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Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Ultimate Challenge 2015–Part 2


It seems strange to be writing about this as it is a blizzard outside, we went skiing Saturday, and I have been getting e-mail updates for Ultimate Challenge 2016, but alas life is what it is and today I am continuing on with my saga of an event from 2015. . .

to read about part 1, click here 


I’m sad that there are not more pictures, 


Superman was driving, and thought Charcie’s husband was getting pictures, but it turns out he didn’t get as many as we thought. . .


allow me to say it again, it’s a sad day


very sad indeed


I feel it fair to tell you all,


There are not many pictures of this event and I learned something new, there are a TON of “Ultimate Challenge” events across the nation. . . who would have guessed?

and interestingly enough. . .


UC 9a

one of my blog pics made it to the google search image list

. . . imagine that


some of the pictures here are from Charcie, a professional photographer
aka: Milestone Photography and from the Ultimate Challenge fb page

Now, picking up from where I left off from last time,


I had just reconnected with the Velocia group. . .


Ultimate Challenge pic 461
  
This just so happens to be Becca’s bike!


The group took off as I gave Superman anything extra I had in my pockets that was no longer needed or wanted at the moment.

 
It was a comfort to my heart knowing that my support crew was not going to be far off if I needed something. . .


so I got rid of EVERYTHING. . . 


except nutritional essentials.


There was no time to look at my power meter dilemma, the group had left and I needed to catch them, but at least Superman was aware of it.


Because he had come up the way I was going down, he warned me of a couple of hazards down the road and off I went. . .


happy that everyone was together.



IMG_20160327_171256230


The little Actress was the perfect support as she cheered me on and rang her cow bell. . .

 
a wonderful sound for a cyclist.


She was meeting her Aunt & Uncle in Coalville to spend the weekend with them, and I missed her bright smiling face when she was no longer with us for this journey of endurance.
 
East Canyon – A short little climb
      • 1.6 Miles
      • 361 foot elevation gain
      • Average Grade 4.1%
      • Max Grade 10.5%

Heidi is a strong rider, stronger than any one of our group and ended up forging ahead of us.

I attempted to keep up but simply couldn’t hang, but was glad she did go ahead, it would have been a long miserable day for her had she stuck with us at our pace. . . 


so now our group was down to five.



The morning was cold, especially the descent.  As I caught up with the group and forged ahead with temps that felt somewhere around the low to mid 50’s, and as we went up and around East Canyon Dam, the air was humid, misty, wet, and cold.

 
My glasses quickly became unusable as the mist covered them in water making it so I couldn’t see, at all.


I ended up taking them off.


and I was beginning to think that I was going to have to wear my leggings and arm warmers the entire day.

 
We were working together, sort of. . . 


as we progressed forward the differing opinions on how we should be approaching the challenges of this ride were consistently cropping up and were hindering our effectiveness. . .


 
communication was a HUGE problem.
 

It was at this point we realized, what we already knew: 

 
training rides as a group are a critical component when desiring to ride as a team so we would be cohesive and unified.  We didn’t have the “thinking as one” and had we done group rides, the discussion and debates we were having, would have been eliminated as the experimenting that was happening as we tested various theories as a group, would have already been figured out.


Often times, hindsight is a difficult lesson to swallow.
 
We are all fairly equally matched with differing core strengths, these differences mingled with opinions that didn’t quite line up so we didn’t work together as well as we could have

 
or rather: should have

 
. . . these problems are the things we will iron out before LOTOJA.


IMG_20150808_114517087_HDR
 
As we approached Henefer, I was finally able to shed the arm warmers and leggings, as the day was finally beginning to warm up.

WHEW!

 
This was the second aid station and our support was waiting for us with water, nutrition and bike repairs.

 
Here was another major hindrance in our group. 


I was a little surprised and a bit confused when our support wasn’t at the designated rest stop, but figured we would find them soon, so I wasn’t to terribly concerned as Superman had everything I needed on board. 


Becca, however, was planning to use the actual support provided at the rest stops by the Ultimate Challenge Peeps but Kim and Kathy had their support crew stop a couple of miles from the designated support stops, leaving Becca in kind of a bind for nutrition, and no potties either. 


We, at least I was unaware of her concern and frustration at the immediate moment, it wasn’t until the next stop that she brought it up.  we had plenty of water, and extra nutrition but the situation wasn’t sitting well with her.

it certainly wasn’t what Becca was planning. 


As we approached the Green Goblin, I saw that Superman had my wheel and was putting on one of our tires so I could return Charcie’s wheel to her bike, and Becca’s tire to her completely unused.
 
While I was grateful to have my wheel back,
there still wasn’t time to look at my power meter,

it was no one’s fault,


but I was annoyed now.


This ride was one , that SPECIFICALLY inspired the purchase of a power meter


                                         . . . I wanted



                                         Wanted



WANTED



to KNOW what kind of watts I was pushing up Marsac/Gaurdsman


It was tragic,
There is no other way to tell it


It was a tragic realization that I would not have power data,


                                                                and now no cadence either
Did I mention how frustrating this was becoming. . .

because it was,

and I or Superman were powerless to fix it.


the need to keep moving was critical, it was important to get to Coalville by 9:30 am to avoid a detour around their city parade. This was also a major marker for how we were for time.  This point is a critical assessment to whether we were on track to finish on time.



As we approached Coalville at 9:26 I shouted my hallelujahs and waved to the city peeps as they watched us ride through their town, waiting for their city parade to begin.  


We made it and my heart soared with encouragement. . .

I found myself relishing in the fact that the streets were lined on both sides with townsfolk there watching us ride by and sort of cheering us on while they waited for their town parade to begin.


we were on track,

barely, 

but we were doing okay!


 
We had support here as we entered the rolling hills of the road ahead


. . . and the wind.


IMG_20150808_095824364

Our little group was managing to do okay, but the wind was costing us dearly. 


It was going to be close as it was, but the wind certainly was not helping our cause.


We were passed by many riders but we were steadily moving forward and I was feeling good about our overall performance.


knowing that we were well ahead of where I was two years ago at this point and I was confident we were going to finish.

IMG_20150808_095826627 crop

As we rode through Wanship I was starting to feel the legs become a little more resistant,



they were feeling the impact of the wind,
the climbs hadn’t even begun, we were only at 3000 ft,
we still had 10,000 ft to climb, and 50 miles of pedaling left.


The wind was slowing me down, no doubt, but as a group we were getting it done.
We turned the corner to go around Echo Reservoir, the wind blew even harder

 
Honestly, the wind had been challenging,

 
now it was worse.

 
My only recourse was to hunker down and move forward.

Forging ahead taking 2 min pulls each, this strategy saved me from blowing up.

 
Charcie was struggling and asked we slow the pace just a tad,
 
I didn’t complain

 
In fact I was happy with this arrangement,


 
it made me look charitable. . .


 
                                                        or should I be totally honest,


 
I needed it too


 
eh . . . I like charitable better 


 
I took note of the time and a quick mental calculation
said we would be close to finishing on time. 
 

I reminded myself there was no room to complain. . . just keep moving



so pedal I did.


 
I was concerned about what the wind would be like as we
approached The climbs out of Park City.  



With few options left,

and

 a prayer in my heart I continued forward. 

IMG_20150808_100547319
 
We turned again to the ascent to Rockport, the wind had been bad,


but now it was devastating.

 
This is where I saw my coach and his son, riding tandem. He slowed enough for me to catch up with them and talk for a couple of minutes. . . before plowing ahead effortlessly, like I was stopped along the side of the road.   It was a good moment, he said we were doing well and was happy for me.
 
It’s always nice when your coach thinks you are doing okay



SIDE NOTE:
 
After the ride, he later confessed that he didn’t think we would make it, but was pleased and glad that I did. A great coach doesn’t deliver devastating predictions while suffering in the thick of a fight. . . He was pleasantly surprised at my finishing report .









. . . I was okay with it all


As we turned the corner to Brown’s Canyon, the wind seemed to pick up in force,


                                                                                                            again.


 and it was taking it’s toll.  This is where I recognized the blessing of a blown tire that morning.

I was riding so well, so strong, that I very likely would have done what Heidi had done and gone ahead of the group on my own, then when I hit this wind to battle it out on my own, it would have destroyed me.   It would have been here, at this point in the ride the group would have caught up to me and I may not have been able to keep up, besides I would have felt odd by picking up with them at this point after ditching them in the beginning.


That flat allowed me to charge up immigration and Big Mountain and realize I needed to reel it in and stay with the group. This is where I am once again grateful for a Heavenly Father who knows my needs before I do and intervenes with setbacks to help me, while still allowing me to succeed.
 
Without dispute, the most difficult part of the ride was ahead. . .


I began to back off a little so I would have enough strength to face what was coming.

 
the knowledge of 10,000 feet left to climb 
was quickly becoming reality
and it was coming soon.
 

we were 60 miles and 3000 ft into this ride and had 50 more miles with over 10,000 ft of climbing left. . . barely over half way in distance,


yet, less than 1/4 of the climbing was done.
Browns Canyon –
      • 2.6 Miles
      • 536 foot elevation gain
      • Average Grade 4%
      • Max Grade 6.7%

milestone-4292

Charcie, is professional photographer ~ aka: Milestone Photography. . .  

her camera shows the difference. . .

 
Brown’s Canyon is something people talk about as being big and hard, but it’s not a big deal . . .  kind of like Sardine Canyon from Logan to Brigham, a relatively easy ride .


unless, like today we rode into a relentless headwind!


. . . for most of the ride to this point.

 
Superman and Dion (Charcie’s Husband) were waiting for us at the summit of Browns Canyon. This section is typically hot and dry and I have always desperately needed hydration at the summit, so Superman was there. Today, temperatures were mild, but the wind more than made up for the lacking heat. We fueled up, and tanked up on water before heading off again.


I ate a wrap and offered one to Becca who was excessively grateful for the nutrition, it quickly became unanimous that turkey and cheese wraps smothered in Best Foods Mayo and Sweet Baby Ray’s mustard sauce was the new GOTTA HAVE IT food for a long demanding ride. 

 
Honestly,



they were absolutely delicious and our bodies drank the nutrition instantly!

 
Wasting no time we quickly got going again, and as we rounded the corner to Park City, The thought was a little overwhelming to think about approaching the toughest part of the day. 
but it was reality. . .


The wind was still relentless, but I mentally focused on nutrition and final preparation that would get me over the top of Gaurdsman.

 
This time we did stop at the designated rest stop.  This fared well for Becca and they had ample potties. . .
 
As we made final preparations 

filling up on water,

nutrition,

potty stop,

and a wish of good luck and encouragement from our support.

 
Kim and Kathy, as was their routine, stopped a short distance from us away from the feed zone, We weren’t sure where they were, and when the three of us were ready we headed off, watching for where they were stopped. 

As we approached them they had determined they weren’t going to finish in time.   Taking into consideration that Kathy was struggling with an injury, she and Kim decided to end their ride in Park City. We didn’t stop to convince them otherwise, it was imperative we keep moving.
 
DSC05137

Now there were only three of us together.

I was completely okay with this

Charcie, Becca, and myself work well together and today was proving to be no different
As I stated earlier, we ride quite a lot together. 

 
We saw Corkey at this juncture, always a highlight for me. Corkey is from Cache Valley who rides with us a group. He drives one of the support/transport vans for the BMC Pro team and he always slows down and pauses for a moment to say hello and offer words of encouragement. . .
 
his cheering us on truly gave me a boost.

 
We were here, it was now time to forge ahead

 
We rounded the assisted intersection. . .

 
in reality part of the reason I pay registration fees is because

I LOVE and appreciate


                                                           assisted intersections.

 
Traffic is held at bay while I have the privilege of riding my bike


. . . it is totally awesome
. . . I ride for those moments!

 
We arrived at the point where I crumbled two years ago. . .

 
my heart was encouraged, while my legs were fatigued, they still felt okay and I was pedaling strong, but experience is humbling and frightening, and I fought to push out past performances from my mind as I kept my focus on today.
 
As the road began increasing in grade, and I approached the first round-a-bout I was still pedaling and didn’t feel like I was going to die,


I was still mentally in the game

. . . I found solace in this realization
 

We reached Marsac and I was still going.

 
I wasn’t dying, no walk of shame.


I had pre-determined that I was NOT going to walk any portion of this ride.

 
approaching the 14% grade I stopped for a few seconds and got going again

 
. . . no walking, only a short rest
. . . I was still going.

 
I was now beyond the point where two years ago the pros came through. I was encouraged and kept pedaling, grinding the pedals around and around slowly but I was going up this insane mountain and that was all that mattered at this point.


DSC03340

I made it to the first turn up the switch back and then more 14% grades.


Knowing from experience this was tough,


the fact that I was pulling it off was exhilarating!


I was doing it and was getting excited.


As we climbed this mountain, we didn’t know for sure where we were at individually, as an unwritten or expressed policy, the goal was to survive, knowing full well that stopping unnecessarily, or going too slow waiting for someone else could prove fatal, going to fast, would be suicide. 


We simply knew that we needed to surmount this hill, and that we supported each other as we all worked independently toward the same goal of . . .

completion.


We weren’t sure where Charcie was, as Becca and I were riding together and she needed to stop for just a second to adjust her wickie (headband) that had ridden up under her helmet, and the sweat was running into her eyes, a very uncomfortable, if not painful situation. . .


 We stopped at a flat section which read 5% grade.


. . . it’s warped, but yes,


5% feels like a treat and you feel like you can go forever 
after climbing 10% – 14% for over 1 1/2 hours.


We quickly resumed riding and reached the second round-a-bout that went up to the summit of Empire Road.


By now, I had determined that we wouldn’t make it to the finish line before the pros, and going up this road at a painfully slow pace of 4-5 mph gave me plenty of time to think of a plan.  


                                                         As I told Becca my plan 

. . . she was hesitant.



Thanks for stopping in, the next post will finish my report of this ride.

I will look forward to seeing you next week!



Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Ultimate Challenge 2015–Part 1


Now that the blog is up and running once again I am going to do some catch up reports.  The first will be the


Ultimate Challenge

 
There are only two words to describe this event. . .  it is the ULTIMATE CHALLENGE!

 
It is finished. . . The ride called the Ultimate Challenge was exactly what the name of this ride is. It was a tough haul. . .

 20150805_172903

I had been dreading this ride since before last year, when due to health and a myriad of different set backs, had the Organizers of the Ultimate Challenge bump my registration forward for a year.  It was a stinking long year dreading this ride.

 
The logical question would be “then, why are you doing it”? . . .

 
it is a requirement for the Triple Crank award. A hair-brained idea that made the bucket list 3 years ago, which then, sounded like a great idea. . .


it was supposed to be fun. . .



I think I’m crazy, most of my friends have already come to that conclusion, I’m just slow. 


We Love Rockwell Relay, and LOTOJA both are great rides, Now I add the Ultimate Challenge to my list of conquering events.


DSC05130

I was so nervous and stressed about this ride all week. It was Friday, and I was preparing my nutrition for Superman to bring as support.

It was a package of wraps. . . 


everyone knows that you tear off the perforated top and then open the “zip-lock” top. . .


nope, not me, 
not today anyway, 



I looked at the bag, and decided that I didn’t want a mess so I carefully cut off the bottom of the bag to get the contents out.


I clearly was not thinking about what I was doing. . . stupid!


It wasn’t until I was haphazardly cleaning up that I realized my error. . . 


Superman fixed it up with a strip of packing tape, and all was well.  This is how most of my week was going


. . . there was no doubt, I was stressed out of my mind about this ride. 



I think part of my apprehension was in that I had a failed attempt two years ago and that experience was weighing heavily on my mind.

DSC05131

My bike was ready to go with a new chain, it was lubed, race wheels on, brake pads adjusted, cleaned and polished. . .


The bike was ready to ride!


We did a quick “test run” to make sure it was doing everything it was supposed to do. I didn’t put on the computer for this ride, it was only to check functionality..  With one or two minor adjustments to the shifting and it was perfectly tuned and ready to go.


I met Becca at 5:00 Friday evening at the park-n-ride as we carpooled to SLC. This was it,


I was on my way.

My windows of opportunity to bail were quickly coming to a close.


20150803_142040

It had been raining most of the day, and was still raining. As we looked at the weather forecast it was supposed to rain through the night until about 7:00 the next morning. . .

I prayed, as did the others that it would somehow blow through by 5:00 am and we would stay dry.



The alarm was set for 4:45, 
but I didn’t need it. 



Everyone was already stirring, preparing for the day’s ride that would tax and test us beyond what I would have thought possible to survive.


The skies were clear. 
It was cold, but no rain

. . . prayers were answered and I was so very grateful and offered another prayer of gratitude.
 

We stayed at Becca’s sisters home and so I brought my own breakfast.


Oatmeal


Oatmeal is my favorite breakfast food ever. As I brought down to the kitchen my pan, oats, and brown sugar, all pre-measured and ready to cook.

I noted that of the four of us staying together, all of four of us were having the same thing for breakfast
 
. . . Oatmeal in one form or another.


Oatmeal is the endurance super food, and my favorite breakfast.


IMG_20150808_100547319

We started out as a group of six, we were part of our Cache Valley Women’s Team Velocia that we organized only this year.

After great debate and much discussion we decided nothing would get us DQ’d for starting early.

Some wanted to start at 5:00 am, but for some reason I did not feel right about 5:00 and decided 5:30 was the time.


In the end Charcie figured a way to meet all of our needs. They started at the “official start line” at 5:00 am, Becca was fine to start with me at 5:30, 4 miles into the ride at the zoo. It worked perfectly.


In the end by the time we rode to the zoo from where we were staying, we were only 3 miles short of the full ride. . .


I’m okay with that.


Emigration Canyon & Big Mountain


Emigration Canyon

  • 7.8 Miles
  • 1286 foot elevation gain
  • Average Grade 4%
  • Max Grade 6.9%
Big Mountain

  • 5.3 Miles
  • 1501 foot elevation gain
  • Average Grade 6.2%
  • Max Grade 11%


Total:

  • 10.9 miles
  • 2787 foot elevation gain

From there things went quickly downhill for me:


DSC05144

First I realized that I left my bib number at Becca's sisters house, but quickly determined that we did not have time to go back for it


. . . I was slightly annoyed at myself, but quickly accepted reality and continued forward.  I doubt I will ever finish a ride with my bib number in pristine condition like this!


 
It’s one of those once in a lifetime moments
I am proud to have this moment in my storybook of experiences


 
I looked at my computer and realized that I had no power or cadence!


Ugh, we didn’t check for that on my quick little test ride the day before after a new chain, event/race tires were on, brakes adjusted, cleaned and lubed the bike was ready, except


we failed to check to see that the power meter and cadence were reading. . .



GRrrrrrr . . .
for a data junkie,
this was frustrating to say the least!

 

but there wasn’t time to look into it, besides it was dark



. . . I kept moving forward.



I knew that Superman and our little Dancer, who has turned actress, were meeting me at the top of Big mountain in 1 ½ hours and he would be able to look at it for me


. . . this knowledge eased my frustration, and I kept going.

 
Then, 3 miles into the ride as we were going up Immigration, I rode over a rock blowing up my front tire.


As in LITERALLY blew my tire up

 
I saw the signal, but not in time to react.
yes, I have slow reaction reflexes
but until today the problem hasn’t proven to be fatal.
 
DSC05135

my heart instantly sunk. My ride was over. 

the training, planning, stressing was all for nothing.
 
 
 
I called superman, 
like he was going to be able to help me. . . 



Seriously, he was just leaving home and was 1 ½ hours away, he was at the gas station on his way out of town, but returned to grab a couple of spare tires “just in case”. While I was telling superman about my disaster, Kim and Kathy were calling their support crew who saved the day.

 
They were still behind us and just approaching the zoo. They detoured and went to get a tire from Becca's sisters home, where we stayed for the night.

In the meantime I had a flashback of a conversation with my coach after the Rockwell Relay where I flatted, twice, on my first leg.


DSC05134
 
That conversation from June went like this:


Coach: Why did you waste your time fixing a flat and not use a different wheel?

Me: because my wheel is carbon and you can't mix regular brake pads with carbon wheels without ruining your wheels.

Coach: "you are going uphill, you don't need your brakes”.


Fortunately Charcie brought her old bike as a spare for a "just in case" moment. GRATEFUL to Superman who figured out a way to load 6 bikes into the truck after the ride was over, she had it on the bike rack of Kim and Kathy’s support car and we were going to switch it to the Green Goblin (ie: our truck) at the top of Big Mtn.


I felt this qualified as one of those “just in case” moments. . . So when the support crew arrived, we simply put her wheel on, and I gave them my shredded tire and wheel and was on my way. . .


Charcie, you saved my day. . . Thank you!!!



Charcie's rim is considerably more narrow than mine, so the brakes didn't even come close to touching the rim.   In short, the tire snafoo set me back by 26 minutes, (see, data is important. . . gotta love it!) Then according to Strava, I had a PR going up immigration/Big Mtn.


. . . Data is amazing!


 
I was riding strong, I was ready, I busted tail going up that canyon as quickly as I could possibly go. It was amazing, it was great!


I hooked on with a group of guys that were having the funniest, amusing conversations I have ever had the privilege of sitting in on.


They were talking about houses and what it would be like to live in different types of houses. .


bird houses,   doll houses,  little houses,   dirt houses,   big houses,   dog houses. . . 


on and on they went, as we all pedaled up the mountain.
honestly, it was as amusing as it was entertaining.



I hung with them for most of immigration but realized I was working too hard and was going to blow up if I didn’t reign myself in, so I let them go on the final ascent of Immigration and found a good solid groove for myself. When I reached the top of Big Mtn the legs still felt good. . . YAY!

 
When the group left me waiting for aid and a new tire, both Charcie and Heidi strongly recommended that I catch a ride to the top, but in my mind going that route wouldn’t earn me an honest finish.


I decided that I would ride to the top, and from there assess the situation. If I was less than 10 minutes behind I would keep riding, anything more than that I would have my support team (ie: superman) catch me up to them.

I was totally shocked when I arrived at the summit and couldn’t find ANYONE!


Now I was concerned. . .
 
DSC05145


I wasn't surprised that the group was not there. . . but WHERE was Superman?


he left early enough that he should have been there, 
I hoped he was okay. 


The good news was that they were handing out musette bags with a treat and a water bottle



. . . the water bottle is bright orange and SUPER cool, 
I’m so glad I got that J It was even filled with water.



Not seeing anyone I recognized I decided to go ahead and sort it out later. I quickly assessed that if something had happened to Superman he would have called or texted and neither had happened so I figured the delay was due to the blown out tire fiasco.


IMG_20150808_114517087_HDR

I was clipping in when the Velocia group came up behind me!


I had missed seeing them in the parking lot, and they were just pulling out,


With a relieved but happy heart, mixed with triumphant jubilation that my ride up big mountain was all that I felt it was. . .


I had caught the group . . . 
and could not have been happier at this moment.


Then as I stood on the pedals to ride out with the group,
superman came up from the opposite direction. . .



WOW, I had people from every direction!


 
In fractions of seconds everything changed


. . . Life was great!



This was going to be my day of conquering the Ultimate Challenge



.