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  1. #1
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    Ride Miscalculations

    We've all done it.
    I'm sure there are plenty of stories of being hours to days late for a finish - or just that extra 1/2 hour that seemed like a lot longer due to the unknown.
    We were over-zealous, optimistic, unprepared, ignorant, or just plain stubborn, but our ride turned into more than we bargained for.

    Honestly, I've never been that far off in an arrival time calculation, but sometimes it's a matter of perspective. If you ask my wife, I was 8 hours late. I thought I did pretty good for forecasting my arrival 5 days ahead of a ride-in camping trip with no phone service and driving 300 miles home at the end of it. She has since altered her perspective of time to match mine when it comes to biking (e.g. "2 hrs" = 4 hrs realtime, etc. ).

    Of course, I once led a night hike that was supposed to be 2-1/2 miles. Well, the bridge was out and the creek was high so we had to bushwhack out to the nearest road (and bridge) with a bunch of kids to get back to camp without backtracking. Longest 20 minutes in human history.
    No, the kids were fine. It was the parents saying "How much farther?" "Are you sure you know where you're going?".

    -F
    It's never easier - you just go faster.

  2. #2
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    I have miscalculated food and water many times on rides and hikes. In turn causing a late arrival.
    One time in particular, I was riding Kenosha Pass to Georgia Pass out and back ( may have been my first time). All went well until the final climb out. I was out of water, out of food and completely out of energy. I could not pedal up the last climb. I sat on the side of the trail and cried a little. No one around, it was up to me to get my unhappy ass back to the car on 285. So I started walking the bike and could barely do that. Then of course it started to rain, then hail. I did of course make it but it taught me a lot about pacing myself and taking more than I might need on epic rides, the extra weight be-damned.
    Now when I do an epic ride I take a complete lunch and eat it along the way with all kinds of energy bars and whatnot for back up. And plenty of water and I don't even think about riding 30 miles now without being very well hydrated at the start.
    I choose to live and to lie..kill and to give and to die..learn and love and to do what it takes to step through. MJK

  3. #3
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    Just yesterday, I was riding with a buddy on some private land, which we had permission to be on. He is relatively new to the club and not as familiar with the trails as he thought. We ended up way out in BFE at least one other private properties away and we ran out of water.

    By the time we found our way out of there, I was more than ready to be done! Excessive heat, ~2700' of climbing in one gear (which I love, BTW) and I was ready for cold beer. The beer came AFTER about a quart of cold water though.
    "The maturity of an 8 year-old boy coupled with the insecurity of a teen aged girl."

  4. #4
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    There are many, but the most meorable ones of the top of my head:

    Bellvue, CO 1988: Short cut ended up being long way to river with lots of hike-a-bike. Out of water. Crossed chest deep river. Begged Cokes from nearby picnic.

    Moab, UT 1994: Started Porcupine Rim for the very first time from water tank at 7pm. No moon. 1 rider with prescription sunglasses only. Returned at 11:30pm to hear the our wives had just called S&R. Called them back and stopped them before they headed out.

    Moab, UT 2005: 105F in the shade. Poison Spider, Gold Bar loop from town. Broken chainring on friends bike. Out of water.

    Jefferson, CO 2007: Friend crashed and had to be helicoptered out of Jefferson Creek just below Georgia Pass. We had to ride out with his bike in pieces on our packs. Had to call his wife to let her know why we were late and where to find her husband.

    Moab, UT 2015: Kane Creek, Hurrah Pass, Jackson's Hole, Jackson's Ladder, Amasa Back, Captain Ahab loop from town. Ran out of water and food.

  5. #5
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    It's only a matter of time before I have some stories that involve the bike, but having only been riding for about a year now, there haven't been many opportunities for any notable screw-ups (other than some local crashes.)

    In the world of hiking and backpacking though, I could damn near write a book.

    Grand Canyon: rim-to-rim-to-rim 'day' hike. Plan was to get from the south rim, down kaibab to phantom ranch, up north kaibab, back down NK, and back up bright angel. That all happened. The part about it taking under 24 hours didn't. Just crawling up the last bit of North Kaibab damn near sent me spiraling to a rocky death as I was basically sleep-walking in the dark. Not a great thing on those cliffs. Made it to the north rim (no people there as that time of year the north rim is shut down) and found a ditch next to the trail, deployed emergency bivvy, and caught about 15 minutes of sleep in the sub-freezing wind. That was JUST enough to be somewhat awake for the bulk of the descent back into the canyon. Stopped about halfway back to phantom ranch and managed to score an hour of sleep on a frozen bench, and forced myself to eat (prior attempts at eating were met with complete lack of ability.) Long story short, made it back to the south rim about 35 hours from when we departed. Completely nonstop minus the 1hr 15min of trail-napping and food breaks.

    Humphreys Peak - Flagstaff, AZ: First time day-hiking high-altitude stuff. Managed to crawl to the top only to have a massive storm roll in, freezing rain, strong wind gusts, and lightning. Got literally a minute of rest and was about to crack open some trail-food to replenish from the climb before we had to haul ass to lower elevation and away from the lightning.

    Blue Range Primitive Area - Eastern AZ: Completely underestimated the amount of trail damage from previous years' fires. Ended up bushwhacking 90% of day 1 up and down steep, rocky, loose shitty canyon walls to get to a campsite for night 1 of 3.

    Barbershop Canyon (NE of Payson): backpacking trip that turned wetter than expected as a storm rolled in. Had a hard time finding a semi-safe place for camp that wasn't a flood risk, lightning risk, or both. On the last day, got separated due to a trail re-route and actually had S&R almost wheels-down (called in via ham radio) when the last party member emerged from the woods, soaked to the bone. Good times.

    McDowell Mountains, Tom's Thumb - Scottsdale AZ: not half as fun as some of the above, but day hiked the long route to Tom's Thumb from the west side of the McDowells. about a quarter mile from the top we saw a dust storm rolling into the Phoenix valley. A few minutes later, the rain/wind part followed suit and hit hard. Probably about as close to hurricane conditions as this part of the country has ever seen. Went from a nice summer day to cold and wet fast enough to warrant finding some rock outcroppings to shelter under and deploying the bivvy again.

    I really should buy those bivvy things in bulk for a better price.

    Probably another dozen scenarios that I'm forgetting. Any one of these could easily have been lethal to one or more people in the party. Despite the way it sounds, I and the people I go into the wilderness with are all extremely well-versed in the risks and precautions required, but nature has a way of throwing new curve balls at you no matter what. Especially in environments that are extreme under the best conditions.

    Edit: random other fun events... massive storms while camping on mt graham, 1st hike of my life and we picked Flatiron in the Superstitions as the target (without enough water or food or proper attire or planning...), participating in planning and execution of S&R for missing hiker in Mazatzal mountains, scaling a LONG ridgeline in the superstitions UPHILL during a HUGE thunder/lightning storm (that was ****ing terrifying, but we were out of options). God I love the outdoors =)

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by CUP-TON View Post
    I have miscalculated food and water many times on rides and hikes.
    I grew up riding street bmx, where when you were hungry you just ran over to the nearest gas station and grabbed some gross roller food then went about your business. Fast forward to when I started riding road/mtb, I didn't know the first thing about nutrition. Honestly, I didn't even know that you were supposed to eat on the bike. What's the point in eating calories when you're trying to burn them in the first place?

    I decided to wake up real early one morning and tackle my first 100 mile road ride. I still to this day don't know how it happened, but I made it close to 60 miles before I completely bonked. When I say bonked, I mean BONKED. My wife practically had to drag me into the car. Head was spinning, about to throw up, jello body, the whole 9 yards.

    I told a buddy what happened and he laughed hysterically, kindly introduced me to the concept of nutrition and fueling.

  7. #7
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    Having yourself bonked (several times of course), it's pretty funny to watch someone else bonk (granted they're not actually dying).

    Here's a Snickers. Welcome to mountain biking.

    Heh.
    "You can be clipped in and be boring or ride flats and have a good time." - Sam Hill

  8. #8
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    Riding at a state park last week in the afternoon when it was 100+F. This was much more pleasant than doing it in the morning at 85F and high humidity, but I had to go in 1hr loops back to the car to refill on water.

    I'm about 45min out and decide to take a short 3 mile trail to the refill point. I neglected to notice that this was the hardest trail in the park - basically up and down a canyon four times in heavy rock, and I used all 160mm of travel.

    It was a lot of fun but I ran out of water about 20 minutes from the car. oops.

  9. #9
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    Been through several. A couple jump to mind:

    1) A foreseeable miscalculation once where I was overruled and talked into a death march ride. I tried to talk the group out of the route to no avail. We got lost and rode in well after dark.

    2). During a checkpoint race my teammate and I decided to bushwhack (off trail) to save time between checkpoints. We miscalculated the terrain and were lost in the woods (with no trail) for three hours. It was an ugly 12 hour day in total.

  10. #10
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    Awesome stories of f--- ups here. I love it.

    My bro-in-law got married in Moab a few years ago. The morning of the wedding I went riding with my sister in law - we wanted to squeeze in a ride before the wedding and we knew we'd be cutting it really really close but its Moab so why the hell not roll the dice and see if we can do it?

    We rode a route she knew well (I wish I remembered what trails/trails it was) and finished it way late. We hitchhiked back to town, pedaled to the ceremony in our gear and sat through the short ceremony all geared up. No one really batted an eye because a good chunk of the guests were riders.

    After the ceremony I manage to find a spigot, hosed myself off and put on half way decent clothes my wife brought me.

    Not so much a miscalculation, more luck pushing my luck and getting away with it. Zero regrets.
    2016 Santa Cruz Hightower 29er
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  11. #11
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    The very first adventure ride I went on back in 1994 turned out to be a huge miscalculation.

    Me and 2 buddies decided to do this 50km ride out in the backcountry. We have never ridden in the back country before and thought we could average around 25kph... It would be an easy 2hr ride!!!! hahahaha.


    It was the middle of the winter we got to the track at mid day. Sun set around 5.30pm.

    The track was a barely used bush tramping track that had 20km of hike a bike in dense forrest before it popped out into farm land. Then another 15km of hike a bike to get back to the same side of the valley, then a 15km gravel road ride back to the car.


    I tool one moro bar and 750mm water bottle.


    Anyway as you would expect we didnt average 25kph. We barely averaged 5kph!. We popped out of the 20km hike a bike section at sunset. There was no way of riding back to the car in the dark. We are not on the other side of the valley. Its 1hr car drive back to our car. Luckily we find someone going in that direction and one of the guys hitches a ride. We stay back with the bikes. It takes my guy 3 hours to get back to us. By that time i am stupid hungry cold and considering eating grass.


    It then takes us another couple of hours to get home. We arrive home at maybe midnight to find the parents of my buddy had wrung search and rescue. A search team was being assembled to go an look for us.


    This before the days of cell phones and epirbs............


    Needless to say i learned alot from that adventure.

    Armed

  12. #12
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    Great stories!
    I forgot I had a couple storm damage epics where we couldn't find the trail for ~hour... at night.
    ...5 flats on 3 bikes.
    ...nutrition ignorance (I was a slow learner).

    It boggles my mind to hear about a 1/2 day wrong turn on the Great Divide or in the Iditasport events.

    -F
    It's never easier - you just go faster.

  13. #13
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    My old biking buddy of 3 years and I were at the summit of a fire lookout at noon on Father's Day. He had told his wife he would be home by 11 am. His wife had invited all the inlaws for brunch. His wife was so pissed (and he was so whipped) that he gave up riding altogether shortly after that. Sad but true.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbkrmike View Post
    His wife was so pissed (and he was so whipped) that he gave up riding altogether shortly after that. Sad but true.


    this angers me just reading it....how can one man be so whipped? Some things in life just aren't worth it.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pisgah View Post
    2). During a checkpoint race my teammate and I decided to bushwhack (off trail) to save time between checkpoints. We miscalculated the terrain and were lost in the woods (with no trail) for three hours. It was an ugly 12 hour day in total.
    That's what you get for cheating, lol!
    Keep trying to do the awesomest thing you've ever done.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by bamwa View Post
    That's what you get for cheating, lol!
    It was legal in that race - No BS.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pisgah View Post
    Been through several. A couple jump to mind:

    1) A foreseeable miscalculation once where I was overruled and talked into a death march ride. I tried to talk the group out of the route to no avail. We got lost and rode in well after dark.

    2). During a checkpoint race my teammate and I decided to bushwhack (off trail) to save time between checkpoints. We miscalculated the terrain and were lost in the woods (with no trail) for three hours. It was an ugly 12 hour day in total.
    Quote Originally Posted by bamwa View Post
    That's what you get for cheating, lol!
    Quote Originally Posted by Pisgah View Post
    It was legal in that race - No BS.
    Remind me of this: Boston Marathon History: How Fake Winner Rosie Ruiz Got Caught in 1980 | Time

    Ride Miscalculations-ec0ae11a-ff75-435a-9534-539de8b037dc.jpg
    Quote Originally Posted by mileslong View Post
    I passionately remove rocks and corners and other stuff I find too hard to ride.

  18. #18
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    “1999” A buddy and I took our bikes to Cochiti Canyon, New Mexico to explore and hopefully find some secret singletrack. We headed north west in the heat until we ran out of food and water. We went up several drainages and connected so many fire roads we had no idea where we were.

    We came across a hot shot fire crew that was scouting around and tried to get help with their maps. We told them where we started and they said that wasn’t possible! Later on it rained and hailed so much the temp drop along with being wet we both got hypothermic! During the storm we knew we had to ride to generate heat.

    We made our way back but came down a different drainage and ran into private property. We hiked our bikes and got shredded by thick brush and cactuses. All this while being in scary bonked states. Many poor decisions were made due to “peak bagging fever”. Glad to have survived that little misadventure.

  19. #19
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    A Three Hour Tour .....

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by DIRTJUNKIE View Post
    Awesome, she also had cheated in a qualifying race, maybe NY marathon?


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by VTSession View Post
    Awesome stories of f--- ups here. I love it.

    My bro-in-law got married in Moab a few years ago. The morning of the wedding I went riding with my sister in law - we wanted to squeeze in a ride before the wedding and we knew we'd be cutting it really really close but its Moab so why the hell not roll the dice and see if we can do it?

    We rode a route she knew well (I wish I remembered what trails/trails it was) and finished it way late. We hitchhiked back to town, pedaled to the ceremony in our gear and sat through the short ceremony all geared up. No one really batted an eye because a good chunk of the guests were riders.

    After the ceremony I manage to find a spigot, hosed myself off and put on half way decent clothes my wife brought me.

    Not so much a miscalculation, more luck pushing my luck and getting away with it. Zero regrets.
    Winner.
    Focus on technique and save the puking for later. - L. McCormack

  22. #22
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    My wife has learned to add time onto my estimates. The worst was when I "snuck off" for a quick ride while she was at her store for a few hours. I was going to get a "quick loop" in, and I had a series of mechanical issues (flatted, then broke CO2 pump, then broke manual pump) at the absolute further point from the trailhead. I also couldn't get my tire reseated (lost through axle bolt and got tired of looking for it), so I had to hike a bike while carrying a tire for a couple of miles to the nearest road. Stashed my bike and then ran (luckily I was wearing flats) to my car via road. Then drove my car back to pick up bike and return to house.

    My "quick 1 hour ride" turned into a 4 hour ordeal. Luckily, my wife had gotten hung up at her store and never even had a clue.. until I started telling everyone the story that night after a few beers.

    The only worse series of mechanical misadventures I"ve had was when my son and I were on a ride and, through a combination of dumbassery, poor preparation and bad luck, we both ended up having to hike a bike out (he was 9 at the time). Only he had lost the nut to get his wheel on, so I had to sling his bike over my bike and hike both bikes while he carried the wheel. We were quite a sight coming down the trail.

  23. #23
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    Rode Tallulah Gorge in Georgia while camping with my wife and inlaws. didn't take a map, or enough food and water on a rigid singlespeed 26er. the ride was fantastic, but I dropped a lot of elevation by the time I reached the end of the out-and-back route. see the yellow route here.

    beautiful ride, but by the time I reached the end, I was beat. you can see a brown dotted line on the map that says "four wheel drive only." I started riding up that as it was getting dark. I didn't have lights on my bike.because I didn't bring a map, I didn't realize how long that gravel road was, or how much elevation I would have to regain on the loose gravel. it looked grim after a while. i called my wife and the call was dropped over and over again due to the remoteness of the area.

    I finally got to talk to my wife long enough to get my father in law to head my way in his Jeep. the road was definitely 4WD only, so I am thankful for that Jeep! we eventually met half-way and I rode back with him. I had several miles of climbing to go when he found me. it was getting cold and dark and my supplies and body were not ready for that.

    next time, bring a map!
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  24. #24
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    My worst was a real eye opener.

    I had just done some improvements to my bike and I was stoked. I decided to ride (In Fleas's back yard) Mohican State Park, a 25 mile loop. I did not have enough sleep and did not fuel up properly. I took some high caloric snacks and 100 oz of water. The day was suppose to be hot. At the time I was in my late 50's.

    I arrived for the ride at about 10:00 am and set out. I was on fire. The first 11 miles to the covered bridge I did in 55 minutes. I was stoked. I rested and ate 1000 calories and drank about a quart of water. I felt good so I continued the next section which has much more up than down. At the top of the first climb I started to have some leg cramps. I would massage them out and continue. After and hour and a half I made it to the 15 mile parking area. Drank most of the water on the last section. I was a bit drained but still stoked. The next section was mostly downhill but I had forgotten how much uphill there was. That section took me another hour and a half and the temps were pushing 90 F (32C). I bailed at the 19 mile mark and cruised back to the parking lot. I was tired but ok. I went to McDonalds and fueled up on a chicken salad, water and ice cream.

    Back home I resumed my normal routines but about four hours after getting home I started to feel sick. I checked my temperature and was running a fever of about 100F. I was going to the bathroom a lot and my urine was dark. When my body temp climbed to 102F I put the symptoms into the internet and the advice was go to ER so I went.

    At ER they immediately put me on two IV's and started taking blood. I was shivering constantly. Blood work came back and it was determined that I had rhabdomyolysis and would require checking in with round the clock monitoring and treatments. It was touch and go as to whether I would need dialysis but in the end I did not. After three days my body temps returned to normal and I was discharged. I was very weak and still felt crappy.

    Four days later I was back in ER with abdominal pain. It was determined that I was passing many small stones like sand and had prostatitis. After 8 hours or so I went home, still in a fair amount of pain.

    For the most part I recovered in about two weeks but remained weak for much longer. I do not think that I ever made it back to the strength that I had before that ride.

    Riders beware.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by hogfly View Post
    ...

    The only worse series of mechanical misadventures I've had was when my son and I were on a ride and, through a combination of ....
    You jogged my memory of a time I was taking my daughter on her trail-a-bike on what I thought would be an easy trail. Well, it's easy when you don't have a trail-a-bike. With the TAB, it is much slower - with lots of roots that little kids are just not used to. Well, by the time we returned to the truck we were riding in the dark purely by feel. It was several months before she agreed to go for an evening ride with me again.

    -F
    It's never easier - you just go faster.

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