Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Adobol-Dobol Adventures of William and Rhey JUNE 29

This is an adventure for Rhey Abad (a “virgin” double-century rider) and William "Legstrong" Aligue (a virgin “again”, hahaha). (Map)

And it's going well. At the lunch stop, neophyte Rhey and 2nd-timer William are still feeling strong. They have a meal of burrito with beans, and ice cold Coca-Cola, and they’re ready to “rock-and-roll.”

In the usual organized century bike ride, the Lunch Stop is traditionally at mile 50, the half-way point of the ride. Now, imagine yourself rolling into the lunch-stop, and your computer says you’ve so far covered 117 miles ! Yup, that’s right, you’re only half way through the ride, and already you’ve traveled over 100 miles, and you have almost that much again to go.

Grand Tour Double Century

For comparison: the double "metric" century (124 miles)

Rhey and William are still feeling strong.

Everything is relative.

At the very top of the sport of cycling, the pros vie for the biggest prize of all, the Tour de France. Then there’s us, the wanna-bes who have the same same equipment as the pros, and are stylin' like the pros, and even ride the same routes ridden by the pros. But we can’t compete at their level. Instead, we “race within ourselves”. Sometimes we race other riders in weekend rides. But mostly, we just constantly try to outdo our own “personal bests”.

At the level of recreational bike clubs (like AdoboVelo), the point is not whom you can beat (although that’s fun to do when you can manage to do it).

Frankly, whatever level you are, you can always
find someone whom you can beat, as well as someone else who can beat you. So the point is, to outdo yourself, to "compete withing yourself", to do something you’ve never done before, or do something faster than you've ever done yourself. (Nevermind if someone else has done it, and or done it faster than you, that’s their business.)

With this mind-set, even the fastest man in the club must beat his own time, even if he always beats everyone. And even the slowest one, always beaten by everyone, can claim victory if it was his own personal best time, or if it was something he had never done before.

Everything is relative.

A little perspective helps: Tour de France pros are specimens of fitness and natural ability beyond comprehension. An average/ordinary person is fit enough to generate 150 watts of power an hour on a bicycle, and can maintain that output for maybe 4-6 hours. (How puny is that? That’s just enough to light a light-bulb.) While still fresh, that ordinary rider can spike his power output to 200 watts by sprinting, but he can only keep that up for 10-15 seconds. Then he’s wasted. Those who have additional disadvantages, like asthma, high heart-rate, low red-blood count, small lung capacity, will produce less watts and will fatigue more quickly.

In comparison, a Tour de France pro cyclist can generate 300 watts of power per hour, and maintain that output for 6 hours. And he will still have enough juice at the end of the race, to spike it to 350-400 watts in the final 5 minutes, and 475 watts in the final 10-second sprint. (Wow. That’s enough to provide power to an electric blender for 10 seconds.) The exploits of ordinary people pale in comparison. But the ordinary person who achieved something for the first time at great preparation and effort, like a double century, has done an extraordinary exploit.

Everything is relative.

Which brings us to the adventures of Willam and Rhey. (Francis, Jaimer, and Richard, and Jesse also did this event. But William provided material for this write-up.)

The day had started very early for these hardy riders.

While most of the population of California were soundly asleep, William and Rhey got up from bed at 2:15 AM, and arrived at the starting line in Malibu at 3:40 AM, with Francis Marlon Ignacio just a few minutes behind. The double-century ride is an event that must start early, at 4:30 AM, way before sunrise. Francis is considering doing the 300-miler; He does not have to decide until he gets to mile # 140.

They have trained during the winter months, and ratcheted up their training in the closing weeks.

Now they are up in the early morning limbering up. This is what it takes.

Three other AdoboVelo riders will arrive at the starting line only later because they are doing a shorter (but still very challenging) ride, the hilly double-metric (200 KM, or 124 miles, with a lot of climbing): El Presidente Jesse Santamaria, Jaimer Rodriguez, and Richard Dones.

The riders are given 24 oz. insulated water bottles for free by the race organizers Los Angeles Wheelmen. They have a few photos snapped, and they start to roll at 4:30 AM.

It's dark, but all of them have front/rear lights and reflectors (as required by the race organizers). In this early morning in June, the weather is perfect, a little chilly but tolerable. They have wind-vests and arm/leg armers on, which can be easily removed and stored in the pockets later.

The ride sets off from the Malibu Performing Arts Center, just off PCH on Stuart Ranch Rd.

Immediately they encounter some climbing just a quarter mile from the start. Later, after about 3 miles of riding, a tandem passes them at a fast speed. Francis suggests"Hey William, do you want to follow them?"

"Nah- uh”, William replies, shaking his head. “No, They are too fast". But Francis is a wily veteran of countless dozen double-centuries, triple-centuries, and quintiple-centuries (yup, 500 miles in one go). He knows the drill. He knows the best strategy for finishing a very long ride in good time and in good shape. And he can judge William’s and Rhey’s fitness. He can see they’re ready. So Francis convinces them to just follow the tandem. They did. For almost 30 miles they “sucked wheel” behind the tandem. It was the best advice. They covered a lot of distance very quickly “without doing any work”.

Without doing any work?” What does that mean? If you’re not a cyclist, you must be wondering, how can it not be work to cover 30 miles distance on a bicycle on rolling terrain. It’s work, no matter what. In truth, when cyclists say they “didn’t do any work”, that is only relatively speaking.

It just means they stayed behind another cyclist’s wheel to take advantage of a vacuum-like area, called a “draft”, created by the front rider at high speeds.

The draft reduces air-friction for the trailing rider, and in turn reduces physical exertion by a significant 20% to 30%. The front-rider, in the meantime, expends a lot of energy to “break” the air.

Mile 35 is their first stop. They get off their bikes and do their rest-stop tasks in a hectic pace, like preparing the kids for school in the morning. A quick bathroom break. A quick refill of water bottles. A quick grab of electrolyte pills. And just like that, off they go, back to the ride.

At Mile 45, they hit the hardest climb, Potrero. This is a 1.5 mile climb, with gradients of 10% - 12% at the beginning, then 16%, and finally 18% just before the crest.

(For reference comparison, Punta Del Este in Hacienda Heights is 16%, Crown/Starlight Drive in La Canada/Flintridge is 16%, Balcom Cyn is 18% - 20%, and Fargo St in Los Angeles is 32%)

“Whoooh, what a climb”, William thought, “but we made it.” After the hill, they were cruising at Moorpark, when Rhey got a flat tire, his first of many.

At Mile 70, their second stop, they had a small piece of banana, and a cookie. They roll as soon as they fill up their bottles.

At Mile 90, another long climb at Grimes Canyon, but followed with a rewarding 5-miles descent. Up to this point, all of them (Francis, William, and Rhey) are still in good shape. The weather is still cooperative, their warmers and vests are still on.

They must be wondering about their fellow Adobos doing the metric double, Jesse, Jaimer, and Richard.

At mile 106, they start to climb Dennison, an 8 mile gradual climb just before the lunch stop. They struggle for the firs time, doing only 6 MPH going up the hill. The sun is up. “This seems like a never ending climb”, William is thinking.

Finally, they reach the aformentioned lunch stop at Mile 117. Burrito with beans. Slice of ham. Ice cold Coca-Cola. Then they roll again.

A little later, William starts to feel a resurgence of energy. They push a little harder to make up for that lost time on the Dennison 8 mile climb.

Their fourth stop is at Mile 140 at Rincon. On the way to there they were doing 25 to 29 MPH. At the stop is where Francis must decide whether to just do the 200, or continue on and complete the 300. He’s feeling strong up to this point. He’s a veteran. He knows his body, and he knows the course. He decides he can do the 300 miler.

Rhey and William head back home. Their ride is 2/3’s completed, while Francis is only half done. He forges forward.

Everthing is relative.

From this point, Rhey and William are still feeling strong: Most of the time they are doing 25- 28 mph with a tailwind, all the way to Port Hueneme, their last stop at Mile 165. But 5 miles before then, Rhey gets another flat. He pumps some air and nurses his bike to the rest stop. We fix the flat there. Rhey is so hungry, he has soup and bagel at this station.

At mile 175, they get on the PCH once again. It is 25 miles from the finish, and they are still in good shape. They try to push it to 28 to 30 mph, all the way until mile 190 . This is when they encounter big rollers at Malibu. There’s a 5% climb that “feels like a 15% climb” , William says to himself. But they were able to stay in the saddle.

At mile 198, as they pass in right in front of the great lawn of Pepperdine University, all of a sudden William hears a loud yell: "YES! We made it" screams Rhey. Two more miles later, they make the final left turn into Malibu Canyon Rd.

There’s one last 8% climb, a short one. William attacks herewith an all-out sprint.

Surprise, surprise, Rhey stays right on William’s wheel. They cross the finish line with a “riding time” of 11 hrs, 54 min, and total elapsed time of 13 hrs, 48 mins. Total distance, 201 miles.

At the finish line, there was Chicken BBQ served, and some more freebies from L.A. Wheelmen.

William posted this: “Again thank you all for your support. We were able to finish this ride because of your advice, training, knowledge, skills, and experience that you shared with us.

Francis completed his first triple Century for this year. El Prez Jesse Santa Maria, Jaimer Rodriguez, and Richard Dones completed the Double metric ride.

Rhey phoned Arden to tell him how happy he was after doing his first double century. He was amazed how he had the energy to finish up the ride. Arden remembers the first time he saw Rhey ride at the Carson crit only 2 winters ago. Now Rhey’s strength and endurance have vastly improved, Arden says. Two Saturdays ago before the ride, when they rode to Dana Point to train, Arden noticed how agile Rhey was and how Richard paced the ride. They were more relaxed and always ready to jump and sprint

(Material provided by William on Yahoo groups. Edited by MG)

No comments: