The Road to Hoodoo 300: Climbing Higher and Getting Stronger


This past Saturday, I found myself returning to the familiar landscapes of Mt Pinos. Much like my previous rides, I sought maintain an easy endurance pace, at about 65% of my functional threshold power. As the miles went by and I drew closer to the summit, I was reminded of the early morning rides from Santa Clarita, the climbs, the heat, and the grit required on each of those endeavors, and I felt much stronger than I did on those previous rides.

We’re still in the midst of a persistent heat wave, and although I left the house before 5:00 a.m. in an attempt to beat the heat, by 8:00 a.m., it was already 80ºF. Although it is difficult to say what was the cause of the improved strength and performance I was feeling, I believe it may be a combination of two recent changes that I have incorporated into my training. First, I have begun to take in a protein recovery drink (e.g., GU Roctane Protein Recovery Drink Mix) approximately every three to four hours of an endurance rides exceeding 10 hours in duration. On Saturday’s ride, I consumed a protein recovery shake at Mile 62 (in Gorman), and then at Mile 113 (top of Cerro Noroeste) and Mile 140 (in Gorman, at the end of my ride). Second, for the past few weeks, I have been rigorously following a heat acclimation and maintenance protocol. I believe that this has helped me to better cope with the high temperatures and to lower the rate of perceived effort that I experience at all intensity levels during my ride.

Ambient temperature, as measured by Garmin Tempe sensor mounted under my saddle.

Having conquered Mt Pinos and still feeling fresh, I decided to challenge myself further and make the climb to Cerro Noroeste. Nestled in the heart of Kern County, Cerro Noroeste stands as a testament to nature’s ability to combine beauty with adversity. The route boasts a mixture of steep gradients, tight switchbacks, and breathtaking views, making it a thrilling but demanding experience. Riding here feels like dancing on the edge – a combination of exhilaration and caution. In addition, the views of Cuyama Valley were absolutely stunning!

View of the Cayuma Valley along the Cerro Noroeste climb.

From Cerro Noroeste, I ventured back to Gorman, keeping my focus sharp for the impending Mil Potrero climb, the last mile of which averaged about 9% gradient, with some sections ranging from 15-20% gradient. As the terrain shifted beneath my tires, I was reminded of past rides, the challenges faced, and the mental games I’ve played with myself to push through. The descent along Cuddy Valley Road couldn’t have come soon enough, and it provided a blissful relief, a brief hiatus from the rigors of the climb.

Throughout this journey, the support from my crew has been indispensable. Our teamwork and cohesion have evolved tremendously over the past few weeks. One of the most significant transformations we’ve seen has been in our communication dynamics. With a revamped Communication plan and protocol, we’ve been able to streamline our interactions, making our journeys more efficient and safer. Our decision to fine-tune our radio communication strategy proved invaluable, especially in the areas between designated handoff points. Not only has this improved our logistical coordination, but there’s also an intangible reassurance in knowing I’m not traversing these roads alone.

We are currently using Midland X-Talker LXT600VP4 radios.

Additionally, the improvements we’ve incorporated in our InReach messaging system have ironed out the kinks we previously encountered. The clarity and timeliness of our messages have been considerably enhanced, eliminating much of the confusion that we previously had encountered as a result of the delays inherent in the inReach satellite messaging system.

Reflecting on the recent rides we have done, especially the ones through the Mojave desert and Stallion Springs, and the more recent climbs to Mt. Pinos, I feel an overwhelming sense of accomplishment and readiness. The Hoodoo 300 looms ahead, but with every pedal stroke, every climb, and every descent, I’m carving my path towards it. With my crew by my side and the learnings from each ride in my quiver, I’m confident and eagerly awaiting the challenges it will bring.

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