Lazer helmets-Rapha Gentlemen’s ride

Every cyclist should plot an annual summer adventure

1 day, 100 miles, 10,000 vertical feet of climbing in the name of both serious challenge and adventure were what Christopher Smith and Mike Pederson of Lazer helmets envisioned when they put together their 2nd annual ‘Lazer Gentlemen’s’ Ride’, which was bolstered by Rapha’s presence and took place the Saturday after Lifeboat Events 2011 Press Camp in Deer Valley, Utah.

The route through Utah Wasatch Mountains made for a serious challenge to our group’s ‘average’ fitness level both due to elevation gain, dirt roads, route finding and treacherous descending.

The actual stats came quite close, especially on the latter goal of challenge and adventure — as the 15 rider group was quickly whittled in the first 30km when a nasty 6mile/3,300ft (10km/1,000m) descent caused the failure of one rider’s carbon clincher wheels, both front and rear. The failure sent her careening into a ditch at close to 40mph; she left the ride via ambulance with three cracked vertebra, while three of her teammates left to be by her side in the hospital.

Not the type of adventure we were looking for; the site of the ride's first and only crash

In the end, five make it to the finish of the ride, which totaled almost exactly 100 miles (160km) ridden over 6hr 35min (total time over 9hrs) and 9,588ft (2,922m) of climbing.

Made it, sort of, the ride officially ended at Contender Cycles, but we still had to ride 4k to the hotel

It’s rides like this that serve as reminder to why we pedal a bicycle for the experience and challenge; they also remind me that every cyclist needs a good yearly challenge like the one Lazer and Rapha put together in Utah.

There are many ways to make it happen. You might seek out a gran fondo (in our country or Europe) or a ride like this past April’s Paris Roubaix Challenge or something domestic like the Colorado Roubaix might suit your sense of adventure and budget. Or you might just sit down with a map (digital or analog) and plot out a route to ride with your buddies on some random weekend.

The tools we have at our disposal make it easier and safer to take on this type of challenge. Your Garmin 800 can offer you turn-by-turn directions and you can find a ride to up load to it on Garmin Connect or Strava.

Rapha's Lewis, requested to only be photographed in black and white or sepia (kidding)

But the point is to get out there and ride, preferably all day, till you’re legs turn to jello or some other substance with no structure; then once you’re sufficiently broken down ride yourself home.

Rides like these like big tires with puncture resistant belts, compact cranks and nice comfy saddles. They don’t discriminate between carbon and metal; Dura Ace Di2 or 105, and yes, leave those carbon clinchers at home.

They’ll re acquaint you with what’s important — being out there on the bike — and amaze you as to how good a gas station slurpee or hot dog can taste once well within your own personal pain cave.

Looks may be deceiving: Lewis ate this mid-ride           

I entered my own personal pain cave in Little Cottonwood Canyon on the way to the Snowbird and Alta ski areas. The 10mile ascent broke me down, drained my bottles and left me in a world of hurt that just barely saw me survive the climb. Of course, it was nothing a Butterfinger, Gatorade, and pop couldn’t take care of at the top.

In the end, our ride ended as everyone of these should, with all of the remaining participants so blown out they’re too tired to talk, yet still hammering each other through the final miles for one reason — to simply be done with it.

A self-portrait in suffering, by Derrick Lewis

It’ll be a good story, whether you drink a PBR or a Westmalle afterward; I went with the Modelo — because we all know that Mexican food has no rival after a ride like ours.

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