Tuesday, April 28, 2009

RAWROD rookie

Tyler & Erik along the Green

There are a bunch of good write ups on the ride, here are a few from some veterans:
Some perspectives from a first timer...

There were some things in the back, or, actually the front of my mind. 1 - A big day on the Calendar in August called Leadville. 2 - This is a hell of a lot further and longer than I've ever even thought about riding my mountain bike. Had put in days like this as a kid on the back of a horse herding cows across the La Sal's, but suppose the horse get's most of the credit for those efforts, although they sure seemed long for a little guy. 3 - Unsure of the unknown - how hard was it going to be, would I make it ok, what am I not thinking of, etc... 4 - This is a hell of a lot further and longer than I've ever thought about riding my mountain bike.

1 - Leadville - will also be a first timer there - and it's looming out there just close enough that I was scared not to do RAWROD, and at least get a taste of what 100 miles on the mtn bike feels like. So how'd RAWROD go in that regard? I'm more intimidated of Leadville than I was before the ride. Got rid of some insecurities, like wondering if I can ride that far, but gained some new ones. Better to know what I don't know in April vs. August I guess. Here were the Leadville motivated experiments for the day..
  • Food intake - too light of a breakfast or maybe waited too long into the ride to start eating, or, maybe my body just didn't know what to do in the unknown territory it was in past mile 40, but I felt like I was running on empty starting about 7-8 miles after Musselman Arch and it stayed that way until the lunch stop at Whitecrack. Drank plenty and tried to keep choking down food, but think I undershot it. Lunch and post lunch intake was dead on, energy levels were pretty good the rest of the way in. Fantastic learning experience in regards to feeling out how to eat over a ride that long. Can't say I figured it out, but learned a lot.
  • Discomforts - I knew for sure that there would be some discomforts at that distance, but wasn't sure what they'd be. Previous post pointed out the obvious, but got some other useful feedback from the ride as well. Feet - not sure if it was shoes or a recent swap to eggbeater pedals - but the dogs were the first to get a little squirly - starting just a little before Musselman's I was feeling the screws on the bottom of my shoes. That got old real quick, and will give credit to this little discomfort for the temporary paralysis I went into at Ray's Tavern post ride. Hands - Only other bad spot, I ride with bar ends, which give a nice alternative position to move to when your hands get tired on the bars, but they weren't enough, my hands were in poor shape for a good portion of the day. Took until today for that half asleep feeling to work out of them. Legs were good, arms and shoulders were good, back and neck were good.
  • Mindset - knew there's be some ups and downs over the course of the ride, so was anxious to see what happened to my motivation, enjoyment, form, etc... through the peaks and valleys. Benefitted from having friends around most of the day, which kind of cheats this experiment, but went off by myself for parts of the ride too and didn't sink into any institutional type soul searching - actually caught myself unconsciously smiling in the middle of one of the sand blankets the elements threw down on us countless times during the day. Felt tested here and was ok with it.
  • Little things - wanted to figure out a few little things I should pay attention to that may add up to some importance over the course of a 100 mile ride. Biggest lesson for me here - choosing lines. Given this was Moab, there was plenty of sandstone to ride across throughout the day, but it wasn't the smooth slickrock sandstone, it was mostly the ridgy, washboardy stuff - and it got downright uncomfortable to ride over by the latter parts of the day - pretty sure riding around the smoother edges of this stuff earlier in the day would have minimized some of the discomfort and fatigue I was feeling rolling across it later in the day - that stuff was the most uncomfortable part of the ride for me and think I could have avoided that to some extent by paying attention earlier in the ride.
That's enough of the Leadville race prep crap...

2,3,& 4 - The adventure...and it was one...

Met up with Eric, Erik, Steve, DT and Tyler a little after noon on Friday. Plan was to get down early enough to ride the new trails out at Dead Horse Point. That plan died a slow death as we took a wrong turn trying to find the camp, and spent two hours driving up and down roads we kept telling ourselves (and others) must be the right ones. We burned all the extra daylight we thought we'd have, got some different looks at the rim and it's massive cliffs, and rolled into camp at dusk. Got the tent set up, had some wind so put some extra rocks in corners to hold it down, then watched the wind snap a few poles. It's one thing to break poles on a rinky dink Kelty tent, but you know it's stiff when it does damage to Dug's hefty Springbar tent which also suffered a fractured pole.
  • Kenny and Elden's Brats were better than advertised, and the veteran's shared some comical stories of past RAWROD's that included silver dollar sized popped blisters in unfortunate spots among other funny stuff. This really is a fantastic group of people and we had a great time visiting and meeting a few new folks.
Tyler, Erik and Eric tackling a stiff pitch somewhere between Murphy's and Hardscrabble.

  • One minor mechanical - that sandstone I mentioned earlier rattled my chain off on a downhill section. It came apart at the powerlink, and was fortunate that Mark came by shortly after and had a spare link, half of which he gave me to make the repair - thanks man. I managed to missthread it, and Mark saved some additional damage by noticing another half mile down the trail and alerting me to it - thanks again.
  • The wind was relentless - it started at the asphalt early on in the ride, and got progressively stronger throughout the day. Strongest wind I've ridden in. Could talk about how hard it made it, but was more amused when at one point in the ride, at the top of Hardscrabble where it begins to get less steep but uphill nonetheless, where I got a good gust from behind and decided to test it - I stopped pedaling, and I'll be darned if it didn't blow me right up hill - no kidding, it was rolling the bike up a good 4-5% grade for a few brief seconds - but for most of the day it was fiercly driving against us, with some sandblasting thrown in on occasion for good measure. You had to be there... it was a grind.
  • One of the bigger highlights of the day came at lunch. DT had mentioned his legs were feeling it a bit back at the Musselman stop, and we were concerned about how he'd fare between there and Whitecrack. We'd been at Whitecrack a while and hadn't seen any sign of him, and just when we thought the object of the day was going to shift from finishing the ride to retrieving a member of the group, the rear sagwagon truck showed up with him in it. Kudo's to DT for jumping in there, it allowed us to finish the day and was the right thing to do.
  • I actually liked the light rain. The smell that comes with it out in the open desert is one of my favorites, and it was nice to have one of the senses invigorated a bit after being beat down by the wind for so long.
Finished the day with Tyler and Dug for the Horsethief climb, made an attempt to middle ring the ascent to get a taste of what Dug might feel like rowing his single speed up that beast, but couldn't hang and had to grab the small ring after a bit.

Steve and Dug at the bottom of the Horsethief climb.

Finished up, binged on chocolate milk which is my absolute favorite post ride/workout food, and then enjoyed the satisfaction that comes from finishing RAWROD - it was a hell of a ride.

We stopped at Rays in Green River on the way back - hadn't had more than just a slight hint at any cramping the entire day - but after sitting down for a few minutes, the motion of pushing off both feet to push my chair/self out from under the table to stand up triggered simultaneous cramps in both hamstrings, which has a paralyzing affect on the victim and at the same time hit's the laugh button on his buddies - suppose I had it coming after laughing at Eric's recurring foot cramps from Moab to Green River. I spent more effort on the pull portion of my pedal stroke than usual during the day after the feet started hurting early on, suspect that's what caused the hammie's to be a little on edge - and to date in my 33 years, that's the most painful spot I've ever had cramp up.

The last bit of excitement came between Green River and Price. We'd put Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in, a part of which was filmed in Moab and contained my weeks worth of work as a movie star, or at least being in a movie with a movie star. Story for another day... Anyway, we've all pretty much nodded off into a light sleep with the exception of Tyler, who's driving. Not sure who it was, but someone, with some concern in their voice, says "whoa, what is he doing" - and it was enough concern that it startled the rest of us into opening our eyes, at which point we all look up to see ourselves drifting to the left of the vehicle in front of us, with cars coming the other direction no more than 50 yards in front of us. We all yell, loudly - "Tyler, wake up - Tyler!!" Literally, the whole car yelling at him all at once, thinking we're going down in a blaze of RAWROD glory. The screaming was loud enough that it even startled Tyler, who was perfectly awake, and making a perfectly safe pass in a passing lane - until the screams scared him back into the lane behind the car he was trying to get around. Tyler is just barely a good enough guy that he didn't pull over and make us walk the rest of the way. Day started 5:30 am and ended with us getting back to home to Suncrest around 1:30 am. The ride lived up to the hype and then some, and then some more, and then a lot more.....heck of a day.


dug said...

"but it wasn't the smooth slickrock sandstone, it was mostly the ridgy, washboardy stuff - and it got downright uncomfortable to ride over by the latter parts of the day -"

that's funny, i remember talking to tyler about this somewhere out there, about how you'll do ANYTHING to avoid the washboard slickrock, including jumping stuff you wouldn't otherwise jump, and riding in a paperboy zig zag fashion, riding east and west instead of north south, as if the rock ridges were gigantic linebackers instead of little rocky humps.

cup the bars, that's the secret. don't grip em, cup em, as if they were tender, um, you know, bars.

Evil said...

Great write up man! 100 miles is a long ass way..........Why do I feel this sense of impending doom? August 15th is FAST APPROACHING Glad you guys had a good time!

eber said...

that part about the lane change is hillarious. i think i slept through most of it. i remember hearing the yelling and feeling the adrenaline surging through my arms making them feel like they were falling off. but then falling right back to sleep like nothing really happened. i thought i dreamt that...until you wrote about it.

great, great, GREAT day on the trail.

glad i could be there with you.

ps - that pic of me kind of looks like i am trying to work out a #3.

Ski Bike Junkie said...

"...it was mostly the ridgy, washboardy stuff - and it got downright uncomfortable to ride over by the latter parts of the day..."

Weren't you on a full-suspension bike? Just sayin.

I'm with you on the rain. It was welcome while it lasted, if nothing else to knock some of that dust down.

Jason said...

Dug - was fortunate to have gotten your "cupping" advice early in the day - would probably still be waiting for the hands to feel normal. And... while I think people who tell it like it is are the best kind, and my read on you is that your that kind, I was hoping you were exagerating at Musselman you told me we'd ride around almost a thousand of those points before getting to White Crack - you weren't, you were just telling it like it is. Good riding with you man...

Banks - we need to log a few more of these adventures before that August date, seriously.

Zeph - hell of a day huh! Was really glad to have you guys there to grind it out with - you rode strong.

Mark - I took a calculated risk complaining about riding over that crap on the blog, knowing several spent the day riding over it on rigid bikes. Not sure which I'm more ashamed of - complaining about it having been on full suspension, or admitting that I had the rear shocked dialed to hardtail firm all day, and never thought to loosen that sucker up to make the ride a little more comfortable. Genious!