September 25, 2008 posted by

The Big Nasty

Romney and I dusted off the tandem and rode the Moab Century Tour last weekend. We hadn’t ridden it since Ebbett’s Pass over the July 4th weekend as it’s been pretty hot and Lisa is a staunch fair weather rider. The ride is called “The Big Nasty” in honor of the opening 4,000′ ascent into the La Sal mountains. Our 40-pound monster is no nimble climbing machine, so it seemed like the perfect century for us to start with.

We rolled out with our friend Jeff on a perfect Sat morning. The forecast of rain seemed exaggerated. We lost Jeff after registering, which didn’t matter much as the first 30 miles were mainly uphill and we had no designs about keeping up with anyone reasonably fit on a standard bike.

The ride turned out to be a lot harder for me than my off-the-couch wife. The ascent went well, as did the long descent into Castle Valley where we pulled pretty much anyone that responded quick enough to get into our draft. The monster may be tough to coax uphill be she descends like a meteor. On the slight angle of Castle Valley we were spun out in our largest gear the entire time.

At the bottom of the valley we had the choice of turning left for a quick and easy 65 miles or right for the full 102-m century. My off-the-couch partner asked “what else are we going to do?” and right I turned.

My over-exuberate pulls in the decided not-rainy weather on this long, rolling, and mainly uphill stretch got the best of me. I overheated and finally allowed a few other riders to take on the wind for the ride to the turnaround.

At the turnaround, a lot of riders were struggling with the heat. It had gone from cool to hot quite quickly. Luckily, it wasn’t a race and we could chill in the shade until we felt like riding back. I was still fairly miserable–though not nearly as bad as many of the riders we were passing–until we got a short squall of rain. After this, we wielded the tandem’s power by passing scores of riders struggling in the wind on the flat-ish ride back to the start.

It was a great training day. I was cooked. Lisa, on the other hand, felt great and began wondering whether she had found her forte in long endurance events. Looks like they’re will be more of these in our future.

The Big Nasty is part of the Moab Skinny Tire Festival. Of the 900-some-odd participants, most opted for one of the four variations that weren’t the full century. They pretty much have an option for any fitness level, all with stunning views throughout. As a century, most people said it was harder than it looked on paper. It’s not the Death Ride, but I heard one woman who had just finished the Triple Bypass (with over 10,000′ of climbing) saying “this is hard!” As far as centuries go, it’s got to be one of the better ones.

Here’s the web site.

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