Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Ultimate Challenge - Tour of Utah Ride

The Ultimate Challenge gives an opportunity for us amateurs to experience the same course that the pro's race during the Tour of Utah - 
Stage 6 "Queen Stage."

Starting at Eccles Stadium in downtown Salt Lake you ride 110 miles, finishing up Little Cottonwood Canyon with over 10K of climbing!!

This year, there were around 750 riders, 73 of those female - and with the 'OK'  to sign up from TI was one of those 73!!! :)  

I thrive off of challenges, so this event was right up my alley!!

Incredible day!!

I was very nervous going into this ride.  First, I cycle alone. I can count a handful of times I have rode with other people, let alone hundreds.  Second, I was warned about 77.777 times that I was going to get made fun of for riding a TT bike (which I did... stopped counting at 40 people).  With all the nerves, I was to just focus on this as a long training day for Worlds/Tahoe. 

Onto the race...

Slowly they had us roll out and immediately ascend Emigration Canyon.  I had never been up this canyon and was loving the gorgeous scenery - which lasted the entire day!  Having that many riders around me was freaking me out.  Focused on doing my own thing and the nerves were gone by the time we started climbing up Little Mountain. 

Key to completing this ride was nutrition and pacing - both of which I started and kept up on from the very start.  I just stayed in the moment that I was in, sippin' on my Powerbar Perform and swallowing down my GU's.

Interesting side note: Men discuss some X-rated, off-the-wall stuff when they are 'with the guys.'  Kept me very entertained. 

Worked my to the summits of both Little and Big Mountain when the course drops into Wasatch County.  FROZE MY ASS OFF!!! I was so cold.  About half way down I started to feel more comfortable, got into aero and started working. 

The entire day I rode solo other than a 10'ish mile stretch in Wasatch County when I came up on the 'Blue Boys.'  (I think they were Precision Cycling?).  Feisty older dude (who I later became friends with at the finish line) in this group quickly informed me to not **** up their line.  'Yes Sir!'  I don't know the correct terminology, but they let me work in their 'line' and I kept pace, AND didn't wreck. Score :)  

At the third aid station we all stopped... I had to pee so bad, like a gallon of water bad.  The Blue Boys ended up taking off and the rest of the ride I was at it solo again.  Uneventful miles into Park City.  There I stopped and fueled up as I was listening to all the nervous chatter about the climb ahead.  All that nervous chatter was certainly valid.  

I've never climbed for that long, at that altitude, with that grade before.  I was in my smallest gear and just mashing.  I thought I had reached the top, let out a 'heck yeah', shifted to my biggest gear to get ready for a massive descend. 

Yea, short lived. 

The actual Gaurdsman climb had not even begun.  The terrain quickly changed and it was too late.  I knew if I shifted I'd drop my chain.. so I just tipped over. 

SO embarrassing.  

As I was getting going again this ass goes, "I knew you wouldn't be able to climb on that bike."  Got back going and worked my way on the chipped-potholed-rocky road to the real top (and road past the above ass in the process :D)

Getting to the top of that beast felt amazing! That section was the toughest part of the ride for me.  I stopped for a second to just catch my breath before the decent into Big Cottonwood Canyon.  By this time in the ride, my lower back and shoulders were talking to me in a big way.  Same with the palms of my hands… I am so used to riding in aero that being up in the bars hurt.  An ambulance was taking a rider away as I was summiting, adding to my descending nerves.  Initially going down, I took it overly cautious (ie SLOW) until I hit the sharp right turn by Solitude.  Then got down in aero and had some fun!

The leg fatigue set in for me right outside of Big Cottonwood when I felt a drag during the first climb on Wasatch Blvd. (mile 100)  There was a dude in yellow I was focused on about 20 meters up, we ended up going off course ~1 mile.  Honestly it didn’t annoy me at all.  It was a flat area and nice to spin for a minute before climbing LCC.   Approaching LCC they have the final aid station.  Stopped, bathroom, ate, and shoved a ton of ice down my bra and shorts.  The sun was out and making things hot!!

Final climb time!

In my head, I saw myself just cruising up that canyon. Which did not happen.  I was so dang hot and starting to feel dizzy.  Many people were off their bikes walking...I wanted to stop too and take a break but refused to until I saw the finish line. I couldn't even really think... just counted to 7 over and over to get in a rhythm.  I was passing people which was encouraging and now instead of rude comments, I got YOU GO TT GIRL shouts. :):):)  The crowd support was insane!  Lots of people waiting for the Pro Top Of Utah riders right behind us!

As soon as I saw the 5K countdown signs I got this surge of energy.   Who knew where that came from?  Found another gear in my legs and my cadence picked up.  Dumped water all over myself every time a spectator would offer.  

And then... 

the awesome downhill finish!!!

Biked back to my car, changed out of my wet clothes, run shoes on, and headed for the trails. Surprisingly, my legs felt good.  My breath was completely labored. Running at 9K is hard.

This was definitely harder than any race I’ve done thus far.  Finishing things like this is what fuels that fire in me.  Today was a good freaking day!  

Next up -- IM WORLDS 70.3



  1. The proper term is a "Pace Line", which you all but used in your description. Nice effort. Good luck at worlds!

  2. Awesome race! Really cool you passed the guy the "knew" you couldn't climb on your TT bike. :-). Way to go!

  3. I think of you as "wondergIna", the perfect female as one pussycat to another.

  4. Way to go!! Glad you showed that jerk you can ride!!! You rock!

  5. AND went for a run!?!?!