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2019 HooDoo 500 Stage Race

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2019 HooDoo 500 Stage Race

Old 08-30-19, 02:14 PM
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2019 HooDoo 500 Stage Race

Finall more or less recovered from doing the HooDoo 500 ... a race in Southern Utah

There are a lot of categories ... I did the 500 mile 3 day stage race. That means you go about 170 miles each day, sleeping in a real bed and eating real food. Sounds good, eh?

Well, not so much for me. I did well on the first day, going the 187 miles in about 12 hours.

The 500 Stage Race Starters .... I'm in the back where I belong!

Near the start of the race.

Highlights of that day were my son (his first time crewing) thinking I had stopped to take pictures rather than because I had a flat. We lost a good 10-15 minutes with me wildly waving my hands at him in the distance. It was a blessing in disguise though, as it gave me a good reason to slow the pace down a bit.

I had a funny experience in the town of Tropic ... just before one of the iconic hill climbs on te route. I was again exhausted from the heat, and just felt like getting off the bike for a little while. While sitting there on the tailgate, there were a couple of little kids wheeling around on their BMX bikes like vultures, watching us intently.

I finally decided to do some business in a nearby restaurant restroom ... figuring to kill two birds with one stone. That actually turned out to be a good idea, as I got a bit of a rest, and managed to take care of business. Oy, it felt so good to just sit down. And the added bonus of lightening my load a bit. Amazingly, I emerged feeling much better. I finally walked back over to the car. One of the kids rolled by and said:

"It's about time ... isn't this a race?"

lol ... tough crowd.

I was frankly astounded about how much better I felt when I got back on the bike. What beautiful countryside! Part of this ride is a slow climb to an unnamed pass out of Escalante. The very end of this climb is 10+ percent, but feels like 20. I strugged up at a very slow pace, but finally got there.

The rest of the way into Escalante is flat or downhill, and I was able to do it all on my aerobars. OMG ... this was fun. I finished maybe 40 minutes the front of the 60+ stage race group. Oy, I was glad to finish.

The bad news is that my electrolytes had been out of whack all day. That affected my appetite, and I hadn't eaten much all day. I thought my stomach would settle down once off the bike and I would eat a lot, but that really didn't happen.

I managed to gum down the meat of a pastrami sandwich and some chips, but that was about it. Even worse news awaited me when I tried to sleep. I had been drinking some Mt. Dew late in the day, and the caffeine had my head spinning so much it kept me up half the night. I think I got maybe 2 hours of sleep and that was it. :-o

All the same, the next day started bright and early at 7AM. Here is the route:


This is probably the most beautiful part of the course. The area near Escalante is beautiful, and includes a descent into what the locals call the "***** Hole" and climbing out by the "Hogback" ... a road that sits on the top of a plateau with canyons on either side. That was awesome.

Climbing the Hogback.

But it was followed by a LONG climb to almost 10,000 feet to the top of Boulder Mountain. I got to the top in reasonable, but not great time. It is an up and down but long descent from the top of Boulder Mountain to the town of Torrey.

It was already headwindy. I was hoping to paceline through here with some help, but I thought everyone had lost me on the Boulder descent, and I would be out there in the wind by myself. At this point, I'm not riding strong at all .. just riding to get through it.

There is also significant climb out of the town of Loa ... one that doesnít look like much on paper but goes on and on. And it especially feels like that when are riding into a significant headwind, as we were.

Each time we summitted a small rise, there was another to conquer in the distance. And each time, there was a little more wind. This went on interminably. But eventually, we finally did summit the last climb ... Ooof.

From there, there is a shallow descent to the cutoff to Koosharem. The descent is so shallow, the headwind actually almost negated it ... I needed to pedal to keep moving.

At Koosharem, we turned around almost 180 degrees and head AWAY from the wind. So we had a tailwind, right? Well, yes ... for about 5 miles. But that tailwind soon turned to a crosswind, and then to a headwind. By the time we got to the junction to turn for Centerville, we were clearly heading IN to the wind again. Ugh.

The ride to Centerville goes through a nice little canyon, and Iíve usually scooted through there pretty quickly. But not this time. With the wind and the heat, it was a struggle. But we finally got through town and onto the main road back to Panguitch. My son was certain we would get a tailwind through here, but of course ... it was a headwind. Worse yet was that quite a bit of it had been repaved with chip seal. I found myself moving into the tire depressions in the traffic lane, and moving back to the shoulder when traffic approached. That helped a little.

I had about 18 miles to go, which seemed like forever. But I reminded myself that the distance was about the same as my ride home from work. That kept it in perspective. I arrived just in time to avoid putting any lights on my bike.

Pulling into Panguitch. This is more of a grimace than a smile.

Turns out all the people I thought were in front of me were actually behind me, so I actually picked up more time (15-20 minutes or so) on the group. But I arrived utterly exhausted ... weak as a kitten. It took some time for me to get the energy up to take a shower and get something to eat.

But my appetite was still gone. I took all the yummy BBQ food we brought back to the hotel, hoping to eat it later.

Again, no sleep. Every time I laid my head down, I could hear my heart pounding ... at leat 2x my usual pulse rate. Since sleeping was out of the question anyway, I spent my time doing some internet searching to find out what was wrong.

No surprise : My electrolytes are way out of whack, and I am dehydrated. My sources told me it was no use trying to fix it with anything short of an IV (I forgot mine at home, lol), but I tried anyway ... eating chips and some of the dinner I brought home.

I think I managed about 2 hours of sleep again. So I am working on 4 hours sleep and maybe about 2000 calories of food after 2 days. No bueno.

I woke up the next day anything but refreshed.

The next day involves a long climb and a lot of tooling around in the heat between Cedar City and St. George.


I resolved that I would take my time and stick with the other riders this time, so I rode all day with Steve.

The early part of the Cedar Breaks climb

That was great. We got to chat a lot, and help each other out in the wind. The climb up Cedar Breaks was actually kind of pleasant, until we got to Highway 14. That climb seemed to last forever and the road was full of traffic, most of them pulling some kind of trailer. Ugh. A disproportionate number of the vehicles were large diesel trucks, and they seemed to take pleaure in smoking us by hitting the gas even when it wasnít necessary. I had some people aftwards tell me they had a lot of close passes through here. I didnít. I was careful to use the control and release method ... moving IN their way well in advance so they would have to move over to pass, them moving back towards the shoulder when they actually did pass. In situations like this, I think this is really the only safe way to go.

But from the top, we got a looong descent down to Cedar City. This is one awesome descent with great views. I wish I had pix of this.

The descent was interrupted by a stoplight that was supposed to delay us no more than 8 minutes. Once the light turned green, Steve and I decided to be good guys and let all the cars go ... that way, there would be no one behind us. The problem with that became apparent immediately ... the light turned back red before all the cars passed us, and we were stuck again. :-o Now our delay was 16 minutes.

Once we got going, we made it down to Cedar City without being passed by many cars. We took a short break to use the rest room, and eat a little. I asked Evan to get me a McDonaldís hamburger, figuring a little food would be a good thing up the long hot climb ahead. I took out the burger and the pickles and threw away the rest.

The climb up from Cedar City isnít steep, but it is long and hot. And guess what? You guessed it ... the wind was again in our faces. We took our time on this climb to keep from overheating. Eventually, there is a descent down to Newcastle, where we turn toward the town of Enterprise.

Iíve ridden through here at night, and it is actually very pleasant. But it is less so with a 95-100F headwind.

At this point, I made an interesting discovery. It was best to keep my mouth shut! Keeping it open to breathe even for a minute or two dried my throat out so badly, I couldnít speak. Now THAT is dry.

Gotta confess ... I was wondering about my sanity riding through here. It looked like headwinds were going to be the order of the day for the rest of the ride, and hot headwinds at that. It was getting REALLY warm, and a weekend of Sun on me was really taking itís toll.

My son made an ice sock and put it on my neck. That really helped keep me cooler. My jersey got a little soaked with the water as the ice melted, but that was a good thing. I quietly (remember, I am keeping my mouth shut now) climbed up the Veyo grade ... our last big climb.

One interesting thing happened here. I saw a large truck approaching from the rear, so I stepped on it to get in front of Steve and single file. The truck pulled next to us with an open passenger window, slowed down and gave us a big thumbs up. Nice! But right after that, he stepped on the gas and we still got smoked. This is one of those cases where I honestly think he was trying to be friendly.

At long last ... with Steve (who was smelling the barn) leading the way, we made it to the top of Snow Canyon. Here I am resting.

One last ice sock.

This is a GREAT descent. Smooth, and through truly awsome scenery. And when we got to the bottom, all we had to do is ride through the outskirts of St. George to the finish. On top of that, it was with a tailwind and slightly downhill. It would have been quick and fun if I werenít depleted. But we finally got it one.

Steve and I wheeled to the finish, and since he pulled me so much, I really wanted him to cross first. Thank God this was over. Sheez.

At the finish line ...

It turns out there was a little more fanfare than we expected. I was a full hour in front of Rick to start the day, but he rode so hard the last day, he came within a scant 6 minutes of passing me. I finished first in the geezer division, but only by a few minutes. Frankly, at that point, I didnít care. I was actually kind of disappointed for him ... to come that close and fall short.

Robyn wasnít all that far behind either, so Evan and I waited to watch her finish. She looked great ... like she wasnít suffering at all! But she always does.

We had rented a B&B just out of town. After driving there, most of the restaurants were closed and we were all so exhausted, we just went to sleep. I took a short shower, got into some street clothes, and not long after that, collapsed in a bunk bed. I donít think I moved at all.

Robyn wasnít interested in the awards breakfast, but I wanted to be there, so Evan and I left the condo with plenty of time to arrive. Iím walking slowly ... still weak from electrolyte imbalance and lack of food.

And what happens? A flat.

OMG. I would ordinarily get right to fixing it myself, but I asked Evan to call AAA to get it done. It took a while to get that accomplished, and they indicated it could be as long as an hour. That would make us late for the breakfast, so I pulled myself together and tried to get the spare on the car.

Itís already 90+ degrees outside and I am feeling like crap, but I managed to lower the spare tire, crawl under the car on the hot asphalt, and get the spare tire out. The scissor jack hadnít ever been used, and the screw threads were really tight. It was honestly a struggle to jack up the car, but we finally got it done. We put the spare on, tightened the bolts, lowered the car, and there it was ...

... the spare was flat!

Crap. But on the bright side, the AAA had just arrived. They had a compressor and took care of that pretty quickly. Evan and I got in the van and ....

... walked through the door just as they called my name. Steve and Rick were already on the podium. If they only knew how close that one was.

It feels kind of odd standing up there, frankly. Iíve never done that before. But the little trophy was way cool and I was glad to get it. If they only knew how close it was!
Proud parent of a happy inner child ...

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Old 08-30-19, 02:43 PM
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Way to go, I would be proud to .
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Old 08-30-19, 04:35 PM
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So now I know the drama I've been missing not riding much this year. And drama in cycling and sailing is over rated. But thanks for the blow by blow account. Actually, your account almost makes me wish I were young enough to do such a ride.
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Old 08-30-19, 06:02 PM
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Great ride report and nice pics. What's the deal with the 8 minute stoplight? There are a few around here that are 2-3 minutes and I'll try to do the same as you except I cross and wait on the other side.
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Old 08-30-19, 06:41 PM
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And you thought you weren't ready? Who's the guy in the Serious kit in the last picture?
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Old 08-30-19, 07:37 PM
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Alright!! That’s just incredible (and a lot of insanity!!!). It’s amazing you could push through all your issues and even finish. Very well done. I’m very impressed.

You always do a terrific job with your ride reports. Maybe it’s the tech report write ups!

For the first time I’ve been fighting the electrolyte imbalance issues this summer as well. While I grew up in the humidity in the Carolinas and have lived the heat for whatever reason it has hit me hard this summer. We walk 18 holes of golf every morning and I started running out of gas. I was drinking a lot of water while playing so it really wasn’t dehydration. When I’d get home all I could do was sit in the AC. I felt faint mowing the grass with a push mower in the heat one day. I started taking my electrolyte capsules playing golf and that solved the problem. It does make me wonder if being older makes a difference???
Ride your Ride!!
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