The Early Miles
The Tropic Canyon Wobble!
After exiting the bike path and passing just north of Bryce, the route hits the first major descent into Tropic Canyon. The Tropic Canyon descent is not especially a technical descent, but the upper part of the canyon is steep at 7-8%. I've had front wheel wobble issues before at Hoodoo, and they returned with a vengeance on the upper part of the descent. At one point, the front wheel was oscillating back and forth several inches and I was resigned to getting of much speed off as I could before going down. I managed to get the bike stopped at a pullout and almost instantly FOLLOW arrived. The Tropic Canyon Wobble would recur throughout the remaining miles, and I learned to manage it with a combination of staying on the aerobars, a very loose handgrip, and rear-only braking.
In a separate project, I'm working on my ultrabike for RAAM 2021, and testing a new cockpit for the Serotta, which will include a new Enve fork and Chris King headset (to chase the wobble away), and a conservative bullhorn aero basebar. Since 95% of my time in ultras in on the aerobars, and the rest of on the hoods stretching or climbing, I'm going to leave the drops behind, have a more aero setup. Enve is one of the few aftermarket 1 1/8" straight steer tube forks available anymore. Sort of ironic since the t-shirt I won at the Hoodoo raffle was an "Enve Composites". I'm hoping to bring a local shop to work with me on the final setup. Look for some Blog posts in the coming months as I build up Eric's Ultrasteed.
Down to the River and Back Up Again
Each segment of the climb was exceedingly difficult, yet rewarded by an equally astonishing view. I felt so alive.
The Summit at Windy Ridge
The Colossal Kingston Slowdown
One truth about ultracycling: Things can go really really well--right up until they don't.
Goblins in the Dark
The Final Run From Enterprise
After surviving the imaginary gremlins along Bench Road, I was really beginning to feel back in the groove I was in for the first 300 miles. My crew told me the Ron Iseri was 7 miles up the road. I last saw Ron in Cedar City at the time station eating a popsicle, then he quickly left while I enjoyed my own big gulp and continued to recover, The chance at recovering 2nd place in the 50+ inspired me and I began to chase, hammering up the climb out of Enterprise. "Hammering" is a relative term 450 miles into an ultra--I was putting out 150-160 W at most. After miles of chasing I was about to shut the chase down. I had not seen another rider since leaving Cedar City. Finally, at the top of the climb out of Veyo I spotted Ron's follow vehicle, and we passed just before the turn into Snow Canyon. The crew had already given me my cell phone back and my wrist strap (in the unlikely event the guard at the Snow Canyon gate was there charging admission at 1 am), and I made the turn and went right down into the Canyon without stopping.
The support rules are such that the final miles at Hoodoo are alone. The solitary run through Snow Canyon and St. George takes about 40 minutes, and gives you time to reflect on the ride, and on the journey that brought you to a level of fitness, courage, and character that you are completing a 300 or 500 mile solo bike ride across awesomely beautiful and difficult terrain. And most of all, time to reflect and be thankful for those that helped you along the way.
Tonight I end this blog with a new byline... the thought of continuing to pursue the dream of racing 3000 miles across this country is humbling. The idea of being qualified to proceed is exciting and stirs emotions that I cannot describe and don't fully understand. However, being qualified for RAAM, and being ready to line up in Oceanside for 12 days and 3000 miles are two different things. The real work towards being ready to credibly roll down The Strand and make that right turn onto Surfrider Way towards Annapolis Maryland is still ahead. I invite you to follow along.
Being qualified for RAAM, and being ready to line up in Oceanside for 12 days and 3000 miles are two different things. The real work towards being ready to credibly roll down The Strand and make that right turn onto Surfrider Way towards Annapolis Maryland is still ahead.
My RAAM Story, Day 1, about 652 days to RAAM 2021.
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.