Haleakala is a volcano on the island of Maui. I’ve had the fortune of riding this beast twice. The volcano ride as some call it, is a pretty special climb. Starting at sea level you dip your toes in the warm waters of the Pacific then up you go, ascending above the clouds and beyond 10’k in 36 miles. Amazing views of the island turn into even more amazing views of the surrounding ocean. Haleakala is also the World’s Longest Paved Climb, and
there’s this really cool race- Cycle to the Sun
July 2012 was the first time I was able to do this ride. Not fully understanding what I was doing, I just settled in and enjoyed the ride, taking in views, snapping photos etc, that was a really long day in the saddle.
July 2013 was my second trip to the island of Maui, and I made a point to train a little leading into the visit; this fat kid had a goal of sub-5hr (WTH was I thinking). Fortunately on that Sunny day in Maui, the weather was great and I was able to ride with arm warmers only (and a LS jacket stuffed neatly away for good measure). The temps were almost too warm and eventually it did get HOT (conversely in July’12 I nearly froze going up to 10’k, go figure) . I rode on thru the heat & eventually Mr. cramps (hamstring) caught-up with me at 7k’.
Oh that sucked.
I nearly wreck the bike as my right hammy grabbed. Normally cramps on this kind of a ride would have ended my day, but I was able to get a good long stretch in and sucked down the last of bottle #4 (another challenge is finding water up there). A brief moment of tourettes and miraculously the hammy loosened just enough to get back to motoring(?). What’s even more befuddling is that I finished my ascent in just under 5 hours, beating my initial time in ’12 by >20m and reaching my sub 5hr goal.
*Please note. Anytime I can drag all this fupa up a volcano and finish a 36mi/10k’ climb in under 5 hours, yes, we call that motoring.
Haleakala is a 36 mile climb w/10k’ elevation gain, and some really amazing views (this blog’s profile photo is from atop the volcano).
Getting on with this. Aug. 2012.
A month of so after returning from paradise I found myself craving a long climb like the volcano somewhere around Nashville. First of all there are very few climbs on the planet that long, and secondly, you know when the fat kid starts yearning for long climbs there’s something’s wrong with the universe; people gonna be munching on heads moaning BRAIIIINS.
aren’t many, are no, long climbs around Nashville, so I was gonna have to get creative if I wanted to try and duplicate an effort like Haleakala in Tennessee. The smokies have some great climbs, notably the 20 miler to Clingman’s Dome from Sugarland’s visitor center, which takes you up to 5500′ feet. That’s one that I love to do a good one for sure. The shorter version to Newfound Gap is a bit less at 13 miles and one of the most beautiful climbs I’ve ever done. I love the twists and turns and mountain views from the NFG climb but damn the Smokies are a major hassle with tourism; traffic make it near impossible to ride, unless it’s in the dead of Winter.
Other riding options were to goto Sewanee or Chattanooga, not bad I suppose, but the idea of doing a huge effort and then climbing in the car afterwards for a 2-3 hr drive home sounded worse than the climb. All arrows pointed to somehow duplicating my own volcano ride right here in Middle Tennessee.
Enter Percy Warner Park (PWP) – August 2012 Percy Warner Park
is a wonderful endowment left to the city of Nashville by the Warners. Named after one of Nashville’s earliest pioneers, Percy Warner was a successful utilities and railroad man form the early 20th century.
I actually live very close to PWP, it’s a beautiful park with a paved road that winds and twists it’s way over 2 climbs and 11 miles. Both climbs are around a mile or less and moderately steep. The first climb at mile 3, a half mile climb that averages 6%, and the 2nd climb which is 6/10 of a mile also averaging 6%. Those are the two significant climbs if you will, there are a number of bumps scattered throughout that add to the bottom line and this is what you a cyclist ends up with: 1 lap thru the park is 11mi & gains right at 1200′ in elevation gain.
EUREKA! 9-laps = my own volcano ride!
Even better, the double double, a century AND 10’k feet of climbing, on the same ride!
So there you have it. The rest came naturally after only 7-8 beers, and that’s how Hillbilly Haleakala was born.
1st Hillbilly Haleakala, August 2012.
Fortunately there’s plenty of scenery in a 11 mile park, with lots of natural areas that as an avid local cyclist I probably never notice on a quick lap thru. In August there’s also a high amount of activity in the Summer months (read:half necked runners). A fella gets bored riding for that long you know..
I learned a lot about myself that hot August day. Physically I was good, I had tons of miles in my legs that year, and having ridden Haleakala just weeks earlier, some solid foundation to start with. Mentally I was okay as I listened to a ton of podcasts on various topics, there was also the occasional friendly cyclist that popped on for a lap or so; just enough stimulation to make it thru a 9 hour day in the saddle(WTF is wrong with me?!).
Staying hydrated was a challenge due to the heat and humidity but fortunately there is a water fountain at the entrance of the park, so each lap I was able to refill my bottles. I must have guzzled 10 bottles that day!
Following the ride, I had just enough left in the tank to noodle home from the park (another 5 miles). A cold beer never tasted so good, followed by a lot of food, and then some more beer, then quickly followed by my own induced coma.
*first Hillbilly Haleakala
Fast forward to Dec. ’13
I’ve been climbing a bit more this Winter. An impromptu run up to Newfound Gap (Smoky Mts park) with the old goat last Dec., the rare Dec. day with temps in the high 50’s that made this possible and we weren’t going to miss this golden opportunity to ride in the smokes! the old goat, hmmm…I should pause here for a moment and provide a quick explanation. Childishly, I tend to annoint my closest asstard friends with some goofy nickname. These names are generally off color, inappropriate, and most times pretty close to home. For the sake of confidentiality however, I’ll never out them or connect them to this nickname, my immature and childish moniker for them. Some of ya’ll may know these personalities, many of you probably don’t. Simply goofball guy stuff that adds to the allure of my sad pathetic stories I suppose, at the very least it does keep me entertained.
Okay there’s that explanation,right, back to the story.
The old goat. Dude is an old billy goat climbing sunova gun that I love to ride with. He goes by many names, Mapquest being another one that some of us often will call him (cause he used to always want to look at the map). Actually, it’s not uncommon for me to call him two or three different names on the same ride(not all of them out of affection I promise you). Moving on , the old goat and I loaded up the car and hauled it to the smokes early one morning for a great day of climbing. We really had it rolling that day as we steamed up to Newfound Gap. Point of reference. I’m a fat kid. The goat is not. I’ve done this climb many many times and normally he just floats away on the early and steepish ramps to NFG. However, on this particularly balmy Dec. morning, this was the first time I was able to hold the wheel of the wiry codger as we hit the early slopes at a pretty good clip. *It’s highly possible that he was just entertaining hisself that day by letting me hang around…sometimes I think he does this to amuse himself…likes to watch me suffer on the longer climbs, then when he gets bored he’ll just flick out out of the saddle and float off like a feather in the wind, fella really is a
pigfucker great climber.
Sadly the weather that day turned south of cheese in a hurry as Mother Nature decided to take a giant crap on us halfway-up the climb. To this day I am convinced that’s the only way I was able to set a new PR on the climb to NFG that day.
More December climbing
Spent the holidays in Vegas. There’s actually a fair amount of climbing in North Vegas, which I’ve never done before. New roads new climbs. One really long one in particular, in what is
likely the worst climb I’ve ever done, the run-up to the Mt. Charleston ski lodge or, Satan’s glory hole.
Good grief that was an awful day on the bike. One long straight road for 13 miles, a steady 4% without a single turn, awful chip seal pavement and no shoulder, then you turn. Continue for another 13 miles at a steady 4% with you guessed it, no turns. If this could possibly be any more fun, there’s absolutely no shoulder AND on this, the day of our Lord, 25th of December the year 2013, there was a seemingly never-ending metric ass-ton of traffic. Turns out the Vegas locals were stoked to get up there and try out their new Christmas presents (skis/snowboards) on Mt. Charleston’s heavy powder, which in total, equalled right at 1/4″ of snow, remnants. Seriously. I’d upload a photo but you’d be like “snow?”, right.
God that day sucked.
That aside(?), it was great to get out on Christmas morning and ride, something I never get to do. So I finished right at 4 hours, by noon, quickly showered and then proceeded spend the day eating and singing Christmas carols with the family, and happily drinking all my sister’s ipa’s.
*world’s most awful climb, Mt. Charleston
Jan 2014. Happy New Year!
Most recently was a jaunt up some of the longer climbs near Suwanee, with Lizardo and Ace. Not much to report here except that it’s more climbing, local ‘ish, a short 1hr drive. Sunny but very cold that day, I blew up not once, but twice, I guess because somehow I thought I was a “climber” . Thankfully it wasn’t a long day the bike, and it was a nice escape from the routine of Nashville riding. Sadly the long anaerobic efforts(dumb) in the cold probably just enough or the tipping point if you will, and two days later I was down with the ebola, or a really bad head cold, at the time I wasn’t sure there was a difference. I spent the next 8 days snarfing sudafed like skittles and snotted more than that big bug in those famous alien movies #yuck
Saturday, Jan. 18th. Hillbilly Haleakala 2.0
New year brought in new hopes and dreams & lots of resolutions, most of which are likely to fold under by Feb 1st.
My top 3 resolutions: (1). Stop cursing (2). Create/stick to a budget, (3)Buy a house
Update: I’m currently on a budget and serious about house shopping (pre-approved/working w/agent). It’s that 3rd resolution that’s giving me fits…that’s a work in progress and old habits die hard I realize this now.I’ve progressed and have had a good run of days…substituting less colorful words as fudge, crap, shoot, and my personal favorite, ratfart. Sadly there’s some event that triggers my tourettes, usually involves 2 buttsniffing cats, and usually results in really bad fucking days. Working on that. Please take my cats.
Having more fun on the bike is also an ongoing resolution. Work/life balance and training to race bikes can leave a fella somewhat drained at times. The Winter months, or offseason, give some of us the opportunity to (a)drink lots of beer and act like a fairly normal human being (b) drinks lots of scotch and act like a fairly normal human being and (c)gain 20 lbs of blubber or fupa insulate. Sometimes it’s good to try different things, mountain biking for example, great way to have fun on the bike with friends and drink beer LOL.
Sometime earlier this month (Jan.), I was stewing over the polar vortex (1.0) and having a beer with Ace & Gary, or The Ambiguously Gay Duo
– who the hell wants to ride in this crap weather for 3 -4 hours, cold, wet, windy, ugh. I am no Belgian Hardman I say. *Gary
invokes the Hillbilly Haleakala ride. and honestly we couldn’t think of a better time to do this ride; great base miles at an endurance pace, lots of climbing, protected from the elements and wind inside the safe confines of the wooded park, PERFECT!
Friday, Jan. 17th. Planning the ride.
(*if you made it this far you obviously lead a very boring life, but we’re nearly done)
A few concerns:
The forecast for the morning of Sat. Jan. 18th was awful; 9am would be a balmy 20 degrees, and in the shaded areas of the park, it might be half that. A legitimate concern for any ice, the result of any run-off from the week’s warmer temps… did that dry up? or would there be ice on some of the park’s corners (read: descents)?
probability of ice/crash/broken hip/freeze to death: 20%
Time in saddle. This concern was also voiced by my coach, as we both mulled over the implications of an 8+ hour ride. For the last three months, my longest ride was like 55 miles or so, maybe 4 hours. He wasn’t thrilled, especially since I was only a week or so off the ebola. Concerned (secretly I was also mildly concerned, but way too dumb to listen to reason).
Took some work on my part to get buy-in with the coach, but I promised to quit if I was super cold/wet and then I thru in some additional resolutions for good measure.
probability of failing resolutions to coach: 97%
probability of developing heinous saddle sore:110%
Doing a couple of 10k’ ride does help to understand what physical and mental challenges a person’s gonna face. I’ve done a fair # of really long climbs, some recently, all of which helps, but nothing over 4 hours in the last 3 months hurst. My coach and I discussed the limiters (60% LT goal/NP) and how important nutrition/hydration would be (more on that in a moment).
probability of having the endurance given the training ok, have to be honest here, I haven’t been training specifically for a 100 mile 10k’ ride. No one in their right mind does this unless their going to ride up the real volcano.
Probability of endurance to complete: ? At the time and given the cold I gave myself 70% chance.
Probability of intestinal fortitude to achieve last 30%: 100%. That’s what I was banking on. Get me to lap 7 or 8 and I was relatively certain I would finish, even if I had to crawl.
My biggest concern. The cold.
I hate the cold. Hate it hate it hate it. Tennessee can have some awful miserable cold days in the Winter, and Saturday looked like a doozy. The challenge here was to dress warm enough to keep from freezing but not too warm as to start sweating on some of park climbs. There aren’t any long descents within the park, there’s not much sunshine either and a sweat soaked base layer can feel like an ice vest on a quick descent…and aside from making your body work harder to keep you warm, a sweaty ice base shirt can really kill any morale when you’re spending 7-8 hours in those kinds of conditions.
Given these conditions, I chose to drive over from my house (versus a short 5 mile ride). I packed a number of cold weather clothing options, dry base layers, extra gloves and shoe covers. Since it was below 30 when I started with a blanket of clouds and a small 5mph breeze, I started with my warmest riding ensemble. LS thermal shirt, jersey, 2 shoe covers with hot hands in-between, lobster craws, and my trusty Fugujack. http://www.assos.com/en/19/singleProduct.aspx?tag=Winter_Plus&prod=141
People scoff at the price of these types of technical gear…hell, I scoff at them! However, years ago, I had found someone fatter than me that was selling this ninja outfit. I was in need of a cold weather jacket and made the decision to take dude up on his offer. $100 bucks. Like new. I thought I would never test the limits of this jacket as it’s smoking hot to wear.
Probability of freezing to death on ride: 5%
Last concern, somewhat related to the cold – Nutrition.
How the heck was I going to consume 100-200 cal and 1/2 water bottle per lap, when it’s 30 degrees out?? Jeesh, this was gonna be tough. Giving this much consideration. I went with an old snack that I used to make for our Winter team rides some years ago, the Belgian delight; Peanut butter, banana and honey. I also packed a breakfast power sandwich from panera bread, egg white, Vermont cheddar w/smoked turkey on toasted whole wheat bread. The folks at PB were kind enough to dbl-wrap this tasty samich in aluminum foil, which I then wrapped in a hand towel and placed inside a small insulated cooler with some power bars and bananas. My hope was that the food would stay warm enough to consume during each lap.
I ate a hearty breakfast about 3 hours before the ride consisting of a large bowl of oatmeal w/bananas,strawberries, as well as a breakfast power sandwich and a large glass of milk (and two waters).
This could have been my biggest mistake.
Probability of bonking given the extremely cold conditions and skimpy breakfast: 70%
Saturday, Jan. 18th, 2014. GO TIME
Rolled into the park for my 1st lap.
GOOD LORD it was cold, 30 degrees if I was lucky, really felt much colder as I shivered leaving the car at the entrance and began the slight incline into the dark boding mouth of the park. To be honest, that first few minutes was so extremely cold! A dark blanket of clouds had rolled in, there wasn’t a single person in sight; eerily silent and feeling of being alone, doubt began to creep into my mind, “would there be ice?” I wondered. “Can I eat/drink enough? Am I going to freeze?”. I bit my lower lip and turned the mental Hardman dial to level 7, thumbing my earphone wire and cranking some old school Steve Wonder http://www.last.fm/music/Stevie+Wonder/_/Living+For+The+City
Real Design/Momentum Wheel Builder Phil Martindale joined me not long after the start, popping in at DeepWell Bottoms (mile 2 or so). I followed his wheel as we both pushed the tempo a little to keep warm. Actually, looking back this confirms my initial fears, as at the time it felt like we were going out a little harder than I would have like on this the first lap, after looking down and seeing that I was big-ringing 3 mile hill, my internal “What the hell are you doing” bell gave a little jingle… after which I made a conscious decision to pull my head out of my ass and settle down; big-ringing climbs have never ever ever ever been my foray, and starting today, on lap one, was probably the dumbest thing I could do.
*I’m sure my coach was like – you #!#%@! bonehead.
*Hey Kool-Aid joined us at the start of the 2nd lap.
This was especially nice because I got to ask him about his recent foray into the wonderful world of brewing beer. I had the chance over the holidays to get a sneak peek into his mad laboratory, his chocolate stout surprisingly hoppy and really a frothy goodness of black bubbling crude that tasted so surprisingly good. Naturally, over the course of the next 11 miles or so I asked basic questions like, “how’d you do that?” and, “do you have anymore??”, listening intently for his invitation to return, like that golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s wonderful beer factory. I made mental notes as he methodically went over the basics of brewing beer (come over Sat), boiling barley for the sugar (come over Sun) and dropping hops and the various ways to then carbonate. Eureka. Magic ticket in hand, we agreed to reconvene in his basement for some important deep review of the umpa lumpas orange hair and quality control the product. He may also be my new beer supplier for the 2014 Keep Calm Race Cross.
*Lizardo showed up at the tail end of the 2nd lap.
He strategically rolled counterclockwise on the park roads and caught us just before reaching the backside of 9 mile. Going into and thru lap 4, his company definitely helped raise my spirits as we exchanged silly quotes about our favorite musician from Jackson Heights http://youtu.be/KzANAr1V82c
. That random chatter had us both bursting out loud about putting the hands together for Mister Randy Watson
! lol that definitely helped laps 3 and 4!
*hmm, still a little stronger than I would like and still very cold.
As Hey Kool-Aid, The Tapper and I rolled up for lap 3, Ace was waiting by the park entrance and looked as if he was holding back some shivers and ready to ride (read:get warm). Evidently the other half of the ambiguously Gay Duo, Gary had some difficulties disengaging from ROLLMODE and blew out his liver the night before. Turns out Ace actually rode over earlier in the morning, trying to catch us at the start, but slightly miscalculated the cold temps (read:human popsicle). Remarkably he rode home, put some warmer clothes on, heavier gloves and a balaclava, and then CAME BACK. Now that’s dedication for you. There is no doubt had I gone home for some warmer clothes, I would have stayed home. It was that cold. That’s a teammate for you. Ace rode with us for the next 4 laps or so stopping only once to snarf down some food and drop some hot hands inside his shoe covers.
Ace thinks he saw *Hushpuppy’s Subaru parked as we roll off.
*warmed by nearly 10 degrees! settling into 60% LT groove or dangerously close to bonking?
30+ miles into the ride I felt a little ping in my gut and realized I hadn’t eaten. I wasn’t hungry per se, but nearly mistook the sensation as I reached into my back pocket for a banana. I was shocked to find a frozen power bar in its place, “Oh you stupid bastard” I thought to myself. Lemme tell you, that bar was like a block of ice. Problematic as I took a little nibble of the frozen bar and immediately felt a sharper hunger pain. Quietly I spent the next 15 minutes of so thawing the bar in my mouth and then chewing and swallowing. I was more than a little embarrassed that I hadn’t eaten and mumbled to Toetapper that I think I set a new record for the longest time to consume a power bar. Fortunately we were not setting the world on fire and I was able to get it down -crisis averted. I finished that lap went straight to the car and inhaled 1/2 the PB&J and took a banana with me, which was consumed shortly thereafter. For good measure, I also forced myself to drink an entire bottle of water on lap 3.
*Pops confirms Hushpuppy vehicle adding that it has two baby seats an empty six pack of Teabagging Dragon and one large tub of cocoa butter.
My favorite hill climber/riding buddy and close personal friend, *The Old Goat Farter, arrived at the start of lap 5. Little known factoid about the old goat farter, he started riding with Methuselah back in the pre-JC days, and is always full of colorful colloquialisms, such as “if frogs had wings they wouldn’t bump their ass when they jumped” or “Daddy told me 3 things. Never pass up an opportunity to pee, never trust a fart. never waste an ….“. My personal favorite was this gem he unloaded on the rider formally known as Der Kaiser, “Keep riding with me there, Fatboy, you’ll have diamonds the size of horse turds”…. I don’t know what the hell that means, but hearing with him say this makes me LOL and is worth at least 10 degrees warmth.
Point being, I was more than relieved to see my old friend at the start of lap 5. We’ve ridden thru a lot together and I figured I might actually have a chance now.
2 important changes in the weather.
1. In some areas of the park, like the ridge after 3 mile and near Steeplechase you could feel the whip of the wind.The forecast called for strong winds with some reports upwards of 20mph. I was very thankful for the protection the park was providing given the colder temps. Rare for me to say this, but on this day, I definitely felt like the decision to climb all day was much better than a few hours out fighting Mother Nature’s bone-chilling wind.
2. The Sunball popped out and was warming up nicely on the South side of the park near the Steeplechase entrance, so as we rolled out of the shade there was a noticeable sense of warmth for about a mile or so before the road drops back in towards 9 mile. Yes, there was also an occassional gust of wind, but just seeing the Sun had a warming effect. The day was improving.
I ate the other half of the PB&J. Drank some more water and off we went. Pops, Totapper & Ace; Hey Kool-Aid and Martindale had bugged out a lap earlier.
*Still no sign of Hushpuppy. I checked my phone. MommaHushpuppy had called and left a message, “taking kiddos to pool”. hmmm. WTH is that fat bastard?
Oof. I was getting sweaty. Then cold. Legs were definitely getting tired. 5 laps in. 55 miles, 6k’ elevation gain. We ran into JoeB somewhere on the back side, he was rolling and eventually Ace chased him down. We chatted a little about Jake and then he asked if I was gonna do 20 laps next week. (I guess this is a little excessive I mumbled).
The park bumps felt like climbs now. 3 mile and 9 mile climbs felt much longer. I ate some more and became more than a little concerned when Ace asked what time it was (1:30’ish), followed by “are you still thinking of doing the whole monty? “…of course” I replied. At that moment, Pops told the story of the time I raced Roan Groan with a broken jaw, wired shut from a pretty awful crash earlier in the year (I’ll save that for some other blog entry). I winced at the memory of that stupidity. How crazy do you have to be to race ride up Roan Mt with your jaw wired shut?! Pops was obviously doing his best to keep my spirits high as he bellowed “true hardman“….doubt no less began to creep into my mind. “Do we have enough time I wondered.”
Rolling out of lap 6, Rippypoo rolled up in his swanky new SUV. What a great team-mate. He of the new baby couldn’t get away to ride but but he wanted to help out, ’cause he’s a good guy that way., and so he brought some food and drinks. I was stoked!
“Water, Gatorade” he yelled from his car.
I smiled and rode up to his car – “aw thanks!” happily taking a bottle of green Gatorade, which I immediately noticed, was chock full of ice cubes. LOL
I peered inside his sultry new ride and eyed a Starbucks coffee cup as I politely handed his ice bottle back to him “oooooooooh, can I have a sip of your coffee”
of course *Rippypoo
says “sorry man, I just finished that”
*Poohster also confirms *Hushpuppy sighting. I would spend the next 3 laps peering into the woods for the sasquatch otherwise known as Hushpuppy.
Wolfed down the Breakfast power sandwich, thanked Ripstah for the bottle, and off we rode.
I was pleased to make it to #7. Optimistically, I felt like I could will myself to the finish now. Only 3 more laps! I was aware of the time. 2:00pm. 3 laps. I would have to hold my 55m lap times to get in by 5pm (Sunset was 4:59). Dang.
There was a nice tail wind on the back side of the park and Pops was doing his best to pace me on the climbs and the flats. Ace popped out at Steeplechase. I was bummed to see him go, he had been a champ braving the elements for most of the day. We agreed to have a beer later.
Total stop time between lap 7 and 8 was less than 2 minutes.
*Hushpuppy vehicle is now gone. Saddened and bewildered we crack on.
Whatever optimism I enjoyed during lap 7 evaporated faster than Captain Poopypants can kill a silo of Natty Light. *for the record, that’s really fast.
8400′ elevation gain and 77 miles in and I was hurting. Bad.
We had less than two hours. I finished off my 5th water bottle and wolfed down another banana. Pops called home to the Mothership to give notice that he was almost done; 2 more laps and then I would drive him home. He made a brief mention of the time and noted the setting sun as we rode on, I barked back, “you better go home now, I don’t want you getting into trouble”. This remark brought out a loud bellow of a laugh as my faithful friend said something like “crack on then by God you crazy SOB“…or something of that nature…honestly, I’m not sure what he said as I put my head down and tried to ignore the pain in my hamstrings and hip flexors.
*I nearly cried on 3 mile forcing myself to say, only 1 more time.
*fastest lap since lap 2.
Now I’m not gonna lie about this. 1/2 way thru lap 8 the sun was going down, fast. I wasn’t sure there would be enough light to penetrate the wooded park. I began going over different options all of them ridiculous. (1)Pops could follow me in my car on the last lap. (2) I could walk. We were so close.
Pops put his head down and put in some solid efforts and as we reached 9 mile and my pace slowed to a crawl. I looked over and saw a snail go trucking by…okay, not really, but I’m pretty sure I was going about as slow as I ever had. We began to revisit my calculations. 1 lap= 11 miles and approximately 1200′ elevation gain. It was just after 4pm and we still had 1 last lap. Sunset at 5pm, but it felt like it was only moments away. Earlier in the day Lizardo had cut out at the top of 3 mile, which for those of you not familiar with the park is the first really long climb at mile 3; 9 mile is the only other really long climb with a number of punchy rollers in between (sorry, I guess I should have described some elements of the park). Anyways, cutting over at 3 mile drops you in immediately after the 9 mile climb, basically a short cut to get out of the park quicker. The question was would we get enough elevation gain by only doing 3 mile on the last lap?
Finishing-up lap 8 I realized the debate helped make lap 8 one of the fastest laps of the day. What I didn’t realize it was the 3rd fastest lap of the day and that probably saved us.
Lap 9. Homestretch.
At the end of lap 8, Pops
busted it on ahead to stop and make a quick call to Ace, who is quickly becoming our research guru. We asked him to run some #’s on http://ridewithgps.com/routes/new
* a full lap
Cutting over at 3 mile might have gotten it done, but Pops was afraid we just might come up a little short, by a 100′ or so, and we definitely would not get the 100 miles. Although Pops and I both agreed the 10’k elevation gain was what we were worried about, that and getting it done in the next 40 minutes or so!
We landed on this plan:
We would still do 3 mile but instead of going up the longish 9 mile, we would cut out of the park at the Chickering entrance. A straight shot back down Chickering rd toward the park entrance. We decided to skip taking a left on Page rd as it’s a dark road to begin with, and just go a little further and take Brookfield back to the head of the park.
I limped on ahead as Lyle and Ace sorted this plan out. Lyle caught up to me and relayed the plan. Last lap. Approximately 45 minutes of twilight left. The temps were dropping and and noticed it was significantly colder as we ascended 3 mile for the 9th and last time that day. We pushed the pace as hard, and I followed as best I could, keeping a high cadence and spinning as quickly as I could to get over what felt like an ascent up an epic Italian Alpine.
As we crested 3 mile, I dropped her into the big ring and as we began to drop into park again we were rewarded with the most remarkable Sunset. It was so beautiful, as if the cycling Gods were smiling upon our personal sacrifice and had cleared the skies of the blanketed clouds that had been there all day. In their place, small lines of poofy white remnants and the most amazing colorful hues of red and yellow blending into wicked violets, surrounding what appeared to be a giant orange Sun ball, which was rapidly going down behind the rolling hills of Middle Tennessee.
I nearly cried that moment.
I wanted to take a photo but I knew there was no time for that, so I just stared off into the Sunset as we did our best to motor thru the Steeplechase section, big ringing the flatish section and then down into the road that leads around into the golf course sprint.
At this point I was running on pure adrenaline, and had a modest tailwind. We hit the base of the golf course sprint with a little speed and I went as hard as I could, Pops laughed out loud, easily keeping pace with me as I left it all out there on that little bugger of a hill, hitting it hard all the way to the top.
Breathing hard and my legs felt like they were on fire I kept the modest effort going, dropping back into the big ring. As we turned out of the park and onto Chickering road I said a final goodbye to the park, looked at the 1% of Sun that was barely peaking over the horizon and yelled at Pops “Let’s get this over with!”
God I love that old codger, he put his head down and put in a solid 5 minute effort to bring us down to Brookfield road. I was dangling as we reached the turn. We busted out one last effort on Brookfield and let out a loud WHOOHOO! as we hit Belle Meade Blvd and turned the dial one last time and rolled into the park entrance.
We were done, and it was darker than a coal bucket.
Frozen, hungry, sore ass, I struggled to get Pops home and then myself. I crawled into my house, immediately wolfed down a hot turkey sandwich as I poured half a pound of epson salt into a scalding hot tub. Beer in hand I soaked for a good hour, reminiscing the day and in mild shock from the accomplishment and those that helped. RESULTS: 100.2 miles, 10410′ climbing@7:32m. I’m happy to report no Heinous saddle sore! I used a half a tub of bag balm applying generous amounts on the chamois. I also have this great new Fizik saddle (Antares with a channel) that purchased late last year from our team bike shop sponsor RB’s Cylery in Franklin. WINNER Endurance was good, and I had friends and team mates with me throughout the cold day. Now there’s a lot that happens over the course of an 8 hour 100 mile 10k’ ride. I’m certain to have forgotten many things and possibly even someone. For this I do apologize. I do want to thank all my great teammates and friends that came out to ride in these awful conditions. I rode every lap with one or more of you, and for that I am grateful. I’m also grateful for my #1 riding buddy, without you I certainly wouldn’t have finished this. WINNER Food was challenging given the cold. Bars were frozen. Banannas were okay. Water was slushy. Overall I managed to get it down. WINNER (barely) No ice. WINNER. Cold was very close to intolerable at 9am. Fortunately it warmed just enough, probably high 30’s to make this ride possible. Winds were never a factor. WINNER If you’ve read this far, you are hardcore and probably should start planing your own Hillbilly Haleakala! To date this is by far the most difficult ride I have ever done. Thanks for reading! *Epilogue. After freezing for 8 hours that cold windy Saturday, I feel much better as I post this photo from a surgical conference I’m attending this week. Thank You for the Vitamin D, South Beach. I apologize for drinking all of your scotch. Cheers- MLP