Monday, June 05, 2006

Sunday Doubleheader Part 1 - Elephant Rock

Yesterday was a great example why I love living in Colorado. Wake up at 4:45a.m. to drive to Sarah's house to head down to the Elephant Rock Ride in Castle Rock. Sarah & I had opted for the 50 mile route and would be riding along with about 6,998 other cyclist. The doubleheader aspect is that we had also booked a Class III/IV whitewater rafting adventure in Idaho Springs from 3:30pm. Sunday would not be a dull day.

We arrived at the event a bit before 7 and by 7:30 we were rolling across the start line. The course elevation profile showed 1900ft of climbing, with almost all of it in the first 25 miles. So off we went, slowly ascending as the miles clicked off. After about 8 miles we hit the first rest stop and we regrouped after the climb. I pulled out front for Sarah trying to shed the wind for her, but the road as the road continuously climbed gradually she slipped off my wheel and I pushed forward to the second rest stop.

Hitting the 2nd rest stop, we were at the decision point. Right turn meant we'd do our original plan of 50 miles. Straight and we could do the 65 mile route. Sarah openly chastised me that I should do the 65 mile route and see if I could catch her doing the 50 mile route. I thought about it, but considering most of the remaining 30 miles of her route would be downhill I didn't think I could make up 15 miles on her so we hopped back on our bikes and trudged over the next 5 miles of rolling hills before getting an easy pass on the downhills to Palmer Lake where the next rest stop area was located.

After Palmer Lake we headed for home, although into a sometimes stiff headwind. Sarah & I both hopped into pace lines (a group of cyclist riding single file, where the person up front is doing most of the work) and made great time from mile 30 to mile 40. Leaving the 40 mile rest area, we had another steady climb that split us up again, but I waited at the apex and we descended together.

We hit the service road (the last 6 mile stretch) together and started down the home stretch. We hopped on the back of another pace line (or so we thought), but the pace quickly dropped. As the pace dropped I notice Sarah jump out and start to hammer forward. I figure she's found some new life in her legs so I jump out to take the pace making duties and cut the wind for her since my legs are feeling great. As I hammer forward, I feel someone drop in behind me (it makes a noticeable difference in wind on a bike) so I get on the drop bars and start powering a big pace down the final stretch.

As I looked back I realized it isn't Sarah behind me, but some random guy who jumped on my wheel. No big deal, I'm assuming Sarah is behind him and the three of us are powering along. Up front, I do a huge pull of about 3.5 miles in the upper 20mph range. Finally I've used myself up somewhat and motion to the random guy behind me that he needs to pull through and do some work while I recover. As he pulls through I realize that its just the two of us and we've either dropped Sarah or never had her. Well after about a mile the guy in front blows up so I jump back around and try to take over the pulling duties, but he can't get back on my wheel and so I just motor ahead on my own for the final 1.5 miles.

At the stop just before the finish I wait up for Sarah so we can finish together. She shows up looking somewhat dejected and somewhat angry. She tells me that when I jumped up earlier the random guy jumped on my wheel before she could and she missed her chance and wasn't able to bridge the gap to his wheel and then the two of us were long gone. So some random guy got a free pull back to the parking lot, but at least I made him do a little work.

We finished up the last mile, coming across the anticlimactic finish line area about noon (4 hours total, 3 hours ride time) and then grabbed some of the complimentary BBQ. Knowing we had to get back to Sarah's by 2pm to meet up with Jill (who was already at Sarah's house) and Scott & Kim Turner, we headed to the car.

Here is the data from my heart rate monitor. Averaged 17ish mph pace with an average heart rate of about 150 (my max is 200). I probably hit 85% on some of the climbs, but never felt out of breath or hurting too much. All this climbing/riding I've done really paid off as felt really strong out there yesterday.

On the graph, the solid line in the back is the elevation profile, and the jagged red line is my heart rate curve.

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