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Old 09-07-08, 10:34 PM   #1
BengeBoy 
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Personal best bike ride today: 112 miles, 7400 feet of climbing

As near as I can remember, my longest bike ride in my life - way back in my 20's - was a day I rode 112 flat miles outside Dallas, Texas. Today I improved on that by riding the High Pass Challenge, an organized ride billed as "very challenging" and "for experienced riders only" by the local cycling club. Though billed as a 113-mile ride, my Garmin tells me I rode "only" 112.1 miles, so I just squeaked over my lifetime best -- but the climbing was definitely my most ever in a day - 7,418 feet.

My goal was to finish in 10 hours (which qualifies one for a nifty baseball cap), and I ended up doing the ride in 8 hours 20 minutes (which includes time off the bike). My actual on-bike average was 15.2 mph, which I was happy with since my previous long rides this year have been a bit slower, and w/a lot less climbing.

The final elevation chart is here. A lot of the climbing was in the 8% to 10% grade range. My max speed (according to Garmin) was 47.5 mph, which was *way* too fast because in many places the road surface was horrible. On one of the big descents (around mile 65 to mile 78) we were all riding the brakes because of the potholes and fissures in the road.



The ride started in Packwood, Wa., at about 1,000 feet in elevation, and for the most part climbed lightly traveled US. Forest Service roads up to a spot called Windy Ridge, at 4,250 feet in elevation, overlooking the eastern side of Mt. St. Helens. The most interesting feature of the ride is about 20 miles of riding through the blast zone from the Mt. St. Helens eruption.

Unfortunately for the motoring public, the blast-zone road (the highest elevation mileage on the chart above) has been closed to car traffic for a couple of years because winter storms have chewed up the pavements. A number of big fissures in the asphalt were marked by the ride organizers with spray paint, and there were boulders in the road in some places. Still, it was nice riding without cars on a part of the ride. Here's the entrance to the "no cars" zone, at mile 40 of the ride.



This was what the blast zone looks like...these are trees that were blasted by the eruption of Mt. St. Helens:





Here's an image I "borrowed" from the NW forum (originally from website of Bicycle Quarterly); shows one of the boulders in the road in the blast zone:



Your humble servant at the top (that's Mt. St. Helens in the back; the barren parts are part of the mud flow after the eruption):



If you finished under 9 hours you got a medal at the finish line...I am figuring out an excuse to wear it to work tomorrow:



Though I have some other shorter organized rides planned for this Fall, that's my last Century of the year.

I wanted to thank posters in the 50+ forum for providing part of the motivation to keep going on to bigger challenges this year. I had originally planned to make the Tour de Blast my "big ride" of the year (that's the 82 mile ride up the *other* side of Mt. St. Helens, which I posted about in June). But your stories of personal bests (from VeloDiva's national championship to some double centuries to some of you just getting back on the bike for the first time in years) were definitely an inspiration for me to keep going and try another tough ride this year.

Also, I appreciated all the tips on training and preparing for century riding (also the stories of bonks, which were instructional as well). I felt great on the ride! I got a little tired around mile 105 or so but then caught a paceline for the last 6 or 7 miles; I ended up pulling the last mile at about 21 mph into the parking lot...yippee! I drank water like a fish and ate like a pig on this ride (breakfast was 3 muffins, a bowl of cereal and two bananas; as near as I can remember on the ride I had about 6 bagels with peanut butter, a dozen Oreos, 4 or 5 bananas, 3 energy bars, 3 regular candy bars, a bag full of beef jerky, a turkey sandwich...and then afterwards, a bbq brat at the finish line party).

Another change I made in the past 6 weeks was changing this bike from SPD pedals to Look - I was getting hot spots in my feet after about mile 70 on the Tour de Blast, and it drove me crazy. So my LBS recommended Look, and my feet gave me no trouble today.

Thanks for the push!

(FYI, for pics of the other side of Mt. St. Helens, here is the thread from June:
Riding up Mt. St. Helens: pics from Tour de Blast)

Last edited by BengeBoy; 09-08-08 at 06:13 PM.
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Old 09-07-08, 11:36 PM   #2
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Good going. Congratulations.
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Old 09-07-08, 11:40 PM   #3
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Well Done Benge! You Rock! My Longest Ride So Far Is Ony 47 And My Quads Burned So Bad I Thought I Hurt Myself! I Dream About Doing A Century Somday, But I Better Find Somthing Flat To Start with!
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Old 09-08-08, 06:31 AM   #4
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Nicely done! I'll bet that finish line looked mighty good.
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Old 09-08-08, 07:23 AM   #5
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Nice job and great report. You've more than doubled my
longest ride of 2008!!! Congrats to you.
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Old 09-08-08, 09:25 AM   #6
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Very well done. Over 3000 vertical feet of climbing over 15 miles is very tough and then add on another 75 miles to complete the century. Kudos on the effort and the time put into training.
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Old 09-08-08, 09:36 AM   #7
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Very kewl!
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Old 09-08-08, 09:53 AM   #8
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Good job, and that sounds like an excellent ride. Have to put it on my list of Rides to Do Before I Die! What gear were you in on the 8% - 10% sections? Sounds like a very well supported event too, with plenty of food and drink along the route.

We did an unsupported training ride on Sat. (9-6-08) and while we only rode 97 miles, we got in 8,700 feet of climbing. So kind of similar to yours. Our problem was heat, with a high of 118 deg.F at 2:00 PM, but with 2 large Polar bottles and a 70 oz. Camelback, I stayed hydrated!

Anyway, it was a training ride for the Knoxville Double in two weeks; 200 mi. and 12,000 feet of climbing. My best prev. time for Knoxville is 15-1/2 hours, worst a bit over 17-1/2. So we'll see.

I think you're ready for a double century now too!

Rick / OCRR
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Old 09-08-08, 10:02 AM   #9
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It was nice chatting with you in the past BengeBoy, but as I am now no longer anywhere near your league, I am now unworthy to converse with you from this time forward.
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Old 09-08-08, 10:26 AM   #10
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Have to put it on my list of Rides to Do Before I Die!...What gear were you in on the 8% - 10% sections? ....we only rode 97 miles, we got in 8,700 feet of climbing....with a high of 118 deg.F at 2:00 PM....I think you're ready for a double century now too!
Rick, I've read about your rides and wondered whether I could do a double century. I don't know, seems tough...the Seattle to Portland Ride is a double century if you do it in a day, but that ride is so crowded it seems a little iffy to me; big crowds, lots of inexperienced riders, paceline disasters, etc.

One thing I will add that riding in the Northwest you can avoid a lot of the heat and/or humidity you guys deal with in warmer climes (unless you go east of the Cascades). I used to live in Texas, then Southern California, and I can tell you that long rides here in 80-degree weather and shade (or cooler) are a lot easier on the body than riding in 100 degrees. I remember that in hot-weather rides I felt as if I would get worn out by "elapsed time out of doors on a hot day" as much as the exertion of cycling.

If I don't do a double century, my "goal" ride for next year (and one you should definitely put on your list of "Rides to Do," is the RAMROD (Ride Around Mount Rainier in a Day). Sort of the grand daddy of long-distance rides in the Northwest - 150 miles, 10,000 feet of climbing, spectacular scenery:

http://www.redmondcyclingclub.org/RAMROD/RAMROD.html.

I drove back home yesterday though half of the RAMROD route (through Mt. Rainier National Park) to psyche myself up for this ride next year (though it's tough to get in; they hold a lottery).

To answer your final question about gears: I am a low-gear weenie. On the steepest part of the climb yesterday (which was the first climb), I was in my lowest gear -- 28T in front, 34 in back; there were some brief sections that flashed 11% and 12% on my Garmin. On the 8% sections I was usually in 28T front, 30 back.
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Old 09-08-08, 11:12 AM   #11
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Very nice photos, and that looks like a great ride. Well done, sir!
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Old 09-08-08, 11:56 AM   #12
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Way to go! All that climbing at once -my legs are quivering!
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Old 09-08-08, 12:28 PM   #13
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Very impressive! That looks like a very cool ride.
You are all quite insane.
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Old 09-08-08, 01:28 PM   #14
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That's an impressive accomplishment, BengeBoy. Congrats!
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Old 09-08-08, 01:35 PM   #15
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Yes ----- old folks rule. Congratulations on a great performance. Lane Lp
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Old 09-08-08, 03:05 PM   #16
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I getting tired of all you people accomplishing stuff!!! I wanna be cool, too. I'm gonna ride 843 miles in a day then hold my breath until I turn blue. So there.






Man, great going. Very impressive. Great pics. Thanks for posting it all.
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Old 09-08-08, 03:15 PM   #17
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Rick, I've read about your rides and wondered whether I could do a double century. I don't know, seems tough...the Seattle to Portland Ride is a double century if you do it in a day, but that ride is so crowded it seems a little iffy to me; big crowds, lots of inexperienced riders, paceline disasters, etc.
Yes BengeBoy,

You could ride a double, esp. one like STP that doesn't have much climbing. Re:inexperienced riders on STP, if you start early (as most of the one day riders do), and keep up a good pace, you'll never see the inexperienced riders (or v.few).

My wife insists we do STP in two days, stopping at Vader (125 mi.), but the last time I rode it, I kept the "one day rider" pace, and was totally among the one-day riders when I pulled off at Vader, about 1:00 PM. Plus, you have daylight until about 9:00 PM, so no worries!

There's still time to enter the Knoxville Double!

Follow this link: http://www.quackcyclists.com/Kx08/KnoxvilleDC.htm

It starts from Vacaville (east of San Francisco), so it would be bit of a drive for you, but then . . .it's a bit of a drive for me (from SoCal), but totally worth it! Plus, now you're all trained up.

Plan to start at 4:30 AM, and you should be finished by dark, or not long after.

Best Regs,
Rick / OCRR
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Old 09-08-08, 03:35 PM   #18
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Great ride and great report. Weather looked so good. I'm jealous.
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Old 09-08-08, 05:58 PM   #19
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Good for you! Glad to hear you were able to do the whole thing. It would have been a real shame to miss the views on that last 11 mile section.
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Old 09-08-08, 06:08 PM   #20
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Wow, that sound like a great ride and the pictures too. I have always been satisfied having just ridden my age. I guess I am going to have to step it up a little when it gets a little cooler here.
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Old 09-08-08, 06:23 PM   #21
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BengeBoy,

It's official, You ARE THE MAN!
Well done.
I hurt, just thinking about it.

smile.
Jeff, still fat
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Old 09-08-08, 07:21 PM   #22
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What a great ride - that is a lot of up hill with no breaks, I hurt just looking at the profile. Great job!
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Old 09-08-08, 07:24 PM   #23
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Well done on the mileage, elevation records, and great pictures, BengeBoy. Your average was pretty nice as well.
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Old 09-08-08, 07:43 PM   #24
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I am extraordinarily envious. I've done about 750 miles over the past two months or so, with barely more than 3/4 that much climbing. I'd really like to see some mountains.
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Old 09-08-08, 07:45 PM   #25
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Excellent!

The elevation profile looks very similar to a century I did in Colorado. I know how I felt at the end of that ride. You must feel great! Hang on to it.

And wear that medal everywhere for a week!
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