Tuesday, October 23, 2012

JDRF Death Valley Ride Report

92 miles into the Death Valley Ride to cure Juvenile Diabetes, we came to the top of the last hill.  We had just climbed out of the lowest place on the face of the earth.  The only thing left was a short roll down to home base.  Gravity would do the last of the days work.  8 hours and some change later, we were finished.

The ride was an out and back, with several aid stations paced out every 12-18 miles.  The whole ride could be 105 at max and as short as 20 miles.  Riders had the option to turn around at any point, so essentially choosing your own ride distance.  We were warned, where ever you decide to turn around, view it as 1/3 done, not as half.  The ride back would have the full heat and way more uphill.

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 wussed out made the smarter decision and  started the ride back.   It was indeed a smart decision, as hard as the ride back was, it was still enjoyable.  I had done a century ride before where the last two hours I was in such utter misery, I was hating life.

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.

1 comment:

Ben Towne said...

Great stuff man...congrats on the accomplishment!