Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Rocky Mountain High

Lizard Head Pass
 As July passes, fine weather prevails, sunny days smile, and summer challenges abound.  This is prime cycling season.  On June 9-15, 2013, Riderturbo and Ridermama made their second annual pilgrimage back to their native State of Colorado with family in tow for Ride the Rockies.  This 500+ mile tour with over 2000 riders every year traverses the finest alpine road cycling routes through the Colorado Rocky Mountains over seven days riding.

Home state to Rider Turbo, Mama and Lone Wolf, whose youthful roots lay in Boulder, Snowmass and Aspen, respectively, the tour is not only beautiful and challenging, but also nostalgic in that it provides the snow-capped mountains, evergreen trees and high-altitude landscape that we grew up with in this part of the world.

The tour itself consisted of 7 consecutive stages, each day averaging 73 miles over several 9000-10,000ft mountain passes including Lizard Head, Wolf Creek, Hesperus Hill and Poncha Pass.  Because of unexpected wilderness fires closing the route in the Royal Gorge area, the 6th stage was redirected from Salida to Canon City over 9000+ ft  Hardscrabble Pass with and additional 33 miles added in distance.  This brought the total route to 545 miles with four consecutive 84+ mile days averaging 78 miles per day with 22,000+ vertical feet of total climbing, all comprising the longest Ride the Rockies route ever recorded in the event's 28 year history.

Flying the Ranch Aircraft into beautiful Telluride on the first day, Turbo and Mama met up with the grandparents who shuttled the 5 year old RiderZoe and 2 year old RiderSasha during the first three days from start to finish line.

Turbo and Mama pulled out the old pair of durable aluminum Cervelo Soloists from grandpa's garage in Colorado -- a la Eazy-E -- not the lightest steeds in the peloton, but dutifully equipped with triple cranks and wide-ratio cassettes equally suited to big pass climbs, fast descents, and pace line flats over this state-side version of the layman's "Grand Tour."
Wolf Creek Pass

The daily schedule felt like a professional team: up at 6am to suit-up, grease-up, pack-up, prepare equipment and mix nutrition, followed by 7am family breakfast , 8am ride start, and the finish time between 12-2pm.  After this, an ice smoothie recovery shake, professional leg massage, fun visit, playful swim and tasty dinner with the kids and grandparents before retiring for bed about 8pm only to do it all over again the next day, seven times in a row. That's what Ranchers call a vacation.
2013 Route Summary:
June 8 — Telluride – Registration
June 9 — Telluride to Cortez | 75 miles | Lizard Head Pass – 10,222 ft.
June 10 — Cortez to Durango | 64 miles
June 11 — Durango to Pagosa Springs | 86 miles
June 12 — Pagosa Springs to Alamosa | 91 miles | Wolf Creek Pass – 10,850 ft.
June 13 — Alamosa to Salida | 84 miles | Poncha Pass – 9,019 ft.
June 14 — Salida to Cañon City | 67 miles | Royal Gorge Bridge Park rerouted over Hardscrabble Pass -- 9,085 ft total 93.5 miles
June 15 — Cañon City to Colorado Springs | 46 miles 
One notable activity for the kids were nightly hotel hallway wind sprints that kept fellow hotel guests and bystanders wondering who those rowdy "Ranch" kids were.

Beyond that, grandparents shuttled the kids by car each day and entertained them with mountain hikes, nature walks, gondola rides, visits to the fish hatchery, local parks, horseback rides and dining establishments en route to the next stop, typically about 1-2 hours each day in the car.
Hardscrabble Pass  ---  matching S.U.R.M Jerseys harkening days of the 230km Schwarzwald Ultraradmaraton, in Alpirsbach Germany 2005...the hardest ride we've ever done
Another vital component to mention was the nutrition strategy -- the newly discovered key to success in ultra-distance and multi-day events as deployed, tested and vetted by Turbo and Mama. Here, the Team adopted the vaunted and frequently misunderstood "all liquid" nutrition protocol  following guidelines spelled out in the Hammer Fueling Handbook.   The protocol is based on three pillars: hydration, calories and electrolytes.  At odds with the majority of riders, Turbo and Mama fueled according to formula using precise amounts of water, "liquid food" and electrolyte supplments. First a normal breakfast of waffles/oatmeal, eggs, fruit and coffee was enjoyed each day with a 30-45min time lapse prior to ride start.  For hydration, the first hour of riding was accompanied by only one bottle of pure water 500-750ml each, allowing time for breakfast to digest.  Subsequent to the first hour of riding, for the second hour and each hour following, one bottle of water was consumed per rider per hour.  On the second and each subsequent hour of the ride, Turbo and Mama also each consumed 1/3 of a calibrated three-hour feed bottle of Hammer Perpetuem providing Mama with 200 calories per hour and Turbo 225 calories per hour long-chained complex carbohydrate with a carb-to-protein ratio of 7.5:1.  Three-hour feed bottles were remixed after the 4th hour of the ride using Perpetuem carried in the Ziplock bag of Turbo's riding Jersey.  For electrolytes, the pair consumed one Hammer Endurolyte capsule per hour proportional to water intake for Turbo and one per 1.5 hours for Mama to preclude hyponatremia and the dreaded "long ride" cramping and muscle lock-up.  At the end of each day, a crushed ice fruit protein smoothie for body core temperature cooling and glycogen recovery was consumed within 10 minutes of the finish line followed by a vigorous professional leg massage to flush lactic acid buildup. The strategy worked flawlessly producing abundant energy, zero bonking, zero cramping, zero bloating, zero G.I. distress, near-perfect recovery, amazing energy reserves and tremendous stamina each day of the ride.  After accumulating a 1500-2000 calorie deficit each day on the ride, the team indulged in a massive 1000-2000 calorie dinner each night, giving an adequate 10-12 hours to refuel overnight, clear digestion and following a 4 to 5 am water-chug each night, void all excess waste and weight on the toilet early morning prior to riding the next day.  It took us ten years to figure it out, but if you put the right amount and right mix of fuel into the furnace, it burns clean and pure on these long rides.  

Until next year, when we hope to do it again with more Ranchers who join!  

Finish Line -- 545 miles in the history books. Go Ranch!