Sunday, June 24, 2018

Mavic Haute Route Rockies 2018: Stage 2 Boulder to Winter Park

Today’s post is going to be short and sweet as I am writing it on my phone due to a lack of WiFi and I am too tired to find out if one is a available.  I will update it with more detail later, so do check back.

We left Boulder in the sunshine heading to the first timed section of the day, the climb up Sugerloaf.  With sections with a gradient in excess of 15% and only the first climb of the day it was going to be an epic day.  I felt good on the climb and enjoyed hanging with different riders.

The second timed section was rolling with some hard climbing and gravel.  I started the climb feeling good, then boom my chain broke.  It took me time to untangle the chain which had wrapped itself tightly around the bottom bracket, then a minute to figure out that the speed link had failed.  By then the group behind had caught me and luckily the Mavic Support car was right behind.  As you can imagine if you have ever raced I was eager to limit my loses.  Whilst the Mavic car was a life saver it seemed to take forever and the mechanic could not engage the new link.  I stepped in and connected the link and thought I was off only to find the chain run behind the front mech.  The chain had to be broken and re threaded.  All in all I lost between 10 - 20 minutes.  Back on the bike I pushed a little harder to try to recover lost time.

There was a long ride between time section 2 and 3 during which we were rained and hailed on.  Not fun.  We arrived at the feed station before section 3 to receive conflicting information.  We were initially told the section was cancelled due to the weather.  The Haute Route team told us the road was clear.  The state patrol officer thought it was a bad idea.  In the end after waiting around we headed out for the 20km climb up Berthoud Pass.  On retrospect it was a bad idea.  The weather closed in and at the top the snow was blowing in sideways.  I found the climb hard due to a combination of riding hard earlier in the day, the weather and the altitude.  I felt light headed, sick and had periods of difficulty breathing all whilst trying to maintain a steady tempo.  I conseeded to riding within myself.  At the top I could have bailed out but with another rider just ahead I decided to ride to the finish.  The decision was seriously flawed,  touching speeds of 50mph in driving / freezing snow everything started to shutdown.  My head froze, my eyes felt like they were freezing, visibily was minimal.  I could not feel my hands and I experienced waves of altitude sickness decending quickly from 11297ft. I was riding my brakes hard and repeated the mantra, rubber side down, stay up over and over again as I felt my vision tunneling.  As I got lower the temprature lifted a little and I was able to make it to the finish.

At the finish a Haute Route official said let’s get you warm which was a great suggestion but then proceed to lead me to the official bag drop and leave me.  Freezing and disoriented it took me a few minutes to figure out where I was.  I finally saw Phil’s bike in a cafe opposite and walked in.  As soon as I sat down my entire body started to shake violently.  The guys at the table were amazing, they got me tea and soup, but my mind and body would not respond.  I got in to some dry cloths but the shakes just persisted.  I want to thank everyone at the table for there help.  It took 2 hours before things started to settle down.

Thank goodness for the support of Team Type 1 staff. The got me back to the hotel and once in the room I had a hot bath, short sleep and a much needed massage.  Now it is time to sleep and recover for Stage 3.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Mavic Haute Route Rockies 2018 Stage 1: Boulder - Boulder

The alarm clock went off at 4:45 am this morning and for once I had no  trouble getting out of bed.  I think the adrenaline had been pumping all night in anticipation of the start of stage 1.  I headed down to breakfast at 5:15 am and meet a few more riders at the breakfast table.   Then it was back to the room to get ready.

At 6:15 am I joined the rest of the team at the team bus to pickup water bottles and pump up my tires.  Everything was dialed in and the team was there to look after us and wish us luck.  At 6:50 am we rolled to the start line with 200 hundred of our newest friends, ready for the start of stage 1.

At 7 am the neutral roll out started with a police escort through Boulder.  It was a chance to settle in and get ready for the stage ahead.  For those of you that are not familiar with the event it is not a point to point race.  Each stage has a number of timed sections and the GC (general classification) is taken based on the time sections alone.  This means that after the timed sections you are able to stop to re-fuel at the feed stations before riding to the next timed segment.

Stage 1 timed sections:

1:  Lefthand Canyon climb starting at mile 8.2 and 3134 ft.
2:  Timed decent starting at mile 23.3
3:  Dirt road timed section starting at mile 50.5

With the overall profile for the day looking like the following:

At the start of the climb the group exploded and I settled into a tempo whilst watching both my heart rate and power, both of which I had no reference for due to the change in altitude.  My goal being to rely on perceived effort in relation to the numbers.  I tapped out a steady tempo and started to work my way back up the field.  I caught and pasted the bulk of the team and continued on.  I could see the next group ahead and slowly rode up to them.  with about 14K to go (I had to switch to metric so I could use the race queue sticker provided) I caught the group and tagged on.  The grade was not steep enough to negate drafting and I was beginning to tire although I still felt good so I worked with the group.  I kicked with 4K to go and that was a mistake, I was not able to maintain the same level of power and the group came back and passed me as I worked to get out of the red zone.

Just after the timed section was the feed station and we pulled over to take on more water and food.  I did not know it then but I had also failed to take on enough fluid during the climb.  I would discover that mistake in time section 3.  As a team we rolled out to start the decent with Phil and Dan leading the charge.  We tore down the hill as a group.  I had not anticipated the small little incline before the end of the section and lost a little time.  From there it was on to the next feed station to prepare for the final dirt road flat timed section.

This is where my earlier mistake kicked in, I could feel my legs beginning to cramp.  It was not the best feeling in the world but I was able to sit in with the group as we raced across the hard pack dirt.  Right an the end two of the team came by and I jumped on for a perfect lead out to the final line of the day.  From there we rolled into the last feed station then rode out the last 12k of the day back to the hotel.

Whilst out on the course Sarah was tracking me remotely via the Haute Route site and I received text's om my Garmin informing me of my age group position.  I was very happy with the results for the day, 5th in my age group and 22nd overall.

Once back at the hotel the order was lunch, nap, massage.  Thank the stars for Tina the Team Type 1 masseuse looking after me.  She put me back together ready for action tomorrow.

After a short nap we headed over to the rider briefing for tomorrow.   Both the stage and the weather look tough for tomorrow so after dinner at the hotel it is time to rest and recover for Stage 2.

If you are enjoying these posts please think about a small donation to Team Type 1, the official charity partner for the Haute Route by visiting my fundraising page, no amount is too small.

Keep it Rubber Side Down and MaxLifeOut.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Mavic Haute Route Rockies 2018: Registration Day

Waking up this morning was thankfully not as hard as I anticipated.  I headed down to breakfast around 6:30am (5:30 pst).  Walking in I bumped into another rider (Michel) and we shared  breakfast together and exchanged stories.

It was then back to the room to get ready for a last ride before it all kicks off.  3 of the Team Type 1 riders hit the road at 8:30 for what should have been an uneventful flat ride.  I say should of because right out the gate my power meter was not working, thankfully it was as simple as a flat battery and solved when we got back.  With none of us familiar with the roads I mapped out a course and then proceeded to take wrong turn after wrong turn until I finally got us going is a straight line.  The first half of the ride was great until a wind storm hit us.  I have never been in wind so strong, for about 10 mins we were scoured with dry leaves, twigs and just about everything else the storm could throw at us and fortunately nothing big, like a tree branch.  We then rode into a strong head wind for the next few miles until it decided we needed a shower, followed by more wind and then sun.  By the time we got back we had been blow dry.

With registration opening at 11am, I packed up my winter cloths and helmet  (I had read they wanted to see that riders had them at registration).  I then walked to the registration hotel, which was probably not the best plan and I am blaming the effect of altitude.   At registration I picked up my rider packet, bags and kit, no one wanted to see my gear but you can bet your life if I had left it behind they would have.  The Haute Route staff where really helpful and got me sorted.  I checked out the other vendors.  I was disappointed not to have won the custom shoe fitting but picked up a water bottle as a consolation.  I really did not want to walk back with everything I had just been given, that would have been very unpleasant.  Thankfully the Team Type 1 crew were there to look after me.

Back at the hotel I got stuck into sorting out my kit and post race bag for tomorrow.  It was not until I finished packing it I realized I would not need it as the race finishes at the hotel (Doh!).
I fitted my frame number and transponder.  Ok, so the frame number was a challenge.  I seemed to be the only one that could not get it to sit right.  I finally gave up and used my number bracket.  I really missed the support of Sarah who would have had me sorted and organized in a fraction of the time.

I was really hoping for a nap but by the time everything was done it was time for a massage.  OMG I did not think I was that tight or sore.

From massage it was back to the other hotel for the riders briefing.  The whole two different hotel thing got old really quickly, it took 30 minutes to walk and an advertised 6 minutes by car which was more like 15 with traffic.   After the Briefing it was back to our hotel and out to dinner with the team.

It was a nice location but I thought the restaurant server had sent someone out to hunt the food it took so long to arrive.  Ok I might be being a little unfair, I was hungry.  It was great hanging with team but as the time went on I felt my self waning and finally decided to say good night.

The race starts at 7am tomorrow with breakfast at 5am, that's a 4:30am wake up (make that 3:30am with the time difference).  I am sure for some it is even worse.

It has been a long day and I am sure it has been the same for many of the riders.  Wishing everyone a safe and fun day 1 of the Haute Route Rockies tomorow.

Keep it rubber side down and MaxLifeOut.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Mavic Haute Route Rockies 2018 - Travel Day

You have got to love travel days.  A necessary evil for me now. but I can remember a time in the dim and distant past when I actually looked forward to flying.   After a night filled with restless energy and anticipation for the journey ahead I woke at 5am ready for Daisy our love bug of a dog to slip under the covers for an early morning cuddle. 

With bags packed Sarah drove me to the airport.  That might not sound like a big deal but for Sarah it is.  She faced her anxiety about driving in rush hour to see me off.  It is just another example of the support she provides for which I am so grateful.  On the drive to the airport I checked on the status of my bike.   I decided to ship it using and FedEx. I  entered my tracking number and discovered it was out for delivery.

Whenever I can afford it and sometimes when I can't, I try to upgrade my flights to either business or first class to make travel as painless as possible, you may think this is flashy but I don't do it for status, for me it is simply worth it to make the journey a little less unpleasant and today It certainly made getting through to the security line easier.

And then there is security.  I know it is necessary but does it really need to be so unpleasant, it is like a vortex that sucks the happiness out of everyone in the line.  Wouldn't it be different if the security personnel where cheerful and treated customers with respect and enthusiasm vs suspecting everyone.  I know this is unfair and I certainly would not want the job, but just imagine what could be. 

I got over it once I got dressed for the second time and finished with the security guard riffling through my backpack.  Go figure, my bag of electronics sailed through but fruit and a bag of potato chips set off the alarm.  

The rest of the flight was pleasant with the added bonus of food on the plane that I could actually eat.  Now that is something that does not happen very often with my diet.  

Upon arrival there was a driver arranged to take me to the hotel where my bike had been delivered and placed in my room.  What a different experience to having to drag my bike bag around with me.

After assembling my bike it was time to meet up with the Team Type 1 crew in the lobby and meet a couple of the riders.  After a few logistics we headed out for a nice dinner and good company.  It feels good to be here and tomorrow things get even more real.

I will be heading out for a short 1 hour recovery ride in the morning after breakfast then over to registration.

If you are enjoying these posts please think about a small donation to Team Type 1.  You can help me meet my fundraising goals by visiting my fundraising page, no amount is too small.

Keep it Rubber Side Down and MaxLifeOut.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Mavic Haute Route Rockies 2018 - The Adventure Begins

Haute Route, Mavic and Team Type 1 logo's

It was last year when my friend and the founder of Team Type 1 Phil Southerland shared his involvement in the Mavic Haute Route as an official charity partner for the event. Phil's stories inspired me and after a little research I decided the 2018 Haute Route Rockies would be my next big challenge.  As a bonus I could do it with my friends at Team Type 1 and help raise funds for a great cause. 

You can help me meet my fundraising goals by visiting my fundraising page, no amount is too small and will make a big difference.

Since the decision was made, training for the event has dominated my life.  From nutrition on and off of the bike, equipment, bike fit and planning.  The training started in December and since then I have spent 261 hours on the bike, ridden 4364 miles and climbed 197340 ft.  My legs have been almost constantly aching, I have had sore hands, feet and nether regions.  Sounds like so much fun doesn't it.  The things we put ourselves through for a challenge.  I could not have gotten here without the unwavering support and encouragement of my wife Sarah.  From nutrition to bike cleaning she has been with me every step of the way.   I am very grateful for the support of my coach and friend Jim Lehman who has kept me going through both the good and the bad and finally a thank you to my nutritionist Scott who helped us dial in different fueling options.  And now after all the training I am packed up and ready for the adventure to begin.

I have trained to race and I don't mind saying I am a little apprehensive as well as being nervous and excited all at the same time.  The event will be at altitude which is a complete unknown with regard to how my body will react.  I have never raced back to back for 7 days so that is also a big unknown.  I doubt myself and have high expectations of myself at the same time ,which I can tell you messes with your head.  The one thing I do know, is for better or worse it will be epic and I invite you to share in the adventure and join me on a journey into the unknown.

Thanks for reading and remember, keep it rubber side down and MaxLifeOut.