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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Rockwell Relay 2014– (Part 5)

In case you want to read the previous parts of this saga you will find them here:

Part 1  --  Part 2  --  Part 3  and Part 4

I rode off into the dark chilly night, a bit on the slow side because last year this is where I passed the turn for Boulder Mountain and had to retrace my route. I did not want to repeat that mistake this year.

I successfully navigated the turn on the first try and began my trek up the mountain side comforted by the sight of other team vehicles passing reassuring me that I was going the right direction.  I was pleased that there was no wind. . . actually there usually isn’t much wind at night, one reason I enjoy my night rides. . . I was feeling good, but the real climbing hadn’t started yet but felt the anticipation mounting as I kept an eye on my GPS showing the grade% as I proceeded upward and forward.

The terrain was slowly going up and I quickly discovered that I was over dressed and getting warm . . . VERY warm indeed and stopped to shed some clothing.

  entering Capitol Reef - 2013 Rockwell file photo

Over dressing causes a person to overheat, impacts performance on multiple levels.  One being if you get too warm on the ascent the descent is that much colder and I didn’t want to freeze which was inevitable with the chill already in the air.
So the wise thing to do was to take 1.5 minutes and shed a layer of clothing to hand off when my team came by.  With this done I instantly felt better and began riding stronger as I cooled down.

As my team came by I handed off the leggins and jacket that I had tied around my waist while waiting for them to arrive, and again instantly felt the freedom and cool air give me an added boost of energy.

becoming more confident that I was stronger than last year was a definite component, it was somewhat disillusioning as I was being passed by cyclists that went by like I was stopped. . . was disheartening and a little deflating which caused me to question myself and whether I would be able to pull this off, especially when I wasn’t passing ANYONE . . .  I WAS THE ONE BEING PASSED!  I rationalized that they were all men, until I was passed by a woman.  I Then reminded myself that last year I had to stop multiple times on this mountain because mentally I was freaking out, this year I was in perfect control. . . except for thoughts of Lions, and Tigers, and Bears. . . and . . . SUPERMAN

. . . other than that I was doing okay!

I reached the 14% grade and kept right on pedaling. This boosted my confidence and ultimately the success of this specific leg, I KNEW I was riding stronger, faster. . . more confident than I was last year. Still slower than I wanted, but I was getting it done and was VERY happy about that.

My team stopped periodically along the route and made sure my needs were met.

It’s always great to see people you care about on the route


As I approached the tree line of the forest, for some obnoxious reason I couldn’t seem to get the prattling volunteer’s warnings going through my head and didn’t realize how wigged out she caused me to become and I expected at any moment sounds of “Lions, and Tigers, and Bears. . . oh my!” to come jumping out on me. . .
Then I began to question whether or not I would be able to discern between the real McCoy and Superman, who had been plotting to hide in the forest and pretend to be some wild animal. --- Something you need to know about Superman, is he can mimic most any animal sound with realistic accuracy--- and I was fully aware of his uncanny ability

. . . Honestly, the whole idea was creeping me out! 

. . . now that I think about it, without the hazards of the Wizard of Oz taunting me, I think, just maybe, I would have been faster. . . for some reason when I become uncertain, or all my senses are in high awareness mode, I seem to loose pedaling focus and I slow down. . .

On the other hand it was Fear and trepidation
that told me DO NOT STOP! 
and it gave me the drive to get this leg over with!
Because it was cool and dark I didn’t need much in the form of nutrition or water, there was one point at one of the steeper sections I was only going about 4. something mph which was slow enough that to attempt a moving hand-off that I would have probably over that I did stop for a brief moment but only about 10 seconds worth.


to say I was greatly relieved when I arrived at the summit I made it without stopping! or without interference of wild beasts that may have been lurking in the forest is an understatement. . . even better I didn’t have to ban Superman to sleeping in the barn with the chickens for an indefinite determined amount of time either. . . he should be glad that he didn’t follow through with his plot Smile

what a thrill it was to have conquered this mountain. . .
it is my hope to do even better next year!
. . . yes, it seems I’m always looking forward to improving next year.   I wasn’t even done with this leg yet and I was already calculating what I needed to do for next year to make it even better.

I know, it’s pathetic, 
but it’s how my psyche works
 and I love it 
. . . it keeps me motivated
it’s what makes me, ME!

At the summit I chose to put on I put on gloves, leggins and a jacket. It was chilly but it didn't feel too cold. 
   elevation boulder mtn

Confident I was adequately dressed down the mountain I ventured.  As you can see from the elevation profile this was a short stint of only 12 miles and and it was ALL DOWNHILL so it would be fast and my team went on ahead to get Superman ready to go.

As it turns out I was 

severely UNDER DRESSED for the descent! 

I was FREEZEING!!! . . .

I was so cold that I found it almost impossible to spin my pedals which didn’t keep the warm blood flowing into my limbs and appendages.  As I continued down the steep, fast descent it became increasingly difficult to move my fingers to apply the brakes as I watched for deer around or on the road, which the probability of  seeing one was a very real.

I was no longer fearing wild beasts. . . or some silly prank from Superman lurking in the bushes to come jumping out at me. . .

Deer are a natural hazard of riding at night, the same as in a car in mountainous terrain and deer as a species are not very bright, they spook easily and then they do stupid things like just stand there staring at you

(ever heard of the “deer in the headlights” cliché?)

  . . . then for no apparent reason, they seem to run the wrong direction

. . . as in straight for the on-coming object. 

This is rarely a good thing for cars
and especially true for cyclists!

The total descent should take less than 30 minutes.  Fortunately the full bright moon helped illuminate my surroundings. . . in fact, it helped considerably.

Becoming colder as the miles crawled by, I was continually doing the calculations in my head. . .

9 miles to go. . . 

seriously, I’d ONLY GONE A MEASLY 3 MILES? 

Which meant I had roughly 20 minutes of ride time to the bottom.  The problem was the colder I became the longer it was seeming to take and this section that should have been super fast. . . and fun. . . was not being either!

I kept waiting for the warm pockets of air that typically naturally occur as elevation is decreased

. . . it wasn’t happening.  

I attempted to put a hand under my arm to warm my fingers, but needed both hands to control my bike as I was cold enough that my shoulders were not fluid enough to steer in control. 

As I became more and more concerned about what if I DID NEED TO STOP for something. . . I honestly didn’t know If I would be able to make that happen and if I did would I be able to move my frozen limbs to un-clip and dismount my bike??? 

2013 791

As these questions and concerns presented themselves, I tried standing on the pedals to test the legs, both my hips and legs were definitely sluggish and certainly did not want to move.  My face was frozen and with all my heart I wished I had put on a few extra layers of clothing for this.  But there was nothing I could do except somehow get down off this mountain.  I thought of the pioneers stranded in Martins Cove and counted my blessings that I knew without doubt this ordeal would be over in a few minutes

. . . not several days 
as they had endured and the thought gave me courage to keep going.

As the time and miles ticked on and the more frozen I became the more hesitant and sluggish I rode.  As a natural result it took 40 minutes to get to the exchange

. . . about 10 minutes longer than I was expecting

As I arrived in Boulder at 1:58 am I didn’t see Superman

. . . and How I NEEDED him right at that moment!   

I was frozen to the point of barely being able to talk 
and moving was slow and cumbersome.

Doug and Linda were there and literally had to hold my bike so I could get off

Superman evidently just in front of me, was ready to go, and didn't realize what condition I was in.  I don’t recall Linda taking the "baton slap on bracelet thingy" off of my bike handing it off to Superman so he could be on his way, and there is a vague recollection of other people standing there concerned as my team helped me get out of the path of other cyclists. . . I was not in good shape.

Linda and Doug took good care of me as I wrapped up in a blanket and simply sat there in the front seat with the heater going full blast, as I slowly regained my senses and feeling to my appendages as the shivering cold slowly melted away to fatigue. . . But it was my turn to support, and the ride continued.

Next year:  I will take the time to dress more appropriately and have hot cocoa after the descent. . . even if I don’t use the cocoa it will be worth having it there

. . . . yup there is a LOT of stuff required to ride a bicycle!

It’s fascinating how the temperatures will vary so dramatically from day to night in the desert.
Granted we were in the mountains, but going from 100+°f down to somewhere in the mid 30’s is a pretty big spread.

In the end I trimmed 34 minutes off of last years time which is quite a lot considering this section is only 39 miles long and most of it is climbing over a mountain. . .  In the end I was a happy camper :)

but now, as the saga continues. . .  it’s time to see where Superman is!  He had been riding for over 30 minutes, which is quite a long time. . .

That's enough for today. . . I'll be back again next week with more of the story to tell!

I hope you are enjoying you own journey through life as I am :)


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