Distance: 40.3 miles
Great ride on Tuesday. On Monday I felt flat and just was not able to hold a decent pace for the 50.0 miles I did. I have the Gran Fondo of Park City in about 10 days, so I was a little nervous by how tired my legs were feeling. I am guessing it was due to being on vacation for a week and not touching a bike for that long. Regardless, the pace was good today and I felt like I was pushing some power. The goal for the week is 300.0 miles on the bike by the time I am done with my long ride on Saturday.
If you have made it through the novel that I wrote about Day 1, know that this report will be a touch shorter. That is due partly to the fact that everything that was shiny and good for Day 1 was about the opposite for Day 2. Good weather on Day 1? How about torrential downpours and hail on Day 2. Feeling strong and keeping a positive attitude Day 1? How about legs that felt flat and having a minor mental episode on the first climb of the day on Day 2. Nice police officers on the course on Day 1? I think on Day 2 the attitude of about everyone on the course was piss poor.
Juston and I were riding Day 2 together and it seemed like at least before we started, neither one of us really was that into getting the job done. If you remember the elevation profile from Day 1, you know we just turned around and went from Avon back to Evergreen, which sits right outside of Denver. There are still three big climbs to navigate. There was a slight detour for some reason, which added another 4.0 miles onto the ride. The detour was flat, so I really didn’t mind. The total distance was 125.1 miles and had 10,000 ft. of climbing. Here is the profile…
First Climb of the Day Vail Pass
According to my Garmin 500 , Vail Pass going east was a 26.0 mile climb with about 3,100 ft. of elevation gain. This is where my mental breakdown happened. I was going up a particularly difficult incline it was short and very steep and I realized that my legs were extremely flat. By flat I mean I had thoughts of abandoning the race because I just wasn’t pushing the power I needed to. I averaged 178 watts and 12.6 mph during these 26.0 miles, which in retrospect was probably about right.
To pull out of it, I used some of the techniques that Chris McCormack recommends in his latest book. I told myself again and again that I knew before this was going to hurt, and I had hurt a lot during some of my other races and even training. While this distance and effort on back to back days was new to me, I had trained for it. I changed the tone of my self-talk and refused to let negative thoughts and images linger.
Keeping a positive attitude during a race like this isn’t just important, to me it is a necessity. It is on the tough sections that you need your mind to tell your body that it can complete the task at hand. If my brain isn’t into it, my body will follow shortly. So I literally had to tell my brain to climb out of the pit it had fallen into. It was nice to have someone to ride with so I could focus on keeping pace with them and getting my mind right. By the time I had reached the top of this climb and started the downhill, I knew I would finish the day. I knew it would be a slow one, but I would finish.
The descent to the base of the next climb is a little more flat it averaged -1.7%, which was nice, but we didn’t set any land speed records on this section. Juston and I would bridge up to a group, sit on their wheel for about a mile, volunteer to take our turn and then the group would drop off our wheels for some reason. This happened again and again. I need to try harder at making friends I guess.
Second Climb of the Day Loveland Pass
Loveland Pass may be one of the harder efforts for me over the weekend. This climb was 21.1 miles long, but it took us 2:03 to finish. We only gained 3,057 feet, but man oh man did it tear me up. I had a tough time over this pass for some reason. I was only able to average 157 watts and 10.3 mph on this climb. I know I should have been about 2.0 mph faster at least, but the legs really didn’t have it. My heart rate was only at 142 bpm for this section, so my heart and lungs were fine, but the legs just weren’t there.
Something funny did happen on the way to the top. Juston and I were passing a lot of people on this climb. One gal was passed was riding with her husband and they were probably in their late 50′s. Her calves were cut, I mean they looked great. So trying to be clever, I made the comment to her, “Nice calves”. I think her husband thought I said “Nice ass” because he looked at me like he wanted to beat mine. She was speechless. Juston and I decided I needed a different compliment for the rest of the ride. My compliments to women from that point forward had more to do with their form or how cool their jersey was. I tried to make sure there would be no mistaking what I was saying.
Juston and I stayed together until about the last five miles of the climb where he beat me to the top by about two minutes and waited for the there. What a good friend. Really the guy was the perfect riding partner. Once we hit the top of the pass at 11,990 ft., it started to rain and rain hard. It was about 55°, which coupled with the 40 mph wind from the downhill, made it really, really cold. Then it started to hail. I was so cold, I just kept riding just so I could get off that mountain. I didn’t bring arm warmers with me on this section of the ride, so the hail hitting my arms really hurt. That pain did help me focus away from the cold though, which was nice. Here we are before the rain and hail started…
Once we made it to the Loveland Ski area, we stopped at the Aid Station and and then the rain started to come down in sheets. There was a warming tent, which was nice. We waited there for 30 minutes before the storm cell passed and we were able to get back on the road. Our buddy Shay met us at the Loveland Aid Station and was threatened with arrest if he didn’t move his car. The cops on Day 2 were jerks. Enough said about that.
The descent off this climb was great. There was a lot of water on the road, so you had to be careful, but I spent the entire descent trying to keep up with Juston. It is sure nice to have good descending skills. More on that later…
Third Climb of the Day Juniper Pass
Ugg. This. Climb. Up. Juniper Pass . Was. Horrible. It was the shortest at 15.7 miles, but the average incline over this section was 3.7%. We averages 159 watts and 7.4 mph. There was no aid station on this climb except just over the top, which meant you were on your own for water. I drank most of my water coming off of Loveland Pass, so I ran out with about 1:15 to go from the top. There literally is not anywhere to fill up with water until you hit Echo Lake, which is a very short jump up to the top. I was extremely dehydrated when I hit the top. So Team Evergreen, if you read this you need to put a water truck at one of the pullouts somewhere in the middle of this climb.
Then another storm cell hit us and the rain was falling out of the sky in buckets for about the last 20 minutes of the climb. I was so cold. There were SAG wagons picking up the undead who were all trying to make it to the top. It was discouraging to see people drop off one by one and accept a ride to the top. I don’t know if they were allowed to continue, but it was miserable out there. I usually have little mercy for people who DNF , but not this day. Lesson learned. I don’t know which training day allowed me to finish this climb, but I am glad I did it. For those who didn’t finish this climb, I get it. Great try.
After we finally got to the top, we hit the water and Gatorade hard. I immediately drank two bottles of Gatorade and nursed a third while I was eating two bagels. After I ate about everything I could touch including some sticks and pine needles, I drank two full bottles of water. Like I said, I was extremely dehydrated. The good news is the rest of the distance is all downhill.
But with all the rain, the roads were really, really wet. There were washouts that left dirt, mud, rocks, and gravel on the road. Those washouts were more prevalent on corners, which were sketchy anyways. Juston and I decided to bomb this section anyways because we really wanted to be done. The road quality on this section is horrible too. There are potholes everywhere and the road that does not have potholes is bumpy. You literally are hanging on with everything you have regardless of the speed that you come off of the mountain at. On a nice day this section would still be treacherous.
The descent is 14.8 miles and we averaged 27.4 mph. We passed a ton of people, but we always made sure we passed them safely on the flats and never in a corner. If I go down, I want it to be my fault. I would never put someone else in danger on a fast descent like this one, especially on such a sketchy day. I looked at my tire after we finished and somewhere in that descent I apparently locked up my rear wheel and there is a skid patch that goes way down into the tire surface. I am lucky I didn’t have a blowout.
We were filthy and tired, but my oh my was I glad to be done. Overall I would say the race was a huge success. Day 2 took us 8:25, which was about 30 minutes slower than Day 1. We had targeted a sub 9:00 finish, so we were very happy with our time. And I am sure you can guess this, but as soon as we cross the finish line, it started to rain hard again.
There were a couple of suggestions that I have for Team Evergreen , the race organizers. On Day 1 when we finished a gal at the finish line refused to give us medals because Juston and I were doing the Double. Fair enough. When we crossed the finish line on Day 2 the volunteer gave us the exact same medal as they were handing out on Day 1. With 500 people registered for the Double like Juston and I, I would think they could get a different color of medal or something else to give to the Double finishers. It was anti-climatic to say the least, especially after the big deal the volunteer made on Day 1 at the finish line about us not getting a medal.
Law enforcement was excellent on Day 1. On Day 2 I don’t know if a different department was used or if the policemen and women were just tired from being on the course on Day 1. They were cranky and in most cases downright rude. I know how to treat law enforcement on the course, and I have to say their treatment of riders was undeserved. In your debrief with law enforcement, I would make sure I communicated to them how poorly their behavior on Day 2 reflected on your event and the great job you did otherwise. I know you need them, but there has to be a way they can treat the riders better. They may be cold, wet, and miserable, but the riders are too.
The placement of the aid station on Juniper Pass needs to be revisited. The easiest course of action will be to add a water truck about half way up the climb on one of the pullouts. People were begging each other and bystanders for water or something wet. It got really bad out there and there is no other way to solve this other than adding a water truck in my book. I am not sure there was anyway to foresee this as this was the first year of the Double, but consider it for sure in 2012.
It was clear that there was some contention between the volunteers at the aid station at Juniper Pass. The aid station was not scheduled to close for another two hours and one of the groups was packing their stuff up as we were leaving. You guys are riders, so you know how horrible it would be for the large number of people who were behind us to get up there and find half of the resources available.
Overall I would say this event is well put on and one I have wanted to do for a while now. I am glad that I did. I really suggest that this is one of the rides you add to your bucket list of rides. It will definitely test you both physically and mentally. There is no other way to prepare for this ride than to ride lots and lots of hills, which will make you a better rider overall anyways. I love that one of the cards up my sleeve is now this ride and the six epic climbs I did over a two day period. I will call on these experience often in the coming months.