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Reflections on a long weekend(33 posts)

Reflections on a long weekendDog
Apr 23, 2001 6:53 PM
Made it through the Furnace Creek Spring Preview ( ). About 470 miles, tons of climbing, lots of strong headwinds, no drafting. Yes, I'm sore.

First day: Mohave to Panamint Springs. 134 miles at 22 mph. Heck of a tailwind nearly the whole way. Hit over 55 mph in several areas that weren't even that steep. One section of road about ten miles long that must be among the worst roads in America. Very bumpy, no, "cratered". I had to keep checking to see if parts were falling off my bike.

Second day: 124 miles from Panamint, starting with a 4,000 foot climb to Town Pass (over 5,000 feet elevation), to Stovepipe Wells (now really in Death Valley), up to Scotty's Castle (3,000 foot climb), and back to Stovepipe. Hit 64 mph down the east side of Town Pass with my jacket flapping in the wind and lots of clothes on, braking for corners and before "going off a cliff" type humps in the road. 70 mph is certainly possible on this road. Tons of headwinds on the 45 miles back from Scotty's. Really, really tough to stay on the aerobars at 9 mph. Remember, no drafting. Constant headwinds are tough on you.

Third day: 101 miles, Stovepipe, south through Death Valley (200 feet below sea level) to Furnace Creek, up a monster climb to Dante's View (over 5,000 feet), topped off with a 18% climb at the top, and back. Got headwinds both ways (the desert is infamous for that). It's really weird to climb for 10 minutes and then see a sign that says "Sea Level".

Fouth day: Stovepipe up the east side of Town Pass (up the hill I hit 64 mph coming down, so you can imagine the climb!), down 4,000 feet, up 5,000 feet headed west, down to Lone Pine, then up Mt. Whitney. Yes, I'm wearing down. Was hurting really bad up the first climb, as I didn't have low enough gears to spin (39x25), and I was too tired to stand much. Just imagine riding up a 64 mph hill in a 25 cog after 350 miles in the previous days. It hurt. However, that was nothing compared to Whitney. Much steeper and longer, and I was more tired. Didn't make it all the way to the top - only one guy, a multiple RAAM finisher with a triple chainring, did.


On long, multiple day, hard rides, comfort is vital. My Selle Italia Flite, while very comfortable for even doubles, was not up to the task. My pelvic bones feel bruised. On the 4th day, it hurt so bad it started to make my legs numb unless I stood a lot. Not good. I'm experimenting with a Terry Dragon now. The Look 206 pedals are absolutely the most comfortable I've ever had. Never, ever, felt the slightest pressure or discomfort with them, and we were riding very hard most of the time. They have a very wide platform. Plus, they are the lightest Looks. The Syntace aerobars felt fine, and made me very aero and comfortable. The C40 was a dream (no pun intended). I can't imagine a more comfortable bike, but then I've not ridden a Softride, which are used by many RAAM'ers.

I guess I was eating well, as I actually gained 3 pounds after 470 miles of hard riding. Might just be my legs swelled up, though (I'm serious).

Salt/potassium tablets worked well.

Chamois Butter - get some and use it liberally on long rides. It WILL save your a$$ from chafing (literally).

A great weekend. I'd highly recommend it for anyone wanting to explore the ultra side of cycling, and especially if you are considering something like the 508 race. Lots of good people there to talk to and get advice from, like Chris Kostman (completed RAAM at age 20), Peter Pop (multiple RAAM finisher - who I rode "with" much of the time), Seana Hogan (women's RAAM record holder), and others who have done it all, including races across Australia.

Lots of fun. Did I mention I'm sore?

Can honestly say I thought about you this weekend...biknben
Apr 23, 2001 7:07 PM
I should reply to that other post about addictions to this board but I'm in denial. Hadn't seen your name in a few days and remembered you said you were doing the ultra thing this weekend.

Surprised to hear you didn't use the SLR saddle. Just kiddin.

Nice riding...Keep it up.
Well done man!bigdave
Apr 23, 2001 7:09 PM
That's some serious riding... I am impressed, but that's coming from a guy in WI who has yet to do a 100-mile day yet this year. :-)

I'm not sure I'd ever be into that sort of thing, but one of my teammates is and it's pretty impressive.

Keep it up!

re: Reflections on a long weekendSkip
Apr 23, 2001 7:18 PM
Major Congratulations!
Apr 23, 2001 9:15 PM
Those are a couple of days of mighty tough riding. But at the end of it you must have felt a sense of achievement. Is the look 206 an old model? never seen it stocked before...

I was just looking today at the description of the Cycle Tour of Colorado and was thinking how great it would be to ride thru beautiful colorado rockies. Your account brought me down to earth, literally. Need to consider a 13-28 or even a triple, if I dexcide to do it.

I thought it was interesting that you gained weight after 4-5 days of hard riding. can anyone explain that. I have noticed that if I stop cycling i lose weight--maybe i am losing muscle mass...
get the tripleDog
Apr 24, 2001 6:33 AM
Get the triple. You will use it. I wished I'd had one, or at least a 27 or even 32 tooth cog. I'm building a pure climbing bike with a 48/38 in front and a 12-34 XTR cassette in the rear now. That's one way to go, if you don't want to hassle with the triple conversion.

On the long rides with big climbs, you must save your leg power like a precious commodity. Being able to spin does that, and you may actually make more power doing so. Maybe Armstrong is on to something?

I think I gained weight simply because I was eating a lot. The others there said the same thing happens to them. I drank several cans of Ensure Plus every day and snacked constantly after getting off the bike. It will be more telling to see how fast it comes back off now.

The Look PP206 is still available. I got mine at Excel. This pedal is seemingly overlooked for some reason, but a very good choice.

MTB gearingBreck
Apr 24, 2001 8:30 AM
The reason the 12-34 works on mountain trails is that they (the trails) are not constant-graded. You change into the needed gear before the belly-up or technical trail challenge. Roads even where steep tend to be constant-graded and you get into the gear after the transitional grade.

The down-fall of MTB cassette wide-spaced-gearing applied to the road is you can get no rhythm at times for you find your self in-between gears, and go back-n-forth hunting for the "right" gear. The down-fall of current road triples is, even thoug one can run a tighter rear block, there is not enuff big-middle-small ring options to select good dedicated road riding in precipitous mountain pave country.

A great Death Valley ride would be MTB Titus canyon down to Ryolite & return. Mount Whitney ( 14,495 ft. ), try the Mountaineer's Route for real climbing ... jes kidding.

BTW, the view to the Panimint Range and Telescope Peak , one has a clear bottom-to-top view of a mountain from it's base to the 11,049 ft peak ... a rare treat.

Sound like you had fun, and did not suffer so as the Manly Party in '49.

Thanks for sharing...
advantages & differences Ive noticed with MTB gearing.Jimbob
Apr 24, 2001 9:52 AM
One nice thing about a MTB cassette is the fact that when you go out of the saddle for climbing or whatever you only have to upshift one or two times, where on a road bike with tight cluster when going from sitting to standing you have to grab about 3-4 gears.

Like mentioned above, it is a little harder to get the perfect cadence though. But it seems like it makes the rider more adaptable to a wider range of cadences. I do enjoy the tightness of my road cluster after coming off the MTB.

Lastly, on a properly adjusted MTB you should be able to shift pretty much any time you want. Even while climbing or technical situations (with Gripshift its harder while doing technical sections). With the exception of the front, under really high power pedaling, the der. spring wont over come your power.
mtb mountain Vs road mountain bikesBreck
Apr 24, 2001 11:56 AM
I believe steep twist-and-turn rutted, rocky single track MTB technical climbing with no dabs to be much different than a road bike more or less adapted to steep plenty-of-room to maneuver pave. The MTB terrain gives you no room for error. The steep road pave is more a matter of muscle than finesse. How many times have you seen a great fit roady crumble on the trail and vice-versa? Plenty.

What brings us together may be available rear cassette options that were made up for more wide-range use than route-specific & possibly the triple. Typically our road routes are loop-type so we have the same amount of climbing as descending, and can reverse the direction of the loop for more steep climbs in one direction than the other. This requires good down hill speed along with up-hill climbing so hence the wide range cog set & wide range double or triple. A road bike "climber" set up for point to point though could be more cog set specific; more chain ring specific too.

Now a days most buy the spider or yoke type cassettes that are fixed cog spacing past the first couple of cogs. The are riveted together so no options. The older 8-speeds pinned and put on the free body, one could take apart and build to "spec". That is have one specific set available for different climbs. EZ to change & minor rear dX adjustment.

If were going to build a road mountain climber would start from scratch on the drawing board at least. Use 650 wheel set, 175mm crank arms, pay attention to wheel base and rear triangle stiffness. Go Campy ten speed (more is better) and build up the cog set if possible (would require spacers and loose cogs). Look at front chain ring combos and across-the-rings shifting patterns to stair-step the gearing in smaller delta gear inches. Down tube shifters for me (jes my pref) & carefully pick out a light wheel set.

This would make a good aside discussion where mtb'ers & roadies could come together ... maybe the only place.

You had some good points to factor in.

He's sore ...Humma Hah
Apr 24, 2001 12:47 PM
... soreness is usually accompanied by temporary weight gain. You need to wait until the soreness subides to get a reliable measure.

The other interesting measure would be bodyfat changes. It is quite possible Doug will have put on some muscle due to this ride, and lost some fat, although he's very fit to start with. If I survived such a ride, I'd expect to see a 1-2% drop in bodyfat, based on what I'll see after a century.
dude, you really are in a league of your own (nm)Haiku d'état
Apr 24, 2001 4:44 AM
Would you be interested in the GRRixiz
Apr 24, 2001 4:44 AM
Gold Rush Randonee 1200km in JULY 9-13
with approximately 26000 feet of elevation gain
Doug... compare it to 'racing'JBergland
Apr 24, 2001 5:28 AM
I seem to recall a post where you talked about different priorities becoming more and less important in your life and 'racing' (RR, crits, etc.) was something that you just didn't have enough time for... or something like that.

How does Furnace Creek compare to 'racing'? Was it just as enjoyable? Even MORE fun? How about training/prep... I would think with those kinds of distances that you would spend a great deal of time logging on miles each week?

470 miles in 4 days... that is GREAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
'ultra' compared to racingDog
Apr 24, 2001 6:30 AM
Actually, it seems that ultra cycling can take even less time than road racing. Sounds weird, I know. But, you don't have travel and race nearly every weekend, but only do the events every so often. There is a lot more flexibility in scheduling.

Ultra is by no means a team sport, except during the long supported events, where your crew is your team. It is purely you against yourself. Much more thinking is required, believe it or not, compared to road racing. In RR, you pretty much do what it takes to stay with the group, except for the occasional break, and it only lasts a few hours. Longer, solo riding required constant reassessment, planning, and real focus to appropriately gauge your output, position on the bike, fatigue level, etc. You cannot simply blast away.

Comfort and efficiency are vital on the longer distances. While you may be able to tolerate, even benefit from, things that are uncomfortable for a 60 mile race, discomfort will seriously hamper you on the longer hard rides. I found this out the fourth day when my saddle really hurt me. I had a problem sometimes staying low on the aerobars for really long times, but I think that will improve while using them more.

You can't simply stand and hammer up hills like you do RR. You'll wear out your legs. I found that if I can keep my rpms up to around 90, I could make much more power and sustain a higher heart rate than if I slog along at 50 rpms and out of the saddle frequently. Makes a big difference in those really long climbs.

Over all, the ultra people are nicer, I'd say. Don't get any of the arrogant jerk attitudes so pervasive in RR. A much friendlier group. But, they also tend to be very comfortable riding alone, which is vital.

I like it more, but maybe that's largely because I'm relatively better at it. There seems to be a much greater need for planning and thinking, versus raw power and talent. I think the achievements are more memorable and meaningful - I'd rather place 5th in the 508 than win a bunch of road races. Every event is epic. Every ride is memorable, at least for me.

Here's the real important question.......Lazy
Apr 24, 2001 5:50 AM
But first, congrats. That's quite an accomplishment.

Now, on to the important stuff:

1) What sunscreen did you use?

2) Just kidding. Nice work.

45 sunblockDog
Apr 24, 2001 6:37 AM
Still got burned a bit anyway. Must go with zinc oxide, I think, on my nose for these things. Regular block just isn't enough.


Good thinkingLazy
Apr 24, 2001 8:10 AM
It seems you could change your name to Melanoma Marvin pretty quickly doing that sort of thing.

Zinc'll make you look tough and intimidating too. Maybe you could come up with some sort of war paint scheme. Not only that, but you can get different colors now so you can match your bike/jersey/helmet/whatever. LOL

How was your mental state during all this? I was watching an "The Discovery Channel Adventure Race" last night. They were doing physiological studies on one of the teams. After a couple days, they were pretty loopy. If it's on again (as everything on that channel is) I recommend it. Very interesting, and after this weekend, I'm sure you can identify with some of what those folks were going through.
Great Job!!slbenz
Apr 24, 2001 5:57 AM
My hat is off to you! I thought I rode a long distance this past weekend. I completed the Primavera Century showing an odometer reading of 103 miles (got lost along the way) with 4800' of elevation. We of this forum are not worthy! Did it on a Selle Italia Flite SLR saddle. Funny biknben mentioned about that saddle. I can say that I didn't have problems with it at all during and especially after my ride. I guess two layers of padding helped. Congratulations again on your epic ride. We all should only be as good. Happy riding!
re: Reflections on a long weekendMeDotOrg
Apr 24, 2001 6:28 AM
Yesterday I did a short loop - 42 Miles - (San Francisco - Fairfax) and did a personal best 19 m.p.h. average outbound. I was feeling pretty good about it Doug, until I read your post.

134 Miles at 22 m.p.h.? That's...well...awe-inspiring doesn't quite cover it...

Thanks for the tip on the Chamois butter - I'm doing the California Aids ride in June and will definitely bring some along...
Apr 24, 2001 7:21 AM
I've occasionally had trouble with my feet swelling on doubles and sometimes even centuries. I've thought about taking along a second, larger, pair for late in rides. Did you have any problems in this area, and what shoes do you use, anyway?
Apr 24, 2001 1:42 PM
I use the Vittoria Carbon Blitz. They fit me well, are light, and very stiff. But, shoes are a very personal fit sort of thing.

For the most part, I pretty much ignore my feet. At times, my toes might get a little numb, but I just let them. They don't do anything, anyway. As long as there is no pain, it seems ok to me. I think I'd just loosen them up a little rather than carry another pair.

Pedaling style seems to affect foot comfort, too. For longer rides, where peak power isn't that important, I tend to go with a heel down stroke, which keeps me from pushing my feet toward the front of my shoes. Maybe that might help.

whew. that's about all I can muster. whew. I'm sore justbill
Apr 24, 2001 7:26 AM
thinking about it.
You know, though, this ultra stuff is gonna give us mere mortals a complex. We got one guy apologizing for a 19 mph solo on a 42 mile loop, which he describes as a "short loop." You remain intimidating as hell. I went 45 along the Potomac River on Sunday, and, while it wasn't a chore, I was tired, and I didn't clock out at any 19 mph, either (about 16.5, which, solo, with lots of stops and starts and holding back to pass folks, I wasn't too unhappy about, especially considering that I really was just having fun). Actually, the good part was that it wasn't a chore at all; it was just fun, even on a multi-use trail. Sometimes the crowded conditions seem like a huge pain in the a**, but for whatever reason, on Sunday it was great seeing everyone out, even though I had to thread through roller bladers, bikes with knobby tires (why do people ride knobby on pavement?), grandmas and their little charges out four-wheeling, walkers, runners, trail-a-bikers, Burley-pullers, etc., etc. The view down the Potomac River was great. Even the air smelled great. But enough about me.
Congratulations. You should be extremely proud. I was thinking about you, too, over the weekend, sort of marveling at what you put your skinny ass through, Doug. Is it really something you'd do again?
all about building upDog
Apr 24, 2001 1:44 PM
Hey, believe it or not, four years ago I took my mountain bike for a 20 mile road ride and was sore for days. I had been just mountain biking short rides. I've just consistently built up endurance since then, always stretching the envelope a little further and further.

That 22 mph average was with a big tailwind, don't forget. That makes a huge difference. It was really no big deal, in fact, my heart rate averaged only 130 (my max is 187) for the whole day.

Also, possibly contrary to intuition, it's the intensity of training, rather than just lots of miles, that enables us to go long somewhat comfortably. If your capacity for speed it higher, then you are riding at a lower percentage of your capacity on these things, which means you can go longer. Many of the ultra coaches preach quality rather than quantity.

I'll certainly do it again. Actually, looking for more events, like the one mentioned by ixiz above.

On an adventure like that, does your HR increase through thebill
Apr 24, 2001 2:18 PM
day for otherwise consistent levels of work? Did it increase over the days for otherwise consistent levels of work? What were your HR levels? What was your HR range?
heart ratesDog
Apr 24, 2001 3:45 PM
My max is 187.

Cruising along at 18 mph, no wind or hill, it would be around 130. Fatigue doesn't seem to make much of a difference. It doesn't change as the day goes on.

Climbing in gears that are too tall, where I have to mash a lot, I can't get it much over 140-145 for very long. The muscles just can't sustain it. Heart rate seems to be closely associated with actual power output, not pressure on the pedals, as some might assume. I know that I can make just under 1000 watts spinning madly, but only around 700 watts standing out of the saddle. The hr would be much higher for the maximum wattage vs. the maximum pedal pressure. The body is simply doing more work, and it takes more oxygen to do it. Sort of like a car using more fuel at peak horsepower, which is usually a pretty high rpm, vs. peak torque, which tends to be lower.

Climbing longer, but not so steep hills, where I can spin around 90 rpms, I can get the hr up to around 160 and keep it there indefinitely, as long as I eat, drink, and really focus on efficiency and breathing. That is about redlined for a long climb. With the same hr on flat ground, that would put me around 20-21 mph in neutral wind. If I go much over that, I know I'll burn up my glycogen quickly, produce lactic acid, and have a shortened duration.

I time trial at around 170-175 bpm. This is really maxing out, going a little more and more anaerobic, with limited duration. This is breathing really hard, with lots of lactic acid pain. Same thing if I were to push the same effort up a hill. Might work for a 10 minute hill, but not a 1 hour hill. Plus, I'd never do this if there were miles and miles to go for the day. I'd be pretty wasted. Road racing, this isn't so bad, as you usually can recover drafting the group after the hill, plus everyone else is suffering too.

It really pays, at least for me, to closely pay attention to these things on my rides. I learn what I can sustain, and what I can't. That's really important. You don't become a slave to your hrm, but you do use it as an important peice of information.

but what we want to know is...Duane Gran
Apr 24, 2001 7:54 AM
Are you riding today, or taking a day off? Just kidding. :)

Man, this is very cool stuff. Way to raise the bar.
re: Reflections on a long weekendDinosaur
Apr 24, 2001 9:25 AM
Just reading your post made me feel tired. Think I'll lay down and take a nap.
re: Reflections on a long weekendLLSmith
Apr 24, 2001 11:55 AM
Congratulations! Those of us that struggle along trying to put on the miles realize that is one heck of an accomplishment.Definitely something to be proud of.Larry Smith
keep us posted on your saddle choicesnuke
Apr 24, 2001 3:10 PM
First...GREAT POST!!!

I ride a Selle Italia Ti Flite Gel and yeah, I've also noticed that on long rides 100 or better that it does wear on me. I have tried a non-gel of the same model and really can't tell the difference.

I read with interest your thoughts on trying out a Terry Fly. Keep us posted on what you think of that one. Even though someone on the Triathlon message board is saying that the Terry Fly is more suitable for smaller framed guys. And...I'm most definitely not small.

I've also got my eyes on Fizik Pave. Yup, I saw the notes about the loose screw.

About saddles12x23
Apr 24, 2001 3:23 PM
Have you tried the San Marco Era? I switched from the Flite last year and found this saddle much more comfortable. My butt says it is a huge improvement in comfort over the Flite.
big congrats!!ET
Apr 25, 2001 5:28 AM
Amazing as always Hard to find fault with a saddle that can handle doubles. Maybe you just have to build up more for this kind of mileage.
I live vicariously through you.E3
Apr 25, 2001 6:20 AM
Actually, I'm in awe and, yes, somewhat jealous of your feats. You have the ability to ride like I dream of, dammit!

Between my bad back, time and family constraints, and a body that feels like it's aging too rapidly (I'm 38, but some parts are 80), my prospects of multiple long days in the saddle are dimming. Yeah, I'm whining.

Keep it up. You have a gift, keep taking full advantage of it.
re: Reflections on a long weekendkyvdh
Apr 25, 2001 9:03 AM
Just curious, have you ever tried or considered a Brooks saddle? I don't have one but there sure are those who are into touring long distances who wouldn't be without there long time friend.