The climbs are:
UP Glendora Mountain Road
UP Glendora Ridge Road
UP Mt Baldy Ski Lifts
DOWN Mt Baldy Road
UP Mt Baldy Road from Mills Rd
DOWN Glendora Ridge Road
UP Glendora Mountain Rd
DOWN Little Glendora Mountain Rd
UP Little Glendora Mountain Rd
DOWN East Fork
DOWN HWY 39
THE ORIGINAL TOUR DE BALDY
WEATHER ON AUGUST 2 HEAT AND LOW HUMIDITY
I owe a huge thanks to my nutrition sponsors who help ME train and compete at my highest level. SPORTQUEST products such as CarboPro and CarboPro 1200 are my primary fuels. They are easy on the stomach and provide sustained energy. I also use MOTORTABS in conjunction with CarboPro to add vitally important electrolytes Sodium and Potassium (250mg and 75mg per tablet respectively) and a little flavor. I ENCOURAGE TO TRY THESE PRODUCTS and send me your feedback. Ok happy reading….
As part of my Everest Challenge and Furnace Creek 508 preparation I needed some mountain and heat training so we drove out to Glendora to play around on Glendora Mountain Rd and Mount Baldy. It was a great day of climbing with 14,000 feet in less than 100 miles (111 miles total). Problem with climbing out there is the lack of services. I overheated pretty badly and actually had to sit out for about 20 mins under a shade tree at mile 104. The heat and dehydration was cumulative and caught up with me throughout the day. By 2pm it was in the high 90’s which feels even hotter when exerting on a climb. I will attempt to recreate the ride and count the bottles I had. This exercise is more for my edification on where I went wrong. But I am sure you will glean something for yourself.
Saturday morning Brandy woke me up with breakfast (fluffy eggs, english muffin with peanut butter and jam and a cup of coffee) in bed at 3:46 a.m. Although it sounds like an unthinkable hour to wake up, Brandy and I both agreed that it didn’t seem that early since the alarm often goes off at 4:00 a.m. around here. We drove out to GMR and arrived a little after 5:30 a.m. It was still dark so we didn’t rush to get started. I made sure that she knew what her training goals were for the day, since we didn’t have any plans to stick together and would just see each other in passing. As we discussed our concerns about fueling and hydrating up on the mountain during the day, we both made sure to hydrate pre-ride. We ended up rolling out just before 6am. The weather was nice, but you could tell it was going to be hot one. Prior to rolling, I drank a bottle of water (BOTTLE #1) with 2 MOTORTABS I wanted to get some electrolytes (2 tablets of Motortabs contains 500mg of Sodium, 150mg of Potassium) and I just get bored of drinking straight water.
I begin the Glendora Mountain Road (GMR) climb (8.1 Miles 5.3% grade 2100 feet of gain) with TWO bottles of CarboPro 1200 mix of 300 calories each. I have a great climb enjoying the total solitude that comes from 6am starts in the mountains. I had ONE, yes only ONE, motorcycle pass me in the first hour and half. I climbed GMR in under 50 mins and felt great. I had one bottle on the GMR climb (BOTTLE #2).
Graph of Glendora Mountain Rd. to the Ski Lifts on Mount Baldy
I then climbed Glendora Ridge Road (GRR) to Baldy Village (about 1800 feet of gain in 12 miles). Not one of my favorite climbs but it is a necessary evil to get to Baldy Village. I only saw one car on this stretch of road. I finished my third bottle (BOTTLE #3)and refilled two bottles (one with CarboPro 1200 and the other with 2 MOTORTABS, at the Baldy Village Post Office water fountain (the Baldy Village Restaurant doesn’t open until 11:00 a.m.) for the climb up to the lifts.
The climb to the ski lifts is a toughie. The climb from Glendora Ridge Road to the lifts is about 4.6 miles at 8.6% with 2110 feet of gain. I hadn’t been up to the lifts in 18 months and I thought, how bad can it be? Well, after having climbed for roughly 20 miles (there are some dips in GRR) the last 4 miles are a real bear up to the lifts. I was wondering why I didn’t have a compact cranskset on the bike. Well I got ‘er done. One more bottle (BOTTLE #4).
The top portion of the mountain is hard to descend fast. Cars overshoot the corners and are consistently over the centerline. There were also many rocks on the road. I stopped at the post office (Baldy Village Restaurant still closed) and refilled my bottle and then descended the 45+ mph screaming downhill to the bottom of Mt Baldy Rd and Mills Rd for the climb up Baldy Rd.
At the Mills Rd parking lot I was looking for a water fountain. I asked some mountain bikers where it was and one of them offered me some water. Chris the generous mtb’er even cut out the top of the water bottle so I could get the chunk of ice that was in the bottle. That was awesome of him.
I began my climb up Baldy Rd. It was getting hot. I tried to drink as often as possible and was feeling pretty good. The Baldy Rd climb is exposed and there is no relief from the sun beating on you. I drank another bottle (BOTTLE #5).
I got to the post office (yes, the restaurant was STILL closed) and refilled my 1 bottle and added 2 MOTORTABS and began the “descent” on GRR. It rolls in the general down direction. The descent from the post office to the car is a little over 20 miles.I finished one bottle (BOTTLE #6) as I made the junction to GMR. I knew I had to catch up on fluids and finished my second bottle (BOTTLE #7) before reaching the car. .
About three miles from the base of GMR, I ran into Brandy, who was climbing alongside John Beam (Triple Crown Hall of Famer with 54 double centuries) who she had befriended while riding. She turned around and descended with me. At the car I had my first solid food, a PB &J sandwich and some more water. While eating at the base of GMR I saw quite a few people I knew and it was nice to visit with old friends–total random sightings.
I saw Keith Brodsky looking fully recovered from his broken collarbone that he suffered while we were doing the Butterfield Double Century. We also saw three more California Triple Crown Hall of Famers. Dave Evans (Mr. 114 Double Centuries), Lynn Katano (Ms. 90 Double Centuries) and Anny Beck (Ms. 51 Double Centuries.) Anny is also a ride promoter and has added a brand new double century to the California Triple Crown schedule this year by offering the Borrego Double Ordeal. I’m hoping she takes a bigger role in organizing double centuries in the southern California area. With her 28 years of ultracycling experience, I am sure she will put a lot of thought into great routes and providing outstanding support. Hopefully, they will provide us, Ultra cyclists, with another viable option to the poorly run, poorly supported and unfriendly directed Planet Ultra events.
With two fresh bottles (one with MOTORTABS and the other CarboPro) I begin the “last” climb of the day. One more time up GMR. I already had over 9600 feet of gain it is only 67 miles into the ride. It was close to 12pm and it was really heating up. I drank one bottle (BOTTLE #8) on the climb and was feeling the effects of the heat.
I got to the top of GMR and headed down Little GMR to Camp Williams Cafe. Now I was hot and starting to overheat. I dunked my head in the spigot and tried to cool down.
I refilled my bottle and thought, well I’m already here, I might as well get one more climb in. So I headed back up Little GMR (5 mile 1300 feet of gain). Those extra 5 miles in 95F heat after 8 hours in the saddle did me in. That extra climb just wasn’t in the plan, but since I had access to water and more MOTORTABS, I didn’t think much of adding the extra climb in. I knew I was in need of electrolytes so that I wouldn’t cramp in the heat. Motortabs makes it very convenient to carry along on a ride. I was sluggish while climbing Little GMR and finished the bottle (BOTTLE #9), and descended.
Once I got back to Camp Williams, I knew I was in trouble. I hadn’t exerted this long in the heat for a long time. I had gotten spoiled leaving by the coast in Huntington Beach. I dunked my head in the water and started down the road, hoping to get off of the mountain and out of the canyons. I was also starting to bonk, yes in total calorie deficit. According to my Power Tap I was currently at 4000+ kjs and had consumed nowhere near that amount in calories. Not that it’s recommended since you can only digest about 250 calories per hour.
Now the descent from Camp Williams back to Encanto Park is not all descent. It’s funny how when you do this in reverse, you can’t recall any of the descending on the way out, only the climbing. Once on Highway 39, I felt like I was getting that much closer to the San Gabriel River Trail, but the foot pain that I was experiencing earlier in the day was now unbearable. I took my feet out of my shoes and started riding on the tops of the shoes until I hit yet another roller. I just couldn’t produce enough power with my feet out of the shoes and on top of the buckles, so I sought out the nearest shade tree.
I dismounted and sat there for about twenty minutes. When I first got off the bike, I was nauseous and my lungs hurt from all of the heavy breathing of the day. I could only take short breaths. I had two full bottles but I just didn’t feel like drinking anything sweet anymore. I sat there and tried to count how many bottles of fluids I had through the day, and wonder how I ended up in this state, knowing that I know better than this. I’ve been down this road before. Where did I screw up? After some reflection, I realized it was the heat of the day, scarcity of services and that extra 5 mile, 1300ft climb that wasn’t in the plan, that did me in.
I remounted after twenty minutes, and clipped into my shoes. Funny how I was only another two-three miles from the San Gabriel River Trail. I thought psychologically, once I hit the SGRT, that I would feel better, but I didn’t. I was still overheated and dehydrated and now I was headed for the dreaded bonk. I was actually feeling hungry, which is a good sign…better than feeling nauseous. At that time I knew that I really needed to get some food in me. I exited the SGRT and got on Route 66 in Duarte, pulling over at the first taco stand that I could find. Even in my calorie deprived state and serious deficit, I can attest to the fact that it was one of worst carne asada burritos I’ve ever had. Their idea of meat resembled bacon bits and it made for a poor tasting meal. I gladly ate it though, knowing I needed the carbs from tortilla, rice and beans, along with five 20oz glasses of water.
That was the end of the ride. I called in the cavalry and my lovely girlfriend, Brandy drove out to pick me up. I knew I was still in bad shape because once you’re in the car with the air conditioning and heading home, you usually start feeling better. But even after an hour off the bike, in a climate control environment –I still felt horrible.
LESSON LEARNED #1
Don’t trust anyone else’s weather forecast. We had heard that it was going to be in the 90’s at the base of the mountain but in the 70’s on the climbs. Because of that, I didn’t take a third bottle and was taking care to conserve my fluids on each climb.
LESSON LEARNED #2
Take on more fuel and force myself to take on more gels earlier in the day when it is still cool. As it heats up, the sweet gels become less palatable and I, despite knowing better, am less likely to fuel with them.
LESSON LEARNED #3
As a coach, I should know better. Stick to the plan. The plan was to do X number of climbs with X number of feet of gain and nothing more as I increased elevation gain and heat exposure on a weekly and incremental basis in preparation for Everest Challenge and Furnace Creek 508.