Sunday, May 27, 2007

MOM report

The Mountains of Misery Challenge Century ride was today.

MOM, upside down and backwards=WOW. What an awesome day. Things went way way better than I ever could have expected them to go. The potential for carnage on this ride is high. The distance, the heat, potential stomach distress, leg cramping, etc... But in almost every way the day exceeded expectactions. And as typical with cyclist short term memories I'm already thinking about next year.

I urge anyone to try this thing out. I do not recommend going off the couch and trying it, but with a well thought out training plan (which my wife designed and I'll post) you can finish this thing.

Thanks much to the organizers of the event they do such an incredible job. They had over 200 volunteers between today and the Wilderness Road Ride yesterday. All the rest stops had happy people wanting to help, and at the top they immediately help you across the line, take your bike from you and hand you your bag.

My wife and friend John decided to ride this together. The plan was to stay together until the bottom of the Backside climb. Mission accomplished in spades. It was really fun to ride with my wife because we do it so rarely now. Staying together always gave us a minimum of 3 to share the load and ride faster. Though John did the lion's share of towing on the flats.

The start was significantly less hectic than I imagined. With over 500 people registered it has the potential for hairy situations but it wasn't bad at all. The plan was to not get caught up too much in the frenzy and burn out too quick. We found some good groups to get in and just latched onto the back.

I rarely ride in big groups. So was surprised at how amazingly fast you can go with significantly less effort. We were flying at 25+mph and hardly pedaling. Soft pedaling and even braking. We hit the first rest stop in under an hour. And even 4hrs into it we were averaging almost 19mph. When doing training rides alone or with one person we averaged in the 14-15.

The day was just flying by. I'd imagined that it was going to be agony and just seem to take forever but the hours and miles were just ticking by. Over and over we reached checkpoints way faster than expected.

Gatorade and PBJ, and Sportlegs. That was my diet. No real stomach issues at all. I wish I could figure out how to eat less and go to the bathroom less. The heat and the issues that can accompany it had me really scared. I was drinking a lot and had to go to the bathroom alot. In hindsight maybe drank too much.

The heat was forcast into the upper 80s. But we seemed to have dodged a bullet because it really didn't feel that bad at all. In some spots it felt like an oven but thankfully we got some cloud cover and there was some shade.

Somewhere along the way we realized that the goal of 7hrs might actually be attainable. We all reached the bottom of Mountain Lake together as planned. This climb is something else. It really cannot be described until you try it. The meat of it is only 3 miles. But this thing can make or break your time by over an hour. People can literally walk faster than you ride if you are hurting bad.

We all knew that it was every man(woman) for themselves once we hit the bottom. I'm sorry but frienship or marriage can't override this. Everyone has their own speed at which to get up this thing and their own world to enter in order to do it. Trying to go slower than your special speed will hurt more than going faster.

I was flying at the bottom, then somewhere after the first switchback things started to fall apart. My legs were acheing and felt like cramping , the heat started to make my head pulsate. I just wanted to be done. But then I tried to embrace the pain to just relish in taking a chance and going outside the comfort zone. An easy life is unfulling. We're conditioned to take the easy way out sometimes. Most profit for least amount of effort. So here I was pep talking myself up the backside. Whatever works.

Then it happened. I'd taken my last does of Sportlegs in Eggleston about 1hr before with the hopes that they would kick in right about now. They started to kick in and I could feel my legs returning. Everything was still hurting bad, but reaching the top seemed very doable now as compared to just a few minutes earlier.

They add an extra section to the climb every time I do it. You think you are done and then there is one more curve to go. Finally I could hear the loudspeaker. Then came around the last corner and saw all the people up there. They radio your number ahead and the announcer yells off your name.

Our friends had watched our kids all since the night before and they had brough them to the top. Knowing they were going to be there was some serious motivation. I want to be strong and be super dad for them. I wanted them to see me cross the line strong. As I approached on the last straightaway I could see them, clapping and jumping up and down.

My perma grin joker smile turned to a real smile and I hit it hard the last section and even felt a hamstring cramp twinge upon crossing the line. 6:53 or there abouts. It was awesome.

My wife finished a little while later. She was leaning over on her bike and I though she was messing with the number taped on the top tube and wasn't concerned. Until two people had to help her off her bike and support her to the side of the road. She was ok but the last 1/2 mile had taken her over the edge.

There is a chalk mark on the road saying 1 mile to go. This is the hardest 1 mile you can do.

I'm really please. I never imagined I could do better than 7hrs. The key was riding with groups and keeping rest stops short. I'm pretty confident that with similar preparation, and less stopping that faster times are very doable. The fastest do it in 5:30 or so. omg.

In training rides I really hurt myself and rode alone a lot or with just one other person. That helped a lot because today everything felt significantly easier until the end.

-Ed and Liz got married right before the ride. They wore a tuxedo jersey and a veil. And had cans tied to their bikes. I thought the cans were just for show after the ceremony. 8 hrs later they finished at the top with the cans still attached.

-Early on in the ride and ambulance past us on Rt 42. We thought for sure someone had wrecked on the downhill into New Castle because someone wrecks there every year. But we came upon the scene at a benign location on a just a slight downhill roller. A guy was in the ditch getting worked on by the paramedics but we just figured he'd zoned or got cut and ended up on the ditch. Turns out he hit a deer full on at 30+mph. The deer was lodged in the bike frame and couldn't get out.

-Large people on flat sections of road are awesome. I call them meal tickets. The first were a pair of twin towers from Germany. A good 2feet taller than me on the bike. The next was Jerry from Virginia Beach. He pulled us for like 20 miles. We offered to help but it would have been worthless cause he was going so fast. However when the rollers at Maggie came it was all over

-For the first time in 5 trys I missed all the potholes on 604.

-Just because someone is super cut or has defined calves does not mean they can climb

-I'm addicted to Sportlegs. With 2 hrs to go I realized I'd dropped my last two doses. Panic attack. Thankfully we went right by the cars and I grabbed some more

-PBJ and other solid food cause a blood sugar spike. I can feel the lightheadedness hit shortly after eating and then it slowly passes and it's back to normal. Drinking energy drink seems to provide a more even delivery of carbs.


At 6:26 PM, Blogger BB said...

Great ride and write up about the entire day! Congratulations to you and your wife for finishing and for you to finish in such good shape and sub 7 hours. Way to go!

Hmmmmmm...... What are the odds that a deer would jump and in front of and then through a bike frame and get stuck? I hope somebody took pictures of that.

Eat, drink and be merry for a couple of days as you recover from your excellent efforts.


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