Sunday, April 11, 2010

of fixies and the future

Finishing the 508 was an overwhelming experience – and I consider it the biggest accomplishment of my cycling “career” to date. But the completion of this major milestone left me in need of a new goal – I know that just finishing the 508 again will never be as meaningful as that first time. And so it is with cycling – ultra cycling in particular - as a sport of progression, it is an endless search for that elusive sense of accomplishment that comes with proving to yourself that you can do what once seemed impossible. Every time you expand your known abilities, you have to make it that much harder on yourself the next time. I’ve followed this journey from the first time I rode home from college on my cheap mountain bike (Santa Cruz to Fremont), through centuries, double centuries, USCF and collegiate racing, 24 hour TTs, then the 508. So what’s next?

I left myself plenty of room for improvement in the 508. Although I finished, I had serious issues, mostly stemming from the high heart rate issue that I first identified last year in some doubles. On some rides, particularly when I’m trying to taper, and am in a well-rested state, I will find myself with a much higher heart rate for a given power than I would normally have – and this eventually leads to serious stomach issues, which are disastrous for long endurance events. I have made some strides in the past six months in identifying and working on this issue – and have found it primarily seems to be due to nutrition and electrolyte levels in the weeks prior.

To move on with my ultracycling, I will certainly have to figure out this issue. I once took it for granted that I would be completely wrecked at the end of a double. I now realize that I shouldn’t be. That if everything is right, I will slow, and my power output will decrease, but I will not end nauseated, cramping, and limping it in. I’ve found that correct and consistent use of Hammer fuels (Perpetuem, Heed and Hammer Gel) and electrolyte replacements (Endurolytes) to be crucial components in proper fueling – but if my body is overloaded to the point where my stomach is not processing, things will turn south no matter the quality of my fuel.

My main concern now is understanding, and optimizing, my body’s response to extreme endurance events. I think that figuring this out is best done concentrating on my own performance, without concerning myself so much with competition until I feel I have full understanding of my sometimes catastrophic meltdowns. So I’ve come up with a new way to push my own boundaries while still finding out more about my own physiological responses to ultras – all the while giving myself a bit of an excuse to not worry about competing at the very top. I’ll do them fixed gear!

That was a long-winded bit of explanation, but many people would ask – why I would ever want to even attempt ultras on a fixie. Well, simply, it’s a way for me to better explore my own abilities, while still pushing my boundaries. Also, riding the fixed gear is a whole new experience – wonderful in its own way. It is truly a pure experience, where I find that I feel more of a connection with the terrain, and I must work for every mile. Much of the 508, especially the first day, is fast descent or tailwind propelled flats – even in the weakened state I was in for the first day of the 2009 508, I averaged over 23 mph for 150 miles. Without aero equipment, or the ability to go much over 30 mph, there would be no such “free ride.”

My first event of the year would be the Death Valley Double, which I would do on the fixie. So how did it go? Report to come!

1 comment:

  1. Adam, I was stoked to see you update your blog. I check back from time to time, and it finally paid off! I crewed for Water Dragon at the 508 last year, we met at the post race breakfast (I was too sleepy wasted to see you at the finish). Anyway, I am stoked to see you will be riding a fixed gear at the 508 this year. I will be sure to check back and keep up to date on your fixie adventuring. I am also going to link your blog on my blogroll
    Ride strong! -Marcus