Saturday, April 24, 2010

RAWROD TT 2010 Trip Report

It is hard for me to put words to paper that even come close to expressing what riding the White Rim is like. I will make an attempt but I am sure it will be inadequate.

At 8:00 everyone lined up on an imaginary start line and headed out. That was the last time I would see Kenny or any of the other fast riders. I was still standing by my car when they left and headed out less than a minute after the main group. I rode most of the day solo which turned out to be a good thing.  Sometimes it's nice to just be alone.

The White Rim is an enormous place with absolutely breath-taking views. I felt extremely small against the towering cliffs and trail that disappears on the horizon in both directions. I don’t listen to music while I ride so I am left to live in the moment. There's the sound of tires on dirt and the occasional motorcycle or Jeep but for the most part silence. The trail has many smooth flat sections where you can just cruise and allow your mind to wander but there are also sections that go for miles and miles where the trail firmly holds your attention. Your world stretches to the horizon one minute to the 10-15 foot stretch of dirt and rock in front of your tire the next.

I passed a lot of riders going the other direction, but there is one that will be hard to forget.  It probably has something to do with the banana hammock thong and pink halter top he was wearing.  I just wonder in a situation like that do you just smear the shammy butter directly on to the saddle?  I didn't stop to ask and sorry I didn't get a picture. 
My bike ran flawlessly throughout the ride. The only mechanical I am aware of was on Elden’s step-son’s motorcycle. Just after coming by me at the 50 mile point he threw a chain. Luckily he had the tools needed to fix it, the 50 mile mark is the absolute worst spot to break down. Really it was just like an overgrown bicycle and we had the chain back on and running in no time. I'll have to be honest it really scared me at first and the pit in my stomach did not go away until he fired it up and took off. Since he had the proper tools it turned out to be a very minor issue.

Here is the view looking forward at the 75 mile point. The Shaffer Trail snakes up the cliffs to the top of the mesa.

It is true that for the most part the trail is flat, but there is still a substantial amount of climbing to be had.

At the top

The final 20 miles consist of smooth road, 10 miles of pavement slightly uphill followed by a buffed out 10 mile slightly downhill dirt road, a perfect way to finish when you're tired.  The perfect ride, thanks to Kenny for pulling it together.

Lessons Learned

I like real food. I ate white chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies and Pringles which was a perfect choice as far as my stomach was concerned. The only problem with this food is that every 15-20 miles I had to stop and get it out of my Camelbak. The time it takes to stop this often really adds up over the course of the day. It makes me wonder if I should start looking into and experimenting with gel or shotblocks which take up less volume and would be easier to access and eat while riding.  Anybody have any tips on this?

I wish I had more time to explore and take pictures.  Everywhere I looked was a picture, I had an almost overwhelming urge to stop and take pictures or just stop and take in the views.  For the most part I resisted in favor of pushing through and trying to make a good time.  I wish I would have been able to stick around for the slower paced group ride. 

This was a good confidence builder, my first self-supported White Rim trip. I still have a long way to go but I think things are going in the right direction. It is going to be a fun season.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

RAWROD Twentyten

A few weeks ago I got an invite to Kenny’s RAWROD (Ride Around White Rim One Day) ride. I did this once with him back in 2001 and it kicked my trash, took me 11.5 hours to finish and I came in dead last. There were about 10 of us riding that year and it has grown exponentially since. I was planning on doing this ride last year until I found out that my son’s Pinewood Derby was scheduled on the same day. The decision was obvious, I stayed home, a decision I will never regret.  We had the fasted car and won the "Best Design" award.  Apparently they don't give awards based on finish time to avoid hurt feelings.    

A few days after Kenny posted the details of the Twenty Ten RAWROD I got a knock on the door from my son’s den mother with a flyer and a Pinewood Derby Kit, and of course across the top of the flyer was the date, April 24, 2010. They did it again. I am out for the supported group ride on Saturday but there is another option. Here is a short expert from Kenny’s email.

With such a large group, the ride tends to spread out with greater and greater distances between the faster and the less-fast-but-still-awesome riders. Some people act like this incredible group ride isn't a group ride at all, but is instead a race.


To address this problem, I've added a non-supported, ride-at-your-own-pace-and-at-your-own-risk ride on Friday, April 23rd, for people who want to see how fast they can ride the loop. You must carry everything you need for the entire 100 miles, including everything to repair basic bike failures and all the food and water that you will need to finish the entire ride. The ride takes me between 6 to 7 hours. I carry two tubes, a patch kit, a pump, a chain tool, and a multi-tool. I need a 100 oz bladder and two water bottles and about 1200 calories of food. You should know your own needs and plan accordingly.

Pain and suffering will occur.


The supported ride will be on Saturday, the 24th of April. If you choose to come on the supported ride, you are accepting the fact that this ride goes slowly. We will stick together. We will only be as fast as our slowest rider. I do not want to discourage people who want to try to complete this ride. Many riders, myself included, have started a 100 mile ride not knowing if they would be able to complete it. That's one of the things I love about endurance riding - pushing yourself to discover what you are physical capable of doing.

Looks like I will be doing the Fast Ride on Friday. I have to admit that I am a little scared. If something goes wrong I could fairly easily find myself in a life threatening situation. White Rim is about as remote as you can get, no cell coverage, no water, no food and no shelter. Once you start the loop you are fairly committed to finishing it, there are no shortcuts or pull out points. I thought about doing this ride last year but did not trust my bike or my body enough to take the risk. This year I have a new bike and I feel much stronger. I think I will be able to pull it off without too much trouble.

The last time I rode the White Rim was a supported trip, I didn’t have to carry all of my food or water and I knew that if I had to I could just hop into the Jeep. Something about knowing that if you are ill prepared you could die has helped me be a little more motivated to prepare this year. I have been riding a lot and have a few high mile rides under my belt this year with good results.

On Friday I took a practice exam to see how I would do on the final. I loaded up the Camelbak with 100 ounces of sugary syrup, and dropped two additional bottles of water in my jersey pockets. I packed a large bag of peanut butter M&M’s, four granola bars and headed out the door. I rode out to Antelope Island and did the same loop I did last week, ran into four Buffalo that scared the crap out of me and another rider named Mike (I think, I am really bad with names) seemed like a pretty cool guy, I invited him to the group ride I am starting on Tuesday nights.

After the ride I was planning on doing it again but was too freaked out by the Buffalo so I rode up to the BST in Kaysville. The BST in Kaysville is only 3.5 miles from one parking lot to the next, it seems so much farther. I rode 21 miles on this trail and passed the same hiker six times it was a little maddening. I was running short on daylight so I cut the ride a little short and made my way home with a total of 90 miles for the day and a pretty good representation of the White Rim trail.

So how did I do? I wanted to focus on keeping my stomach happy and the energy level up so I was very cautious about how much and when I was eating. I had to force myself to eat and drink and for the most part I was successful. My stomach was happy until I finished and my legs stayed with me the entire time, no bonk. It was a fun day. I think I will be able to pull off the Fast Ride with out too many problems and still make it back to the Derby on Saturday if all goes to plan.

Wish me luck…

Monday, April 12, 2010

"Short Ride"

I worked a half day on Saturday and wasn’t really planning on going for a long ride. Since the mountains to the East are still muddy from our snow storm last week and I didn’t have much time I decided to head out on the road toward Antelope Island. I had three hours and ten minutes, my plan was to turn around after 90 minutes giving myself a ten minute buffer.

Did I happen to mention that I was on my new bike and that it’s FAST? I rode for 90 minutes at which time I was exactly 25 miles from my house and exactly ½ way through the figure-8 single/double track loop on the island, the natural turn around spot.

My wife has been incredibly understanding about letting me get out and ride lately and I know that making her late for a dinner appointment with one of her girlfriends would not go over well. To make it home on time I would have to travel the same distance in the same time plus my ten minute buffer.

Everything was going smoothly until I hit the east side of White Rock Bay Loop where I had a bit of an incident a couple of weeks ago.  Four Buffalo were grazing just off the side of the road. Normally I would have just blown by them but for some reason that just didn’t feel right so I took a little bushwhacking detour up the hill and just out of sight. As I crested the top of the bluff I ran right into the rest of the herd, so I split the difference and took the middle ground between the two. As soon as I felt I had gotten enough distance I made my way back to the road without incident.  I picked up a slight tail wind and drained the tank on the causeway and farm roads leading back to my house.

Total ride time was 3 hours 16 minutes.  I was 6 minutes late, but after many years of short rides turning into long ones 6 minutes was a very acceptable margin for my wife.  Thanks Sweetheart.  I felt like I was going to vomit a lung for the rest of the evening. 

I think I found my new favorite "training" ride, a couple of laps and it comes out to a cool 100 from my front door, if only someone could do something about those pesky Buffalo.

When I was a kid I had a terrible fear of dogs. I got over that. I now know when faced with an angry dog there are three options, out run, punt or make friends. I have never lost employing this strategy. As an adult I have a well founded fear of Buffalo and I think I need a new strategy for dealing with it. Any ideas?