September 02, 2014
Death Ride Grandma Rides Again!
Guest post by Death Ride Grandma
Those of you who are Cranky Fitness regulars already know and admire the awesome "Death Ride Grandma." She has blogged before about getting a late start on her health and fitness journey, and about her desire to conquer the Death Ride, a fearsome athletic feat that Crabby couldn't contemplate taking on no matter HOW many cups of coffee she consumed in order to fuel her fantasies.
So, the Death Ride has again come and gone, and it seemed like a good time for a check in! How did it go, and are there any lessons to be learned?
Please welcome Death Ride Grandma!--Crabby
Wouldn’t it be great?
Well, this has already appeared in a comment. I have even mentioned one of my ways of trying to keep some perspective on frustrating moments. You know, wouldn’t it be wonderful if that was the worst thing that happened in the world today? Yeah. It would.
But I have to admit. I am pretty annoyed. Okay, I am angry, sad, second-guessing myself, all sorts of stuff I try so hard to avoid by having a good attitude. Right.
Last year Crabby very kindly allowed me to vent here about my almost-complete attempt at the Death Ride. You know, that one I swore I would never do. I’d planned and trained and done everything I could think of, only I didn’t think of just how many calories I would need to finish, so I bonked just eight miles short of the fifth and final summit. Oh, well. Frustrating, sure, but I’d tried, and really, I’d enjoyed a lot of the ride. It is a beautiful setting, and in spite of its name, it is a very friendly crowd. Only a few of the riders are those crazy idiots who yell at you for occupying the lane they want – even if, technically, the law suggests that it is your lane.
Then a friend asked if I would train with her for 2014. Honestly, that was not such a tough decision. I don’t like to acknowledge this, but something in me really wanted, uh, wants, to finish that ride!
So here’s where we headed. We rode the more challenging route on a shorter organized ride in early April. We did our first century ride of the season the next weekend. 100 miles, 7500’ of climbing, a good start to our serious schedule.
Then I headed to Tucson, and made two attempts at Mount Lemmon. The first day a thunder storm headed in and threatened us, and it was actually pretty chilly. Who’d have thought Tucson would require that many layers? So I rode 13 miles uphill that day, then went back the next day & started over & ride the whole 26 miles up to the top. And coasted happily the whole 26 miles down. That is, by the way, one spectacular road. If you are ever in Tucson and you like to ride, I’d go for it. If not, I’d drive it. You move through several very different ecosystems and the views are amazing. So – 26 miles, 6000’, but the climb is not interrupted, so that was a bit more challenging.
On to May. We rode the Grizzly Peak Century, 109 miles, 8600’. I am pretty sure we were the last ones to get back to the start. A long day, but it felt so much better than the previous year that we were pretty happy. Six days later, the Motherlode Century, another spectacular but very challenging ride up in the California foothills. I tried it alone last year, and gave up part way through. That was the first time I had ever taken a SAG vehicle at an organized ride, so I was pretty happy to give it another chance. The most challenging climb on that ride is on a road called Mosquito, and you do hear a lot of whining on it (from the riders, not the bugs). You plunge down to a very picturesque canyon with a cute little suspension bridge (and oh, am I glad I have never been one of the tourists attempting to cross it with a big RV. Yikes!). Then, you have to get back up. It’s silly-steep at first, than backs off just enough to keep you in the saddle. It goes up, and up, and up, and finally, you pass a guy sitting at the side of the road smiling and playing the banjo. That’s only about half way through the miles. The final loop takes you down another remote canyon with a little stream running along the bottom. No bridge here. Instead, there’s a guy who offers to carry your bike across while you wade. Let me just say that the California drought is not all bad. I can’t begin to imagine what that stream would have been like to cross had it been a bit fuller. My friend chose to ride across, and that pretty much ended her pleasure in the ride. Her feet got wet, then she had to climb back up the other side of the canyon. She’s a very soft spoken lady. Most of the time. I was pretty impressed when I heard her venting at the top of the climb.
Then my family went off to Maui for a nice vacation and a peaceful setting, and, for me, two days dedicated to rides up Haleakala. 10,000’ from the beach to the top, 36 miles that climb steadily. Yup, incredible views, and yup, it’s quite a challenge. But I did it and was very pleased. Then the Mendocino Monster (100 miles, a mere 9200’ of climbing, but it was 102 degrees by the time we finished).
Then a training camp on the actual course.
Then, the big day.
I got up at 3:30. Ugh. Well, I didn’t expect to like that part. At 4AM, my friend showed up & we headed out. I remembered the sense of peace I felt last year. Riding in pitch dark conditions in a remote area could have been pretty creepy, but it wasn’t. It was beautiful. Full moon, the sound of tires, very little other noise. Then, about five minutes out, my stomach started to send very, very unhappy messages. I figured I had just eaten too fast & was pushing a bit too hard, so I slowed down. It didn’t get better. I kept hoping. It kept not getting better. Maybe I’d be able to eat at the top of the first pass? No, not really. Well, then, I’d just need to rush in and swallow a bunch of calories at the bottom after a nice descent had given my intestines a chance to rest a bit. Rushed over, grabbed a half a banana, ate it, and spent the next half hour or so wondering why I’d done that. Grr. Part way up the next climb, I thought I was finally hungry. Wrong. I couldn’t swallow anything even though I pulled over and chose something I thought would be especially easy. I was beginning to see the calorie deficit pile up, far worse than it had been last year.
By the top of the second pass, I told my companion that she needed to head out without me. Another friend was there & she very reluctantly headed out with that group. I sat for a while, and headed off on the second descent. At the bottom, I made a few more attempts to find some calories I could handle. There are plenty of little details, but what it boils down to is that I had, by this time, managed to swallow about 300 calories, but had burned about 1800.
I rode 60 miles, and climbed about 7000’. Not bad for a sick day, but not at all what I’d dreamed of.
Next year? Well, I’d been going around assuring everyone it was not going to happen. I have an old friend whose daughter is getting married in London, and I was quite certain the wedding date would be right at the time of the Death Ride. I recently learned it’s actually a few weeks later.
And then…I learned that my niece has scheduled her wedding the day before the Death Ride, about 40 miles from the start of the ride. If I believed in a force called fate, I’d be seeing quite a clear message here.
It seems I won’t have to think of a new name for myself in Crabby’s comments just yet.
at 12:21 PM