This recap of my second ultracycling race, the Hoodoo 300 in August 2018, was originally posted on the Tucson Masters Cycling website shortly after the event. Its been expanded a bit here and some additional photos and retrospective observations added. Hoodoo was a great event and experience, and was the catalyst for re-energizing my dream of attempting RAAM someday.
Leaving Panguitch (156 miles), there is a tough little climb as you gain 2000′ up into the mountains heading toward Duck Creek. Bill Packard (Phoenix) and I must have passed each other 6 or 8 times through here as we both suffered a bit and had to stop for food. Bill had been hovering 3 minutes up on me most of the last 160 miles
Turning left towards Mammoth Creek, we joined the Tour of Utah Stage 2 route. I picked up a baggie of potato chips from my crew, and started down the Black Rock Canyon descent, named for the young lava flow defining the left side of the road. I was in a rush by this point, hoping to summit the top of Cedar Canyon so I could descend into Cedar City before dark. Descending Black Rock Canyon at 35-40 mph, eating potato chips, I looked to the left and there was the cliffs in Bryce Canyon, brightly lit with the red sunset across a huge meadow with a herd of antelope! Epic… 180 miles, 11 hours on the bike, descending into the evening, 57 years old, still moving well and feeling good, wildlife, awesome scenery. That made the top ten list.
The crew finally arrived, more bottles, more snacks, and I headed out solo, while they crew got gas, and had the most delightful time blasting down the gentle descent toward Newcastle. This was the first moment where I was really certain I had this-I would finish. Soon, the radio announced the crew had rejoined, and they took up follow, with twin orange lights on the roof, and the slow moving triangle. Oddly, Henry Mancini’s “Baby Elephant Walk” popped into my head. It would become a bit of a touchstone keeping me rolling through the night, over the final two climbs, and back into St. George. It’s a great little tune.
Looking back, Hoodoo was a great confidence builder. Finishing my first 300+ mile seemed to most be to an audacious goal. I remember telling a racing friend of mine who said it "seemed like too much", that if it did not seem like too much, it would not be what it is". Planning, preparation, and execution led to a successful ride. My original plan to do Hoodoo 500 in 2019, RAW in 2020, and RAAM in 2021 was accelerated as a result. Now the goal is RAW 2019.
My RAW Story, Day 47. 165 days, 17 hours to RAW 2019.
Kitt Peak is an awesome climb, and underappreciated compared to the more popular Mt. Lemmon. The fact that the Mt. Lemmon climb starts from the edge of town, while Kitt Peak is a 40 mile ride to the base is probably the reason. But, Kitt Peak is a spectacular climb, 12 miles at 5-8%, nice wide smooth roads, and almost no traffic. Riding with the UA cycling and triathlon guys was a real pleasure. I started cycling seriously 32 years ago when I was in college, so it's like a journey in time to ride with them. I feel blessed to be still be able to keep up with college cyclists. Seeing first hand the impact collegiate cycling has on the sport, and these guys college experience was just fabulous and this led to several very enjoyable conversations along the way.
Assessing the week, it feels like a great start. The Edge evaluation and Maria Crawford's support Friday (see my previous Blog on that here), and Sunday's epic ride up Kitt Peak is a great start. The progression on the weekend doubles is on track. It still leaves me doing the math twice when I realize I rode 112 miles Saturday, 144 today, and 477 miles this week--but the training plan has made that feel pretty straight forward. I'm tired tonight, but its about the level of fatigue I feel like I should have.
I'm still not eating enough on the bike... I "only" ate 2520 calories on the bike today, that's 325 calories an hour. The ride was 4790 calories! That deficit over the course of a RAW day would accumulate to almost 7000 calories, and over the entire event to 21,000 calories. I still need to eat more, even if my riding partners already think I am this overpacked rolling panty. Next week, I start experimenting with my homemade Keto Butter/Honey Stinger Gel combo. I'm hoping this will get the carb/fat ratio I want, and the caloric density I can carry.
My RAW Story, Day 36. 176 days, 16 hours to RAW 2019.
I have an accurate assessment of my body composition: 9% body fat, and detailed knowledge about my hydration and body composition with her InBody 570. The device was really amazing, and no more invasive than getting weighed barefoot while holding handlebars. Through the blood examination I learned I can do better with micronutrients, improve my food absorption, and should eat more good fat. Maria could tell all that by studying my blood samples through the microscope while I followed along on a video monitor and she explained what she was seeing. Even before today, Maria and Edge had been helping me understand the need for more fat, both on and off the bike, which has helped me craft the feeding approach on the bike. Those of you that know me know that I am hard to impress--today I was super impressed. Check out the videos below, and the Edge Facebook feed.
I'll be introducing the RAW 2019 crew shortly, but am thrilled to know that Maria will be along for the RAW 2019 as a key member of the crew. Her nutritional knowledge will be invaluable, and she is a gifted athlete as well. If we have a medical emergency, we will have her there as well. I've always strived to build teams with the best people, and I'm really humbled by the team we are assembling for RAW 2019 (and hopefully RAAM 2020/2021). All I need to do is keep the bike moving east.
My RAW Story, Day 34. 178 days, 16 hours to RAW 2019.
"When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments. Here was a machine of precision and balance for the convenience of man. And (unlike subsequent inventions for man's convenience) the more he used it, the fitter his body became. Here, for once, was a product of man's brain that was entirely beneficial to those who used it, and of no harm or irritation to others. Progress should have stopped when man invented the bicycle."
~Elizabeth West, Hovel in the Hills
As observed by Elizabeth West in Hovel in the Hills, the bicycle is a truly remarkable, efficient, and optimized machine. On a bicycle, a fit human can cross the country in less than 8 days or complete RAW in under 3 days, sprint in the velodrome at speeds over 50 mph, and descend mountain passes at even faster speeds. All on a machine that weighs less than 18 lbs. Sunset and twilight are equally pure and beautiful. To be able to enjoy them both at the same time is really special.
I've commuted by bike for most if not all of my professional life--nearly 30 years now. Each sunrise and sunset is special. Each is different. Each is more special while riding a bike. Even on a cloudless day, daylight gives way to the subtle hues of twilight, then darkness. As an astronomer, I've always enjoyed twilight as daylight fades and reveals the wonders of the heavens. During RAW, I'll likely see three sunsets. If all goes well, the first evening sunset should be rolling into Brawley CA--welcome relief from what will likely be 105 F heat in the desert. Sunset on day two will be near Prescott AZ, with the climb to Mingus Summit and descent down Hull Canyon into Jerome taking place during evening twilight. Sunset on day three should be somewhere between Tuba City and Monument Valley. Looking at the time sheet, it's most likely that Monument Valley will be under the full moon.
Perhaps most exciting about RAW is that my third sunrise on the bike should be somewhere between Cortez CO and Durango, perhaps near Mesa Verde, making the 44 mile "sprint" for the finish. I bet that will be a memorable sunrise.
Day 31, 181 days, 16 hours to RAW 2019.
This was the end of week three of the first big four-week endurance training block for RAW, and I am looking forward to a consolidation (recovery) week. I'll be posting the entire training plan shortly, and look forward to learn what people think of it, and how I could adjust it. I'll also talk about what I mean by a "consolidation" week versus "recovery". This was also week two of the double-5+ hour rides, and week 3 of 7+ hour rides. I'll recap the training block next week, but it was a good start. I got both double-long rides in, got the mid-week ride up near four hours.
My interest in ultracycling dates back when I first started seriously riding a bike in college in the early 1980s. This is my RAAM story preparing to compete in the Race Across the West in 2020 and RAAM 2021.