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What was your HARDEST bike ride ever?

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What was your HARDEST bike ride ever?

Old 04-06-17, 11:11 AM
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What was your HARDEST bike ride ever?

Everyone has different gauges of hard and thought it might be interesting to mention your hardest ride, whether that was based on distance, elevation, a race, a local group ride, a solo ride in brutal weather, etc. Maybe you ran out of water, or maybe you kept getting flats.


For me, my hardest ride to date was on June 28th, 2014. I was doing a 200k permanent through RUSA, it was a 135 mile ride. It peaked 99 degrees that day (Florida). Had my cue sheet in hand with controls identified: Control 1: 07:00 - 08:00, Control 2: 08:50 - 10:40, Control 3: 10:38 - 2:16, Control 4: 12:00 - 5:00, Control 5: 2:14 - 9:28. I had noted "Hoping to be finished between 5-6pm". I started riding at 7:15am. At 9:47am I noted: "1st checkpoint @ 34 miles. Going slow but feel good so far". At 10:43am, I noted: "45 miles in. 1/3rd of the way done. Still feel great!!" At 12:52pm, I noted: "Haha I'm starting to suck even worse now. Lol. Not even half way yet and been out almost 6 hours haha. Going to be a full day today! So much for the 5-6 finish, looking more like 8-9. Glad I got my lights! Stupid heat." At 1:37pm, I noted: "Half way point!" At 2:00pm, I noted: "Ugh it's way to hot. No way I can do another 7+ hours of this. I'm unfortunately bailing "

It was such a disappointment to myself and cycling for me in general. I felt like I let myself down, but it does happen.

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Old 04-06-17, 11:26 AM
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Hardest is subjective! The hardest based on distance and elevation was Diabolical Double in Western MD. 125 miles 16,500' elevation. My goal was to finish and I felt great at the end. Many others will describe hardest in terms of the toll taken on the body. That would be Skyline Drive in my cramping days. Almost comical having hams and quads cramp do badly I could only fall over as any attempt to swing a leg over the top tube would have given the cramps free reign. It took almost two hours for them to subside so I could ride back from Skyland to Front Royal!
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Old 04-06-17, 11:36 AM
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Easy to answer that one: Hillier Than Thou last fall. I took the short course because I just wanted a nice day of climbing. It wasn't nice. It was sadistic.
63 miles, 7700 feet doesn't sound too bad, but some of the climbs were extraordinarily steep - whole segments in excess of 20%. The only time I've ever had to walk a geared bike that wasn't broken. Those who did well all had generous CX or MTB gearing. I just had an ordinary compact and 28, which I thought would be fine; normally, climbs are my strong suit.
Weather wasn't terrible (autumn) but it was kind of humid, and rained at the end. But I would much rather have rain than too much sun. Many of my favorite rides have been in the rain.
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Old 04-06-17, 11:36 AM
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Probably the DK200. 205 miles of gravel, fire roads, mud and headwind.

The 1st 100 was a breeze. The last 30 or so was torture. Long ass day (17hrs) in the saddle.
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Old 04-06-17, 11:48 AM
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Funny but my hardest ride was a short, 70kms training one. I was dropped at about 40kms, tried hard to reach the group again and bonked really bad. There was an overpass at 60kms I was barely able to climb, I was practically crawling at the end of the ride. Took 2 days to recover.
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Old 04-06-17, 11:48 AM
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I would have to say this ride. Not physically but mentally challenging. I hit a spot where it looked flat but was actually a 7% grade (Damnation Alley for the locals). I could see the mountain road above and thought to myself, "if I'm struggling on this flat part, I might not make it when I hit that road!".

That was the tough part of the ride. Once I hit Glen Oaks, it was actually much easier. Just a mental thing optical illusion type thing.

12,000 of climbing, most of it in the first 72 miles/ 114 miles total.

It was right around here that I had doubts.
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Old 04-06-17, 11:52 AM
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Originally Posted by HOWSER View Post
Probably the DK200. 205 miles of gravel, fire roads, mud and headwind.

The 1st 100 was a breeze. The last 30 or so was torture. Long ass day (17hrs) in the saddle.
+1. To make matters worse, I got lost and added 20 miles.

Leadville 100, and Everest Challenge would be close seconds.
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Old 04-06-17, 11:54 AM
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Hardest multi day ride was US Pro Challenge, 6 consecutive days of 100 miles plus, 10,000 vertical feet plus.
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Old 04-06-17, 11:54 AM
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Cascade River Road, without a doubt. Something like 4,500 feet of gain in 23 miles of rough dirt and gravel, with some 100 F temps and no shade thrown in, early in the season when I wasn't used to the warm yet. Got minor heat stroke, and took a snow nap next to a bear. Took me an hour and a half to ride back down.

But I'd been wanting to do it for years.

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Old 04-06-17, 11:54 AM
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
To make matters worse, I got lost and added 20 miles.
That is always VERY frustrating. While I was doing another 200k with a friend, we managed to get lost and tack on a bunch of time, on another very hot day. We even had cue sheets with maps that give us turn by turn directions. Yup, lost. We finished that one fine, but it was quite annoying. No matter how much you look at routes and prepare, getting lost can still happen.
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Old 04-06-17, 12:00 PM
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Everest Challenge:

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-A...-profile-1.png

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-E...-profile-2.png
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Old 04-06-17, 12:11 PM
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The Everest Challenge would be more impressive if riders had to carry and use supplemental oxygen to deal with thin air, like on Everest.
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Old 04-06-17, 12:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
The Everest Challenge would be more impressive if riders had to carry and use supplemental oxygen to deal with thin air, like on Everest.
Should you be able to hand it to riders like water bottle feeds?

Most the O2 stuff I've seen is pretty heavy. Puppy has tried some in the gym at 7,300 and says he notices. He might notice at sea level too.
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Old 04-06-17, 12:23 PM
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Old 04-06-17, 12:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
The Everest Challenge would be more impressive if riders had to carry and use supplemental oxygen to deal with thin air, like on Everest.
Climbing Bristlecone Forest, at10,000 feet, in the last mile of a 200 mile 2 day race, up a 17% grade I certainly could have used supplemental oxygen.
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Old 04-06-17, 12:27 PM
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First day of the 2012 US Pro Challenge, Durango to Telluride (riding ahead of the actual race) was a hard day for me. 125 miles 9200 vertical feet in 6:54. A pace I shouldn't have been trying to maintain with 5 more days like it in a row to come.
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Old 04-06-17, 12:30 PM
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My first 100 mile century; longest ride ever before was 70 miles:
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Old 04-06-17, 12:30 PM
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For me...
The one I remember is pulling my trailer in 115F heat on the way to Fresno.
I also did a 140 mile ride with same trailer back to work and woke up about mile 120 on the road 4:00AM
For the most part being unprepared made it hard. I could have died on some of the desert rides, but people came by and gave me water. I was 20.

Did a few tandem Fondos in the 80s/early 90s averaging high 20s mph. I was fit. My gorilla stoker ended up later with a national champion's jersey. But I always worked harder on the tandem with a partner. So those were typically the Solvang Century, Mexicali-San Felipe, Tecate-Ensenada, Rosarito-Ensenada - all at my limit.


Races where hard - but if they hurt a lot and got real bad, I'd just get dropped and they would not hurt anymore.
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Old 04-06-17, 12:30 PM
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Originally Posted by JBerman View Post
It was such a disappointment to myself and cycling for me in general. I felt like I let myself down, but it does happen.
Have you gone back and finished it?

It's only a let down, if you don't stay after it. Otherwise its just a temporary setback.
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Old 04-06-17, 12:31 PM
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
First day of the 2012 US Pro Challenge, Durango to Telluride (riding ahead of the actual race) was a hard day for me. 125 miles 9200 vertical feet in 6:54. A pace I shouldn't have been trying to maintain with 5 more days like it in a row to come.

How many "hardest bike rides ever?" do you have ?
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Old 04-06-17, 12:32 PM
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The "Triple Bypass", in Colorado. 120 miles over three passes all over 10,000ft (Juniper, Loveland, Vail), with >10,000 feet in elevation gain.

Some nutters do it in the other direction the next day (the "Double Bypass").
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Old 04-06-17, 12:33 PM
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As I said DK was the hardest, Leadville, and EC close seconds.

US Pro Challenge hardest multi day.
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Old 04-06-17, 12:33 PM
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
Have you gone back and finished it?

It's only a let down, if you don't stay after it. Otherwise its just a temporary setback.
Very true! I did go back and tackle it with a friend! Solo long trips for me have been proven brutal! I kind of need the push of someone else on those long rides.
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Old 04-06-17, 12:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Doge View Post
For me...
The one I remember is pulling my trailer in 115F heat on the way to Fresno.
I also did a 140 mile ride with same trailer back to work and woke up about mile 120 on the road 4:00AM
For the most part being unprepared made it hard. I could have died on some of the desert rides, but people came by and gave me water. I was 20.

Did a few tandem Fondos in the 80s/early 90s averaging high 20s mph. I was fit. My gorilla stoker ended up later with a national champion's jersey. But I always worked harder on the tandem with a partner. So those were typically the Solvang Century, Mexicali-San Felipe, Tecate-Ensenada, Rosarito-Ensenada - all at my limit.


Races where hard - but if they hurt a lot and got real bad, I'd just get dropped and they would not hurt anymore.

Doge!! Hat's off. That's amazing--and challenging--country along the border. Did you ever do La Rumurosa (between Tecate and Mexicali)?
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Old 04-06-17, 12:48 PM
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Fall 2014 I think it was. Did a charity ride for the local Hospice on my Mom's Birthday who had passed away in 2008. My Dad was in town, and he did the 5k hike and I set out to do the 30 mile unsupported bike ride at my own pace. A small cue sheet with the turns was handed out, and after I made the right turn where I was supposed to turn left, I somehow lost it. Cell service was spotty at best, and the piece of crap phone I was using simply would not load a map up. GPS based Cateye with no map support either. This is late September in Michigan. Weather changes at the drop of a dime. Winds pick up, temp drops, and the rain comes in. Was only supposed to be out for a few hours and be back. My ride turned into a 48 mile trek on a fixed gear track bike through pouring rain, blasting winds and quite a bit of alone time. Back country roads on a Sunday morning don't have much traffic on them. I stopped trying to find cell service to conserve the battery just in case. At 8 miles out, I got ahold of my Dad. Everyone was gone, the event was over, but I had driven to it and he could not drive my manual transmission car. He and another woman that stayed back were going to come get me. I said absolutely not. I will finish this ride.

5 miles out I found this bait and tackle shop/gas station on a small lake. They were open so I stopped to get something to eat. I was ill prepared for this ride. Water bottle long gone, Clif bar long gone as well. One slice of greasy pizza and a Gatorade later, back on the bike in the pouring rain to finish what I had started. It was slow going with the wind and how cold my body was getting. Rolling into the parking lot, my Dad and the woman were still there. I apologized for getting lost, and for being stubborn about finishing the ride. He refused the apology, and told me that there was no need, it wasn't stubborn, it was how I was raised. You set stuff aside, and you finish it. Don't give up, don't stop, if you can keep going, you do that.

Mileage wise, that was not a hard ride. Mentally, it wore on me. It was my Mom's birthday, and she was not there to celebrate it. She would have been proud of me though, for not giving up, for not stopping, and for not losing sight of my goal.
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