I did the Climb to Kaiser yesterday. It was brutal. Ride is billed at 155 miles and 13,500 ft but actual climbing was closer to 15k. Before the ride even started, I hit a curb spinning in the parking lot, did an endo, and faceplanted into the pavement. I hit my head, scratched my cheekbone and felt very disoriented. F***. There was no way I was not going to try starting (30 minutes into the ride I was feeling generally OK). Weather was pretty good except the last 40 miles where the temperatures were in the 90s (the last 10 miles were in 100F heat with a headwind). I went out too hard (as usual!) but corrected quickly so didn't implode or bonk. The 82 mile ride to the Kaiser Pass (elevation: ~9.2k ft) had about 12k ft of climbing and very little descending. The first 20 miles of the event were flat, and then the ride up to Kaiser consisted of four named climbs and various other rollers and mini-climbs. Most notable were (i) Big Creek, a 3.8 mile climb that gains 2100 ft and had minimal tree cover, with several long 15% sections and (ii) Kaiser Pass climb, where miles 81 and 82 were 10%+. I rode with the peloton for the first 20 miles until it splintered. Miles 20 through 65 I rode with a few other guys and from mile 65 and on I rode the entire race by myself. Big Creek was brutal. My speedometer went under 5mph a few times. When I got to the top both quads started to cramp simultaneously! I had to stop and do a little self massage and gatorade chugging but ended up beig OK. I got to the top of the Kaiser Pass in 6hr15min (avg. speed 13.1mph). It was 73 miles downhill from here so my goal to break 10 hours seemed very easy. However, little did I know that the "descent" had 2,500 ft of climbing. The first climb on the "descent" was the "Tamarack Ridge" which comes at miles ~90-100. It consists of four rollers each of which are 1-2 miles long. Fun. The rest of the "descent" had a bunch of rollers which were very painful with 120-150 miles in the legs. I couldn't latch onto any other riders, so I couldn't get any slipstream benefit. The last 40 miles were brutally hot and the descents were very modest (-2 to -3%) which felt like climbs. The last 10-15 miles were mostly flat with a bunch of 50-100ft rollers. The grades ranged from -3 to +3% and I head a dry headwind too. All I could focus on for the last 90 minutes of the ride was calculating my expected finishing time based on my projected average speed and distance remaining. My body was super sore and I was sunburnt. Every little undulation in the road sent shockwaves through my body. Finally made it to the finish in 9:48 (riding time was 9:37) for an average speed of 15.8mph (16.1mph excluding stops). I think I finished in 10th place, just ahead of the fastest female finisher. The winning time was 8:55.
After the ride, I drank some fluids and ate a little and then rode over to my car in the 100 degree heat and had to hoist my bike and put it on the roof rack (fun). I took a "shower" (hygienic wipes) and changed in the parking lot. Drove to In-N-Out for an emergency double-double and then rode 3.5hrs back to LA (why do I drive stick!?). Woke up this morning feeling pretty good. I have a little headache which I think was from the fall.
This is a MUST DO ride. The mass start was a lot of fun with police escorts going out of Fresno. The support was phenomenal (friendly support staff who were bending over backwards for the riders. me: "two bananas, two cookies, gatorade in both bottles, STAT!). I didn't get a chance to appreciate the scenery, but it was quite magnificent. And, of course, the ride was extremely challenging and you will feel great when you finish.
Pack is lining up
Lining up at the front...
Gratuitous post-ride recovery
Proof of face plant