) and the climbs were pretty well spaced out with flat sections in between. Still, I'm not used to doing multiple climbs in a day and I could feel my strength fading away on the last climb. No big deal. That's exactly what I expected. I'll do more climbing next week and hopefully I get just a little bit better every week.

If everything goes well I hope to make an Everesting attempt by the end of July. Then I'll probably focus back on riding across Nevada in August. Meanwhile, I'll be doing a lot of work on my house and I hope to sell it by the end of the year. I'll have plenty of things to keep me busy this summer.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Week 25

Date
June 20, 2017

Distance
212 miles

Strava Link
Week 25

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Ride Report 
Day 9 of RASN. After what felt like a year of headwinds, I actually had a tailwind today. It was already blowing hard at 7:30 AM and I did my first 100 miles in about 5.5 hours. It calmed down a little during the middle of the day, but I still made it to Williston (the day's planned finish) after about 8.5 hours.

The tailwinds had me in a good mood and the quicker pace meant I was still feeling fresh, so I decided to just keep going all the way to Canada, which was only about 58 miles away at that point. Why waste a good tailwind? The wind actually picked up again towards the end of the day, so the last 58 miles went by pretty quickly.

It always feels good to finish a ride on a positive note. It was especially satisfying for this ride, because I had my rough moments out there in the wind, but those are mostly forgotten thanks to this ride.

As a whole, I was very happy with the ride. The route was solid. The plains were more interesting than anticipated. I rode pretty well, all things considered. I didn't have any flat tires. I didn't have any problems with motorists. I didn't get lost (except for trying to find one hotel). As much as I complained about the wind, the weather was pretty good. There were a few sprinkles here and there, but I only got rained on for real once. I did well with my nutrition. I never ran low on water. I kept up with my stretching. It just seemed like all of the little things went well. It was a great 9 days.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Week 24

Date
June 14, 2017

Distance
164 miles

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Week 24

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Ride Report 
Day 3 of RASN. This, along with day 7, was one of my favorite days. The scenery was just spectacular out there. I also went through Eagle Nest, NM and rode some of the same roads that I used for Petoji back in 2015. It brought back some great memories and I felt so lucky to be out there doing another big ride. Life can be a wonderful thing if you let it.

To top it all off, I did some riding on the interstate. That was a first for me. It wouldn't have been too bad, but there was construction going on and they were using the southbound side of the interstate for both northbound and southbound traffic. That meant there wasn't a whole lot of shoulder for me. I made it through in one piece, though, and crazy moments like that are the things that you look back on fondly once the ride is over.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Week 23

Date
June 5, 2017

Distance
100 miles

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Week 23

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Ride Report 
It's been an exciting few weeks, but today things were back to normal. I was a little nervous for today's ride, believe it or not. I took it super easy all week. I didn't do a ride longer than 10 miles. Even with all that rest, I was still feeling tired. You know how sitting around doing nothing all day can make you feel more tired that doing stuff? I didn't know if it was one of those things or if I really was taking a long time to recover from 2 really hard weeks.

Either way, I didn't really know what to expect from today's ride. I kept it a flat one and kept an easy pace. There wasn't much wind today, which was a big help. I ended up feeling better than I expected. I wasn't super strong and tearing it up out there, but I didn't feel completely lethargic, either. It felt like a normal ride.

I'm going to take it easy for another week, because a week from today is the first day of Ride America South to North. I want to be 100% sure that I'm fresh for that. I'll be making videos along the way, but those will probably be posted on a 2-week delay because I won't have my computer with me. I may record the daily vlogs (of just me talking after the ride) on my phone and try to post them to YouTube. My phone is kind of a POS, but I think that will work. I know I'll be able to upload the rides to Strava. I was able to connect my Edge 510 to my phone, which uploads to Garmin Connect, which transfers over to Strava. I tested that on a shorter ride earlier this week.

There's the plan. It's all self-supported, credit card touring style. I fly out to El Paso on the 11th. Bring it on. I'm ready.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Week 22: Second Shot at 400 Miles

Date
May 29, 2017

Distance
214 (on Monday. 401 total.)

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Week 22

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Ride Report 
I was eager to get the taste of failure out of my mouth. Maybe a little too eager. Again, the goal was to ride 400 miles in under 30 hours. I went for an out-and-back route this time. No need to ride to some other town and waste time/money on a rental car back. Also, there are plenty of gas stations on 395, so I'd never be too far away from water. On top of that, it has a very nice shoulder for most of the route. I didn't have to worry about anything but riding.

Eat. That was the word of the day. I didn't care how hard it was. I was shoving at least 200 calories of food into my face every hour. I brought a wider variety of things with me this time. I had a few Lara Bars like normal. I had my top tube bag full of almonds. I also had some fig bars, tortillas, golden Oreos, chips, and dried fruit. I wish I had more tortillas. Those were really hitting the spot for some reason. I was able to eat with no real issues. Why such a difference this time? I wish I had some golden nugget of information, but the simple answer is that I brought a wider variety of food and I was determined to eat. I looked at liquid calories as a bonus. I was watering down all my drinks just to be sure that I didn't even have the option to try going 100% on liquid calories.

Things started out pretty well. I did the first 100 miles in 6:31, which was a little faster than last time, but still a comfortable pace. My bag was a lot lighter this time, so that probably made most of the difference. I did the 2nd 200 in 6:04. That was too fast. It may not sound fast, but I took a 27-minute break during that section. There's a long, flat stretch between Bishop and Lone Pine and I just got a little carried away. I was feeling good and hammering in the aero bars. After a while my legs started burning and I realized what I was doing. Oops. I stopped for that 27-minute break and did the rest of the ride at a more reasonable pace.

The 3rd 100 miles was pretty bad. That took me 9:15 and I had a lot of off-bike time: 1 hour and 10 minutes. I was feeling slow, and there are multiple reasons why that might have been the case. First, as mentioned, I went too hard in the 2nd 100 miles, so I could have been paying for that. Second, I'm doing this ride less than a week after my last attempt. That may not be enough recovery time, especially considering the calorie deficit I put myself into during that ride. Third, I was having a more difficult time battling sleep this week. I stopped twice for little 10-minute naps. Last week the first nap was enough. This week I was still tired even after the second one. Fourth, maybe I just get slower after 200 miles. I don't have much experience riding more than that. I've done a 400k, but that was a long, long time ago.

I was beginning to feel like I felt on that second day last week. My legs lacked power and things were in slow motion. I was beginning to doubt that I was going to beat 30 hours. I needed a solid fourth 100, and that's exactly what I got. I felt pretty good up until Bridgeport (350 miles), and shortly after Bridgeport is a nice flat, then downhill section until about 365 miles. Then my legs started feeling dead again, but at that point I knew my goal was within reach.

I finished in 28:40. Ride time was 25:59. That's a lot of off-bike time. As mentioned, I had a total of 1:10 in the third 100 miles- 2 naps and 1 extra long breakfast break. That's what really killed me. The rest are just small breaks like bottle refills and "nature breaks" that add up over a long ride.

I'm glad to finish, but there's still room for improvement. I'm not sure how to battle the sleep problem. I've always been a big sleeper. I don't function well on less than 8 hours and I've always hated driving at night because I have trouble staying awake. So part of me wants to say that sleep deprivation will simply always be a physical weakness of mine, but part of me thinks that sounds like an excuse. As far as slowing down after 200 miles goes, I'm going to have to do another long ride on fresher legs and see how that goes.

All in all, I have to be happy with the ride. I did the best I could. I made up for last week's disaster, which is a big weight off of my shoulders going into my ride across America from south to north. I learned a few things that I can apply to that ride. On the technical side, I have my bike bag setup all squared away and the bike is all ready to go. On the mental side, I feel like I've had some great mental training for the last two weeks. In some ways it was good that I failed last week. I learned a few lessons and was given a nice, healthy dose of motivation.