On Friday Formulaic and I headed down to the coast line of west LA, Calabasas to be exact to ride the Mulholland Century Challenge - Stage I of King of the Mountains Challenge.
We got settled in Friday night after grabbing some fresh strawberries and watching Fast and the Furious, I thought it was a good movie but then again, I liked the 1st one.
4:30am came really quick and we were up and ready to go and at the check in at 5:30am. We got all squared away, our bikes ready and rolled out of the start at 6:41am with a few other riders and about 44* and as the sun started to come it, it got really freakn' cold! Luckily for me, I had gloves but Form was SOL and the fingers froze, but good thing once I got back home and cleaned out the car today, I found the extra gloves under the seat, HA! Sorry Dude.
Now again, did you ready the the 1st sentence of this post? Mulholland Century Challenge - Stage I of the King of the Mountains Challenge!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and that is no freakn' ASS Joke! We got to enjoy some quick down hill right off the start and soon we were on the coast line of Pacific Coast Highway enjoying the morning waves and beach and it was getting a little warmer, and then the first long gradual climb came. Lots of riders were chatting with each other and we were all kind of getting to know each other as these are the group of people you are going to be seeing for most of the day. As got to check point #1 and received our sticker dot, grabbed some quick gels and water and took off.
Then as we approached a familiar area that I had rode back in Jan a more serious climb started so I settled in and worked it, overall not too bad and we hit the descent and as soon as that was over it was a not so nice snake hill climb which again I did partially back in Jan but this time there was no turning around and it turned out to be a lot of work to get to the top and hit a little decent and stop at rest area #1 around the 40 mile mark.
Here lots of stuff happening, bathroom breaks, water refill, snacks, gels, gu's.. all provided by the event which was cool. I had stopped my Garmin here b/c I was thinking to save the battery life for later but when we left I forgot to restart it and it was until 4 miles later I realized this and would not do that again the rest of the day. During the short 4 miles of no Garmin data, we did manage to climb almost 1400 ft. and it was totally Work! The decent was totally Nasty due to the poor road quality and super steep which made it fast and not enjoyable because you had to ride your brakes so much which then lead to super vibration in the hands but as the day was playing out, All descent's were overall way shorter in comparison to the amount we were climbing. At the end of this crappy road decent we were at check point #2 around mile 60 and a lot of the riders were talking about the shitty road quality and as I was yappn' Form took off thinking I had left so he got ahead of me and I didn't see him till check point #3 about mile 73.
Now after riding along the Pacific Coast Highway again in a different area it was nice to be in the aero position for a while and again enjoy the ocean but as all good things must come to an end, the climbs started again. This one was up Mulholland Canyon and overall its like 9 miles of uphill, some steep, a lot gradual.. some steep and gradual at the same time, if that can even happen. This is where my day started to change for the worse. I had to stop and removed some extra clothes b/c now the sun was shinning and working those hills it was super hot. Then I just had to stop and take a break and rest my legs as I was tired. Then as we were getting closer to the top I noticed my left knee ITB was feeling achy and a little uncomfortable but I kept working to get to the freakn top as we had climbed 1600 feet in about 9 miles. Once at the top my knee was letting me know it was not liking all these hills and basically said what the fuck? As I rolled into check point #4 around mile 73 I met up with Form, refueled, complained a little and off we went for a nice fast 40 mph decent back to the coast but only to start the beginning of the end for me.
As turned off the coast highway the road Immediately turned sharply uphill. It was mandatory out of saddle climbing for everyone. I rode about 200 or 300 yards and I had to stop and rest. My knee was now turning from achy WTF to I don't F'n think so but I was trying not to listen. I started climbing again and was able to stay in the saddle for a short while but then again had to stop and rest. I did this a couple of times before King of the Mountains in training Formulaic caught up to me and passed me and I told him my knee was really starting to hurt and keep going. Once he was gone I caught up to another older guy rider who was walking and throughout the whole day that had never crossed my mind but now I was joining him on the walk. I walked for about 1/2 mile and now only about 1 mile into the 3 mile climb up Decker Canyon, if anyone has heard of it. I got back on and road again but this time the knee has pretty much taken over and said oh hell f'ing no!! and it was right. The pain from pushing down on the pedals was now sharp and piercing each time and I knew it was not good to continue. I got off and started walking thinking I will just walk the whole way to the top. By mile 2 my right foot was now developing a blister from walking in my cycling shoes with the cleats on. I finally said I'm done! This is not worth wrecking my 70.3 triathlon in 7 days! I moved over to the side of the road, sat down and told the next rider to send SAG to come and get me, along with texting Form to let him know.
I felt a short moment of defeat and failure but only for it to be washed about by what I had accomplished and what was at Stake in the next week. To make a long story short, SAG would not come and get me anytime soon, WTF!! and asked if I could just walk the rest of the way.. WTH am I supposed to do.. so I walked the last mile to the top by which point the blister on my foot was screaming. I told them I was done and needed a ride back to the start.. Oh wait.. We cant give you a ride till like 7 or 8pm.. (its 4pm now).. WTF again!! I began to wait and got lucky as the RD came to check on things and ended up giving me a ride back to the start. I must say the RD was really nice and we talked and expressed his concern but not picking someone up and making them walk and then originally plan on having them sit at the check point for 4 hours! HELL NO!
Once back at the start area I checked in as a DNF and waited for Formulaic and my car key which I gave to another rider to give to Form to come and get me from the check point originally. We got some food, packed up our things and headed back to Vegas smelling very lovely even in a fresh change of clothes. I was super tired by the time I got home, showered and straight to bed.
Overall experience: I actually have to say the Hardest Sporting thing of swimming, biking and running I have done. More than a marathon.. more than Ironman!!!! I will say in defense I needed to have a better gearing set up for my bike for that type of riding. I did accomplish 84 miles overall, my longest since training for CDA last year and manage to CLIMB 10,000.FT per Garmin! Today, my knee is not happy at all and legs are just heavy and tired. Blister is there but I think will be fine by Sat. I am more worried about my knee in the RAGE climbs than anything, although no where in comparison to this ride.
This does bring up the question of Breathless Agony -Stage II of the KOM challenge and should even attempt it in 3 weeks, and 2 weeks after 70.3. At this point, No, it's not wise, I don't have proper gearing and Stage 2 is much more climbing at a higher Altitude and I just cant afford to incur a long term injury that may effect official ironman training come July.
Would I recommend this Century? Sure.. its tough, no joking around. Bring some triple cranks and a serious climbing cassette or else you'll be walking and SAG will only come and get you when there damn good and ready.
Will I do it again.. Not any time in the near future.
Did I have fun? I did, up until about mile 65 even with the crappy road decent that jarred my hands numb, cold in morning and a bum knee.