Saturday, August 18, 2012

Wildflower Pedalfest - Ride Report

This ride was so much fun, so brutal, and not what I was expecting (though I didn't really know what to expect) so, I will start at the beginning.

Wildflower Pedalfest is a first year ride for all women that includes several different distances, from 18, 35, 50 or 75 miles.  Leanne and I were signed up for the 75 mile ride (78 really) that included a climb to the top of Big Mountain, that is a 3500 ft elevation gain from where the ride starts. I think that we both knew that this ride would be a challenge, but I don't think that either of us knew HOW MUCH of a challenge it really was.  Anyhow, over left is us at the start, totally refreshed, happy, and clueless as to what was ahead :)

Our ride started at 7:00 am and it was only 50 degrees at the start.  I hadn't really planned on that (really Katie?!?) and was glad that I had those arm warmers in the bottom of my bag since it was so chilly.  We headed out and it was 14 miles to the first feed station, and it was a nice ride to that point, nothing major, no major climbs, just some nice rolling hills.  Leanne and I were both thinking that we were the very last ones in the group, but as we left the first feed station, we noticed many more behind us.  Terrible, I know to not want to be last, after all this is NOT a race, just a nice, friendly, organized ride, but both of us agreed it would suck to be the last ones!

To the next feed station was another 15-16 miles, but this time it included a climb up to East Canyon Reservoir. This is the same route that I rode with my Dad this past May, so I knew what the climb was like, but after a summer of training, it was much easier than I remembered it.  Leanne is a beast on her bike, she just coasted up these climbs!  It was fun to make it to the next one, they had some sandwiches, candy, stations to refill our water bottles, etc.  Leanne had told me earlier in the week that she had planned on turning around here.  She didn't feel prepared for the full 75, and this feed station would be the turn around point for the 50 miler.  We got up there and I think we both knew she would be continuing on.  Good thing too!  She is so much fun to ride with!  Here she is looking all refreshed, happy, and ready for some more!

We then headed around the south end of East Canyon Reservoir and there was more climbing and also some fun downhills that we knew we would have to climb on the way back.  It was fun, beautiful, and not too hot at this point.  We noticed the pack of the 75 milers thinning and it often felt like Leanne and I had the road to ourselves.  This is a very popular riding route for many people, so we saw tons of groups riding that were not with the Pedalfest that day.  It amazed me to see these pelotons of people whizzing by like nothing, especially on the climbs!  There are some amazing athletes out there!

We got to the bottom of the Wildflower Hill Climb, the "official" climb to the top of Big Mountain.  It is 5.5 miles long, and a gradual, though brutal combination of winding roads to the top.  I had NO idea how hard it would be.  I have done climbs, but none as long as this one.  Others I have done may have been this steep, but not this LONG.  We really had no breaks or flat or anything in that five and half miles.  I got into the lowest gear my bike has, and just grinded it out.  We averaged 4-5 mph on this climb, and it took us just over an hour.  Leanne, heck, this was cake to her!  She even took a phone call during the climb!  She was awesome!  I, on the other hand, really struggled with this climb.  I have done three marathons now, several half marathons, and many hard training runs, and NEVER, EVER, have I reached a puke thresh hold on them.  Well, here was the first time in any work out that I thought I was going to puke.  I had to stop my bike 2 or 3 times, take some water and some deep breaths before starting up again as I literally thought I was going to puke.  It was just a very long, slow, steady sustained effort that was just plain HARD!

I never thought I would turn around, and I told Leanne I was determined to make it to the top, but I definitely wasn't going to break any records doing so.  She was very patient with me and we eventually made it, without having to push our bikes once!  We did see many women who got off their bikes and were walking them, but we didn't have too!  WOOHOOO!

At the top and feeling like a rock star!
 I thought it was funny that they had these lei's for us at the top, only for the purpose of the picture taking though, we had to give them back :)

We were feeling very proud of ourselves, and I was SOO glad to have Leanne along!
Leanne and I took a chance at the top to get some food, take some pictures, and visit with other women who had made it to the top.  We went to fill our water bottles and they had run out of water.  I was pretty irritated, I mean really?  The TOP of the mountain and you run out of water?!  Not the volunteers fault, so we couldn't let them have it, but wouldn't you think after climbing a hill like that you would want to have plenty of it on hand?  Notice when you were getting low and plan in advance?  I don't know, it just seemed odd to me, but within 20 minutes they showed up with more.  Enough of my whining...

The view from the top.  If it wasn't for all the dang wild fires, it would have been less hazy
As soon as we were able to refill our bottles, we headed back down. We still had 36 miles ahead of us, and they weren't just straight downhill, we would have some more climbs and rollers on the way back.  The initial downhill from the top of Big Mountain was SWEET!  My bike hit almost 40 mph, and it was just plain fun!  I love that sweet pay off of a hard climb!  We made it down and then were back to the route that circles the reservoir.  We stopped at the feed station again, after a decent climb to get back to it.  At this point my quads were SCREAMING at me.  They were shot.  I was so glad that my Dad had told me to pack ibuprofen and I took some of that, as well as used the Bengay they provided.  I swear those were life savers and probably the only reason I made it the remainder of the course.  We then went and finished the remaining 20 miles and those were HARD miles as well.  As the route wound around through Peterson and Stoddard, we caught a nasty head wind and at times it was just awful.  We were sore, tired, starving, and that wind and few last rollers were just cruel as we made our way to the finish.  We were SO ready to get off those bikes!

At the finish, we grabbed lunch stuck around for the raffle, and then left.  Our total ride time for those 78 miles was just over 6 hours.  With the climbing and the wind, I was pretty proud of that.  It is a VERY long time to be the in the saddle though!


- I really liked this ride in that it is very pretty (ok gorgeous) and it was fairly well organized, especially considering this was a first year event.  I had some quips with running out of water at the top, the fact there was no finisher's medal at the top (sorry, I am all about race bling) and when they told us there was a "special award" at the top, and it was a head band, well, not exactly the same

- I would have loved something more substantial at the feed stations.  I don't know what it is about biking, but it wears me out more than running, and I can't live on Gu and Gatorade alone.  They some bread at some stations, and peanut butter and honey sandwich squares, but at the top, they didn't have those things, and that's when I could have used it the most.  When we hit the aid stations on the way back down, all they had left was candy.

- I think that next time, I would just do the 50 mile route, unless I prepared more than I did.  That amount of climbing and that total distance together make for a brutal ride.

- I feel like a more credible cyclist now. I can now say that I have done a cycling specific event, and a difficult one at that. I'm not just a runner that rides on occasion :)

Leanne and I are now wanting to a century ride together, looking at Little Red next spring.  It is fairly flat, and if we can do 78 with those climbs, a flat century would be cake!

What's next:
 A few days of recovering from this ride, and then the Bear Lake Brawl Olympic Distance Tri next Saturday!

In the meantime....

Happy Training all!


  1. Congrats on a great ride! A five and a half mile climb sounds brutal to this flat lander :-). Running out of water is unacceptable, even as a first year event. They know the number of riders. It's not that tough to calculate how many ounces to refill two bottles then double it.

  2. Thanks for posting! I love your tales of our adventure! You were so much fun to bike with- can't wait for the century next year:)