Monday, October 25, 2010

Post Enduro Post

I laid there in the dark on Friday night, listening to the wind blow the light rain against the tent walls and wondered if this was such a good idea.  Up until now I had been very enthusiastic, if not excited about the whole thing, but now, in the darkness and cold, doubt was creeping in on little cat feet (apologies to Carl Sandburg).

Tomorrow morning was the San Jacinto Enduro, hosted by some hard working folks from the Idyllwild area.  Ed the Tall and I had blasted down on Friday a bit early.  On the way down we were talking about our relative lack of fitness prep, what with his knee being somewhat broken and my limited time on the bike since August.  I don't think I had been on more than a 2 hour ride since June.  Still, we were excited to be out and ready to pedal a bit and see new places. Fools go where angels fear to tread.

I was committed to the 50 mile loop but Ed was leaving himself open for the full monty, which added a 30 mile loop like a cherry on top.  I figured I could drag myself around for 50, but more than that?  Doubtful.  I am a realist after all.  This was a 'race' in the sense that there would be 'winners' and time keeping, PBRs, etc.  I was just there to survive.  Racing was out of the question.

We found the camp area and set up the tents at the ride start.  There was no one else there and the group camp experience was looking grim.  So, under cloudy skies and cold temps, we headed into town and cruised around a bit, picking up some snacks and breakfast food.  Back to camp, we hooked up with Brendan, talked about the route a bit, and then headed back to town to find some dinner.  Apparently not too many folks were braving the weather for camping.  It was in the low 50s and would be into the mid forties overnight with misty air from all the clouds.  I think that is great camping weather (and Ed does too) so we were happy.

Idyllwild seems to be the restaurant capital of the mountains.  There must be 5 eateries that say they are the best burger on the hill.  Passing on the burger joints, we tried a nice looking Italian place.  It was just a bit fancy for our dress and budget...a 14 dollar salad and 20+ dollar entrees?.....not.  We found a decent cafe' and I had an excellent chicken pot pie. Yum.  THAT would taste good at the end of tomorrow's ride.  I wonder if they deliver to mountain tops?

The ride start was an early one.  We were up by 05:00 at least, and it was dark and cold.  The bikes were dripping wet with dew and visibility was slim.  I layered up pretty well with leg and arm warmers, wool socks, a wool head cover, etc.  A rain jacket was tucked into the Octane 18 hydration pack, which, true to my form, was overpacked.  Not racing, just touring, ya know.

I grabbed a couple of the Blackburn Flea lights and put them on the bars for the 45 minutes of light we would need at the ride start.  I sure did not want to carry my bigger lights all day long.  I had my GPS on the stem too, and it had the ride track in it.

For food, I had 8 or so homemade oat bars, a couple of cheese and cracker packs, two packets of Carbo Rocket, and a Gu flask.  I chose the Epic Marathon for the day, something I questioned a bit later on.

The rider's meeting showed a much smaller field then expected.  Some of the riders were carrying little more than what I bring along for a 2 hour local ride.  Hmmmm...they looked sleek and fast.  I looked like a bag lady wearing my entire wardrobe.  Off we went into the dark and the mist, and then up into the first, long, climb.  Right about then one of my lights turned off.  I whacked it and it came back on and then went to 'red' status.  Hmmm...need to check that when I get home.  One light was fine as the clouds were reflecting a lot of light and there were others around me.  The main pack was a fast moving ribbon of lights way off in the distance.  See ya.

I backed off the pace to let my heart rate come down a bit, and then shut off the lights, enjoying the sunrise trying to get over the clouds with little success.  At some point, the clouds parted enough to see Lake Hemet below us.

About now I looked down at the GPS, which had been fully charged, and the batt level was sitting at maybe 20%...maybe.  Oh, great.  I had a route sheet with mileages, but the cues were obviously written by a local as they said things like "turn left toward town".  Great.  'Left' is relative to which way you are pointing and 'town' is where you find it.  So, a prayer went up regarding fools and failing batteries and on I pedaled, hooking up with Rob for a bit who told me he was coming off of a broken back and his shoulder was still wired together.  Oh.  Tough guy, eh?  My pace was off of his, so he pedaled away after a while.

I had brought just a bit more clothing than I ending up needing, but not by much.  One thing I did do was wear a set of baggies that are really good in wet weather.  The down side is that they are a loose fit at the waist and they would slide down on my butt every few minutes.  I have a callous on my left thumb from pulling up those shorts all day.

Soon enough I was at the bottom of the first segment at 26 miles into the loop.  I had spent a lot of time looking at the route on Google Earth...thanks for that....cuz it saved me in the end.  I knew a big climb, 3500' in 4 miles or so, was next.  I mixed another bottle of fuel, stuffed some food in my mouth and stripped some clothes.  It was still overcast, but warming a bit.  The climb was a hurt-fest and about there I was thinking I should have brought the Lenz with its deeper gearing.  I managed the climb with the 2x10 on the Epic Marathon, but I would have liked to save some energy with something lower than 26X36. I cannot imagine riding this on a SS like some guys did.  Crazy hard.  It was just me and Sam now.  Sam was another tourer and we would ride basically together for the last stretch of the ride.

My frustration with the cue sheets was mounting as the sheet completely ignored signed road intersections and N/S/E/W directions.  Sigh.  The GPS was in such a low batt state that I dared not use it to try and load the route, so it was just a fancy odometer that I reset at known points.  At some point we began to get into the singletracks, none of them signed, and the cue sheets had them listed by the local names....meant nothing to me...but I actually was on route until one point in the ride, then I went afoul.  I was following the best sets of bike tracks I could, but I got on to a rabbit trail that dropped me onto the main dirt road in a wrong place.  Here is where 'left and right' kill ya if you are off route.  But, I knew where I was and what direction I needed to go and I was pretty much on that.  Plus, I was following lots of bike tracks and I figured all good trails lead somewhere eventually.

The trails were twisty and techy a bit, and the ride was only dampened by the nagging thoughts that I was on the wrong track.  I sat down at a road crossing and checked my help there, and the GPS was worthless for showing me the route.  The batt was hanging in there though, so the prayers were answered.  Time for a new GPS.  I found a doubletrack that may have been the one on the route sheet and it had a lot of tire prints on it.  Off I went.  I did not think I was on track, but I could see buildings in the distance and it was a fun trail.  Good enough.  I ended up parallel to a highway and I remember Ed the Tall saying the 24 hour course was next to the road.  I also remember that Brendan had mentioned that if you are off course, you could end up on that trail.  Well, at least I was not lost.

I ran into a rider that confirmed I was on the 24 hour course and that it came right into Hurkey Creek Park right next to our camp sight.  I relaxed and enjoyed the ride into camp, rolling in dead last for the 45 mile group and glad to be there. Ed had passed on the second loop.  His knee was a bit sore and he had really been hurt by the second climb and had called it a day after a bit of route finding, even with his functioning GPS.  He had beat me by 90 minutes or so.

I had a good time, even though I really had no business there among that fast crowd.  I sure did not have the miles in my legs and no training at all beforehand and I was still wearing my 'girdle' after the surgery just in case.

I learned a few things.  Always study the maps before you go.  I spent about an hour looking at Google Earth and that was huge in keeping me feeling like I had the big picture in mind.  Without that, I likely would have flipped around when my GPS became useless for route finding.  I stopped too much.  I always do that...always have.  I stopped to adjust clothing, eat something, check the route sheet, etc....sigh.  One of these days I will show for one of these things dressed sleek and fast like those greyhounds that won this thing and I will pack light and travel like the wind without stopping.  Maybe.  However, I was in an area that was new to me in weather that was wet and quite cold, and I was pretty sure I would be off the back.  If I had any real issues, I wanted to be able to NOT DIE out there.

I would have felt faster with tights and less clothing over the multi layer approach.  It is mostly an emotional feeling, but it helps when the day gets long.  

7.5 hours of pedaling and route finding. 895 times where I hitched up my saggy shorts.  8 oat bars, one Gu flask, two packets of CarboRocket, most of a 100 oz reservoir with Elete in it, and a couple of Cliff Shot Bloks.  I actually felt pretty good at camp.  I fueled well and paced well.  I was almost on course, but never got lost.  I survived.  I will take that for now.  Next year?  Who knows.  Maybe I will try to be fast.

Grannygear, gentleman tourer.

Some of the things that I loved on this ride:
  • Swiftwick socks...Merino wool ones.  Yummy.
  • The Merino wool Buff headwrap.  That rocked.
  • The base layer shirts from Specialized.  I never felt cold even when soaked with sweat.
  • Elete electrolyte additive.  I never cramped, even when the distance and lack of fitness told me I should have.
  • Carbo Rocket.  Brad K. makes a mean tonic.
  • Fluid recovery drink.  Love these guys.
  • KT Tape.  Two strips across the lumbar and my back NEVER hurt.
  • My wife's oat bars.  Tons of energy and easy to eat.  Thanks, hon.
Check the links on my other page for more info on some of this stuff.


Doug Idaho said...

hey good read! I think GT edged you out just a tad on the adventure quotient with his night mud ride but I think I would prefer your ride to his LOL.

grannygear said...

Oh, for sure. GT gets the prize for the suckiest ride experience. This was just pretty hard...his was waaaaayy not-fun sounding.