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Thread: My Pittsburgh to DC Gravel Grinder Recap

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    Default My Pittsburgh to DC Gravel Grinder Recap

    Chris, Pete’s and my plan was to ride 335 mile gravel grinder from Pittsburgh to DC, starting on Thursday and make it to the coffee club by Friday 7:30am. Along the way, we were going to pick up Lydia and Tina in Cumberland and they would ride 185 miles to DC. For me, the key thing that made this ride work, was that my wife, Kathy volunteered to support us along the route. Kathy is the support angel that made the ride go.

    Before I go into my story, I have to thank my wonderful riding mates for their support, sense of humor, being good human beings people and smooth riders.

    As with all of my long rides start, I start with nutritional planning. I carry around 15lbs of excess weight over my ideal riding weight. So I decided to up the caloric intake. At each rest stop (approximately 30 miles apart), I was re-supplied with two 350 calorie water bottles that consisted of Hammer Sustained Energy and Heed and I would eat a 350 calorie homemade rice cake. I augmented the caloric intake with Hammer Gel on an as needed basis. During the 29+ hour ride I was able to consume about 11,000 calories. I also packed in the Hammer Nutrition supplements, every two hours I would take 3 Endurolytes, 1 Anti-fatigue, 2 Amino Acids and 1 Race Cap. Starting at midnight until sunrise, I added a 200mg caffeine tablet.

    This is also the longest ride that I have done since being diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), so I modified my medicine schedule to try to prevent an RA flare-up. I am one of the lucky RA sufferers, as the RA is well controlled via drugs and diet.

    Pete, Chris and I left Pittsburgh, on Thursday at 5:30am. Our adventure begins. Pete and Chris decided to ride a fixed gear bike, while I had my steel geared Spectrum outfitted with 32 mm cyclocross tires. I decided to do this ride without a cycling computer or other electronic devices. I did the entire ride on perceived effort.

    Our first goal was ride the 150 mile Gap Trail from Pittsburgh to Cumberland. The path was fairly dry after the prior day’s heavy rains. If one has never ridden the GAP Trail, I would highly recommend riding it, as it is just gorgeous with its waterfalls, train trestles, old train tunnels, quaint towns and the Eastern Continental Divide. Pete and Chris are very smooth, steady riders, which made riding with them a true pleasure. The pace that we settled into was perfect for me, as my heart and respiration rates were low and I estimated my perceived effort for the 150 miles was a 6 out of 10.

    At around 5 PM on Thursday afternoon, Pete, Chris, Tina, Lydia and I left Cumberland to ride the 185 mile C&O Canal Trail (C&O) to DC. The C&O is not as well maintained as the Gap trail. The recent heavy rains left parts of trail quite muddy. Also, since this late October most of the trail was covered in leaves. Since I have never done any night mountain biking, I was a bit uncomfortable riding the portions of single track, which was muddy, rutted and covered with leaves and branches.

    I also must mention that Pete is one of the hardest cyclists that I know. On the day prior to the ride start, Pete injured his right knee. Given his injury, I would have bailed prior to the ride start. Pete ended up riding 240 mile gravel grinder on a fixed gear before call it a day. This experience showed me how to be a mentally tougher person. I thank you Pete for allowing me to experience your fortitude.

    The night riding is always the most interesting, as you get to see and experience new things. The most common animal along the C&O are bunny rabbits and of course white tail deer. I did have a new experience when a raccoon growled at me. The raccoon did not look happy when four cyclists with bright lights came rolling down the trail. During the day we also saw a couple of Bald Eagles, numerous Hawks and some Blue Herons.

    For me some of the night riding was a bit treacherous, as I had a hard time picking the right lines while riding through the parts of the deeply rutted muddy trail that was covered by leaves. I nearly crashed five+ times, but the bike that Tom Kellogg designed corrected itself quite easily.

    My most humorous experience was when Chris and I stopped, I put my foot down and there was nothing there. So I go sliding down the side of a hill while my left foot is still clipped into the pedal. The Shimano road pedals were encased in mud and it was difficult to clip and unclip the pedals. The bike helped prevent me from sliding down the entire embankment. Chris help me to unclip from the bike and get me back to the embankment.

    The last 35 miles of the ride were incredibly difficult for me, as I had been riding for more than 24 hours and I started to hallucinate. Green bushes started to become hunters decked out in camouflage. The hallucinations were worse when I when closed my eyes. I somehow muddled through the last 35 miles to Georgetown. I did not carry a camera, and my phones battery ran dry, so I do not have any pictures.

    I do have to put in a plug for Josh Simonds and his Nix Frix Shun chain lube. After 335 miles of riding in dust and through mud, look at the chain’s cleanliness. Here is a picture of the bike post ride.

    Overall a great adventure and was able to meet new friends. I guess I have to decide what my next adventure is……..
    Attached Images Attached Images
    life is too short to drink bad wine....

    Stuart Levy

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    Default Re: My Pittsburgh to DC Gravel Grinder Recap

    Here are some other's pictures
    Attached Images Attached Images
    life is too short to drink bad wine....

    Stuart Levy

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    Default Re: My Pittsburgh to DC Gravel Grinder Recap

    Great story! That is a heck of a ride to do in 1 day. I did it in 3 and thought I was tough :)

    -Joe

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    Default Re: My Pittsburgh to DC Gravel Grinder Recap

    You all are studs.
     

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    Default Re: My Pittsburgh to DC Gravel Grinder Recap

    Great write up and story.

    Congrats...that is an epic ride!

    SPP
    My name is Peter Miller.

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    Default Re: My Pittsburgh to DC Gravel Grinder Recap

    Nice ... ride and write- up.
    Real World persona : Andy Corso

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    Default Re: My Pittsburgh to DC Gravel Grinder Recap

    Very cool! Just curious- when you say single track, just how much is there, and how technical is it? Got me thinking about doing this next summer..
     

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    Default Re: My Pittsburgh to DC Gravel Grinder Recap

    Quote Originally Posted by Bobqzz View Post
    Very cool! Just curious- when you say single track, just how much is there, and how technical is it? Got me thinking about doing this next summer..
    Bob, the single track is about a car tire width. I have only mountain biked once in my life, so it is hard for me gauge how technical. You do come across roots, rocks branches etc. At the beginning of the ride, I was very cautious. Once I got into the groove of things, I would blast through them. I figured out very quickly that when going through mud, do not stop pedaling.
    life is too short to drink bad wine....

    Stuart Levy

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    Default Re: My Pittsburgh to DC Gravel Grinder Recap

    Total badass. Reading about your nutrition planning was very interesting, thanks for that.
    "As an homage to the EPOdays of yore- I'd find the world's last remaining pair of 40cm ergonomic drop bars.....i think everyone who ever liked those handlebars in that shape and in that width is either dead of a drug overdose, works in the Schaerbeek mattress factory now and weighs 300 pounds or is Dr. Davey Bruylandts...who for all I know is doing both of those things." - Jerk

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    Default Re: My Pittsburgh to DC Gravel Grinder Recap

    Quote Originally Posted by Bobqzz View Post
    Very cool! Just curious- when you say single track, just how much is there, and how technical is it? Got me thinking about doing this next summer..
    Me too. Next time I'm in DC I'm taking the Indy Fab out on this trail. Can't wait.
    La Cheeserie!

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    Default Re: My Pittsburgh to DC Gravel Grinder Recap

    Nice pedal adventure, what was the motivation to do this ride in one shot vs spreading it out over a weekend or whatever?

    Was this a time thing and did any of y'all have experience riding that many hours continuously?

    You said your effort was 6/10 but you were eating to compensate for triple that!
     

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    Default Re: My Pittsburgh to DC Gravel Grinder Recap

    Hollis: Thanks

    Nice pedal adventure, what was the motivation to do this ride in one shot vs spreading it out over a weekend or whatever?


    The distance lends itself to one days hard riding and it something different. Also some friends were are riding from Pittsburgh to DC and I said, "Can I join you?"

    Was this a time thing and did any of y'all have experience riding that many hours continuously?

    I have done 12 and 24 hour time trials and in 2008 was on a 4 person RAAM team.

    You said your effort was 6/10 but you were eating to compensate for triple that!

    I am toying with the idea of doing some longer ultra events next year, so this ride was done for research purposes. Most of the riding I do (centuries and maybe a little more) allows me to go into a calorie deficit that I can easily survive. When one plans on being on a bike for an extended period of time, if you go into a caloric deficit, it is hard to get out of the hole while still riding. This year I have played with caloric input, 300 calories an hour allows me to get through a long ride, 400 calories per hour allows me to ride longer and harder, while 500 calories per hour let me ride at an incredibly consistent pace for 24 hours. When I woke up this morning, I was not ravenous and only my legs were a little sore. I felt good enough to get back on my bike and go for a ride, but life commitments got in the way.

    The 6/10 perceived effort kept me from riding myself into a hole. Many people start a long ride by exxerting a tremedous amount of effort and they usually pay for that effort. Also two of the people were on fixed gear bikes, so I tried to match their gearing as much as possible.
    life is too short to drink bad wine....

    Stuart Levy

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    Default Re: My Pittsburgh to DC Gravel Grinder Recap

    Y'all are balleurs.
    my name is Matt

    INSTA

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    Default Re: My Pittsburgh to DC Gravel Grinder Recap

    The bar for "epic ride" has been raised significantly.
    Chris

    Road, CX, Mountain

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    Default Re: My Pittsburgh to DC Gravel Grinder Recap

    All time. Much respect, brother.
    T.o.m. K.o.h.l.

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    Default Re: My Pittsburgh to DC Gravel Grinder Recap

    nice ride stu.
    sounds like a dynamite route
     

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    Default Re: My Pittsburgh to DC Gravel Grinder Recap

    As one of the three who didn't quite make it to the end of the ride...let me say that Stuart was unstoppable. I came up short by about 50 miles after 2x puncture flats had me mentally beat and exhaustion just took over. (Next time I need to see about the straight caffeine pills - I was relying on the new skratch labs with caffeine and some other sources, but at 25hours riding, it wasn't enough). Not having trained at all and spinning on a 48x18 FG setup meant I was pretty lucky to make it as far as I did. The last 45-mile stretch that I did manage, Stuart pulled me along nearly the entire way, bombing down the leaf-covered, muddy C&O at 15/16mph at 3AM. Wouldn't have been possible without serious lumens from the Exposure Lights.

    As Stuart mentioned our other rider, Pete, dislocated his knee the morning before the ride and still knocked out 245 miles on 46x18. Strongest rider I know.

    Here's the link to the album of pictures from the GAP and a couple from the C&O: https://plus.google.com/photos/10042...73250843293281

    Also had the GoPro clicking shots every 10 seconds (until the mount died a warrior's death right at the start of the C&O):
    High-speed (2 mintues):
    Kind of high-speed (9 minutes):

    15603393326_c2f362ae1c_o.jpg15603406216_44a739852b_o.jpg15624422841_ded74c5c60_o.jpg15627956042_660331bb05_o.jpg15627956532_c5798cf818_o.jpg15628189592_a0c6a8e576_o.jpg
     

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    Default Re: My Pittsburgh to DC Gravel Grinder Recap

    Wow. Unreal.

    Stu, you want to join us for Paris Roubaix next year ? You can ride there and join us at the start.
     

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    Default Re: My Pittsburgh to DC Gravel Grinder Recap

    Beast mode. Great job fellas!! That's a HUGE ride.
    Dustin Gaddis
    www.MiddleGaEpic.com
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    Default Re: My Pittsburgh to DC Gravel Grinder Recap

    Quote Originally Posted by Bilsko View Post
    As Stuart mentioned our other rider, Pete, dislocated his knee the morning before the ride and still knocked out 245 miles on 46x18. Strongest rider I know.
    Not sure there is enough Advil to get me through something like that. That's pretty damn impressive/crazy.
    Will Neide (pronounced Nighty, like the thing worn to bed)

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