Last Chance, Day 4 – Open the barn doors, the horses are heading home!

103.22 mi / 166 km
Elevation Gain:
2,808 ft

Day 4. The last day of our adventure. Now, it’s not a matter of if we can finish but when.

103 miles. Heck, I can do that in my sleep. I base that on the fact that I’ve fallen asleep on the bike several times already.

When I woke up, I was shocked not to find David in the room. I quickly got dressed and went down to the check-in room where I found….. David. He had arrived in the middle of the night after having been picked up in Anton.

Here’s where we get to level just a little criticism at the organizers. Anton is a control and unfortunately, the only store for a 100 + miles closes at 6 PM. In my humble, inexperienced opinion, the organizers need to work the store to extend the hours, engage a local civic group for support or ask a volunteer to man the control and provide simple food services.

In any case, we were happy to see each other but it was time to ride. Terry and I started out looking for breakfast and as we headed under the interstate, the unmistakeable smell of bacon wafted through the air.

We found a small cafe that opened at 0700 and since it was 0650, we weren’t going anywhere. Larry from Florida and his support, LuAnn, pulled up a moment later to join us.

I’m pretty quick on the trigger when it comes to food and an omlet with three meats suited me just fine. Terry wanted a pancake and ordered two of them.

“Uh uhh” his waitress replied – “you only want one – they’re large.” Terry was OK with that and even Larry decided to wait and see if Terry might have extra to share. Larry went with normal fare – egges, hashbrowns, etc.

When our food arrived, we were shocked to see a pancake the size of, I kid you not, a medium pan pizza. It was freaking huge! Terry ate maybe 35% of it and Larry also enjoyed a small piece.

When we hit the road, we had a nice 15 mile straight stretch going due north supported by a wind headed in the same direction. I dropped Terry and Larry and enjoyed a nice spin down the road which dropped by about 400 ft over the 15 miles. The temps were slowly warming and it was a great day to be on a bike finishing up my first 1200-km.

As we moved around the area east and north of Denver, we encounter more traffic and more industry. I’m not sure what I was looking at but there were all kinds of 300 barrel oil tanks grouped together with other apparatus. I’m not certain if this is for fracking/shale oil/etc but it seems to be having a huge impact on the economy.

The impact to cyclists were increased traffic in the form of big Ford F250, tankers, etc. The vast majority were extremely polite and the only ******* who blew his horn at me seemed to think I hadn’t moved far enough off the road when I took a few bonus miles after missing a turn.

The rest of the day was uneventful. Terry suffered a flat – his 5th – and lunch was at a Love’s Truckstop. The closer we got to Louisville, the more determined we became. Larry had rejoined us and we make a concerted effort to watch out for each other.

When we rolled into the Quality Inn in Louisville at 5:29 PM, several people stepped out to take our pictures. John Lee Ellis congratulated us and gave us our Last Chance medals. David grabbed my bike and helped me to the room. Honestly, walking was a challenge having used mainly cycling muscles for the last few days but it was nice to have help.

There was a group dinner that night at 7 pm and while it was the last thing I wanted to do, it was important to go and thank the volunteers and congratulate the others. Everyone put a lot into their efforts and most of us had some significant lessons that we can apply to the next ride.

By the numbers:

(Please ignore the “Max Bike Cadence” numbers for anything over 120 rpm.  It didn’t happen!)

You can see that the numbers were split for day 3 when the Garmin reset itself. I’m glad that occurred – it shows how slow I was for the night ride into Byers! It was pretty miserable and we barely maintained a speed that would allow us to finish had that been our speed during the entire event with no stops!

My control card – some of the time are from the central timezone:

Closing comments/lessons learned/etc:

I finished – and am happy with my efforts.  I’m new at this having completed my first century in several decades in Jan which was followed by all the brevets. I went from 0 to 1200 in less than a year.

I had ridden a few double -centuries in the early 80’s and as I recall, they were much more difficult than this 1200. Why? My recumbent, while a compromise, offers the best combination of comfort and speed. I predict that as riders age, you’ll see recumbents slowly lose the stigma that they carry today.

On a side note, we had breakfast with cycling coach John Hughes before the event started. John summed it up very well when asked why recumbents appear to carry a stigma. He thinks that other riders think that if you were a competent rider, you’d be on a regular bicycle. There’s some truth to that I suppose but in my case, I don’t have an option due to a blue-hair in Atlanta who rear-ended me in her Caddy in 1994.

My training worked well enough to get me through this 1200 and I can improve from here. For me, it took a lot of dedication but I didn’t put a ton o’ time in it. I was happy doing club rides on Saturday mornings and I generally rode with the fast riders to push myself. I supplemented that 2-3 rides during the week that never exceeded an hour. Those were a mix of intervals, tempo and endurance rides.

This year, I have about 4,300 miles YTD so that translates to a bit over 100 miles per week. Some of the miles are brevets so I’m comfortable in saying that I never exceeded 100 miles of training per week on average. Again, for me, it was quality and not quantity.

I mentioned the recumbent already. Mine was extremely comfortable out of the box. I think that’s difficult to achieve on a diamond-framed bike and it may mean you have to add miles to insure you can endure the pain. I can’t tell you how many riders I was behind on the last two days who were really suffering…moving around trying to find a spot on their ass that didn’t hurt.

YMMV of course!

I got a bit sunburned – the laid-back position of my bike presents not only an Imax view of the world but it fully exposes my face to the sun and elements.

My rain top worked OK – it’s an Arc’teryx SL pullover with a front pocket that once again, collected water in the pocket. It’ll be returned to the manufacturer to correct. My rain bottoms, don’t recall the brand, worked OK but caused on significant chaffing issues on the first day. One rider had some Lansinoh and it worked wonders. That will become part of my kit moving forward.

I didn’t have an emergency blanket or anything like that. I didn’t feel the need for one but a few more degrees drop in temp and a forced stop might have driven the need for one.

I carried fig newtons, dried mango from Trader Joes, peanut butter crackers and a few commercial
energy packs that I didn’t use. In fact, I didn’t use any of the popular items from Hammer or other companies. Maybe I should try them – it might have helped my average speed.

In the controls, I looked for coffee, sandwiches, fruit snacks, microwaveable soups, etc – standard fare I suppose. Towards the end, I craved hamburgers and other food that isn’t associated with endurance events. I didn’t have any stomach or GI issues thank goodness.

Pain: I had only a little where I banged my ankle and knee on the first day. I also had significant pain in my right Achilles tendon which felt like was exploding. I managed the pain with Aleve. The only other pain was when I stopped peddling and then started again. I know we’ve all felt lactic acid pain before but for me, it was multiplied by a factor of 5 on the 3rd and 4th day. It was painful enough that I did my best not to stop peddling even on downhills – kept my legs moving as much as possible.

What’s next? Dunno – I’ll likely look for other rides to keep moving forward. I’ll probably look for another 1200 next year !

Oh – the guy who was there to get his man card stamped? He’s a great rider and has proven himself many times on other riders but it’s interesting to note that he DNF’d on the first day and my guess is that he didn’t have the proper gear for the rain. I also noted with interest that all the females save one finished the event successfully.   Guess they got their man cards properly stamped!


6 thoughts on “Last Chance, Day 4 – Open the barn doors, the horses are heading home!

  1. Gerry … Unnnnnhh!!! How did you do it?! You hit the nail on the head when, at mile 38, you had your `chance’ to bail but didn’t. Next time I pass a farmhouse I’ll look for a nice place to catch 30 minutes sleep.

    Great accomplishment!!

    • I think all of the advice gleamed from the b-board, BROL, the Rando list and LD riders like yourself helped me tremendously. In addition, all the riders in the event did a great job watching and encouraging each other. I may have finished the ride but I had dozens of others in spirit who were with me every mile. Even when I was riding alone, I wasn’t.

      Life is good my friend!

  2. Gerry, it was an honor and privilege spending so much time riding with you. The support we provided each other was solid gold. Merci.

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