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

perspective."

 

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

state.

 

"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

Dusel remarked.

 

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,

imagine that!

 

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.

 

(Continued on page 11)