Archive for August, 2012

Raced the Hoodoo 500

August 24, 2012 1:04 pm
Raced the Hoodoo 500

Assembling the Team

Team Turbo Dog already held course records for the Hoodoo 500, including two person mixed team and two tandem mixed, so it seemed like a great idea to try to set a course record in another category, the 4 person mixed team. David and Deb Hoag contacted me to see if I would join the team. With my age, we had a lot of flexibility on getting a second female on the team and still be in the 50+ category. Lonni Goldman has not competed in these type of events before but had recently completed some difficult double centuries very well. She was excited to join the team. The four of us met together and felt we would be able to break the existing 4 person 50+ mixed record, which was over 33 hours and maybe even the overall 4X mixed record, which exceeded 32 hours. David even was bold enough to suggest we could break 30 hours. Why not?

High Altitude Training

We asked Guy Batistia to crew for us and fortunately he accepted. Guy proved to not only be great at crewing but he is also a great photographer and took many of these photos. He, along with David and Deb were able to come up to our Utah home a week before the event. Anne was a tremendous help, not only hosting the team for several days, but riding with us and helping us work out our plans and get organized. We were also able to do some high altitude training. Our fist outing was up to Mirror Lake.

After reaching the summit at over 10,700 feet, David and I descended down part way on the other side to see the lake.

The next few days included some more riding and hiking. On Tuesday I took David over to join the Utah Velo club for their hill climb ride. When David saw everyone wearing the club jersey he decided to buy his own. Unlike some teams that go to great efforts to have some custom jersey made, we didn’t really have a common jersey, so why not just get a couple more of the Utah Velo jerseys.

On Thursday we drove from Orem Utah to St. George while our 4th team member, Lonni, flew to the St. George airport. Being a 4X team, we did not have to start the race until 9 am on Friday.

The Race is On

I took the first section, that included 9 miles of a neutralized start and another 8 miles of racing.

I was surprised that as soon as the racing started, I was quickly passed by everyone going up an incline. Figuring it was the excitement of the moment, I kept my pace and eventually passed all but the lead two riders and nearly caught the young rider from Team Chubby before the first rider switch. David then took the next segment because like the first, you could not have SAG support during part of it. It was then cat and mouse with Team Chubby, passing them, then getting passed, depending on who was riding from each team.

We then went into a four person rotation, with the plan of 30 minutes for each rider. Being the daytime the van would leap frog the rider, then wait for the rider to pass. When it approached the time for a rider swap, Guy would go ahead of the rider far enough to give the next rider time enough to get ready. The new rider would watch for the approaching rider and then try to come up to speed before they overlapped wheels. The 30 minutes were a bit more like 25 minutes, but even that seemed long enough.

The route took us down into Arizona, then back into Utah and through the town of Kanab for the first time station which we reached at 1:17 pm. It was then up Highway 89 with a right turn up SR-12 towards Bryce Canyon. There was a bike trail we needed to go on, and with the 3rd place where no SAG support would be available, David took this segment while the rest of us enjoyed the beautiful surroundings.

At the end of the bicycle trail, at time station #2, Deb took a turn at 5:12 pm. The route actually does not go to Bryce Canyon, but instead continues straight. Deb had the chance of making the first of the long descents toward Escalante. Next it was Lonni’s turn, passing through Escalante at 7:40 pm, where there was time station #3.

As we approached Boulder, it was starting to get dusk and we were headed into what seemed like a long period of darkness. We passed through Bolder at 10:50 pm, then there is a long sustained climb up to an elevation of over 9,500 feet. We reached the summit just before 11 pm, where David took the fast descent. It was past midnight when we finally reached time station #5 in Loa, where we had another climb. I took the rotation as we approached the summit since there was a turn at the bottom of a fast descent that I was familiar with. Plus I had this super bright light so I could go 40 mph without the need of the headlights from the van.

Riding in the darkness is kind of a daze. When you are off the bike you are trying to get some sleep but no one was able to really sleep. We gave Guy a break from driving and he went to the back to sleep, but he was so excited he kept talking! Later in the evening, he took a 2nd break and this time, he might have got some rest. I started to calculate how many more times he would need to take a rotation in the dark.

We were moving so fast that unlike prior years, we reached Hwy 89 in total darkness and it was dark the whole 30 miles to Panguitch for time station #5, which we reached at 6:10 pm. David took the first rotation out of there where we started the biggest sustained climb of the route, that would eventually take us to over 10,000 feet. We decided to reduce the rotations from 30 minutes to 20 minutes for this section. It was great to see the sun rise as we were climbing up SR-1478 toward Cedar Breaks. The temperatures at night had gone down to 45 degrees, but the sun was starting to warm the air as we were climbing higher.

David, being such a great descender, was elected to take the fast descent to Cedar City, while I took a rotation before reaching the town since I knew all the turns. It was a good thing because the street was blocked for a local celebration, but I knew Cedar City well enough to take a slight detour. Then I headed out SF-56 while the van arrived at time station #6 at 10:10 am. That was so much earlier than other times when it was usually afternoon and people in the van wanted to stop and get some lunch. This time the van continued on and we all felt like we were on a mission.

We continued in our normal rotation of 30 minutes each while I was calculating when we might be able to finish. At that point we had been averaging about 17.2 mph, which would put us into the finish slightly over 30 hours from the start. So our idea of coming under 30 hours started to become a reality.

The last segment, from the top of Snow Canyon, is about 14 miles to the finish and usually teams all ride in together. But we wanted to break 30 hours so we decided to have David do that section ahead of the rest of us. I took the final section before Snow Canyon, trying to give us as much cushion as I could, and everyone was surprised when he reached the last time station at 2:04 pm, just over 29 hours from the start. From there David took off by himself while myself, Deb and Lonni followed (I was still trying to catch my breath).

We knew Team Chubby was not too far ahead of us because their support van was pulling out of the parking lot at the top of Snow Canyon just as our van was arriving. David was able to catch them during this last segment and all decided to have a gentleman’s tie at the finish. Lonni, Deb and myself arrived at the finish line 7 minutes after that.

We finished the 517 mile race in the early afternoon of Saturday, with a total time of 29 hours and 35 minutes, setting a new course record for 50+ mixed, actually setting a record for a 4x mixed team of any age.

Time Station Splits


See all the photos here.

Training for Hoodoo 500

August 22, 2012 4:57 pm
Training for Hoodoo 500

Finally Finished Training

Things are quite different than they were just two years ago when I was training to race the Hoodoo 500 on 5/28/2010 as part of a two man team.  On 7/12/2010, due to a pain in my left shoulder and a very high blood pressure, I made a late night visit to the emergency room.   Although they did not find anything, I had subsequent doctor visits and tests, all resulting in me going on blood pressure medication, one being a beta blocker which really slowed me down.  Racing the Hoodoo 500 just did not make the sense it had before so I switched to crewing the event.  See the prior blog post for all the details.

With no issues now with my blood pressure, even without the medication, I have been able to do a lot more training than before.  The Hoags asked me join to race the Hoodoo 500 again, this time as part of a mixed 4 person team.  I figure I would be able to get ready for that and when I looked at my prior cycling, I was already will into training for that type of distance.

See our team website.

I have now finished my training and in less than 48 hours the race will start.  I was glad I was able to reach my training plan targets most of the weeks.

Power up Squaw Peak

August 6, 2012 9:31 pm

For the last two days I have been using a Power Tap wheel that I have on loan from a local bike shop.  I am finding using this wheel, even though it is heavier than my other rear wheel, is helping me to climb faster.  Without the power meter I only could rely on heart rate and perceived effort.  On both the climb yesterday and the climb today up Squaw Peak, I could see that when I started the climb in my usual fashion, my heart rate was not yet high, but my power output was much higher than I was able to sustain.  Later in the climb my heart rate would stay high, but the power would keep declining.  When I stood up the power would increase.  When I went to an easy gear the power would also go up.  Today I set a new PR up Squaw Peak.

Strava will estimate power expended on a climb if you don’t have a power meter, but that is all after the fact and not of much use while you are actually make the climb.  I have climbed Squaw Peak 57 times since I started to use Strava, here are my top 5 times.  For today’s ride, the lightning bolt by the Power number means it is from a power meter while the others are Strava estimates.

Strava has limited analytical tools so I imported the two rides into a free program called Golden Cheetah.  I am not sure sure how to use all the features, but it has some interesting graphs, such as this one on Critical Power.

And this graph of pedal force with the yellow area for the climb up Squaw Peak.