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experience and knowledge vs. training (C2K)(20 posts)

experience and knowledge vs. training (C2K)DougSloan
Jul 27, 2003 8:08 PM
Five days before the event, I decided to ride the Climb to Kaiser this year. I was very apprehensive, as I had done only 2 hour mountain bike rides a couple times a week the entire month of July, June training was almost nil, and I hadn't even done a century since March.

So, I knew I have to get through this one with my head. First thing I did was put my triple crank on my EV2, then put on a 13-29 cogset to handle the 18% grades with minimal stress on the legs. Added aerobars, which I hadn't used since the 508 team race last fall, to relieve stress on the hands and upper body on the long straight descents and flats. Threw on the QR saddle cover for extra comfort.

I also knew that nutrition and hydration had to be perfect. So, I hyper-hydrated the day and evening before and ate a full pound of Cheetos, a proven method for me. Used a 72 ounce Camelbak plus two bottles with double strength Sustained Energy and 3 flasks of Hammergel. Then, set the countdown timer on the bike computer for 8 minutes to remind to drink very often. Dehydration is a very big concern on this ride, with all the climbing, strong sun at altitude, and 105 degree heat the last 30 miles. Dehydration almost took me out 2 years ago.

All the ultra-riding the last few years have taught me a lot, particularly about the benefits of finding out what nutrition and hydration schemes work for me, as well as the ability to recognize early the symptoms of something going wrong, and then what to do about it. Lots of trial and error to get there, though. This would be key to finishing this ride after only 2-4 hours per week of training the last 2 months.

I made the decision to keep the heart rate down and spin, never, ever stressing the legs. Set the HRM upper alarm for 30 beats under max, low enough to minimize stress on the climbs. This helps when you get caught up with a bunch of others who are also probably going too hard early on for their fitness level (something I've typically done in the past, too).

It was close to 80 degrees, even at the 5:30 a.m. start. Felt good, actually, but not a good sign for what to expect later. Even up in the mountains, it was never chilly, as it usually is.

I hooked up with a group doing about 22 mph on the flat first 20 miles or so. This was starting way back from where I normally would have been, as I've actually led off and on in this event. Big no-no today. This was definitely a different group. I heard many comments to the effect of "I've never ridden in a group this large," or "I really need to work on my group riding." Comforting. Passed a couple of riders down around mile 15, who I later learned had tangled with dog.

I strictly limited my effort on the first large climb, Wildcat Mountain, which is around 2 miles of 12-15% grade. Lots of people passed my early on, only to pass them back closer to the top or as they took an extended break at the top as I blew past and on down the following descent. This was the routine the entire day. I was Mr. Tortoise. Slogging along at a steady pace, with all the Hares speeding past on the climbs, then stopping repeatedly or for long breaks at the rest stops. Over and over and over. I almost got to know people well just saying Hello all the times we passed each other.

I would scream past everyone on the descents, which is somewhat normal for me, especially on these roads I know so well. It freaked me out a little this morning reading in the paper that a rider was killed on one of the big descents. Seems like he broke Rule Number One of descending, "Don't cross the center line," something I never, ever do, unless I can see well ahead. It's a real shame, as it jeopardizes the entire event, not to mention for his family. Saving a little time on an event like this just isn't worth risking your life, and this was after repeated warnings in the route sheets and verbally at the start, which specifically mentioned this descent. Apparently, no one had a clue that this happened during the event, or at least I didn't, as it happened behind me.

At the Shaver Lake rest stop at 5,500 feet on the way up, I almost cracked up when I was looking around at the bikes everywhere. Now, this is well back in mid-pack, to give some context. Imagine these bikes side by side at a stop after over 7,000 feet of climbing: a 25 pound looking hybrid; a C40; a full suspension mountain bike (with slicks); and a Klein with ADA ($3,000) carbon tubular wheels and a Ti Moriati crankset. Hmm. (These guys continued to ride around me for the rest of the day, too.)

Big Creek, the legendary 2,000 foot, 18% climb, was killer as usual. I told some newbies to the event at the water stop at the bottom, "put it in your lowest gear and leave it there." The damn skeptics wouldn't take the advice, then I'd see them totally blown sitting on the side of the road half way up as I chugged by in my 30x29 combo, not having to traverse the road as many non-tripleized riders were. People, the guy who has the course record of 8:23 on this event uses a triple.

Felt almost like bonking a bit on Big Creek, but kept the SE flow up as much as tolerable while climbing an 18% grade in 90 degree heat. Thank goodness for the Camelbak, too. It's so much easier to drink frequently while climbing by just sticking a tube in your mouth than with the bottle routine.

Made it up to Kaiser Pass at 9,300 feet still feeling sort of ok, except for a few points of contact issues, not unexpected when you haven't ridden much in months, callouses all long gone. All the way up kept the pace slow and consistent, never pushing hard. Still couldn't believe the guys, especially these 3 together, who stopped more than a car full of fraternity guys on a beer drinking road trip. Tortoise and hares, tortoise and hares.

Once you reach the pass on this ride, you know you'll be ok, if only you can survive the heat at the end. While it's not *all* downhill going back, in fact there's about 1500 feet of climbing on the return, it's still a 9,000 foot net drop, and boy is it fun. The descent from Tamarack Ridge at 7,600 feet to Shaver Lake at 5,200 feet (below the dam) is almost wide open, and here I average about 45 mph for about 6 miles while sitting comfortably on the aerobars. (Yes, I'm very careful and know the roads very well.)

Survived the descents in good shape, passing dozens of riders on the road and at the stops. Heck, I certainly don't linger at a rest stop when you have 30 minutes of descending right after. Just sat on the bike and sipped on the Camelbak, knowing what would be ahead.

At 3,000 feet you hit a wall of heat, and it was 105 degrees of heat. Had a headwind to boot, which combined with more descending felt like a big blow dryer in the face. I kept my stomach absolutely bloated with water all the way in, and back off the carbos and speed. I've learned well that water is far more important than energy, and sugar in the stomach when hydration is critical can cause problems, making it impossible to get either. So, you just have to slow down, burn fat, and drinking constantly. This, combined with lots of Endurolytes, actually made it relatively comfortable getting through the heat, except that the bloated stomach made if nearly impossible to use the aerobars.

Anyway, made it in at 6:45 p.m., 13 hours and 15 minutes after starting. Two hours and 15 minutes off my best, but still far better than I estimated given my lack of fitness. Totally amazed myself, actually. According to last year's times, this would put me easily in the top half. Don't know about this year, yet. I was just hoping to finish before dark.

The volunteers, the registration, rest stop workers, and SAG drivers were fantastic this year, better than any event I've ever seen. Absolutely top notch. I probably never went more than 10 minutes the whole ride without seeing a SAG motorcycle or car, which is somewhat comforting.

Bottom line, I think the lesson is that you might be able to do much more than you think you can if you are smart about it, even given lack of training. Take low gears, ride well within yourself, and pay critical attention to food and hydration.

Great report, sound advice. Thanks Doug. nmrwbadley
Jul 27, 2003 8:55 PM
Excellent report , great preparation lesson...n.m.koala
Jul 28, 2003 2:26 AM
Cheeto's?Dave Hickey
Jul 28, 2003 5:45 AM
It's the second time I've heard you mention Cheeto's before a ride. Why Cheeto's?
Cheeto's? You bet!DougSloan
Jul 28, 2003 5:50 AM
Number 1 reason, they work (for me, at least). I can only speculate a bit as to why -- lots of salt; lots of carbos; low fiber (fiber gives me gas and potentially frequent #2 breaks); some fat; they taste good. Over and over I've found that when I eat Cheetos, I do well; when I don't, I have more GI problems. I've done this enough (well over 100 rides longer than 10 hours) to know it isn't pure coincidence, at least.

Cheeto's? You bet!Dave Hickey
Jul 28, 2003 6:10 AM
I'll have to try it. I like the idea of a lot of salt. My biggest problem is staying hydrated on long rides. I just don't get thirsty.
Cheeto's? THANK YOU!pitt83
Jul 28, 2003 6:22 AM
I need an excuse to re-intoduce some junk food. I often suffer from GI trouble and will give it a try.
Perhaps Cheeto's will give you a sponsorship.Kristin
Jul 28, 2003 6:40 AM
Bet they'd love a valid selling point to athletes.
How would a Cheetos shirt look with a celeste bike? nmdzrider
Jul 28, 2003 6:46 AM
Way to go. We told you you could do it!dzrider
Jul 28, 2003 6:44 AM
So much of ultra-riding is mental. Patience, preparation, hydration, eloctrolyte replacement make finishing so much more possible.
Great job!CHRoadie
Jul 28, 2003 8:16 AM
You with minimal training, doing the ride on a whim, are still faster than I would be if I'd decided to tackle that puppy a year ago and trained my butt off.


Are we going to see you at the FC508? (I'm going to do SAG support for team Polar Bear)
no wayDougSloan
Jul 28, 2003 9:32 AM
Thanks. No 508 race this year. That's way too much, and no one does that on a whim. I might well crew for someone, though. Payback time. Maybe I'll see you there.

Wrong time...right placeMatt Britter
Jul 28, 2003 9:38 AM
Bad news that a death occured on the C2K, but the new did buzz though the ride very quickly. Probably because everyone was asking about the TdF ITT results.

Six of us from the Central Valley Cyclists (CVC) took off at 6:15am for the 100. We saw the two persons in accidents below Shaver area. The one on Burrough Valley Road must have had 10 emergency vehicles setup on a blind decreaseing corner. So I'm sure the rider went off the edge of the road, which in that area is very cliff like!!

The other guy who got road rash 7 miles from the start, we saw at the Sierra Elementary School rest stop. Shoulder to wrist Rash on his left arm...ouch!

The C2K did have lots of SAG vehicles, but under equiped rest stops, compared to few organized centuries I have done. The Sierra Elementary School stop was the only one that did not limit our water intake. It did have cold water, but the first rest stop at the top of Wild cat was running out of water as we were getting there. We never did find the Auberry Stop? For an event that is always held in the heat of the summer and has a history of 27 years is unacceptible especially for the $$ that is charged.

In any case, the ride was very fun and seemed to fly by when doing it with group who will share duties of pacelining.
Jul 28, 2003 9:52 AM
I must have been on the Big Creek climb about when this happened. Never heard a word about it the rest of the ride, though.

I found plenty of water at every stop, and there was an Auberry water stop; maybe it got started later in the day. I don't even stop at the Wildcat summit, as I carry plenty of water to get to Tollhouse.

Cheetos?That explains the trail of orange sweat on Tollhouse GradeStraightblock
Jul 28, 2003 11:45 AM
My prep for the 100 was simple; just tire inspection & chain lube. I carried only two large bottles of plain water and the Cliff Bar & gel shot that came in the registration packet, and restocked along the way with Gatorade, water, fruit and fig bars from the rest stops.

I checked out the 200+ riders of varying experience in the Kaiser group. I didn't want to start in a 28 mph pace line or ride in a large pack of mixed skill levels, so I decided to wait for the later & smaller century group. The early pace at the front was 21-22 mph, led by 3 guys from a Bay area club, so I rotated pace at the front with them & a couple others to the Watts Valley Road rollers where the group split up.

I was surprised how many riders were undertrained & overgeared. Just past the double switchbacks a mile below the Tollhouse Grade water stop I passed 3 riders with Kaiser bib numbers, already walking their bikes, and another was sitting under a shade tree. One of the walkers looked to be geared 39 x 21. Maybe he thought the entry said Kaiser Criterium. If they were off their bikes that early, they couldn't have made the cutoff times.

I never saw the Auberry water stop either, but I still had one full bottle at that point and kept going.

Riding past Sierra High School a little before 11am, the thermometer on the school's sign read 91°. I knew the Kaiser riders would be dropping into a furnace that afternoon. At the next rest stop I met a friend who was also on the century, joined him, a couple of his clubmates, the three guys from the start of the ride, and had a good quick group for the last 30 miles.

It's unfortunate that it took a fatality to put C2K on the front page of the newspaper, and may lead to its cancellation in the future. This event has had hundreds of thousands of safe miles. I'm also concerned that this incident will escalate problems with some of the foothill & mountain residents who already resent our use of the roads for everyday riding. My prayers go out to the fallen rider & his family, and to the pickup's driver who is also a victim.
walking on Tollhouse?DougSloan
Jul 28, 2003 1:08 PM
I guarantee that anyone walking on Tollhouse would not finish. That's barely a warm up for the real climbing. I've done all the hills on C2K with a 11-21 cassette, and I can tell you it's very painful. That's just stupid to try it for the event. It's not like this event doesn't have a "climbing" reputation.

You can suffer thru a single climb overgearedStraightblock
Jul 28, 2003 1:40 PM
but string 4 or 5 of them together in one day? Forget it.

The first couple of times I rode C2K, back when it was called the Fresno Uphill Climb to Kaiser (I won't use the acronym, Mr. Moderator) I used 42x24, but I'm more than twice as old now and will probably opt for an XT derailler and mtb cassette if/when I do it again.
Valley furnaceMatt Britter
Jul 28, 2003 1:53 PM
The drop along Alder Springs is so quick you can feel the rise in temp during the decent. I agree, it is sad that the only way good community events are on the front page of ANY paper is tragedy.

IMO the police office really spoke a disservice to cycling events and the people who suport them.
MVV rider here!AaronL
Jul 29, 2003 8:45 AM
Hey straightblock,

I was one of the guys you were riding with. I was on the Litespeed. What fun, eh? Did your wife forgive you for riding on her birthday?

I don't know if you read the article in the paper on Sunday, but the CHP sure thinks it was totally the rider's fault. I wonder how they can come to that conclusion so quickly wihtout a full investigation? It sounded like the only two people there were the victim and the driver. It sure seems as if the CHP just blamed the rider without really looking into the facts.

Anyway, it was good riding with you.

re: experience and knowledge vs. training (C2K)aliensporebomb
Jul 29, 2003 7:28 AM
Wow. Sounds like an epic journey to be sure.

I guess I'd have used my mountain bike with a triple with
slicks versus my roadie with a double.

That 45 mph descent sounds like it was a blast.

Thanks for the Cheetos tip (the little bags I see at
the store show Chester the Cheetah riding a mountain
bike with disc brakes so maybe he rides!).

Also, Hydration - huge! The RBR ride I did here sunday
I ran out of water in the last 6-7 miles and there was a
palpable difference in my performance without water. I
was able to bum a few sips from Scot_Gore but it would
have been way worse without it. I went thru 70 ounces
of water in around 3.5 hrs - it was HOT here, I can only
imagine 105+ degree temps. Ow.