Sunday, April 13, 2008

Never Stop Learning...Mulholland Challenge 08 Ride Report

When I was much, much younger than I am today a friend's parent told me to never stop learning. "You'll continue to encounter valuable lessons throughout the rest of your life; things will happen, you'll meet people who will teach you things. If you leave your mind open to each of these experiences and allow yourself to learn from them you'll be a richer, wiser person" or something like that. I've never forgotten that quote, despite all the heavy drinking and recreational drug use I've managed to hold onto that quote and live by it pretty well. One thing I learned in my formative years is this: "The more difficult something is the more rewarding it is when it's done." along side that I've figured out that "the more adversity you face, the more you take away from it". Yesterday was very difficult, and wrought with adversity. Here is a list of the things the Mulholland Challenge taught me...

1. Read the Route slip. When you are riding a ride that is 110 miles and has 12,000 ft. of gain you should follow directions. You should especially follow directions if the ride consists of riders doing 100 miles, or 200 miles, because if you follow the people doing 200 miles it WILL take you off course and you're not going to know you're lost early enough. So always follow directions. Within this lesson I also learned that adding an unexpected 10 miles and 1200 ft. of climbing is bad. And by bad I mean not good.

2. Gloves are good. Fingered gloves are good to have for these rides that start cold and then warm up very quickly. I thought I was being smart by not packing any cold weather gear since the ride was only going to be cold for the first hour. "I'll deal with the cold" I told myself...And I did, in a numbingly painful way. I couldn't feel my fingers to pull the brakes for the first 30 minutes of the ride. It was miserable.

3. Eating is good. Unlike centuries past, I forced myself to eat according to schedule. I planned on alternating Hammer gel and Clif Bloks every 30 minutes. This combined with drinking Cytomax and washing down a salt tab every once and a while should keep me sharp and focused and crampless. I stuck to the plan pretty well. So well in fact that I felt comfortable enough to give one of my last bags of blocks and my last two salt tabs to an ailing rider on Stunt road. Of course on the home stretch My left thigh cramped up so bad that I thought I was going to fall off my bike. I only brought one extra serving of Cytomax though, I should have brought 2 extra.

4. Decker rd. is an Evil Mistress. It's true. Decker lures you with the prospect of glory, then pummels you with ridiculously steep gradients. You hear stories of the road that is Decker and you think how much of a legend you'll become when you've ridden up it. You get past what you think is the most difficult part, onto the sections that are only slightly less steep and then it tempts you with false tops that bend around deceiving corners. Every time you think the climbing is done around that bend, it bends around again in the opposite direction to expose more road that is much higher than where you are. The rest stop on Decker is where I took my longest break. It was the hottest part of the day, and I was completely out of water and Cytomax when I got to the top.

5. Once you've climbed Decker, everything else seems like a highway overpass. I thought the climbing on Cotherin was hard. I thought sections of Topanga were a bit difficult. I thought parts of roads all over Southern California were difficult, but none of it is anything like Decker.

6. A 12-25 cassette is not suitable for this ride. It might be for some others, but not for me.

7. Heat sucks. No matter what Doug Wolfe tells you, riding in the heat is really, really hard. Nothing works efficiently when you're really hot. Your heart rate runs high, you process fluids much faster, you cramp easier. Yesterday peaked at around 95 degrees. It was ridiculous. I told myself "I've ridden in heat like this, I'll be fine". Wrong. Yesterday was a struggle. Despite the fact that I never bonked and staved off any cramping until the last mile I was still contemplating dropping out at one point.

8. Eating nothing but Clif Bloks, Hammer Gel and Bananas all day is bad. I don't really need to tell you the details of how I figured this out, I'll just tell you that it's bad and you should take my word for it. Also, at mile 104 bloks just stop tasting good. I ate half a bag at the last rest stop, and left the other half there, I've never done that before.

9. Not all Descents are fun. Descending down Yerba Buena, Cotherin and Deer Creek was the worst part of the ride. The roads were more poorly maintained than the restricted roads in Griffith Park and the asphalt was rougher than your grandma's calloused hands. I had parts of my body going numb that never go numb on rides, and my feet, legs and shoulders killed because of it. I washed out in one bend and nearly lost it too, which left me a bit sketched out for the rest of the ride.

10. This was the best ride ever. Now that I've had time to sleep on it and recover a little bit I can say with some confidence that I really think this is one of the best rides ever. Despite the few rough roads the ride took me though some of the most beautiful parks of Southern California. I couldn't believe how beautiful some of the views were. There were definitely times that I wanted to stop and take a picture, but that just wasn't going to happen as the 123 mile ride took me about 10 hours without the tourist stops.

The route for Mulholland challenge. It was difficult, but extremely rewarding.


Erik said...

Congratulations on your ride. I am pleased to read that you completed what seems an arduous day.

Now what is this about recreational drug use and heavy drinking?


Bill Meadows said...

right on man! good seeing you out there! cool that those extra miles were given to you for nuthin'!!!!!!

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