Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Death Ride….Passes 3 and 4…..

The elevation at the top of Monitor Pass is 8314ft.

For those of us that live at sea level, the air at this elevation is way too thin and exercise at that level can cause some pretty interesting reactions. In addition to not being able to keep my heart rate under control, shortness of breath and an overall lack of oomph in my legs, I was also having issues with my stomach. I wasn’t actually sick to my stomach, I just never felt good. Everything I ate or drank left my stomach feeling upset.

The last time I attempted the Death Ride I cramped up so badly part way up the third pass that I fell over still attached to the bike so I was obsessed this time with not cramping and was making every attempt possible to eat and drink on the bike. The problem was, everything I took in, immediately caused my stomach to start doing flip-flops...

I was determined to eat and drink as much as I could though and after splitting up with Tracy, putting down a V8, some fruit and a few chips at the rest stop at the top of Monitor and enjoying the amazing downhill that followed I started off on the road to Ebbett’s Pass.

The road for the first several miles is relatively flat and I actually felt pretty good. Once it started climbing I downshifted, slipped into my pain cave and focused on making circles.

Ebbett’s has some pretty steep sections and whenever I tried to stand my heart rate would immediately redline so I spent the next couple of hours alternating between standing for a few pedal strokes then sitting and grinding away.
With a compact double, I had fairly low gearing, but there were times where I REALLY wished I had a triple with the granny gear and a big ole rear cluster.

I chatted with others when I could breathe, but pretty much I just and suffered along in silence with headphones on and the scenery to keep me company.

The higher we went, the worse I started to feel. My stomach was really getting kind of queasy and as I hit the water stop at the mid point to fill my bottles, I was just taking sips to keep hydrated. Any more and I was worried about a full on revolt by my digestive tract.

Eventually, I made the summit of Pass 3 which was a total madhouse. There were bikes laying all along the sides of the road, volunteers in the middle yelling at everyone to stay out of the roadway, bikers coming and going in both directions and a general feeling of pandemonium. As soon as I could, I pulled off, found a place to lean my bike and headed over to the rest area to try to force some food down.

A V8 and a few pieces of watermelon were about all I could handle and since the crowd was pretty crazy, I figured I’d fill my bottles at the bottom.
Getting back on my bike I made a couple of pedal strokes, got out of the crowd and immediately had to pull over to toss up the watermelon and V8...not sure why people feel compelled to ask if you’re ok when you’re obviously hurling...I guess cyclists are just thoughtful that way.

After purging like a supermodel, I actually felt a lot better. (hmmm...maybe there’s something to this) The fact that I was heading down hill instead of up may also have played a factor in that.
After way less time than it took me to get to the summit, I made the bottom, which although still crowded seemed a lot less chaotic. I had another V8, some chips, more watermelon, filled and drank a bottle of water and got back on the road feeling pretty good. It wasn’t long before the feeling good thing passed though, pretty much at the exact same time as the road got steep.

Once again, I downshifted, headed in to my happy place and disappeared for the next hour or whatever it took me to reach the top. I did stop once to take a picture. Yes, I stopped to take the picture dammit...It had absolutely nothing to do with my being tired and unable to breathe. The ONLY reason I stopped was so I could share this picture with you guys. (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it)

After reaching the summit of the 4th pass, I had pretty much made up my mind that I was done. I wasn’t having fun, I was tired, and in addition to my legs, my butt, back, neck and shoulders hurt. Even the amazing downhill to the lunch at the bottom of Pass 4 wasn’t fun due to everything being sore.

As I rolled into the lunch stop I caught up with Dwight again. He had done 3 passes and was also pretty much finished. We decided to relax, take our time eating lunch and then just make our way back to the start area. And, after a veggie burrito, some chips, a little fruit and a soda, that’s what we did.

I started to feel good after lunch and we made good time back to the start area. Dwight stopped to pick up his car and I pedaled back to where we had the RV parked. I actually felt so good I was considering attempting the last pass. But, when I rolled into the camp area, I found Tracy sitting in the sun and enjoying an ice cold beer. That was pretty much all I needed to drain the last of my resolve and I called it a day.

All in all, I ended up with 93 miles and 11,300ft of climbing. Next year, I plan to go up early and get some rides in so I’m better acclimated. One of these days I’m going to have to actually finish this thing.

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