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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Finish Line–Ultimate Challenge 2015- Part 4

NOTE:  As I mentioned in my first post, we did not get many pics of our own, and because I blog with pictures, as a result I have borrowed pics from many other sources, which is noted with each one.

Now, back to my tale. . . 

Picking up where I left off last.

For the entire story click here for Part 1,  then here for part 2, and finally Part 3 here. . .

We found the road already closed to all vehicle traffic. . .

. . . but they were still letting bikes go!

picture from http://healthcare.utah.edu/

We quickly jumped into action and re-mounted our bikes and pedaled up the canyon . . .

toward the finish line, with the wind at our backs. . .

Finally, a tail wind!

. . . just in time for a HUGE ascent, and our final ascent.

and as I stated previously, it made it hot

but at least we were done with the head winds.

Little Cottonwood Canyon –
      • 7.1 Miles
      • 2634 foot elevation gain
      • Average Grade 7.8%
      • Max Grade 11.9%

At this point in the ride, Little Cottonwood is an element all of its own.

It is up-hill the ENTIRE way with no rest

but the last how many miles have been uphill with no relief?

Marsac, Empire, Guardsman

Ultimate Challenge is never ending with hills with no reprieve, it had become a way of life that we had no choice, but to accept.

                                                                   this canyon was like hitting a wall. . .

We were 2 miles up the 7 mile canyon when race officials came by and pulled us over

. . . The Pro’s were on their way

With not many options but to wait for the pros to come through, we found a shady spot and did nothing. . .

for about 5 minutes.

  2014-08-09 15.27.03

It was our observation that we couldn’t hear the helicopter yet and determined that the pro’s were a little bit out, and we were going to freeze up if we didn’t keep moving.


An officer standing nearby told us as long as we walked we could keep moving, with the understanding that we would get completely off the road when the pros came riding past.

We agreed and up we went.

I put on my cleat covers, Superman took off his shoes and socks, Becca had her shoes off so she didn’t ruin her cleats and up the mountain we went.

2014-08-09 14.47.19

We went around a bend and there were people riding bikes!

We instantly re-evaluated and decided as long as the pros were nowhere in sight, there was no evidence of the helicopter, so there was no logical reason we couldn’t ride.

Shoes and socks were put back on and we enjoyed having the road basically to ourselves as we rode up on the WRONG side. . .

As spectators watched and cheered us on

another cool moment of the day

This effort was short lived however, as a different officer was coming down the mountain and promptly told us we could not ride.

. . . Grudgingly, we complied,

2014-08-09 15.27.55
and began walking again, then we would ride until we heard a car/motorcycle approach. It was painfully slow, but we probably gained a precious ¼ mile in our ascent up Little Cottonwood.

In all we lost 42 minutes of non-moving time waiting.

2014-08-09 15.49.44

The Pros passed us, with seemingly ease. . .

UGH, how do they do that was my question of the day

When the sweeper van came passed we were given the thumbs up
and continued our ride up the mountain. . .

At registration we were told that after the Pro’s went through we would NOT be able to continue.  We were too close, it had been too long of a grueling, painful day.  At this point, we were not listening to what they said

. . . we were finishing this ride!

As we approached Little Cottonwood Canyon Superman chased us down on his bike. The original plan was to have Superman and Dion park up at Snowbird after we descended Guardsman, then Superman would ride DOWN the canyon and come back up with us

. . . He WANTED to do it because it SOUNDED like fun to him. 

From Charcie. . . Milestone Photography

While I’m grateful he was there I am still, today undecided if it made a difference, in fact I wonder if

his presence made me slower. . .

While that statement may sound odd,

allow me to explain.

I was miserable, it was hot, I was tired and thirsty, I was hungry, ornery, cranky, and now the only thing that was keeping me going was the excitement that was growing inside me that we were almost done,

the bigger part of me didn’t care

. . . I wanted to quit. 

With Superman there encouraging us,

okay . . . correction:

Charcie and Becca were doing great, and were ahead of me now, so Superman was encouraging ME onward, and I WANTED his permission to quit.

so, there you have it, I still don’t know if he helped or not, he was fresh, legs firing the way he told them too, I found that depressing and annoying, he was also very patient, encouraging, and supportive, which I found wonderful and motivating.

I was simply ready for this ride to be over with

the final 5 more miles took me what felt like an eternity to ride
and I wonder how much ambition the 42 minute down time actually cost me

We were now battling traffic going up, coming down and thousands of spectators clearing out off the sides of the road, it was certainly not the safest choice, but WE WERE SO CLOSE. . . we NEEDED to finish and claim our medals, we NEEDED to complete this as a requirement of the Triple Crank Award!

at this point of the day,
it was worth the risk to finish

2014-08-09 15.27.46
The grades hit a consistent non-stop 9%-10%.

I have ridden this road 3 times previously,
and could not remember where it flattens to a 5%-6%. . .

I KNEW it was up there, somewhere
but the road just kept climbing up.

Again I found my self asking people how much farther to the top, again, no one had a satisfactory answer.  I was low on water and let the “thirsty thought” get into my head and it further shut me down.  The debate of how much do I conserve what I do have left vs the need to drink water to keep me going.

This looks noble!  I took this pic in 2014

always a dilemma, never a good one.

we were offered water, twice, from spectators/support peeps still in the canyon.

More angels earned their wings today.

I got to a point where I mentally collapsed, got off my bike and walked. . .

yes, regretfully, the walk of shame
there was no pride left
have I mentioned how I simply wanted this over with?

. . . I would rather call it the walk of wisdom,

you may call it what you want.
you may call it what you want.

from velonews.com
I walked for a short while a very short while, in reality it was less than a block. This is why I call it mentally collapsing, not physically, for I was able to get back on my bike after about 7-8 min of walking and finish the ride.

A spectator, who may I add, was drunker than a skunk, offered to push start me.  Seriously, the guy could barely stand himself!  I declined, he insisted, I declined, fortunately Superman was there to intervene. . . have you ever tried to reason with an excited drunk man???

it doesn't go so well

I actually did most of the getting going on my own, 

but mister drunk spectator dude still got his way. . . 

sort of. . . 

apparently he almost tipped over as I accelerated forward.
but I assume he felt noble in assisting me, and he was happy

I finally reached Tanner Flat, where it levels out to 5%-6% FINALLY, a recovery period I desperately needed and relished being at that spot, it felt delightfully wonderful and I rode strong.  While the energy and enthusiasm from the crowd were dwindling as they were packing up their things, but there were still plenty of spectators cheering us on which was nice and I loved feeling their encouragement as we slowly made our way to the finish line.

from a previous ride. . . our skies WERE NOT blue!

Then, FINALLY, there is was!

That beautiful blue sign that said "Snowbird here"

. . . one more sign and it was all done.

we had made it.

in fact, according to Strava I actually PR’d on this tiny section.

with how I was feeling, and how tired I was, I'm not sure how I pulled that one off 

. . . Could Strava possibly be off?

I choose to believe they are right, and I managed something amazing

I was so excited that I found it in me somewhere to pedal faster, stronger just to have over,
. . . and to claim the ride a success only added to the elation I was feeling at this moment

from Charcie's photo collection - Milestone Photography

We crossed the finish line as they were dismantling everything as quickly as they could.  It's absolutely amazing how quickly they had the finish line loaded up and ready to move to the next location.

No one was there to greet us, with the exception of our support 
who cheered us in but it didn’t matter, 
2014-08-09 16.56.04

we did it,

and felt like we did it well.

We missed lunch,

We didn't care,

We found food when we got down the mountain.


The finishers medals were all put away and so we didn't get those either

yet we confidently, happily claim success without all of these things,
it is ours,
we have the tales,
the suffering,
the experience of doing something

Three days later, Superman and I were talking about doing this ride together. . .

                                                                                               Because . . . 

we want to
and. . .

yes, I love riding my bike

yup, I think most would call that demented.

2014-08-09 15.27.30

Was it fun?

. . . No, I wouldn’t say that,
but it was achievable, and I want to do better, be stronger, be faster.

it was rewarding, satisfying, compelling

Charcie put this illustration together that is too perfect for words
and sums up this ride beautifully

With Superman’s surgery this past December, we will wait and will have our second go at epic ride next year as in 2017, We will beg, plead, and grovel with family to spend the day with us as we tackle this endeavor together. 

So, here’s your chance, you have an entire 18 months to prepare for an epic ride of proportions indescribable until you do it. . .

Let me know you want in.


Looking back I realize the need to manage my nutrition differently on this specific ride.
As we watched the pros come in, WOW, I barely finished after 9.5 hours of ride time, they finished the same ride in about 4.5 hours!

. . . There is definite room for improvement.

I felt the weight. . . I’ve gained a bunch of it over the past 3 years, and undoubtedly noticed it holding me back. . . in 2012, my star year, I would have been able to keep up with Heidi.

. . . I am working on that.

Riding with Becca​ and Charcie​, as part of the Velocia team made all the difference and I have no doubt that we helped each other keep going up Marsac and on to the finish line. But it was cresting Marsac/Empire/Gaurdsaman that made me feel like I had accomplished something phenomenal. . .

Snowbird about killed me off!
Next time, I will train harder too.

A big Thank You for your support along the way. . .

A HUGE thanks to Superman​, my amazing husband, and Dion for supporting us along the way, They were a critical key element to our success, I honestly don't know if I would have pulled it off without him there.

Superman, you are the best. . .
LOVE you forever!

We e-mailed, the event organizer, our request and plight and distress of not getting to the tent in time to receive our medals.

With a long tale all of it's own we finally received them in the mail.

That sums up my Ultimate Challenge Experience. . . upon reflection, it was great, I learned some things about myself, and yes, I can do hard things.  But most importantly, this ride was amazing mostly for who was there with me.  

Charcie, Becca, thanks for putting this crazy endeavor on your bucket list

. . . having you there made all the difference to me

and then to our little actress, thanks for being so patient through all the training

Then, last but certainly not least. . . 

Thanks to Superman, who supports and encourages me in everything I dream up to do. . .

{trust me, there are plenty of things I dream up} . . .

You are truly my Knight in shining Armor, my Prince Charming, the Love Of My Life. . .

Life with you is nothing short of  AMAZING!

To everyone else, thank you for stopping in to share in my adventure,

I love having you here

. . . and in an odd sort of way, I ride for you too.



  1. Congrats! Way to keep going and finish this tough ride.

  2. I wish they'd have the pros start first so that you guys don't have to compromise your races. I wonder why they don't? Congrats on finishing though! That's a big achievement. :)

    1. We needed all day to even come close to finishing at a reasonable time and in all honesty most people do finish before 3:00, we are slower than most cyclists in this ride. The pros are fast enough and good enough and have earned the right to sleep in a bit and start riding later, besides it's good for spectators to be there in the afternoon rather than up before dark to watch a bicycle race :)