48-Hours to Live :: 2013 Rapha Gentlemen's Ride, LA Edition

This last weekend was a big weekend for me, on Saturday I participated in the Rapha Gentlemen's Race (Check out #RGR on Instagram). So, I would like to preface this blog with saying it is really hard to put into words the experience that I had during this race/ride - it was literally the BEST DAY EVER. Also, I like to ramble…

To start it off, a big huge props to the handful of women who stepped up to the plate and showed everyone that gentlemen's rides are not just for gentlemen. It was awesome to see a group of badass chicks enduring this course just as well…if not better…than the dudes. It was extremely inspirational to see you out there.  Way to go!!! 

During the first week of October I received an e-mail from a fellow co-work (whom, I must mention is a totally badass), asking if I was interested in doing something called the Gentlemen's ride, I naively answered with a quick YES! I had no clue what it was, but, it had to do with bikes and riding up hill so I was instantly in.

After a weekend out in the desert doing my crazy little mountain biker thing at Rampage, it was time to get serious. It was time to trade in the baggies, for some spandex...Time to start riding my butt off (literally). Every moment I could get out on my road bike, I was out there. Saturdays started to consist of walking up - coffee - carbs - 100 miles - more carbs - stretch - sleep. I will admit, it was pretty rad to jump on my bike and just go; nothing to worry about (with the exception of making it home). Truth be told, I am looking forward to 100 this Saturday - no, I am not just stoping because the ride is over, I want to do more RGR's sooooo badly. It was getting down to the wire, I went out on my last weekend 100 and had a really crumby day on the bike - I felt completely defeated and I am sure my teammates were questioning my skills (this event is comprised of a 6 person team - this six person team happened to be made out of 5 extremely strong and talented male riders and me!) - after a few days off the bike, and a lot of soft pedaling on the days I did ride I was as ready as I could be. T-minus one week to take off, I would walk the halls at work and people would say Are you ready? I would try to confidently answer back YES but that was only a facade; every time the ride was brought  up my heart would flutter with anxiety. Let's just say I was told I was off my rocker more than once while training for this - my response? At least I'm not normal! 

Life just got easier thanks to Blick & the boys at Surf City Cyclery

They say never change anything on your bike the day before a race, well, that is not applicable to me...
One last pre-ride with the boys. 
Earlier in the week we had changed my 9 speed / 23 cassette to a 9 speed / 27 cassette (thank goodness!). By Friday I had a fresh set of rubber, a new chain, more spare tubes & CO2 cartiridges than a bike shop, a box full of Hammer Nutrition products, a box of waffles, a kick ass pair of Oakley Radarlocks, 2 bottles of grape flavored Pedialyte, and a small dose of anxiety mixed with a shot of nerves, and some freshly painted finger nails.

Breakfast of Champions. 
Saturday morning snuck up on me a lot faster than expected. I found myself getting all Rachel Ray in the kitchen at 4:30 in the morning. Fresh coffee, a few waffles, a few eggs…a tamale? While reading the news and listening to jams...Why not! I fashionably rolled out of the door promptly at 6:15 with one of my team members/ bike to work colleagues. After finally succumbing to Siri's directions we made it to Gold Road Brewing aka the primary colors buildings in Glendale, CA. The street was lined with cars and people on bikes flew back and forth down the center of the road - the common meeting spot ended up being the Porta Loos. For some reason I thought that 45 minutes would be ample time for getting ready…well…try riding a small bike frame and trying to fit 3 spare tubes with a saddle pack on there, and food for an 8 hour ride in a two pocket jersey along with a pump. It was like doing a puzzle, too earlier for this! After almost missing my teams start because I had failed to put air in my tires the night before and was busy shoving one last waffle in my mouth...we were off (on time too! I am only a disaster half the time).

We bobbed and weaved throughout Glendale and up towards the mountains. I kept looking up to the terrain that laid ahead thinking, that is where our cue card is taking us... About 4 days before the race I learned that the course would consist of a hefty dirt portion (which I was fine with), 14,000 feet of climbing ( umm were they secretly flying us to the base of a 14er in Colorado?) all over 100ish miles. This was also a self-service ride…yes, that means you carry your own crap (luckily Bike Effect had set up a few support stations just before & after the most grueling section of the race aka the dirt). We hit the Angeles National Forest signs and it only meant one thing: Go Time - legs don't fail me now! As we started to follow the road up I knew that these little legs were going to be just fine, I was jamming and so was the rest of the team. By the time we hit the dirt I was so excited! The morale was high, and we were ready to rally…dirt is my thing. I have also come to the conclusion that my brain was turned off half of the time.

The Gents & I

Have you ever tried to climb some skinny tires up a non-maintained dirt road? Try it sometime…you are in for a good time. Chances are your bike handled skills will become exponentially better. You will quickly learn you can no longer depend on climbing out of your saddle, you don't have dependable knobbies for traction. Chances are you are digging for gears that no longer exist, trying to figure out how to make the strain easier. I would compare some parts of the course like riding your bike on the beach: sand and soft spots everywhere with softball sizes rocks scattered all around - honestly, that was part of the fun. The last communication e-mail we received from Rapha said simply this: The paved section behind the gate is technically paved, but the mountain roads in Peru are in better shape. Now, I haven't ever been to Peru, but, when I read this I had a feeling that there would be potholes larger enough for me to fit in- I was right. Tip: it's easier to go into technical stuff with speed instead of approaching it slow, that is a little mountain bike trick I have - perhaps it is just because I am young and dumb. At one point I told a teammate that I was more comfortable on the dirt than I was riding the white line on the side of the road.
Let's face it, it was only a matter of time before the team started flatting on this type of terrain it was inevitable…good thing we were prepared for this because it did not happen just once, but about 5 times. At one point, I knew my legs couldn't stand still much longer so I left the boys to dabble with their tire/tube issue. Because of our mechanical stops it had almost become a game of cat and mouse with some of the other teams. Like I said, I took off and planned on meeting everyone at the top of the climb...quickly found my pace and started going - Up, Up and Away! I had a few extra boosts of confidence when I would pass/catch up to teams of guys and hear that I was crushing it - honestly, thank you for boosting my ego that day and make me keep charging. I also want to thank the team who offered me a shot of whiskey...tempting...but I am glad I stuck to water. It seemed like around every corner there was another surprise climb, the view was insane, the lack of oxygen was real at 6K feet - hard to actually believe that you were in Los Angeles. I wish I would have been able to get more photos, but, I was nervous my phone might die and I wanted it for safety reasons…let's just say my Instagram (@ereederreadsanereader) feed is lacking.

I found this on the inter web from the ride, I got to take in this view all day. NBD. 

Aside from riding the dirt the second best part of this ride was the decent. Go try it for yourself sometime…fresh pavement, flowy turns you could layover and not need to touch the brakes. Gosh, I wish I had another 20 lbs on me to shoot me down the road just a tad faster. I will leave it at that, I don't want you to drool on your keyboard…

Coco-cola, generally not in the top things I consume. Actually, I don't think I had touched a coke since I stopped racing a few years ago. Well, the one that I had around mile 70 had never tasted so good. Seriously…

Saturday was a true test of skill, stamina and team dynamic. I am happy to say that our team finished together right before the sun started to set. I am so proud of everyone who took on this challenge. One word: Rockstars! We were welcomed back by a crew sipping on craft beers, which we quickly joined and watched the other teams roll in. Still waiting on the official results, and hopefully a rad little flick and some photos.

Ride Stats

  • 103 miles
  • 13,907 ft
  • 7 hours 43 minutes moving time


Sending Love from SoCal. Xx

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