Wednesday, July 8, 2020

vEverest on the Alpe du Zwift

And so July 3 arrived.  In the few days leading up to this challenge, I was anxiously excited.  Prior to this, the longest I had ever ridden on a trainer (stationary bike) was 3 hours.  Today I was expecting 13-14 hours of pedaling.  I put my set up in Jamie's room at The Animal Clinic.  I had my Saris H3 Smart Trainer, my Niner Air 9 RDO mountain bike with 32 x 11/50 gearing, TV (for Zwifting), two coolers (one for ice, the second for my Skratch hydration, 2 mini Cokes, 1 almond butter and jam sandwich, and 3 rice cakes), and 2 fans (1 in front, 1 in back).  I also had a hodge podge of additional nutrition, including bananas, caffeinated gels, Cliff shot blocks, Honey Stinger waffles, and gluten free fig bars.

Getting in the mindset

I lubed up with Chamois Butt'r, put on some music, turned on Zwift, started my Garmin (for back up in case Zwift crashed), and began.  Prior to starting, I also made sure to turn the trainer intensity to 100%, an Everesting rule.  That is why I chose my mountain bike with the easier gearing, so I could spin a higher cadence (I am a spinner, not a masher). I started on the Jungle Loop, as that was the quickest way to access the Alpe.  12 minutes in and I began my first climb on the 7.7 mile, 3399 foot, 8.5% average gradient mountain.  I had to ascend the Alpe 8.5 times in order to achieve my goal of 29,029 feet.

I went easy on the first ascent.  The key to finishing these long endurance events is to start easy, with it feeling like it is almost too easy.  My good friend from New Mexico, Darby, joined me about 1/3 way up the climb.  Being virtual, you can "ride" with friends from all over the world.  I was stoked to have him on board for the first 3 laps, especially since he had to get up at 2:30 am.  I finished my first ascent in 73:58.

1 down, 8 to go!

On the descent, I am able to get off the trainer.  Being virtual, my avatar will descend on her own.  So I had 11 minutes to refuel, take a potty break, hit the happy bits with more Chamois Butt'r, and give the legs and sit bones and little respite.

1/4 AB&J per lap = a small piece of heaven

Ascent #2 felt just as easy as #1, but I had a quicker time:  69:48.  I managed to snag the polka dot jersey on ascent #3 with a time of 67:36, my fastest time up the Alpe.  Legs were still feeling really good at this point.  I was drinking one bottle of Skratch, 1/3 bottle of water, and either having a gel, shot block, or waffle on the climbs.

On the fourth ascent, now about 4 hours and 10,000 feet in, Erica Allen Peden, from the McMinn Regional Humane Society, stopped by and did a live FaceBook interview.  Despite talking for 5 minutes, I was still able to equal my third ascent with a time of 67:36.

Time for a rice cake!

I felt the first signs of fatigue midway through the 5th ascent:  achy legs.  I think this is where Max and Tammy from Georgia rode with me for awhile.  Nothing like riding with friends to take your mind off the pain. This lap was a little slower at 70:20.  After the 5th climb, I changed into a fresh cycling kit.

Time to bring out the big guns!

Ascents #6 and #7 were brutal.  I was definitely in the pain cave.  The mental focus to put pressure on the pedals and keep them turning over was a battle with my monkey brain.  Fortunately, several clients stopped by to give me moral and monetary support, which helped to stoke the fire.

Thanks to Nakeya, who went to Ingles and picked up a box of crackers for me, I was able to keep the motivation up by eating 1 cracker per sector.  Each ascent up had 22 switchbacks, anywhere from 0.22 mile to 0.77 mile in length.  Every time I turned the corner I got one precious peanut butter filled cracker.

Motivation can be found in many forms.

Ascent # 6 took 72:11 and # 7 took 75:00.  After lap 7, this was how I looked.

Make it stop!

The 8th ascent was the slowest and hardest.  No amount of food, hydration, or caffeine could make it any less painless.  I was in a dark place for awhile, but I have been there many times before, and knew it was only temporary.  I had Nakeya count the money in today's donation jar: $375!  That gave me the power to keep turning the pedals over despite my "Tin Man" knees.  For a little bit, anyways.  Despite a time of 77:47, I still managed to get back into the climber's jersey for the 4th time today.

I began to smell the barn on the 9th and final ascent.  I actually only had to ride up about half way to get the necessary elevation, but the OCD in me made me climb to the top.  I didn't drink or eat much on this lap, as I was just plumb tired of putting calories in my pie-hole.  Yet I was producing more power than my last two laps.  Factoring out the time it took me to ride over to the beginning of the climb, I Everested just under 12 hours.  1-2 hours faster than I had expected.

In the QOM jersey as I hit the 29,029 mark ... boom!

I finished out the 9th ascent/descent in 12 hours 51 minutes.  Man, was I ever so glad to be done!  Never would I have thought I would ever ride a stationary bike for this length of time.  Curses you, Zwift, for being so damn fun (type 2, that is)!

143 miles and 30,732 feet of elevation gained.

Thank you, thank you, everyone for donating to this cause.  The money raised is going towards indoor kennel renovations and enclosing the outdoor kennels so that the dogs that are brought here will have heated/cooled kennels until they find there furever home.

And the total dollars raised ... drum-roll please ... $7940!!!!!!