The Death Ride Crew.
As many of you know, I was terrified going into Death Ride this weekend. But I had no idea what was in store for the day. This was a completely different experience than last year. The morning of the race, my heart rate was up at 115 before we even started. My resting heart rate is 60. I was nervous.
Feeling nervous before we started.
We began rolling a little later than originally planned and the weather forecast promised temperatures in the 90’s. You wouldn’t know that as we started out and immediately started descending in the cool morning. I tried to remember this feeling and store it for later in the day when it would be boiling. As we started up the first climb, it was not as steep as I remembered it. I was going a lot faster than I expected and was freaking out that I was going way too hard and that it was going to catch up with me later. But I figured if I was going to die, then I was going to try to go for as long as possible.
At the top of the first climb, I stopped and had a bite to eat. The year before, we had kind of all stopped at the rest stops, checked in, and made sure everyone was doing ok. I looked around and didn’t see anyone. I hung out for a little while but then continued on down the first descent. This part was breath taking. And I was flying down the descent which is not normal for me. I just felt on top of the world.
Going up the second climb, I started getting lots of comments about my Ironman Lake Tahoe bike kit. One woman said that I had to run up the last climb which spans 20 miles. I told her it wasn’t long enough because it wasn’t 26.2, a full marathon that is at the end of the Ironman. There were people on fixed gear bikes and people with very interesting choices in dress ranging from tutus to Hawaiian t-shirts and feather boas. At the top of the second pass, I was feeling really strong and wanted to just keep going, so I did.
It was on the way to the top of the third pass that things started to go awry. This seemed to be the hottest part of the day coupled with arguably the toughest climb (as you can see on the elevation map below). The grades of climbs are the steepest on the way up the first side of Ebbetts which varies up and down to a 10% grade. You could immediately see these sections when the road would just hitch up like a wall in front of you and everyone would stand up on their bikes.
Since it was so hot, I started pouring water on myself. With about 2 miles left to go on the climb, I was almost finished with all the water in my first water bottle and reached for my second which had Osmo in it. Then I dropped it. It was on one of the steep parts of the climb and I knew that if I stopped I wouldn’t be able to get back on my bike, so I left it. With only a couple drops of water and a while to go, my confidence started slipping.
When I finally got to the top, I was dehydrated and behind on calories and a little bit deflated. This was it. This was the end. I sat down, had some Ramen, a Pepsi, some cold water and re-grouped. It was going to be ok. I stuffed ice down my jersey and hopped back on my bike. Sam had caught up with me so we started the descent together. But in true fashion, I chicked him on the way down. It was amazing how many people I passed throughout the day. I am not really that strong of a biker, and maybe it was because we started so late, but it was fun chicking so many people. I even tapped out at 50.6 mph at one point during the day!
The 4th climb was graced with overcast skies and was a mostly pleasant climb. Sam, Carolyn and I were all sort of staying together at this point and planned on stopping at the bottom of the 4th climb for some lunch. After stopping and having a lovely turkey sandwich, Sam and I started an epic pace line which dropped most of the people who joined in. It’s a long 15 miles back to where we had parked on the way over to the 5th and final pass and it was extremely hot. Chrissy said that her bike computer reported a high at 98 degrees. No, Nick Lachey did not show up and start serenading us.
On the way up the 5th pass, I couldn’t believe that I was actually going to make it. Since Ironman New Zealand, I have had one 4 hour ride, with mainly 2 or 3 hour rides here and there. I should not have been this strong or able to do this. But I did it. I made it to the top and got my ice cream. 125 miles, 15,000 feet of climbing. Done and done. Never again? Maybe. My base of training is still there and I’m in a completely different place mentally and physically than last year. I just have to build on top of that.
I want to give a shout out to one of my very best friends, Terri Stearmen. Leading up to the race, she was giving me nothing but positive words and kept telling me that I could do it. I especially want to thank you, Terri, for helping me make it to the 5th pass of this race and always believing in me. We limit ourselves based on what we think we can do, but the body is able to accomplish so much more than we know. On the first climb, a new mantra popped into my head “You are stronger than you know”. And I kept saying that to myself throughout the day. Again, I think Death Ride has proven to be a turning point in my season and I have renewed energy going into the last 10 weeks leading up to Ironman Lake Tahoe.
And the goods.