‘Epic Ride’…only a few in a lifetime

In training for Ironman each year for the past 5 years, I’ve done lots and lots of bike rides…and each year, many training rides over 100 miles….and thousands of rides over a lifetime

…and out of those thousands and thousands of rides, I only remember a very few

…those are the Epic Rides

Yesterday was an Epic Ride 🙂

My last Epic Ride was with Iron Daughter in 2009, in preparation for Ironman Florida…her first Ironman, my 3rd.  It was in August, and we were staying in Vancouver for the month, enjoying the perfect time of year to be there.

Lisa and I decided to ride from Vancouver to Whistler along the Sea to Sky highway…the only road that connects Whistler to Vancouver…beautiful scenery…76.75 miles, and uphill…and we couldn’t find much at all about anyone that had actually done it…those that had heard of someone who had…inevitably punctuated their commentary with incredibly dire warnings about the ‘road of death’ and ‘impossible’ and stuff like that…

…elevation in feet…distance in miles

As you can see, you get a pretty flat ride for the first 45 miles, and then up it goes…Sea to Sky…ultimately finishing at the Whistler ski resort…beautiful.

We completed the ride in 5 hours and 18 minutes…a terrific ride…stiff uphills…a few blasting fast downhills…gravel and rocks on the shoulder…high-speed traffic…but nothing horrible…

It was an Epic Ride, primarily because I did the ride with my daughter…priceless…and it was beautiful scenery, and a tough ride…and we _knew_ we could do it by the numbers…but what a great feeling when you actually accomplish it….and you don’t even really realize the magnitude of the ride, until you drive it back in the car…unbelievable, we kept saying as we saw the hills and distance that we had covered…

Epic Ride of all time 🙂

Yesterday was an Epic Ride for a lot of different reasons.

I rode from Davidson NC to Asheville NC just for fun…I rarely just ride for fun…I ‘train’…I’m always ‘training’…yesterday I just rode for fun.

Yes there was a training element…it was going to be a long ride day…either 4.5 hours with High Intensity Intervals, or a longer 6 hour / 112 mile race rehearsal ride…and as I was contemplating it going to bed the night before, for no particular reason, I suddenly thought…I wonder how far Asheville is? …so I got up, checked it out on the computer…125 miles biking…hmmm…a bit long…and straight uphill in the last 25 miles…hmmm…seems like a bit much…don’t want to overdo it, kill off my legs and step on my workouts for the week coming up…but…interesting thought…maybe…

When I set out in the morning, I wasn’t committed to it…just for yucks, I figured that I’d enter ‘Asheville’ into my new Garmin 800 bike GPS…lovely new toy…dying to try it out…and at least find some new roads to ride…30 minutes warm-up in, I needed to decide if this was going to be a fast ‘Interval’ 4.5 hour day, or long ride 6 hour day, practising my 190-200 Watt race day power…I decided to go long…and just followed the GPS turns as it took me along…mile after mile…onto some great roads that I’d never been on before…nice.

It was one of those incredibly strong leg days…I was working constantly to keep power down into my race goal range…220-230 Watts felt easy…but I also know that’s a way to cook my legs…190-200 Watts target…I stayed cruising, and the miles and time went by…rolling hills…predominantly uphill…using all the gears, but just about all aero all the time.

A few hours in, I started to muse about what I was going to do…it was a beautiful day…50F going out the door, high for the day to be in the low 70’s…light winds…leaves just starting to turn color…so as I was getting towards 3 hours, I figured I’d make the decision…either keep on going, or turnaround…3 hours back…6 hour ride…done.

So I figured that I’d call my wife 3 hours into the ride to see what she’s up to…around 12:30…as I go out the door on a bike she always says ‘I’ll have my phone with me’…ostensibly to get the fateful call which she supposes that I’ll dial while crushed in a ditch somewhere…as it turns out, she rarely answers it when I call…and yesterday was no different…so I left her my usual message ‘Well, so much for SAG support’ 🙂

…so I was 55 miles into the ride…Asheville was about 70 miles away…there was that BIG hill in the last 25 miles…hmmm…well I decided to ride on…now past the point of no return, the only question was how far I would go.

At this point in the route it parallels Interstate 40, which runs into Asheville, so my plan was that once I caught up with my wife…we _always_ have a Saturday night date, so I knew that she would come up for air at some point…that she could drive out to Asheville…a 2 hour drive…and that I could drop down to the Interstate and she could pick me up along the way, and continue to Asheville for dinner…nice touch for something different to do.

The route actually crosses the Interstate just past the 100 mile point, a few miles before the mountains _really_ begin, so I thought that would be a good default pickup point…now about 2.5-3 hours away.

So at 2pm, I did finally get my wife on the phone…always delighted to hear from me, she was out shopping…I told her the good news that we were having dinner in Asheville tonight, laid out the impromptu plan…my wife doesn’t really do that well with impromptu…so with her mind racing trying to digest this news…she said that she could get back to the house, get a shower (what?)…and be in the car by 3-3:30.

…so the plan was set…although at this point, running the math, that would put her in Asheville by 5:30’ish…and at my 100 mile crossover at 5:00…I was going to be there before 4:00…hmmm…so I called again @ 3:00…no answer…3:10…no answer…3:20…’I’m walking out the door’ she said, obviously pleased with herself and her ‘fast’ turn-around

‘I’ll see you in Asheville…I’ll call you around 5 to figure out where to catch up’, I said

…the die was cast…I was going to Asheville.  A big part of that was that once past the 100 mile point, the road up the mountain is away from the Interstate and follows small, twisting, sinewy switchbacks…my wife would _never_ be able to find me once committed to the mountains.

….so that’s how it came to be…122.475 miles, 7 hours and 25 minutes…Epic 🙂

I entered the mountain climb suitably warmed up….6 hours and 105 miles into my ride…my speed dropped to 6.2MPH, as I dialed my head and legs into the task

…the ride up the mountains was tough but steady…my legs never failed…I focused on maintaining 200’ish Watts of power…speeds often dropping to 5MPH on the steep pitches…there was that dog chasing thing up a steep pitch that drove my speed from 6MPH to 12.5MPH, and Heart Rate from 136 to 155 in a matter of seconds…the noisy, barking chase at my pedals lasted just over 1 minute, but the overweight mutt obviously not in shape to run up steep hills, slowed, fell back, and was left standing, heaving, barking weakly…good news.

I did pass a sign that said Eastern Continental Divide Elev 3028…presumably my peak elevation…and then the steady plunge down the backside of the mountain towards Asheville…without cell phone coverage in the mountains, my 5pm call, became 5:30 as I reached the Interstate again just before Asheville…done

By the numbers…entire ride 186Watts average/200 Watts norm/124 Heart Rate average…very nice…best power for 60 minutes (CP60) between 6 & 7 hours on the BIG uphill 198 Watts average/211 Watts norm/132 Heart Rate average…solid…TSS 361.40/IF 0.713…definately a workout 🙂

…my wife was there in a few minutes…drive over to the YMCA for a shower…she had brought a change of clothes…good news…just no shoes…so it was either sweaty bike shoes or just socks…luckily in the hippie town of Asheville, anything goes…so went with socks…and sitting at dinner at our favorite Italian restaurant in time for our 6:30 reservation 🙂

Beautiful, ‘romantic’ dinner…we’d considered staying over, but feeling fresh, back in the car, 2 hour drive back…at the house by 10:15.

As I was writing this post, it suddenly struck me that, that was a pretty long ride…so I looked it up…yes, my longest ride for both distance and time…ever…good to be in shape at the tender age of 57

Epic Day 🙂


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4 Responses to ‘Epic Ride’…only a few in a lifetime

  1. Elsie Kwiatkowski says:

    Steve,thank you for sharing,the interesting stories of your 2 Epic Rides.These are defining moments in our lives.They help to shape,who we become.

    • Dad says:

      Mom, as it turns out an early Epic Ride that I remember as a young lad was on my Road King bike to the Richview Library for the first time by myself
      …ah the freedom of that bike 🙂

  2. Anne Boone says:

    WOW! You make me feel like a feeble old lady. I’ve done 2 100 mile rides, on the flat, and that was plenty. What did you eat on that ride? I would have needed a bunch of Uncrustables and Fig Newtons…a big bunch.

    i can’t wait to see what you do in FL.

    • Dad says:

      Anne, I eat between 400-500 calories per hour…on this ride it was 3 x PowerBar gels per hour = 330 calories + drinking Ironman Perform then Gatorade for another 100’ish+ calories per hour

      …on hotter days, when I’m drinking more, it’s 2 gel per hour + Perform/Gatorade

      In terms of FL…me too 🙂

      …of course, my plan is to be so ‘contained’ on the bike, that I have a stellar run…oh yeah…relaxed swim as well…keep forgetting about that swim

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