Colonial Creek to Mazama

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North cascades national park’s Highway 20 is one of the challenging biking routes in Washington. This year I had the opportunity to ride twice. I went in May with High Performance cycling team and did an unsupported 100 mile /10K elevation ride. Later in July , just 2 days after RAMROD did a 72 mile / 7K elevation ride with Native planet cycling group. Usual route biking folks ride is from Colonial Creek campground before Lake diablo to Mazama store and back, which makes up a nice 100 mile out and back. The hardest part of the ride is the ride back from Mazama to Washington pass. It becomes hard because of 2 reasons
  • Its an 18 mile long hors categorie climb, which you are trying to climb after 50 miles in the ride and having completed a rainy pass climb in the beginning of the ride.
  • When you climb this section, it is usually noon and the temperature can be easily above 90F and even sometimes above 100F , and can be super windy.
I did this ride first in 2016, and cramped, suffered in the climb from Mazama , but had a better ride this year in May. I would say this is a beautiful and quite challenging bike route in Washington.

Here are some photos from the ride,  that cannot cover completely the beauty of the place. 
LIberty Bell Mountain Rainy Pass Lookout area
Lake Diablo
Highway 20, WA
Also Strava activity of the full 100 mile loop :

RAMROD 2018 , Training and Ride Report

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After RAMROD 2017 experience I was really interested to participate in the ride this year as well. Thanks to Tim, I got a bypass for 2018 ride. Tim volunteered last RAMROD and could not use the bypass because of injury concerns. RAMROD was one of my goal events for 2018, in addition to Chelan century.  Without Dave and Tim, I was going to do train alone this year. For some major organized rides and other mountain rides, I tried to be part of couple of Teams. Primarily High Performance Cycling, where I found really strong riders, who have been riding over years but without race focus. Native planet cycling was one other team, which focuses on mountain climbing rides, where I joined for some of the good rides in mountains.

Training : Last winter, my focus was to improve base fitness and improve my aerobic endurance. Hence I did not focus much on increasing my FTP unlike the previous year but focused on training at lower intensity but with regular consistency where my heart rate was with in zone 1 or 2. Trainer Road and Kickr helped me to continue the training in winter. One modification was to add a couple of days of strength training, and reduced my swim sessions. I did few short rides near to home when there were occasional sunny days here. But my first big ride was early February in one of the cascade winter training series. I joined few other HPC riders for this ride, and within first 10 miles I got dropped by other HPC folks. Though it was a strong ride for me early in February, I could hardly keep up with other folks in paceline and punchy climbs. I continued my training rides and by March I joined a HPC hills ride, and was the last one to climb every mountain, even holding on to their paceline in flat was really hard for me. Though I was slow compared to other folks, I was improving and wanted to hang on to these guys at some point. By March when I though was slowly improving , I crashed hitting a bump near my home when I was finishing the ride. I landed on my right rotator cuffs and barely move my right arm. It was more than 2 months of down time because of the crash, and I had to go through PT. Luckily it was not a fracture. I continued to be back on trainer and my right arm in a sling for the next 5 weeks. Only by April, after PT suggestion I got back on the ride outside, and did some century rides in April for the first time in the year. I continued to do rides on my own, focusing on improving endurance and base building, and improve my climbing. May , I did the Skagit classic , a bit flattish ride but was able to hold on to fast pace lines. Again after 85 miles, I cramped badly and limped my way to the finish line. End of may came the biggest weekend ride doing North cascades ride and 7 hills of Kirkland in a 3 day weekend. Both rides were stronger compared to previous year and doing this back to back in 3 days helped me to improve my fitness. I decided to do Flying wheels since Subbu could not go and gave his registration. Probably my fastest ride by then. My goal event Chelan century was the big ride in June. I camped out with HPC folks, and my big focus was to complete the ride strongly unlike last year. Paced well on Mc Neil, and for both 2nd and 3rd loop I was able to hang on with HPC riders and that showed some sign of improvement. Holding to pace line and especially not getting dropped on the small climbs were big improvements for me. July 4th I went with Victor to do some training rides in Rainier ( 2nd year in succession to be in Rainier on July 4th). Did Sunrise, Chinook and cayuse climbs and my climb timings improved. Re visited Rainier the same weekend with Native planet folks to do Sunrise, chinook and crystal.  All these helped me with some extended climbing practices. I got a lucky draw entry for STP, and did STP as a training ride. This was my fastest STP and also a fastest century
or double century ride. Thanks to many pace lines and HPC group I was able to hang on.  Post STP I focused on tapering down my training for RAMROD.

Nutrition : This was a big focus for me since November last year, and I drastically reduced my carb and sugar intake and increased fat intake with regular fasting. Sakthi was super supportive and she also joined my food experimentation craziness. We went completely gluten and sugar free for more than 3 months. With low intensity training combined, I was able to continue with this more high fat and moderate protein diet. We mostly ate whole foods, and avoided ultra-processed refined items. Changed our cooking oils to healthy fats like Butter, avocado oil etc. I started experimenting with eating meats as well. Eliminated most of the flours and grains, with increase in green vegetables. This helped me in dropping body fat and my weight dropped by March. Though since March with increased training and mixing other food into diet, I did not drop my weight further but maintained the weight I dropped. I diligently fasted every day morning with a compressed eating window, and also a 24 hour fast every 2 weeks. This helped my body for better fat adaptation to use fat as a fuel.

Ride Day : Same like last year, carpooled with Subbu, and thankfully did not get a ticket again. Started the ride at 5 with couple of HPC folks, I maintained a not too hard pace for the first 50 miles. The group was hanging on at the Eatonville  and Wildwood food stops a bit too much. I wanted to start the cayuse climb earlier in the day, as the weather forecast was above 90F. So I joined the faster HPC folks to start the first climb to inception point. I was feeling good and was pushing a bit more than needed on the first climb. By the top of inception point, I could feel fatigue in my legs. Continued the downhill to box canyon and took a 10 min break at the food stop. I continue the climb to back bone ridge, and if I was pushing the pace up on the climb, I could feel the cramp set-in on my quads. So I continued at a lower pace and met Tim at the Back bone ridge check point, where both Dave and Tim were volunteering. Tim gave me the coke I had asked him to carry for me.  Had a coke and continued the descent in Back bone ridge and entered cayuse pass climb at 11.45 am, a bit earlier than last year. With crampy legs I continued climbing at slow pace. The initial few miles of cayuse had some good shade given I was there earlier in the day. But temperature continued to rise, I was cranking up slowly , and reached the top of cayuse by 1pm, and continued the downhill to deli stop and reached around 1.15 pm. Took a good break of about 50 minutes here, fueled well with a deli sandwich and pickle juice. Also had another coke here, (probably last coke for the year). I left Deli stop along with Joe and Somu by 2.35pm after resting and fueled up well. We maintained a solid pace though there was head winds as usual. Wheel sucking on other pace lines, 3 of us finished the ride by 4pm. With a total elapsed time of 11 hours, and ride time of about ~8.30 hours, averaging 17 mph. Though I felt crampy in between the ride, the longer rest and some good fuel helped me to finish the ride strong.  Strava activity link

Takeaways for next season
  • Be more cautious and not to over push early in the season to crash like this year.
  • Increase winter base training and continue get back strength training.
  • Learning to pace well on climbs, probably get a power meter to stay within Threshold on earlier climbs
  • Get back on the diet to increase fat adaptation and go complete off season for 3 months with just low intensity rides.
  • Add some yoga to the routine to increase flexibility.

Here are some of the ride photos.
At Start line 5am Back bone ridge at 11.15am
At Finish line 4pm Inception point