RAMROD 2017, Training and Ride report

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Ride Around Mount Rainier On a Day - RAMROD - a 152 mile ride with ~10,000 feet of elevation to climb. I heard about this ride from my cycling mentor Matt McTee 4 years ago. I never imagined I would ever be doing this brutal ride for what I was used to riding. But since last summer, after my renewed passion in cycling and also following Tim, who is also my cycling mentor, I made up my mind during the winter to do RAMROD this year. After climbing Haleakala , RAMROD was one of the 2017 fitness goals .  Tim, Dave and I applied for the lottery as a team - "Team Mountain Goats". On April 1st we received a note that I was not selected in the Lottery. But realized, there was a system glitch and that mail was sent to every one on April 1st (Hmm..what a April first joke). Luckily next week we received a mail that we are selected in the lottery.  Getting in the lottery is good, but now I should be fit enough to ride this brutal ride.

RAMROD Training : During winter I bought a Wahoo Kickr and signed up for Trainer road. The last winter was a severe and long winter for us, so I had to train most of the time indoors. But I tried to be as regular as possible with at least 2-3 spin session and definitely that improved my overall aerobic fitness. By March I had a decent fitness to do my first ride with lots of climbing. Tim & I did the Edge 42, with some steep hills around the east side. Definitely I got dropped by Tim in one of the hills. But I was improving. Along with Tim & Dave, we started doing some regular weekend ride picking up the Ramrod Training series routes. By April I bought my new bike - Trek Domane SL6. A nice endurance geometry with ultegra groupset, this was a beautiful bike to ride. I did my first century ride in April with good climbing in the first half and a mostly flat route in the second half.  By may with regular weekday and weekend rides I had put on some good mileage on the bike. Third week of May I had to travel to China and India and took a 10 day break in-between. Came back by end of May with few additional pounds, but still managed a Personal record in the 7 hills of Kirkland century . By the time I was doing flying wheels, I was in good run and even completed my fastest century ride ever at 17.9 mph.  At Tour de blast, I was definitely climbing St. Helens at a much easier heart rate and also was able to complete the ride with a personal record time and speed. By end of June I went to Lake Chelan for one of the toughest ride ever I have done. Dave and I with help from Tim went and rode at Mt Rainier couple of times. We did all the climbs in Rainier to get familiarized with the climb. Thanks to Tim who was our personal support during this ride. Unfortunately he had to drop from training because of injury. I definitely PRd on the sunrise, chinook climbs compared to last year. By July 2nd week, I had put good mileage on the bike with some serious climbing practice.
Nutrition : This was the biggest struggle because of family and my own self control. I was on and off with a good eating habits. My travel to India and China in May was a set back in my weight goals. I came back with additional pounds. One of the key in these extended climbing rides is body weight, since you are riding against gravity. By June I got into a serious diet rhythm, which partly helped in being at a decent weight for RAMROD, but definitely not the right time trying to cut down food intake, since I was also training hard. But the last two months before RAMROD, I was completely off sugar and any refined carbs. I mostly had good vegetables, fruits or eggs. I did take dairy since I need my yogurt . The day before hard rides, I did take rice and tried to cut back on other days. This helped in my overall performance and also my hear rate improved on the climbs.

On RAMROD Day : I carpooled with Subu to the start point, and had to wake up at 2.30 AM to be there at the start by 4.30. The day started with getting a speeding ticket on my way to the start point. But still was hoping for a good ride. I started at 5.00 AM and had to ride solo for the first 36 miles, since Dave was not there at the start at 5. It drizzled for the first 30 miles, since it was not pouring, a very pleasant weather.I averaged about 18mph till Ashford sticking to few pace lines which were at decent pace. I tried to avoid hard pacelines since there was some good climbing to do post the 65 miles. After the first rest stop Dave and I stuck to each other for the rest of the ride, and was at Wildwood food stop by 8.30 AM. We were going at some decent pace and I was not eating enough till this point. I was avoiding the bagels and did not like eating the bars, So mostly I was running low on nutrition and I could feel slowly in my legs. In the first climb to inspiration point, my legs were not at it best , and I was a bit slower but we managed to reach Inspiration point by 10.45 AM. I did some stretching with yogasanans and also tried eating some bars, but did not like the taste of it. After inspiration point , it was a long and fun downhill  to back bone ridge and I stopped at Box canyon food stop to eat some potatoes. They definitely tasted better and that is where I got some real nutrition. By the time I entered cayuse pass, it was 12 noon and we were super lucky to have the weather in the 70s and lots of shade in Cayuse. The potatoes and gu shot gave the energy to climb cayuse not at my PR but at a decent pase. The nine mile climb with the stop in between for water following another amazing downhill, took  about 1 hour and 50 minutes ,we were at the deli stop near crystal mountain before 2 pm.  The deli stop had some chips and fruits I gorged every bit of it, and they had a coke can. A coke tasted never better before, and the sugar and caffine helped me to push the next 36 miles of mostly flat to down hills but with heavy head wind. The head winds for the last segment were just too much and Dave did pull a good 19 miles in this part. For last the 10 miles, I found a good pace line and stuck to it in every section till the end which helped us to push really hard. By 4.15 PM we were at the finish line. I averaged a 15.8 mph for this 152 mile ride with some good climbing. When I finished I still had gas left in the tank and definitely was not feeling completely done ( I could barely move when I finished first STP or even this year Chelan century). A good weather and a great support helped in completing this ride which I never imagined I would be doing it.

Fundraising : Since 2014, I have been trying to support the cause to educate children. There are many other causes I support, but Educating the first generation of school goers is something I personally fundraise every year through the bike ride I do. Educating a kid who is in need is like teaching someone to fish. A good education could transform the life of not just the kid but also that of his/her family. The impact is amplified more so because most of the children we support are first-generation school goers. A learning from my own personal life and have seen many such stories among my friends. To continue with this effort, I raised funds to educate kids in need through Asha for Education initiative for RAMROD. A Million thanks to all the friends who supported me in reaching the fund raising goal to support the cause to educate children through Asha for Education - Seattle Chapter
Takeaways :
  • Winter base training is must base fitness. Improved base fitness with reducing my resting heart rate.
  • Focus on weight loss and get to goal weight before spring. Trying to lose weight during training was a struggle. 
  • Improve on the bike eating pattern and find the right nutrition balance
  • Work on core fitness, this would help me do better on these long climbs in holding a steady line.
  • Improving fat adaptation and reduce carb dependency and focus on high fat lower carbs by eating fresh and natural food more.
  • Avoid sugar and other packaged items all through winter before I start training hard in spring.
Here is the link to my RAMROD ride . Also some photos from the ride.