23 June 2013

2013 Gran Fondo Diabolical Double Ride Report!!

This Saturday was the Gran Fondo Diabolical Double ride out in Deep Creek, MD - 125 miles and 16,000 feet of climbing. Oof. I did this ride last year and the parts that I remembered being horrifying weren't nearly as bad this year - but then other parts I completely forgot about were prominently hard-as-heck this year. I also needed at least 3 hands to count all the salt tabs I consumed and probably the same number of hands to count the number of cookies I ate.

We had an awesome house this year right off the lake thanks to Sarah's family - 6 bedrooms and 13 people and it didn't feel crowded at all. One of my favorite parts of the weekend was hanging out at the house with everyone - Sarah's family was wonderful - so welcoming and fun and it felt like being part of a big extended family for the weekend. So thank you Littlefields! Can't wait to see you at Lake Placid next month! Mindy and Bart, Dawn and Mike also stayed in the house and as Mindy would say, we crushed pizza and pints of ice cream like it was our job.

Sarah and I headed out of DC on Thursday night after the pm commute traffic died down, allowing us to have all day Friday (which also happened to be the first day of summer) to enjoy this:

The dock we swam off of at Deep Creek Lake
We had a lazy morning, I slept in until 7:45, which was fabulous, and then I lost count of how many pancakes I made while Sarah and I chit-chatted and ate the pancakes as they came off the griddle.  We originally went to the State Park to do our open water swim, but the lifeguards wouldn't let us swim outside the little swim area marked off by a buoy line so we went to a friend's dock in a low-boat traffic cove to open water swim instead. We had planned for an hour, but after swimming to the other side of the cove and back and then treading water for awhile, it only came out to about 45 minutes, but whatever. The water was a little chilly at first, but I warmed right up and it was great to do some open water swimming, and on such a beautiful day. I drafted off of Sarah for the first half and then her and her super swimming skills dropped me :) We stopped off at the local market for subs on the way back home - so good. We stopped by packet pickup to grab our race numbers and then headed back to the house while everyone else arrived in town. I cleaned a year's worth of bike-commute dirt off my roadbike and lubed up the chain so at least it wouldn't sound clanky up and down all the hills. We had a big pasta dinner and went to the Creamery for some of the best ice cream ever, as well as a pretty sunset.

5:20am came early Saturday morning. I ate as many pancakes as I could (pancakes + nutella = winning). I made a huge batch of pancakes on Friday afternoon so I would have something substantial to eat pre-ride on Saturday morning. We were all sorely disappointed that I didn't finish the whole plate. Maybe next time. I actually managed to get my stuff together and get out the door with Sarah for an on-time 6am departure and we arrived at the top of Wisp and snagged a pretty great parking spot. I kept reminding myself that this was just a ride, not a race, and there was no reason to be nervous, but riding in Deep Creek always brings out the excited butterflies, whether or not there is a stopwatch on the line. I made sure my tires were pumped, waterbottles were filled with Skratch Labs, and jersey pockets and sports bra were stuffed with nutrition (this is what happens when you forget your bento box. Hooray for being a girl and needing a sports bra, saved the day!). I had made some Feed Zone savory bread cakes, I had an insane amount of Clif MoJo bars, as well as various flavors of Gu. We lined up at the start and I saw all my Ignite Endurance teammates/buddies.

Dawn, Sarah, Mindy and I at the start. Seb and Mike photobombing. Nice :)
The ride starts with about a 5 mile descent where you can pick up some pretty decent speed. I prefer to hang off the back and let the Speedy McSpeedsters race down the mountain while I roll down at a more manageable speed without worries of being run over. Sarah, Dawn, Mindy and I chatted on our way down and I think they all wanted to drop me by mile 5 so they wouldn't hear me call out every mile marker. Doing that 125 times can make for a long day, ha! The weather was sunny and cool, definitely warmer than last year, but with the sun still low in the sky, it made for a very pleasant start to the ride. The downhills at the beginning lull you into complacency, until you make a right-hand turn around mile 10 and the first steep uphill slaps you back to reality. But the views once you got to the top of the climb and then descended down into the valley where Aid Station 1 was made it all worth it. Dawn and I rode together to the Mile 1 aid station where we regrouped with Sarah and Mindy and caught up with AJ and listened to the steel drum band while we stuffed our faces with M&Ms, cookies, and goldfish.

First aid station. We all look happy!
After aid station 1 is where the climbing really begins. It was also starting to get warm and one of my main focuses of the day was to make sure I ate enough (I usually ate a MoJo bar each hour and then had a buffet at the aid stations) and took in enough fluid and salt. I did well with this early on in the ride and felt good. I also knew it was going to be a long day so I didn't try to push the pace. Dawn and I rode together and we all regrouped at Aid Station 2. Between Aid Station 2 and Aid Station 3 is where two of the most major climbs were - Bowman Hill and Killer Miller. I shamelessly used my granny gear for these climbs (and basically all the other climbs). Bowman Hill was longer than I remembered and steep enough that I saw someone in front of me tip over. At Aid Station 3 I ran into Bob Young who was on the fence of doing the century or the double and I successfully convinced him to keep me company on the double. Last year on the double I rode the second half on my own, after Karen split off on the century, and it was a little lonely and easy to fall into a dark spot. Bob is a superstar cyclist and I had no hope of keeping up with him on the hills, he is a machine. It was great to have the company. Soon after Aid Station 3 we hit the gravel road section that I hated from last year. It was less muddy this year and it went substantially better. There were a few instances where I thought my back wheel would spin out, but I managed to hold it together. The next few miles were a welcome relief from climbing with some flats and rollers, but around mile 70, we hit more serious climbs as we reached the top of Big Savage Mountain. The descent into Westernport was another part that freaked me out last year. I remember having to stop partway down the steep descent to give my hands a rest from squeezing the brakes. This year I figured out the trick - get into my drops and hold the brakes. Worked like a charm. I was still feeling pretty decent when I reached Aid Station 4 at mile 80-something in Westernport. The dark, dark part of the ride happened between Aid Station 4 and 5 where the climbing did. not. end. Ever. Well, that is an exaggeration, but it really felt like the climbing wouldn't end. This was also the hottest part of the day and I fell off the wagon of taking in enough salts and water/Skratch Labs. Last year my Garmin died during this leg of the ride, but no such luck this year - I got to watch my average speed slowly sink lower and lower as I did the climb from miles 95-98. I hit aid station 5 at mile 100 in low, low spirits, low sodium, and dehydrated. Awesome. Bob put it best when he commented that we pulled ourselves out of the depths of Aid Station 5 - I ate a ton, drank a ton, took more salt and within a couple miles, I felt like a normal person again. I completely and totally did not remember all the climbing from Aid Station 5 to Aid Station 6 from last year, so, so much. So traumatic I must've blocked it out. It was at this point that I just looked at the pavement under my wheel and NOT up the neverending hills. Aid Station 6 marked the end of the hard stuff; with the exception of the final climb up to the top of Wisp, everything else was flat and rollers. At this point, my goal was to get my average speed back into the teens, 13mph was the magic number. The cruelest part of the ride was going by my house at mile 119, there was a bit of temptation to make a hard right into the driveway :)

Rockstar Bob Young and I at Aid Station 6 - so close to being done!
Team Z had an awesome cheering squad halfway up the climb and it was such a boost. My teammates Andy, Mike, and Brian were driving down the mountain as I was climbing and they turned around and drove back up to the top just to cheer me on, they rock! I crossed the finish line and according to my Garmin, my time in the saddle was 9:33, average speed 13.1mph. Getting off my bike never felt so good. I did a quick brick run down to the Team Z tent to thank everyone for their encouragement and cheer for other people climbing. I saw AJ and Mindy and ran back up to the finish to meet up with them.

AJ, Mindy and I - so glad to be off our bikes!
Mindy and I made a beeline for the grocery store where we bought three pints of ice cream and a box of Magnum Bars. Priorities. And we ate a ton of leftover pizza back at the house. It was glorious. Afterwards, I barely remember falling asleep and slept like a rock until 6 the next morning.

I woke up starving at 6am, ate more leftover pancakes, grabbed my running shoes and headed out for a 2.5 hour run. I didn't take the Garmin because I didn't want to run on pace, but rather on feel. I expected to feel terrible on my run, but my legs felt surprisingly good. I thought about running to the base of Wisp, but ended up doing an out-and-back past the mountain. I learned that there are no flat places to run in Deep Creek. I hit a bit of a low point in my run around mile 15, but that only lasted a mile or so, probably related to hunger, and felt better once I took a gel. I think I got in about 17-18 miles. I felt better than last year, probably because I didn't try to run up Wisp. Sarah and I thought about going for a swim for a hot second but decided we'd had enough and headed back to DC.

It was an awesome, awesome weekend. Loved riding bikes and eating ice cream with some of my favorite people. Shout-out to Skratch Labs for the hydration mix, which definitely helped save my day; and ZocaGear for a comfy kit. I think the most sore part of my body are my forearms. I know, strange. Apparently you use your arms quite a bit when trying to pull yourself up hills. And now I'm off to bed, feeling deliciously tired and ready to sleep at least 9 hours!

1 comment:

GoBigGreen said...

As much as this sounds awfully hard it also sounds awfully fun! I am happy to be sitting out a year for IM but this stuff makes me so excited for 2014!
Good job girl!
PS you look tired at the end, you never look tired!