So, I finished it
. All 110 miles and 16000 feet of it.
It was a hard, fun, amazing ride. Even more so than the shorter 62-mile route that I've done previously, this is a human-powered roller coaster. Grind your way up some awful climb for 30 minutes, then scream down a beautifully twisty descent for 5. Then maybe you've got a brief flat section before you start the whole cycle over again.
It took me about 13 hours, which is about 50% longer than what the fastest folks require. I'm fairly confident that when they post the times, mine will be the longest of any of the finishers. I knew going into it that my fitness was well short of ideal for the ride, but I took inspiration from this quote from an interview
with the guy who created the ride:
Originally Posted by Sandy Whittlesey
One of the great things about epic rides is that they are so mental in nature. Ultimately your body deteriorates and there is no technology or chemical or anything other than your own mind that can find the way through it. Often, you see riders of very average physical ability doing very well in distance events because they have the perfect mindset for it.
I felt confident from my experiences on the shorter D2R2 and on unsupported solo centuries that I've done that I had the right mindset to finish this, and that's pretty much how it worked out. I was packing some pretty low gears (MTB crank, giving me a 22x27 granny), and I wasn't afraid to use them. I kept my cadence up and my heart rate moderate, ate and drank regularly, and felt great for about 95% of the ride.
For Mercury264: I used my eTrex to navigate for the first time this year, and it worked great. Previous years there was no GPS route available, and so I just used it as an odometer and read the cue sheet. But the cue sheet is dense and hard to read while in motion, so I would spend lots of time stopped to make sure I was going the right way; Missing a turn on this ride can easily mean several hundred feet of extra climbing when you have to backtrack.
This year, with my gadget beeping at me every time I was approaching a turn, it was much easier. I couldn't just follow its directions blindly, because there are a few spots where the course follows bike paths or unmaintained roads that aren't in the GPS maps. But it was usually pretty obvious when I needed to ignore the gadget and consult the cue sheet instead. Most of the time it was dead on, and overall I spent much less time trying to figure out which way to go this year than in previous years.
I rode my Fargo. This is my first long ride on that bike (and actually this ride was one of my main motivations to buy it). I can safely say it's a keeper. Next year I'm going to put a fatter tire on the front to soak up the bumps a bit better (had a 700x32, wish it'd been a 700x40). But the bike itself was comfortable and composed on nasty roads, and not too much of a boat-anchor when climbing. The BB7 disc brakes are great -- consistent, easy to modulate, and one-finger powerful. All very nice things to have when descending a steep dirt road with lots of protruding rocks.