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Post-ride report: 42 mile IMBA/OMBA “Epic” at Santos.

Monday, September 3, 2012 by  
Filed under Daily Blog

Mike Simmons with his carbon Ibis Mojo and me with my modified Trek Fuel EX 8 after completing the 42 mile ride.

Mike Simmons with his carbon Ibis Mojo and me with my modified Trek Fuel EX 8 after completing the 42 mile ride.

I had been looking forward to yesterday’s 42 mile IMBA/OMBA”Epic” ride at Santos all week long, and it did not disappoint!

I rode yesterday with Mike Simmons and Jim Beyer. As most of you know, Mike and I have been riding together at Mt. Dora a few times, and we have some friendly competition going on Strava. Mike’s a great guy, and I want to thank him for inviting me along yesterday.

I’d never ridden with Jim before, but I knew who he was from Strava (he also rides the Mt. Dora trails). Turns out Jim has made one heck of an impressive transformation of his own! In fact, Jim’s story is so inspiring I’m going to feature him in an upcoming Transformation Spotlight. Jim was obese with a resting heart rate of 110 BPM when he decided to take control of his health. He did much more than lose weight: he completed the Leadville 100 mountain bike race! If you’re not familiar with Leadville, it’s insane: a 50 mile there-and-back course (100 total miles) at more than 10,000 feet. There’s 14,000 feet of elevation gain, and the course must be completed in less than 12 hours. Completing the race would be a huge accomplishment for anyone (I believe Lance Armstrong said it was the most difficult race of his career), so considering where Jim started that makes his success story even more compelling.

Here's Jim Beyer and Mike after completing the ride. We couldn't take a proper group photo because there was no one around to take one of all of us.

Here’s Jim Beyer and Mike after completing the ride. We couldn’t take a proper group photo because there was no one around to take one of all of us.

So we rolled out of the trailhead about 7:15 AM. It was relatively cool (that didn’t last long), and we were all feeling really energized and good.

The way we rode the route–and this was Mike’s sage idea–was by starting in the middle of the “Epic” course at the Landbridge Trailhead. This allowed us to hit the most technical trails on semi-fresh legs and brought us back around to the trailhead at the 25 mile mark so we could take a break and grab additional supplies/water. From there we rode the second half of the course, which was another 17 miles.

Riding the Epic as Mike suggested was a great idea. The more technical sections of the course included two trails that were new to me: “Nayls” and “Ern N Burn”. Both of those trails are “Blue” (intermediate) rated, but definitely closer to “Red” (advanced) in many places. I’ve ridden all the Blues at Santos, and these two trails are, IMO, the most difficult Blues (and the most fun–right up there with “Twister” on the fun factor scale). Hitting those trails on tired legs after 30 miles of riding would have been much, much more difficult (and way less fun). Those two trails were an absolute blast, and I had a grin on my face almost the whole time…

… I may have stopped smiling when I wrecked. Three times. Yeah, I took a couple of spills, one of which sent me over the bars. A few bloody cuts, a few scrapes and some bruises resulted, but nothing serious. In my defense, there were a lot of new things I was adjusting to during those first 15 miles or so: I was riding on trails I’d never been on before, I was excited and a little nervous, my saddle height was considerably higher than normal (Mike made the suggestion that I raise the saddle earlier in the week, which definitely increased my power), I was on brand new tires and my sunglasses were almost completely fogged over (I eventually removed them).

Two of my wrecks could almost be forgiven, but one of them was comical. We were on on a section of trail that a blind person who’d never ridden a bike before could have easily traversed. I was cruising along admiring the scenery and not watching the trail. My handlebars clipped a tree or a vine and I went down. We were only about 15 miles in at that point and Jim joked, “Are you getting tired?” That was really embarrassing. Jim and Mike made cracks about that one for the rest of the ride. 😀 Thankfully that was my last wreck of the day.

So about 35 miles in Mike’s quad started to cramp up. We were well hydrated and had been consuming plenty of electrolytes, but this has been a chronic issue for Mike on very long rides. Jim made the suggestion that Mike consume a couple of mustard packets. Yes, MUSTARD. Mike took Jim’s advice and, lo and behold, the cramps went away! Have you guys ever heard of anything like that?!

I had been feeling some tightness in my right hamstring at about the 35 mile mark, but I declined the mustard. I wish I hadn’t: about 1 mile later my hamstring completely locked, and I literally just fell off my bike in agony. As I tried to straighten my leg my quad cramped! The cramps worked themselves out after about 30 seconds, but I was worried that they would return (and there were no more mustard packets). Mike had a chewable pill that contained stuff like magnesium, calcium, potassium and sodium, and so I chewed that. I can’t recall the name of the pill, but it tasted like vomit mixed with chalk. It was horrible, but it worked. I made it the rest of the way with no more cramping issues.

We only experienced one minor mechanical issue between the three of us: Mike got a twig caught in his chain, but that was easily resolved.

By the way, I loved the new Wild Grip’r tires! They rolled fast and cornered incredibly well. They also did way better than I expected in the sugar sand, and were really good on rocks. They were not quite as good as the WTB ‘raptors on roots, but that’s a trade I’m willing to make. Excellent tires–very happy with them. Thanks for the solid suggestion, Craig!

Back in June of this year I got my first “Extreme” Suffer Score on Strava. I mentioned that I really wanted to get an “Epic” Suffer Score, and yesterday I did that with a Suffer Score of 342:

My first "EPIC" suffer score on Strava.

My first “EPIC” suffer score on Strava.


Here’s the full ride on Strava and Garmin Connect.

41.7 miles is also a new off-road distance personal record for me. I’m especially pleased with this because I only had less than a week to prepare for yesterday’s ride after almost two weeks with no exercise and a fairly poor diet.

Mike and Jim, great riding with you guys yesterday! It was definitely one of the most fun and challenging rides of my mountain biking career thus far. I’d love to do it again sometime. Or maybe just go back and ride Nayls and Ern N Burn over and over and over. 🙂

John Stone Fitness Comments

10 Responses to “Post-ride report: 42 mile IMBA/OMBA “Epic” at Santos.”
  1. Great write-up as usual, John. Flex and his friend Ben had been urging me to try out Nayls. I did get out there once, but it was only after I’d ridden at Santos, and I was already a bit tired. Halfway through the technical section I began to feel a dull pain in my left thigh right at the point where the nice surgeon inserted three screws, and it got progressively worse. I thought it best at that point to call it a day and headed back to my car.

    I was at Santos again today and happened to spot Tommy Costello and his wife Teresa in the parking lot. I rode with them all the way to Spider Kingdom, where we parted ways. Teresa turns out to be one hell of a rider herself, as I quickly discovered. Tommy tells me that she regularly rides all the red trails at Santos, which speaks volumes about her abilities. Maybe she’ll show me how to conquer John Brown. 🙂

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    • Thanks very much, Andrew!

      Yeah, I think most of the technical trails at Santos are most enjoyed on fairly fresh legs. I had so much fun riding “Nayls” and “Ern N Burn” that I didn’t even notice the blood running down my leg until, at some point, Jim said, “Dude, look at your leg!”

      That’s so cool that you saw Tommy and his wife. It’s interesting: Donnie Harries’ (who, as you probably know, owns most of the KOMs at Santos) wife is also a very strong rider. In fact, we ran across Donnie and his group (which, I believe, included his wife) while we were riding yesterday.

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      • I typically don’t check the leader boards, so the name Donnie Harries doesn’t ring a bell. My only purpose in using Strava is to keep a detailed log of my own performance on familiar trails, and to see if any changes I make to the bike result in a tangible improvement. Tommy made a LOT of changes to my 29er, which is why I brought it with me on back to back trips; I had originally planned to take the 26er today.

        I spent most of the ride today trying to find a gorgeous female rider I met yesterday. She said she’d be there again today, but was nowhere to be found, sadly. At least I got a good workout in the process: 1,412 calories burned according to Strava. I can feel that 35 lbs of fat melting away already. 🙂

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          • Well let’s see:

            New CF handlebars – 1″ shorter than stock w/different profile.
            Removed one spacer from the steering head.
            Moved the seat forward 10mm
            Replaced the stock tires with a set of ‘race’ tires.

            These incremental changes don’t sound like much, but it feels like a totally different bike. It’s more aggressive and steers much more precisely, and the front wheel now stays planted when I’m hard on the gas while climbing hills. The only downside is that I’m resting more weight on my wrists than before, which can get tiring after several hours. Next week I’ll put the clipless pedals back on to see what difference that makes. On my road bike the difference between flats and clipless is huge, but I haven’t experienced the same power boost on either of my mountain bikes.

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  2. More two questions than a comment John. Looking a the image with you standing beside it offering better perspective than the workshop pics, what frame size is your modified Fuel 8 EX? And, would you change that, or is it as perfect as you’d find for you save a custom fit build?

    Not a Fuel or even a Trek, but in mid-dilemma tossing up whether to downsize for myself on a replacement dual susser buy as at 5’9″ with a 30½” inseam I’m an awkward in between 17″ on the available 16″ (S) or 18″ (M) optional sizings available from my triage of preferred offerings.

    Havign sat on it, 18″ just feels awkwardly big compared to my 17″ hardtails even though on spec, it fits at the top end of the theoretical sizings. The 16″ frame, right at the bottom end theoretically, feels more ‘cockpit’ comfortable with another inch of SOH clearance and a shorter effective TT length not needing an always full on aggressive neck craning riding stance. Can’t really shorten the stem any more on either.

    BB to GND clearance typically AM high, and same on all. Don’t know if it’s a real or imagined concern, the 16″ drops 5mm in the fitted crank sizing to 170mm which I’ve never used before as even the 17″(GIANT) came with 175mm. I live kinda’ out of the way in a coastal fishing hamlet, so no LBS to try one for a few days then swap if it doesn’t ‘fit’ even if AU was a customer service orientated as the US – which it most definitely ain’t.

    Thoughts and comment welcomed. Good ride report too BTW, ‘out-takes’ included.

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    • Hey Keiron,

      My Fuel’s frame is 18.5″. It’s a tad undersized for my liking. At one point I tried putting a longer stem on there to give me a little more room in the cockpit, but the control tradeoff was not worth it and I wound putting on a shorter 70mm stem.

      That said, I seem to have adapted pretty well to the frame size. In fact, on the ride mentioned in the blog above I felt very comfortable. I think a 19″ frame would probably fit me a little better, and maybe even a 19.5″ frame.

      When I build my next bike that’s going to be one of my biggest concerns, so I get where you’re coming from. It’s too bad you can’t test out some bikes in the frame sizes your considering, that would certainly make things easier. Good luck with your choice!

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      • Thanks John. Looking at your side by side photo, your ride did appear a tad undersized so I had wondered whether that was a deliberate choice. Hence in part my question, as some riders do prefer marginally smaller, and some knowledgeable people endorse it. e.g. Zinn. I’m also probably inclined to be one of them as I like “agile”. I’ve also noticed in my own research from other pics when a person is in frame offering perspective that TREK’s Fuel EX 8 deceptively gives the impression of being smaller than it actually is because of the slope of their top tube and how it connects with the seat tube. From your comments, clearly your upper torso prefers a 19″, or 19.5″ if a TREK sizing.

        Forgetting the hypothetical sizing calculators for a while, I’m the opposite in that the 18″ is an OK fit for me leg length wise with a standard 350mm seat post although just that tad too full on aggressive in the torso. 17″ would be perfect all round, with the 1″ shorter top tube length of the 16″ more relaxed in the torso resulting in less perpetual and tiring neck craning, but the radical 2″ shift in seat tube size requiring a fully extended to safe insertion point 400mm seat post is a worry.

        If money were no object, finding that perfect 17″ would be the ideal solution. As you’d be aware, manufacturers today pretty much standardise on 2″ increments offering either 15.5″,17.5″ or 16″,18″ et al as brand incremental sizings, 16.5~17.5 being the obvious preferred compromise for me which does slot TREK’s 17.5″ Fuel EX 8 as a capable contender, and one which, importantly, fits within my budget.

        But finessing the difference in just half an inch difference in a “specified size” 17.5″ or 18″ as measured by any manufacturer is more about sitting on the bike and its real geometry than about relying upon specs. I suspect part of the “it seems a smidge big for me” with the 18″ I am considering http://khsbicycles.com/bikes/2012-khs-models/xct-556/ is also influenced by the fact that currently I am riding smaller 17″ and 18″ hardtail front suspension MTB frames respectively, with more generous standover and of course lower bottom bracket to ground heights. That 18″ or M in that KHS weighs 13KG BTW. It fits other than as mentioned, albeit with its spec 23.6″ TT length, it presents a very aggressive riding stance given my upper torso’s ‘ape factor’. Fitting to my new compact M road frame was a much simpler fit even though choice of XS,S,M,L,XL didn’t offer as precise 1cm exact fitment increments as my venerable straight top tubed conventional frame of yore. Ultimately there’s a decision for me to make. Maybe I should just toss a coin and see how it lands. =] Many thanks for your comments.

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