Sunday, September 13, 2009
The Voyager Division of the Hoodoo 500 is not for Everyone. The ultimate challenge in cycling in many ways sent me sailing off the high wire into the abyss. I took off strong with the only ex-european pro to take on an ultra, Sean Nealy, and quickly realized he was going at a pace way beyond anything I could handle. He told me he wanted to break 30 hours, which was a mighty audacious goal. I kept in second place pretty much the entire 1st stage other than a few miles where I rode behind Steve Lachaine, but I must have pushed a bit too hard as I began to really suffer on the climbs after Kanab. I enjoyed a ton of cramps, and lot of doubt about the day ahead. I realized quickly that the pannier that I had picked up in Kanab was not such a smart move as the weight was killing me on the climb. In one act of desperation at mile 110 I jettisoned my camelbak and rain jacket, but I was still suffering mightily into Hatch where I was passed by the supported solo leaders. But I kept pushing up towards Bryce Canyon National Park and started to get my legs back a bit. I pulled into the 202 mile park in under 13 hours of riding time and even though I felt pretty crappy, was doing great on time. I took a quick shower at the motel they provided us Voyagers and felt pretty solid taking off Boulder Mountain. I decided to not bring my Ski pants to save weight and slowly climbed up this climb to almost the 10,000 foot level. I froze on the descent off the mountain and started shaking so much that I had to stop on the side of the road. I pulled out the space blanket and tried to take a break, but this was probably a bad idea, as I was unable to get warm enough and I noticed a ton of black clouds above me which spurred me on to ride down the hill. I hooked up with Rick Jacobson and his crew and hitched into Loa for a DNF. The intimidation factor of riding up 10,000+ foot mountains w/o any support is what makes the Voyager so challenging. When the going gets tough, its up to you to work your way out of it. I went from feeling pretty how I would expect to feel at mile 260 on an Ultra to the bottom of the pit where I could not crawl out and it was all due to a mental breakdown. The supported divisions are so much easier as your team can keep you going and get you extra clothes, etc. I have a lot of respect for anybody who has finished this division. This year, it looks like 2 people might make it, but still not sure. The ex-pro must have had some major challenges as he may not break the existing record of 42 hours as I write.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
90% done with prep work for the Voyager. I must say its a bit more stressful prepping for this due to the fact you have to handle everything yourself and carry a lot. I am looking at a 23 pound bike from St. George to Kanab without water as I will be carrying a rack and a moderately large case. I will be carrying a chain and spare tire from the get-go which adds some weight. The first 85 miles are pretty easy and I am hoping I can make good time to Kanab. I will be picking up one of my panniers in Kanab with a camelbak which I hopefully will not need, but am going to take just in case. The next 120 miles has a nice gradual climb in it to about 7500 feet and a nice descent and more climb to Escalante. I will be picking up the motherlode in Escalante with ski pants, fugujack jacket, heavy bib shorts, bivvy sack, bar mitts, etc. I might have been able to put this off until Loa, but there is a climb to 9600 feet after Boulder and I dont want to freeze. I am guessing with both panniers I will be close to 40 pounds bike and gear into Loa. The "real feel" at Loa is supposed to be 31 degrees, so I will need to load up on gear. Last year it was FREEZING and I dont want to feel that alone, so I have over-done it this time. The next section to Panguitch looks like a piece of cake on paper, but it was harder that I thought it would be with a ton of rollers, and false flats. The crux of the ride comes after Panguitch with the 4500 foot total climb to Cedar Breaks. I hopefully will be able to shed a bunch of cold gear for this as the forecast looks pretty warm for the second night as we drop to warmer temps in St. George. Who knows what will happen. All I can say is that after getting all the gear together and seeing how heavy it is, any thoughts of specific times have dropped out of my mind. I really want to enjoy this and of course finish. I would be happy with finishing with enough time to get some sleep on Sunday night. Thats about as much as I am going to hope for now.