Monday, February 18, 2008
Butterfield Double 2008
As I mentioned in my last blog post, I finally felt some excitement about Butterfield Double less than 24 hours before I was set to start. Friday night after work, we grabbed some dinner at Knolwood while we waited for the check in to open at 7:30. After saying hello to some friends while we waited in line, we signed our waivers, picked up our route sheets and numbers and headed home. It's nice to be 15 miles from the start of a double century and be able to sleep in your own bed the night before! We had to do some last minute bike prep and then we were off to bed, but not before George hands me some Nathan Reflex wrist/ankle bands and tells me he wants to be visible when I'm signaling. :)
4:00 a.m. and the alarm is going off. I think I stretched it to 4:30, but then it was out of bed and a quick shower to wake up, and on with the Sho-Air kit that I had laid out the night before. In the truck on the way to the start, I drank a bottle of Sportquest Carbo Pro mixed with Interphase since I didn't feel like eating anything solid at that time. We arrived at the start and I didn't want to get out of the truck. I was being a wimp about the cold. Funny since I spent most of January training in the dark and cold, but at those times I was wearing wool. No luxury of that today. On a double I try to minimize my clothing since I'll be out on the road for so long and the temps will change so much throughout the day. I'd rather suffer a little bit with cold in the beginning and end in exchange for not being overheated during the majority of the day. I wore a sleeveless wool base layer, my Sho-Air jersey, Assos shorts (though I love and typically train in bibs, I won't wear them on long distance events because the time wasted fully undressing to pee is ridiculous) wool arm and knee warmers and my Velom jacket.
We didn't have much time at the start to get situated, but made our way over to the front of the hotel to hear the safety speech before we were launched out. I stuck with George who was feeding me tips about riding in a pack and we had set off at a pretty good clip, staying near the front of the pack. I thought that the pace would break the group up rather quickly, but it seemed that the abundance of stoplights would keep most of the group together for the time being. Knowing what was coming up, I was sure that the rollers on Jamboree and the climb up San Joaquin Hills would start some separation...including me! I said goodbye to George at this time, knowing that I wouldn't see him until I finished. We dropped down Newport Coast Drive and turned south on Pacific Coast Highway before turning inland, then climbing and dropping down to PCH once again. Headed south toward Dana Point I enjoyed talking to several people, including a tandem that had done Furnace Creek 508. The descent into the mini-stop was steep, and I was happy to be greeted by Jon, a friend from Bike Forums. :) I topped off my bottle, which I'm not proud to say, was only 1/3 gone. Very poor hydrating and fueling on my part and definitely not enough for 39 miles into the ride. I find that when it's not warm I don't pay attention to my hydration.
I left the mini-stop quickly and rode behind a man in a Surf City Cyclery kit. He was pulling at a great pace until we hit the bike lane inside the concrete barrier on PCH in Dana Point and a group in front of us slowed us down significantly. After exiting that area we were in a pretty tight pack and I hit a large rock that wasn't called out, luckily with no consequences. I was glad when we reached Avenida Pico and the group continued on the coast through San Clemente instead of turning (as the route slip indicated) and following the bike route signs through the residential area. Deb had announced that was fine to do and since the route sheet didn't have any street names and simply "Follow Bike Route Signs" I didn't want to chance a wrong turn. While on this section I recognized the rider next to me, it was one of George's friends Chris. We talked for awhile and as we turned from Cristianitos onto the bike trail, the group thinned out to make the turn safely onto the path, I found myself in the back. I arrived at the San Onofre checkpoint (mile 54.7) alone, said hello to Rick from Bike Forums, loaded up with some Sustained Energy provided by Planet Ultra and hit the bathroom before it was back on the bike.
I rode alone for the next section, though I could at times, see riders ahead of me. As I turned onto the I-5 freeway I could see another woman, who I eventually passed and then she ended up passing me. I caught up to her as we exited the freeway and made our way toward the bike path in Oceanside. After riding on the bike path with another man for a little bit, the woman (who I later learned was named Joni) came around and took the lead. She led our train, which picked up a couple of riders along the way, all the way to the lunch stop. I heard her say at one point that she didn't...or couldn't ride behind people, and I didn't feel like I had the energy at that point to go around her and take off, so I was content to sit back and get some recovery. Thank you Joni!
At the lunch stop (mile 87.7) I said hello to Phil and Jon, posed for a photo, grabbed a Subway sandwich and stuffed it under my jersey, topped off with some more Sustained Energy and was gone in probably five minutes. I had a strategy for this section since I knew that there was an immediate climb after lunch. It's no fun to climb on a full stomach, so I planned to grab the sandwich and roll, eating it later if I felt hungry for solid food. I was in fact hungry when I got to the lunch stop...thanks I'm sure, in part to my poor fueling and hydration, but I knew that I would benefit from sticking to the plan of climbing on an empty stomach. The Circle R climb was much less painful this year and after climbing that and Reche, I took the opportunity to eat on the Green Canyon Road descent. George's early words of advice rang in my head. "Take the food and go. Eating on the bike at 13 mph is better than stopping for 30 minutes and then hammering on a full stomach trying to make up for lost time." Even better...I found myself eating my Subway sandwich while coasting at 21 mph down Green Canyon Road!
I hadn't seen anyone else since Green Canyon when Ron on his recumbent made the left turn before me. As I was approaching the turn onto North River Road, a guy in a Sho-Air kit blew past me. At that point I had been alone for so long that I was actually wishing that someone...or better yet, a pack, would catch me. I knew that I was approaching the bike path and the winds can be strong, a hard haul if you're alone and I wasn't looking forward to the next section. My wish would be granted at the next turn. When I looked back to make sure it was clear for me to get over into the left turn lane, up comes a pack. With a tandem! Wooo! It was the tandem from earlier in the day, along with Isabelle Drake, Chris and another guy. I told them I was just wishing for this situation and thank goodness they arrived. :) The tandem pulled us on the bike path until I heard a sound you never want to hear...Chris, who had been at the end of the line, had gone down. I stopped, turned around and went back to make sure that he was okay. He told me that I didn't need to stop, but I would hope that someone would stop for me in a similar situation, so I just did what felt right. Despite being bloodied, he was back on his bike and riding in no time. Actually, they temporarily dropped me and then slowed so I could reattach. There was another mini-stop (mile 121.1) up ahead, and I was happy to see Jon yet again! I topped off my bottle and added some Sportquest CarboPro 1200 that I had in a flask. I prefer this over the Sustained Energy that Planet Ultra provides, but I supplemented with the SE because it was free (or rather, part of my registration fee) and I only had enough room to carry two flasks of CarboPro. A group took off out of the stop and while I waited until it was clear to cross the road, I realized that once again, I'd be alone. I figured the tandem, who were sticking around to eat a sandwich, would catch me quickly, but alas...I was destined to ride the section through Oceanside, the I-5 and San Onofre until the checkpoint (mile 135.8), alone.
The tandem pulled into the San O checkpoint shortly after I did, so I stuck around the stop until they left. We had a small group as we went through San Clemente and turned inland from the coast. We stayed together until the Antonio parkway climb and I had great legs, so I went ahead of the group a bit, but wasn't putting a ton of effort into the climb because I didn't want to lose the tandem. At some point we got separated and I ended up riding with Ken, who was out there on a fixed gear. We chatted about some of George's fixed gear rides and we came upon Ron on his recumbent again. The three of us came into the last checkpoint (mile 167.5) in Trabuco Canyon together, followed shortly by the tandem and a few others. At this stop I saw one of my favorite people...Lee from Bike Forums, who was volunteering. I stayed at this stop for a few minutes, long enough to fill my bottle (which I then left behind...ugh), eat two mini Butterfingers and 1/4 of a poppyseed muffin and throw on my Velom jacket.
Chris, Ron and I left the last checkpoint together, but we spread out on the rolling terrain through Trabuco Canyon. My goal was to get through this area in the daylight. I don't like this narrow, twisty road with no shoulder and blind corners. It's known for people speeding and numerous accidents. Needless to say, I didn't want to get caught in the dark. Thankfully, I was able to accomplish my goal and turned onto Santiago Canyon Road while it was still light. On one of the descents Chris blew past me as I was soft pedaling and I could only see his tail light up ahead for the rest of the Santiago Canyon section. I reached Dump Hill and knew I was so close the the finish. I felt amazing! As I approached the turn onto Jamboree, I noticed another rider in the left turn lane. It was Isabelle Drake, who by the way...beat my time by 11 minutes on Butterfield last year! She told me that I would be faster to the end than she would, but I said that we should go in together. It was nice chatting with her and we stuck together. Like another rider said in his report...seeing the Sand Canyon street sign was so sweet and beautiful. Just 2.5 miles to the finish...I could taste it!
Isabelle and I reached the hotel, parked our bikes outside and ran in to find out that we had a time of 12:18! Deb told us that only one woman came in ahead of us, a Cat 2 racer for Webcor. I felt so great about my finish! I felt very strong most of the day and really felt like I rode smart. When the results were posted, I realized that Isabelle and I can claim an 8th place finish overall. Can't complain about that!!! :)
I have to say thanks to George for believing in me, even when I have doubts. Following his advice and coaching really helped me ride hard and ride smart. He also took great care of me post-ride, handing me a bottle of Endurox and my Recovery pills, then finding solid food for me to scarf down. He did a great job out there at Butterfield...10:46 for a third place finish!
Thanks to the tandem, Roger and Deanna for pulling and for good conversation. I really enjoyed riding with the two of you. :)
Thanks to the volunteers...without you, this wouldn't have been possible. :)
Next up: ???? Oh, who knows. I'm giving this racing thing a shot, so stay tuned!