Leading up to the ride, we had the chance to meet some pretty awesome people. One lady had never ridden a bike before she bought one in March to start training for this ride. I saw her finish the whole ride. There were many diabetics riding and monitoring their insulin at each aid station. There were old people, over weight people, young and old, super fit and the not so.
About 10 miles into the days adventure, you truly start to feel the desolation that is Death Valley. While beautiful, it is other worldly, how you may picture Mars. Growing up a Star Wars nerd, if you remember the scenes with Luke Skywalker on planet Tatooine, Death Valley is where they filmed it. It wasn't hard to picture a Tusken Raider hiding out in the hills.
4 hours into the ride, the heat was really starting to pick up, it would reach 103 that day. Two years ago over 100/320 riders were sag wagoned home, unable to make it back. Last year, they didn't allow the full ride to happen as it was a record high. My only real goal as I started the day was to ride back in and not get sag wagoned. Old athletic pride still runs deep.
One of the last big hills we churned up before we turned around, I started to get the inkling that my quads were on the verge of cramping. This has essentially been a pretty big theme in my endeavors. Anything that lasts longer then 2 hours, good chance I'm cramping, first my quads then my calves or vice versa.
But, they never did. Low and behold, I may have found a solution. I've written on cramping before, how there are several theories, but science still doesn't really know why. Two days before the race we had the opportunity to meet and hear a doctor that specialized in diabetes research and endurance activities in general. He couldn't stress enough that you had to get 1000-2000mg of sodium per hour. Research from the last 6-9 months. Dude, that is a lot of salt.
I sweat a lot. Looking back at many of the activities I've done, I can bet I was only getting close to 400mg at the most. A typical energy gel may have 200 if it's 4x sodium. I pounded salt tablets, beef jerky, pretzels, Cheetos and water. It was surprising how difficult it was to get that much sodium hour after hour. But, it worked for this race.
We agreed to turn around at mile 46. There was a 5 mile climb left up Jupiter's pass to do the whole 105, but knowing the ride back was 2x as hard, I
The ride support for Death Valley was amazing, so many volunteers. Lodging was great, food was great, people were awesome. If you ever get the chance to be apart of their rides, I highly encourage it. All in all, over 1.2 million dollars were raised with this race alone. It was a bucket list kind of ride and day. Death Valley didn't disappoint.