If You’ve Got the Guts

August 11, 2007 1:39 pm

I was not quite sure what to call this blog entry about our 111 mile tandem ride for the Utah Lake Ulcer Century. I thought about calling it “Our Fourth Tandem Ride “since we have only had 3 practice rides before doing this long event. I could have called it “Utah Heat” because it did get quite hot, well into the 90’s. I then thought about calling it the “First Tandem to Finish”, since I think we were the first tandem to finish the long course. At least I am making that claim. I finally decided to call it “If You’ve Got the Guts” since that is what the event used as their slogan. I guess I can use that slogan because, according to my cyclometer, we finished the 109 miles in a total time of 6 hours with moving time of 5 hours 47 minutes and an average moving speed of 20.8 mph. My GPS showed very similar numbers.

Ulcer Century

This was to be Ann’s first attempt at a full century ride so I wanted to make sure she didn’t push too hard at the beginning. I put my second heart rate monitor on her handlebars so she could see my heart rate at any time and then she wore her Polar heart rate monitor on her wrist. I asked her to keep her heart rate well below mine through the ride. I think at times she let it go up higher because we were sure moving fast.

This event has excellent support and a lot of features that I have not seen before in a Century ride. One such feature was allowing teams to compete in essentially a team time trail. My younger brother, Mike, was on such a team so I caught this picture before his team started out at 7:10 am.

Mike at start of Ulcer Century

For the rest of us that were not competing on a team, we started to line up for the 7:30 am mass start. Ann held the tandem while I grabbed this shot. You can see there is a very large field, around 2,000 riders all together.

Ann at start of Ulcer Century

I was a bit nervous because we only bought the tandem 8 days ago and I had not yet ridden it in a group type ride, let alone a big field like this one. I put the tandem off to the side and up near the front of the field so I would not need to go around a lot of the slow riders who should start at the back but don’t.

Right at 7:30 am we were off and we quickly got into a rhythm and soon were passing one rider after another. The first several miles were through some city streets so it was hard to get the speed up as fast as I wanted. The tandem does take wider turns. We soon came by the first rest stop and decided to blow by it. Then the second rest stop we blew by, and the third. We kept passing riders who would jump onto the train. I think we may have had over 50 riders drafting behind us at some point. I found it easier to to pull because the few times I tried to draft I found it hard to control the speed with Ann and I both pedaling.

I saw a set of railroad tracks ahead and slowed down as Ann gave the signal to those behind of the tracks ahead. We had glided over other tracks earlier in the day but these were real nasty and we had a big bump. I was glad we had 700x28c tires on the tandem and that I had fully inflated them last night. I looked to the side of the road now and saw a slew of bikes all pulled over to fix flats, pinch flats I am sure.

It was a lot of fun pulling and soon we had another large group drafting behind us. With a tail wind we cranked the speed up to the 27-33 mph range and soon were passing a lot of riders, including some of the teams that had started early. I was real surprised to pass the team my brother was on. Maybe his team jumped on the back of the train. I slipped the camera in my rear pocket so Ann could take it out and snap some pictures while riding.

Paceline behind us on Utah Ulcer

Franz on Front of Tandem

I suppose it was the excitement of pulling such a big train that caused me to allow my heart rate to go up to above 170 at times. I started to slow a bit and then we hit some rollers. Some of those behind went ahead and others stayed in our slip stream.

We were thinking about stopping at the next rest stop but we finally decided to ride all the way to the lunch stop at mile 67. They had a great lunch spread out for the riders. You could make your own Subway type sandwiches with ham and turkey and all the fixings. Plus they had the typical food you find at other events. We sat in the shade to get some rest.

Ann at lunch stop

I needed to get some recovery because I had not been drinking enough for those 67 miles. I found it hard to reach down and get the water bottle on the tandem. I felt like I needed both hands on the bars to keep it stable and hence put off drinking too much.

After a relatively short lunch we jumped back on the tandem and off again. The rest and hydration really helped. I was having both Ann and myself take Endurolyte tablets which are an electrolyte replacement. That helped because the temperature was quite hot (my cyclometer was reading 109, but it was in direct sun).

I knew I could not go again without drinking enough so we found it worked best if Ann passed me a water bottle while riding. I had installed 3 water bottle cages on the rear of the tandem and that is where most of the water was anyway. The water and Gatorade was great because at the lunch stop they had ice chests so you could feel you water bottle with ice. That was very much appreciated as the temperature continued to rise.

I knew we could not ride the rest of the course without making another stop so we stopped about half way between the lunch stop and the end and sat for awhile and again drank a lot of liquid. Then it was off again because I did not want us to start to cramp. I decided to take the pace down a bit and keep my heart rate more in the 150-160 range for the last 20 miles. Ann did start to get one cramp but I had her keep pedaling with no force while I was keeping us moving and she worked it out.

We finished the 111 miles just after 1:30 pm. This graph shows our speed and my heart rate.

Ulcer Century HR Graph

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