I've developed a knack for choosing truly epic rides. Breathless Agony
was awesome and very deserving of its name! I got into Redlands around
9pm Friday night, but had a hard time getting to sleep. When I finally
did get to sleep, it wasn't very good. and I kept waking up. I think I
drank too much caffinated soda on the drive over. I also forgot to
stretch before bed, which was a big mistake.
In the morning I drove over to the start and got registered. I also
picked up Elliot's $54 pair of socks for him! When I was standing in line to sign out I noticed that my heart rate was pretty elevated and was hovering in the low 90's when it should have been in the mid 60's. Don't know if that was also related to too much caffiene the day before, but it remained elevated most of the ride.
Since we had to sign out individually before leaving, there were no packs of riders, just a long line. It was a really nice way to start. The forecast for the day was clear to partly cloudy, but instead it was completely overcast and I was really glad I brought all of my cold weather clothes. The first pass really wasn't too hard, but I had trouble keeping my heart rate down and finally just stopped looking at it and rode completely on feel.
The ride website has some pictures of the course and the pictures of the road for the second pass looked really bad - and it was. But that road turned out to be my favorite stretch of the ride. There was almost a path through the potholes, so it wasn't as rough as I expected. It did turn to dirt for a little while, but it was one lane, no traffic, plenty of room to pass or be passed with low clouds and great scenery. One spot on the dirt section was completely under water, so we had to dismount and carry our bikes around on a grass embankment. The embankment had eroded away in the middle, so we also had to hop over a ditch.
The climb up to the third pass was tough. It was worse than any of the Death Ride passes. Ebbots pass on the Death Ride has steeper grades, but is shorter and has sections where you can do some on the bike back stretches. This climb had no breaks, so my lower back started bothering me. The elevation also got high enough that we started to ride through some mist from the clouds and the temperature dropped into the low 40's.
The mist turned to a light fog a couple times approaching the final climb, but around 7000 feet or so we broke through to sunshine. The final climb was as hard as the previous one. There were some really strong riders doing this ride and I was passed more on this ride than any other ride, but I took my time and kept my own pace. A couple miles before the top I started to bonk, so I stopped and had a gel, a powerbar and some accelerade. I felt a lot better after that and was able to make better time afterwards.. After the third pass I noticed my heart rate had dropped back to somewhat normal and I was able to maintain mid 150's.
I took some time at the last SAG at the top of Onyx pass to stretch my back and felt pretty good for the return. The last 42 miles were almost all descending with only one real climb. Unfortunately that light fog had turned into an eiry thick, heavy fog so I had to keep my speed down.
Visibility was maybe 30 or 40 feet and my sunglasses competely fogged up,so I had to take them off.. I really would have preferred having lights, not that lights would have done much good based on how much good they did for the cars I saw. Once I got through the fog I was able to make really good time back to Redlands.
This was a really challenging ride and I would put it in par with the Death Ride. Since the ride is limited to 300 riders who gradually leave the start area, I would recommend it over the Death Ride for anyone looking to do a hard ride with a crazy amount of climbing. The only thing I really didn't like was the amount of traffic, but I guess you have to expect that in Southern California!
I am going to use my 5200 instead of my 5.9SL for the Death Ride. When there is that much climbing, having the extra gears on a triple just give more opportunities to rest. But I will be upgrading the handlebars and will put my Topolino's on it too.
Copyright © 2005 by Mike Enfield. All rights reserved.
Revised: 04/06/09 11:29:49 -0700.