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  1. #1
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    Mountains of Misery Ride Report

    First ever ride report....

    This was my 2nd time on Mountains of Misery. The start was a bit different; they started the riders in 10 successive waves, with 30-40 riders in each group. The stated intention was to more quickly spread riders of different abilities out over the course, and it seemed to work as I had occasional moments with no riders visible in front of me or in back of me.

    I got out in the 4th wave. There was a light drizzle at the start which persisted intermittently for about the first 3 hours of the ride. Temperature was in the high 60's at the start and rose to about 80 during the ride, so the drizzle was actually refreshing once I got going, but I finally took off my sunglasses and kept them off for most of the ride. The drizzle plus the humidity just meant foggy lenses, so it was better to ride without them.

    The first 24 miles is rollers superimposed on a gradual elevation gain. The rollers aren't very steep (that comes later) and the main thing that happens is the riders are sorting into groups. I started to fall in with the riders I was leapfrog passing for most of the rest of the day.

    At mile 24-28 you descend about 1200 feet, with half of that done in the last mile. It was a bit tricky, the riders bunched up, the road was wet, and that made a really fun twisty descent a little less fun than the last time. It's important to enjoy this descent, because what goes down must go up---way up--later on.

    Miles 28-60 is a very gradual rise punctuated by 4-5 rollers which are steep enough to get your attention. My HR was spiking up to 175 as I struggled to stick with the fast group I was in. In the first 60 miles I only stopped once, since that was a critical part of the strategy for a better overall time. Last time I did 9:28 total time (did I mention there is a lot of climbing in this ride, 9,000 feet worth), and I was looking for 8:59 or better.

    At mile 60 you reach "the first big climb" which is only 2.3 miles long, but you gain 1,000 feet in that distance, with grades that peak at 15-18% (GPS records it, and cheerfully displays it for you as you climb.). Mainly because of this ride, I have a triple with a 12/27, and I used it. HR went to essentially 100%, about 180-181, but I didn't stop and made the top in 25 minutes at a blistering 5.2 mph. There is a much appreciated rest stop at the summit.

    Miles 62-72 are a well earned descent and some flats. I picked up a fast paceline and the good folks in it didn't mind my shameless wheel sucking as they pulled me along at 24 mph. It was a welcome respite, because miles 72-82 are a "filler" loop to bring the ride up to a full century, and this loop starts out deceptively pleasant as you follow a 1% descent along a beautiful mountain river. However, the rest of the loop is filled with nasty rollers that have 15%+ grades. It was on these rollers that I felt the first twing in my knees, thinking "What the hell is THAT?".

    Miles 82-92 are some up and down, but nothing dramatic, but the knee pain was increasing. After a brief run downhill parallel to another beautiful river, you start up, steeply. At this point, I was on 30/27 gearing on any climb to baby my knees (IT band friction, if anyone has any suggestions...) and the climbs were tough and slow. Rest stop at mile 92. Short up and down climb, but with an 11% grade, then rest stop at mile 96. Yes, only 4 miles between rest stops, and the next one is at mile 99.

    At mile 96, the final climb begins. It is about 6 miles (102 mile ride) of unrelenting climbing. The grade never goes below 8%, averages about 14% and hits peaks of over 20%. I didn't believe this the first time I rode MoM, even though the GPS recorded it, but another rider with a GPS confirmed that he got the same numbers. So, up you go for 3 miles to a rest stop at mile 99. At this point the sun is out, it's 80 degrees and humid with no shade.

    I managed 2 more miles of constant 12-14% climbing, my knees now throbbing. I stopped 3 or 4 times, rested, and then pedaled across the road to clip back in and manage a few more hundred yards before repeating. Finally, about 1.5 miles from the end, I did something I've never done before: walked up a hill. About 200 yards from the finish they have volunteers who help you back on your bike so you can finish on the bike. They're great about this, and they do the whole thing around a bend just out of sight of the finish, and believe me finishing this ride is an achievement.

    In the end, I managed a time of 8:34, nearly an hour faster than the last time. I was quicker to the final climb, but then gave back 20 minutes, spending 85 minutes for the final 6 miles.

    Today, it is lots of motrin and ice and at least a week off the bike. Perhaps this is partly a bike fit issue(?) but it has never happened before, including the last time on MoM.

    This is a great ride, scenic and (ahem) challenging. Except for the final climb and the one at mile 60, it is a medium difficult century. After the final climb on MoM you will never look at another climb with any sense of intimidation.

    And, I saw a Plus 50 Jersey. Are you out there Jon Erickson? I know you finished ahead of me...

  2. #2
    gone ride'n cyclinfool's Avatar
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    Great report and congrats on the time.

    As for the knee - I feel for you. It might be bike fit, cadence or a combination. I suspect though from you description of the ride that it might have been pushing too hard too early. I have to be real careful early in the season, although I can push hard, my biking specific muscles haven't got the strength they need to keep the knee safe. I use a brace for long rides (over 40) and that seems to work for me. Unfortunately last week I went on a 50 mile ride and forgot it - pushed hard and irratated it - usually it is on the lateral side of the knee cap - this time it is on the medial side. Anyway - today I did a 75 mile ride and wore the brace, I had some pain but was able to do the ride well - 17mph average. For this ride - which goes from the Adirondacks to Schenectady, thats OK - not great but OK. My only concern is that this my cancel my plans to climb Whiteface in late June - a 3500' climb over 8 miles.
    "Of all the things I ever lost I miss my mind the most." Mark Twain
    If all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

  3. #3
    Climbing Above It All BikeWNC's Avatar
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    I'd like to do the MoM ride some year but it always seems to fall on a day I can't make it. Next year will probably be out too as I'm planned to be on a cross country bike tour. Someday though I'll get there.

  4. #4
    Let's do a Century jppe's Avatar
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    I bet the other 50+ jersey you saw was JimF-see his ride report.

    You guys are really tough to even finish that one!!

    I remember stopping at the rest stop at mile 60 and eating lots of oranges-it was a really hot and muggy day. I almost stopped and jumped in the river as well........

  5. #5
    Senior Member JimF22003's Avatar
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    Hi chuck. The jersey was probably me. Should have introduced yourself!

    Great report! I think I'll steal this and save it away for my own log for next year. I'm guessing next spring when it comes time to sign up I'll have forgotten the pain. I'll use your report as a refresher

  6. #6
    Lincoln, CA Mojo Slim's Avatar
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    Nice report. There sure are a lot of scenic centuries around this great land of ours, huh? I wish I could ride them all.
    Truth is stranger than reality.
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  7. #7
    Ride Daddy Ride Jet Travis's Avatar
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    Fabulous ride report. I may just try it next year.

    I wimped out--opting for the Wilderness Road Ride (60 miles, including getting lost) the day before and working out the kinks with my, um, personal trainer on Sunday. I admire anyone who does this ride. That's for sure. It's an accomplishment.
    "Light it up, Popo." --Levi Leipheimer

  8. #8
    Let's do a Century jppe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jet Travis View Post
    Fabulous ride report. I may just try it next year.

    I wimped out--opting for the Wilderness Road Ride (60 miles, including getting lost) the day before and working out the kinks with my, um, personal trainer on Sunday. I admire anyone who does this ride. That's for sure. It's an accomplishment.
    Sounds like the Wilderness Ride lived up to its name!!! My memory of the pain of the last 3 miles is getting so foggy I might could be talked into doing it again too. What's another 6-7 hours out of my life????

  9. #9
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    If you walked up a hill, you didn't complete the 'ride'.

  10. #10
    www.ocrebels.com Rick@OCRR's Avatar
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    Jeez Beanz,

    Give the guy a break! He rode 102 miles with lots of very steep bits (steeper than you ride on The Bear), plus he was max-ing out his heart rate and his knee was hurting. On top to that (way on top!) he didn't have Gina there to feed him bagels like you do!

    So he got off and walked a bit, no big deal. I had to walk part of Potrero the first time I rode Grand Tour, so I say "No worries!"

    Great ride Chuck, and just ignore the Beanzer . . . he's probably just jealous, and he's not even 50 yet!

    Rick / OCRR

  11. #11
    Senior Member 1bluetrek's Avatar
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    Ya gotta take some things said with a grain of salt. So ya hoofed it a bit? Life goes on! The important thing is, didja have fun or what? Here's to ya!
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  12. #12
    Senior Member JimF22003's Avatar
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    Tons and tons and tons of riders had to walk the last little bit of the hill. They all get "finishers" t-shirts. They all accomplished something amazing.

  13. #13
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick@OCRR View Post
    Jeez Beanz,

    Give the guy a break! He rode 102 miles with lots of very steep bits (steeper than you ride on The Bear), plus he was max-ing out his heart rate and his knee was hurting. On top to that (way on top!) he didn't have Gina there to feed him bagels like you do!

    So he got off and walked a bit, no big deal. I had to walk part of Potrero the first time I rode Grand Tour, so I say "No worries!"

    Great ride Chuck, and just ignore the Beanzer . . . he's probably just jealous, and he's not even 50 yet!

    Rick / OCRR
    Hmmm, 9000 ft in 102 miles? Maybe it's set up differently which means he has plenty of rest between climbs. The Bear is close to 9,800 before hitting Onyx Summit in 62 miles. Breathless Agony is 12,000 in 72 miles. Mmmmm, if I do these rides on a standard double (39/25), I'm pretty sure I wouldn't walk up a hill with a triple. Forrest Falls is 22%, I did it on the 39/25. It hurt but Im sure it would have been much easier on a triple.

    Hey, I'm real close to 50 now! And the bagels are adding up

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Beanz View Post
    Hmmm, 9000 ft in 102 miles? Maybe it's set up differently which means he has plenty of rest between climbs. The Bear is close to 9,800 before hitting Onyx Summit in 62 miles. Breathless Agony is 12,000 in 72 miles. Mmmmm, if I do these rides on a standard double (39/25), I'm pretty sure I wouldn't walk up a hill with a triple. Forrest Falls is 22%, I did it on the 39/25. It hurt but Im sure it would have been much easier on a triple.

    Hey, I'm real close to 50 now! And the bagels are adding up
    Well, 2 years ago I finished MoM without walking. Stopping, yes, walking, no. This year I was 53 minutes faster than in 2007, so which is more important, the time or the form? I'm icing my knees 5 days later, so don't really feel much need to apologize for the performance.

  15. #15
    gone ride'n cyclinfool's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Beanz View Post
    If you walked up a hill, you didn't complete the 'ride'.
    You've been spending too much time in the roadie forum.
    "Of all the things I ever lost I miss my mind the most." Mark Twain
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  16. #16
    Ride Daddy Ride Jet Travis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclinfool View Post
    you've been spending too much time in the roadie forum.
    +1
    "Light it up, Popo." --Levi Leipheimer

  17. #17
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    Return to Misery

    I don't have to repeat much of the above report, since the course is exactly the same. This is three times on this ride for me, and it seems to take several years before I'm willing to go back; it hurts that much. To give the conclusions first:

    2007 age 52 total time 9:38
    2009 age 54 total time 8:46
    2009 age 59 total time 8:23

    This year I had faster moving speed, faster climbing, with a lower average and peak heart rate. I was faster on every climb, and I didn't walk a step on that final damn climb, although I did stop twice when my HR went into the red.

    The weather was GREAT, cool and clear, 50-ish at the start, and only 78 or so when you hit that unshaded hot climb at the end.

    Equipment is now a Cervelo R5 with 50/34 compact and 11/28. That's almost as low as the triple I used previously, and I needed it, pulling a smoking fast cadence of around 37 at some points on the two major climbs.

    I felt undertrained going into this ride, but something must have been right, because it was a great day riding. I changed my training, largely due to time pressures, mostly riding a convoluted, but very hilly route here in Arlington. Two laps on that course is ~50 miles and 4,000 feet of climbing, with lots of 12-15% spots---"Half Misery", as I have named it. The climbs aren't as long(!) as MoM's two major ones, but I think it got me used to dealing with steep climbs. I was able to do that often, since it saves 3 hours of driving out to the Blue Ridge.

    The other main change was I got fanatic about staying fueled during the ride. I carried 4 flasks of EFS liquid and managed to choke it all down as I rode, plus ate all I could manage at the rest stops. Somewhere around 3,000 calories.

    Perhaps I'll get back to MoM next year...I dream of 7:59:59

  18. #18
    Just ride. roadbuzz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chuckb View Post
    it seems to take several years before I'm willing to go back; it hurts that much.
    Funny ... that's pretty much how it is for me. It takes at least 2 years for me to forget enough to do it again. Congrats on your ride!

  19. #19
    Senior Member Ursa Minor's Avatar
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    Chuckb I think you did an amazing job. Especially in the face of a lot of knee pain.

    Charlie
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  20. #20
    Senior Member JimF22003's Avatar
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    Great work! The weather this weekend was ideal.

    I've done MoM four times. Not sure I'll be able to do it again. I didn't even sign up this year, because I knew I wouldn't be in shape for it. Maybe the one year hiatus will make me forget the pain, and motivate me to start next season in better shape, so I can give it one more shot.
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  21. #21
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    To All......Rides well done.

  22. #22
    Who said slow isn't fun..
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Beanz View Post
    Hmmm, 9000 ft in 102 miles? Maybe it's set up differently which means he has plenty of rest between climbs. The Bear is close to 9,800 before hitting Onyx Summit in 62 miles. Breathless Agony is 12,000 in 72 miles. Mmmmm, if I do these rides on a standard double (39/25), I'm pretty sure I wouldn't walk up a hill with a triple. Forrest Falls is 22%, I did it on the 39/25. It hurt but Im sure it would have been much easier on a triple.

    Hey, I'm real close to 50 now! And the bagels are adding up
    Wow, you're the greatest...can I get an autograph?

  23. #23
    Seat Sniffer Biker395's Avatar
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    Nice ride report!

    And as far as the walking goes ... there are two types of riders: Those that have walked, and those that will.

    Gotta love the name. I dunno if it's true, but I heard that years ago, the Markleeville Death Ride used to be called the "Alpine Challenge." They got a couple of dozen riders or so. After renaming it the "Death Ride," they got hundreds.

    "Hotter than Hell Hundred"
    "Mountains of Misery"
    "Deathride"
    "Breathless Agony"

    What is it about us that makes us flock to misery like moths to the flame? lol
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Focused1 View Post
    Wow, you're the greatest...can I get an autograph?

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Biker395 View Post
    Nice ride report!

    And as far as the walking goes ... there are two types of riders: Those that have walked, and those that will.

    Gotta love the name. I dunno if it's true, but I heard that years ago, the Markleeville Death Ride used to be called the "Alpine Challenge." They got a couple of dozen riders or so. After renaming it the "Death Ride," they got hundreds.

    "Hotter than Hell Hundred"
    "Mountains of Misery"
    "Deathride"
    "Breathless Agony"

    What is it about us that makes us flock to misery like moths to the flame? lol
    It’s not the misery that attracts us rather, it’s the gratifying feeling of success when we conquer a monumental task.

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