We took the left towards Trona and I noticed I was slowing down slightly. It was getting a bit warmer and the fatigue of riding without any rest started to hit a bit. Overall I was still good. A photographer caught a bunch of shots of me descending towards Trona and I was getting excited to get to Time Station 2 in 4th place. I pulled in and we were told that the only gas station in town was out of gas and we would have to figure out a plan B. I was getting used to being in the front of the race, although I knew there were a ton of people bearing down on me and we kept up the ride to the Trona Bump.
I did not really open up on this as I felt nervous about descending too fast at night. It seemed to take forever, but we finally hit the flats and swapped out the TT Bike. Escape Goat came by and took off like I was standing still on the flats. I was feeling tired and could tell that my power was flagging. Hmm. I look down and notice my Heart Rate was about 120 and my power was about 140 watts avg on the flats compared to 210 all day on the way to Townes Pass. I did not have any pains or aches, but I have no power. Maybe I needed some Rock Star or Diet Coke I thought. I continue to ride down toward Furnace Creek TS3 and am just fatigued and not able to put two and two together. Hoopoe passes us before the Time Station. Damn. I am really slowing down now. I cant stay with anybody. My Heart Rate is now about 110. No power. No nothing. The reader might wonder why we dont have a quick team meeting and discuss. But, in the bubble of the ride and not wanting to get off the bike I just blindly plod on. Silly mistake number 1 was being realized. Sugar Free Rock Star and Diet Coke dont bring on power. Without realizing it, I had stopped taking in my carb sources and starved my body of carbs. My team thought at least the Rock Star had sugar in it, but we had not communicated too well on this part. I was feeling ok, but putting out the power of a ride with my daughter to the park. Yet, I did not want to regroup. Martin my crew mate made me a sandwich which went down well. But we pulled into time station 3 with me flagging badly. Notice how my HR drops from the start to the end of this section in Badwater. I would expect it to drop, but not like this. At least I was still moving.
Power Cranks. When the crew came up with the bag of food, I was worried about eating it. Martin said that it would solve all my problems. I liked his confidence and scarfed the whole Gyro and Milkshake in 3 minutes and amazingly my stomach felt great. I took off a bit stronger to the top feeling better than I have since the beginning of Death Valley. The never ending climb finally started to top out as the road decayed. The descent was slow as I could not bomb it like I would have wanted to as I was afraid of falling as I had taken on a noticeable lean to the right due to some overcompensation I was not aware of, but my crew and observers were. They thought I was suffering from an inner ear infection, mild stroke, or something, but I told them I was just a bit tired and this lean was no big deal. When we pulled into Kelso, the guy running the station mentioned my lean, but I told him I was ok and it was a natural compensation due to 400 miles of hell. Luckily, I found out my crew mate Martin has a secret career as a chiropractor and masseuse and was able to quickly work me over and make me feel alot better. He is a man of many hidden talents! I was suffering from awful hot foot for the last 100 miles. Martin took a look at my feet and exclaimed I had witches feet. They were so tight and cramped I could barely move them. I screamed while he worked on my painful witch feet until I felt almost as good as new. We took off quick to Boulder Mountain. Being able to see the rocks of the summit made this a much easier climb than the previous one. I was on fire now and pedaling harder than I had since Townes Pass.
The last time I did this stage in 06 I was having massive hallunications including a life altering discussion with a 50 foot Mastodon, so my memory of the route was a bit off. This is a pretty easy section and I should have been in TT Bike, but I settled into a slowish pace behind Mako as it was getting hot and I did not want to pass and then stop for a cool down and get passed again, so I tried to be not too annoying and stay back 100 yards or so. I imagine we were pretty annoying hanging back there. The sun was mocking me on this section baking me on the right side. I yelled at it, but it did not seem to care. We kept moving up and every 20 minutes or so I would stop to get a cool down with the ice from the cooler. I was paranoid I was going to get heat exhaustion at this point which was silly, but a good indication of the fatigue I was in after 34 hours solid of riding hard and suffering. We finally crested the hill and I took the descent conservatively and we hit the long straight slightly up hill into 29 Palms. Knowing we were close to the end I cranked up the power to over 200 watts for the first time in a long time. I pulled past Mako for the last time and knew Wild Turkeywas not far ahead as he had passed when I was delusional about the heat. I started to really crank hard as if the governor holding me back completely broke. I could not be stopped and figured that 36 hours might be crackable. Full out assault until the left on Utah Trail. My crew mate needed a pit stop and we waited a minute or so and kept the hard assault to the end. I probably should have been enjoying this bit, but I decided to go all in to try and break 36 and road maniacally through 29 Palms almost to the point of being ridiculous. I just missed breaking 36 hours, but almost collapsed at the end. I looked about 75 years old though at the end completely caked in salt and had several people ask me if I was ok. I had trouble standing up for about 15 minutes. Not the most graceful exit, but I left it all out on the road. In 2006 it took me 46:36 to finish. Looking at the all time race stats, I have one of the biggest improvement in finishing times of 10 hours and 32 minutes. Thats a reward in itself I guess.
The crew was awesome. We had such a cruise on the first day, then a lot of pain and suffering on day two, but finished strong. They really were the greatest team a guy could have. I will never forget their support in this journey. These rides give us a rare opportunity to peek into the magical world of dreams, visions and leave our normal concepts of mind and body behind. The competition, the watts, the fueling drop out as you realize that you just have to pedal and move forward. What could be more simple than that? I really want to thank Chris Kostman and all the volunteers that give us the opportunity to surf in this alternate reality. Its a true gift to anybody who goes as the person that comes out the other side is always better off, usually in ways not known for many months or years.
2011 Furnace Creek WebCast with Results and Photos
I did a bit of research to determine the best approach to using power for the 508. There is not a lot of information available for Ultra road cycling events like this. The closest information available is from the 24 hour endurance mountain biking world. A few riders train with power and blog about and I found out some of the elite guys can hold 60-70 IF for the 24 hour rides. I planned on starting off at about 250 watts for the climbs average power, and about 200-210 for the flats and rollers. This was pretty doable for the first 12 hours, but clearly I was unable to keep this going and you can see power drop to 148 watts avg at hour 16 and never recover from there. This could be fueling issues, major fatigue, or just what Ultracycling does to you. I might have burned alot of matches with my fast start. I need more experience on very long rides with power to see if I can keep things going stronger at night. You can really see my exuberance in the first four hours. You can really see how I fell into a hole at hours 24-27. I would like to come back soon and work out my fueling and pacing issues and take a few more hours off of my time.
Ride Stats Part 1
Ride Stats Part 2
Ride Stats Part 3