long fixed ride -- rambling long report
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  1. #1

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    long fixed ride -- rambling long report

    With a lot of hesitance, I rode the Davis 12/24 time trial on my fixed bike Saturday. The hesitance came from several sources, primarily because I'm so out of shape and over weight. The longest ride I've done since doing a century in September was 65 miles a month or so ago, and that was only once. The second longest was a few 45 mile rides. Did nothing but mountain bike from October through January, longest of which was about 4 hours, and had several 1-2 week long off the bike periods. Weight is up to 180 from my former 150 pound racing weight. Not looking good for a 12 hour fixed ride in mountains (or big hills to some).

    Other sources of hesitance include having 2 young kids needing a lot of attention, with a guilt trip setting in every time I head out to ride. I love hanging out with them, but I still want to ride, stay in some kind of shape, and challenge myself once in a while. Pile on life as a trial lawyer, which means occasionally being on the road in trials and depositions with little opportunities to ride. Then, just the day before this ride, the Sacramento, California, area was hit with torrential rain, strong winds, hail, tornados and cold temps. I hate riding in bad weather, too. Sounding grim?

    While hanging out in my Motel 6 room in Vacaville, 10 miles from the start in Winters, I'm desperately trying to locate some local weather forecasts, not easy when these damn motels go to satellite TV with no local stations at all. National only Weather Channel is pretty useless. So, I decide to just wake up in the morning, look out the window, and take it from there.

    2:30 a.m. my wife calls and wakes me up from a dead sleep, in a panic because a smoke detector at home was chirping loudly, indicating its battery needed changing. These things always happen when I'm out of town. So, I spend an hour on the phone talking her through where the batteries, ladder, etc., are, then trying to get the thing down and open. Not easy with some of these entire house integrated smoke detection systems now. My alarm then went off at 5 a.m., and I darn near just said screw it to go back to sleep.

    After lying in bed 15 minutes, I forced myself with the greatest display of will power of the day to get up and start getting ready. Slamming down two Starbucks bottled coffee drinks provided the necessary motivation to get out the door. Not too cold out, maybe high 40s.

    Got loaded up in the car and think I'll get psyched up with some good music from the XM radio. First song to come on -- "Cat's in the Cradle." Geez. I hate myself. I'm nearly in tears missing my 2 year old. Second song, not a whole lot better, "Beth," by Kiss. What did I do to deserve this? Should I turn the car around right now? Third song, now desperately trying to find something pleasant, at least not de-motivating, I can't remember, but it was some damn Carpenters song talking about loneliness or something. Flipped the radio button over to the stupid dirty comedy channel instead.

    Got to the start and the weather wasn't that bad. Overcast sky kept the temps up a little, but still cool enough to warrant full arm/leg warmers and full gloves. At my 15 second interval start time, 6:37 a.m., I'm off, and feeling pretty good. I'm actually passing a number of people in the first few flat miles at 21-22 mph, merrily spinning along but not breathing hard. In fact, I'm feeling great.

    I decided after doing several of these hilly long fixed rides last year to keep rpms down on the descents to save my legs and contact points. Way too much chafing trying to keep up with coasting bikes on the descents. Also, this year I included several ounces of Chamois Butt'r in my drop bags to go to the 4 aid stations, which proved to be a life saver.

    Still felt very good up and down the big hills until the first aid station at 46 miles. One problem that surfaced about 25 miles into the race was my right cleat was coming loose. Damn, I hate mechanical problems. I decided to wait until the aid station stop to fix it, though. By the time I got there, it was nearly off. I've never had this happen before, but this time I had new shoes with new cleats, the newer Look red ones with white teflon parts, that also come with aluminum alloy bolts and thin washers, instead of the former heavy duty steel bolts and thick serrated steel washers. Tightened both up as best I could, but they kept loosening all day long. I probably lost 30 minutes total just repeatedly stopping to tighten up the cleat screws. Just could not get them as tight as I wanted with my smallish mini tool and because these screws have a very shallow slot. Yes, I'll change the screws to the old steel type when I get home.

    Around 50 miles I'm starting to think I'm getting a little tired, just not feeling the same power on the climbs. Then I realize that I've already gone further than my weekly average mileage the last few months, so I suppose that's to be expected. Chafing at high rpms is taking a toll, too, so I rode the brake a little harder on each descent, keeping it down to about 25 mph on hills I'd coast at 45.

    I swear I went 20 miles without seeing another rider before the second aid station at mile 77. This is in really desolate "deliverance" type country, too. I know I'm on the right route, having ridden and crewed this race 3 times before, but still it's a little weird not to see anyone that long.

    The climb up to the aid station at 77 miles is pretty steep, having some 12% or so sections and lots over 8%. That, combined with this now being my longest ride in 6 months, and with 83 miles to go for the "day loop," I was getting a little worn out, but still not as beat up as I recall at this point last year when I did it on the fixed bike, and then I used a slightly lower 66 inch gear instead of the 70 now. Had to work on the cleats again, a real pain in the butt. Took my time downing some food, banana and power bar, as well as some endurolyte capsules. Stomach was not too queasy, yet, but I always get that in this ride. I think I tend to overcompensate for the hills and not being in great shape by over doing the carbs, which is a disaster for me in rides over 8 hours.

    Even out of shape and overweight, and using a taller gear, climbing is much easier now than a year ago. A large part of this is purely strength built up from lots of fixed riding up mountains, but also a large part from switching to long cowhorn handlebars with three layers of handlebar tape, plus using some good, tight fitting, gel gloves. The combination allows me to get way forward and upright while standing, taking stress off the knees, and keeps the hands more comfortable. I almost always climb with hands out at the end of the bars were they turn up, giving a good grip and plenty of area for cushion. Another component is pacing more carefully, taking it easy before steep climbs to have reserve power for the hardest parts.

    Usually in these types of events, I'm calculating and analyzing constantly. How far to the top of the hill? What's my average speed? What speed do I need to meet my goal? Where's that 15% section? How much am I drinking? Etc. It's all the more disappointing to round a corner to see yet another 500 feet of climbing when you thought you were at the top of the hill (hills always seem to be longer than remembered), so instead this time I just rode for the enjoyment, being careful on the water and fuel, but all else just taking it moment by moment. That made it much more pleasureable, even when things got nasty toward the end.

    Had to stop several more times to sit on the side of the road and tighten the cleat bolts. Got sick of this around 90 miles, so I removed my shoes and cranked on the bolts as hard as I possibly could, risking breaking the damn things and having to SAG in (no, not that briar patch!), do or die. Heck, it worked, and they stayed tight the rest of the way. Not lucky enough to SAG, dammit.

    Right after clearing the first 100 miles in 7 hours flat (total time, including nearly 50 minutes off the bike), I blew out the front tire. At that precise moment, the one and only official SAG stops right in front of me. Someone does not want me to quit. So, he lends me a floor pump to hasten my repair, and all is well. Never found the source of the puncture, which is always a concern for having it reoccur, but no further problem there.

    Crested the last big hill at 107 miles, final aid station, and lathered on more Chamois Butt'r, now so thick it was oozing out the sides of my shorts and covering my saddle. It must have looked weird from behind, but at this point I really did not care. It made things feel sooo much better down there.

    My hands were getting numb a lot. A few weeks ago I broke a saddle, and I tried several replacements. While I settled on the same type as before, but with steel rails rather than titanium, I had gotten the angle slightly off from before (can't find my 1x1 piece of plywood). I swear the front is no more than 1/8" lower than before, but damn if it wasn't killing my hands by putting more pressure on them, plus it was much harder to ride sitting up no hands. It did make my crotch feel better though; I guess most of these things are about trade-offs. I kept moving my hands around and shaking them to return sensation, which helped but it was bothersome. It's amazing how your body can notice very small changes, especially on long hard rides. Back to the old saddle setting, I suppose.

    I expected a strong tail wind from about 110 miles to the finish, but the winds were acting really goofy. While the prevailing winds that day were from the northwest, I was getting headwinds coming up the canyon as I was headed southeast back down to the valley, sometimes so strong I had to pedal hard to go 18 mph down hill. I'm envisioning headwinds all the way back to the finish at 160 miles, which seemed pretty ominous at the time, despite my desire to live for the moment.

    After the last aid station at 127 miles, now down in the flat land of the valley, the headwinds turned neutral or to slight tail wind. My butt was hurting, my hands numb, and my stomach starting to feel a little bloated. No bonk, though, as I'd consumed an entire 24 ounce can of Cytomax by now, plus a few peanut butter Powerbars and misc food. The ride was turning into the dreaded survival mode death march, mainly relieved by the fear of getting hit by a car from the rear on roads with no shoulder after passing a large Indian casino, with all its extra nutcase traffic for 20 miles. One idiot in a small Japanese compact got his jollies pitching a coin at my butt, on target, which stung like hell at the 60 mph or so closing speed. I'd have killed the guy had I been able to catch up on the bike.

    Even with only 6 miles to go, I stopped and reapplied a little Chamois Butt'r I saved from the last aid station. It took a few minutes, but was well worth it to ease the chafing. I really didn't care about my performance at this point, as I was going to arrive at the end of the day loop with too little time remaining to get in an entire 18.5 mile night loop. So, happily I got to the finish around 11 hours or so, announced my completion to the scoreboard volunteers, and hung it up.

    My post mortem this time isn't very enlightening, except to say that I don't think I'd have finished at all without having learned a great deal from trying these things on the fixed bike the last year or so. I must say, long distance riding in mountains is incredibly harder than doing it on a proper multi-speed bike with aerobars. You never, never get to relax or rest on the bike. Your points of contact take a beating with no recovery along the way. You must stand on all climbing over about 2-3%, which is actually a relief later in the ride, but it takes a toll on you. Incidentally, I can recall earlier times when I'd wear out riding a few hundred yards out of the saddle -- now, even out of shape, my body can handle it almost indefinitely, at least 1 1/2 hours continuously. That's adaptation. In the end, I'm torn between thinking it took too long and I didn't go far enough, to I can't believe I even finished the 160 mile day loop.

    Next goal is to lose weight. This has got to be easier on the muscles without having to haul an extra 30 pounds of mass up the hills, and easier on the points of contact not having to support it, too.

    This should be an inspiration to all nutcases who want to do a long ride with little training. If I can, most anyone should be able to. Thanks for reading. Later.

    Doug

  2. #2
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    Congrats Doug...

    Your epic rides are always amazing to hear about, but this one might take the cake. In other instances you rode against mind-boggling time or performance goals. Of course those rides pushed you against your body's limits, but this ride sounded much more... personal. It's one thing to set off on an epic ride with a full set of training and a clear head. It's something else to do it under-trained and missing a couple little ones back at home.

    The context of your fitness and training (or not) build-up made the challenge more like what first time century riders do. With all your experience at ultra distance riding the perseverence in the face of physical & #!*&% mechanical adversity speaks to the underlying drive and character that helps you succeed in these cycling challenges - and other parts orf your life, I suspect.

    Plus, you're my main resource for discussing distance fixed gear riding issues. It's hard to find others who ride fixed gear for century+ or mountain rides. My mileage has dropped off this year... a separation will do that... but I have a few fixed gear tours lined up for the summer. Your story will help me to remember why I should keep Chamois Butt'r along.

    Congratulations again. I'm glad you're back on the bike - if even just for a day.

  3. #3
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    Doug,

    I heard you were doing the 12/24 when I registered Friday afternoon. I had hoped to meet you at the start. I followed your postings on C2K and CCD fixed with interest last year. I rode the Dinky Double option of C2K when they ran it in 2002 and did CCD the same year (both geared). So I know what you accomplished riding those courses fixed. As it turned out, I was almost late arriving on Saturday morning and they called my start just as I rolled into the parking lot, so I simply turned around and rode on.

    Sounds like you had a tough ride. I know what its like to do an event when you're not really ready or fully committed. Glad to hear you stuck with it though. The day and the course were beautiful, especially the leg south along Cache Creek.

    If you find yourself riding more in the coming weeks, consider returning for the Davis Double next month; there will be a handful of us out there fixed again this year.

    Regardless, it sounds like you've made some good choices about your life's priorities!

    Peter Burnett

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    Go, Doug!

    It's inspiring for me to read about somebody getting it done with experience and determination because life's real demands make the training so difficult. At the end of the 600k I did a few years ago another rider commented that it was very unusual to find himself talking with 2 brevet riders with children at the same time. Keep riding, keep reporting, good luck with the 30 pounds and thanks for showing how much is possible.

    On a technical note have you ever tried Body-Glide? It does nothing to relieve an existing problem, but I find it way better than greasy stuff for preventing chafing and blistering.
    We have nothing to lube but our chains.

  5. #5
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    See....

    Quote Originally Posted by DougSloan
    Usually in these types of events, I'm calculating and analyzing constantly..... so instead this time I just rode for the enjoyment, being careful on the water and fuel, but all else just taking it moment by moment. That made it much more pleasureable, even when things got nasty toward the end.
    Doug
    Now that is more like it, next thing we know you will start riding to work every day while taking pictures and posting on the commuting forum.

    Hard core!
    Quote Originally Posted by the_dude
    these are better than i was expecting, and my expectations were already rather high.

  6. #6

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    glide

    Quote Originally Posted by rusa1586
    It's inspiring for me to read about somebody getting it done with experience and determination because life's real demands make the training so difficult. At the end of the 600k I did a few years ago another rider commented that it was very unusual to find himself talking with 2 brevet riders with children at the same time. Keep riding, keep reporting, good luck with the 30 pounds and thanks for showing how much is possible.

    On a technical note have you ever tried Body-Glide? It does nothing to relieve an existing problem, but I find it way better than greasy stuff for preventing chafing and blistering.
    Yup, tried that, but it didn't seem to do much for me. I think I need more substance, a thicker layer, especially on longer rides.

    Yes, for endurance rides, most people appear to have grown children or no children. I was putting in 4 times the hours and 10 times the event time before children. I've found that my speed is closely associated with my time spent training, plain and simple. Hours on the bike count for a ton.

  7. #7

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    thanks, guys

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter B
    I heard you were doing the 12/24 when I registered Friday afternoon. I had hoped to meet you at the start. I followed your postings on C2K and CCD fixed with interest last year. I rode the Dinky Double option of C2K when they ran it in 2002 and did CCD the same year (both geared). So I know what you accomplished riding those courses fixed. As it turned out, I was almost late arriving on Saturday morning and they called my start just as I rolled into the parking lot, so I simply turned around and rode on.

    Sounds like you had a tough ride. I know what its like to do an event when you're not really ready or fully committed. Glad to hear you stuck with it though. The day and the course were beautiful, especially the leg south along Cache Creek.

    If you find yourself riding more in the coming weeks, consider returning for the Davis Double next month; there will be a handful of us out there fixed again this year.

    Regardless, it sounds like you've made some good choices about your life's priorities!

    Peter Burnett
    Thanks. Do you all keep wondering why you do these things during and then right after the event, but then days later you forget that and start planning the next one? Am I the only one who does that?

    I'll probably not do Davis, but just look toward Climb to Kaiser next. Doing that fixed is really, really hard.

  8. #8
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    Glide and parenting.

    Try putting the Body Glide on the chamois as well as greasing yourself up.

    As for the children, the lost training time has felt like a small price to pay. When I consider that I've been able to complete 50 mile runs and brevets up to 600k while raising the boys, my lack of fitness doesn't appear to be much to complain about. You've been able to work a tougher job and continue participating in ultra-cycling at a higher level than I ever did and will probably continue doing so. I know the feeling of finishing races and feeling like I would have done a lot better with more time to train, but the gratitude for being out on the course with the young and tough lasts longer and gets me to the starting line for the next one. For me the key is keeping my spirit up and my weight down. ymmv.
    We have nothing to lube but our chains.

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