Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Quadzilla "400"

Just back from the Quadzilla 400. This is a brevet in the fingerlakes region of NY, miles of hills short and steep and totalling over 30000ft of climbing. This is my final challenge before Ireland and it was a doozie!

20ish people toed the line sat mornin, and I was on my own with no crew, just a backpack and a stellar race organization, the rd was doing the event and he had 6 checkpoints staffed with food and fab volunteers. I had a hard time gearing up for this mentally, being pretty thrashed from the season and also travelling alone and not knowing anyone there. But, picking up my packet I was chatting with the other riders and everyone was quite friendly.

There was one other gal, Michelle, and they had us lead out. We rolled along nicely til we got a few miles from town and the climbing started on earnest. Before we were 10 miles in I was in the rear and full of doubts. It was quite windy which was actually good since it kept things cool.

I rode along and at 60miles in or so hooked up with a nice guy (who's name I cannot remember, so I'll call him Sir) going my pace. We chatted and rode and before we knew it hit 100 miles in 9 hours, yup, 9 hours. This course was brutal. We had a 5 mile climb to "lunch" which took close to an hour and enough walking to shred my cleats.

I ate a bit and then headed out alone to face a 40 mile section with 10 fresh chip and sealed miles and of course hills. At the next cp I was looking at my options and Sir rolled in along with another fellow, Stan, who spoke only a little English. We decided to take the short course option (355mi) and agreed to work together thru the night. A mile later we were walking up another steep incline side by side just laughing at the absurdity.

The shortcut skipped 30 miles in the next bit and when we hit the next cp the other gal was there. She has done this 4 times before and has the course record and made the same decision we did. She headed out as my trio ate a bit then followed after.

Time for rollers, but in the dark and too long/steep to really cruise. Stan dropped back to ride with some other folks and Sir and I came upon Michelle sitting at a church. Our new trio was formed and we continued through the darkness. We finally got a 30 mile easy section before hitting the hotel cp.

It was 24 hours in and we'd only covered 215 miles... We decided to do an hour sleep and then continue. An hour sleep takes 3 hours by the time you eat, sponge off, lay down, sleep, and then drag yourself back on the bike. That's why I don't get to see the inside of a hotel on Ireland!

Sir dropped out so Michelle and I headed out. The second day was rainy, ocasionally cold, and hillier than the first with a series of 1800 foot climbs interspersed with steep shorties. My cleats wore down from walking and I could no longer clip in with my left foot. Stan met up with us again so the three of us pushed each other along.

It was hard, but really fun. I learned a bit about hills riding with Michelle and we chattered nonstop. Stan was our quiet partner in crime. There was a .6 mile crazy steep grade that took me 10 minutes to walk up, Michelle powered up it but I had to stop and rest even walking. I tried to keep the pace up on the flats and downhills, and Michelle pushed us up the hills.

Finally, are you tired of reading yet, we got to the end. 355 mile, 39:2x. At least 6 of the starters dropped out, and the three of us did the short course. By all accounts the winds made it a tough year.

I'm really pleased with this event, despite the slowness and my nervousness going into it without knowing anyone. The organization was topnotch and I put it all out there. I was whupped going into the hotel CP, but the short rest really helped with the rest of the trip. I think it was a great final push for Ireland... Legs are tired today, but not too sore. Artemous needs a bath, and I already called my bike shop to get a 29 tooth cog so hopefully I can ride more and walk less in Ireland!

Bring on the taper!

Ride long,

Monday, August 2, 2010

RR: Colorado State S-N crossing record

It was a very good day! The kinda day where it all comes together, minimal bad things happen, and the good starts to multiply... Saturday was my attempt at setting a Colorado State crossing record by bike. My crew for this journey was my hubby Drew, and massage therapist Julie. Susan played the part of the UMCA official after scoring 100 on her officiating test.

We drove down to Raton on Friday afternoon, and thanks to some rush hour traffic by Colorado Springs decided to go the back route and check out some of the roads I picked out for my course. 5 miles of chip and seal later, I was thrilled we checked it and we knew to reroute that bit! Got into Raton at 10:30pm in the rain, and planned to be up and out the door by 3:30am. I laid in bed and tried to sleep, but a huge storm came through at 2 and sleeping just wasn't happening. Looked out the door at 3 and it was still raining and everything was drenched. Quickly decided to meet up at 5:15am instead, figuring I would get started at dawn and would at least be able to see the puddles. Was tired, but buzzing at 5am and we got the car set up and everything ready. Drove to I-25 and Raton Pass, where the Welcome To Colorado sign is.

Got out of the car, and ready to go. Julie spent a few minutes warming up my muscles, and at 5:52am Susan said go. It was just cracking dawn, so I had lights on, but they weren't really necessary. The first 14 miles was wicked downhill, wet pavement but no rain. I tucked in and let Artemous fly. A truck with a HUGE windmill blade went by and the currents sucked me around but I just tried to relax and believe in my bike. Went around a bunch of rocks in the road, and was glad I waited til light to start!

Hit Trinindad, where I had to get off the highway due to construction. Drats. Some serious rerouting hapenning as I think I hit every road in Trinidad going back and forth across the freeway and the railroad tracks, until we were finally allowed back on. I just tried to remember it was going to be a long day, and didn't let it get to me. Finally got back on I-25.

Going into this I was worried about riding the highway but I LOVED it! Great wide smooth paved shoulders. Enough traffic to get a little draft on. My crew would leapfrog me, and would hand me small bites out the window which I swore to eat. Long downhill grades where I got into my drops and pedaled, and nice uphill grades. And a super sweet tailwind. As an aside, I had just perfect conditions the whole day! A friendly wind, often at my back, occasionally out of the East or West, but never a headwind. The storm was still in the plains, so the day didn't heat up until the afternoon.

Hit Pueblo and had to leave the freeway again. My original route had me leaving for good, but from the prelook the night before we instead got back on after 10 city miles. Going through town was a little irritating, with lots of traffic lights, but I used them to rest. Was glad to see I-25 again and the roads finally dried up. It was a bit climby, but not bad. I took a 5 hour energy, and then asked for a sprite and handful of Doritoes, which went into my Bento Box. Figured I'd pretend I was sitting on my couch playing a driving video game as I pedaled on and snacked.

Came to the town of Monument and said goodbye to I-25 for good. Requested we stop at a proper bathroom and took a few minutes to wipe the grime off my legs and Drew wiped down Artemous. Julie filled the Bento Box with grapes and off I went to the airport area of Colorado springs.

Blech! Lots of climbing, a tailwind, but it just made me hot. Lots of traffic, so the crew went and got lunch since they couldn't leapfrog well. This was majorly the lowpoint of my day, as I stopped at yet another light and wiped sweat out of my eyes looking at the hill ahead and wanting to be done but knowing I was only halfway there. The car came by and I asked for a break and a few miles later we pulled off into a subdivision. I sat down on a curb and drank a coke out of a proper cup and ate. Julie worked the kinks out of my shoulders, hands, and feet. This break was so needed, and I felt better getting onto the bike.

A turn, and then a long slow climb but pretty and scenic with great pavement. I was wishing I had an elevation profile to see what was coming, but then I found out. 30 miles of FUN! After the climb there was great downhill, with just enough uphills to make it good times. I settled into my drops and rode it like I stole it... and I kinda felt like I did! Just a total blast!

Went under E470 and into the Denver area. I routed this East of town and went through an area we lived when we first moved here. Was fun to see the changes. Around 6:30 my crew decided it was time for real food and I stopped and tried to eat a chicken sandwich (blech, but the fries were good and the coke rocked). Julie put some magic lotion on my legs and Drew put the light back on Artemous. Next we went by the airport and into parts north.

It was getting dark when I got on I-85. The crew moved to follow-me mode and settled in for a boring drive. I got a bit crabby when my iPod battery died, and then a piece of poundcake went down funny and I stopped to cough and gag. The towns were 5-10 miles apart, and my only fun was looking at the elevations as we hit the town signs. The last 40 miles of the route were sublty uphill, maybe 1000 feet, but the longest false flat I've ever ridden. After Greeley I got my now recharged iPod back and set up my night music (Lady Gaga, Eminem, and a little country) and knew I'd just have to get through these last some number of miles.

The signs showed mileage to Cheyanne, and I knew that was in Wyoming but I didn't know how far past the border it was... there were lights in the distance that kept coming in and out of sight and driving me batty... eventually I went by them and it was a gas plant of some sort. Back into the dark, and yet another climb in the distance when I saw a sign on the left and looked back and it was a welcome to Colorado sign. Then I saw a Laramie County sign and below it the most beautiful 0.0 mile marker ever.

310(ish, still waiting for the final calculation) miles. 18:59 is the new women under 50 Colorado South/North state crossing record!
It was a very good day, the kind of day I dream of. A day where I felt like I rode as well as I could, and the clock reflected it. A huge thank you to Susan, Julie, and Drew for making it possible!

Ride on!