Sunday, October 26, 2014

Hotter'N Hell Hundred: What was I thinking??

I crave adventure.  Sometimes I bite off more than I can chew.  While I usually choke it down, it can be painful.  That was the case with the 2014 Hotter'N Hell Hundred.  This is a ride I have wanted to do for a while.  It get upwards of 12,000 riders which hosts a pretty fun atmosphere.  I have never done it because I have never been that close to it and since I am not a bigillionaire it has never been an option.

Starting position depends on estimated finish time.  Turns out that I was in the right group, the only problem is that it took about 30-45 min to cross the start line after the canon.  When you are trying to beat the clock to Hell's Gate I was a little concerned.  I also had a great time talking to people at the start.

After moving to Louisiana I was as close as I would to Wichita Falls, TX as I ever may be.  By close I mean a 7 hour drive.  Since I had surgery in April and I had to cancel my attempt at the Dirty Kanza I decided that I needed something exciting.  So about 3 weeks out I managed to get a room at Sheppard AFB and implemented my standard training plan.  Let see how I did with that:

1. Ride as much as possible: I rode as much as possible (which was not nearly enough).  By now people who actually read this blog may be asking themselves "for a guy that likes to ride and has a lot of bikes, he sure doesn't seem to ride much?"  This is a valid question with a sort of simple answer, I currently work a job that starts at 0600 with physical fitness training and ends between 7:00 and 8:00 p.m.  I am usually pretty tired and since I live very close to work riding doesn't do much.  I do get a lot of riding in but not 4-6 hours at a time very often.  

2. Get a good set of tires: New 28c Gatorskins, need I say more?  To be honest, the roads were mostly horrible and I wish I had bought a new set of 32c Gatorskins.  Either way there was not flatting, so it was a win!

3. Drink a bunch of water: I did a lousy job of hydrating for the several days before the ride.  As usual.  But it was not for a lack of trying, Louisiana is hot and virtually impossible to stay hydrated.  As for the 7 hour drive, I may have overdone it with the Red Bull and Rock Stars.  Though I was generally concerned about the heat and I drank a fair amount of water.  As it turns out, Red Bull is not a good hydration tool.  One thing I did use on the ride was Hammer Nutrition Endurolytes which were great as I didn't cramp and that is a common problem for me.  I am usually not a big supplement guy but I would do this again.

4. Shove my jersey pockets as full of calories: My attitude towards calories has changed over the years.  I think it is more about timing than what you eat.  I buy fewer actual "energy bars" and I like to eat every 45 minutes and I don't care if it is an "energy bar" or a candy bar or a burger.  It takes all things when you are out for a 5+ hour ride.  I done good on this.  At the midway point Cliff Bar had a huge nutrition station with tons of free product.  I was glad and filled pockets for the remainder of the ride.

I got to the parking lot at about 4:45 in the morning.  I couldn't sleep well and I was unsure about how fast the parking lot would fill.  This is the Giant Revolt bicycle which is a great all around bike.  It is pretty relaxed for road bikes and it was a pleasure to ride.  I wish I had left the third water bottle cage on the down tube.  I made the saddle bag and top tube bag.

As for the ride I didn't get to many pictures.  There is a reason for this, if you don't get to the 60 mile mark by noon or so they don't let you finish the 100 miles and reroute you on a shorter route.  I didn't intend to spend a ton traveling there only to ride 75 miles.  I was concerned with the heat and cramping so I didn't want to mess around.  Honestly, I love harsh landscapes, I see much beauty in them where others may not.  I am kind of sad I didn't get more but that is ok.  

Admittedly it is the flattest century I have ever done, so when I say it was my fastest 60 miles on record it is not surprising.  Though as I turned through the "Gates of Hell" it was hot, the end of the ride was well over 100 degrees and there was a horrible headwind so the record was easily wasted.  

I didn't have any issues with leg cramps, but I ate religiously every 45 minutes.  Water was the biggest issue for me.  I chose to only run with two water bottles, there were a couple of reasons for this.  The first is that I am an idiot and only managed to leave the house with one and I got a free one in the swag bag.  The second was that I cannot reach the bottom down tube one and didn't think I would need a reserve.  That was a mistake.  Early on while it is not hot people don't line up at the SAG spots for water.  By mile 80 the line is really long.  

At one point I thought I was good and didn't want to waste time in line so I decided to go.  Then the 100 degree heat and headwind took its toll.  I could have used a third bottle.  Then there was a surprise water only stop.  I chugged and left.  Though at the 90 mile mark I felt really dehydrated.  I actually sat for a little while and chatted with some guys while I ate some bananas and oranges and drank Pickle Juice.  It is nasty but cold and full of salt.  

 Pickle Juice Sport Drink:  Refreshing yet nasty.  Keeps the cramps away though!

The key to HHH is that you want to do it as fast as possible to beat the heat, the course is well marked so you don't have to focus on a cue sheet.  I finished strong and overall it was an enjoyable time.  I always enjoy events with a huge turn out.  The drive home was a little longer in that I was suffering from dehydration and was tired.  Then I saw this?

Buck PiƱata?

Well worth the drive and effort though.  Plus I "won" a medal!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Tsunami Rides: Riding 33 miles on the Le Tour de Bayou with a 9 and 12 year old.

The Irish Tsunami rides!

I have become the king of the forced family outing (FFO).  On September 20th we participated in an event in Alexandria, Louisiana to support a historical site called the Kent Plantation House.  As usual ride strategy/preparation included:1. Ride as much as we can:  This was almost nil except for the fact that the kids to endless laps through the neighborhood.  Me not so much though we would only be going 30ish miles at about 10 mph.  I am good.

2. Get a good set of tires: Yeah, I got new tires for the Hotter N' Hell Hundred, but somehow they ended up on the Chick's bike.  For me it is the same set of Gatorskins I have been using for years; I bought these for the 40th running of RAGBRAI.  They have have at least 1500 miles on them and they are probably going to need to replaced soon.

3. Drink a bunch of water: I did a lousy job of hydrating for the several days before the ride.  While it is hard to stay hydrated in Louisiana, I drink more water here than say.....Iowa.

4. Shove my jersey pockets as full of calories as possible:  Check.  Though I love Pearson's Salted Nut Rolls they are not an easy to find Item in Central Louisiana.  The next best thing are the cherry pie Lara Bars.  The kids love them too.   

The difference was that it wasn't just me, I had a 9 year old and a 12 year old with me.   This is the longest distance I have ridden with them and there are many lessons learned.  But as for the Le Tour de Bayou it was a perfect for this experiment since there were no hills and they had SAG support at every 10 miles.

On a different note no FFO would be complete without an adventure.  In this case my "Tough and unforgiving" wife who is also incredibly cheap got us a hotel room for $47.  The Army has sent me to some rough places.  This was rough.  We smelled like cheap hotel and cigarette smoke for the entire day.  Everything we brought in the room smelled horrible which meant that my Suburban smelled horrible.  It smelled so bad I couldn't sleep as the pillow odor kept me awake.  FFO, heck yeah.

The SAG stops were well spaced.  The last one was at a nice road side rest stop that had a great hospitality center and rocking chairs.  The Boy Scouts were running it and passing out Coca Cola.  I told Diga to keep drinking as much as he wanted.  This confused him because I don't let him drink it ever.  The Chick doesn't drink soda so she had an apple.  She didn't approve of photo ops.

One of the things I enjoy the most as we move is seeing new things.  At one point we found ourselves riding through beautiful cotton fields.  It was fun seeing cotton balls drifting across the road.

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to live in one place for my whole life.  Then I get to experience new places with my family and I know that I would long for that too.   

A very tired Chick after 33 miles.  I didn't get a picture of Diga because there was a free bouncy house with slide.  He dropped the bike and sprinted to run and jump.  The boy is a machine!

At the end of the ride the Chick realized that chocolate milk is amazing post ride.  We also got a Louisiana special, Spicy Cajun Crawtators.  That is right crawfish flavored chips.  Delicious.

In the future I am going to capture some thoughts on longer rides with kids.