Here's what people had to say about QZ this year:
Quadzilla or Confessions of a Whiner
By Paul Evans
"...the Quad is perhaps the most difficult of
all ultra events from a climbing
Somewhere around mile 230, at an early evening
rest stop in Canandaigua,NY, I remember think-
ing out loud: You know, we may be dumbing
down our schools, most of life may even be
getting easier and easier, but one thing that sure
keeps getting harder and harder is these long-
distance cycling events.
Or is it just me?
From RAAM to the Michigan 24-hour to the local
centuries, everything seems to be getting tougher.
Take centuries, for example (admittedly the
stepchild of true ultras). Long ago in our area
there was the Assault on Mt. Mitchell. Then came
Bridge-to-Bridge, up to Grandfather Mountain,
also in North Carolina, followed by Six Gaps in
Georgia, all about 10,000 feet of vertical gain.
Mitchell then added climbing. Two years ago
some sado-masochists invented the appropriately-
named Mountains of Misery (see how they revel
in it?) in southwest Virginia, which upped the
ante to 12,000 feet of climbing.
Then along comes this Quadzilla thing.
"What is it with all this gratuitous climbing?" I
asked more than one person, peeved at the con-
stant 12 to 14% (and sometimes steeper) drive-
way-type grades which shoot up along an east-
west axis perpendicular to the north-south ori-
ented Finger Lakes. I was miffed that we kept
making climbs which often added nothing to the
continuation of the route, which otherwise makes
a flattened-oval counter-clockwise circumnaviga-
tion of the 11 Finger Lakes in western New York
"Dennis IDeLong] wanted something harder,"
Michelle Dulieu, one of the volunteers, told me. As if the
Finger Lakes 555 km wasn't hard enough with
22,000 feet of climbing, almost all of it in the first
and last thirds, where it hurts the most, the Quad
throws in another 5,000 feet or so, all of it of the
short-to-medium length, extremely steep variety,
which makes it perhaps the most difficult of all
ultra events from a climbing perspective.
For comparison, envision riding a couple of the
more difficult California doubles-back to back. Or
consider BMB without the flattish Middlebury to
Montreal section (the quad centuries run concur-
rently). Furnace Creek has nine or so tough
climbs, hard for sure, but with mostly manage-
able grades. QuadZilla has at least two dozen
significant, hard, shortish climbs, but was for me eventually unmanageable.
Twenty-six of us left lthaca, NY, at 5 a.m. on a cool
mid-July Saturday. Within the first 12 miles we
had climbed 1,500 feet and the ride had already
splintered into groups of twos and threes, with
strongmen Dennis DeLong and Wes Wilmer
setting the pace, the former a one-time Michigan
24-hour overall champion and the latter a Cat. I
USCF racer and multiple PAC-Tour veteran.
Now, I've lined up at a few 40+ races with Wilmer,
besides having done some fast training rides with
him and a group out of Roanoke, VA. If you
divide racers into three tiers, Wilmer is in the first
tier (always competing for the win, always in the
mix at the end) and when I do get up the gump-
tion to come out I'm firmly ensconced in tier
three, also known as "pack fodder" (moral victory
not to get dropped). I once saw Wes attack from
the start at a 35-mile circuit race, hold off the field
for half the race before we finally chased him
down, and yet still be strong enough to be able to
recover and win the sprint.
Wilmer was returning home from the post-RAAM
Pensacola to Maine PAC-Tour "ride." I'm trying to
picture his sleep deprived thought process: Lets
see, for good measure, after riding a couple
thousand miles in two weeks, let me just throw in
a quick 410-miler with 27,000 feet of climbs on the
way home. But at least he had the good sense to
ride a 39 X 27 low gear. As for DeLong, who
seems to be getting better despite being on the
home half of his 40s, he rode the event geared like
what you'd expect a Giro d'ltalia rider 20 years
younger to use a 39 X 23! Inhuman, as Peter
I fell in with Chris Pile from Connecticut, a PBP
veteran still in his twenties. By about mile 50 or
so it became apparent that he was a little stronger
on the climbs than me, but not enough to get out
of sight, and so we stayed together, hill after hill.
And just as my exasperation was reaching a
crescendo, around mile 160 after about 14,000 feet
of climbing with headwinds, the ride actu-
ally turned pleasant for awhile!
We twisted north and then east out of the wind,
we finally descended without making an immedi-
ate follow-up ascent, and we entered Letchworth
State Park, riding the mostly flat park road along-
side the rim of the large gorge of the Genesee
River. I could actually draft Chris for a spell,
So, when we pulled into Canandaigua just past
dark with only 50 or so flat miles to the big rest
stop at Auburn, my spirits were better, and I
began to sense that I would recover and get
through the rest of the ride OK. After all, there
were only the two riders ahead of us, and we had almost 24 hours remaining to us of the 40-hour time limit.
Saying that this ride is sponsored by the Rochester
Bike Club would be unfair, because the ride, as
hard and unpleasant as it sometimes is, is truly
catered. Besides the excellent and varied food,
which is available in copious amounts, each
finisher gets both a trophy and a watch. All this,
plus nighttime motel support, for $75 makes this
one of the few rides where the rider unmistakably
is being subsidized, which in itself is a treat and
makes the ride worth trying.
But this is most definitely a love-hate affair, as
mixed with the pleasant scenery, low traffic,
generally good roads and the aforementioned
support is the uneasy and sometimes maddening
feeling that this really doesn't have to be so hard.
Organizer Mark Frank is a long-time area cycling
devotee who obviously has a great ability to
recruit and motivate volunteers (including his
mother, Joan!). The ride started in 1995 from Rochester
and has undergone small changes each year,
moving to Syracuse and finally lthaca, with
QuadZilla being added to the Finger Lakes ride
last year, As Mark says, "The ride is a supreme
test of a rider's ultra abilities. Mental toughness,
navigational skills, and physical ability are all put
to an extreme test." Frank plans to give the event
a one-year hiatus so that he can ride London-
Edinburgh-London next year, but does plan to run
the event in 2002 and 2003, before PBP.