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Furnace Creek 508 (ride report with pictures)(22 posts)

Furnace Creek 508 (ride report with pictures)PeterRider
Oct 15, 2003 9:12 AM
I was crewing for Ibex on the 508... that's a seriously difficult ride. Unfortunately he was not in his best shape and dropped just after time station #6, at mile 430.

The full ride report, with plenty of pictures as usual, is on

Below: saturday night, 12:30am at the top of Townes Pass. Townes Pass was very slow, 8-10% average with sections around 13%, at night and after more than 200 miles...

Oct 15, 2003 9:25 AM
He looks way too fresh for the top of Townes Pass. ;-)

I wish I could do it every year. It's one serious test of your body and mind.

What did him in, ultimately? About 95% of riders list "stomach" as the problem.

So, would you ever ride it?

Level is way too high for mePeterRider
Oct 15, 2003 10:44 AM
Christophe is much stronger than me, and still he was far from the lead.

What got him ? The heat, both on saturday and sunday it was close to 100degrees. We were chatting with another crew, they told us they let the rider sleep in the car about 1.5 hour at the hottest time of the day. Probably a good idea.

Now I'm trying to convince him to do the race across Oregon...

By the way, Doug...PeterRider
Oct 15, 2003 11:20 AM
If you ever put your hand back on this TopoUsa data file, I am interested. Those are apparently small files with .rtd extension.

I took a GPS along and have a log of the ground covered, but it seems that I can transfer the log only to the GPS software and not to TopoUSA.

Stomach Problems During Ultra Eventsmdehner
Oct 15, 2003 11:49 AM
So, are GI problems really that prevalent during ultra events like this one, or do you think many riders use that as a cover for the myriad other causes for a DNF?

Just curious. If the real number is anything approaching 95%, I wonder what strategies can help avoid that problem?
Stomach Problems During Ultra Events_rt_
Oct 15, 2003 12:02 PM
i don't have any real number to prove this but i'd guess that stomach problems really are that prevalent during ultra events (as opposed to a cover up).

it's really tough to find foods that are easily digested on the fly, so to speak. your body desperately needs calories and nutrients but most good stuff requires time for digestion. stuff that is easy to digest, like gu, just messes with your digestive tract after a while. powerbar type stuff is harder to digest and sits in your stomach like a rock after about the 15th bar. real food ceases to be appealing after 15+ hrs of riding.

i think a lot of ultra endurance athletes learn the food combos that work best for them through trial & error and even if it works most of the time it doesn't mean that that combo will work all of the time.

i'm sure there's probably a more scientific & articulate explanation for what i just said, but in general, stomachs/digestive tracks and endurance events are uneasy partners.

rt - never eat a bacon, egg, & cheese breakfast burrito before a 24 hr race
Ultra events and stomach problems...No_sprint
Oct 15, 2003 12:06 PM
You all have more than stomach problems while doing those types of events, you've got to have head problems in the first place just to consider those events!!!!
lol! could be related._rt_
Oct 15, 2003 12:23 PM
ultra events are ridden on your stomachDougSloan
Oct 15, 2003 12:52 PM
Literally. That is overwhelmingly the cause of DNF's.

It's complex, but here's the problem. You are riding as fast as you can over the given distance. It is a race. You are burning far more calories per hour than you can process and replace from carbohydrate. So, you are trying to keep your stomach full the entire time. This, while also drinking at least a quart of water an hour, staying low on aerobars on the flats, breathing, and then climbing at much higher effort levels, with 35,000 feet of climbing in the 508. Yes, the 508 is like doing 5 centuries, each with 7,000 feet of climbing.

At the higher effort levels, blood is diverted from the stomach (and I mean to include intestines, too). So, the food you injested just sits there and ferments.

It's hard to breath with a full stomach all the time, so you want to bypass a some food and feel better now and then. When you do, you go further into glycogen debt, I'll call it (burning faster than you replace). Once in debt, you will not ever get out of debt, unless you slow down or stop, because as we learned, you can only replace 300 CHO calories per hour while riding, and you need to do that just to maintain your average pace.

Now, if you injest too much sugars, you have problems. Undigested sugars build up on your intestines, and this causes gas, bloating, the runs, and dehydration. Your intestinal walls start to work in reverse, because of the high concentration of sugars in them, and pull water from the blood into the GI tract. Thus, you get dehydrated and the runs. It physically hurts, with all the gas, and it's demoralizing to have to stop and relieve yourself multiple times.

Heat, like in the 508, makes it much worse. When it's that hot, you must focus on hydration first, as water is more important than food. When you do, your stomach fills with water, and there's no room for food. It becomes very uncomfortable.

All this while using aerobars? Your abdomen becomes so bloated that your thighs start slapping into it, which isn't real pleasant.

At some point, you just don't want to eat at all. Your brain runs on glucose, and so when that's gone, not only do your muscles shut down, but your brain does, too. I bonked so bad in the 508 that I actually passed out on the bike (went nearly blind and barely stopped before wiping out).

If you know yourself and what you can handle under various conditions, you can idealize your consumption of food, water, and speed. Through much reading and trial and error, I've finally gotten there. I ride the Climb to Kaiser this year on minimal training, purely because I knew exactly how to eat and drink and control my effort. It took a lot of screwing up to learn, though.

My point is that everyone will be different, and you must learn what works for you, but there are some general principles that will get you much closer following fewer blind alleys.

Seee!?!? Clearly one must be a psycho to do this stuff! :) nmNo_sprint
Oct 15, 2003 1:05 PM
Stomach Problems During Ultra Eventsdotkaye
Oct 15, 2003 3:41 PM
Doug has already answered this well. I'd just add that the Ironman distance in triathlon (swim 2.4 miles, bike 112, run 26.2) is usually considered as four events rather than 3: swim, bike, run, eat. The fourth is just as critical as the other 3. You have to practice eating while training at race pace, to see what your digestive system will tolerate. Some people will never race up to their potential in ultra distances simply because they can't absorb nutrients efficiently while exercising.
they are more common on FC508 if anythingcyclopathic
Oct 16, 2003 9:15 AM
due to heat, effort and amount of liquids you're taking on board. In "normal" 65-80F, 40-60% humidity conditions they're pretty rare.
"Christophe is in bad shape, we let him sleep 10 minutes"Kristin
Oct 15, 2003 11:32 AM
LOL. Poor guy. I love your reports.
I hope that you had more for him to eat than one chicken . . .ms
Oct 15, 2003 11:42 AM
Not only do I enjoy your ride pictures, I usually get a good chuckle when I see your food pictures. You must drive the food police crazy. However, this time, when poor Christophe needed every calorie he could get, you feed him baked chicken. Where was the tart au lard or the fast food burgers and fries?
mmmm! tart au lard. mon favorit!_rt_
Oct 15, 2003 11:53 AM
avec une biere Maudite ou Fin de Monde.


No cake au lard, I used the tin for a raisin cake ! :-)PeterRider
Oct 15, 2003 3:17 PM
... which was quite efficient to give him energy. He also liked the roasted chicken. Ah, something that was very good: I had prosciutto. I brought it for me, but he had most of it. Prosciutto has the advantage of proteins+plenty of salt+thin slices, easy to eat.

Prosciutto, fresh figs and coca-cola . . .ms
Oct 15, 2003 4:41 PM
The three things I used to fuel myself on a ride on the Skyline Drive last year. My Clif Bar eating and gel slurping compatriots thought my food supply was "weird," but it worked for me. BTW: I did have some Clif Bars and other, more typical things to eat too.

Many organized centuries that I have done have had fig newtons (I like them, but like fresh figs better) and a few have had coke or pepsi at one of the later rest stops, but I never have seen prosciutto (or even more "normal" ham) at any organized century. You are correct: Prosciutto is an excellent food for a ride.
Nice photos, especially the 90T big ring (nm)chaduardo
Oct 15, 2003 12:31 PM
Great postpedalAZ
Oct 15, 2003 1:22 PM
What a brutal event.
What a ride. Incredible distance and climbing.rwbadley
Oct 15, 2003 7:36 PM
I'm impressed with the physical and mental strength needed to even attempt this event. wow
What is the race across OregonSkooter
Oct 16, 2003 12:54 AM
And how far, and when?
Oct 16, 2003 6:23 AM