T minus 2 days until the Furnace Creek 508


It’s getting closer and closer. Now let’s continue with my mini-series of posts associated with the mistakes I’ve made in preparing and racing the Furnace Creek 508.
San Diego 200km Brevet

Let’s talk about 2007.  During the off-season of 2006-2007 I had this crazy idea of doing something epic on a fixed gear.  My long range goal was to do the Furnace Creek 508 fixed gear.  So I built my second fixed gear bike and started experimenting with longer distances.  I started with brevets (unsupported events) and then progressed onto supported Double Centuries.  My form was progressing nicely in March and then I was thrown a curve ball. 

I was invited to join a 4-person team for Race Across America which left in June.  I had always dreamed of doing RAAM — but as a solo racer.  I knew I didn’t have the time to train properly with family and work commitments so this seemed like a good alternative and great opportunity to experience some of the difficulty of RAAM.  Well the 4 person turned to 2 person and that was even more exciting to me.  I had to change my training completely from long endurance rides to short 2-3 hour medium to high intensity rides because of the demands RAAM relay.    Well after sorting out my training and completing RAAM 2 person in 9 days 18 hours and 55 mins.  A footnote- by partner DNF’d and the last day and half I rode Solo to the finish. It was interesting to do that after 7 days of suffering as a relay team. It actually felt better to just ride until I wanted to stop and rest. With RAAM done now it was time to refocus on my real goal for the year– the Furnace Creek 508 Fixed Gear Solo.
I did a few more climbing doubles multi-speed but would do all my training on my Fixed Gear.  On Wednesdays I would commute from my home in Huntington Beach 74 miles to reach my client’s house in Rancho Santa Fe by 615am.  That meant I would leave HB at 2am.  I would train with him for an 1.5 hours and then be at work by 8ish am.  I would sometimes hook up with our shop ride as it was ending and hold my own in the sprint.  I would report to work with a fixed gear century (100 miles) already done and it was only 8am.  Then I would ride home after work for another 65 miles.  I would only do that on Wednesdays but the other two days I would commute in and get 130 a day. 
Everything was going well until 6 weeks from the event.  I caught a cold that lingered and lingered and lingered.  I couldn’t kick it and I was sick on the final 6 weeks leading up to the event.  You could say I had fresh legs but I know I lost fitness.  In the end it didn’t matter because my goal was to finish.  My goal was to challenge myself and find new limits of my physical and mental toughness.  In the process of finding those limits I became one of seven riders in 34 runnings of the race to ever complete the Furnace Creek 508 on a Fixed Gear (49 x 17). 

So the lesson learned was too much training with too much sleep deprivation.  Another lesson learned  was DO NOT MESS WITH YOUR SADDLE HEIGHT!  I raised my saddle about a 1cm a week before the event.  I had to move the saddle forward so I also raised it and the combination of those two things wreaked havoc on my left knee in the event.  I think I also choose the wrong gear.  I was gearing for the flats and the downhills (35,000 feet of climbing means a lot of descending lol!) but some of the climbs Towne Pass in particular really hurt.  Towne Pass, which comes at mile 199 and after 11k of climbing, is a 13 mile climb with a 6 mile section that averages 9% ouch!  My nutrition was good this time and the only sleep problems we had was the crew couldn’t stay awake through Death Valley so we had to stop in Badwater much to my chagrin. It took me 45:12:45 to finish “the toughest 48 hours in sport”. 

San Diego 200km
Fixed Gear 121 miles and 6600 feet of gain

Butterfield Double Century
Fixed Gear 204.5 Miles and 8300 feet of climbing

Solvang Double Century
Fixed Gear 194 miles and 7200 feet of climbing

Mullholland Double Century
203.7 miles with 17,000 of climbing

Breathless Agony
5:40 72 miles 11,000 feet of climbing

Heartbreak Double Century
Heartbreak Double Century 202 Miles and 17,000 feet

Race Across America
2-Person

Furnace Creek 508
Fixed Gear

T minus 10 days Furnace Creek 508


The Furnace Creek 508 is 10 days away.  I have an unusual calm as the days tick away.  I am usually a lot more stressed out about my gear or nutrition.  But this year being the fourth year racing the “toughest 48 hours in sport” I feel ready and healthy. Over the next few posts I will recap my experiences from my previous three races.  For new readers it will give you a chance to see that I’ve probably made every mistake in the book 😉

In 2006,  I had incredible form.  I had had a good full season of Ultras.  I had done fast doubles, climbing doubles and climbing centuries and unsupported brevets.  I even had a great month of August training in the mountains with 1650 miles and 124,000 feet of climbing.

January San Diego 200km Brevet 125 miles 6,500 feet

 February I was hit by a car.


February Palm Springs Century weekend   340 miles 20,000 feet

March San Diego 300km Brevet 186 miles 11,400 feet

Hemet Double Century  202 miles 6,000 feet

Mullholand Double Century   202 Miles with 16,500 feet

Breathless Agony  11,000 feet in under 75 miles

Heartbreak Double Century 200 miles 16,500 feet

Death Ride 129 miles 15,000 feet

Everest Challenge 29,000 feet in 2 days

Furnace Creek 2006

Death Valley Northern Route 196 Miles 10,500 feet of climbing

So where did I go wrong?

My breakfast was a bit too heavy (Moons over my Hammy with a stack of pancakes) too close to the start of the event.  Then too many calories over the first five (5) hours.  I was putting in over 350 calories an hour and I hadn’t trained with that much intake.  As many of you know, when you are out training alone you conserve your calories because you either don’t want to stop or the services are few and far in between.  I fall victim to both scenarios because my training routes are very remote.  Well this totally locked up my stomach and my intensity had to drop significantly.  I puked many times on the side of the road until finally my stomach was back in good shape but I was very fatigued.

Are you asking yourself why was I taking in so many calories? Because I was intimidated by the event.  The 508 miles the 35,000 feet of climbing.  I thought I would really fuel up this time.  I would really take in the calories to make sure I wouldn’t falter on the course.  But that was a big mistake and I paid for it for miles miles and miles and hours and hours of poor performance.

So in short, I had great fitness but my nutrition made for a horrible first 152 miles.  Sleep deprivation also was a major problem through the first night and I was still in Death Valley (about 300 miles) by daybreak.  I learned a lot from my first Furnace Creek. But as you’ll see I still had a lot more to learn in the next couple of years.

Furnace Creek 508 2009


T- 17 days until Furnace Creek 508 2009. I go into this event burnt-out from a full year of ultra racing. My season began with the San Diego 200km Brevet back in Jan 3rd and will end with FC508 on Oct 3rd, a full 10 months! Follow labels such as Race Reports, races, Brevets, or training, mountains, high intensity to read up all the races and training leading up to the Furnace Creek 508, my goal event of the year.

On my website, http://www.epictrain.com/follow the link “Race Reports”. There you will find 2006, 2007 and 2008 Furnace Creek 508 Race Reports. Or you could “skip the book and see the movie” here in my video gallery.

Subscribe to my blog!!!

Como Street Training Ride




90 miles 3,000 feet of gain. An urban ride and still averaged 20 mph for the day — that’s total time not rolling time. I’m quite proud of that.

First things first– The ride starts at 800 am NOT 830am as I have seen on some websites. I left the house at 7:26 and had to hammer out of the gate to make the meet. I was aching from yesterday’s Food Park ride. So I didn’t get the benefit of an appropriate warm up.

I got to the start at 805am and I could see the the mass of riders overflowing from the bike lane up the road. I had to make the decision then and there will I chase and totally smoke myself even if I get on? Or just let them go and do my own thing. I decided to chase because I could see a rider about a block away and the pack was at least 3 blocks ahead of him. I caught him and asked, “YOU WANNA CATCH COMO?! THEN LET’S WORK TOGETHER!”

We worked well together and we caught the main field. I thanked him for his help and he looked at me and said “there is no way I would have caught them alone no Thank you!” And just like that I had made a friend for the day LOL!

The ride was fast (my perception). I just don’t ride that hard alone. But I need the intensity this month and next. I was hanging tough and then we hit Santiago Canyon. I got dropped. I then got on with some stragglers and rode hard with them to the finish. Someday I’d like to hang in to the finish but it’s probably not likely. I’m going to have to come to terms with that when the time comes that I know I’m as fit as I can be and the pack is still going up the road away from me.

I also want to send a shout out to Jamie Paolinetti. At the end of the Como Street Ride I asked to take a picture for my son. As I mentioned yesterday my son has been watching the Hard Road DVD for about 1 1/2 years. I can’t wait to show him the pictures of both Jason Bausch and Jamie. And then totally unexpected Jamie gave me a copy of PRO isn’t that freakin’ cool? Yes it is. Thanks Jamie!!!

Jamie Paolinetti

Entire workout

Leaving home late and chasing the main field

Como Street Detail

Extra miles after Como Street

SCREEN SHOTS FROM MY POWER TAP POWER METER DOWNLOAD ON TRAINING PEAKS SOFTWARE

Food Park Training Ride


I had a good day on the bike. The last half of August and September is about intensity as I peak for Furnace Creek 508. I did Food Park for the first time. There were a few sketchy riders and they ran a few stops signs in the residential area. In my opinion, the right turns on red were questionable as well. I do have concerns about the overall safety of this ride. I am a huge proponent of safety on the bike. When riding alone I stop at EVERY stop sign and every light. I have an internal conflict with the way groups ride in urban areas. On one hand, I don’t want to be unsafe and on the other I don’t want to get dropped or cause a crash if I’m the only one stopping at a traffic control. I guess that’s why most weekends you can find me riding solo in the mountains.

As an Ultra cyclist I don’t ride in packs. Many of my races break up pretty early and the other races are non-drafting. I felt my pack riding skills were fine. In other words I felt comfortable and not the sketchy rider people had to yell at — “hold your line!”. My sixth sense for the flow of the pack was spot-on. I didn’t miss a thing. I ignored many attacks that I sensed wouldn’t amount to much but wasted energy.

What helped the most was marking Jason Bausch the whole ride. His experience helped me make efforts at the right times and conserve at others. Even when attacks went up the road he was steady. I learned a lot from him today.

JB was gracious enough to take a picture with me. I took the picture for my son. My not quite 5 year old son has been watching the Hard Road DVD for about 1 1/2 years. He loves the soundtrack and always remembers the roll call of the teams– Mercury seems to stick out for some reason.

After my shower and my recovery meal it was time to put on my Skins Travel and Recovery tights. I’m planning on doing Como Street tomorrow. A fast recovery and fresh legs will be necessary to keep up with those boys.

TRAINING PEAKS SCREEN SHOT OF MY POWER TAP DOWNLOAD– 534 WATTS FOR ONE MINUTE

149LBS OR 67.59 kg my

7.90 w/kg for one minute a new PR.

After looking at the graph I am quite sure that my 1 min number would actually be higher than 534 depending on the situation. I remember distinctly what happened. There was an attack which I didn’t follow so I surged but backed off. Then I saw JB go and that was the right time to go. As you can see there was

an initial surge to 672 watts

then a pull back down to 240 watts

then another surge up to 885 watts with 10 sec avg at 743 watts

then the last 30 secs (when I should’ve been fading) I still put out a 553 avg.

ALSO HAD A MAX SPRINT OF 1077 WATTS OR 15.93 w/kg and a 5 sec of 995 watts or 14.72 w/kg good for mid cat four on the Power Profile chart.

A weekend of climbing in the San Gabriel Mountains


I spent Saturday and Sunday climbing in the San Gabriel Mountains. It was great to be out in the mountains again. The climbing was intense. I feel fatigued and sore but “it’s good pain”.

Sunday concluded a five day training block which included commuting with various intervals and back to back climbing “centuries” (Sunday’s was a little shy).

Wed pm 65 miles
Thurs am 30 miles pm 65 miles
Friday am 30 miles recovery
Saturday 100 miles with 11,280 feet of gain
Sunday 85 miles with 10,600 feet of gain

for a total of 375 miles and 26,380 feet of gain.

CLICK HERE FOR A WRITE UP ON THE TWO “CENTURIES”

WHEW! I AM READY FOR A REST DAY.

^^ SATURDAY 100 MILES 11,280 FEET OF GAIN

^^ SATURDAY DETAIL OF FIRST 67 MILES WITH 10,000 FEET OF GAIN

^^ SUNDAY 85 MILES WITH 10,600 FEET OF GAIN