Capacities up to 48TB and speeds up to 1527MB/s

The 2018 Death Ride 5-Pass (129 miles, 15000' of climbing) — a popular shorter/easier version of Alta Alpina

I’ve never done the Death Ride before (129 miles, 15000' of climbing), but this year I am doing it this Saturday July 14. It should be “easy”, since it is 5500 feet less climbing and 71 miles shorter than Alta Alpina 8 Pass Challenge, which I completed two weeks ago. Plus Monitor Pass west and east are the first climbs, in the cool of the morning, a major difference versus doing them late in the day when it can be baking hot.

As far as I know, the Death Ride draws more riders by an order of magnitude than just about any double century (4000 riders, I understand).

Not all riders do the full distance and all 5 passes, but that’s a lot of riders. So many that riders enjoy a rare luxury: the California Highway Patrol closes some of the roads:

From 5:00am – 7:00am, the road will be closed to traffic from the Markleeville Courthouse to the junction of Highways 89 and 4.

Monitor (Hwy 89) & Ebbetts Pass (Hwy 4) will be closed to vehicular traffic starting at 5:00am. Monitor Pass reopens to vehicular traffic at 12:00pm. Ebbetts Pass reopens to vehicular traffic at 3:00pm.

Highway 89 from Woodfords to the Markleeville Courthouse will remain open.

Please adhere to posted speed zones and early morning parking crews.

No cars to worry about, but tired riders on Ebbetts Pass are a much greater risk in my experience—riders who weave across the entire width of the road because of the steepness, a bad mix for those coming down fast—I plan on keeping my downhill speed modest given the huge number of riders as all it takes is one clown to cause severe injury in a crash.

2018 Death Ride patch

Below, Hwy 89 is off to the right and switchbacks and curves its way down the valley just before the hills. Average grade is about 8% and climbs from about 5500 feet to 8314 feet / 2534m altitude at the summit. Ebbetts pass is harder, climbing about 3200 feet to 8730' elevation.

The landscape on the east side of Monitor Pass (Hwy 89)

I’ve been working hard, so I’m sleeping here tonight and mostly resting Friday. A Sprinter van and 4WD do have their benefits—no camping neighbors and a pristine spot in the Toiyabe national forest.

Camping site high in the Toiyabe National Forest near Monitor Pass

Counting Up My Double Centuries and Double Centuries in 2018

I am starting to lose track of how many double centuries I’ve done (well, I have all the training recordings but I keep forgetting exactly.

2011: 1 Everest Challenge (205 miles in 2 days)
2012: 5 = Death Valley Double, Solvang Spring Double, Devil Mountain Double, Alta Alpina, Everest Challenge
2013: 1 = Everest Challenge
2014: 1 = Solvang Spring Double, Everest Challenge (aborted 2nd day, lungs)
2015: 7 = Southern Inyo Double, Joshua Tree Double, Solvang Spring Double, Devil Mountain Double, Central Coast Double, Marin Double, Alta Alpina
2016: 8 = Southern Inyo Double, Joshua Tree Double, Solvang Spring Double, Devil Mountain Double, Central Coast Double, Davis Double, Eastern Sierra Double, Alta Alpina (to mile 165 7 of 8 passes, severe cramping)
2017: 8 = Camino Real Double, Southern Inyo Double, Solvang Spring Double, Devil Mountain Double, Central Coast Double, Davis Double, Eastern Sierra Double
2018: = 7 done, 1 more planned

I’m being slightly liberal here, counting the 2-day Everest Challenge as a double century and also Alta Alpina 2017 where I had issues and completed only 7 of 8 passes last year (severe cramps, sufferfest for passed 5/6/7).

  Total as of July 2018: 38, or 34 if strictly counted as single-day 192+ mile events.
Expected total for 2018: 39 or 35 if strict

Double centuries in 2018

Updated list as of July 2018.

Shedding fat went well early in the year, but post-concussion weight gain and ongoing brain-fade challenges have ruled out a lean 8% body fat as in 2012, which makes me non-competitive for rides with lots of climbin.

I had an ambitious year planned for at least 11 double centuries. The hamstring injury healed up fast, but the concussion interrupted that plan. Still, I should still finish with 8 double centuries for 2018, plus the Death Ride, 7 being now in the bag.

Ride notes:

See also my letter to Chuck Bramwell on solo vs de facto teams that game the placement system.

Continues below...

Double Century schedule for 2018

Getting it done

What follows below was written early in the year, and is here verbatim from then.

...

The cycling double century schedule shown below should be a lot easier with the comfort of the Mercedes Sprinter adventure van, not to mention being able to work efficiently before and after with no rush to get home.

My goal this year is to place well in the 2018 California Triple Crown which this year consists of:

These are perhaps 3 of the top 4 hardest double centuries in the state in my view, having done all the hard ones. I rate Alta Alpina 8 Pass Challenge as the hardest due to high elevation and sometimes very high temperatures.

By “placing well” I refer mostly to personal best efforts with no glitches; something close to what I can do on my very best days. I don’t hope to win, only to finish well for my own ability. I do hope to win at least one of the other double centuries this year (I’ve one the Central Coast Double once, and the Eastern Sierra Double once, so that is not unrealistic if training goes well).

This year, the series has all three events within 90 minutes driving of my home, so I have no excuse for not doing it (in past years it was too far to travel).

Why so many doubles so early?

The trick is getting in shape early, which means dropping 15 pounds of body fat by April 29, or just under one pound of body fat per week.

That’s incredibly hard to do, as it means a 500 calorie per day deficit (a pound of body fat is 3500 calories since it includes some water). Since back in 2011 I lost weight at the rate of 1.25 pound per week for 12 weeks. the goal has an existence proof, though 7 years later it will be harder to do. In 2011 (Sept 13) I got down to 7.9% body fat (168 pounds).

As of Jan 1 2018, I have reversed those last two digits: 168 now up to 186 = about 17% body fat.

  • Each double century typically loses me a full pound of body fat. It varies; it can be 3/4 to 1.5 pounds of body fat, depending on difficulty and self discipline in recovery eating properly.
  • There are two back-to-back (1 week apart) pairs of doubles 3/10 and 3/17 plus 4/7 and f/14. This early physical stress sets things up nicely for stronger results later in the year. Then a 2 week recovery prior to DMD on 4/29.

Why body weight is a BFD

The reason I need to drop 15 pound of fat is that Devil Mountain Double even 5 pounds of extra body fat costs half an hour of riding time: if total riding weight (TRW) is 196 pounds (rider 171 , clothes/shoes 3, food and water 5, bike 17) then 15 more pounds is a 7.6% increase in TRW. Devil Mountain Double with its 20000' of climbing means that ascending is about 60% of the riding time. Since it takes about 15 hours, that’s 9 hours. Adding 7% or so to the time, that adds 38 minutes to the riding time—around 14:20 versus 15:00. But it’s worse than that: if it’s hot, more fat means more stress (heat). Higher weight forces lower cadence on climbs, stressing legs and burning them out prematurely plus demanding higher energy expenditure, which means burning off glucose stores faster (higher exertion level for same pace). So I deem the difference more like an hour. And that means daylight finish versus night finish, which saves another 10 minutes (much easier to see/navigate). So that 15 extra pounds really means 70 minutes more riding time.

Losing body fat

Fat comes off most easily at first as the body is less cranky about losing fat. For me that means I should be able to get down to 179 on or ahead of that schedule (I’ve done that before), but 179 to 175 gets harder, and 175 to 171 the body fights back, big time (appetite, more efficient metabolism).

Reader Comment: Using Carogna Effetto Mariposa tubular tape for Tubular Tires

See also tubular tire articles.

Jim Thurber writes:

I can report that I have put Carogna's Effetto Mariposa tubular tape (hereinafter referred to as EMTT) to the test and it has succeeded, beyond all expectations, passing with flying colors.

I've used Mastix glue for the last two years to affix my tubulars to alloy rims. The Rolf Prima rims were my first carbon and I decided to use the EMTT instead of glue, not wishing to use a heat gun to remove left-over glue when I changed a tire. The tires were mounted roughly 10 weeks ago.

Today my Veloflex Vlaanderen tubular flatted (with about 2,000 miles on it) in the middle of a lengthy, training ride. There had been a lot of downhill braking at speeds up to 40 mph.

With no air in the tire (and a "gap" located opposite the air valve) it took a fair amount of effort to remove, very similar to a tire secured with a professional Mastix glue job. Note that the tire came off clean - all the tape remained on the rim.

Here's where this gets interesting. I partially inflated the spare (a Continental Gatorskin 700 x 25) and stretched it into position on the wheel before inflating it to approximately 80 psi. It was (fairly) easy to align. I then rode home - another 10 miles.

Removing the Continental tire I found it was as well SECURED to the rim as the Veloflex had been. This was a spare that had been installed 30 minutes earlier. Yet it was WELL affixed to the rim.

I removed it and then "rolled" off the EMTT with my thumbs - leaving a perfectly clean, ready to use rim. The fact that the rim was absolutely undamaged is a big deal. But . . . The fact that the spare was (near instantly) well secured to the rim is a HUGE deal.

Anybody wishing to ride on real tires (to wit: tubulars) should consider using EMTT especially if you like having tires perfectly aligned on the rim AND being able to change tires on the road / continuing to ride with what appears to be relative safety.

ciao and best to all

Jim James Thurber
Chief Mechanic FAsT Monkeys Racing Team
1406 Snow St
Mountain View, CA 94041
650-274-3410

WIND: tubulars using tape might be just the ticket for riders without a skilled local bike shop.

Veloflex Vlaanderen 700 X 27C tubular tire
Veloflex Vlaanderen 700 X 27C tubular tire
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RAAM Team Bemer Sets Two World Records using Bemer Vascular Therapy

I have been using the Bemer for vascular therapy intensively for nearly three months now. It works, indeed, the Bemer helped me recovery from the toughest double century in the country in just 40 hours.

In Race Across America (RAAM), Team Bemer used the Bemer for recovery, setting two new world records and beating the next closest team by over two days:

TEAM BEMER Wins the 8-Man RAAM Race and sets 2 new world records!!!

Overall Time Record #1 (5d:3h:43min)
Distance Over Average Time Record #2 (3069.8 Miles @ 24.9mph)

Race Across America (RAAM) is one of the most respected and longest running ultra-endurance events in the world. RAAM is seen as a pinnacle of athletic achievement not only in cycling circles but the greater sporting community as well.

It is just about incromprehensible to me how they could average 24.9 mph when there is 150000 feet of climbing, not to mention wind and heat. I can do 25 mph steady on flat ground for a few hours, but it is not an easy pace at all.

To get a Bemer, you need to buy one through an IBD (Independent Bemer Distributor). I am an IBD; contact me about Bemer (San Francisco Bay Area). I also visit the Eastern Sierra frequently.

Post-Concussion Syndrome (PCS)

I suffered a moderate to severe concussion in a bike crash at mile 87 of the Solvang Spring Double Century:

Lloyd’s Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI / concussion) Experience and Log

Post-concussion syndrome (PCS) is a term used to describe lingering effects of a concussion.

From Guidelines for concussion/mild traumatic brain injury and persistent symptoms:

2.3 The patient should be advised that a full recovery of symptoms is seen in the majority of cases.

In most cases, patients who experience mTBI will recover fully, typically within days to months. The concern is that up to 15% of patients diagnosed with mTBI will continue to experience persistent disabling problems.

The consequences for these individuals may include reduced functional ability, heightened emotional distress, and delayed return to work or school. When symptoms persist beyond the typical recovery period of three months, the term post-concussion syndrome or disorder may be applied.

This is very good advice (2.3)—an expectation of full recovery (to be distinguished from hope) is critical. But it doesn’t mean that full recovery will be realized in the proper sense of zero lingering effects.

I am now sure that I suffer from Post Concussion Syndrome in several ways, 3.5 months after the incident. I am “fully recovered” in most senses, but life-altering limitations remain. In particular my ability to work long hours is diminished to the point of causing financial stress (being self employed). Along with emotional distress and handling of stress in general, greater sleep requirements.

Maybe six months or a year will slowly repair things, maybe not.

I suspect that few concussion victims having a concussion of a severity like mine (or even somewhat less severe) are ever going to ever be the same nor will they have zero after effects months or years later. I say this because not one of perhaps 30 emails I received from concussion victims indicated as such; not one indicated recovery in every way back to pre-concussion functioning. On the positive side, most all reported regaining mostly normal functionality eventually.

Medical science has few ways to fully evaluate post-concussion functionality and at best a handful of qualified clinics to do so (and what of a baseline?). Then there is the expense, prohibitive for me at least (even though I pay $3300/month for health care!), and surely for most people.

IMO, medical science remains ignorant about concussion recovery: blind men feeling different parts of an elephant, and clueless about what “full” means. There is an incentive for doctors to be authoritative and appear knowledgeable when real knowledge is severely lacking. In my view, the concussion guidelines provide fodder for such doctors (read the whole thing), and thus does a disservice to patients. Still, there is much good in it also.

Finally, if medical science is so smart, why is research only now emerging on fundamentals? See Exercise may be best medicine to treat Post-Concussion Syndrome. My answer is that the medical knowledge about concussions is a vast desert wasteland by and large.

Exercise may be best medicine to treat Post-Concussion Syndrome

I suffered a moderate to severe concussion in a bike crash at mile 87 of the Solvang Spring Double Century:

Lloyd’s Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI / concussion) Experience and Log

Post-concussion syndrome (PCS) is a term used to describe lingering effects of a concussion. From the 2017 concussion guidelines:

In most cases, patients who experience mTBI will recover fully, typically within days to months. The concern is that up to 15% of patients diagnosed with mTBI will continue to experience persistent disabling problems.

The consequences for these individuals may include reduced functional ability, heightened emotional distress, and delayed return to work or school. When symptoms persist beyond the typical recovery period of three months, the term post-concussion syndrome or disorder may be applied.

I have long felt that exercise was the key to good health, and I am more certain than ever of that regarding my concussion. In my concussion recovery log I gave great credit to excercise in speeding my recovery.

In Exercise may be best medicine to treat post-concussion syndrome, researchers at Canisius College report findings that dovetail with my concussion log and my own objective observations.

A treatment program for patients who suffer from post-concussion syndrome is being pioneered, showing that gradual exercise, rather than rest alone, actually helps to restore the balance of the brain’s auto-regulation mechanism, which controls the blood pressure and supply to the brain.

...While confident the new treatment can help reduce concussion symptoms, Kozlowski emphasizes that it's too soon to call the exercise treatment a cure, as some patients respond faster or better than others.

I built up from 60 to 90 minutes per day starting after the acute phase starting 17 days in, did that for several weeks, but I could not ride for more than 60-90 minutes most days without suffering what I termed “brain fade”, an inability to focus on either pedaling consistently or watching for road hazards effectively.

The brain fade finally seemed to pass, so I resumed double centuries starting with Central Coast Double. and that was a problem at The Terrible Two for sure (I did several things to compensate), but not at Alta Alpina or Eastern Sierra Double.

See also: Concussion Guidelines: Pure Rest is a Bad Idea and other concussion articles.

MacPerformanceGuide.com

Recovering in 40 Hours After Finishing Alta Alpina = Unprecedented — Using Bemer® Vascular Therapy Intensively

2018 Alta Alpina Challenge 8-Pass Challenge bib

I’ve been holding off on fully endorsing the vascular therapy device (Bemer) that I have been using for 2.5 months because I wanted to be absolutely certain of its value before making any claims. It has solved various aches and pains for me and seems to help me sleep better, but that doesn’t make for convincing argument. Mainly I have been using it for faster athletic recovery and there it has been steadily impressing me.

The evidence that vascular therapy speeds recovery up for me has been piling up; when I used it intensively after the Central Coast Double I recovered in a bit over 2 days; it rapidly eliminated muscle soreness in spite of hours in the car.

When I failed to use it much after the Terrible Two (due to pressing web site issues) I took more like 5 days to recovery—which has been typical the past 8 years of doubles.

The other factor is protein; while I use and mix several protein sources, my “go to” protein after a double century or hard workout is Primal Feast as the dominant protein source for the first two days. Primal Feast seems to correlate strongly with regaining muscle strength and never upsets my stomach.

Recovering from Alta Alpina

The Alta Alpina 8-Pass Challenge is the hardest double century in the country; see the notes on that page and my 2018 Alta Alpina 8-Pass Challenge ride notes.

Normally, recovery for me takes 4-5 days (96 to 120 hours) for a double century, certainly 5 days for Alta Alpina given its difficulty.

This year, I was totally wiped out after doing Alta Alpina. I couldn't eat more than two slices of watermelon after finishing and did not eat anything else until the next morning, so unpleasant did I feel (this happens with the really hard ones). The next day I was toast (listless and tired), probably due in part to the pine pollen allergy taking its toll.

But using vascular therapy, all soreness disappeared at 40 hours, in spite of no exercise and (worse) sitting in a car (driving) much of the day. At 43 hours after finishing Alta Alpina, I had complete recovery, unprecedented in 7 years of 39 double centuries.

“Complete” recovery

I define complete recovery as follows:

  • No soreness or tightness in legs or glutes.
  • Ability to spin comfortably and fluidly at 100+ rpm.
  • Ability to do a hard-effort workout for 2+ hours and have it feel good.

Basically, complete recovery mean I am ready to train again normally without reservation.

What I did to recover

I was so tired after completing Alta Alpina that it was all I could do to drive to my campsite and lay there like a dead thing starting at 11 PM, waking next morning sometime. So I had very little vascular therapy that night. Here is what I did to recover in the 40 hours following finishing:

  • On Sunday (the next day) I drove a few hours, using vascular therapy the whole time. I covered my entire back and front as well as the quads and gluteus muscles; just kept going over and over on the highest settings for a total of 7 hours or so. I napped and rested that day and slept early, though I had bronchospasm difficulties. That evening, I took the first of two 10mg prednisone tablets because I could not sleep due to discomfort in my lungs.( the next one the next day and even as I write this 5 days after finishing, my lungs are still impaired).
  • On Monday, I headed for home (6 hour drive). I repeated the vascular therapy process, using vascular therapy continuously as I drove (not exactly good for blood flow to just sit there!). Three hours in, all soreness vanished. This was startling—I thought wow.
  • On Monday I arrived home about 15:30 (42 hours after finishing Alta Alpina), got on the bike around 16:30, sensed full recovery, and did a hard workout starting around 16:30, which is 43 hours after finishing Alta Alpina.

The proof

The graph below shows the high intensity workout I did starting 43 hours after finishing Alta Alpina, having just driven 6 hours to get home as per above.

Power levels including burst power were high (graph rounds bursts off but many bursts over 300 watts for short periods). The sustained wattage for me is as high as I’d do in this type of workout when fully rested, and the calorie burn (2000 calories) is no short or easy ride. I felt strong. The only problem: I got dehydrated and had only two GU energy gels, so I dialed it back starting around the 2 hours mark.

Contact me if you want to learn more about buying the vascular therapy device I am using. Especially if you are an athlete, I can provide guidance on how to use it for recovery from intensive training.

Hard workout only 43 hours after Alta Alpina 8-Pass Challenge
Up to 1527MB/s sustained performance

Finished: Alta Alpina 8-Pass Challenge

2018 Alta Alpina Challenge 8-Pass Challenge bib, complete with all 8 stickers

The Alta Alpina 8-Pass Challenge is the hardest double century in the country; see the notes on that page.

As Larry O'Conner of OWC / MacSales.com (highly recommended) might say: “onward and upward”.

Well, and downward too, as what goes up must come down in the Alta Alpina 8-Pass Challenge Double Century.

This year’s challenges

This year’s Alta Alpina was particularly difficult for me, for multiple reasons:

  • 10 pounds heavier than in 2012, my training season having been interrupted by my concussion. Ten pounds is the kiss of death, so to speak, for 20,500' feet of climbing.
  • Nagging back pain as discussed, caused by tight gluteus medius the weeks prior, but I focused on resolving it (following the incredible overall fix by Dee Sickles), and got it sorted out prior with a day to spare. I did have to stop and stretch the gluteus medius 5 or 6 times to keep it from pulling on the lower back and causing pain, but after mile 65 everything settled in.
  • Concern about post-concussion brain fatigue as per The Terrible Two made me cautious about my pace, so I stopped much more often and longer than my wont.
  • A two-day post-concussion event (I won’t go into that here) ending only the 10 hours prior to event start; I wasn’t sure I could even do a single pass, let alone 8. It cleared up.
  • Downtime prior to Alta Alpina from the Terrible Two double century, with a full 7 days needed for my brain to recover from the , a lingering side-effect of my concussion.
  • I took off quite a bit of speed versus other riders (braking downhill), still being very cautious descending due to my recent concussion.
  • Unexpected: ongoing breathing issues due to repeated bronchospasms caused by pine pollen. Twelve (12!) puffs of my bronchodilator during Alta Alpina barely kept bronchospasms in check. I was unable to wear my N100 face mask on the higher/steeper climbs because it would collapse with deep inhalations. My lungs and diaphragm were tired and uncomfortable by the time I was done. I had similar but less severe issues back during the Eastern Sierra Double; I suspect the same pine pollen issue though it might have been something else (pines bloom earlier at lower elevations and later at higher elevations).

Strategy

I didn’t know if my brain could handle one pass, let alone 8 given the two days prior; I had a post-concussion 'event' that I won’t go into here but it is/was like a storm that blows through—fortunately it blew on through by 8 PM the night before. Still, I felt the need to be cautious particularly on descents. So this was my strategy:

  • Go out at a steady pace with modest power and try to pace that way the whole time. I did not want to over-exert and tax my brain or get back pain going.
  • Descend taking off 5 to 10 mph, so my brain would not have to deal with too-fast visual input (too much visual processing is what seems to fry it, as in the Terrible Two).
  • Stop and stretch the gluteus medius any time I felt tension in my back. I did this 6, maybe 10 times (rest stops plus special stops just to stretch). After mile ~65 I did not have to do it anymore, and no back pain even at the finish.
  • Caffeinated more than usual (for brain), so I had three Mountain Dews: Ebbett Pass summit (both ways), plus summit of Monitor Pass West. This was in addition to the caffeine in the GU energy gel.

The strategy worked; I finished, which given the setbacks was a stretch goal (finishing 8 passes).

What I did not expect was the worst bronchospasms in at least a decade. I wore my N100 face mask for the first ~60 miles, but it began to collapse with the force of intense breathing up Carson Pass, and I had to stop using it. That proved an ill choice; I ended up using my bronchodilator about 12 times, which is at least 3X the daily max. But I had no other way to control the bronchospasms. How much did my lungs impede me? I’m not sure, no way to know.

2018 vs 2012 charts

My best ever finish: 2nd place in 2012 took 13:46 with roll time of 13:02.

Power output in 2012 was (normalized power) 216 watts versus 189 watts in 2018—27 watts higher, which is of course huge. Six years older, 10 pounds heavier (more stress), lungs, etc all contribute to that difference.

Power in watts, heart rate, elevation profile for Alta Alpina 8-Pass Challenge (2012)

Below, 2012 graph of my effort. I was ultra lean (8% body fat) and in peak condition. I finished strong as the green line for power (watts) shows.

Power in watts, heart rate, elevation profile for Alta Alpina 8-Pass Challenge (2012)

Alta Alpina 8-Pass Challenge

Update: it was hard, very hard, but I finished in spite of several challenges.

...

This Saturday’s Alta Alpina 8-Pass Challenge is the hardest double century in the country, with (true) 20,500 vertical feet of climbing*. Plus Alta Alpina is at relatively high altitude with most passes hitting 8500 feet or so, and never dropping below 4800 feet elevation. So average elevation is about 6600 feet, higher if the time is properly factored in (riding slower/longer at higher elevation).

* Not the wildly inaccurate Garmin elevation figures some riders post for other doubles with deviations of up to 4000 vertical feet among different riders Garmin units. My personal experience with a Garmin Edge 500 proves Garmin altimeter to be junk (not always, but frequently).

Basically, the Alta Alpina 8-Pass Challenge is the Death Ride plus two more major passes: Monitor Pass West and returning on Monitor Pass East. The temperature can be 105° at the bottom of Monitor Pass, but a cold front has blown in and so I am hoping for cooler temperatures than usual. Both Alta Alpina and the Death Ride start in the lovely backwater of Markleeville, CA.

It took a full 7 days for my brain to recover from the Terrible Two double century, a lingering side-effect of my concussion. It was a crummy week, feeling unfocused and not able to concentrate well. While my back was fine during the Terrible Two, the quadrilaterals were re-irritated and tightened up again after getting fixed, though not as tight as prior. It’s too bad I had only 5 days after getting things fixed before the Terrible Two; I could have used more time to let the muscles settle in and Be Happy. Still, during the Terrible Two I felt more symmetric on my bike than I had in years, so I now know what is possible as to fit/feel—really nice when it’s working well. It is only in the days after the ride that the muscles reverted to old muscle memory and tightened up again.

I’ve nursed my back all weak [sic] with the PEMF device I use, rolled it with foam roller, used Arnica Gel cream on it, along with (at times) a muscle relaxant to try to get the gluteus medius in particular to “let go” as it seems to be the main source of the issue. The muscle relaxant does work, and let me roll out the gluteus medius effectively. I’ve had good luck with notable improvement, but it is not 100% gone. I do not know if the back will act up the first climb or the 5th or the 8th.

The main thing is brain recovery has been excellent (after 7-10 days), but then I felt strangely tired yesterday again (and not physically). I don’t know what to think. If my brain gives up again, then I’ll abort after N of 8 passes rather than fry the circuitry again—just not worth it. The good news is that the pavement for Alta Alpina is on the whole excellent and mostly not shaded, so it is much less demand on the visual cortex (but beware of heading east to Hermit Valley where there are some nasty bumps).

Given these issues, and being 10 pounds too heavy, my goal this year is just to finish without brain-fry, and as a bonus, feel good enough to eat when done.

My best ever finish (2nd place in 2012) took 13:46 with roll time of 13:02. If I can do 15:00 this year I would consider that excellent, given the aforementioned issues, and being 6 years older.

2012

Below, 2012 graph of my effort. I was ultra lean (8% body fat) and in peak condition. I finished strong as the green line for power (watts) shows.

Power in watts, heart rate, elevation profile for Alta Alpina 8-Pass Challenge (2012)
Up to 1527MB/s sustained performance

Reader Comment: Tubular Tires

See also tubular tire articles.

Jim F writes:

Excellent work this year - congratulations on your successful Double Century finishes.

Thanks to Wind in My Face I've become a total tubular convert. I'm currently wearing tubes on all my road bikes - mostly Veloflex Vlaanderen. They're a bit of a squeeze on my bamboo road bike so that's wearing 25 mm Victoria Corsa. The ride? Superb.

One difference is that I've switched exclusively to tape (from Mastix glue) and do all mounting myself. I'm not adventurous but I am cheap. The Effetto Mariposa Carogna tape appears to be doing a great job. The following article uses Tufo tape but the difference between tape and glue is slight, 9%.

http://kuktl.dept.ku.edu/bicycle/Part9.pdf

My younger son (39 - not very young) has also switched exclusively to tubulars.

When other riders see my wheels are wearing tubs they smile and wonder, aloud, who I telephone if I get a flat. I'm tempted to show them how quickly you can swap one tire for another but usually resist. I've had ONE flat on tubs while riding over the last two years and swapping tires took, as you know, not very long.

I'd also like to comment on your outstanding photography, which I enjoy.

WIND: tubulars using tape might be just the ticket for riders without a skilled local bike shop.

Veloflex Vlaanderen 700 X 27C tubular tire
Veloflex Vlaanderen 700 X 27C tubular tire

For Sale: My 2012 Moots Vamoots RSL Frame/Fork DuraAce Di2

Brief note, pictures later as I'm heading out for a few days.

My trusty 2012 Moots Vamoots RSL is for sale, now that I have its successor.

Asking $4600 / best offer. Contact me.

Includes:

  • Frame (2012 model, pressfit 30) and fork.
  • Di2 with front and rear DuraAce derailleurs (11 speed), new chain.
  • Di2 batteries (2) along with battery charger.
  • Ritchey carbon handlebar double-wrapped for comfort with DuraAce brakes, shifters, levers.
  • Ritchey carbon seat post, Chris King headset, Chris King bottom bracket (all installed as I had been riding them).
  • Your choice of saddle (I have 4 or 5 new ones I don't use).
  • Another $100: Bontrager Race Triple Triple X Lite carbon fiber wheels(2011 or so, clinchers, not ridden for many years).

Does NOT include:

  • Crankset (I’m keeping my SRM).
  • Cassette (since no wheelset).

Shown below is the bike as I had it in 2012. It now has the 11-speed DuraAce derailleurs/shifters.

2012 Moots Vamoots RSL Titanium road racing bike, custom Di2 cable routing
Ritchey seat post
Selle Italia saddle
Ritchey WCS 260 stem
Shimano DuraAce Di2
SRM 7950 power meter crankset
Chris King headset
Lightweight Obermayer wheelset

2018 Terrible Two Double Century: Good and Terrible

Update 27 June: it took a full 7 days for my brain to recover, a lingering side-effect of my concussion. It was a crummy week. My back was fine during the event, but the muscles were re-irritated and tightened up again after getting fixed, though not as tight as prior. It’s too bad I had only 5 days after getting things fixed before the Terrible Two. Still, I felt more symmetric on my bike than I had in years, so I now know what is possible.

With Alta Alpina coming up on June 30 and my back still irritated on June 27, I don’t know how it’s going to go. I don’t want to press through it and hyper-irritate my back.

...

2018 The Terrible Two Double Century bib

A few quick notes on the June 16 2018 Terrible Two Double Century, which I completed middle-of-the-pack in 15 hours and 17 minutes (15:17) with riding time of 14:12.

The top riders were surely professionals (or former ones) and/or top Cat 1 riders, given their just-over 10 hour finish times—unbelievably fast given the 17000' of climbing. See the PDF results. At my very best six years ago and leaned out to 168 pounds and with no brain issues, maybe I could have done 12:30 or 12:45. For a woman (Gabrielle Andersen of Woodside) to do 12:19 is phenomenal. Maybe she is that former Olympian I met one day on Alpine Road.

The good news was that my body after being fixed up by Dee Sickles LMT MMT performed admirably—no back pain and no twisted torso and both sides of rib cage expanding. Best yet since the crash/concussion.

Power-to-weight matters hugely on climbs: being 10 pounds too heavy (about 178 instead of 168) with 17000' of climbing is a major handicap.

But the main thing is/was brain fade from my concussion like back in April/May, starting at about mile 110. I think it was provoked by great difficulty in seeing into mottled lighting (sun/shade) while descending steep twisty roads on the worst pavement of any double century ever.

Brain fade / concussion related?

After a while, my brain just gave up. I resorted to mini naps of 2-4 seconds while ascending to get some relief, but basically I rode the last 80 miles or so wanting to fall asleep on my bike, stopping occassionally to just close my eyes while I stood there for a few minutes. Something about just shutting off visual input (eyes closed) gave some relief, but that cannot be done while riding except at very low speeds. It was an endurance test more difficult than anything physical. I wanted to quit, but I don’t allow myself that option—all too easy to lower the bar some other day.

Pavement

The pavement in Sonomo County is the worst I have ever ridden (in risks along with extended distances of very bad stuff)—basically crocodile-hide pavement with patches on top of patches helter skelter with cracks and random small pits and potholes along with 50 to 100 feet sections of unpaved gravel/dirt (usually marked but not alway. So the Terrible Two IMO is mostly terrible because of the pavement. On the steep mottled sun/shade downhills, this beat my hands into a painful state, because not being able to see into the shadows, I had to be hard on the brakes, which puts tremendous stress on the hands, which soak up every bang and bump.

2018 The Terrible Two Double Century: typical scenery, atypical road surface
2018 The Terrible Two Double Century: fog after climbing steep grade from ocean
2018 The Terrible Two Double Century: after climbing steep grade from ocean
MacPerformanceGuide.com

Intractable or Problematic Physical Issue? Medical Massage with Dee Sickles in Flagstaff, AZ

I suffered a moderate to severe concussion in a bike crash at mile 87 of the Solvang Spring Double Century that caused this injury; see: Lloyd’s Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI / concussion) Experience and Log.

There is massage, there is medical massage, and then there are gifted hands with medical massage. If you have a seemingly intractable physical issue that doctors say is “impossible” to fix without surgery*, think again, because what do you have to lose?

Few if any doctors have any clue how to fix the issues I had—their uninformed “solution” is to send patients to PT that is unaffordable, of extended duration, and generally ineffective. Increasingly I find that doctors I see know close to zero about solving real problems, and think of a body as discrete parts—mechanics who understand pistons, but not an engine, so to speak.

After my 25 mph hard crash into an embankment with moderate-to-severe concussion, a twisted spine and torso and mashed-in ribs were not going to go away on their own, but Dee Sickles LMT MMT in Flagstaff AZ did an amazing job—and I’ve had both injuries and massage before—her skills are unsurpassed IMO. See my June 11 notes.

* I have some sympathy and empathy for doctors on the burnout front; see What Happens When the Doctor Is Feeling Poorly? A Stanford center aims to combat physician burnout.

Picture below pending... coming soon.

Asymmetric lung expansion 13 weeks after bike crash (before being addressed)

Below, the camera angle might not be perfect but the asymmetry is quite real: the left shoulder is higher, the center line of the body is twisted (twisted back = twisted torso), the left rib cage won’t expand properly. The twist caused me considerable pain during the Eastern Sierra Double century, but after being fixed by Dee Sickles, no pain at all during the much more difficult Terrible Two Double Century.

Asymmetric torso and shoulders, 13 weeks after bike crash (before being addressed)

Dee Sickles LMT, MMT

Dee Sickles LMT MMT in Flagstaff AZ did an amazing job—and I’ve had both injuries and massage before—her skills are unsurpassed IMO. See my June 11 notes.

After she worked out my back and rib issues I had symmetric breathing again! It felt terrific to be “whole”. Even the power meter numbers show it: on a hotter day, I saw a lower heart rate and lower breathing rate at similar power levels—consistent with getting more oxygen in more easily.

Dee Sickles, LMT MMT

Recovering from Extreme Efforts

Recovery might be even faster if I could eat after my double centuries. When I’m “on” as with Joshua Tree, I can eat a regular meal immediately with no issues.

When it has not gone as well and especially if I’ve over-efforted into mild nausea, then I cannot eat anything until the next morning (3 AM sometimes works!). In those cases, I just have to accept that recovery will be less quick than it might otherwise be since my body has to wait 8 hours or so for nutrition. But it does not seem to matter unduly so long as I pick up the nutrition by next morning; see my Alta Alpina experience as well as Davis Double. In part this may be because ultra endurance events are mostly aerobic.

...

This year after the past several double centuries, I have recovered faster than I ever had in the past 7 years of double centuries. I attribute this to two changes:

Together, I have seen nearly complete recovery in just two days, even after a hard day and winning (Eastern Sierra Double) with a fast-paced ~4800 foot ascent at high altitude less then 72 hours later—I could not tell I had even done a double less than 3 days earlier. And 3 days (Central Coast Double). After Davis Double, it was nearly full recovery after 42 hours—these are miraculously short recovery times.

Consider that my fastest double century was just under 10 hours, and a marathon is only 2-3 hours—that should lend some perspective on the relative effort and recovery times, for runners at least.

Primal Feast seems to correlate strongly with regaining muscle strength and never upsets my stomach. While I use and mix several protein sources, my “go to” protein after a double century or hard workout is Primal Feast as the dominant protein source for the first two days.

Update: I recovered from a totally wiped out state after Alta Alpina in only 40 hours, which is the closest thing to an exercise recovery miracle I’ve experienced.

Primar Feast Hydrolyzed Beef Protein Powder
Primar Feast Hydrolyzed Beef Protein Powder
Durable and fast, up to 1800MB/s

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