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Well I finished my first 6 day ride.....(Ramble)(13 posts)

Well I finished my first 6 day ride.....(Ramble)Len J
Aug 28, 2001 12:47 PM
last week. Completed the AIDS Alaska ride. 400 miles from Fairbanks to Anchorage. What an amazing trip. Some observations & learnings:

1.)The cumulative effect of multiple days of hard hilly riding is much more severe than I expected. This is compounded by sleeping on the ground in a tent. While I finished, it was much harder than I expected. Day 4 was the hump day for me. The last 18 miles on day 4 were the hardest 18 miles I have ever ridden. Headwind, Hills, and cumulative aches, pains and sleep deprivation contributed to 1 plus hours of pure mental effort. I have never wanted to quit more or been so proud of myself for not quitting.

2.) Good bike maintenance and knowing how to take care of your bike pays off. Many mechanical problems resulted in people being SAGGED, I was able to finish by adjusting, lubing and fixing every night and knowing how to fix a broken chain during day 5.

3.) I can get up just about any hill if I underestimate my capability, overgear & don't worry about speed. Because of where I live my hill training was less than I would have liked. There were several severe hills during the week, plus some days of 4000+ ft of climbing. I took a triple, a 12X27 cassette and left my ego at home. As a result I was able to get up every hill, albeit not quickly.

4.) A rear rack bag dramatically changes the bike handling. I had never ridden with a rack bag before. I put one on for this ride in order to have a place for a camera & clothes & rain gear as I de-layered. The first hill I tried to climb out of the saddle, I almost killed myself as I leaned the Bike right & it almost fell over. (DUH) Took some getting used to.

5.) This ride was about more than the bike. This was an amazing experience. The combination of the positive and supportive attitude of the people with the most incredible scenery and a bike ride made this a week I won't soon forget. I learned about myself, and the power of kindness. What a gift.

Enough ramble, just wanted to share my thought.

Aug 28, 2001 1:04 PM
Sounds like you had a great time and learned something too. Revel in your accomplishment. You've definitely earned it. My hat's off to you.

Happy riding.

Congrats - I am doing a 9 day in Oct...Bonee
Aug 28, 2001 1:46 PM
Sounds like a lot of fun and a great experience. I am doing a 9-day 612 mile for Arthritis from San Fran to San Diego in October. I have a feeling the consecutive days and tent sleeping is going to be a lot tougher than I am expecting, and I'm expecting it to be tough. I don't think the hills will be as tough as yours sound though which I am sure makes a big difference physically and mentally.

Attention Tent SleepersLone Gunman
Aug 28, 2001 4:29 PM
Tent camping can be a great experience if you don't skimp on gear. Good gear makes the diff from starting each day rested or in pain from sleeping on hard ground. Staples are solid water tight tent, Campmor has a good selection and good prices, a wide comfortable sleep pad air mattress, go try a few out at a Sporting Gooods store, also avail from Campmor, and a sleeping bag compatable to the temp prediction -10 degrees or so that is nylon inside and out with synthetic filling. And a pillow, although a pillow case with any available dry clothing will work. Aside from gear an article appears in Bicycling this month on self massage, does wonders on a long tour. Also have a sleep med aid if you fear having trouble sleeping outside and try your gear out several times before you go to use it on the trip!!
Attention Tent SleepersLen J
Aug 29, 2001 4:21 AM
Good advice. My problem wasn't gear related as much as hearing and Pee break related.

I would take earplugs next time as the camp noise of 1600 people kept me awake.

I over hydrated most days & ended up needing to Pee 1 or 2 times during the night. Getting completely dressed to walk to the porta pottie would wake me up completely.

Good advice non the less.

Don't camp near them!!Jay H
Aug 29, 2001 11:06 AM
Simple solution Len, camp somewhere else. Other than camp 1, I tried to camp far but near the tent city. I used my own tent (an orange/white Walrus Zoid 2.0) and pitched my tent far away from the masses cause I like my privacy and quiteness, and plus, I wasn't camping on rocks the size of baseballs and in puddles or glacier beds. Even people with Palotta tents were camping with us. Definitely more scenic also, I woke up with views of the mountains, not the tent next door!

Congrats - I am doing a 9 day in Oct...Len J
Aug 29, 2001 4:14 AM

I've never ridden this route, but several people on the AIDS ride who also had done the calif AIDS ride (San Fran to LA) commented that some of the hills between SF & LA were worse than anything encountered in Alaska. As someone posted below, Pace yourself.

Good Luck.
Different routeBonee
Aug 29, 2001 8:12 AM
I took a peak at the AIDS ride a few weeks ago and it looks like they did a different route with the exception of the first day. The AIDS ride goes inland after the first day.

The route we are going is pretty much route "1" all the way. Still some hills but not as bad as inland. Plus we get the tail winds blowing down the coast and it won't be anywhere near as hot as it would be inland.

Thanks for the heads up though.
Congrats - I am doing a 9 day in Oct...Jay H
Aug 29, 2001 11:03 AM
All I can say is bring a thermarest or a self-inflatable air matress.. Helps immensely on camping on ground. In Alaska, I think Pallotta went out of it's way to find the most rockiest campsites known to man. Those damm glaciers!!! :-)

Hi Len, I'm surprised you recognized me.. I saw so many Lemond's, I thought it was all going to drive me nuts..!! Especially when I ran into you, you were riding in a trio of lemonds... Funny, just before I saw you, I ran into a trio with people with backpacks on!!!

I'm enviousDog
Aug 28, 2001 3:11 PM
Sounds like fun. You might want to look into the PAC Tours. They have several options of supported tours. I wish I had the time for it.

Thanks! Is there a web Site (nm).Len J
Aug 29, 2001 4:15 AM
I would recommend such tours to anyone ...bianchi boy
Aug 28, 2001 7:50 PM
I rode the 400-mile GOBA tour (Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure)in June and similar distance BRAG (Bike Ride Across Georgia)about 17 years ago. These kind of rides are great fun and great way to vacation. What you say about the cumulative effect of long rides, day after day, is the same thing I've found. You really have to pace yourself. By the 3rd or 4th day, you are hitting those low gears quicker and quicker. A couple of other points I would add to your list are:

1. Make sure your bicycle is fully maintained with good tires, tubes, cleaned and lubed chain, and gears adjusted before you leave.

2. Find a tour that is fully sagged, so you don't have to carry anything but your water bottles and seat bag.

3. Don't make it into a race. Take time to smell the flowers, see the sites, take photos, meet other people, stop and look at quirky roadside attractions and little towns, eat at the local restaurants.

4. You might be more comfortable in a motel, but you'll meet more people and have more fun if you camp out along the way.

5. Be on guard, put a mirror on your bike, and watch out for inexperienced riders.
Good advice!....Len J
Aug 29, 2001 4:24 AM
Only thing that doesn't fit my experience is your #2. This was a fully SAGGED ride but I still needed a larger bag due to dramatic changes in weather in Alaska. Wake up & its 35 degrees, rain and cold wind at some point during every day, By mid afternoon it sometimes was 65 degrees. I needed someplace to put clothes and rain gear as I de-layered.