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,


onno said...

Great to read you made it through and finished!

My report and photos are here (http://blog.onno.com/?p=343) and here (http://gallery.mac.com/okluyt#100491&bgcolor=black&view=grid).

Onno, from the Geneseo stop.

Donna said...

Terrific report and riding! I told you that you were never going to remember 'Sir's' name, up on Gannett Hill! Funny! For the record, it was Doug.

Good luck on all your upcoming events. It was nice to meet you.

Doug said...

Leslie, here is the ride report I posted to Jud Hand's blog, with a few edits for context.

I was the third rider who jumped on the lead group out of the start as they passed you and Michelle. I had no idea where I belonged in this pack, so I figured I would start out in the front and work my way back. I had set a high power alarm on my Garmin 705 at my 20 min power of 300W, and my goal was to try to stay below that to make it through this ride. I was getting the raspberry just drafting behind these guys in the flat, so I knew I wasn’t going to hang with them long. So I decided to just suck wheel to the first climb, and use the head start to recover before the next pack caught me.

I joined a group of five for part of the first climb, and did my peak 5min power of 327W then (still getting the raspbery). Then I backed off and ended up with one other rider behind.

I had the course in my GPS, and wasn’t trying to read the cue in the dark. The other rider was reading the cue and called a right turn before my GPS showed it, so I assumed the GPS track I got didn’t reflect the latest cue, and I turned too. After the next turn, we re-joined the course on my GPS and began descending just as it got light. We passed one other rider going the other way, which was strange. A few miles later, we realized what happened. We got turned around after the wrong turn, and were now descending back down first climb heading back to the start!

The whole group had passed us while we were looping around, and we just saw the one lone rider off the back. So now we were way behind the weakest link, with 10 bonus miles, and a bonus climb to boot. The other rider decided to jump on it to try to catch the group. I decided to stick to my power plan, and climb at a more sustainable rate for my 230lbs (the second time up the first climb I peaked 20 min at 265W). Now I was alone in the back, with the better part of an hour shot to hell.

I brought a 34/28 compact, which had served me well up until this ride. But once the grade got over 12% on the climbs, my cadence dropped below 50, and I had to walk (and I wasn’t the only one). I did a lot of S-turns as well. It made me miss the granny gear on my touring bike. The organizer had told me that they climb at 4 and descend at 40 mph, and that’s a perfect description of the Finger Lakes topography on this ride.

The wind had to be blowing 20 mph out of the SW all day and night. When the course turned south on 414 into Watkins Glen, I think I would have been going backwards if it wasn’t a downgrade. It also made my bike a little squirrely on the crosswind descents.

I caught up to you at Lamoka Lake and rode ahead after the secret control. I ran into you again after climbing out of Hammondsport, and we rode together to the lunch stop, but then you left ahead of me. I didn’t see you again until the next stop at Springwater just before 6pm. Michelle D. was there also, but was ready to go sooner.


Doug said...

Springwater is the decision point for the FL350 cutoff. Our pace to this point put us on the bubble for the 40 hour event time cutoff. I was trying to earn UMCA Ultracycling Cup points for the event, so taking the cutoff meant no points. I was inclined to press on because the FL350 was the same as a DNF, so I had nothing to lose. But with nightfall imminent, the three of us at the checkpoint decided to stick together for the night, and take the FL350 cutoff as Michelle D had done before us. Since she had done this ride many times, and done well, that was probably the wiser choice.

We rode with Stan from Canada for a while, but after stopping a few times to wait for him, we decided to press on. The FL350 cutoff had one super nice long descent that I took at 25-30 mph tucked in the aerobars freewheeling for a long, long time. That run was worth the whole trip!

Michelle left ahead of us again at the stop in Geneseo. Stan came in behind with another rider. Down the road, we found Michelle stopped nursing an aching back, so we took a break too, and left together. We passed through the Canandaigua rest stop together. The wind was blowing so hard there, you had to hold your plate down so your dinner didn’t blow away. My bike blew over twice!

So I was riding with the ladies all the way to the sleep stop in Auburn. I picked up a pain on the outside of my left knee on the way out of the last stop. We also had to stop to fix a flat at one point, and we also took an extra break at a gas station. We got in to the Super-8 at 5:10am.

I had not booked a room, because I planned to blow through there with a shower and a nap a lot earlier. The bonus miles, the wind, and probably too many miles last weekend, had me well off my plan. My knees ached from all the low cadence climbing (with more to come), and the new pain was not going away. I still had enough time to finish before the cutoff, but my spousal unit was waiting back in Ithaca to drive my sorry ass home for work on Monday. A 9pm departure was not going to go over well. I was also concerned whether I could stay awake the whole 40 hours, after only getting 4 hours of sleep the night before.

I decided to take a shower, a nap, and another double dose of Ibuprofen, and make a final decision at 6am. My knee was no better then, but not so bad that I couldn’t continue. My real worry was that continuing would screw up my training for the ADK-540, so I decided to pull the plug. This was a just for fun ride now that I was on the FL350, and it wasn’t going to be any fun for me or my wife. So I woke her up and told her to bring the sad sag wagon. I knew there were a lot of DNFs already and there would be a lot more based on the late arrivals, probably due to the wind. So I didn’t feel too bad about my first DNF. When it started raining, that eliminated any regrets.

This was the first time I rode 24 hours straight. I rode further and longer on the NJ600K this year, but I spent 7 hours at the sleep stop since I had time to burn, rather than burning up in the heat. This was a good warm-up for the ADK-540, but now it looks like I may be on business travel that week, so I'm thinking about doing the Tejas 500 instead. So I guess I will have a similar experience flying halfway across the country to do a race with strangers. One good thing is that it's a lot flatter than the ADK500, so that should give my knees a break.

My left knee is still giving me problems whenever I try to mash the pedals. I'm going to see the bonecrusher tomorrow to see if he can do any ART magic for me again.

Good luck in Ireland!