There are two main components to this ride, physical and mental. Training for months can build muscles,
hone reflexes and prepare the heart and lungs.
Mental preparation is much more difficult.
So many times riders have come to me about anxieties about the next day’s maps. The vast majority of times I can easily calm them down… especially this far into the cross country course.
There was much concern about today’s ride… the heat, the climbs, the long distance before the climbs, and the dryness of the climate. This part of Washington is almost like the desert just a few miles to the south.
I recall my own anxiety about this day 3 years ago and will include that story below.
Today I decide to leave st 5:30 AM, in attempt to complete the climbs before the intense heat hits.
To my left the sun pinkens the sky above vineyards, orchards, and fields of alfalfa.
At 26 miles I pull into a Safeway to load up on bananas and water… I will probably be alone all day.
I head farther South and then at 35 miles West and up past more orchards to Loup Loup Pass.
(For a description of that climb skip to the end of this page).
The big difference for me this time is that I recall the parts of the climb and know the ascents and bends in the road. Physically I have no problem reaching the pass, in fact it was easier than I recalled.
I ponder this near the top
and realize my anxiety of the unknown before held back my physical strengths.
I am sure this is a common problem for everyone, the unknown getting in the way of performance.
I wonder if living in the moment precludes this sometimes crippling phenomenon… I will have to watch this in the future.
As I get off my bike at the summit of Loup Loup Pass I look back to see a very strong female rider who had been chasing the White Rabbit for 2 miles… just by the skin of my teeth, 30 yards, I win the Yellow Jersey to the top… I never could have done that three years ago…I was a too young lad, handicapped by anxiety, and lacking in road wisdom.
Not this time.
I speed down the mountain to Twisp and then turn right to Winthrop our nights stay on a KAO camp… next to a river…which I avail myself too as soon as I get off my bike…
Anxiety or not it was very,very, very hot…
Day 65: Loup Loup Pass
Tuesday August 4, 2015
Loup Loup Pass
I have come to learn a hardcore truth about this ride. There are no easy days. Sometimes when things are going well at the start of each daily segment I get overly optimistic but soon, usually very soon, I am eating my words and thoughts and fall back on the truism…there are just no easy rides. New England and New York were a challenge with their HILLS and MOUNTAINS and constant RAIN. The Midwest gave me lengthy rides soaked in RAIN. Iowa killed me with its HILLS. Minnesota was truly pleasant, perhaps that was the easiest. The GREAT PLAINS stretched on forever, and well…Montana…what can I say, just read back about those 400 days of terror…Idaho itself was not bad but that is when the dysentery hit the group. And now Washington with her climbs…
Today I climb Loup Loup Pass. At a glance it looks to be the second easiest of the 5 passes. Just 17.5 miles up at a grade of maybe 5%. Two of us leave at 5AM to try to beat the heat, forecast to be 101 at 3PM. At 5 it is light, safe to ride but the sun has not yet shown itself. There are four of us in a group, with another four having left 15 minutes before. At six miles we come upon those four stopped at the roadside. One has become sick with dehydration from the day before and cannot ride. Her resting heart rate is almost 100 and quite faint. I advise her not to ride and call for the backup van so she can drink and eat for the rest of the day ( I will see her later in the van on the mountainside giving out water to exhausted riders…she did fine with rehydration. It it took more than two gallons before she peed). Two stay behind to help her, one rides on with the rest of us. Soon I find myself in front of the pack and one other rider keeps up with me. I am motivated to get to the top before the heat descends on us to bake our brains. I usually ride about 14 mph on a flat, this morning I up it to 16.5. At 25 miles we pull into a Safeway to eat and hydrate. A quick donut for me, down even before I get to the cash register …the clerk laughs… two protein drinks and a banana. I tell the others I do not want to wait but instead insist on riding on ahead. Four end up together for the climb. Loup Loup Pass is now 17.5 up after a flat of 30 miles. We begin our ascent, not to bad,like the other passes. I look to the right and see above me high up apple orchards on a plateau. How beautiful…and then…I see the road going through the orchards… OMG it is my road and straight up!!!! We turn to the right and begin a steeper ascent. I have never ridden on such a slope, maybe 10%. I switch immediately to granny gear and churn out the revolutions. After a mile I am covered in sweat and begin to have doubts about this…maybe I road the first 30 miles too fast. At the second mile of this climb I must stop to rest, drink, eat, and undress to minimal garb. By this time there are just two of us together, one ahead and one behind. We go another mile. I am breathing at 40 times per minute wondering why I don’t pass out. My clothes, minimal as they are are soaked in sweat. I look behind, Zephry is pushing as hard as he can, behind him Dinosaurs and Indians, behind them all my friends. My odometer says 4 mph!!! ” I can walk faster than this!!!” ” No you can’t!!!” says my Guardian Angel who takes a spot in front to pull. At three miles the two of us stop, we cannot talk and are hyperventilating. The third behind us pulls up ” if it is like this much more I can’t go on!!!” We all agree. I down another liter of water and we all sit to rest. Ahead it looks like the slope lessens a bit so we decide to try once more. Finally after 100 meters or so we level out to a 5% climb. This is manageable but our legs are shot from the last three mile of straight up. For the next two hours we grind our way to the top with one small respite of downhill midway to the Pass. I have to stop again twice to rest at 42 miles and 46 miles but finally I reach the Top.
My goal had been to be there at 10:30 AM, it is now 10:06. I am too tired to celebrate. Eventually 5 of us sit at the top eating and drinking before the descent of 17.5 miles to Twisp. I ask a fellow rider if we can stop at 9 miles down to cool my brakes…he says yes…but one of the Invincibles shouts out ” Nick!!! Why do you need your brakes?” ” Because I don’t want to go more than 25-30mph”. “What, your crazy, I try to get to 50 mph with no brakes”. My riding partner gives me a silent glance…he too wants the lesser speed. I look at the Invincible and wonder who of the two of us is crazy…
The ride down goes well. We stop in Twisp to drink and ride on quickly in the heat to Winthrop some 10 miles further west. By the time we arrive at 11:15 it is 95 degrees. We have beat the heat… I later learn than some riders dawdled before the ride, at the base of the pass, half way up, and at a coffee shop in Twisp. I suspect the heat will teach them a lesson. Last I heard the Sun has no respect for Young Invincibles or Wizened Old… As an aside there few pictures today, I was too concerned about heat and the time.
In did take a shot of the relief map for these Passes. Loup Loup is the second from the left (the map goes west to east left to right).
If you look just at the line for Okanogan in the detail below you will see the graph is VERTICAL…
This was that three mile stretch…look closely with a magnifying glass and you will see my Guardian Angel’s fingernails at the left of the line…they came off with all the stress of pulling me up the last stretch…no to worry , they grow back…