Tuesday, April 30, 2013

some reflections on Devil Mountain Double

Results were posted today for the 2013 Devil Mountain Double Century. I was 14th. I thus met all of my goals: don't bonk, finish strongly, finish in under 14 hours, place top 20.

I tend to focus on things which went wrong, but it's important to also embrace what went right, so to not forget them and relapse the next time. Some things which worked well for me at the Devil Mountain Double, as well as some things which worked out okay but could be improved:

  1. I'd checked the weather report and specific weather station data. I knew it would be chilly in the valley, warm on Diablo summit, hot in Livermore, temperate in San Jose, and no rain. This affected how I dressed on the start and what I left at the Morgan Territory rest stop to be sent back to the start.
  2. I stayed in the Marriott instead of trying to head out morning-of. The Marriott was fine, the staff were super-courteous and helpful, I slept well and was in no rush in the morning. Had I carpooled with someone in the morning it would have added to the day's stress. With the event discount the Marriott was only $89: an excellent deal. And as a result I got to shower after the ride, which was wonderful.
  3. I didn't feel like eating much the night before, but I ate a package of gnocchi (thanks to Cara for getting this!) and a sweet potato anyway. It helped that I rode around 10 miles total on the various bike portions of my trip from work to home to the San Ramon Marriott. This helped stimulate my appetite a bit, without appreciatebly depleting glycogen stores due to the low intensity.
  4. Given my relatively large dinner, I wasn't hungry in the morning, either, but ate a banana along with some steel cut oats cooked in black tea with added honey and peanut butter for breakfast. It's best to eat three hours before a hard ride, but I didn't eat until around 4:30 am. On an event this long it doesn't matter much.
  5. I set the Garmin 500, via the training menu, to provide a "time alert" every 15 minutes. During the ride this would give a loud ring every 15 minutes, which I used as a cue to drink. If I'd just recently drunk I didn't worry about it, but around half the time I felt I could drink when it went off, so I took a drink. This helped me stay on a good hydration schedule. I weighed myself immediately after the ride and was 123.0 lb. I'd not weighes myself since the morning two days prior and was at that time 125.5 lb. Since there's some fat loss on the a ride this long, this represents a water loss of at most 2%. This indicates to me my hydration went quite well, despite the heat.
  6. I like relatively efficient rest stops, but not to the point of skipping them since the mental break is good. But important to quick stops is to go in with a plan. So in my muddled mental state, I'd rehearse going in what I needed. For example: swallow six Enduralytes, fill a bottle, drink it, refill both bottles, one with Perpetuum and one with water, eat some fruit slices, apply sunscreen, thank volunteers, leave. My stops weren't super-fast, and I flubbed a few times, but I did fairly well. I did a few "better safe than sorry" moves like putting on sunscreen at Crothers even though the sun was well past it's peak at that point and putting on my light at Pet the Goat even though I finished with plenty of daylight. But when in doubt, be efficient.
  7. Another factor on rest stops: 1. Always be doing something productive, never stand around. 2. Never sit down. I had plenty of time sitting on my bike saddle, I didn't need to sit at the rest stops.
  8. I checked the bearings in my bottom bracket, which needed to be replaced, before the ride. The old bearings, which were ceramic, got contaminated and were spinning with significant resistance. On the other hand, I did not switch my tires, Michelins with only modest lifetime, despite signs of moderate wear. I ended up with a flat tire the next morning, the result of a slow leak suffered during the ride. I got lucky this wasn't a serious factor during the ride, although perhaps rolling resistance toward the end was a bit higher than optimal. Additionally I optimally would have ridden with latex tubes, which according to Al Morrison's tests have lower rolling resistance (Jan Heine's tests show higher resistance for latex).
  9. My bike fit from 3D Bike Fit worked well. I had made some changes from the original: raising the seat 1 cm because that felt better to me and was consistent with literature recommendations, and also removing a shim from my shoe, which I will describe. The fit is very comfortable and I felt little discomfort throughout the long ride. I additionally felt in control on descents in the drops. With my previous bike position I was more prone to discomfort on extended descents.
  10. 3D Bike Fit had switched me from Speedplay pedals to Shimano SPD-SL pedals. The Shimano pedals, despite the substantially different design, felt solid throughout the ride. However, I have much more difficulty clipping in to the Shimano SPD-SL pedals than I did with the Speedlays. On one occasion, this may have caused me to miss a traffic light I otherwise would have made. Even on a double century, a few seconds here and there can result in significant differences. I ended up behind the next rider by three minutes. The light was less than three minutes, but I prefer being able to clip in quicker.
  11. 3D Bike Fit switched me from my well-worm Sidi Megasole shoes to new Specialized S-Works. For the double, had I stuck with Speedplays, I would have used my Bont shoes instead of the Sidis. The Specialized shoes, however, are remarkably light and the twin-boa adjustment is fantastic for fine-tuning the tightness. There's just two issues. One is the toe box is slightly tight for my feet, and I had to remove a shim 3D Bike Fit had inserted into my right shoe to neutralize the varus adjustment on that side. In my judgement the extra varus adjustment was less of an issue then abrading knuckles on my right foot. The other issue with the Specialized is they have a prominent ankle feature which, on my left foot, creates a painful point of contact. I tried padding out the shoe with Dr. Scholl's moleskin to reduce the prominence of this point, but I wasn't able to solve the problem. Instead, I found I can completely eliminate the problem by inserting an old expired health care card (basically a credit card) into the shoe at this point. This is obviously a kludge. I'm tempted to cut away the prominent extension at the top of the heel. This is a permanent modification, but if it works I suspect that there will be little risk of the foot coming out. The other potential risk is it will compromise the shoe and cause damage to extend from the cropped portion. Obviously inserting ad hoc shims into the ankle is undesirable. But the shoes are surprisingly comfortable otherwise: they are designed to comform to the foot.
  12. I taped over the front vents in my helmet for a combination of warmth on cold mornings, aerodynamics, and reducing the likelihood of stinging insects getting trapped near my head. The downside, of course, is that the risk of overheating might be a concern. I got hot climbing San Antonio Valley Road, but so was everyone else. But perhaps with the vents exposed I would have been able to climb the hill faster. On the other hand, I experienced less wind drag for the entire course, so I draw no conclusions about this. If it was signfiicantly hotter I think I would have perhaps been better off with the tape removed. But insects were an issue: a large insect which could well have been a bee bounced off my closed mouth. I don't know how many bounced off the tape.
  13. My Garmin Edge 500 battery lasted without problem. I lost a bit of time when it provided a false "off course" error on Tesla Road past South Vasco Road, but since I knew the route fairly well I was able to ignore the numerous other erronious "off-course" messages. I'm going to try a forward mount for the Garmin, I think. Tracking navigation with the Garmin mounted on my stem loses view of the road ahead even in peripheral vision. With a forward mount, I should retain more of the road in peripheral vision.
  14. The Powertap power meter definitely pulled its (considerable) weight. Since I started pacing by power I've finished strongly on all three of the doubles I've done. And it's great having solid numbers post-ride to analyze how I rode at the end versus the beginning (answer: quite well).
  15. My light wasn't a factor since I rode completely in daylight. However, the revised mount which NiteRider sent me after my persistant stability problems with the initial mount has worked out extremely well. I hurredly mounted my light at Pet the Goat and it never budged from there to the finish. This was one decision which potentially cost me a place as I ended up not needing the light and the delay caused me at least one painfully slow light cycle in San Ramon. But I wasn't sufficiently certain at that point I'd make it to the finish without unforseen delay.
  16. I showered and changed before eating at the finish. I brought a sweat suit specifically for this purpose. Since I'd stayed the night before, I was able to access the fitness center at the hotel and shower. Then I was able to enjoy my post-ride lasagna in comfort (relaxing my personal wheat ban), instead of feeling as if I was fermenting in sweaty cycling clothes.

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