Mile Eighteen

Cycling Camps, Gravel Training Camps and Bespoke Adventures

Coach Patrick’s 2022 UltraMay Recap

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OK, here is my official report from the 2022 UltraMay event. This is our third year, and my third time through the process. I made a big remix, according to the official event rules of UltraMay. Even though it was a little bit unorthodox, I was able to achieve the goal of serious suffering within 48 hours. If you didn’t join us this year, click that link above and join in for next year. Everyone is welcome to suffer!  

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I just wanted to get this started before the weekend was over. I have a feeling that Tuesday is going to hit me like a ton of bricks, and I’m worried that I won’t even write this report! In case you didn’t know, I decided to modify my UltraMay game and have a brand new gravel bike.  

That’s right, after two years of talking about it, I finally pulled the trigger. I have a Cannondale Super Six EVO courtesy of the folks at Belmont, MA Wheelworks and I love love love being outside. Hard to get bored on the trails. Let’s gooooooooooooo!

Day One: All the Ups [6:27 + 0:39 moving time] 

Part One was crazy and at the end of the day I had to cut this ride short. Super ambitious to start, but it turns out that some of the smaller sections were real mountain bike style. Super hard to navigate and plenty of smaller than single track if that’s a thing. Let’s just say I am intimately familiar with thorns, roots, and unclipping.

The Element died again, so turned to strava to take me back home…and then Google Maps to get me to a post-ride shake!!

Day Two: Freetown Revenge  [3:40 moving time]

The first day got a little out of control. I think I was gone for 8 1/2 hours, that couldn’t happen again! 😱 So this time I went closer to home and made a route that I felt was a little more manageable. It still worked out to be pretty tough with a few big rock sections, but I was able to force my way through it thanks to some surplus pavement at the end. 

This left me with 1:15 ish to do. I did kayak for under an hour this afternoon, but no tracking…I am on track to run Tuesday AM to get that time complete, but keep your eyes on me to make sure I don’t fade away!

Update —> Day Three: The Microwave

After a few gorgeous days, the humidity locked in like a laser beam making today’s final session pretty brutal.

Of course, finishing with a run as the last hour of a 12-hour block is less than ideal. I only had an hour to go but it took more out of me than I imagined. https://strava.app.link/A5WrZ2MPtqb

Overall

Certainly a little more unconventional than what I have done in the past. That said, subcontractor and adventure levels are off the charts! While an eight-hour day was not exactly in the cards, I’m glad I survived it. Along the way, I learned a great deal about how to plan for rides from supplies, timing, and mapping.

Now it’s time for some rest and recovery to see if I can absorb all of this work! Congratulations again to everyone, hope to see you next year

~ Coach Patrick

Mallorca Miles Maketh Fitness

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On the way back from the cycling heaven that is Mallorca, and wanted to share out my explorations on the island – including some camp highlights. Also these notes are a good reminder for when I return in 2023 (oh yes, we will be back!). 

First up, the stats – 536 miles ridden and 29,950 ft climbed in 7 days. 💀 That’s an average of 76.5 miles and 4,200 feet every day. This involved a lot of independent riding – pre-camp, post-daily rides, and even on the rest day. Thankfully Mallorca makes riding easy to do!

While the climbs are my own, I relied heavily on my fellow campers on the flats. This included our incredible guides who keep us on the right path, well-fed and highly caffeinated (the last one is optional). And of course, good fortune that saved our campers from lost luggage, broken chains, and potential downhill disasters. 

Day 0 – A Great First Test

I landed midday and raced over to the hotel as quickly as possible. The first order of business was to unpack and get myself over to the Pinarello store. Super fast bike in hand, it was time to plan the route. We lost a little time getting my bicycle fit sorted out, but then it was off to the open road. There’s nothing like getting off a plane and being on a bicycle in less than 2 hours in Paradise! We planned to ride about 50 miles, but ended up focusing on the fun instead.

Day 1 – Orientation

The first official day of camp is all about getting organized. There is a lot of friction between people who travel with bikes, people who rent with bikes, and people who have never ridden together before. to make things easier, our guides sort the group by ability and for safety purposes — smaller groups are safer on the road.  the first day is a small test of all the things we will face this week. Traffic circles, other groups, rolling Terrain, and variable winds. it is the perfect opportunity for campers to practice riding in a group and learning how our guides will run the daily experience. A group lunch in Petra Was well X in terms of calories and the bringing all of the groups back together again.

Day 2 – Sa Collabra

With the first day of firmly in our rearview mirror, it was time to explore. With the weather looking honest in the coming days, we made the decision to head over to one of the most epic climbs on the planet. it is worth noting that even getting there requires climbing the Col du Feminia. Which is no small task. We refueled at a cafe station at the top before making the descent down the winding roads to the bottom. Even going down this climb is an adventure — there are more hairpin turn than you think is possible. It’s no surprise to learn this road was originally built by hand. I’m not sure how they would even get machinery there in the first place!

The Climb from the bottom to the top can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour depending on your goals and ability. This is a perfect early Camp test and a chance to stack yourself against tens of thousands of riders. It wasn’t my day, but I certainly enjoyed the chance to tackle these climbs in earnest.

At the top the group continued on to lunch and home. Matt and I made a right turn for adventure. There is a running joke on the island between me and a fellow Zwifter from England. He gave me coordinates for a gift that he had hidden at the top of a nearby climb, the Puig. With Matt in tow, or rather, with Matt towing me, we were off to find the prize. Coke collected, we continued to on the other side. We made an epic loop that took in 4 climbs add a total of 10,200 ft of climbing in just under six and a half hours of ride time. We made sure not to crack 100 miles just to drive everyone on the team crazy!

Day 3 – Recovery Ride

Regardless of the route people took on Monday, we were all tired by Tuesday. Given the chance of rain, this is the perfect day to spin over to the beach for photos and cake. Once again we gathered as a group for lunch to hang out and relax. After lunch the group split up on the way back with my group opting for some extra miles out towards Sineu. It is here that I ate the largest pastry of my life and managed to avoid the rain just like the other group.

Day 4 – Orient-eering

Another day of potential rain lay ahead, but it didn’t stop either group from making adventurous plans. My group decided to head over to the climb in the Sleepy town of Orient. hey picturesque Village nestled at the base of a Time where the road is covered in moss and is apparently deadly with any form of moisture on it! Good fortune kept the faith with several Mechanicals that forced us to slow down and keep Safety First. This resulted and I much longer day than planned oh, and we missed our fellow Riders after world’s greatest take place in Santa Maria. thankfully they had given us some leftovers which we devoured. as you’ll see in the map, we decided to take a more direct path home due to time constraints.

Day 5 – Off Day

After four straight days of 5 to 6 hours a day on the bike, it was time for rest. It was also time for some serious rain, which is always the right car on the island. The Limestone roads are not safe when they get wet despite what you see other Riders doing well you are staying dry.

Of course, I was there to ride and convinced Matt to go out for a quick 40-mile loop. Truth be told, we were rolling the dice from the start with the rain coming in over the mountains. We split the difference, cruising the flats to warm up and then hitting the Sa Batalla climb for a coffee break before heading home. We had to take shelter from the rain at the top, and this was where I realized I didn’t have gear for wet weather (it was all in my hotel room!). I did however have a plastic bag, also known as a packet in Europe, that I put under the front of my jersey. While it certainly didn’t make up for the vest and arm warmers that everyone else was wearing, it was a lifesaver. descending in the rain flights pretty terrifying and I think my shoulders are still tight from how hard I was gripping the bars.

Day 6 – Three Out of Four Ain’t Bad

Our final ride day of the camp saw both groups opting for a more epic day. We set off early and plans to rent accordingly so that everyone can get maximum distance on the bike. One group was able to hit the local velodrome for some fun laps in addition to logging 85 miles. My group went a little wider around the island to find a few new monasteries to climb. Both groups found some solid headwinds for the first half of the day oh, the remnants of the storm from the day before. While we all suffered mightily to start, the winds hung around long enough to help push us all home.

It’s never easy to say goodbye to cycling paradise, but after a day like Friday I was happy to say goodbye to my two-wheeled dream machine.

Planning for 2023

We will be back in April 2023 for another year of adventure. You can learn more and make your deposit online here. You won’t regret it!

Suffering Up

HOW I PR’D MY SLEEP AND NAILED THE 4 KEYS OUTSIDE OF TRIATHLON

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OK team, time for an update! After much back-and-forth, I’m pleased to report that we were able to attend and complete an off-road team event.

The logistics for this type of event or challenging because there are so many distributed across the United States. And there are so many different ability levels and specific cycling interests inside the team.

The Alpine Loop Gran Fondo fits the bill simply because it has different distances of events and different terrain options. Something for everyone! And just 2h drive from IAD Dulles Airport makes is pretty accessible as well.





The Team

EB (Emily Brinkley) helped me lock in MOOSE, my trusty NC-resident bike…and all relevant cycling supplies. That plus mojo, friend time and all the smiles made for a great weekend.

Matt Limbert surprised my by jumping into the event. We spent 3-ish days together in all manner of cycling situations…and it made the event itself 10x more fun.





Thursday Night Arrival

This is a total debacle. From a three hour delayed flight to a ridiculous hybrid rental car that had no trunk space, what was intended to be a 12 midnight arrival time into Harrisonburg turned into us getting there at 3 AM. 

Matt Limbert and I have agreed that we shall not speak of the food that we purchased and ate at the 24 hour convenience store on the way to our hotel.

Snitches eat burritos. I slept in until 9:45am!!!




Friday Ride

Given the late start, we modified the day. Instead of doing a full 70 mile loop, we opted to do an out and back I’m a climb known as Reddish Knob. Seems pretty straightforward, until we started climbing.

What started out as a gentle grade quickly kicked up and made for 30 minutes of really tough work. \

Thankfully it was shaded, a theme that persisted with our climbs all weekend.

The majority of this road was paved but it was not easy. Approx 140 TSS.


Saturday Ride

Opted to travel out to hang with EB (Emily Brinkley) because EB! We get to meet some of her friends and had a great time catching up over coffee.

We took that opportunity to ride from Bryce resort, which resulted in another fantastic session.

We took a loop with some single track on it and added on some more gravel riding.

Approx TSS 140 again, with 50% of ride time climbing! 

We did get a little lost…

But we found EB during her charity golf tournament…



Alpine Gran Fondo

With 90 miles and 9,000 ft of climbing in two days, we were clearly completely tapered for the Fondo itself. The Fondo is 110 miles with approximately 10,000 feet of climbing.

There were five categorized KOM’s and plenty of places to work and have fun along the way. I captured a video to sum up my experience across the aid stations:

The Highlights

Matt Limbert “told the story” of the ride .. instead of straight data … End it really worked!

I thought the narrative model was really effective at helping to set expectations to across what was going to be a long day.

The main themes of the story were that we were going to ride our specific numbers, not over-reach, and be really quick through the aid stations. 

The Food

As you undoubtedly noticed in the video food saved my day.

There were plenty of places across the road where things got hard very quickly.

Seemingly flat and fun sections turned into time trial drag races.

Quick detours through the forest turned into dirt roads with 22% inclines. This is not a long ride for the weak of mind or spirit.

The Pacing

This was the real game-changer. Our ability to work within our limits meant we could recover…but it wasn’t easy.

There was plenty of carnage out there on display, it took a great deal of savvy and patience to make sure we didn’t end up similarly. 

The Results

While it’s not a race in the traditional sense, the Alpine Loop Gran Fondo does have a cumulative timed section format that allows for competition. Surpisingly, I did fairly well overall and in the “top 5” range of my category! #plottingfor2022

2021 ALGF Mini Results

We Will Be Back! 

This was a great event in a world-class location. Aid stations were great, Harrisonburg had all the things, and there are multiple ride options (road vs gravel) as well as distances. This could become an end-of-season fixture, I won’t lie!


Thanks for reading!

~ Patrick

ps – the Sleep PR? That was 8 hours for two consecutive nights after my red-eye flight home. Yep….8 hours ride time + 2 hour drive + 2 hour flight had me home at 12:30am!  Zzzzzzzzzz

Alpine Loop Gran Fondo Interview with Jeremiah Bishop

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Coach Patrick from Endurance Nation sits down with Alpine Grand Loop Fondo founder and chief hooligan Jeremiah Bishop to talk about the event.2021 will be a unique year for all of us given the current state of the pandemic, but thankfully we have a handful of fun, human, and challenging events like the Alpine Loop.

Friendly remind her that we will be up at the grand Fondo for the weekend, chilling out and even doing a Friday recon ride on the course. You can learn more on our official event page here.

Participants can choose from a variety of different distance options, all the way up to a 110-mile challenge. Full event details and registration on BikeReg.com.

The video will be posted online here: https://youtu.be/6sW3FJx_KOc

Race Saver Bag: 1, Ohio 70.3: 0

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One of our favorite things to do is read feedback from our amazing and super good looking customers. Here’s a dispatch from Ohio 70.3, from a first-time Race Saver Bag user! Keep crushing out there! 💪

As I am sure you have heard previously, this saved my race.  

STUPID hot run at Ohio 70.3 – filled the bag with ice at every water station and kept moving.  AMAZING!  

Too bad they didn’t grab a pic of me wringing it out over my head.  Magical! 

Will definitely be bringing it to Chatty for the 144.6.”

~ Sarah Bristol

9.2% Grade for Four Miles? Let’s Gravel!

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After long hours in the saddle on our first day of gravel camp searching for the backside of Beech Mountain, it was time to take the guys to my favorite area to train off-road. A 20 min descent down gravel roads located directly off of the Blue Ridge Parkway will dump you into wild and wonderful Wilson’s Creek. Knowns for its 23-mile mountain creek which begins at the top of Grandfather Mountain, this rugged area of the Pisgah National Forest is a favorite to hikers, campers, kayaks, all-terrain vehicles, mountain biking, and gravel grinds. 

STRAVA FILE FOUND HERE

We decided to access Wilson’s Creek from Pineola, NC which quickly became our group’s favorite decent of the weekend. The gravel was smooth the entire way down with a few ruts in switchbacks. I was on my hardtail so the front suspension offered plenty of support and confidence for an epic descent down the 9 miles, 2500 elevation loss… What I gained in descending speed, I would lose in the climb back up at the end of the day. 

We reached the town of Edgemont which would also become a favorite for the weekend. When Matt first mentioned we would be climbing Globe Road up to Blowing Rock, he said my face sunk like I had just seen a ghost. I’ve climbed Globe twice before, once on my full suspension mountain bike and once in the back of a pickup truck after showing up with the wrong gravel gears. This beast is legit. It’s a 4-mile, 2,000 ft gain, averaging  9.2% kinda climb. It’s one of those climbs where you turn to see another steep turn, and another, and another. While the hour climbing wasn’t pretty, I made it to the top just in time for lunch in Blowing Rock, NC. 

Maybe we spent a little too long at lunch, or maybe I ate a little too much, or maybe I’m just making excuses. Whatever it was, I found myself in my own personal hurt locker on the way back to Pineola. We descended back down Globe and slowly made our way back to Edgemont. Another steep climb back up to Gragg (pronounced Graaaaaaaag), I looked at the guys and said, “I know my house is five miles that way and I’m having a very hard time NOT taking a right turn.” Coach P said, “you probably don’t want to eat right now, but this is me encouraging you to eat right now, EB.” 

(This seems to be a theme with me and big training rides.)

I was 110% bonking and decided to eat all of my food. It was like a sugar-buffet-party-in-my-mouth. Matt told me I was not taking a right towards home and that I was going with them. I’m so glad I listened. We descended back down into Edgemont where we stopped at the Historic Coffey’s General Store to grab a coke, protein bar, and some pretty cool pictures. By then I had come back to and was ready for the final 8-mile-climb back up Pineola. 

While I get to ride this area all the time, I rarely get to do long rides like this and never have riding partners who will join in for the back-to-back volume. The stories that come with the miles and overall camaraderie with the groups are my very favorite part of training camps with Mile18Inc. The fitness gains don’t suck either. 

We finished out day two back at home base where the guys showed off their sweet grilling skills, Josh definitely won MVP with his fire skills, and I ate all the s’mores. ~ EB

Allison’s Phoenix Challenge Recap

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Phoenix Challenge (160 miles completed / 200 miles)

Going into the Phoenix Challenge, I had been struggling to maintain the same level of training motivation as I had the previous year, so I was feeling a little intimidated about the scale and intensity of the ride. While my training hadn’t been ideal, I did participate in the ENverest Challenge this year so I was able to get some good doses of volume prior to the ride. My main goal for this event was mental training—to get comfortable being uncomfortable, and to recover more confidence in myself and my judgment (pacing, nutrition, etc.).  I was aiming for the full challenge (200 miles) as I am planning to do my first full Ironman in September (IMMD). I figured this ride would be a good reality check for my fitness and mental state, as well as a unique opportunity to meet amazing athletes and ride in a beautiful location.

What an adventure it was! I found the first day to be the toughest. Heavy fog made visibility throughout Skyline very poor, and it was raining pretty heavily in some sections. I wore three layers, but I still wasn’t quite prepared for how chilled I felt throughout the ride. I am endlessly grateful for my riding buddy (Carl) who patiently stayed near me. Having someone else with me throughout the ride made a world of difference for me mentally, as it shifted my focus to keeping up and getting through the ride as a team.

We rode the last few miles of Skyline in a downpour. All I remember is rain pelting my eyes, and Carl divebombing down the hills and disappearing into the fog. 

I actually felt better the second day. A good sleep and breakfast, plus warmer, drier weather left me feeling more energized and confident. However, I started to get shaky around mile 45, so we took a longer break at the mile 51 rest stop (and hung out with EB!).  I ate a full lunch hoping it would revive me enough to finish the ride, but alas – we made it to about mile 60 before calling it. I had mixed feelings – disappointment that I didn’t finish, pride that I took on a challenge that intimidated me, gratitude for Carl and the support team, and inspiration from the other athletes. I am so grateful that I could participate in this experience, especially after all the stress of the past year. I will cherish all the miles, the conversations, the laughs. I learned some great tips from my fellow riders as well, and deeply appreciate the opportunity to learn from them. 

Allison & Carl on Day 2

Some key takeaway lessons for me:

·       For a ride of this length and elevation, proper equipment is important. I want to learn more about gearing and ensure I’ve made the proper adjustments / upgrades to my bike before I attempt this challenge again. 

·       A few more long rides (with elevation!) prior to this challenge would’ve been helpful to physically and mentally prepare for riding on my own for this length of time. After all the isolation of COVID, I was feeling anxious both being on my own and being with people – but this event reminded me I’m capable of pushing through that!

·       While I prepared for the weather as best as I could, I think taking some nutrition tips from ultra runners may be something I’d want to try in the future if I can’t shake the chills (e.g. instant soup). 


Want in on our 2022 Phoenix Challenge? Request your spot HERE.

Gravel Camp: Day One Dirt Adventures

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All the Colors at Camp!

Note: This is the first of three updates from our first annual Gravel Adventure Camp. Early Registration for 2022 is open, and camp space is limited. Learn more on the 2022 event page.

After much planning, scheming, and dreaming we finally held our first official gravel camp! Camper consensus was unanimous — the wait was 100% worth it. Every day had rides ranging from 5 to 6 hours (that’s just ride time!) and adventures galore.

We’ll be back in 2022, and if you can handle six hours on the bike and grades ranging up to 18% at times, you should consider grabbing one of our limited spots with a 100% refundable deposit.

The View of Grandfather Mountain from Gravel Camp HQ

Settling In

The first order of business after the drive out to Linville was assembling bikes and making new friends. We took care of the friends part on Wednesday night with a pit stop in Banner Elk at the Kettell Brewery. Then it was on to Gravel Camp HQ for bike assembly and unpacking.

The Overly Ambitious Route for Day One
The River Road to Valle Crucis

Off the Beaten Path

Mast Gap General Store

Mast Gap General Store Pit Stop

Ouch. No really.

When Hard Becomes Gravel 

As if sneaking up the backside of Beech Mountain wasn’t enough, we decided to add a few additional gravel sections for some fun.

One of these was Philips Branch Road (above), where a punishingly steep straight shot gives way to gravel and switchbacks. Add a random pickup truck pulling a bobcat and you’ve got the recipe for total suffering.

This was only topped by a second, equally strong segment up by Bob’s Adventure. A little shorter this time wasn’t much solace as we were all hurting from the prior climb. We did get to meet “Bob” in his John Deere mobile, and he even offered us a beer. Unfortunately, oxygen was our top priority at the time! 🤣

Friendliness Wins

Heading back to Beech after this “bonus” loop, we realized just how low on water we were. Lucky for us, we came across a small church, a very nice gentleman and a spigot with endless cold water!

Shortly thereafter, our adventure was derailed by a dead end road (and a 10 foot high fence covered with signs). Google maps, it would seem, hadn’t exactly captured the nuances associated with this particular dirt road in the middle of nowhere!

Lesser of Two Evils

Sitting on the side of Beech Mountain, we had to make the call. Push onwards or start the journey home.

After many turns and stops, the truth of about riding gravel really sunk in: it takes time to enjoy this level of awesome!

So, we made the right call and ended up having our official lunch at roughly 4pm in Banner Elk! It was amazing and just in time. The climb home wasn’t any easier, but at least we weren’t starving!

Dinner at Lost Province

We wrapped the day with Dinner in Boone, NC. First for the delicious pizzas at Lost Province Brewing. Second for a proper late-night supermarket so we could stock up on provisions for tomorrow night’s dinner.

With the help of many calories, we mapped out our adventure(s) for the second day!

The Official 2021 Phoenix Challenge Report

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The first annual Phoenix Challenge Ride is officially in the books! After months of planning and strategery, it’s hard to believe I’m sitting here on a Monday morning writing this post. Congratulations to all of the riders, whether you took the Half or the Full challenge. 

Our motto: We Ride. We Rise. The Phoenix Challenge is here to push your limits. To challenge what you think is possible. To help you unlock fitness and mental strength. Our handpicked route is a one-way ticket; with only two-wheels to get back you have your own personal mission. 

It was a total blast, the perfect combination of social time, cycling, and suffering. We certainly hope that you will join us again for another adventure soon! Follow along at www.weridewerise.com for future Phoenix Challenge updates. 

DCA Reagan International Airport

Pre-Ride in Front Royal

After weeks of training and final ride preparations, it was time to go and find elevation to make us fitter and stronger. The hotel was approximately a 90-minute drive from Reagan international airport. Totally easy to get there, and right off the highway. Lots of stores and places to get food, so we opted for Chipotle for some fresh calories. Paul from Black Bear Adventures rolled in at 9pm and was ready to go — he’s so prepared 24/7!

Riders continued to arrive on their own schedule, and checked in online. The only issues we had the morning of our folks who decided to drive in that day. If possible, staying overnight the day before makes a big difference and relieves a lot of stress. 

Day One: Dickie’s Ridge to Waynesboro

The admin team was up bright and early, on site for a check in around 7 AM. Lots of coffee was needed!

This is our first chance to meet many of the riders, and hear their stories. It was great to see new friends and old connecting as they strategized for the day. 

The official ride start time was 9 AM, but many opted to leave early according to their fitness and ride expectations. The wet weather meant extra layers were in order, as well as flashing lights on the front and back of every bike. Given the nature of Skyline Drive being on a ridge, the weather is highly variable. 

Slow is Smooth, Smooth is Fast.

Most riders headed South, aiming for a 104-mile ride. A select few decided to ride back to the park entrance, adding another 8 miles and a few hundred feet to the equation — why not!?

There are three stops along the ways with stocked stores and shelter: Elk Wallow, Big Meadows and Loft Mountain Wayside. Each approximately 30 miles apart. 

Taking those into account, we were able to stage support as needed along the road and use Big Meadows as a more extended lunch break. We needed it; if only because the wet weather meant we were burning extra calories from a healthy amount of shivering! 

Lunch at Big Meadows was the perfect pit stop; more than one person opted for some hot chocolate / coffee! The yummy handmade bars were also amaze; pretty sure I personally at about a shopping basket’s worth!

The further we went the more the weather added a degree of difficulty to the equation. Wet roads are one thing, but the fog really made for some dramatic riding! 

By the time we got to Loft Mountain, we were ready for a coke and some solid downhills. The draw of Basic City Brewery kept us laser focused, and I have to be honest a beer never tasted better.  

We Survived Day One!

We ate our fair share of salad, pizza and nachos before retiring to clean bikes and prepare for the early start on Day Two. No rest for the wicked!

The Official Data

Day Two: Waynesboro to Dickie’s Ridge

We woke slightly earlier on the second day to pack up and have all of our gear ready for pick up. Rolling out to Basic City Brewing parking lot, the group met up and began the climb out of Waynesboro to Skyline Drive. 

While a few early departing folks skipped ahead, everyone had to deal with the challenging terrain from yesterday – in reverse! 

Personally I was tired, but my legs actually felt better on Day Two. I think there is a little more variety in the early terrain that made it easier to get into a rhythm than the strong challenge of the first day.

There were no skipping stops this time, as calories were in high demand. In fact, almost all the SAG food was gone by the time we finished the day. 

The weather was once again very dynamic. There were bouts of sunshine and stunning views interspersed with fog so thick, finding the food at Big Meadows required a better sense of smell than eyesight! 

The final push was as tough as advertised. If not for a Coke and Twix at Elk Wallow, I might not have made it. Rolling up to Dickie’s Ridge and my car was pretty darn satisfying. Mission accomplished, and it was time to cheer in the other finishers as they completed the route. 

The Official Data

Half and Full Finishers

Not everyone was able to do the full two-day tour. The course is tough, and these folks earned Half Phoenix honors. For those able to go the distance, the Full Phoenix recognition is theirs. Stay tuned for our Hall of Fame page on the website at www.weridewerise.com by the end of June. 

That Sock Game

Virtual Finishers, Too!

That’s right, there we even a handful of riders in the UK who decided to take the Virtual Phoenix Challenge. They charted their own two-day adventure to earn the right to be a Phoenix finisher. They even had better weather than we did; we might have to go abroad next year!

The Final Numbers

My two-day totals were 226 miles and 21,000 feet in 12 hours ride time. Add in 20+ new friends plus countless memories and it’s clear the event was a great success. 

We can’t wait to do this ride again in 2022, so be sure to join the Mile18 newsletter list to get early bird sign up links, discounts and regular training advice. 

Happy riding!

~ Patrick, Chief Phoenix

Seven Critical Steps to Prepare for Your Epic Century Ride

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Getting ready for a century ride or epic cycling event is actually a lot of work. You’ve been following a cycling training plan for weeks now, but the logistics matter too! The closer you get to your century, the more clear it becomes that even one small misstep can really ruin your experience at the entire event. 

Here is our list of 7 key ways to guarantee the best possible ride experience at your next event. 

#1 Reservations & Rentals Check (14 Days Prior)

If your event involves traveling to a different location, this significantly amplifies the early portion of your logistics.

If you have a flight, or a hotel, or even a rental car, then you’ve got some serious planning to do. And if you have all three? Well, you had better be ready.

Make sure that you have the proper reservation information saved readily on your phone. Not just in your inbox, but actually copying and pasting the confirmation number into calendar events for the day and time that you’ll be there.

For example, take that rental car confirmation number and create an event on your calendar to trigger at the time that you are disembarking the plane. This way, future you will have the information s/he will need without extra work. 

If you are flying, then make sure you sign up for text notifications on the flight status. Add airport travel time reminders to your calendar so that you won’t be late. All that extra time to deal with your bike and checking that in safely with the airline. Have your frequent-flyer number and credit card ready to deal with all relevant Logistics and additional expenses.

Bonus Item:  Find and save the phone number and information for a local bicycle shop in case you need it.

#2 Key Contact Information Check (12 Days Prior)

 Traveling to this event means being a part of something bigger than just a regular ride. Make sure that you have saved the relevant information to your contacts so that you can easily access that information in the future even without an internet connection.

Cut the event side, you’ll want to know not only the agenda for what’s going to happen but also who the point of contact is. Be sure to save the phone number as well as an email address.

If your event involves an airport pick-up or rental car, make sure you have that separate information dialed in as well and that you’ve sent your itinerary over according to the information you captured in step one above.

Many events use a digital communication app or product for the weekend. Be sure to have that installed in your phone with your relevant information in it as well. If you haven’t done so already, make sure that it works! Send a message, read a message, like and reply to a message —  just to know that everything is operating properly. This is not something you want to be doing on the morning of your event.

Of course, you should have your emergency contact information also readily available. Especially if it’s not someone who you would normally identify. having all of this line up ahead of time is critical for safety and peace of mind.

#3 Check the Weather ( 10 Days Prior)

 you probably don’t need a reminder to do this, as it’s likely you’ve been checking it for weeks! Most extended forecasts are made approximately 10 days in advance, but the accuracy of those forecasts very wildly. 

Use the information from the forecast to plan accordingly. Working macro from micro, start first by identifying key factors like sunrise and sunset. Capture the lows and highs of those days as well, which will set some baseline expectations about pre, during, and post-ride clothing needs.

Finally, look at the weather for the time of your event. You should continue to update this once a day as the event nears. At at least right now you have a 50% chance of knowing what the day is going to look like. 

 this information is critical to make sure that you have all of the requisite equipment end gear needed to be safe and successful. Some of these items take time to cure, so having the information earlier gives you extra time to solve any problems.

Balancing the forecast against the macro numbers you have, you can begin to narrow down your clothing choices appropriately  (see #4 below). 

#4 pack your gear

 now that you know what the weather will be, and you have a good sense of the right parameters, you can begin sorting out your gear.

Before you start putting anything into a bag or suitcase, use this visual packing method first.

Take everything you think you might need and put it in a pile on your floor. Picking it up from the ground, use your bed as a display case for the clothing that you will be bringing. 

Riding for two days? Two jerseys go in the upper left-hand corner, and to bib shorts go in the top middle. Two pairs of socks go on the right! 

Anticipate cooler mornings? A vest and arm warmers go in the left-hand corner. 

Always feel safer with gloves on? Put those in the bottom center. 

Concerned about inclement weather? Bring a rain vest for a jacket in the bottom right. 

Laying things out visually allows you to make sure you have everything you need. You can easily reference your list and the items displayed on the bed in front of you. If needed, you can add and subtract items until you feel just right. Only then should you begin packing things into your bag. This is the best way to make sure that you have everything you need and you haven’t left anything behind.

Side Note: Always bring an extra set of kit and additional warm weather clothing. Once you stopped writing, even on warmer days, your body can get quite cold. You’ll want the gear just in case. Of course, if you’re going to be going to a warmer climate, be sure to pack the sunscreen as well.

#5 Your Final Workouts

Let’s not forget that you actually need to be ready to ride when you hit the ground! We don’t want to shut down your training too soon, as you’ll start experiencing the effects of losing your fitness. Depending on the level of your peak fitness and the demands of your event this may or may not be an issue. Regardless, you have a habit of training and disrupting that can simply affect you mentally if not physically.

This is why we recommend having a scripted set of training sessions for the final seven days. You will need to block out the days where you’re traveling, but setting this plan in place ahead of time ensures that you will comply with what’s written.

In general, oer the last seven days you want to stay active in a general sense. Every session you can do on your bike, the better. If not your bike, then perhaps an indoor bike or to extradite you have at home (so smart to have more than one bike!). 

 if you can’t fight, stay active with the short run or similar aerobic activity. If anything, this can help you stay sane. The only real caveat here is that we don’t want to do anything that’s risky. A new event is right around the corner and there’s plenty to be done. If you couldn’t train whatsoever in the few days leading up to the event, you would still be okay. Unhappy, but okay. 

In terms of intensity, most of the sessions should be aerobic in zone 1 or zone 2. If your event involves play intensity efforts, then two of your sessions should include short bursts of intensity at race pace effort with plenty of rest. An example for example, twice through four minutes at threshold effort with six minutes of recovery.

#6 Pack the Bike

With your last few sessions done, you can go ahead and pack your bike. You can make this process a lot easier by blocking out the time in your calendar to get this done. Perhaps you can use that day’s workout window to get this done.

Before you pack your bike, give it a once-over. Clean it up and make sure that everything on the bike is in good condition. If there’s a problem, you want to be able to solve it now instead of in a new town or city. 

Open up the case to have all of your tools ready. Have a decent-sized ziploc bag to hold any parts you remove, and another one for the tools. Each tool that you use to disassemble your bike, when finished, should go into the ziploc bag that you’re taking with you to the event. This way you know that you will have all of the tools you need at your disposal for everything that is on your bike.

Take your time to do this right, ensuring that your bike is safely secured. Regardless of the type of case that you have, improperly packing your bicycle adds significant risk to the travel equation. 

Avoid packing extraneous heavy or sharp items inside with your bicycle. An empty bottle or two, for example, is fine. Adding your nutrition powder and energy bars end a bicycle pump is not encouraged. This adds to the weight of your bag and can jeopardize the stability of the bike itself. Do your best to keep those extra items in your checked bag.

Side note: We recommend traveling with your helmet, shoes, and pedals in your carry-on bag. In the event that your bike doesn’t make it, at the very least you have the minimum required to hop on a new bike if you’re able to secure one on site. 

In addition to your bike, be sure to also pack the extraneous items that orange clothing but are related to cycling. This goes for your computer and requisite charging cables. Safety lights, sunglasses, spare tires, etc. Perhaps even the cleaning rag. Note that you cannot travel with co2 cartridges on an airplane, so have a plan in place to secure those when you arrive. 

#7 Test the Bike

Once you’ve arrived and made it safely to your lodging, it’s time to put the bike back together again.  Even if you pick your ride up on-site, it’s time to give it a once-over.

You have time now before the event to fix any problems you can find. If you wait till the morning of the event, you run the risk of having to ride with that problem or not being able to ride it all.

Do your best to put the bike together safely and get outside to give it a short ride. Go through all the gears, make sure the brakes work, and that everything feels fine. Check the tire pressure and attach all the safety lights. 

Your goal here is to go to bed the night before the ride with everything in place, 100% ready to go.  Guaranteed you’ll sleep better. 

Happy Riding!