Golden Gran Fondo Reflection

What a day.

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93 miles
11,000+ feet of vertical climbing
Took me 8 Hours

WELL.

It’s 4 am, I just pulled out of my driveway. It is an hour drive down to Golden before the sun rises for the day. It was so serene, albeit I was tired. I pulled into the park at 5 am, ahead of anyone else. I got my lay of the land, and eventually picked up my pack around 5:45 when the people working the event were all setup. I laid down in the grass and tried to get another hour of sleep before getting race ready.

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7 am: I am now getting some of my biking gear on, checking tire pressure, packing nutritional supplies, etc.

7:30 am: Light spinning before heading to the start area by 7:45

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8 am: After singing the National Anthem and getting a warm welcome, the race begins!

Now this race is not a start to finish timed race. It is a Fondo, which means there are several timed sections rather than being timed from beginning to end.

We start going straight uphill. (This will be a constant theme all day) Roughly 1.5 miles until the first timed section. The first 9 miles climbs about 2,000 feet! So I cruise through the first gate to start the timing section. 1,500 feet in 4.5 miles. This is more than double the climb over the same distance that I have ridden for months from Copper to the Top of Vail Pass. Double. This was to START a 90 mile race….

OH BOY, what am I in for???

Next, we bomb down that same elevation. The next 10 miles brings us back down to 5,000 feet once again, only to climb back to 8,000 feet!!! The top of this last climb, hardest in my life. (To this point anyway…) There is now a short descent the 2nd aid station. I took a few minutes here to compose myself. I was only a third of the way, and I already felt gassed, I already felt like I was on fumes. Ugh.

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Well, time to keep rolling! The courses for the 60 and 90 mile routes split at the 40 miles mark, and we had to get there by Noon to be allowed to complete the 90 mile course. It is only a half a mile until timed section number 2!

This section was the “shortest” in length. Only 3 miles. Took me 20 minutes. Not that great, definitely tough. Steep climbing up continuous Switchbacks, who’s end would still be 10 miles from the halfway mark.

The next leg was 15 miles until aid station 3. Down 500 feet, climb 300 feet, rinse, and repeat, over and over. Then climb the last 3 miles over 700 feet. Me and them switchbacks got to be great friends! (or enemies?)

Aid station 3…I want to literally just stop. About 54 miles in, and I really don’t know the level of hell that still awaits. I am eating and drinking as much as I can. I feel like I can’t get ahead of my metabolism and can’t stock up on my nutrition internally.

PS – During this whole time I am riding through state parks etc, places that I literally have zero cell phone network, simply my emergency GPS location, yet it can’t even load the map anyway, so what’s the point?

So, mentally. I have been just suffering alone for about 5 hours now. My spirit is sooo close to being broken countless times.

I must continue. I must finish. I must complete this challenge.

After several deep breaths, onward we go.

4 miles, down 1,000 feet.

Timed section 3: Up 1,000 feet over 4.5 miles. Seriously? Again? ugh. Honestly, the first half wasn’t too bad. I was keeping my focus and trying to just grind. Halfway through, I hit a wall. Totally blocked mentally. People come cruising right past me, I start zig-zaggin (cuts down on steepness, adding slight length) Please, just keep going, keep going. Finally finish this section, at almost 40 minutes….definitely not my finest moment.

So recap, we are now at about 62 miles. 2/3 through the length with one timed section left. I am about 13 miles from the next aid station, in the middle of nowhere, and the next several miles are DIRT!

You can’t be serious.

2 miles into this, I get the worst charlie horse ever in my right calf. At this point, I have been fighting my calves seizing up for about 45 minutes. Finally, it happened. Excruciating pain. Super aggressive muscles spasms to boot. Luckily for me, Once I reach the summit, the next 10 miles are all downhill. Halfway through those 10 miles was aid station 4 (which was the same as the 2nd, just hitting on the way back as well)

This aid station was full of some sore looking cyclists, myself included. About 20 miles from the end, with one the worst section still ahead.

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Timed section 4: This is over 5 miles long, the first 2 miles are just about as straight up as you can climb. Oh, did I mention that it is also completely dirt?? As I began the climb, I was struggling. I go to stand up to put harder, back wheel spins in the dirt, zero miles per hour, and there I go falling over. I tip to my left and bruised my knee pretty poorly. I am then left to literally walk my bike up a hill for 2 miles with about 800 feet of elevation change.

As I crest over the very last pass I have to climb, I get bombarded with emotion. As I clip in for the last 8 miles, purely downhill, I am completely drained. I start cruising 40 mph downhill and I am realizing that I am almost done. I almost finished. I wanted to quit in the first 3 miles, but I didn’t. I wanted to quit at least 10 times, but I didn’t. I am doing something that I doubted I could. BUT I still have to make it down without crashing, getting a flat, getting hit by a car, etc, etc. so let’s keep it together!

As I roll down the main hill right into the heart of Golden, The finish line presents itself. It’s right there!!! I did it!!!

Now I shall die ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚

I completed the challenge and have an awesome Medal to show for it!

There was even a pretty lady at the finish to take my picture!

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Now, a few points to reflect on.

I did all of this on about 4 hours of sleep. My work schedule was changed so I was unable to get nearly as much rest as I would have liked.

This drive of an hour to the location caused me to have a different nutritional starting point for the race.

My race number…256…
I was watching the new episode of Ballers following the race, anbd this cart had the same number! I am big into universal signs and number pattern occurances throughout my life. If you want to know what the meaning behind this number, please feel free to click this link: http://sacredscribesangelnumbers.blogspot.com/2011/08/angel-number-256.html

All in all I am very proud of this accomplishment. The physical and mental strain placed on me rivaled the highest amounts of my life. My brain stopped working for about a day, I would lose my train of thought, and felt kinda out of it. A day or 2 of complete relaxation and re-hydration and I am feeling back to myself again!

Thank you to all those that support myself and cycling in general. The fanfare present on the streets was awe-inspiring. The outpouring of support from everyone that surrounds me has been nothing short of magic. I have 15 miles to ride in the next 3 days to complete my third consecutive 500 mile month!!

Cheers to setting goals, crushing them, re-evaluating, and setting new goals!!!

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