Monday, April 13, 2009

Shut-up; Hang-on and keep pedaling – Mulholland Challenge Race Report

Shut-up! Hang-on! Keep pedaling!

These three phrases describe my feelings for this past weekend, but first a little background

This past weekend was the Mulholland Challenge. It’s one of a three part series of centuries that when completed make you the ‘king of the mountain’. Head over to JohnnyTri's blog. His has pictures!!

Seriously, this was the hardest ride I have ever done. I would be willing to say it was the hardest thing I’ve E-V-E-R done!

Not only was the ride hard physically, it was hard mentally and in the end it was hard spiritually.

I feel wiped out on all levels!

The ride started with a very casual beginning. Basically it was a quick check in grab a race number and go. No ‘official’ bang! No gun to go off; no big crowd just a few people going off at random times throughout the morning hours.

Got to love road race events. So laid back!

Right off the bat, the road does its best to lure you into a false sense of confidence. Nice easy descents and flat roads all equaling an easy 18 mph average for the first 12 miles. Nice! But the only problem was the weather was so cold it was a whopping 44*! I realize that is NOT cold for you back East, but for the Las Vegas-er who is used to 60-80* it was FREEZING! Like a moron, I had not brought real gloves and my fingers were so numb I almost canceled my ride right there! I was afraid that I could not hold on to the handlebars or the brakes! The downhill was great, but I would love an uphill to get the blood pumping.

I should have been careful what I asked for because I got it!

Which brings us to our first phrase: Shut up!

I am on what I swear is a downhill. I mean it looks like I am getting lower, if I look back it looks higher, but I am not cruising like its downhill. I am actually working HARD just to keep going and then another guy comes the other direction and looks like he’s flying downhill….but I swear he’s going UP hill.

And then the uphill really begins. 7 miles climbing 1500 ft. Long and steady.

It’s not long before the sweat is pouring off me. Damn! I am working so hard my glasses are fogging up!

And that’s just the first of miles and miles of climbing. Another peak of 6 miles with 1360+ ft climbing. I am in the granny gear. I am pushing the pedals down with all my strength. I am crawling at along at 4 miles per hour. I am miserable!

I can’t breathe. I can’t speak. I can’t think. I am going to DIE!!

I am in my own private sufferfest and I hear two riders coming up from behind. And they are catching up with me. They're voices are getting louder and more defined.

They are TALKING. Talking! How dare they! And is it a gasping/dying conversation? Surely the only reason to talk is to express how close you are to death. “Please tell my wife I loved her…”

No. They are talking about….

-“So, on Wednesday or maybe it was Thursday, the wife and I went to this place called the “chop shop”
-“Oh! As in ‘car chop shop”
-“Yeah, It was very cute. They were a haircutting place. Everything was designed in Car motif. And then after we got our haircut we went to eat”
-Really? Where at?


They are talking about a haircut!! A haircut! I am wondering what a heart attack feels like and whether it’ll hurt to die and they are talking about a haircut and dinner!!


Strike them down or strike me, but either way….please end this!


The wonderful things about climbing uphill f-o-r-e-v-e-r is that is that saying “What comes up must go down” and that means soul saving, heart recovering downhill. Easy no spin. Breathe!

That is ‘normally’ the case, but Mulholland doesn’t work like that.

It took you 8 miles to get up here? How about we get you down in 2?

2 miles means the grade has to be STEEP like HOLY CRAP! Steep.

Steep enough that if you don’t keep mashing down the brake then you will fly out of control, hit the curb, and scream over the edge of the cliff, the bike flying one direction while you fly the other. You hit the ground and crumple into a pile while your bikes careens down the mountain, until finally hitting an out jutting rock and the bike splits in two with a sickening crunch.

Or maybe that’s only in my mind.

But either way my hands were numb from smashing the brake so hard.

It wasn’t long after that hill that we had another screaming downhill, this time the dangerous curves were replaced by the worst road known to man. Seriously, a gravel road would have been easier. And we are not just talking about a mile of crap road? No, this is a 6 mile (steep) downhill with the road constantly rattling you to death. Nuts and bolts are flying off the bike and it’s all I can do to stay on the bike and pray that my hands don’t go numb and my brakes don’t fail.

At the end of the hill my rim is on fire! My brakes have 1-2mm of brake pad left and my nerves are shot!

Keep pedaling:

By now, I have decided that I am done. If they said ‘turn here and you can be done’, I would not have blinked. I can’t feel my hands, my arms are sore from being tensed for so long and my legs are tired from all the climbing.

I am beat all over.

Mile 60.

Mile 60!! Are you kidding me?? Mile 60? I have 40 left!!??

And I have Decker canyon left??!! 3 miles straight up? 20+ grades on some parts. I am in my granny gear for the umpteenth time. I can hardly move and I have so much farther to go.

I am passing no body! It feels like I am at the end of the pack. I can feel the double century people breathing down my neck. I am down in the dumps and I could quit at anytime.

I am told that I am almost there. There are still people behind me. Keep going. Finish! Keep pedaling!

With the finish line in sight and my bike ride finally over, I feel exhausted. I am tired and done with the bike.

Could I run?



RBR said...

I believe SOME sick bastard tried to talk me into this ride. Even emailed me TWICE trying to convince me.

You may be faster, stronger, and a general triathlete BEAST, but it looks I am smarter. *smug grin*

Stef0115 said...

Holy crap that sounds hard. The downhills sound terrible. I would have probably called for a ride.

Unknown said...

And you cycling types call that fun? Yikes! I give you all the credit in the world for doing that ride. I could never spend that much time on a bike without purposly riding off a cliff to end it all.

Good job getting through it.

IronWaddler said...

Great report. Phenomenol job in doing it!!

ShirleyPerly said...

OMG, 44 degs, 20+% grade and steep downhills -- that is INSANE!! Seriously, any one of those things would have made me bail on that ride. Great job getting it done and still having some leftover for a run!

S. Baboo said...

Holy crap Form, you are becoming quite the stud! That is a hard race, you will laugh at CdA.

Sarah said...

OK, new reader here and you sold me on this post. I was laughing my butt off because I know exactly what that feeling is. The utter shock when someone goes flying by talking about what they had for breakfast. Blasphemy when you are about to teeter over the cliff on your bike because you are moving so slow.

Hee. Loved this. You are a rockstar, my friend.