Southern Utah 400k Brevet

A few months ago I changed positions at my company. I now support the four corners region, which entails some travel. At the beginning of May I rode ok at Breathless Agony. Then I was in Denver, Salt Lake City and Las Vegas over a three week span. THAT is NOT a good plan for preparing for a 400k Brevet! I have a Calfee ( with couplers on order, so eventually I’ll be able to take a bike with me on my travels, but this month was a tough month for training! My brother was also in town the weekend before the ride and my whole family descended on us (good times, just no riding).

With the family in town, timing wasn’t quite right for driving to Las Vegas the week Tuesday before the ride so I took a flight. I got back Friday morning, but had a few conference calls and some last minute work items to get done and didn’t get out of Phoenix until late afternoon. I got to Hurricane a bit late, had a quick dinner and hit the sack.

The ride started at 4am AZ time. Lonnie Wolff, the Regional Brevet Administrator, told everyone it would be better to ride to the start at the “Over the Edge” bike shop because parking was limited. Luckily my hotel was less than a mile away. Still, I ran the timeline close and was the last one to arrive a few minutes before the start. Lonnie had a few comments and let us go right at the 5am (4am AZ) start.

The ride started with an immediate climb up the bluff next to Hurricane. I knew I hadn’t been riding much, so I wanted to keep my effort low. Unfortunately I forgot my heart rate monitor strap, but I had my powertap and could monitor watts. I figured if I kept my watts under 300 on climbs and 200-220 watts on the flats I’d do ok. It was dark at the start, so I wasn’t able to monitor my effort too closely. I probably worked a bit too hard because I stayed relatively close to Richard and Bryan. Once we hit the top, I set my effort at 200-220 watts. I think Bryan stayed with me for a bit, but pretty soon I was on my own to the first checkpoint stop at a gas station in Pipe Springs, AZ. I didn’t see Lonnie when I pulled in and went into the gas station to refill my bottles and get my brevet card initialed. Lonnie walked over while I was refilling my bottles and camelbak. Bryan and Richard arrived just as I was about to leave.

It was a quick ride into Fredonia, but faced a stiff wind when I turned toward Kanab. I immediately realized the 200-220 watts I had been maintaining was too much and backed it off to 180-200. There was a 2-3% climb that would become a theme for the rest of the ride. It seemed like every time I glanced down I was on a low grade tedious climb. It was slow going, but I was keeping my watts down. There was a pretty long fast descent before the next checkpoint and I saw Richard and Bryan a bit behind me before I made the drop. They arrived probably less than a minute after me at the next check. Bryan decided at that point that he had enough and took the bail-out turn to cut 150 miles off the ride by going through Zion National Park.

Richard and I continued, but Richard was going a bit harder than I wanted. I was in his draft, but was still using 250 watts! I told him I was watching my watts and was going to back off a bit to stay in the range I set for myself. He also slowed his pace, but after a while he slowly worked ahead. We were back on a pretty long climb and I was getting a strong urge to use a bathroom, not the quick kind. Luckily there was a rest area, so I pulled off for a quick break. The rest area had water, so I also washed my face and re-applied some sun screen. It was warming up a bit!

Richard was waiting for me at a gas station at Long Valley Junction at the top of the climb, but I didn’t notice as I went by. He surprised me when he went by me a short while later. I was still trying to be good about watching my watts and let him go ahead, but he waited for me again in Hatch. From there it was a slight descent pretty much all the way to Panguitch. Clouds had started to roll in and the temperature really dropped. With that slight descent, I was able to draft off of Richard without too much effort (80-160 watts). He pulled me all the way into Panguitch! We felt a few drops of rain just as we got into town. We stopped at the Conoco checkpoint for our receipts, then headed over to Hogi Yogi for lunch. With the lack of base miles, I was starting to suffer a bit, so I planned to eat a slow lunch and let it digest a bit before leaving.

Lonnie showed up while we were eating and we chatted a bit until he thought he saw another brevet rider go by and went to verify. Richard finished well before me and was ready to leave. I told him I needed a bit of time to rest and use the rest room. He waited with me for a while and we left together. Once again, Richard pulled me to the next turn on Utah Route 20 and the next set of climbs. Luckily all that drafting had let me recover quite a bit and my legs actually felt ok through the rollers before the main 8% climb. He was well off in the distance when I started up that hill! I stopped at the top to answer a nature call and to pull on my arm warmers, then went down the 8% descent. Unfortunately, there was another strong headwind on the descent. I made good time, just not as good as it would have been without that wind. From Route 20, we turned onto the I-15 freeway for a bit. We were finally homeward bound! I thought I could see a cyclist off in the distance, but just kept my head down and rode to the rest area on the freeway.

Richard said he had only arrived a few minutes ahead of me, so I made up some time on the descent. I took the lead out of the rest area for a while, then got back in Richard’s draft. He pulled me all the way to the next stop at the Parowan truck stop. I bought a soda and some more water and a taco bell bean burrito. Lonnie showed up again while I was eating. I was pretty tired at that point, but still felt like I’d be able to finish. My stomach wasn’t feeling 100%, so I took some Tums hoping that would do the trick. Richard and I headed out again and we passed Larry on the way back through Parowan. He wasn’t too far behind us. There were more low-grade 2-3% climbs along there. Each time we went up one I suffered. About 10 miles from the last stop that burrito decided it didn’t want to stay down. I was surprise how quick my stomach turned, but turn it did. Richard had ridden up a bit before he realized I stopped. I continued riding, but dry heaved a few times before riding up to where he stopped. He asked if I wanted to stop, but we were in the middle of nowhere and stopping wouldn’t have done any good.

I made it to the checkpoint in Cedar City, 200 miles into the ride, but my stomach was not doing good at all. I used the bathroom again and bought some pepto. I bought more water to fill my camelbak, but my stomach started acting up again and I had to sit for a bit. I was debating on the wisdom of continuing. Richard was a bit nervous about riding alone along the freeway stretches and I really didn’t want to leave him riding alone. Luckily Larry pulled in while I was recovering. That pretty much made my decision for me. Once my stomach started acting up I knew I wasn’t going to enjoy the last 50 miles. So I called Lonnie and asked for a ride back. Lonnie and I had a good chat on the way back. I had a really good early cycling season, but haven’t been able to continue a consistent training regimen in the last two months. I think I’ll get that consistency back when I get my Calfee and am able to take it on trips with me. But, with the exception of the 157 mile Cochise Classic in October, I’ve decided not to do any other longer distance rides this year. I’ll still do a few more centuries, including the Death Ride in July, but the Hoodoo 500 is out of my plans for now.

I prefer to do rides that I can finish in relative comfort. For now that seems to be century length rides! 🙂 I’ll get back into long distance rides once I figure out how to integrate travel into my training schedule.

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