The alarm went off at 4am I had been blessed with 2 hours sleep after spending Friday evening with my husband at the Hospice paying our respects to his mom who had passed away that evening. I felt awful it had been quite an emotionally charged evening and I also had a toothache, Al had prepared my bike and I was set, I traveled to Irvine with Bruce (an excellent ultra cyclist) and arrived at La Quinta Inn at 5.15am.
I signed in picked up my route sheet and race number 266. I saw a lot of familiar faces as this would be my 4th double century. I had not enough sleep and I knew it. I had prepared a six hour bottle of Perpetuem (with extra in a plastic bag) and had plenty of endurolytes. It was freezing and I had stupidly not arrived prepared so Bruce gave me a scull cap to wear and I also borrowed an undershirt Brrr... This was going to be a long day.
At 6.15am a huge crowd of ultra cyclists headed out of the Inn,( there was 189 registered riders and 158 who finished it!) it was a new route for 2008 I was with Brent from cycling connections as we began this route of what seemed like a zillion lights! Soon the group became divided as the faster cyclists made the green lights and the slower hit the red lights.
For the first 39miles I felt miserable, lack of sleep, guilty at doing the ride and a toothache all seemed to haunt me, my fingers were tingling with the cold my nose was running my feet were numb and then there was Brent who kept up the cheerful banter shouting:
“Hammer, hammer Suzy put down the hammer!!”
Fun, he certainly made me smile and very soon with a few short climbs in the mix and a view of the ocean I was feeling better. At mile 39 I saw my friend Tammy who has MS and is blind in her left eye, she was also feeling the cold and her MS was not helping her today, but her determination to fight her ailment makes her a winner in my eyes every time.
Now every cyclist has a route map and I usually try to follow a group of cyclists going at a good clip, but I had missed the chance to do so by being so sluggish in the early morning so I found a need to learn to read the route sheet alone and sure enough after a 100 miles I was grooving with the route. Thank goodness for my Polar CS600 giving me the miles and other helpful information.
The organization Planet Ultra had in my opinion excellent aid stations, I could refuel with endurolytes, plenty of water, Hammergel and sustained energy I kept with Perpetuem as I like the dreamy orange Popsicle flavor! At mile 87 there were sandwiches and drinks available and it was tempting to throw in the towel and go home I called my husband everything was okay back home, I was good to continue.
The next 100miles or so were when the real cycling began, a few nice hill climbs and fast descents certainly spiced up things a little, I managed to get lost for what seemed about 30minutes as I mis-read the route sheet, finally on the right route and daylight quickly fading I had joined a group of cyclists who were familiar with the route, It was getting dark I had my rear red light on, my front light on a low beam, my ankle reflectors glowing every time a headlight hit them! I looked like a lighted up Christmas tree which was not a bad thing! As 10miles down the Antonio Park way you really need to be illuminated!
The last aid station appeared 167.5miles done!! It was getting really cold and I put on my arm warmers again, I was well hydrated and did not want to stay to long next to the warm heater they had going! Only 30 some miles to go! I set off into Trabuco Canyon it was pitch black and the road was a narrow uphill, finally turned onto Santiago Canyon were a sign warns motorists to use caution and headlights. I was a little spooked it was like cycling in ink I kept thinking of wild animals attacking me, or a crazy person stopping their car to steal my beautiful cannondale bike and spinergy wheels!! I had 12miles in this canyon and I probably would still be there if this cyclist had not whizzed past me full throttle, all happy! I felt like the Energizer bunny after being recharged!! I immediately chased after him, forget the cold and darkness this was fun, as I caught up he shouted lets get them. He was referring to the red back lights blinking in front of us. We began overtaking cyclists on our way to the finish he would try to reach the green lights and when they turned red would laugh and say we will get them at the next light! Soon the Quinta Inn was insight it was a left turn into the finish the light hit red we stopped and then out of no were another cyclist went right around us through the red light! UN- believable! We laughed as we saw a police car behind us and we both agreed it was better to wait for the light and finish on our bikes than in a hospital!
My time will not go in the history books 14hours and 57minutes, my slowest to date! But considering my lack of sleep and personal issues a descent time! Bruce was very happy to see me he had finished in 11hours and 45minutes! Ouch now that is fast! My friend Tammy would have to wait another day to complete her second double as her MS decided it would not allow her to cycle after 62miles! I needed to get home it was almost 10pm when I finally arrived home. I had a 2 tank dive on Sunday at Laguna Beach, there is no rest!
I would like to thank my husband for letting me do the ride; I did raise $1,400 for cancer through AVON of Puerto Rico for completing this double century, and Bruce for carpooling with me.
I would also like to thank Hammer Nutrition, Cannondale, Spinergy Wheels, Serfas Tires, Profile Design, Rudy Project, Fuel belt , Polar monitors USA, Kool n Fit & Energizer for their help and support.
Suzy Degazon Ultra WOman!
Michael Bradley Photography