Furnace Creek 508 Fixed Gear Solo Race Report Part 4

Elevation chart for the entire race the section you are about to read is from Mile 253 to Mile 325

Stage Four: Furnace Creek to Shoshone, 73.6 miles. Elevation Gain: 6744′.

Arrive Shoshone Sunday 10:30 am, 29 hours 30 mins Avg. Speed 11.07 mph

Part 4 of 7

From the 508 website

South through Death Valley, the alluvial fans are invisible in the dark, but you climb and descend several thousand feet through Badwater (El -282’) to the base of the exit passes (Mountain Section Six). The first climb starts at mile 300 and climbs about 1000 feet in five miles to Jubilee (El 1285’). A one-mile descent leads to the next climb, about 2300 feet in 9.5 miles to Salsberry (El 3315’). Each climb has sustained sections of 5-5% grade and usually poor road surface; in fact, all of the road is terrible after you pass Badwater.

I felt great as we left Furnace Creek and headed towards Badwater. But my drivers were getting tired and the sleep deprivation was getting to them. By the time we got to Badwater we had been on the race course just shy of 23 hours. I wanted to ride through Death Valley and stop for the night at Ashford Mills. I wanted to feel like I had gotten further on the race course riding Fixed Gear than the year before riding multi-speed.

As we left Furnace Creek I had this feeling that I could actually ride through the night without stopping. I had secretly wanted to beat my time from last year multi-speed and even though I wasn’t moving very fast on my Fixed Gear I wasn’t too far behind my 2006 multi-speed time. If I could just keep the wheels rolling I might makeup some time over last year.

You may recall, in 2006 I had had nutrition problems which caused me to be nauseous and off the bike puking most of the first day. So here we were with a slight tailwind moving through Death Valley and I was feeling great. But by now the crew was tired and once again I knew I had to take care of my crew.

Stretching my back after an hour stop…

We stopped at Badwater so that they could catch a catnap. After talking to my crew chief, we decided it would be a good idea for me to take some time off the bike even if I couldn’t sleep. Up until this point in my Ultra career, albeit short by most standards, I am not able to take 10 min. power naps and get back on the road. If I am to be a better Ultra racer then I need to learn to take power naps. In this case, we stopped for an hour. I laid down on a sleeping mat (crew chief read my 2006 race report) with an open sleeping bag and as usual couldn’t sleep but I heard my crew snoring.

After an hour, we roused up and got back on the road. It was good to be off the bike for a little bit. ONE OF THE THINGS ABOUT RIDING FIXED IS SINCE YOU CAN’T COAST IT IS DIFFICULT AT BEST TO GIVE YOUR BUTT A REST OFF THE SADDLE BECAUSE YOU ARE ALWAYS PEDALLING.

long gentle rollers in Death Valley….

The slight undulations of the desert floor are perfect for Fixed Gear riding. The inclines allow you to motor up and the gentle downhill grades don’t require you to spin out as you descend. Things were going well and my legs felt fine and the rest did me good.

At the base of the two climbs on the south end of Death Valley I decided it was time to switch to my full zip jersey so that I could get some extra “cooling”. It was now 9am and it was starting to heat up on the desert floor. A quick change to my Velosport jersey and up Jubilee Pass I went.

I struggled on Jubilee and then again on Salsberry which eventually tops out at 3315 Elevation. By the way, you need to add another 200 or so feet of elevation gain just to get back up to Sea Level. Jubilee is five miles and Salsberry is 9.5 miles. The headwinds were really strong while climbing and just as strong on the descent to Shoshone. I pulled over twice I believe and had to do some “soul searching”. My legs were just giving out. I wasn’t tired. I just couldn’t “squat” anymore. So I pulled over and after about a minute I could take off and start climbing again.

Notice the downhill truck warning– 8 miles….

It was along this section that I met “Yodeling Plankton”. He was impressed by me being on a Fixed Gear and I was impressed that with the heat he could climb in leg warmers and a camelback. We traded the lead several times and we just looked at each other. I had my headphones on and was just trying to get up the pass. I’m not much for conversation when I ride and especially when I climb.

Can you believe I actually had to stop on the downhill from Salsberry Pass? Well I did I just didn’t have the legs to push into the headwind and down a hill. Pitiful isn’t it? Of course by now I am 325 miles and 29 hours or so into the race.

Arriving at Shoshone I had completed 326.7 miles with 24,670 feet of gain

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s