The day started out wicked early at 4am. I met my dad at 5 and we started the hour-long drive down to Castle Rock. I swear those nasty early mornings are always the same regardless of the event: I’m always asking myself why I paid to do this and why I chose to get up insanely early on my weekend. And yet…. I continue to register for events!
Anyway, Dad and I got down to the Douglas County Fairgrounds and parked by 7am. Elephant Rock has a rolling start, so the 62-milers were allowed to start between 6-8am. We had been hoping for an early start since the temps were supposed to soar into the mid-90s, but 7:35 was the best we could do!
|Dad at the start|
Both of us did Elephant Rock last year, so we each had a vague recollection of the course specifics. However, both of us must have altered something in our memories because neither remember how difficult the first 15 miles are! ERock is tricky because the steepest climb happens around mile 6. That’s pretty nuts when you consider it’s a 62 mile course!
Of course, I was overdressed in my Columbia Solar Half Zip long sleeve, and by the time I cranked my way to the top of the first climb, I was freaking hot as hell and my face was the color of a cherry tomato. Dad was waiting at the top, puffing and catching his breath, and the two of us looked at each thinking the same thing: “What in the world are we doing?!” Luckily, we both got our heart rates back down and continued on our way.
|At the first rest station|
It was also during this time that I got hit on during the ride! I was puffing my way up a climb and was cranking out a good pace, passing quite a few other cyclists. One of the men caught back up with me and goes, “You know, my friend told me that the only thing that got him over Squaw Pass was watching all the cute girls pass him on the climbs. He said it wasn’t a bad view. I was thinking the same when you passed me!” Seriously y’all??! I was covered in sweat and out of breath since I was powering my way up a hill, so I just stared at him and did the fake “Hahahaha.” What was I supposed to say to that?! That is NOT the time for a flirt session, people!
There were a couple other beastly climbs, so we were both psyched to see the first rest station at mile 16.5. ERock has 3 rest stations on the 62 mile course: miles 16.5, 33.5, and 44.5 Each one has the happiest group of volunteers and is packed with porta potties, snacks, water, and Cytomax. The snacks are awesome and included things like PopTarts, orange slices, granola, trail mix, and even Oreo cookies. We just had to be careful that we didn’t linger too long because hopping on the back and working the lactic acid through the legs was painful!
The section between rest station #1 and #2 was on a strip of road known as “Roller Coaster Alley” or something to that effect. None of the climbs were as large or steep as those in the first portion, but there was a lot of ups and downs. Remember how I told you that I hadn’t ridden my bike since August? Well, that also meant that I hadn’t looked at my bike components either. I had wanted to take my roadie in for a tuneup before ERock, but never had the time. I was cursing this oversight on Roller Coaster Alley as it became more and more apparent that I needed a new chain. Every time I dropped into my lower gear in order to climb the hills, my chain would drop suddenly and fall of the cog. I had to stop THREE TIMES in 10 miles so I could flip my bike over and put the chain back on. I got so frustrated that I finally quitting using my low gears and climbed all the hills in my second (middle) ring.
Let me tell you how totally awesome that felt on my quads!
The bright side of having a brutal first half of the course is that the second half is so much fun and encompasses a lot of downhill. Literally, from mile 34 till the end, there was only one massive climb– Elephant Rock itself. Other than that, there was a ton of downhill that I enjoyed the hell out of! Last year, I got up to 45mph on the descents, but this year, I decided not to be an idiot. I capped my speed at 36mph, but still looked on in awe as some crazy speedsters hurtled past me– they must have easily been doing 50. SCARY!
(Even better? I haven’t mentioned it yet, but last week Columbia sent me an amazing Outdoor Edition of the Hero2 GoPro camera. I tested it out yesterday for the first time during the ride, and I have some fun footage of the descent. Once I figure out this whole video editing deal, I post the footage. Totally makes me laugh!)
Dad and I were able to pick up our pace during this second half and average around 18mph. Of course, we had to average this with our incredibly sllllllllllloooooow first half pace. In the end , our stats were:
Time: 4 hours 13 minutes (and some change)
Elevation Climbed: 4000 feet (the course said 3400 but my Garmin said 4000. I’m sticking to that!)
|Back in the parking lot, after the ride. Both of us look a little sun burned and sweaty!|
My fave part of the entire experience is that I got to do this with my dad. I know I am lucky to have such active parents, and even though they are both creeping up on 60 (they both turn 56 this month), they are in awesome shape and enjoy staying active. I really value the time that I get to spend with each of them because I know it won’t always be this way. Now I’m looking forward to running the Georgetown Half with my mom in August!
Final verdict today? I feel great! I have zero sore muscles and other than some serious sunburn and a slight urge to never sit on a bike saddle again, I feel awesome. Either running equals an awesome cross training tool for cycling, or I’m not meant to train for cycling events…. ever. Clearly I’m meant to wing ’em since I felt better during this ERock than I did last year!