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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. . .


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.


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.


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.


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 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.


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%


  • 10.9 miles
  • 2787 foot elevation gain

From there things went quickly downhill for me:


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.

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.

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. . .

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.


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



  1. I am glad you are back. I love reading your blog!

    1. Artistwife, I'm glad you stopped in! and I concur, it is good to be back :)

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