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  Topic Name: The Last 15 Miles on: August 08, 2012, 08:09:44 PM
riverfever


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« on: August 08, 2012, 08:09:44 PM »

I have wanted to complete the Colorado Trail for years now. I tried in ’08, ’09, and again in ’11. All of these efforts failed to see me arrive in Durango. I decided to try one more time in 2012. I wanted to share some of the last 15 miles with you because, to me, they will likely make the biggest impact on me and my life in general and they are also where I got into the most terrifying ordeal that I have ever been in. With bikepacking and events like CTR seemingly drawing more crowds each year with people newly interested in the challenges offered, if this helps one person then I will be satisfied.

It seems that this year, more than ever before, we heard the words “sleep deprivation” in peoples’ post ride reports. I believe all three of the leaders experienced problems with this but, somehow, managed to remain safe. How on Earth Jefe did it with as little sleep as he got is a real mystery.

This year, I got caught up in racing and pushed my body beyond its comfort zone. In one stretch (from Princeton Hot Springs to Silverton) I pedaled for 55 hours. I rested for 3 hours in Silverton before pushing on. I missed my wife and wanted to rush to see her in Durango.
The hallucinations, poor balance/coordination/judgment had been an ongoing problem since the start of Section 22. With 15 miles to go I was hearing voices and seeing the strangest of things. Some were just trippy but others were terrifying. At times, I was unable to work the GPS and would often times not see the track showing up at all and assume that I was lost. I crossed the first bridge on Junction Creek and stopped. I had not seen a trail marker in a while and the GPS was now useless to me. I got off and walked around. I got scared and began screaming for help. I heard voices but could not understand why they would ignore me. I saw houses with people looking down on me from their decks. I saw junked cars in the creek bed and knew this couldn’t possibly be the CT. I roamed in circles for at least an hour in a panic. Two riders touring the route found me and calmed me down. They told me I was on the CT and headed towards Durango. I wondered if I was going insane.

We rode together for a while (can’t tell you how long because I had no concept of time). It began to storm and eventually, my pads wore out from the mud. They convinced me that I needed to hit the 911 button on my SPOT. Even now it saddens me a bit that it had to be suggested to me. I was freezing and began to jog next to my bike to stay warm. Maybe 8 or 10 miles from Durango, they left me and told me to just keep heading straight. Soon I hit the intersection with Dry Fork. Then I hit the next one. Then I began to lose it again. I knew I was lost. I began screaming again. My bike was slowing me down and I needed to get rid of it so I could run faster. I went back to the last intersection and ditched it off trail. I ran but not very far when I started to think that I wasn’t going to make it out.

My focus shifted from trying to get to the trailhead to surviving the night. I looked for trees to get under but found none big enough. Finally I found some big boulders right off the trail and could see dry pine needles, leaves, and sticks inside and figured that was my best shot. I crawled in and started clearing it out and gathering things for a fire when I heard footsteps behind me. I know Paul Bosworth thought I was out of my mind. I’m pretty sure I begged him not to leave me alone. He was nice enough to call my wife at the trailhead and tell her that he had me and that he was bringing me out. We walked out together.

A medic from Search and Rescue was waiting for me about a mile in and he walked with me the rest of the way. I was evaluated and, eventually, told that this was all pretty normal for people that push the envelope too far during competition.
I just want everyone to know one story of how putting off sleep ended up. This is the fourth time that I have not made it to Durango. Although I woke up in that town I really had no idea where I was. I’m getting better each day and, initially, was a bit frustrated that I managed to screw things up only about ¼ mile from the end but then I think about all of the things that I was terrified of losing during my little manic episodes like my wife, my dogs, chasing fat trout on the South Platte, coffee and beer and just life. To be perfectly honest, it started out a bit funny (telling Kurt Ireland that those white rocks really were Mountain Goats or saying that I had met everyone that we saw while eating in Silverton). But it quickly got out of hand and was no longer strange but like a nightmare. It seems that each hour that goes by I find some other reason to be thankful that my 2012 race ended the way it did.

It seems that folks can only ride the CT so fast and that one of the ways we are seeing faster times still is by riders forgoing sleep. Many of the front runners are such talented athletes that their systems have got to be so genetically different that putting off the sleep works for them to a point (and they’re still experimenting with that point). However, I don’t know that the same can be said for the mid-pack racers. Please be careful. I cannot believe nothing more serious happened to me because of my carelessness. I feel awful for putting my wife and friends through this. Perhaps this might be a good time to look at/discuss how we, as a community, feel about dealing with another racer who appears to be in a situation because of sleep deprivation?
« Last Edit: August 08, 2012, 08:18:38 PM by riverfever » Logged


  Topic Name: The Last 15 Miles Reply #1 on: August 08, 2012, 10:03:52 PM
Stefan_G


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« Reply #1 on: August 08, 2012, 10:03:52 PM »

Thank you so much for sharing this incredibly crazy and unfortunate experience! 

Unbeknownst to me until communicating with you about this, the effects of sleep deprivation can clearly be just as jeopardizing as crashing and breaking your leg or something similar.  I think it is difficult for someone who has not pushed themselves in this area to relate to, but your post really brings home the severity of what can happen if you do dig that hole too deep.

HUGE props to Paul Bosworth for helping you get out of there safely.  Hopefully future CTR riders will be able to learn from your experience.  A rare thing, I think, to be able to learn so much from someone else's experiences.

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  Topic Name: The Last 15 Miles Reply #2 on: August 08, 2012, 10:37:49 PM
gdillon


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« Reply #2 on: August 08, 2012, 10:37:49 PM »

Thanks for posting this. I was wondering what happened. The idea of pushing/riding my bike for ever-increasing hours is intriguing and I must admit that time has been a central focus of my 2 attempts on the CT. For 2010 I felt good at 8 to 10 hours and really start to get tired towards that 12th hour where I would then change to my dry wool suit and then lay down. The ability to get moving at 5 am meant that by or around 5 pm I would call it quits for the day. Very effective and relatively comfortable.

For 2011 I did a ton of night riding and got to the point that 16-18 hours became comfortable. That translated to later leave times in the morning. My average distance for each day over 8 days was 40 miles. When I called it quits in Leadville I was not done by any means but I was worried about my hands (which took several months to recover). In each case, and in much of my training I've left something out there. I could've pushed it more, but something happens to me out on the middle of nowhere that causes a certain sense of restraint.

This summer I've gone out twice with survival gear (no sleeping gear) with the goal of some great distance and needing to push for nearly 24 hours. Weird things have gone through my head, and it takes some action like talking to myself or focusing on chewing food slowly or playing a song or 2 to get myself up and moving again. I figure that for something like the CTR I need to develop some familiarity with sleep deprivation.

At the same time, your experience sounds awful and I wouldn't wish it upon anyone. The whole deal with the 911 button is also scary because you got yourself into a bad situation by pushing too hard for too long. Again, thanks for sharing because we all need to be accountable out there with the stakes of such an effort so high, and I agree with Stefan that others can learn from your experience.

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  Topic Name: The Last 15 Miles Reply #3 on: August 09, 2012, 02:22:56 AM
nanath


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« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2012, 02:22:56 AM »

What an important tale to tell.  I hope other riders learn from your experience, so no one else has to go through it again.  It occurs to me that someone dazed enough to consider starting a fire in order to survive could put a whole lot more than themselves in danger. The next time we consider pushing ourselves too far, maybe we should think about the Hayman burn scar.
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  Topic Name: The Last 15 Miles Reply #4 on: August 09, 2012, 03:51:36 AM
sub-xero


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« Reply #4 on: August 09, 2012, 03:51:36 AM »

I really consider it a great service to the community sharing your experience in such detail. Thank you!

I'm quite aware that putting off sleep is one of the most dangerous things you can do. There's a reason why preventing prisoners from sleeping is used as a method of torture.

I personally never ride races because competition makes you push your limits beyond reason and health, and that's never a good thing. I don't have to prove to myself that I can win anything. I ride only for pleasure, to enjoy nature and to be by myself for a couple of days. It's like meditation. Also, in the extremely rough and dangerous terrain of the Alps it would be unaccountable to put yourself into danger.

On my this year's Alps crossing tour however I accidentally got into a MTB race (by incredible coincidence the organizing board had chosen exactly a part of my individual route for one of their stages, and the race happened just at the day I was riding there). So I (had to) ride among the field of racers for one day, which caused me riding much faster and twice as far as I actually had planned. I hadn't expected that I'd have that in me. It was quite an experience to ride with pros, especially since neither of them carried a 10 kg (22 lbs) backpack and rode a full suspension bike with downhill tires. On this day I hardly spent time to enjoy nature, take pictures or make films. Which is a pity. It was kindof a confirmation that racing is nothing I want to do. So next time I will check the routes and schedules of TransAlp Challenge Races beforehand.
(You can read the full story on my website if you like.)
« Last Edit: August 09, 2012, 04:01:08 AM by sub-xero » Logged


  Topic Name: The Last 15 Miles Reply #5 on: August 09, 2012, 07:58:38 AM
joeydurango


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« Reply #5 on: August 09, 2012, 07:58:38 AM »

I agree completely that sleep deprivation can be a terrible thing - and I heard Chris's story firsthand, which was even a little more unnerving.  But I think it's important to note that everyone has different limits, and each person should know what their own limits are.  Some folks might call it at 10 or 12 hours a day, I've ridden multiple 20+ hour days with no ill effects other than just plain fatigue, and Ethan and Jefe rode for up to 48 hours straight before experiencing problems.

Rather than categorically saying that racing "makes you push your limits beyond reason or health", I'd say we oughta just leave it up to the individual to A) know what their personal limits are, and B) know how to avoid maxing those limits, or to know what to do to remedy the situation when one does max those limits, and C) to be sufficiently prepared to remedy a maxed-out situation.  In Chris's case, by his own admission, it sounds like the lack of sleep was mostly due to a sleeping setup which wasn't sufficiently warm, rather than simply trying to push too fast.  Not being dismissive by any means - given the right circumstances it could happen to anyone.  We all just need to make sure we're prepared for the adventures we embark on.

Chris, did you get your bike back?  I sure hope so, losing a bike and all your gear would be bad!  Hope the directions I gave you helped.
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  Topic Name: The Last 15 Miles Reply #6 on: August 09, 2012, 08:01:53 AM
Yogi the Barry


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« Reply #6 on: August 09, 2012, 08:01:53 AM »

Glad that you're here to talk about your experience...
Re: Hallucinations / Night Riding
Only hallucinations I had was riding at night on the La Garita Wilderness bypass. During the 9:30-10:30 PM time period, any rock that lined the edge of the road would move. I thought it was amusing and was aware it wasn't real, but by 10:30 PM the dark thoughts and sounds phase started and my brain just said it was time to quit. After my first night ride during the CTR, bombing down the backside of Georgia Pass on a totally soaked trail and trying to beat the next t-storm, I realized that I wasn't going to make up any time at night if the trail was very technical and/or rough. I am a very competent technical rider, but riding with a 90 lumen light, always turned down a wee bit to extend battery life, wasn't the same as when I ride a 24-hr race solo with twin 900 lumen lights. Once I was reduced to walking at night, or wobbling like a drunk, I'd just stop and camp. I preferred riding late, vs. early, because it was warmer after sunset then the hours before sunrise, but my total riding time in the 'dark' was less than 12 hrs. Crashing at night just wasn't worth it. I'm 55 and my 20/40 can be corrected to 20/20 with glasses, but age seems to have taken a bit of my depth perception at night. The only substantial night riding I did [other my death march to bail in the rain] was finishing Cataract in the dark and arriving into Silverton at 11:30 PM, which was only possible because it was a road, not a technical trail.
If I ever do something like this, think I'd try to get an earlier start and force myself to take an afternoon nap. Perhaps the PM nap would help with the negative thoughts I had EVERY day about 2-3 PM. FYI, somewhere I read that if you are going to shorten your sleep cycle, it's better to get a few hours of sleep early in the evening, by going to sleep close to when you normally do, than it is to stay up late and sleep-in. Early sleep hours are of more value to the body than late sleep hours...
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  Topic Name: The Last 15 Miles Reply #7 on: August 09, 2012, 09:18:56 AM
sub-xero


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« Reply #7 on: August 09, 2012, 09:18:56 AM »

Rather than categorically saying that racing "makes you push your limits beyond reason or health", I'd say we oughta just leave it up to the individual to A) know what their personal limits are, and B) know how to avoid maxing those limits, or to know what to do to remedy the situation when one does max those limits, and C) to be sufficiently prepared to remedy a maxed-out situation.

I didn't want to be judgemental. From my own experience, racing makes ME push the limits much more, because the race itself is a huge motivational factor. Also, the OP himself said that "one of the ways we are seeing faster times still is by riders forgoing sleep". Which clearly isn't healthy.
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  Topic Name: The Last 15 Miles Reply #8 on: August 09, 2012, 09:54:57 AM
riverfever


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« Reply #8 on: August 09, 2012, 09:54:57 AM »

I completely agree that everyone has different limits when it comes to things like power output, technical skills and even sleep deprivation. I hope I didn't come across as sounding like nobody should put it off but, rather, that we all should know our limits. That's why I think we are beginning to see those limits being found. I think it's safe to say that we are not going to see riders reach Janet's Cabin much faster than 18 hours. The areas to trim the fat down (ride faster, make more efficient stops) are getting lean. I have 15-20 years experience racing mountain bikes but my experience with sleep deprivation is very limited. I had no idea it would lead to this and I wish I could play it all over again.

I actually was going to have my wife bring me a sleeping bag and pad in BV and I kick myself for not having done so. When I pushed to the end of Sargents I arrived at 2 in the morning and found close to 10 bikes. I tried to bivy but it was like sleeping on ice (super cold there that night). I then tried getting into my bivy and emergency bivy and sitting in a chair under the tent and still could not stop shivering. At that point it was better for me to soft pedal until the sun came up.

Joey...after leaving your shop I was frantic. Sorry for spilling my smoothie on your floor. We checked each trailhead for a note from someone who had found it but there was nothing. I got out and put my MTB shoes on. As a side note, the swelling in my thighs, knees, legs, ankles and toes was so bad that my wife had to cut the socks off the night before while I sat there dodging things coming at me in the hotel room. I was still really wobbly and she did not want me to go in. I was walking quickly and she was behind with the dog. She was in flip flops and couldn't cover as much ground. I made it to the boulders and started crying. Not much further up was the intersection and back in the woods about 30 yards (just like I said) I saw a grip sticking up. I don't think it's any worse for the wear but I haven't looked at it since we got home. Thank you for helping me with the maps.

I've been home resting for 2 or 3 days now and I still have a hard time with what happened. I feel awful for my wife. I get emotional when I'm telling the story to someone and I get to a part where I was screaming her name. I feel so ashamed. Those that know me know that I am a very private person so the only reason I'm doing this is because I don't want anyone to run the risk of losing everything they've got for anything. I LOVE riding my bike but right now I worry that it will never be the same for me. There are still days on the trail that I can't recall. I remember not having a clue what town I was near or where a trail was going to end. When Paul and I were walking out, I noticed Gudy's bench and immediately knew that was a landmark that was close to the finish but before he was there I saw too many frightening things that kept me from going down that trail any further. That's why I looked for someplace to hide. No matter what direction I went, things were waiting. If I stayed and just closed my eyes and covered my ears  I thought I could make it. It's funny because my wife read this and said, "You didn't even get into the details." I merely scratched the surface but I think it's enough. 
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  Topic Name: The Last 15 Miles Reply #9 on: August 09, 2012, 11:52:16 AM
fastmtnbiker33w

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« Reply #9 on: August 09, 2012, 11:52:16 AM »

Did you start  off not sleeping?

I'm always curious a to people's sleep patterns during these things.  I like to get plenty of sleep so I can ride really fast. Some people can't sleep on the trail..not sure if it's an anxiety thing, fear, adrenaline....whatever.  I believe if you start out depriving yourself, then you have much more difficulty at the end.
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  Topic Name: The Last 15 Miles Reply #10 on: August 09, 2012, 12:05:23 PM
riverfever


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« Reply #10 on: August 09, 2012, 12:05:23 PM »

Night 1: hotel in Breck.

Night 2: hotel in Leadville.

Night 3: wonderful bivy spot up from Princeton Hot Springs.

I love sleeping outside. Oh wait...you know what...I failed to mention that I also suffer from Sleep Apnea. See I told you I still wasn't well yet. I think that definitely makes it harder for me to get recovered even when in the comfort of a motel. I think I can make due (albeit cranky and tired) with doing something like CTR with my Apnea. I think that anything more than a fast tour pace is obviously where I get in trouble. Not only do I have a CPAP machine that I use but my oxygen intake levels also drop off to about 70% of the norm so I am also on an oxygen machine at night. 

I did not intentionally push without sleep until after Princeton. Then I pushed for 55 hours I think? All the way to Silverton.

I really hoped to do Tour Divide next summer but that won't happen.
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  Topic Name: The Last 15 Miles Reply #11 on: August 09, 2012, 12:52:30 PM
joeydurango


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« Reply #11 on: August 09, 2012, 12:52:30 PM »

Glad you found your bike!  I was wondering for sure.  Don't be ashamed about anything!  You made it back safe, and that's what matters.  I've gotten into some hairy situations before as well, we all do.  If I know anything, it's that time heals all, and you'll be back out on your bike in a few months not even thinking about those last 15 miles.
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  Topic Name: The Last 15 Miles Reply #12 on: August 09, 2012, 01:28:12 PM
Done


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« Reply #12 on: August 09, 2012, 01:28:12 PM »

For me, the CTR is all about pushing myself as hard as I can, while still staying safe. Of course, the line between speed and safety shifts depending on the time of day, weather, terrain, how much I'm eating, how much sleep I've gotten, my mental state, level of experience in the conditions, etc. Perhaps the only way to truly discover one's absolute limits at a particular moment is to exceed them--which it sounds like Chris did. From what I've heard about this story, I think that his major flaw wasn't that he temporarily exceeded his limits, but rather than he didn't carry proper gear to deal with the consequences.

I always carry enough bivy gear so that I can sleep safely absolutely anywhere, even if I am injured. My CTR kit includes a bivy sack, pad, sleeping bag, down jacket, pile pullover, and hat. I don't generally need it all--but I did this year. I started up Indian Ridge around 5:00 PM, and had to bail off the side when a huge lightening storm swept into the area. It hailed, rained, and boomed for hours. I was dog-tired, soaking wet, and eager to get home. But I had enough gear to sit tight through the storm in my little bubble of safety and warmth. Had I not had good gear (and used it), I likely would have ended up like Chris that night--especially if I allowed the ambition of a six-day finish (which was within reach) to overwhelm reason. Instead, I rode the last 30 miles of the trail in absolute bliss the next morning, catching air on that awesome singletrack into Durango and relishing in my 7+ day finish.

Everyone who sets out to ride the CTR wants to be as fast as possible--which means going light. But Chris' story is a good reminder that the CTR is a mountain adventure before it is a race. Especially when the weather turns, the CTR has more in common with mountaineering than with bike racing. Even for the super-fast guys this is true, although they can go lighter then many because their experience and skill add to their safety margins. But for the other 97% of us out there, carrying complete mountain-survival gear can make the difference between disaster and a good adventure. In my opinion, Chris wasn't the only guy who wasn't carrying proper gear out there--rather, he was just unlucky enough to get caught. How many others squeaked by, utterly oblivious to their own vulnerability?

I'm glad that Chris got out OK. I rode with Paul for for many hours, and I'm not even slightly surprised that he was the one who took the time to help Chris. Guys like him truly give me hope for humanity.
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  Topic Name: The Last 15 Miles Reply #13 on: August 09, 2012, 01:45:21 PM
RossC


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« Reply #13 on: August 09, 2012, 01:45:21 PM »

Hey Riverfever:

I read part of your post to my wife who in the past has spent a few hours on the internet worriedly looking up the effects of sleep dep when I talk about what people are putting themselves through racing ultra's. She recalled reading this post which she thought might be a useful read for you. It's about someone going through the same thing (except the sleep dep is due to stifling heat rather than racing). It makes for a very interesting read.

 http://meanjin.com.au/articles/post/summer-and-antipsychotics-in-the-city/
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  Topic Name: The Last 15 Miles Reply #14 on: August 09, 2012, 02:27:25 PM
Yogi the Barry


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« Reply #14 on: August 09, 2012, 02:27:25 PM »

Great quote from that article... "[being] Happy is more important than success[ful]..."
I love how the people that just completed the entire CTR are saying how important it was to finish the entire thing. If you didn't finish, try again... And those that didn't finish [like me] are trying to get on with their lives and accept the fact that the CTR is nothing more than a long mountain bike ride.
Hey Riverfever:
...snip... It makes for a very interesting read.

 http://meanjin.com.au/articles/post/summer-and-antipsychotics-in-the-city/
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  Topic Name: The Last 15 Miles Reply #15 on: August 09, 2012, 02:47:40 PM
Done


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« Reply #15 on: August 09, 2012, 02:47:40 PM »

I love how the people that just completed the entire CTR are saying how important it was to finish the entire thing. If you didn't finish, try again... And those that didn't finish [like me] are trying to get on with their lives and accept the fact that the CTR is nothing more than a long mountain bike ride.
I've succeeded twice and failed once. While I loved both finishes, I'm actually glad that I failed once. I know that sounds kind of weird, but failure provides a different perspective and leads to all sorts of interesting things to contemplate.
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  Topic Name: The Last 15 Miles Reply #16 on: August 09, 2012, 03:16:22 PM
riverfever


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« Reply #16 on: August 09, 2012, 03:16:22 PM »

That's a great article Wizard. I also feel really odd when telling the story to others. The words "heightened and sustained panic" are exactly what I would use to describe the first crossing of Junction Creek and again when I intersected the Hoffheinz Trail.

I just went down in the garage and started pulling stuff out of my bags. I found my iPhone but it's not working. I also found my guide book and looked at the map/profile for that last section. I remember walking out with Paul and barely catching a glimpse of Gudy's bench. The book is something that I left with the bike but had I gone a little further I wonder if I would have recognized that while on my own and knew I was on the right trail and close?   
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  Topic Name: The Last 15 Miles Reply #17 on: August 09, 2012, 03:36:34 PM
riverfever


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« Reply #17 on: August 09, 2012, 03:36:34 PM »

I hope this thread gets some gears turning about:

1. How dangerous putting off sleep can truly be particularly after the super hard efforts associated with CTR. I am sure I thought I was decently hydrated and nourished but my judgment was so far off that I know I couldn't have been. Had I suffered a broken leg I would have at least been forced to remain in one spot until S/R could come in. But I continued to wonder around which (in conjunction with being in a bit of a canyon at times, and with the weather) really made it difficult for those guys and gals to determine where I was at and get in and help me. The delusions and hallucinations just kept me running. Thankfully I was close to the end.

2. The other thing that I want to get across to others who maybe have not dealt with this is that it is not a joke. I put my wife and friends through hell and for that I am sorry. What made it more sad for me was when I heard of the people that were also at the trailhead with my wife saying things like, "It's all downhill what's his problem?" Or, "The trail only goes two ways and only one of them leads to Durango." This did not help my wife at all during a time when she was not sure WTF was going on.
« Last Edit: August 10, 2012, 08:36:28 PM by riverfever » Logged


  Topic Name: The Last 15 Miles Reply #18 on: August 10, 2012, 08:49:36 AM
AZLobo


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« Reply #18 on: August 10, 2012, 08:49:36 AM »

First. Chris, it is a service to others considering actually racing, not just riding, the CTR that you have shared this experience in gritty and uncomfortable detail. Being past your limits for any period of time can lead to epiphany's both positive and deadly. Thankfully you walk away with a lesson that, while it can be shared vicariously through mediums like this forum, is unique to you and your relationship with yourself and your family.

You can get better at being tired. The RAAM riders have made it an art form. Of course they have a follow car with people there to help, but you get the point. Train for it the way you train for hills and hike a bike, and then at the sharp end experience will help keep you safer. I would say you just got a graduate level degree in fatigue, and it may surprise you how powerful that is in future adventures.

I for one hope you come back to CTR for another go.

Best of luck.
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  Topic Name: The Last 15 Miles Reply #19 on: August 12, 2012, 04:32:55 PM
riverfever


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« Reply #19 on: August 12, 2012, 04:32:55 PM »

I think making a blanket statement about someone not having the appropriate gear is a slippery slope. Gear is very much dependent upon strategy. The bigger issue is that I did not implement my original strategy of riding through the night and taking cat naps during the warmth of day. I think it was pretty clear from my call ins (even in Breck) that I wasn't really having fun. So when it came time to nap during the day and I had found some friends like Kurt and Paul to ride with, I didn't want to let them go up the trail. That was the reason for considering calling my wife and having her bring gear that would bring our strategies closer together. Unfortunately, I also wanted to finish this thing cleanly so something had to go. Typically, I do not like to ride with others at all and that's why I decided for the initial night strategy in the first place. 

I don't know if the wisdom comment was coming my way or Toby's (and I don't take offense if it was in my direction as I still learn something new every time I talk to others). I just want to clarify that this was not my first rodeo. I had 3 failed attempts at this race before and learned tons each time. I've done a lot of long, multi-day rides around my home, I've done Ring the Peak about twice every year as a day ride since 2008, and spent a lot of time backpacking in the Rockies. Again...for me it all goes back to not sticking with my initial plan. 
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