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Saturday, November 19: Three Sisters and Wetlands Park, 36 miles

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Ride report: Seismic Challenge 2.0 'All Ride'


Whipped my butt, it did. Today's ride was the "All Ride" for Seismic Challenge, where 36 riders got together just three weeks before the start of this year's event.

The 71-mile route from San Francisco to near the Marin-Sonoma county line and back is challenging in its own right, but today's weather made the ride even more challenging, if not downright dangerous. The numbers that I've found show a high temperature today in Nicasio (on the route) of 97 degrees ... and 103 degrees just off the route in San Rafael. (103F was also recorded in Santa Rosa today, so it's a safe assumption that we encountered triple-digit temperatures for at least part of the day.)

I was doing fine up through the lunch break and turnaround point at the Cheese Factory, but my general state deteriorated quickly as soon as I got back on the road. By the time I got past Nicasio on the return, I could feel classic symptoms of heat stroke setting in: nausea, muscle spasms, lack of hunger. (And, if you must know, I didn't pee at all between mile 19 and the end of the ride, despite taking in something more than a gallon of liquid.) So I immediately went into self-preservation mode: taking lots of short stops in the shade, slowing my pace, keeping my heart rate under control, forcing myself to eat both of the emergency Clif Bars that I had brought along, and doing my best to drink more water and take in some electrolyte-replacement gel. (Update: One of the other ride leaders ended up in the emergency room Saturday night due to dehydration, so conditions were indeed harsh. He's OK now, though.)

Long story short, I eventually made it back to San Francisco under my own power without major injury and with a rolling average speed of about 12.6 mph. But my actual elapsed time for the ride was a much slower 7:50. (A pace at that elapsed time would not have been sufficient to complete either day of Seismic Challenge before sunset.)

If you were on today's ride, though, you don't really care about my physical foibles. You want to know how today compares to the ride in October. Here's the good news: We did almost as much climbing today as we'll do in all 108 miles of Day 1 (approximately 4,800 feet today vs. 5,300 feet on Day 1, using the numbers from Bikely). If you handled most or all of today's ride in this brutal weather, then you should feel confident about October.

Of course, as I jokingly said to a couple of other riders today, it's also possible that when we ride three weeks from today, the weather will be windy and cold ... maybe even wet. There's just no telling with our weather anymore.

Photo credit: Susan Fish

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