The longest ride I have ridden on the Musashi before this event was around 50 miles so I was a little apprehensive on how comfortable it would be on a double century. Turns out that I need not have worried and the Moose was actually more comfortable than the Bacchetta but was it as fast?????
[Me on the Musashi Friday Night spin]
Race day loomed and the weather was quite cool but the wind wasn’t too bad. My plan was the same as in 2010, try to keep up with the 6:10 scratch group until the 2nd checkpoint at Ashford Mills [Mile 45.5] then ride on my own pace up the big climbs of Jubilee Pass and Strawberry Pass.
Furnace Creek to Ashford Mills (45.4 miles):
A group of about 15 riders went pretty hard right from the very start and I had to put in a hard chase to get on the back of them. It was very difficult to draft as people near the back were moving around a lot so I ended up sitting about 10 feet from the back. I was pretty shocked at how hard they were hammering in a single paceline. On the little climbs I pushed hard to get right up to the group but it was difficult to hang on. What was even more shocking was how fast the leaders (especially those with an aero setup) were going on the flats and this wasn’t far short of road race pace. From my vantage point just off the back of the group I began to identify who the heavy hitters were and slowly but surely we shed riders until it was a core group of about 10. There was one guy in a yellow rain vest that seemed to be very uncomfortable and I was convinced he was going to be the next to get dropped but when he went to the front I barely held on. I felt kind of bad not being able to join in on the paceline but i was not having an easy time and I would have just got in the way.
Around mile 40 the climbing started in earnest and the group started to break apart. Two dropped off pretty early and myself and a big guy on Guru TT bike dropped off next. I blew through the Ashford Mills (mile 45.4) rest stop and found myself in fith place at the start of Jubilee Pass. The Musashi isnt a particular fast climbing machine but it is a very stable climbing platform so I just concentrated on keeping the pedals spinning. The four riders in front pulled away and I was caught and passed by two others but I just kept on plugging away at my own pace. I ate a Bonk Bar at this point which was just enough food and easy to digest whilst climbing..
The climb up Jubilee Pass was longer than I remembered and it took me 31m11s (28m37s Bacchetta 2010) to reach the summit where I was greeted by some friendly words from the organizer. After a short fast descent, the 8.6 mile climb of Salsberry Pass began in earnest. This climb was nearly an hour of battling as I was determined not to let the guy behind catch me by the summit. My time up was 58m44s (57m15s Bacchetta 2010) which was quick enough to keep me ahead of my pursuer and in clean fresh air for the long drop down to Shoshone. The descent was characterized by an absolutely stonking headwind and at times you had to pedal hard just to keep moving. By the time I hit the rest stop at mile 74,3 I was ready to refill my bottles with Perpeteum, grab half a banana and take a quick call of nature. I took a little longer at this rest stop than I wanted too and lost a position or too but I felt calm and refreshed.
Shoshoane To Ashford Mills (74.3 to 103.2):
The climb back up the Salsberry Pass was definitely helped by a strong tailwind and I had a strong pace going but didn’t manage to catch anyone in front of me. I felt strong up until the last mile where the climb really started to drag. Like just about every climb on this double, the steepest bit was always near the top and I was pretty tired by the time I hit the summit. My time up was much quicker than 2010 at 56m24s compared to 1h06m. There was definitely a headwind on the descent and I used gravity to allow my legs to recover which didnt work at all. When I started pedalling to get up the short steep climb of Jubilee Pass my legs felt absolutely terrible. This was the only time during the ride I had to resort to bottom gear and I was thankful it wasnt a long climb at 6m36s (exactly same time as Bacchetta in 2010). The descent of Jubilee Pass is usually a miserable affair as it is bumpy and has strange grooves and dips to make it hard to hold your line. I felt that the small front wheel of the Musashi excaberated this effect and I had to scrub off speed several times after hitting particularly big bumps. The other thing that makes this descent less fast than it should be is the century riders whom you had to take a lot of care overtaking as sometimes the speed differential was huge. I was very careful passing people on the narrow road as I didnt want to spoil either of our days but due to the noise of the wind I think I suprised a few people (sorry). The road gets progressively rougher as you approach Ashford Mills and I was actually impressed how well the moose rode the bumps. On my Silky smooth titanium Lemond a few years back this section felt like hell on earth but on the moose it was simply annoying.
Ashford Mills to Badwater (103.2 to 130.9):
I blew through the restop at Asford Mills with my intention to refuel at Badwater (mile 131). The rough roads eventually began to get smoother about 5 miles outside of Ashford Mills but It felt to me like we had a headwind and the course was continually undulating which made it hard to keep a rhythm. I think I passed some riders in my event at the rest stop but they went past me again out on the road. I suppose a recumbent should have been able to keep up but these guys were really flying on their aero bikes. The miles were going past incredibly slowly with only the century rider carrots to keep my mind focused when I was passed by a very fast chaingang of about 6 riders with my old friend the Guru triathlete hanging off the back. I decided I needed to join this group so I jumped on the back of the Guru guy. These guys were working really well together with a pace line varying between 23 to 28 MPH but the tri guy hung about 10 feet off the back and was drifting backwards and forwards as we hit the undulations. He was basically just making sure he didn’t interfere with the rotating paceline. This section was really hard but I knew if I could keep up it would speed my time to Badwater. I hung on till about 500 yards before the rest stop where I soft pedallled to let my legs recover. I filled up both bottles with Strawberry Heed and then grabbed two half bananas to eat on the wheel and was off on my merry way again.
Badwater to Furnace Creek (AKA Hell On Earth) (130.9 to 148.6):
The section from Badwater to Furnace creek is continually undulating with hills that force much gear changing and it always feels like a headwind. For some reason this section always feels really hot too. It is funny how on the way out you never notice how hilly it is but on the return journey those molehills become mountains. I caught many century riders on this section and played cat and mouse with a rider from the double event. The orange shirted rider would nearly catch me on every uphill then I would blast way from him on the downside. This went on for miles until with about mile 145 where the uphills began to be more dominant and he caught and passed me. There was nothing I could do about this as this section always really takes the stuffing out of me. It was a huge relief when I crested the last rise at mile 147.6 and descended down to the penultimate rest stop.
Furnace Creek to Stovepipe Wells (148.6 to 171.5):
I didnt stop at the Furnace Creek rest stop and decided to risk pushing on with the water I had (not a good decision). I seemed to be on a downward spiral from the previous leg and the continuous ups and downs started to take their toll. I was repassed by the guy in the Orange Jersey (he must have stopped at Furnace Creek) and he rode away from me. I could also see the Guru tri guy who didn’t stop at Badwater in the distance but he was pulling away too. When we hit the BIG Salt Creek Climb at mile 160 (well it felt big). The climb isnt really much to speak off with fresh legs but when you are tired and on a recumbent it can hurt. It is a bizzarre climb really as on the way up you encounter altitude posts that show you are now -100 feet above sea level then at sea level itself before summiting at perhaps 80 feet above. My knees started to hurt and I got really bad hot foot in my right foot that was extrememly uncomfortable. My time up the climb was well down on my 2010 time on the Bacchetta by over 2 minutes. I geared down and scruched up my toes and managed to push over the top to a welcome section down to the Devils Cornfield. By this time I had run out of water and I allowed myself the luxury of coasting down this hill and this helped my hot foot a lot. When I started pedalling again my legs felt terrible but I just soft pedalled all the way to the final rest stop and mamaged to recover my composure.
Stovepipe Wells to Furnace Creek (171.5 to 196.4):
I pulled into the final reststop at Stove Pipe Wells and was feeling tired and very thirsty. I downed a bottle of ICE cold water along with some “Endurolytes” and filled up two bottles for the return leg. I couldnt really face any food at this point. The nice lady volunteer informed me I was in the top 10 which verified my own reckoning from riders I saw on the return leg. I was determined to hold onto that top 10 place and Just as I was about to leave a pair of riders pulled into the reststop. I knew I was pretty tired and that two riders were stronger than one but I was determined to hold them off. I figured that in order to achieve my goal I had to average about 16.5MPH on the last leg.
On the way back to furnace creek I concentrated on keeping the gears spinning and trying to be as smooth as possible. Although I thought I had a headwind out to Stovepipe Wells it seemed that I had a stronger headwind back. I tried not to blow up on the climbs and gain as much time as possible on the down hills but I was starting to fatigue quite a lot. The light was also beginning to fade and I was kept amused by the stream of bright lights going in the opposite direction. The great thing about doubles is the sense of camaraderie against a common foe. Just about everyone going in the opposite direction exchanged a cheery wave.
Every now and then I thought I could catch a glimpse of some riders behind me and this forced me to keep pushing. I could not believe how slowly the miles were passing and it seemed I would be caught and not make my 12 hour goal into the bargain. The last mile or so to the finish is up hill and my thigh muscles really started to ache and my knees started playing up but I kept the pressure on as my goal was in sight. I hit the finish in 11h48m which was comfortably inside my target of 12 hours but nearly half an hour slower than my best time on the Bacchetta. When I checked in, the organizer said that I was 12th which suprised me as I never got passed on the return leg but I was still a happy to be finished in under 12 hours. My actual average speed for the return leg was 16.4MPH (Seven Minutes slower than on my Bacchetta in 2010)
I think the Musashi turned out to be a great platform for a double century. I still stand by my opinion that it is slower all round than the Bacchetta although it is a more relaxing and comfortable ride. Some of the blame has to be the extra weight and less efficient drive train but really I suspect it is the smaller front wheel on bumpy roads that kills the speed. The moose’s next challenge is the ultra tough Devil Mountain Double Century where time will be utterly irrelevant and all that matters will be finishing.
[Moose In the Devils cornfield]