For the past month and a half I've been riding the Redington Road area each weekend. As I alluded to in previous posts, all these rides were in preparation for a race that I was keeping secret. No person in their right mind would ride that area week after week without a purpose. My riding partners know of the race, but they all know about having "races that shall not be named" that you keep under wraps to avoid fully commiting to such races. If you don't declare the race, you can back out at any time for whatever reason. Like you suddenly came to your senses or something. You can also avoid people being critical of your training. "You're doing what?!? Shouldn't you be swimming/biking/running more than you are then?" And then you have to go into your training philosophy and how swimming/biking/running no more than 3 hours per week is a perfectly acceptable way to train for endurance events. Just like living on chocolate, Root Beer, and pizza is a perfectly acceptable nutrition plan.
I'm very careful who I divulge my race info to. Mostly it's the friends that are equally crazy and also have their own personal list of "races that shall not be named." We check on each other periodically through the season and ask "Are you still doing Race X?" Sometimes Race X gets dropped and it's no big deal in this circle. We are all understanding and ask about the next race coming up, as if the thought of doing Race X never existed. Or Race X is still on the list and we sit and wait for our friends to return from said race, to evaluate it and see if it's something we want to consider next year. If it was horrible, thankfully your friends experienced it and not you and you now know to stay far, far away from Race X. Or it was a grand time, and you and your friends can plan on doing Race X the following year.
So it's time to reveal one of my "races that shall not be named" because we are now 2 weeks from said race, and it now appears on my Facebook page. That kind of puts it out there.
Here it is:
Yep, it's the Rock y Road 50/50. It's one of those events where there are no entry fees, no support, all you. Half of the ride is on a mountain bike and the other half on the road. Sounds simple, right? Well not when you add in where the course is. The mountain bike portion is just under 50 miles. We start from McDonald park, ride up Redington Road, down FR4417 to Chiva, over to the Italian Trap AZT and climb that, climb and descend the Bellota AZT to the final turnoff at Milagrosa. Milagrosa is one technical, difficult trail that we descend for 4 miles. After that we ride back to our transition area (our cars) at McDonald park to switch to the road bike portion. After all that nastiness on the mountain bike, we are rewarded with a climb from the base of Mt. Lemmon up to Palisades (mile 19) and back down. Overall it's 88 miles long and 12,134 feet of climbing. Since there's no support, we have to carry all water and nutrition with us. And no, we can't drop some in the desert ahead of time.
Finishing this race is my goal. Last year there was 1 finisher. The year before there were 2. So the chances of not finishing are very high. Sounds perfect!
I've been doing training rides out on Redington each weekend, and technically I've covered all of the course, just not all at once. And thanks to this summer's Easy Peasy Lemmon Squeezy rides, I've done all of Mt. Lemmon several times over. I have the road on Mt. Lemmon and Redington Rd memorized now because I've ridden them so much. Each mountain bike ride I carry all of the water and food that I think I'll need for the race to get used to the weight on my back. I'm hoping the weather will be cooler so that I don't have to carry as much water, because the weight is killer.
My strategy is to metally break the ride up into sections, kind of like doing an Ironman. You don't think about the whole thing because that is just too scary to do. So if you break it up into smaller chunks that are easy to comprehend, it's easier to stay in your box and focus at the task at hand. For the mountain bike portion, my sections are: Climb Redington, Chiva, Italian Trap, Bellota, Milagrosa. I'm much slower on the mountain bike than the road bike, so I'm going to have to push through much of the dirt portion and ride as much as possible without long rest breaks. I pretty much know which steep climbs give me problems, and I'll get off and push up those to save the legs. No point in going in the red on short, steep climbs just to claim I've cleaned them when I need the endurance in my legs for the entire day. Chiva will be the toughest part for me, followed by the climb on Bellota. Even though Milagrosa is the most technical portion, much of it is downhill, and the last time I rode it I rode it really well. And I tell myself that section is only 4.6 miles long. It also helps that it's the very last section before hitting pavement again.
I need to get through the moutain bike portion so that I can get to my strong point, which is climbing Lemmon. Once I get on the tri bike, I'm a climbing machine going up the mountain. I don't know how I can totally suck on climbing in the dirt, but rock on the road. I'm going to blame lack of traction, or rolling resistance, or something. Anyways, I've broken Lemmon up into the following sections: Molino Basin (Mile 5.7), 7 Cats (Mile 9), Windy Point (Mile 14), Palisades (Mile 19). If possible, I'll try to limit rest stops to these mental checkpoints. Once I get to Palisades, I know I can finish because it's all downhill and you get free miles after that. My problem will be daylight. Since I'm so much slower on the dirt, I'll need to keep moving as much as possible to ride in as much daylight as possible. I REALLY don't want to descend down Mt. Lemmon in the dark, but if I get pushed that far I may have to. I'm prepared because I'm strapping my lights to the front of the tri bike, and will have a rear blinky light. If that's what it takes to finish the race, then so be it. Now that I think of it, it may take just as long as an Ironman takes to finish this race.