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- 18. April 2008.

Suzy Degazon does the MULHOLLAND CHALLENGE

Well after 12 months I had forgotten how difficult the Mulholland challenge was and as my friend Amber was signed up I decided at the last minute to join her! I paid full premium, $80 for the privilege of 3 digit temperatures and brutal climbs in and around Mulholland! This was the first challenge of 3 difficult rides towards “ KING OF THE MOUNTAIN” When you finish them all in one calendar year you can wear a special jersey and have bragging rights!


At 5am we set off for Calabasa it was about a 50 minute drive, the temperature rapidly dropped from 68 to 44!! Brr cold but I had planned for this and had brought long gloves and arm warmers. We did not start until 7.20am and both Amber and her friend thought between 8 to 9 hours was a good time to finish.. Mm do not forget about the hills, descents and let’s not forget the triple digit heat..


After clipping on the route sheet onto my handlebar and bracing for the cold air we set off. Oh MY Gosh the cold air hit my face and legs like sharp needles oh I am so miserable I tried riding with one hand under my arm pits and kept rotating to keep my fingers warm, I knew it was going to warm up the question was when! As we where going through Malibu Canyon the temperature went up 10 degrees, the sun began shining and the wind was making an appearance. Just before Topanga canyon I took off my arm warmers, gloves and Pink Hammer jacket as I did not want to over heat climbing. Before long we were at the first “Sticker Stop” 27.5miles into the ride.

I was breaking in a brand new Cannondale Synapse, (what better way than a 109 mile bike ride!!) the seat I felt was a little low and the cables had begun to stretch I did not want to mess with it, luckily the gears that were messing up where gears I really did not intend to use on climbing!

After a rolling 12 miles we finally hit the first food station. I kept with Hammer Nutrition as it was getting really hot so I added ice to my Perpetuem and made sure I was taking 3 electrolytes every hour, I was not going to get gastric problems eating the sugary snacks offered. My chocolate Hammer gel was perfect.

The next official stop is 10 miles that is a sign there is a lot of climbing, sharp rollers and a few climbs, we hit a hairpin turn sharp right and there was a nasty incline I charged up it only to hear my friend had a problem so like a good friend I turned and went back down only to find she had difficulty clipping in, So off we both went back up this nasty grade my polar was screaming at me to slow down meanwhile my legs felt like jell-o! I had to stop at the top to regain my self meanwhile my friend kept climbing! I soon caught her again as it was quite a climb!

Finally at 50 miles the rest stop appears, my friend is definitely thinking this is a challenging course, I tell her that everyone is suffering, to try to enjoy the scenery & visualize relaxation! The next 20 miles are brutal, the air is hot the down hills offer no relief from the heat, thankful for the Hawaiian Tropic 70 around the back of my neck, legs and arms we hit a steep climb it is just one pedal stroke at a time I try to concentrate on my breathing finally I am on a hairy descent called Deer Creek, it is steep and technical there is no room for looking at my Polar600 or checking on my heart rate, never mind about enjoying the scenery all I can do is hope I will make it to the Pacific coast Highway without road rash! Finally I have 5.6miles of Hwy to contend with it really is a beautiful day, the wind is not really that bad and the sun is unrelenting.

The dreaded Decker Canyon approaches 3.8miles of climbing. I see a sign which is cautioning cars going up I suddenly remember the pain of this climb last year. I hit my 23 cog and begin grinding my way up, gradually passing tired cyclists, by the time I had reached the top I had left behind several cyclists bent over their beloved bikes tired and cramping it resembled a battle ground of despair. At the top of the climb there was several cases of ice and lots of water, I took endurolytes and sustained energy. My friend really had caught the sun and felt nauseous; I coaxed her to drink a half bottle of sustained energy and a few endurolytes pills immediately feeling better. Only 38miles left, a few more food stations and this heat and climbing would be just a distant memory!

Finally we reach the last big rest stop we spend a little too much time here but there is an awful lot of weary cyclists here!! As most of them know that there is a beautiful 4mile climb in Stunt road approaching, that climb was brutal more so than Decker because of the time already spent on the bike, I stopped twice to offer help to cyclists who needed water or just encouragement to get back on the bike there was a lot of depleted cyclists on that climb. At the top we where rewarded with a view of the mountains and Ocean.

The home stretch and more climbing we saw Jay Leno in one of his old cars go by twice, a few more climbs and finally we were cruising down Agoura Road and the welcoming sign of the Good Nite Inn beckoned us forward, We had both finished the 109miles in 10 hours and 4 minutes slower than last year. Amber was elated to have finished. Back at the car I sprayed my legs and neck with Kool n fit spray just felt good, I really had had a great time and can almost see me signing up for this again next year!
A few statistics.. 398 started the ride 277 finished 18 where DQd for running red lights, personal sag etc out of that about 30women in all finished the challenge. With 12,500 feet of climbing it is one of the toughest centuries in SO Cal.

Thanks to Hammer Nutrition for the knowledge of good nutrition, without the endurolytes and Perpetuem I would never have finished!

I managed to raise $763 for Breast Cancer with AVON of Puerto Rico. Special thanks to Cannondale, Polar monitors, Rudy Project, Spinergy Wheels, Serfas tires, Profile Design, Hawaiian Tropic, Fuelbelt, Kool n Fit and my husband Al
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