2013 Ride #32 (Crusher Attempt, in two parts)
14 Sunday Jul 2013
Crusher Part I (from the start until shortly before the first aid station):
Weather was absolutely perfect; cool & dry, after a night of rain which soaked in enough to keep the dust down, but very little mud. Managed to hang with the Pro/Open group for 2 miles before I got dropped. Managed to hold off the first of the fields starting behind me until mile 5, and made it to about mile 8 or 9 before all the big groups passed me by. Made it to mile 10 (7100′) before I had to stop and take my first breather and to mile 12 (7900′) before I had to take the second one. Felt pretty good until somewhere around 8400-8500 feet, at which point I just couldn’t get any air at anything above a walking pace whenever the road pitched up at anything steeper than 1-2%, so I spent a fair amount of time from mile 13.2 to mile 17.2 walking. While I was off the bike and walking, I was for the most part able to keep moving, since while walking I was able to keep my heart rate in a manageable zone.
Unfortunately, walking caused me to not only miss the time cutoff at the second aid station, but to miss the first aid station altogether. At that point I was last rider on the road, and was obviously going very slow. When the volunteers from the first aid station were on their way back down the mountain into Beaver, they stopped and gave me a couple bottles of water, and then I ended up hitching a ride from that point to the second aid station at the turn-off to Eagle Point. Totals Part I: 17.2 miles, 3635 feet of climbing, both on and off bike.
Crusher Part II (from the second/last aid station to shortly before the finish):
After hanging out at the second aid station for awhile, I figured I should still try to make it to the finish. Hopped on and started off, and then hit the first long dirt climb. Back off the bike and walking again; this time from mile 0.5 (9500′) to about mile 1.9 (10,075′); then back on the bike when it leveled across the top until about mile 7, off the dirt and back onto pavement after descending from over 10,000′ to about 9600′; then back off the bike and walking again when the pavement pitched up. I actually felt really good on the flat sections across the top; I could keep my heart rate in a manageable zone and could breathe despite the thinness of the air.
When Jason from Millcreek Cycles rolled by on the way down and asked me how I was doing, I did a quick self-assessment and declared that I was done … I simply couldn’t get enough oxygen to ride the climbs, and by this point, I could barely motivate myself to keep picking up my feet and walking. Quite frankly, I just could not face any more climbs … I’d like to think that if was just the final kicker with 500 meters to go, that I would have been able to muscle through, even if on foot, but with about 700′ of vertical in two climbs still ahead of me, I just couldn’t do it. Totals Part II: 7.4 miles, 1075 feet of climbing.
All told I ended up doing 24.6 miles, and just over 4700′ of climbing.
Even though I only ended up doing about 1/3 of the total course, and just shy of 1/2 of the climbing, this was by far the hardest day that I have ever had on the bike. I’m disappointed that I wasn’t able to finish, but considering how woefully underprepared I was, I am extremely proud of what I did accomplish … actually starting, not getting dropped immediately, sticking with it and keeping moving as long as I did on the first section, and getting back on the bike and at least attempting to make to the finish after hitching that first ride. On top of that 4700 feet of climbing is by far the most climbing I have ever done in a single day, even when I was 40 pounds lighter, 15 years younger, and not at altitude.
I now have a clue what Crusher can do to you from a rider’s perspective, as well as from an observer’s, and have even more respect for everyone who has been able to finish it than I already had.
And remember, only 365 days until Crusher 2014.