Thursday, November 7, 2013

Skyline Sufferfest 2013

Do people read blogs anymore? I feel like Instagram has taken over the blog world a little bit. I'm okay with it.

Sometimes I post on my fitness blog, and when I wrote about our recenty Skyline Drive century, Beau asked why I didn't post it on this blog, too. Which begs the question of why do I have two blogs anyway? I don't really know. Well, I guess I do. Because sometimes I find something funny or interesting I want to share, but I'm not really a big facebook sharer (except that one time I was and that got really interesting really quickly) so I put it on the "other" blog, the one I don't think anyone actually reads, just to feel the release of telling someone something you find interesting. Also, I don't like people thinking that running/cycling/hiking is all I/we do. Because I think sometimes it seems like that. And when the only photos or events I have to blog about are running/cycling/hiking related, I feel like I'm feeding this weird stereotype that I made up in my head that everyone thinks that's all I do. The people in my head are harsh critics, I guess.

Anyway, I really am just trying to write a little intro to my re posting of our Skyline Century:


Our SAG driver, aka my cousin Chapman, dropped us off just before the north entrance of the park. According to the thermometer in the car, it was around 30' at the base of the Shenandoahs. We pulled on our earwarmers and gloves, stuffed some HotHands into our shoes, checked our tires (all 6 tires were brand spanking new!), and were on our way. The first 5 miles are a long gradual climb and actually felt a little easier than I expected. It may have been something to do with the prescence of hot chocolate waiting at the top. The cold was completely bearable if not pleasant when climbing, but not quite as comfortable going downhill.
just before we started

fer cute.
 The first 40 or so miles passed quickly. I know this part of Skyline well, having ridden it quite a few times. We got to Skyland, the highest point of the road and where Chapman was waiting, and scarfed down a TON of food. My cocoa banana oat muffins were a hit, especially with a smear of peanut butter on them. I also took to scoops of peanut butter dipped in granola. The intense hunger of long hard bike ride is awfully reminiscent of my thru hike. Also, just for kicks, I counted how many times I noticed we crossed the AT. I got to 10. I'm sure there were some I missed.

The next wayside was at mile 50ish, and I have never felt as tired after 50 miles as I was at that moment. Like, can-barely-pedal-another-foot kind of tired. Sitting in the grass at Big Meadows was the first time it occurred to me that maybe I was in over my head. Maybe I wouldn't be able to do the whole 105 miles.
Randy the super human pointed out that the next 25 miles really weren't that bad. A trick I learned thru hiking (where I looked at a profile elevation map of the trail approximately 43,209,423,098 times) is to cover up the map with your hands, and only show the next chunk of miles you're focusing on. When you just look at task immediately on hand, the rest doesn't seem so overwhelming. Magic!

So all I thought about was mile 75. Every tenth of a mile my odometer ticked up was a little victory towards my goal of getting to mile 75. Randy was a champ and led the pace line the entire way, encouraging us every mile. Eventually we got to mile 75, and then pushed up a big climb to the next wayside at mile 80, and then I was all about counting down and praising every mile passed as another mile closer to the end.

Finally, finally, we got to mile 100 and were rewarded with a glorious speedy downhill to the finish. It was JUST starting to get dark, and we finished at about 6:00pm. Oh and then there was BBQ on the way home and pulled pork has never been so delicious.

While we were riding along, I asked Randy to rate his perceived difficulty of the day's ride, with 1 being a short ride on the very flat W&OD trail, and 10 being LOTOJA. He thought for a moment and responded, "Probably a six."

Six?? Seriously?? This is the hardest ride I've ever done and you're calling this a six?

But the next day, he emailed us and changed his statement a little. He uploads his Garmin data into a software program that takes into account the intensity, power output, and duration of the ride and spits out a Training Stress Score. For LOTOJA, the TSS was 811. The Skyline Sufferfest was 750. Here is the approximate guide for interpreting the TSS:
  • Less than 150 - low (recovery generally complete by following day)
  • 150-300 - medium (some residual fatigue may be present the next day, but gone by the second day
  • 300-450 - high (some residual fatigue may be present even after two days)
  • Greater than 450 - very high (residual fatigue lasting several days likely)
So, yeah...... higher than a six.


Kudos for reading a long way of saying we pedaled up hills and down hills for an entire day!


  1. You guys are intense! Well done. I like your trick - I feel like that could work with just about any goal.

  2. How did I not know about your fitness blog? I like it, and I also make cocoa banana muffins all the time with similar changes.