Well where do I start. First of all this type of race does not work well in this race format because some of the questions are just non-existent so I will adapt because I understand that this is a Triathlon race forum. The start - It was awesome. 51 riders - $100K worth of bikes minimum - Red blinking rear lights - head lights - darkness (4:00am) - stars (Middle of nowhere Iowa) - A Cemetery :) (appropriate).
A group broke off the front and I followed in the 2nd pack. Averaging around 15-20 mph depending on conditions. I did not go out too hard which was key for me. Race my own race. Had one fun time about 20 miles in. Was on the right side and caught a lip of the gravel and ended up in the grass. Pretty funny. No one even asked if I was alright as they rode by though :(. Met a lot of good people this part of the race and just chatted and enjoyed a good easy pace!
Made it into checkpoint #1 (40 miles) Washington, Iowa at 7:00am (1 hour ahead of deadline) and was feeling very good. Went to a local coffee shop that opened up just for us and had an Walnut Oatmeal Sconce - Supreme delicious!!!
Eric and his bike (Al's is the Orange Salsa)
Took off with Eric on the way to checkpoint #2 (110 miles away). Eric was from Florida and this guy just pushed on through hills that I know he has never seen before. I was very impressed by him and his endurance! It was an honor to ride with him as much as I did!
Had to confirm a couple of streets and the info to make sure we were heading the right direction. All was good! Hit our first B road (unmaintained) and my road brakes did not like the mud. Had to walk the bike to the gravel road (not a long walk at all!) and proceeded to clear the mud. A local farmer came up on his quad and we asked how he was doing. He proceed to ask what the hell was going on (in a good way). He had never seen this many bikes in his area at one time. We chatted and headed down to his place for some water replacement. A great guy and we appreciate your friendliness and generosity!
So we continued on towards Checkpoint #2. We hooked up with Al from Wisconsin but he just dropped us like we were turtles. My right upper arm started to hurt a little at this point and I just brushed it off - but I would find out later my improper planning would put a major damper on my ability to finish.
My bike, pack, and snack at stop
Came into North English around 10:30am and got some fuel. I bought some water, gatorade, pizza and chicken fingers, and a pepsi. Eric told me I was crazy and was going to be puking that up in about 1 hour. So I took a picture of it for before and after. The after never happened :) Headed out into the gravel wonders of Iowa and the headwinds started kicking up. This leg was mainly west bound and the wind was out of the southwest so it was brutal at times. The shoulder kept getting worst every hour. I never remembered to purchase any advil at the stops I hit which was a mistake!
The hills - well I have never ridden that many hills in my life. It was like a roller coaster set up. You would ride up the hill, coast down a little, ride up a bigger hill, coast down a little, ride up an even bigger hill then coast down and start over. I would say at least 80% of the 151 miles I hit was hills. I was prepared physically but it was still punishing at times! I loved all the different grades they each had. Some you could cruise up in an easier gear - others you were grinding up in the lowest gear you had!
The gravel was solid except where they had just laid down fresh gravel but it was not fun to ride on with the tire width that I had chosen. About mile 80 the darkness sat in. I rode up to Eric and told him I was bailing because of my arms. He told me to give it 10 more minutes so I pulled over and reworked my pack. We came up with an idea to find a store and but some bungees to strap my pack to the rack. We saw a truck stop in the distance and my reprieve was getting closer. I pull into the truck stop, go inside and find bungee cords and I bought a styrofoam cooler. Emptied my backpack out, refilled the water, drank some gatorade, had some doritos and a pepsi. Pack was substantially lighter now and I was feeling better about the race.
We headed out from the truck stop and I proceeded to drop Eric in the hills. This is the last I would see of him until checkpoint #2. There was a lot of lonely riding, some cool B roads where I had to walk the bike some, and a couple of grueling hills where walking was as fast as riding but easier on the legs so I walked those as well. I caught some people and that really jazzed my spirits. Chatted with one while we walked some B roads and decided that I needed to pick it up to make the cut off so off I roared.
It was a special time when I would have to switch cue sheets because I knew we were that much closer to the checkpoint and water! I failed to fill up my bladder at the truck stop and I ran out so I was rationing a 20 oz bottle of gatorade! Not too smart my friends! I hit the 2nd to last cue sheet and knew I was going to make the cutoff but had decided to pack it in there for some reason.
Coming into LaGrange, Iowa we crossed a flat highway and hit the biggest hill of them all! I was like come on why could you not have let us cruise blacktop flatness into the rest stop. No way. Gravel and hills. The recipe for the sufferfest :) Pulled into the checkpoint with 35 minutes to spare. The guy went to pull a set of cue sheets out and I told him to save his energy I was done. Called the wife after I found out how to get where I was and proceeded to rest and recover. That was the biggest mistake I made all day!
What would you do differently?:
Train on gravel roads (which I do not know of any in the western new york area but will research that).
Have my rear rack pack so I am not carrying a backpack that weighs 20lbs for 30+ hours.
Get in a better mental spot from the beginning!
Bike with disc brakes and a wider tire clearance.
Post race Warm down:
Sat around the checkpoint and waited for SAG wagon to arrive (81 miles away). Ate a pizza, drank a lot of water, had a Mr. Pibb Extra, chocolate milk, doritos, and anything else I could find to eat.
What limited your ability to perform faster:
This event for me was not about speed but about endurance. That being said I will be training harder and faster from now on to make these types of events a little more manageable.
This is an awesome event put on by 2 people who set up the whole course, arrange volunteers, and basically give up their lives for months to make this ride happen. Guitar Ted and D.P. get such major props for running this - I was honored to be in the company of such awesome people at the start and throughout the day! Major Props!
I think I made the SAG wagon call too soon. I ran out of water coming into checkpoint #2 and was rationing my last bottle of gatorade. If I was thinking clearer I would have replenished my supplies and my body's water some and then thought about it more before I made the call. I bailed too early and that is something I will have to live with until next year if I line up again.
I woke up in my own bed Monday morning and I was not happy with my decision at all. I told my wife that from all the people that pulled out, I would be able to go further the next day because my legs felt fresh. I was running up the stairs to the room at the hotel and I drove 13 hours home from the race. I am not happy with my decision but I have to live with it.
I went to thank the RD at the finish line before we pulled out and I told him I didn't know whether to thank him or kill him.
That was the most physically and mentally demanding thing I have ever competed in. Makes boot camp look easy!
I would also go with a different bike setup as well. One with disc brakes, wider tires, and a rack pack!
I was out for a ride Monday after the race and needed to adjust my cleat so I stopped by the church to get one and they were all excited to see me and hear about the race. Then the question came out - So Bill why did you stop? (not in a mean way but just wanting to know) They were shocked I stopped. So I stood there and took my glasses off and my eyes watered up and I told Kellee that when I find the answer out to that question I would let her know and I walked out.
So Bill why did you stop?