Transplant Athlete
Monday, April 19, 2004

Long Ride

I attempted a 300k Brevet in New Jersey this weekend. So, I spent Friday driving up to New Jersey, unpacked the car, caught 3 hours sleep, and then drove down to Princeton at 12:30am. I got there early enough to have breakfast at Denny's. I talked with Jay Ambroson and Pat Cole (tandem riders from New York) before the ride. I rode with them on the 2001 Northern Transcontinental PACTour. They said that last year it was cold and rainy at the start and they were stuck wearing cold, wet gear all day long, normally they can complete a 300k in 12-13 hours, but with all the climbing (10,000 feet to 11,000 feet) and the weather issues, it took them 17 hours to finish this one. Now, I had been hoping to complete the 300k in 13 hours, but I was starting to have serious doubts. At least it wasn’t freezing cold at the start line. Weather.com said it was supposed to be in the 40s, but it felt much warmer.

We rolled off into an inky darkness punctuated by stabs of red LEDs. The first 30 miles were relatively flat (only 1000 feet of climbing) and the tandems pushed the pace really high. My heart rate was around 185 bpm, but I didn’t feel like I was pushing the pedals hard, I just knew I was blowing through my glycogen stores.

It can be really hard to read a cue sheet in the dark, which probably explains why we took so many wrong turns. You get blinded by the reflection off the cue sheet, you have to avoid potholes, and then your eyes have to readjust to the darkness. After the second wrong turn, I took out my cue sheet and made sure I always knew the next two turns. We pulled into the first control point around 6am, putting our average speed at 17 mph. I booked out of the control point as fast as I could and tagged on with a group of 3 guys, but I missed a turn on my pull and we blew past the turn. We were able to get back on the course, but any time advantage we had built up got blown away. We met up with the tandem and a bunch of other riders.

At some point around the 35 mile mark, I got dropped by the group. I was running out of gas. I had been using small “shots” of Hammer Gel and small sips of a concentrated Perpetuem mix and apparently it wasn’t enough. Those who’ve read previous posts here know that I’m trying to get my nutrition and hydration dialed in, my performance at the 24 hour Sebring TT was cut short by a small bout of dehydration that I overcompensated for and gastrointenstinal distress that really caused distress. I switched over to my standard training fare, (a PowerBar every hour) and I got some of my energy back.

At 44 miles I stopped for a “bio” break and a small group caught me. I hate riding these long distances alone, so I followed them down a steep windy descent, but I got dropped on a hill before Hackettstown (around mile 47). I passed them as they were stopped in Hackettstown(mile 56), but they passed me again leaving Hackettstown(mile 57). I was passed by another rider near the I-80 overpass around mile 63. The weather was pleasant now and I was feeling better, but I wasn’t going very fast and my heart rate was still in the 180’s.

Near Spring Valley, about 78 miles into the trip, my right pedal came apart. I still had the pedal axle, but nothing to keep my foot linked to the pedal. My foot would “unscrew” itself every couple of revolutions. I limped into Blairstown and mailed the postcard for the control point and then continued on to the Kerr’s Corner Rd. My parents used to own property on Kerr’s Corner Rd, so I knew when I saw people riding on 94 South that they were headed in the wrong direction.

I limped up Kerr’s Corner rd and out to Johnsonburg, My nutrition plan was working, but my legs were feeling the strain from all the climbing, and my pedal was annoying the crap out of me. When I got to the control point at the 90 mile mark(6000 feet of climbing), I was beat, I bought a sandwich, cheetos, and Gatorade and took a longer break.

The next control point was nearly 70 miles away and included over 4000 feet of climbing. My average speed dropped to around 13 mph and meant I wouldn’t be getting back to my car until nearly midnight. I had until midnight to complete the ride, but that’s a lot of time to be on a bike for just 189 miles.

I wanted to Sag forward, but I had just watched Diane drive away, so I had to ride forward. As I was ready to pull out, Diane drove back to the control point and I asked for a sag, she got me a ride to the next control point with a woman who was supporting her husband(I’m sorry I forgot her name). Her two kids were watching “Finding Nemo” in the back of the van. At the next control point, Diane said she would give me a lift to the start/finish line, when her relief moved forward from the previous control point. However, she needed to sag a rider who was cramping up, and it would take her another hour to get me to the start finish line. There were approximately 4 of us out of 30 who DNF'ed. Now at this point beggars can’t be choosers and I’m eternally grateful for the sag support, but I wanted to get out of my skeezy cycling clothes; and also, I was ashamed and embarrassed of myself for not completing the ride. While getting sagged, I saw Jay and Pat toiling up a hill on their tandem and it hurt telling them I was DNF’ing because of a mechanical. I get the impression that they have a very low opinion of my cycling ability and DNF’ing wasn’t helping that impression. Since there was around 1000 feet of climbing in the last 30 miles, I figured I could make it if I took it easy. I limped along the Canal desperately wishing it was over.

In the end, I logged 120 miles with about 7000 feet of climbing. I got to see a Peacock strutting across the road, and I got to see some awesome scenery. I feel I definitely nailed my hydration and nutrition(straight water on the bike and one endurolyte per hour – no gastrointestinal distress at all). On Sunday, I cycled around with my mother for a half hour to get some active recovery in my legs.
Thanks Diane for organizing a great event, it was an amazing challenge.

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I've gone through kidney failure twice. The first time in 2000, my mother donated a kidney; and again in 2008, I'm on dialysis waiting for a breakthrough in immuno-suppression medicines before seeking a new kidney.

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