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Old 07-29-2013, 09:52 AM   #30121
Mr Head
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I'm real sure I'll never even think about trying this. But, amazing.
I drove around a lot semi-GARMIN-lost in central Penn when I was out there for work this Spring, (Our spring still pretty much winter there judging by how cold I was all the time). And found it to be steep hills and narrow valleys. I only strayed off on a couple of trails, and a little hiking but rain forced me back tot he car and Starbucks. I am after all a GS Adventure rider.

Part of the reason I came back to cycling was to get fitter for riding that big pig of mine, but mostly for the fitness. I'd always judged mtb as about three times harder than road cycling partly due to the wheel mass, but mostly because of that terrain awareness thing. You don't get to relax much. 20 miles wears me out, 100 would leave me dead somewhere under a bush.
Being out there all alone though is cool, creepy at times, but cool.
Like when I fell off on a steep section at Mountain Lion Access and when I put a hand down to get up, noticed the paw print next time my hand.
Dusk, nobody knows where I am, other than away on the bike, and no cell connection. Zero traffic after work during the week. Yeah, that part of the alone is creepy. The part where I ride for seven miles and I'm away from everything that is the usual in Orange County, that is the cool part. Ride around a corner from desert blazing sun into canyon shade with song birds.
And snakes!

More of the creepy... For now my mtb is still hanging upside down in the garage. I'll have to drag that thing down and do some harder core climbing training.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ridge View Post
Racing these ultra-endurance mountain bike events is truly a life-altering challenge. I don't say that to be trivial or melodramatic... pedaling alone, in the remote wilderness, for 100 miles will cause you to reflect internally on your highest and lowest life moments.

That much solitude, combined with digging into deep, deep reserves of mental strength to continue the physical stresses of forward progression will swing you wildly from temporary moments of Zen immediately followed with vile, Tourette's-level of cursed epithets at the cycling gods... It's cathartic.

I've come to accept that I'll never be the guy on the podium at one of these events. It's not about that... truly. Entering an ultra race has more to do with soul searching and exploring the limits of my own abilities than overall placement. I'm not saying I go out there and soft-pedal the whole thing; I'm still racing the clock and pushing my body to its breaking point in every race but I've experienced these transcendental moments of reality that makes one appreciate being alive. It's those moments that I reflect on most often after an event.

This past weekend I raced the Wilderness101 ultra in Coburn, PA. It has a reputation as one of the most historically epic races on the east coast and I now understand why. Coburn sits at, almost, the geographical center of Pennsylvania. State College (home of Penn State) is the nearest city and there are hundreds of miles of wilderness in every direction. Gravel roads and deserted hunting shacks dot the hills and landscape over some of the oldest geographic features in the nation.

Rocks, rocks everywhere! I now understand why Pennsylvania is called the Keystone state. Every trail and off-pavement "road" is littered with rocks in every shape and size you can imagine. They start out small and harmless but quickly transition into immense boulders felled from turn-of-the century rail tunnels that would crush a car. The rocks are half-buried at times and jut out from the earth in blade-like formations along the trail. They sit idly by like the black widow silently awaiting her prey. One wrong move or mis-placed tire will thrust your foot into a crevice or along loose scree that sends your foot scrambling for traction. Picking your way through miles and miles of single track literally covered in every direction with rocks the size of car wheels will test your ability to maintain composure and calm. There is no clean line to ride over them. It's just point and shoot at every turn of the pedals. The crank arms hit and bounce along the tops of the rocks just to remind you that you are not in charge... they are.
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Old 07-29-2013, 09:54 AM   #30122
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Part of me wants to just ride the distance, have that over, then sit and relax. Part of me likes the idea of a day long plod and waddle eating my way across my home state.
Probably end up doing a little of both. 145 mile day? I'd a picked that day to drive as well. Good call.

Quote:
Originally Posted by El Guero View Post
You just have to learn to pace yourself... I did a little over 300 miles of riding last week, which is about 8-10x what I usually do in a week of commuting. You've got all day, there's no hurry, just pedal 10 miles, take a break, have something to eat, take a nap, go pedal some more. Nothing like what Ridge is up to now

But seriously, people of all kinds of fitness levels were out there. I just made sure that I was aerobic every time I went up a hill, no matter how long it took me. And if it was a really tough hill, somebody had always set up a water and banana stand at the top of it Assuming I'm doing it again next year, I think I will try to ride more and lose some more weight in preparation, just to make it more enjoyable since the route will probably be more difficult. But, that wasn't necessary to have a good time this year.
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Old 07-29-2013, 10:11 AM   #30123
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Quote:
Originally Posted by El Guero View Post
RAGBRAI ended on Saturday afternoon. The wife and I rode every day except Monday (which was also the longest day). Had to pick one day to drive the team vehicle so I figured I may as well pick the hardest one

Hit the road most days around 8:30am, which meant that pretty much everybody else was already on the road. Most days were right around 50 miles and we finished up around 3pm most of the time. Longest ride I'd gone on this year previously had been about 33 miles but doing more miles is easy when you've got all day and there are plenty of places to stop. 62-odd miles on the last day was my all-time record, but beautiful weather and a bitchin' tailwind made it easy.
Seriously awesome. I absolutely LOVE RAGBRAI! I'm bummed that I missed it this year but had to make a choice between it or Wilderness. In hindsight, I'm sure I would have enjoyed Iowa more but at least I now have PA under the belt.

The best features of RAGBRAI (besides the little hotties riding alongside) is the Food! Tom's turkey breast sammich with a smoothie really hits the spot and they are always located perfectly along the route where I'm ready for a break. This is followed closely by Beekman's root beer floats...

Dammit I want a turkey breast sammich now.
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Old 07-29-2013, 10:14 AM   #30124
Mercury264
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ridge View Post
Racing these ultra-endurance mountain bike events is truly a life-altering challenge. I don't say that to be trivial or melodramatic... pedaling alone, in the remote wilderness, for 100 miles will cause you to reflect internally on your highest and lowest life moments.

That much solitude, combined with digging into deep, deep reserves of mental strength to continue the physical stresses of forward progression will swing you wildly from temporary moments of Zen immediately followed with vile, Tourette's-level of cursed epithets at the cycling gods... It's cathartic.

I've come to accept that I'll never be the guy on the podium at one of these events. It's not about that... truly. Entering an ultra race has more to do with soul searching and exploring the limits of my own abilities than overall placement. I'm not saying I go out there and soft-pedal the whole thing; I'm still racing the clock and pushing my body to its breaking point in every race but I've experienced these transcendental moments of reality that makes one appreciate being alive. It's those moments that I reflect on most often after an event.

This past weekend I raced the Wilderness101 ultra in Coburn, PA. It has a reputation as one of the most historically epic races on the east coast and I now understand why. Coburn sits at, almost, the geographical center of Pennsylvania. State College (home of Penn State) is the nearest city and there are hundreds of miles of wilderness in every direction. Gravel roads and deserted hunting shacks dot the hills and landscape over some of the oldest geographic features in the nation.

Rocks, rocks everywhere! I now understand why Pennsylvania is called the Keystone state. Every trail and off-pavement "road" is littered with rocks in every shape and size you can imagine. They start out small and harmless but quickly transition into immense boulders felled from turn-of-the century rail tunnels that would crush a car. The rocks are half-buried at times and jut out from the earth in blade-like formations along the trail. They sit idly by like the black widow silently awaiting her prey. One wrong move or mis-placed tire will thrust your foot into a crevice or along loose scree that sends your foot scrambling for traction. Picking your way through miles and miles of single track literally covered in every direction with rocks the size of car wheels will test your ability to maintain composure and calm. There is no clean line to ride over them. It's just point and shoot at every turn of the pedals. The crank arms hit and bounce along the tops of the rocks just to remind you that you are not in charge... they are.


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Old 07-29-2013, 10:18 AM   #30125
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ridge View Post
Seriously awesome. I absolutely LOVE RAGBRAI! I'm bummed that I missed it this year but had to make a choice between it or Wilderness. In hindsight, I'm sure I would have enjoyed Iowa more but at least I now have PA under the belt.

The best features of RAGBRAI (besides the little hotties riding alongside) is the Food! Tom's turkey breast sammich with a smoothie really hits the spot and they are always located perfectly along the route where I'm ready for a break. This is followed closely by Beekman's root beer floats...

Dammit I want a turkey breast sammich now.
Did get Beekmans, but never got around to Tender Toms. There's always next year though
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Old 07-29-2013, 10:40 AM   #30126
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Cry

8 Miles into my ride yesterday and boom! My crank self detonated. Just dropped it off at the shop to see what kind of damage I'm in for....

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Old 07-29-2013, 10:40 AM   #30127
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Ridge

Guero

Congrats to you both. Two very different kinds of riding, but both presenting some incredible challenges.
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Old 07-29-2013, 11:38 AM   #30128
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Old 07-29-2013, 12:14 PM   #30129
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The organizers of the Wilderness race are a bit more sadistic than others. They have laid out the course such that, all of the climbing is done on gravel forestry roads. Beautifully graded, steeply pitched and long enough to hurt. As you crest the top, however; you are immediately turned into the woods and thrust into a screaming downhill single-track scramble along rocks, roots, scree, ruts and turns that rate an 11 on the pucker factor scale.

This rinse and repeat of mild-mannered climbing followed by seat-of-the-pants descending pummels the riders into submission over the entire course. There are moments of brief, albeit welcomed, fast, flat-ish sections where you can just motor along some groomed double track. I even got about 12 others into a loosely organized pace line on one section. I had to teach them about throwing an elbow and how to pull through smoothly, but it helped to ease some of the work for a few miles.

Transiting the rocky single track was my Achilles heel... I need more time in the saddle navigating these kinds of trails to be more proficient. I know I over think and analyze the "line" too much while I'm out there, but it's just too ingrained to avoid. I just don't have access to trails of that intense technical requirement close by so I'll have to just ride as many as I can before next year.

This video is just ONE of the many descents into various levels of hell: (Not my video, just an examples from last year's race)

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Old 07-29-2013, 01:15 PM   #30130
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Quote:
Originally Posted by YakSpout View Post
Ridge

Guero

Congrats to you both. Two very different kinds of riding, but both presenting some incredible challenges.
Man, I'll say.

Seriously hard men.
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Old 07-29-2013, 01:27 PM   #30131
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I think I could do about 20 miles.
Then I'd be on the side puking.

I suck at single track in low brush like that. Running, bicycle, or dirtbike I have to mull over each choice. Though a few times running I got into this zen mode. Very cool. It was like floating. I just knew where I wanted my feet, barely even looked.
Bicycle, not so much. More like an old woman with a walker on ice... shopping for melons.
20 miles would be fun.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ridge View Post
The organizers of the Wilderness race are a bit more sadistic than others. They have laid out the course such that, all of the climbing is done on gravel forestry roads. Beautifully graded, steeply pitched and long enough to hurt. As you crest the top, however; you are immediately turned into the woods and thrust into a screaming downhill single-track scramble along rocks, roots, scree, ruts and turns that rate an 11 on the pucker factor scale.

This rinse and repeat of mild-mannered climbing followed by seat-of-the-pants descending pummels the riders into submission over the entire course. There are moments of brief, albeit welcomed, fast, flat-ish sections where you can just motor along some groomed double track. I even got about 12 others into a loosely organized pace line on one section. I had to teach them about throwing an elbow and how to pull through smoothly, but it helped to ease some of the work for a few miles.

Transiting the rocky single track was my Achilles heel... I need more time in the saddle navigating these kinds of trails to be more proficient. I know I over think and analyze the "line" too much while I'm out there, but it's just too ingrained to avoid. I just don't have access to trails of that intense technical requirement close by so I'll have to just ride as many as I can before next year.

This video is just ONE of the many descents into various levels of hell: (Not my video, just an examples from last year's race)

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Old 07-29-2013, 02:55 PM   #30132
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Man, I'll say.

Seriously hard men.
Ridge, yes. I am still one of the softest and pinkest that I know
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Old 07-29-2013, 05:35 PM   #30133
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ridge View Post
Probably 30% of it was singletrack... rocky, snap-your-leg-in-pieces singletrack. The remainder was double track and jeep trails. The only pavement was at the start/finish, leaving the town we were in. I managed to bounce my rear chain stay off a nice rock whilst trying to avoid hucking my body off a cliff to a meat grinder demise. I now have a sweet dent in my drive side chain stay and the derailleur is out-of-whack. Gotta see if I can find some frame repair.

Couple of sweet bruises and cuts but intact for the most part. Luckily it did not rain on the course or I seriously might not be here to type this. Those rocks were dangerous enough without being wet.
Sounds like what my buddy said about the stupid (sp?) 50. Y'all are both nuts.

My hat's off to ya. All I did was hare a trail for the Hillbilly Hash, get lost in the woods, ran out of terlit paper, ran out of flour, and had to wait for the pack to catch me so I could lead em towards the first beer check! I'm 'shorts line to sock line' covered in cuts. Them sticker bushes ain't friendly!

M
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Old 07-29-2013, 05:36 PM   #30134
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Originally Posted by Rajin Cajun View Post
8 Miles into my ride yesterday and boom! My crank self detonated. Just dropped it off at the shop to see what kind of damage I'm in for....

At least you have a cheap bike with Campy cranks so I'm sure it won't be that much.

Hope they at least get you going again soon.
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Old 07-29-2013, 05:39 PM   #30135
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ridge View Post
It's just point and shoot at every turn of the pedals. The crank arms hit and bounce along the tops of the rocks just to remind you that you are not in charge... they are.
Riding rocks is a skill like anything else. There's usually *A* line. Get off that line and you're in for a world of hurtin (or walking).

Momentum is your friend. So it letting the wheel bounce around some.

...and no. I'm not very good at em either. Not enough practice. I used to be so-so in the rocks, but that was back when I was riding em more frequently.

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