Common Mistakes I Hope To Avoid: Stage 1

This Is The Only Goal That Matters

Medals are given in 29 Palms, not California City.

As I said in an earlier post, I’ve seen this race now from three perspectives: crew chief, racer, and race official. Each one of those positions gave me some valuable insights into the race. There are some glaring errors and missteps that I have seen and hope to avoid. Many are tied directly to my goals. But some are unique to my own psyche and are just things I know I need to avoid in order to get the most out of my body. Will I finish the 508? I can’t guarantee anything. There are too many variables at play. But that finisher’s medal and jersey are the only goals of mine that honestly matter. This is a race where finishing IS winning. With that in mind, here are some (not all) of my observations (some of my own riding experiences, some from watching my rider/teammate struggle, and some as an official roving the course) to help get me (and hopefully other riders reading this blog) to that finish line. God, what a feeling that is to see Chris at the end and hear him say “good job.”

Stage 1

Mistake 1: Going Out Too Hard

I set a goal of being in the back at the start line, and to also be near the back when we turn into San Francisquito. This is my own approach. I ride harder when I know I’m in front of someone else. I obsess about when he or she will overtake me, and I push much harder than I should. I’d rather sit back and move up through the field at my own pace.

Mistake 2: Testosterone Poisoning

It’s a race. I know. But it’s a really long race. The chances I’ll bury someone on that first climb, never to see them again, are slim to none. That really only happens at the front of the race, where the freaks of nature who can finish this race in 28 hours are riding. For us mortals? The race is farther back, and will be a competition solely between our legs and the pavement under the wheels.

Mistake 3: Missing The Route

In 2010, a couple of solos and teams missed the fork in the road, and riders took off in the wrong direction. Those riders lost hours, not to mention confidence. Some of them never recovered. The psychological impact at that point is difficult to overcome. Know the course. We’re only without support crews for 24 miles, and it’s not like there are a lot of turns to navigate. A little homework here is necessary to avoid an obvious blunder. Oh, and watch the descent off that first climb. The road ends in a t-intersection where you take a left to meet up with the crew. As officials, we were asked to slow riders down right there, because the stop sign comes up quickly.

Mistake 4: Worrying About Position

This one goes a little bit with the first couple Mistakes. It is easy to get caught up in the race to California City. The problem is that a lot of racers got demoralized by their arrival times/positions. The reality is that there are few issues a rider can’t recover from over the duration of the race and the entirety of the course. I honestly hope to be into California City at a certain time/placement. That said, I firmly expect to be the last solo racer straggling in right there.

Mistake 5: Lunch

There’s no reason to stop in California City. Yes, there’s a restroom and a Subway and a Kwik-E-Mart and lots of other shiny distractions. Let the crew take advantage of them. Seriously. Whatever the crew needs/wants at noon on Saturday, they should get. There are plenty of long stretches when they’ll have to be spartan. But stay on the bike (this goes pretty much for all time stations). I got in the habit of stopping at “rest stops” when I rode double centuries. The Furnace Creek 508 is not a double. Time Stations aren’t rest stops, they’re time sucks.

(To be continued…)

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One Arm

All That Sacrifice To Practice Sign Language

We ride so that a 3,000-foot climb can take on enough of a personality to deserve genuine ire.

It really does feel sometimes as though my life is sucking down the drain as I prep for this race. I think the biggest surprise for me when I first got involved with The 508 is just how much dedication goes into it.

The Furnace Creek 508 is not just a weekend in October. It’s a year-round obsession.

Part of it is riding, and riding smart. That still translates to riding 6-8 hours a day most days, with longer endurance rides thrown in.

Part of it is logistics and preparation. I don’t make much money, so I don’t have the luxury of just running out and buying the things I want or need. I have to save money throughout the year, then not be afraid to pull the trigger on the items I need. That new Jamis Xenith SL? Yeah. I work in a bike shop for a reason.

Part of it is outright neglect. We neglect friends, declining to go to parties or dinners. We neglect our families, testing their patience and support. We neglect ourselves, stealing hours of sleep to go out on the bike. We neglect work, but don’t tell our employers that our “working from home” day last week was really a day of hill repeats and a cell-phone check in at the top.

Part of it is salesmanship. How else do you explain convincing three people to take time off work to drive down to SoCal, to then drive through Death Valley and Mojave…and 15 mph, for two days and nights? I started off crewing, and I know how tough it is. In many ways, I think crewing is the tougher job. The cyclist just has to pedal. The crew? They have to be part pit crew, part mechanic, part massage therapist, part psychologist, part drill sergeant, and all saint.

Despite all the planning and all the preparation over the past 12 months, however, I still have a massive list of tasks that need my attention. I’m stressing that list. And I’m at the point of paranoia. I’m no longer shaking hands with anyone, and I’m a hair’s breadth away from wearing a flu mask for fear of getting sick before the race. I’m begging off important events (Baby shower for my best friends? On a weekend? Sorry. I can’t make it. And yes, I realize you are the same friends whose wedding I missed because it conflicted with The 508; a wedding in which I was asked to be one of only three groomsmen.)

When I was growing up, my Dad would always say he was “busier than a one-armed paper hanger.” Until The 508, I didn’t really understand what that phrase meant. And this 2011 version? I feel like one arm would be a damned luxury at this point.

The Crew Van

I just made my reservation for the crew van. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. I did a 1-week rental from Enterprise, which offers either a Chrysler Town and Country van or a Dodge Grand Caravan. Both are within the race rules, as far as I can remember. But the width requirement really is a tough one to account for. We’re a little hamstrung by rental availability and offerings. Fingers crossed!

The van signage for the 2011 FC 508

I am so excited. I got my van signage in the mail over the weekend, when I was out of town. I just picked it up in the rental office, and I couldn’t be happier. For those who don’t know, The Furnace Creek 508 uses totems rather than bib numbers for racers. I really had a tough time figuring out what kind of totem I wanted to claim as my own.

In 2009, I competed as part of Team 2xThrasher. That was the totem of my teammate, and definitely did not embody my personality. In 2010, I had registered for The 508 and been accepted under the totem of “Plow Horse.” That name came from the 2009 race, when I was the lucky soul who had to ride the Furnace Creek-Shoshone stage. For more details on that stage, you can go back through my blog and read about what it’s like to ride into 50+mph headwinds. At the low point (literally) in Badwater, one of the crew told me I was like a plow horse out there. It seemed fitting.

However, I had some health issues last year, and I had to bow out of the race. I was a race official, instead. And it was around that time that I got myself tickled. I was mulling over various totem names, and I was thinking about my own (I wanted something alliterative), when I realized I wanted something a bit more on the lighter side. I had just seen Rob Zombie in concert, and it hit me that I could easily alter the spelling of the name, and have a totem that really did speak to my personality.

The ZomBee was born!

Fast forward to 2011, and you have my approach to The 508. See, here’s my philosophy. This race is something special. And when you get to the start line, you’ll see more than one approach to it. The rules are pretty specific about what has to appear in the way of signage. However, there are few specifications as to HOW that signage should appear. I’ve seen vans with totem names spelled out in duct tape. And I’ve seen vans with low-resolution paper printouts plastered to the sides with painter’s tape. Others have shelled out the bucks for car magnets and big time graphics. I’m somewhere in the middle.

I don’t want something cheap. It just seems… disrespectful. Of the race. Of the effort. I also couldn’t afford several hundred dollars worth of car magnets. So, I opted for vinyl lettering and a couple of vinyl graphic signs, like the one pictured in the blog. I ordered a few bumper stickers, too, to give to sponsors, family, and friends. Do I need to have spiffy van graphics and signage? No. But having a little more investment in everything, not just riding a bike, serves as healthy motivation. This morning, looking at the signage, I’m thrilled. I’m one step closer to October 8th. I might die out there on the course. I might DNF. I also might surprise myself. Whatever the result, at least I’ll look good doing it! 🙂

Now I’m In Trouble

Over the weekend, my blog got outed by AdventureCorps! lol I went from just a few friends and family members reading it, to now having 200+ on any given day.

So, thanks to Chris for the endorsement. It really was a nice surprise to see the mention on the508.com’s page. I confess to feeling a little bit the weight of expectation now, (“Who is this knucklehead, and what is he doing giving advice?”) and I’ll do my best to not psych myself out here.

Let me just say this for those other racers stumbling across my blog and wondering that very question. The “advice” I’m giving is really advice I’m giving myself. I hope it helps everyone who reads it. I truly do. But really? I’m just thinking out loud here and doing my best to bolster my own confidence.

There are a lot of ways to build the right attitude. Sometimes it’s through the training rides. Sometimes it’s by blogging here and building myself up. Sometimes it’s riding along with other 508ers or through sharing tall tales. And sometimes, it’s a matter of some in-person visualization.

This weekend, I did a stealth getaway to Southern California. During the trip, I dropped into the start line at the Hilton Garden Inn in Santa Clarita. It’s a funny sort of observation, I confess. I know what goes on there in October. But the rest of the year? It’s just a hotel. We 508ers just bring to it a certain kind of …something. Reverence? Awe? Ego? Whatever it is, it means something to stand there at the start and visualize myself in my kit, on the bike, waiting to start pedaling October 8th.

I really enjoyed getting out of town. I needed it. But now the real countdown is on. I’ve worked on finalizing my list of “must haves” for the van, the bike, the racer, the crew, and everything I can think of. I’ve started tonight knocking out those last loose ends. And in doing so, I’ve realized that there are a lot more eyes now watching what I’m doing than there were last week.

Stop by and say hello. Drop a note or a comment. Ask a question. Whatever floats your boat. Or, just wait 4 more weeks, and I’ll see you at the start line when it counts. 🙂

 

Labor Day Getaway

I’m packing up my Cervelo (it’s nice to have 2 bikes so that one of them can become the “travel” bike.) and heading to Southern California.

I’ve been so incredibly stressed the past few weeks, that getting out of Dodge is about the most appealing thing I can do right now. It’s a little stressful since Monday is a holiday. It means a drive back of 6-7 hours followed by an 8-hour bike ride. But the ability to just getaway and not focus on the amazing amount of work I’m doing is well worth that particular sacrifice.

I’m looking forward to being able to ride my bike in a different location. I’m looking forward to spending time focusing on people rather than on deadlines. I’m looking forward to the road trip. Well, I’m really looking forward to a lot of different things.

I’m hoping to get some real rest and sleep, even though I’m away from home. As Oct. 8 gets closer and closer, I find it harder to stay focused on anything but the start line of The 508. I need a break!

It’s Not (Just) About Grades

I don’t mean letter grades in school. 🙂

What I mean to say is that preparing for The Furnace Creek 508 isn’t all about scouting out the course or trying to anticipate the average grade of any given climb.

Here’s what I can tell you about The 508 course. I’ve served three roles. I’ve been a crew chief in 2007. I was an official finisher of the race (Team 2x Thrasher) in 2009. And I was a race official last year. This year, I’m attempting a solo race. Here’s some of what I’ve learned.

1. Everyone focuses on Townes Pass. Everyone. Even people who claim they aren’t. When you look at the profile of the race, it’s the biggest spike. However, that stage doesn’t have the most elevation gain. Not to downplay the climb, it’ll take some hit points out of a rider, but The 508 has a lot more than that stretch of road. Given that it also comes at the 200-mile point, a lot of riders who have only ridden double centuries, understandably struggle after the summit.

2. The Devil lives at the top of Salsberry Pass. With all the climbing already in the legs, this climb kills a lot of people. I’ve seen riders up and over in the dead of night. I rode up and over it in the early morning (2009 was the year of the crazy headwinds). And some have made it up and over in mid-day. But this climbing is now in the second half of the race, and riders’ bodies (and minds) start to respond in often-unexpected ways.

3. Time. I can’t tell you how many people blow out of the start, up the first climbs, and absolutely hammer the first two stages trying to reach Townes Pass, only to flame out and die over the next two stages. I remember these words of wisdom from a very experienced racer: “You can’t win The 508 in the first 25 miles. But you can certainly lose it.”

4. Time (part 2). The majority of riders who DNF do so somewhere between Furnace Creek and Baker. Baker, with all that civilization just begging for a long stop, seems impossibly far from 29 Palms when you’re sleep-deprived, sore, and suffering. But look at the finishing times. Even if things are going terribly wrong, there’s likely time to recover. Many riders could spend 6-8 hours sleeping if they absolutely had to, and still have time to make it to 29 Palms before the cut off.

5. Goals. They’re great to have, but they also can derail a rider. Look at my goals that I posted a few months back. I have bare minimums (just finish) to pie-in-the-sky (Townes Pass in daylight). Having those lofty goals is all well and good, but not if they become the focus of the ride. Yes, this is a race. But if you spend all your energy blazing land-speed records in the first 150 miles, the final 350 miles are going to be a suffer fest. Ride within yourself and your abilities. Set healthy goals. If you end up missing the high-end goals, no harm no foul. If you miss the bare minimum goals, it’s a DNF.

6. Stay on the bike. Every break takes up valuable time. When I was crew chief, I could count close to 5 hours of off-the-bike time for various issues from a severe bonk to mechanical issues with the crew van. Ultimately, most riders will get tired of being on the bike and try to find reasons to quit pedaling. If there’s a goal that really stands out to me, it’s to not stop at time stations. A 10-15 minute “rest break” at time stations translates to 2+ hours added to the finishing time. That’s a ton. I think it’s probably a pretty safe bet that racers finishing in 40 hours would have much preferred 38.

I can obsess about stages and profiles as much as the next rider. I look at the elevation profile of Stage 1 (which I’ve not ridden), and do a comparable ride in my area during training. I’ve been doing this lately. And I look down and see that it took me 7 hours to ride 90 miles. Then I look at the times racers complete Stage 1 and wonder how the hell they did it. Four hours? Are you kidding me? Next thing I know, I’ve psyched myself out and convinced myself I have no business being on the course.

The truth, though, is that The 508 isn’t all about the grades of the climbs. Each climb comes with an equally long and fast descent. Some short climbs have epic descents. Some long climbs have easy grades but gnarly headwinds. Some flat stages actually go up. Some stages that supposedly go “down” actually go “up.” The course is a mindfuck, which is the ultimate lesson.

At some point, the rides have to be enough. At some point, the training you’ve ridden all year is just that: training. The actual race can play out one of a hundred different ways. In 2009, I was excited to ride Death Valley. Furnace Creek to Shoshone is a 4-hour stage. I knew I could nail it. It ended up taking me 11.5 hours and nearly killed me. I couldn’t have predicted that wind storm.

The one guarantee? Each race has its own personality. Maybe we’ll get lucky and have tailwinds the entire race. Maybe it will be scorchingly hot. Maybe it will be frigid and wet (it rained last year!). There might be devastating winds. There might be a short climb that kills you, or a long climb that builds you up. I was throwing up in 2009, which never happens to me. There’s simply no way to predict it.

I just know it’s not ALL about the grades.

(For more thoughts and observations on specific stages, please visit  https://zombee508.wordpress.com/2011/09/09/common-mistakes-i-hope-to-avoid-stage-1/

So, Why Did I Switch Bikes?

I’ve been asked that question a couple times over the past few weeks, since I acquired the Jamis. So, I wanted to answer that question.

It really wasn’t a question of “need.” It was a question of want. My cycling year centers on The Furnace Creek 508. I may do a double century here or there, but they’re training rides. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with my Cervelo R3. In fact, that bike is very much “right” for The 508.

So, here’s my logic.

When I successfully completed The 508 in 2009, I was on a two-man team. My teammate and I were roughly the same height, and we both rode a 58cm frame. I rode the Cervelo, and he was on a Trek Madone. Between the two of us, we had two complete frames. Had catastrophe struck, and some terrible mechanical malfunction befallen one of us, we could have each ridden the other person’s bike with a couple of minor adjustments to the bars or saddle/seat post. Now that I’m on my own and going for a solo completion of The 508, I don’t have that luxury.

I started weighing my options. I thought about buying redundant systems: a second chain ring, second cassette, second wheelset… Well, very quickly I realized I had a second bike at that rate. I just needed another frame. But buying a second bike really wasn’t in the realm of financial ability at the beginning of the year. I was making due with what I had laying around. When I started working at La Dolce Velo, though, I earned a steep discount on merchandise, including bike frames. So a whole new set of possibilities opened up for me.

Why The Jamis Xenith SL?

Once I made the decision to buy a second bike, the real question became “which bike do I buy?” As I said earlier, there’s nothing wrong with the Cervelo. And I’m not selling it. The point wasn’t to get an upgrade. The point was to get a compliment.

In looking at various bikes, I wanted something that would perform in a way the Cervelo wouldn’t. My choices were the Jamis, a Bianchi Sempre, or a Look 566. All three are fine bikes. But the 566 was simply too much like my Cervelo without being as good. It’s a plush ride, but the Cervelo is plenty comfortable and it can take a beating. I wanted something snappier, more responsive, and able to give me a little get up and go when I’m tired and feeling sluggish.

With the Look  out of the picture, it came down to the Jamis and the Bianchi. There wasn’t any competition. The Jamis is, quite simply, the most responsive bike I’ve ever ridden. Also, it’s a much different geometry than the Cervelo. The top tube is the same length, so I am still quite comfortable on it. But the wheelbase is 5mm shorter than the R3. And, given that it’s a 56cm frame, it’s a much more aggressive bike than the Cervelo. I feel like I have two bikes that will ride quite differently from one another, and I’ve now got a ride for any road condition or elevation.

Rather than go with a triple chain ring (which I simply won’t do), I can go with different gearing ratios and a compact on one bike, and a beefier cassette and standard double on the other. The Jamis won’t be as comfortable as the Cervelo, but I intend to start on it and complete the majority of the race on the SL. When I hit the large aggregate pavement past Baker, I’ll start looking at the R3 to get me through that area. Also, with the fatigue factor setting in, the shift in geometry will allow my body to work in a different way, and hopefully take some of the sting out of the final climbs.

In riding the two bikes, I feel like the Jamis will “buy me a stage” somewhere on the course. It is so much faster and more responsive, and the effort is so much more contained to the large muscle groups, that I’ll get a lot more miles out of that one before fatiguing to the same level I would have on the Cervelo alone. And buying the bike in mid-August means I have plenty of time to ride it, break it in, and get myself comfortable on the new bike before the start line in Santa Clarita.

I’m Riding!

It’s been far too long since I was active here posting. And I’ve had some folks wondering how I’m doing.

A quick glance backward. I’m a dad to a great 12-year-old boy, and he spends 6 wonderful weeks with me every summer. As such, I don’t get to ride nearly as much as I probably should be, but I made due. I got some rides in. I maintained. We spent a couple weeks with my folks in Illinois, and thanks to The Bike Surgeon there, I got a loaner bike to let me get out and keep up with my training.

I’ve also been pulling some late nights trying to keep up with 4 jobs trying to make ends meet. I started working at La Dolce Velo bikes in San Jose to help me afford the things I need to undertake The 508. I’m able to get in some long rides on the weekends, and a long ride or two during the week. The rest of the time is filled with watching what I eat, recovery rides, and the odd threshold ride to work on the cardio.

One last kernel of news: I now have a new bike. I didn’t get rid of my Cervelo R3, which I rode during the 2009 Furnace Creek 508. But adding to it, and the main bike for 2011, is the Jamis Xenith SL. It’s a great bike. Far and away the most responsive bike I’ve ever ridden. And I’m putting it through its paces. Right now, it’s a little tough. The geometry is different enough that my legs are fatiguing a bit differently, and I’m definitely feeling the work as I break in the new saddle and get the bike in shape (and me along with it).

Yesterday wasn’t a great one on the bike. There wasn’t anything specifically “wrong,” per se. It was just one of those days on the bike when things feel off. I felt sluggish. I felt slow. I felt just not quite up for the ride. Today, though, I felt much better. I chalked up yesterday as nothing to “correct.” I slept in this morning, and I felt good when I rolled out this morning. And now, 8 hours later, I felt good with my time on the bike. I thought the effort was solid. I could have gone faster, but I definitely rode within myself. I didn’t push too hard. And I didn’t try to do too much. I just rode. And at the end of the day, that’s what I needed more than anything. I logged well over 100 miles, which I’ll duplicate several more times before October.

More than anything, I’m feeling the approach of the race. I’m ready to get on with it, even if I don’t feel 100% ready physically. I feel stronger. I feel in good shape. But there’s just no feeling “ready.” There are so many variables. So much can go wrong. My job is to make sure everything in power goes right. I have a great crew set. I have my lights and signage, and I’ve managed to save enough to make the trip and the race as stress-free as possible.

So, that’s where I’ve been. I’ve been busy. I’ve been riding.

Climbing and Hammer Products

The stress dreams continue, with The 508 as their centerpiece. Typically, they all involve iterations of those all-too-familiar high-school nightmares: the showing up naked for class or forgetting about the exam that will determine the course of everything to follow. My 508 dreams center around oversleeping for the start. My parents are always my crew in these dreams, which is ironic, given their propensity for punctuality; specifically showing up 15 minutes early for every date. They are always nonchalant about missing the start, and they tell me things like “Oh, well. It’s probably for the best anyway. That’s such a silly race.”

Clearly, the best way to combat this kind of subconscious stress is to get out and ride. Hard. To help fuel that training, I placed an order for Hammer Nutrition products, and I was excited to try out a couple new additions to my cycling fuel. In particular, I order Anti-Fatigue Caps and Endurance Aminos. I know what some of you are thinking. “Seriously? It’s a cult to Hammer Nutrition.” And I won’t deny it. But, I figured since I had such a good discount on their products as a 508 participant, that it would be worth some experimentation.

Yesterday, I did a 50-mile hill-repeat ride consisting of 2 loops over both sides of Shannon/Kennedy roads, culminating in a climb up Hicks Road, which is my nemesis. There’s nothing as steep as Hicks on The 508, so it’s a good measuring stick for me to climb it (and improve climbing it) as I get closer to the race.

There was some confusion about my training schedule, and I thought I was supposed to be out for 6 hours, but my coach sent me a 2-hour ride, so I ended up splitting the difference to ride 4. Of course, that’s what I ended up doing, not what I planned on, which would come back to bite me in the ass by the end of the day.

To start, I prepared a couple 1-hour bottles (2 scoops of HEED in each) as my primary fuel source. I grabbed three Hammer Gel packs and a tin full of Endurolytes. Prior to heading out, I took 2 each of the Endurance Aminos and the Anti-Fatigue Caps, then hit the road. It was lousy weather, with the temps never getting out of the 50’s. It was raining for a good portion of the ride, and there was enough wind to make it unpleasant. But, I figured I could handle it for 2 hours.

I got to the base of Shannon Road, and, as is always the case, I had to decide between going straight (Shannon road, which is shorter but steeper) or hanging a left (onto Kennedy, which has a couple short steep pitches, but is a longer climb) for the short climbs there. I opted to go straight, since I hadn’t done Shannon in awhile. It felt good to zip up to the top (“zip” being a relative term), and descend off the back side. Since I was only out for a couple hours, I originally intended to head on home, but I decided I could stand to climb a little more, so I turned around and went back up Shannon, which is a longer climb but not as steep. Up and over the top, and down the other side, when I decided to turn onto Kennedy and climb it, too. I felt good after descending the other side of Kennedy, so I turned around there, too, which is a couple miles to the top with a few steeper pitches, but a nice leveling out towards the top.

I don’t remember the last time I did a whole Shannon/Shannon/Kennedy/Kennedy circuit, but it felt good. And rather than heading home, I decided that it was a good idea to push it. It was cold. It was raining. And I, of all people, was pushing myself to climb. I shifted into progressively bigger gears, and completed the whole circuit a second time. I didn’t know what had gotten into me, but it felt great to be riding aggressively on climbs.

The last time up Kennedy, I had a rabbit in front of me. He had made a snide remark at the bottom while I was off to the side of the road swapping out my water bottles. He said something about his not needing to stop when I asked him how he was doing. I just laughed it off and let him go up the road. I try to not get caught up in testosterone poisoning, but after giving him a really healthy head start (100 meters?), I quickly realized I was going to close on him. He kept looking over his shoulder and then digging in to go faster, but I was on his wheel in just a couple minutes. He said something about racing me to the top, so I simply stood up and cranked past him. The last thing I heard him say was “Jesus! I can’t do THAT!” It’s rare that I drop anyone, so I gave myself a few minutes to be proud of it before heading home.

Funny thing was, though, that rather than turning for home, I decided I’d give Hicks a shot. I hate this road. I’ve never been able to climb it. But, I was having a good day, so why not? Onto Hicks I went, and when the road tilted up, I immediately questioned my sanity. My legs were getting tired, and I was out of gels. Despite keeping up with my Endurolytes, I was nearly out of HEED, and I had been nursing it the entire time. Still, I decided I would get further up Hicks than is usual for me before allowing myself to even consider stopping. I had to serpentine my way up (sorry to the descending cyclist in the Rabobank kit who I genuinely scared to death), but I gained a lot more elevation before having to unclip. I’m not climber. I don’t pretend to be. Still, for me, it was a good day, and the hill repeats will help me in the long run.

On the way back down, I cramped pretty severely in both legs. I got a cramp right behind my right knee, which was a knew spot for me. On the left leg, I cramped on my inner thigh, which is a more common place for me to cramp. It was my own fault for not preparing and staying hydrated enough. Still, after a few minutes off the bike working out the cramps, I was able to get back in the saddle and pedal home. I was slower than I would have liked, but I was definitely thankful for that headwind!

All in all, a solid day on the bike. It wasn’t until afterward when I figured out that maybe the new Hammer products had a hand in my climbing better. I’ll have to keep experimenting there to see, but it was definitely an up-tick in my performance level yesterday. And I enjoyed being one of the few cyclists out on a cold, windy, rainy day in the hills. A hundred more rides like that one and I’ll start to feel confident about The 508. 🙂

Up next, the Davis Double Century this weekend.

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