Lei Liu // Mini Epic

When I first heard about the Bay Epic ride, I was super excited. The route included all the winding trails I rode everyday during the miserable year 2020, and this type of marathon event matched with my current training goal for Tahoe Trail 100 and Leadville. Without any hesitation, I marked it as an “A” event on my calendar.

At the beginning of May, it turned out I had 3 races in 8 days, and this epic ride was the 3rd one. The other two were all-out cross-country MTB races, during which I cramped badly: thigh and calf muscles in both legs. As a result, I decided that pacing and avoiding cramp was my #1 focus. I lowered my saddle height for a quarter inch to help relieve the tension from my calf, and I took electrolyte capsules recommended by Dave Cohen and Matt Scott. Meanwhile, with no plan to stop for refilling water, I carried 2.5 Liter water including 1L of SIS Beta fuel.

The ride itself went well within my plan. I controlled my pace under the threshold power that I knew I could hold for several hours. The only exception was the Umunhum road climb where I was pushing hard, because I was hoping there would be a special KOM award. We all knew that consistency is efficiency, and that was how I executed overall. On one side I spent no burst energy throughout the ride, but on the other side I maintained threshold level power as long as I was pedaling - no easy spinning at all.

I treated the downhill part of the ride as my recovery section, chewing energy gels and sipping water. No risk was taken when going down. Sure I like Strava KOMs, but in a multi-hour marathon ride, no thanks. I just wanted to get recharged for whatever next was on the road.

When I exited Calero park and hit McKean Rd, I knew it was almost done. Trying to keep the total time under 4 hours, I emptied my legs on Cinnabar hill and Casa Loma Rd. At the end of the ride, I stole a couple of seconds by stopping my Garmin first, then taking a final selfie :)

Pro tip #1: I really enjoyed the tiny TOGS thumb grip. It provided one more riding position allowing me to rest my wrist, which was quite useful especially on steep non-technical climbs.

Pro tip #2: I took my 2nd dose Covid vaccine immediately after the ride. I have heard many stories about various side effects due to the vaccine shot, but surprisingly I had zero discomfort. This is just my personal experience though. I don’t know if there are any scientific relationships at all.

Thank you for reading! And I also want to thank the organizer for the event. When time permits, I will definitely do one more ride for the BIG EPIC.