Tracey, our dogz (Rippin and Chillin), and I just came back from a road trip where we incorporated an event, The Stagecoach 400. For us this IS a lifestyle, all of our time off is revolved around some kind of bike infused trip. This particular trip was something I been looking forward to for a few reasons. Tracey and I live pretty busy lives and it is nice just to hang out without all the other surrounding distractions. It was also the first time we took the boyz on a extended road trip and they did awesome. For Tracey it was a trip that was going to help her prepare as she is getting ready for the Tour Divide. And for me it was a trip to get through some withdraw I have been going through, craving alone time, in a bike packing race, on a new trail, in a new place. So the trip to Cali was a blast and I am some what satisfied for a while, a little while… So, how did the race go?
The race went well. Sure, I was the first one to cross the finish line in just under 50 hours with no sleep but I don’t really measure my success/experince by placement. I rather reflect and think about how I felt physically, mentally, how I actually played the game, and what can I learn from it. I look at this type of racing as a game because it is not the fittest person that is going to win, it’s how you play and make decisions on every other aspect of multi day trail life. When, Where, What to eat? When, where to stop/rest? How to manage your sleep? Navigation? How and what to do to keep the maintenance up on not only your bike but your body. There are other things too and all these decisions will effect the outcome. I also believe these decisions are made best from previous experiences.
What did I think about the route? I thought the route was awesome. There was so much varying terrain. Mountains, desert, city, urban, suburban, 2-track, surprising amount of single track, little bit of pavement, some hike-a-bike, did I miss something…The route is much different then most other bike packing routes out there and the other nice thing was each section of trail was just long enough before you got sick of it and before you knew it you would be in new landscape on a different type of trail. It seems as if I got to do all the great parts in the night, like all the single track out of the Stagecoach RV Park to Alpine.
Route finding – Had a GPS track that seemed to be spot on and had some cue sheets that I would reference and then confuse me at times. There were tons of turns and I would often over shoot them. I had one incident where I was getting confused between the track and the notes. It was on route 79, looking for a left hand turn. I went up and down this crazy traffic sketchy pass more then numerous times, all the way up and all the way back down. I easily wasted up to 3 hours! I will blame this on my clarity of thinking, it was the second night of no sleep. This was the same time I found myself in a fruit orchard, not where I was suppose to be, and ended up with a short length of stick and 3 pricks in my front tire. I shook my head broke the stick from the pricks and rallied on with the pricks in the tire. Never ended up with a flat!
Another note to the route was a re-route that never effected me. At the start, as I was leading I was approaching a man mumbling something to the effect of “private property”, I somewhat gave him the hand and kept saying “what, what” and flew by him. Others gave him the time of day and stopped and ended up with some re-route. And since I didnt really know about it and it was the same trail we had to return on I think it is funny that I went up that same private road and never encountered a problem. My wife wasnt so lucky…
How did you not sleep? Again, looking back at my past I have a lot of experience with sleep deprivation. Adventure Racing was very good for this. I went into this event saying I was not going to sleep and would just play it as it went. To help with this I did not bring a sleeping system. I knew I could make one night and was not sure what the challenges would be the second, but the wasted time out on route 79 was enough to sort of “p” me off and kept me looking back for another competitor to come creeping along. That was the motivator to push through the second night. I can only recall a few difficult moments that evening that were pretty short lived. Overall I am very happy with the way my body reacted to no sleep. If my SPOT was working it would have been interesting to see my total stop time, cause it wasn’t much at all.
Speaking of SPOT’s. Here is a little opinion I have. I think it is awesome to carry SPOT devices to help keep the honest, honest, and for some home entertainment. What I don’t think is awesome is when the riders are carrying I-Phones and looking at Trackleaders to see where there nearest competitor is. Shame, shame on you guys. We should all be making decisions on are own intuition and unknowns not making decisions through technology. As a leader never looking back I could have easily taken a nap knowing the next competitor was 50 miles back but I had no idea. So, I am glad my SPOT did not work the last day cause if the others would of seen me floundering around that night they might have seen how close they really got.
The gear I brought. No secrets here, just a bit of clothing which at night I wore absolutely everything I had and some personal hygiene stuff along with a repair kit. I have learned to bring rain gear, both jacket and pants, on every single trip I do. This is what I rely on when I get cold, I think of rain gear as a functional bivy sak. If need be I could take a short sleep before becoming uncomfortable, which means it’s time to go anyway.
Did you ride with anyone? Well for the first 55 into Borrego Springs there were 5 or so that were pinning it. This is very typical of me cause the truth of it is I HATE riding with people during a race so I try and shake it out early. There were 2 guys that were just hammering, they did not have any gear and turns out they were credit card touring. Even I thought the pace was a bit much but when we got to Borrego everyone stopped for a meal as I waved and went and did my own thing, which is always going to be more efficient. My stop was only a few minutes doing a quick resupply. And for the people that know the route I did the whole next desert section on 50oz of water to the RV park! Anyway, Borrego was the last I seen anybody and I continued to pin it as I was now by myself concentrating on developing a gap. The reason I like to be by myself is I do not want to be distracted by others and it is not the reason I do events, otherwise I would just go on a ride with some of my friends on our own time, cause it is a race, right? I will glady socialize before and after but the reason I do these things is for me to learn about myself, push myself, be with myself…do you see the theme her “myself”. It’s the reason I “race” bike packing “for myself”, I friggin love it!
What were you eating? Not much. The first 24 hours were pretty scarce with food calories and more liquid calories. But when I got San Diego, which was very distracting for me, something I learned, I was stopping and eating to much. 2 breakfasts stops that morning, a stop for few tacos, another stop for some pizza, and then a last stop of Micky-D’s to get me through the night. I did not eat much on the trail at all. The sections were short enough that you did not have to carry lots of calories and there were plenty of water spots too. So, overall I thought the refueling/water was pretty easy.
Watching the sun come up on the second morning was truly amazing and a time remembered. Peddling back through some familiar terrain was a welcoming sight as I reflected on the blur of the last 48 hours. As a paranoid leader I kept looking back but to see nobody, I stopped at one last little store for some microwave meals which was enough to recharge me for the last 24 miles. The rush of energy I got from being so close to the finish combined with the sugar rush I was able to pretty much stand up and power through the last climbs like it was the first day. It was an awesome way to finish and I was very happy with my performance and the way my body held up.
Thanks Stagecoach 400, you were a good time!