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Saturday, April 9, 2016

The Plan . . . Ultimate Challenge–Part 3

Click here for Part 1 and for Part 2 here
 
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UC 1





Leaving Park City,

                                   . . . we were on our own



narrow steep roads, grinding slow paces, cyclists 
everywhere, mingled with local traffic and 
spectators literally lining both sides of the road 
meant no extra support.

Once we reached Park City, the wind subsided, or
at least seemed to let up, it blew at only certain
spots going up Marsac, Empire, Gaurdsman,


 . . . but it never truly stopped.
 
Going up hills, with a slight breeze in your face is a 
                               welcome addition to the ride 



A tail wind has the opposite effect that you think it would, because the wind is at your back, there is no benefit of the cooling effects it has on the body, so a tail wind seems to always leave a cyclist overheating and sweaty. 

So today a slight headwind was welcome.

 
Unfortunately there were moments when the wind was a bit more than a slight breeze


okay. . . A LOT MORE

which made going up Empire even more of a challenge than it was destined to be without additional obstacles


ie. . . the wind.


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As a group we were hating life, and seriously questioning our logic and enthusiasm for even considering this. . . what did they call it???


                                                            oh yeah,


                                                                                          an epic event. . .



WHAT WAS I THINKING WHEN I ENCOURAGED
EVERYONE TO PUT THIS ON THEIR BUCKET LIST?


. . . I still don’t have a logical answer to this question
and I suspect Charcie and Becca were wondering the same thing


except, I love torture,


                                                                       paying to have the experience,


                                                                  oh, and. . . yes, 


                                               I LOVE riding my bike


. . . some call it a demented state of mind



today, I think they nailed their assessment of my passion


 
Empire Pass –
      • 6.4 Miles
      • 2146 foot elevation gain
      • Average Grade 5.3%
      • Max Grade 14.4%

DSC03340

They say that this stretch is only 5.3% grade???



I think they are mistaken



in fact, I’m confident they mis-calculated completely




Empire Road boasts a consistent grade of 10%-14% and climbs 2100 ft in a short grinding 6.4 miles.


                                The wind was blowing . . . still



not as strong as it had been,



but, nonetheless, it was still blowing.



I kept asking spectators that were lining the streets, waiting for the pros and who were there watching us crazy cyclists like me suffer,


"How much farther to the top of this death trap"?,


 There were all kinds of estimates and not one of them were the same


. . . not one soul was able to give me a convincing answer.


I kept going,

 
                                                      slowly forward.

 
                                                                                                     grinding upward


After a great debate within myself, I stopped for a short rest and the wind was blowing so hard I could not get going again, not even paperboy style. . .

but honestly, paperboy style is about the only way
to get back on your bike and pedaling on a 14% grade.


  DSC02013

stopping turned out to be a very bad idea.



I had to wait for the gusts to calm down,



my legs didn't complain much though.


But then, Becca and Charcie were together and passed me, while I was attempting to get on my bike and pedaling once again

spectators line the streets
(I'm not sure where this photo is from)


. . . I was embarrassed,


my pride was being challenged


because I stopped, they passed me
and saw I was stuck, stranded, unable to get going



oh, the humiliation of it all


I questioned myself. . . was it necessary to stop?


Even today, I still wonder.



unfortunately, there wasn’t room for mourning lost pride

finally it happened. . . I got going again


                                                  Yes, I succeeded, but barely


I was able to catch up with Charcie and Becca, and presented my plan to Charcie, as Becca quietly listened, I assume with curiosity, to how Charcie would feel. 





 
THE LOGIC OF THE PLAN:
This section, was taking longer than we anticipated. . . It was now a reality that we were not going to arrive at the finish line before the pros came through.  I knew from my training rides that Little Cottonwood takes an hour on fresh strong legs. . . I was guessing on tired, beat up legs it would be at least 90 minutes.


Our fear was that in the ride guidelines, ANYONE not finished when the pro’s came through would NOT BE ALLOWED to finish. . .  period.


There was good logical reasoning for this. . . After the Pro’s come in, the canyon becomes dangerous, at best.  dozens of Cyclists, riding down, Cars, people, thousands of them all trying to get back down the canyon.  The reason they were up there, and for many of them it was a whole day affair, were now ready to go home.  It was a sketchy proposition for a cyclist going up.


But, with a very strong BUT,

we could not afford to fail



Setting aside the expense of this accomplishment, it requires 1000’s of miles on the bike, which equates to hundreds of hours of training involved to earn the Triple Crank Award.  It quickly becomes a family affair.  Everyone sacrifices so we can train and be successful in our endeavor.

Rockwell is difficult logistically. Becca and Charcie probably wouldn’t be able to repeat the ride again any time soon.   It requires 4 days away from Family, Work, Home. . . difficult for both of them.  LOTOJA, we all knew we could do that, we’ve done it several times before.  Ultimate Challenge was taxing.    Emotionally ~ ~ ~  Physically ~ ~ ~  Mentally.

This is the ride that NO ONE wanted to repeat. . .

Thus it was imperative that we finish THIS YEAR for our Triple Crank,we had come too far to be unsuccessful and for us, it was a one time attempt.


PRESENTING THE PLAN:

We would ride to the bottom of Big Cottonwood canyon, 14 miles of downhill then once we turned the corner headed to Little Cottonwood Canyon we would load up in the Green Goblin (ie: our truck) . . drive to the top, claim our medals, watch the pros come in, drive back down the canyon where we were picked up and FINISH the ride officially.  This way we would be able to say we did it, every linear foot of pavement and feel good about our accomplishments of the day.  In addition, by the time we got back down to begin our ride UP to Snowbird, the majority of spectator traffic would be gone, making it safer for us.


Charcie didn’t hesitate


with only three of us remaining of our group, it was a majority vote
we were in this together, and Becca reluctantly agreed.

It was a fabulous plan and it was a win-win.

 
The three of us continued slowly, and painfully forward,


. . . or rather upward.


DSC03339
(This is a file photo from a previous training ride)

                                      then a few moments later,

 
         I spotted the summit . . .


                                                                              we were almost there.


FINALLY!
 
I could see where cyclists were on the last and final switchback. . .


the end was near, and I was grateful,
We were going to make it.
 
in my mind, my heart, and soul I sang a beautiful rendition of Hallelujah

 
Arriving at the summit, I paused and saw that Becca and Charcie were right behind me.   We didn’t hesitate down the short descent in preparation for the next short, but not for the weak, climb of. . .

 
Guardsman Pass
      • 1.6 Miles
      • 796 foot elevation gain
      • Average Grade 8.1%
      • Max Grade 13.3%

The Park City side of Guardsman Pass is an AWFUL road!


In fact, it’s questionable to call it a road suitable for road bikes.


2014-08-09-12.20.37_thumb1


While, it’s only 1.6 miles long, it is equally steep, which isn’t the bigger problem.  The real challenge with this road is what it’s made of.


                                   it is a chunky,


                                                                    lumpy,


                                                             pot-holed road



made of road base that makes riding a bike up this road difficult,


 
                                                         and may I add NO FUN,



No fun at all!


 
this road surface would be bad enough on a flat even surface let alone a hill that sports 10%-12% grade, that at the very summit as the road bends to the top showed 21% on my gps. . . (‘m not sure where they got the 13.3%) . . . I’m going with what I saw on my computer!



. . . Either way, my friends, it is a brutal 1.6 miles on any given day, but especially when you have 70+ miles and now close to 11,000 ft of climbing on the legs for the day.


excitedly, we were getting it done, and that thrill carried our legs


                                   slowly grinding our way up



                                   up. . .  



up. . . 


                                                up 


within a few feet of the top. . . my angel of mercy came to my aid. . .


UC-8_thumb1


A spectator offered to give me a push. . .

I had heard of this type of thing happening and I marveled 
that I was now a benefactor of such generosity.


There was no way I was turning that offer down!



and he definitely earned a spot in heaven . . .



The guy who gave me a push wasn’t dressed as eloquently as these two,



but you get the idea. . . right?



With gratitude I accepted his offer as his little shove helped me over the crest of this mountain, the longest and most challenging thing I have EVER done.


                                                                                     Ever


Cool temps when climbing are not much of a problem, in fact they are welcome and desirable,


. . . but at the top it gets cold. . . fast!


all that work with its generated salt and sweat turns to a flash freeze point,

even when it's +80° f  outside . . .  I dread these descents,
 


                                       today was no exception.


It was flat out cold.



The only time I remember being colder on a ride was when I was in SLC for a training ride. I had come unprepared for inclement weather and when reaching the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon (Brighton Ski Resort), it was cold, and raining. . .

 
                         allow me to correct myself. . .


it was POURING rain.



While this was a close second to that day, it was only sprinkling,



but then it turned to hail.



If you have never been in a hail storm as you are riding your bike at approx 30-35 mph. . .

I have a story to tell


                                                    it HURTS!


Those little pellets of ice hit and pierce at the body like stinging darts.


I slowed my speed slightly to ease the force those stupid little ice pellets were exerting on my body.  I was just seconds ahead Charcie and had completely lost track of Becca and hoped she was okay.

 
As we approached the bottom descent of Guardsman 


DSC05141_thumb6

the Green Goblin, and Superman there waiting for us. . .


I had never been so grateful to see him!


Becca came in right behind us.


We were all cold,


                                                              VERY cold and wet from the rain and hail


. . . and we quickly bundled up.


The three of us were putting on arms, legs, and all the rain gear we had as we began the descent down Big Cottonwood Canyon. the warmth felt good, but as we descended out of the canyon the rain subsided and we began to warm up and knew I would have to shed everything. 


In fact, had I known that the rain was going to stay at the top of the mountain I would have just toughed it out, but often the decisions we make we get to live with for a while.


The wind for the descent out of Big Cottonwood Canyon was equally awful as it had been all day and dramatically slowed my descent,


there were a couple of spots that were flat out sketchy!
 
DSC05142_thumb1

We made it to the bottom of Little Cottonwood at 2:15 pm.


We only had about 45 minutes to spare before we anticipated the pros to come flying through. By now, I was sweltering hot.


We shed our gear and the wind felt fantastic as I cooled down.

Superman was just up the road and as our plan was, we loaded up we were less than 1 mile up the road and found it closed to all motor vehicle traffic!



This section of my report ended up being longer than I anticipated, so I promise we will finish up next week.  I have it basically written and pictures for most of the post so it should be a quick one to finish up.


Thanks for stopping in for a visit and a story or two

oh, and Have a great weekend!


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