The Death Ride was event #2 in RMCC's Triple Crown Challenge Series. My primary goal was to break 15hrs, with a best-possible-outcome of 14:30. Also, I was riding the event with a crew for the first time, and this was to be practice for PBP in August.
The 2am start in Ridgway saw 4 no-shows. So the rest of us headed off to Ouray with the temperature in the 50s, hoping that Red Mountain Pass was also warm. I started out too fast with the front 2 guys, and when my HR monitor told me I was overdoing it, I backed off, settling in to a comfortable 3rd place up to the pass. The summit saw temps in the low 40s, much better than last year's sub-freezing temps.
The first checkpoint at Silverton was swift, and so were the climbs up Molas and Coal Bank, with dawn arriving about the top of Molas. In to Durango at 3h10m, so already had a good jump on my goal. Finally was able to ride Durango Hill with no problems unlike previous years when there was always something affecting me. Made it to Dolores before 10am. Not only was I slowly catching up to 2nd place, but my times were well ahead of last year. Strong ride to Rico where I chatted briefly with Andre (2nd) before he left - but I had him in my sights!
Grabbed vest and arm warmers for the looming thunder showers, and took off after Andre. That long drag to the Dunton road was perfect as I could see that I was gaining. Passed him just after the Dunton road and felt really strong up the steep part of the canyon towards Lizard Head.
Just as the road begins to shallow out after the trailheads up there, disaster struck. Within 20 strokes, the left side of my right knee, where the quad muscle attaches on the inside of the leg, gave out, and I couldn't apply any pressure to the pedals. Same thing happened to my left knee during the Last Chance 1200k last September. By the time I reached the summit, I was cold and had to put on my vest, and Andre passed me there. I got colder still as I couldn't do any work to stay warm, and the thunder showers soaked me through.
Got down to Telluride Junction shivering, and sat in the car with the heater on full blast for about 15 mins. The goal went from 2nd place and possibly breaking 14hrs, to surviving, trying to hold on to break 15. Took 3 ibuprofin and 2 aspirin and put on all the clothes I had for the wet descent to Placerville with temps in the 50s. By the time I hit Saw Pit, the drugs had kicked in and I could pedal again. So at least I knew I'd make my original goal. Arrived at the top of Dallas Divide with my jacket around my waist, still wearing leg warmers and neoprene booties while the temp had climbed to 83*!
Kept the leg warmers to protect the knees, but otherwise stripped down for the blazing descent to Ridgway. Finished with a time of 14:33, while Andre in 2nd was 13:39! So while I'm psyched with my time, I know I was on track for sub-14hrs. First place, by the way, was 12:29.
|Happy to be done in Ridgway!|
A big thanks to Fred for crewing, what a difference that makes. Perfect practice for PBP.