Eating Humble Pie - Yuck!
I started riding Mtn only 5 years ago, at 48 years of age. I was fat and unable to ride much at first. I was however hooked. Being the type to push myself, I was sick of the weight, and hungered to ride more. Living in So-Cal, I am surrounded by amazing riding. Early rides were 5-10 mile road rides, then a little trail stuff, and I began to eat cleaner. I started dropping the weight, and the more I lost, the more I rode. I remember seeing guys on here talking about rides where they gained 2,000 feet, and thinking you have to be shitting me. I got a Garmin, and started riding at altitude too. It never really got easier as the saying goes, I just rode further and higher.
I rode with many people from this site, as well as my Brother who is several years older than I, but a stud. I figured if he can do it, so can I. Each year, I track my performance. Total miles, elevation gain, and I still pale in comparison to many of you. I now ride 2-4 days per week, and my rides range from 10-30 miles and 1,200-4,000 feet gain. I have lost most all the weight, and my progress each year is substantial. I get super cranky if I do not ride, and I totally "jones" to ride. I crave it bad. I need it to be smooth, calm , and confident. Fortunately, my wife understands this, and supports my habit.
Many of the riders I first rode with used to leave me for dead. Now, not so much. One local Mtn I look at daily as I drive to work, and while it's a fire-road climb up and back, it's a beacon calling me to take it. These days, I am able to knock down most any climb, and do not like to lose. I challenged myself to do this ride that would be more elevation gain than my 53 year old body had ever tried. Not only more elevation, but more compressed. So I reached out to a rider whom I have ridden with before, and he is way younger, faster, fitter, better looking, and way nicer than I. He agreed to accompany me on my quest to take this Mtn.
So we took off late because I had a Memorial Service to attend, and left the trail head at 2 in the afternoon in 90+ degree temps. I'm a weight weenie on a light bike, and usually I do not carry a hydration pack unless it's stupid hot, or if I'm doing on a really hard ride. This was a really hard ride, so I loaded up. Food, water, bottle with mix, all the goodies. I had probed this ride a couple nights before, and went 4.5 miles up, so I knew the grade was substantial. As we took off, the weight of the pack, the stinging of the sun and the quick lather of sweat reminded me I was in for a hump. I also was riding with no front brake, but that's another story. I know, stupid.
So as we get in 4.8 miles, we have already climbed over 2,000 feet, and I can feel my back. My lower back is starting to ache from the constant grade. At 8 miles in, we meet up with the Main Divide, and we have gained 3,500 feet, and I am struggling. Iv'e done this much elevation before, but not sustained. Not without more level spots. Not in such a short distance. My buddy is having little trouble, but he too is feeling it. So as we continue to climb, I feel my chain skip from time to time, and my rear Renegade tire slips often in the loose scree. I weight the front tire, and drop my torso, and continue to grind up the relentless fire-road.
As I think about how nice it would be to have a second or third chain-ring and re-evaluate my 1X10 choice, my eyes sting from sweat. I'm hurting. We take 60-90 second breaks, but I feel my legs begin to cramp, something I rarely experience. On this day May 3 2015, it was my 4th ride of the week, a choice I would reflect on later. Was I just spent? Would I have been stronger with a rest day between rides?
As my fellow rider encouraged me, I continued to climb, but the pain between brief breaks was increasing. I was beginning to feel queasy. The drink mix I was sipping felt sour in my stomach. I had plenty of water and was drinking it, but for the first time in a couple years, I felt I could not continue. I just totally hit the wall. At this time, I was .6 miles from the summit of the tallest Mtn in my immediate area, and
had to make the tough call to call it. My buddy soldiered on, and conquered the top, while I waited, frustrated, ashamed at myself that I could not muster the strength to make it the last short distance.
So yea, it was humbling. As I started to descend down the loose rock, steering the bike with the rear brake only, I still did not feel better. My head cloudy, queasy still, and a little dizzy. I modulated my speed as best I could, and finally got back to the cars without killing myself in the process. For me, this was hard to accept, but I need to realize I'm not a Pro, I do not earn a living doing this, the object is to have FUN, and I sometimes take myself and my riding way too seriously. It was a tough climb. All told, I gained 5,400 feet in a 25 miles out and back ride. This was the most climbing I have done to date, although I have bagged over 4,000 multiple times. This was harder. So I know now I'll be back. I'll hit it 5-10 lbs lighter, perhaps with a lighter pack, cooler temps, both brakes that actually work, and a little more tire under me. After all, I hate the taste of Humble Pie!
Great story and a good effort. I am an older rider as well an suggest you may need additional salt on a hot sweaty ride.
Consciousness, that annoying time between bike rides.
Lighter pack? Probably not. Fourth ride of the week? Hell no.
I think you would have finished had you given yourself more recovery time prior to the day of.
If you are like everyone else, you didn't eat and drink as much as you needed overall. Combine this with an energy output that is significantly higher than short-term recovery capability, you've got a good mix for a bad ride.
Being older, I've found that a lack of significant occurances of lower grades means I have to either put it in a very low gear and chill out for about five minutes every so often, or get off and rest or walk a bit. I prefer to grind a low gear as it results in more energy and less chance of cramping than the other two options.
I think all you did is outride the recovery rate you had that day, and could have prepped better and completed the ride. All things considered, you did complete one hell of a ride. I'd love to be able to complete 4k gain in less than 4-5 rides during a two week period without bonking. Haven't been able to set goals like that in 20 years.
I will suffer no butt-hurt fools!
Bummer.....you were only 5-7 minutes from the top.
But that part of Main Divide sucks between Lower Holy Jim and the Peak.
We did Harding to the Jims last month and Main Divide was horrible.
I crashed hard enough on my Tallboy to break my leg,
The carbon is way more durable than most people.
A few things I've learned as a 62 year old who rides with my now 23 year old.
Hydration, hydration, hydration: I've found that I have to make sure I'm hydrated BEFORE the ride. If I'm not, there's no way I'll catch up on the ride. I have had to titrate back to 50% coffee - 50% decaf because of the diuretic effects of 100% coffee. It just prevents me from getting hydrated in the morning. Also, as I've aged, I've found that I have to cut back on whatever I add to water for the ride. If it has too much sugar, I just no longer have the insulin response of a 30 year old and it tends to make me feel lethargic. I lean toward mixes that are lower sugar/higher electrolytes. I'm in Utah at high elevation, so I'll go through an entire 100oz bladder on a ride. You may have to up your water intake, so you might as well get used to a camelback. Two bottles wont do it on the kinds of rides you're doing. On riding with stronger riders - sometimes you just have to ride at your pace rather than trying to ride at someone else's. Sometimes you'll need to go down to the 42 tooth (when are they gonna come out with a 24/50 combo, anyway?!) and slow it down to drop your heart rate. I can hold 90% of max for an hour +, 95% for about 10 minutes and 100% for about 45 seconds, and if I hit max more than 2 or 3 times on a ride, it kills my recovery. Stuff like this becomes more important as you age, unfortunately, but I don't see myself transitioning over to dirt bikes (motorcycles) until I'm in my 80's. Then I plan to go all "Mad Max" in Moab on a regular basis.
Hey Jason. Yes, MD was tore up. Super loose up ITT and rutted out, but Divide is rubble as you approach the top. Crazy to think you do it with a Single Speed! Thanks everyone for the replies and insight. Some good tips here to be had. BTW, I would have dropped to a 42 rear if I had one, but was pushing a 30T 11-36 combo. I too am thinking of a 40 or 42t rear option for a 1X10. Not in a position to ditch all my gear to go 1X11 at this time.
Originally Posted by mtnbikej
Good read, thanks.
I'm 65 for what that's worth. I still do stupid things too and have to eat more Humble Pie then I like at times, but, it at least results in interesting stories if it doesn't kill you.
Yeah, definitely need recovery days. Becomes far more important as you age, too. Hell, when I went to North Carolina last week with my wife, I made sure she had a solid recovery WEEK. She's a bit less fit than I am so I wanted to make sure her reserves were topped up.
Also, nutrition and hydration.
Biggest issue I see here is that you went all out with a bunch of stuff you don't use regularly. Of course you had stomach issues with the mix you used. If you're going to use a mix, first off, you need to use it on a similar effort so you know how your stomach will handle it. Also, your stomach needs to be used to that kind of stuff. As for me, I do fine with light electrolyte mixes, but I do NOT do well with mixes that contain calories. But dealing with drink mixes is a PITA, so I tend to prefer electrolytes in pill or tablet form, and then I take solid food and just use the extra bottle capacity for more water. As for WHAT food, I usually carry a mix of stuff like PBJ, fruit, trail mix, and a couple of energy products like chews or waffles/bars. The energy foods and trail mix come out for short stops, and the PBJ and fruit come out for longer stops.
As for your gearing, that may have played a contributing role, but curious how your 1x10 is geared? Mine is geared very similarly to my old 3x9. The low end is extremely close. I can sit in the 28x42 and pedal for a very long time.
Hey Harold. I am running a 30T up front, with an 11-36 rear 10 speed on a 29er.
Originally Posted by Harold
Geez, no wonder!
Originally Posted by trmn8er
If you want to look at gear ratios:
Sheldon Brown's Bicycle Gear Calculator
Up here in Utah, there's a stretch that goes from about 9000 feet to about 9800 feet that I can do in what is my third gear (your lowest gear is in between my 3rd and 4th gears!) if I climb the first 2500 feet or so at a very slow pace. If I hit it hard, though, there's no way I'd be able to hit the last climb in anything other than 1st and 2nd. And Moab trips would be out of the question for me. I'd seriously consider a 1x11 (even if you keep the 30 tooth, at least you're at low altitude) or put a 42 on the back as others on the board have done. Wolftooth and Oneup seem to be popular.
Originally Posted by trmn8er
Yeah, no wonder dude. If you are strong then hammer away. But you don't have much of a spinning gear with that option. Given your age and fitness history, I think you would benefit from some extra gearing at the low end so you can spin.
Originally Posted by MSU Alum
The current gear has served me well and allowed me to climb over 71,500 feet so far this year alone, but I won't argue I could have used some on this ride. For as much as I like to climb, perhaps a 42 out back would be good. I will say it's amazing what we can get used to if we work at it. This was the one ride that it was just too much for me.
That is the thing. Gotta have a little gearing in reserve for the especially tough rides.
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