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Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Hell Week - 1000 km in 7 Days

Last July, my buddy Rick texted me and asked: "Hey you want to do Hell Week?" Ah...what is 'Hell Week'? Rick explains: "I have always wanted to ride 1000 km in 7 days, starting tomorrow. You In?" Sure. So both of us found a way to get the 1000 km. Rick felt it would be a good final test for Paris-Brest-Paris, he was right. Regrettably, last November Rick passed suddenly from a massive heart attack. This really rocked me- Rick was a warrior, tough as nails and the guy I shared the most miles with (over 5000 km in the previous 18 months). So as the anniversary to Hell Week was coming up, I knew that I was going to ride the 1000 km again.

Last week I completed the challenge again. Here are some quick highlights and a few learnings that
may help you as you tackle your goals.

At the onset I knew I had to be really consistent and break this up into manageable chunks. With that and the extreme heat wave we had, I decided that my Monday to Friday riding would all start at 4:00 am. Of course, the night before everything was ready to go, up at 3:40 am, getting into my kit, use the bathroom, slam back a room temperature Cold Brew and out the door. I was riding every morning before 4:05am. This allowed for a reasonably paced ride to be complete right at 9 am and then I could transition to Infinit.

All but Friday, I followed a route I travel all the time. A quiet route, where I knew I would see little traffic, the first day from 4am through to 4:40 am, I didn't see a single car. It was so quiet, peaceful and quite beautiful. Of course there was the added bonus of the cooler temps. Always magical to be riding from dark to dawn, recommend you try it at least once this summer season.

In total I was on the bike for 32 hrs 11 minutes. I consumed 38 bottles of my Infinit Custom blend, 7 Cold Brews (all 10 minutes before riding) and 7 Rescues immediately after my rides. I knew my nutrition and hydration would be so important to complete this challenge, and frankly I wanted to enjoy the experience.

Many good friends this week!
Of course this is a lot of seat time and the chaffing issue popped up on day one. I couldn't believe it as I have had several 200 km rides, one 265 and no previous issues. This obviously worried me, only 145km into 1000 km week. So on Monday night, reflecting on some lessons from PBP, I applied some Penaten (yes I know it is for babies). I hoped it would be okay in the morning. Well - sort of. The first 30 minutes took a lot of repositioning, as a friend Nick says: it goes numb after an hour (this is true).

Day 1 - Rode all solo, loop down to Kingsville, over to Leamington and then west home. Really an uneventful ride with the exception of the worry of chaffing. I checked my weight when home and I had lost 1.2 pounds more than I wanted to. I would have to up my fluid intake a bit.

Day 2 - Out to Kingsville along Lake Erie shore, I felt strong but felt like I should tone my pace down a bit, kept closer to 31.5 km/hr, thought yesterday's average was too high, thinking about the long haul. Nick Dwyer met me out near Colchester - it was great to ride together, chatting for 45 km. My chaffing was worse and quite concerning, I applied the Penaten again and crossed my fingers. I put a call into Team Infinit Athlete: Ed Veal - we discussed how to combat my undercarriage issues (his term). Turned out to be a great call. He asked how I was using Chamois Butt'r - I had simply been applying to my chammy/bib shorts the night before. He liked that, but recommended I apply it liberally directly on the skin before putting the shorts on. That would be the plan going forward.

Day 3 - As I was completely focused on my sore spots, I wasted no time planning a route for today, I rode exactly the same route. I had a WSW wind so I basically had a slight push on the way out, which was a bit concerning as my pace was 31.8 km/hr on the way out and I knew I had the breeze to contend with on the way back. At the Ruthven Circle K, I made out the additional bottles and took on some additional water to wash down my chocolate chip cookies. Surprisingly, I felt quite good on the way back to Colchester where I met up with Nick again. We rode comfortably back to Lasalle. It was great having the company a second day in a row.

Later in the evening, I reached out to a friend Geoff Owen about my under carriage issues. He recommended continuing with the advice from Nick and Ed, but said to make sure there was no infection - Polysporin is magic. I added that to the mix of my bottom care.

Day 4 - Last year it would be normal for me to ride with a dear friend Cynthia Relf 2-3 times a week. 
To this point this year, we had only passed one another out in county. Cynthia let me know she would love to join me for 70 km or so, starting around 6:30 am. Perfect! I did a 75 km loop before dropping by to pick her up. Mentally, the ride is much different, knowing I had a riding partner for the second half. We had a great ride. It was good to be out there together again.

Day 5 - The night before, I reached out to Team Infinit Athlete: Matt Gervais and asked what he was up to in the morning. He said him and Russ Van Every were riding 80 km starting at 6 am. I was a little worried about hanging around with these guys, but Matt assured me they were on a recovery week and pace wouldn't be an issue. I made my way out past Essex and then up to Tecumseh to meet them- a great ride getting to our meet up. The 80 km with these guys was amazing - I sat in behind them for the most part as we all chatted. When complete, I made my way over to Infinit instead of home as we had to set up for the Infinit Cold Brew Drive Thru. I was really happy to get this ride in- knowing I had 725 km in before the weekend was perfect. For the weekend rides, I would have more company, space and distraction.

Day 6 - Even though Nick wasn't able to ride Saturday with work commitments, he reached out to the group to see who might be willing to put in 150 km with me (so thoughtful). The plan was to meet at the school at 7 am, so I went out at 6 to grab 30 km before I met the group. I experienced my only rain for the week for the first 30 minutes- felt good actually. I got to the parking lot and there were 7 riders: Christian, Nikki, Deb, Jeff, Chris, Tom and Pat (a long time customer, who I had never met) - Awesome.

We rode a good pace to Kingsville - likely averaged 35+ km with a push from the wind. We knew after our Red Lantern coffee stop we would have to fight the wind for the rest of the day. We had a gusty 30 km/h NW wind, the group worked well together to finish at that section at 32.4 km/hr - we all worked hard and enjoyed a beverage in the parking lot - Thanks Jeff!

Day 7 - The week was filled with support- my wife Bren putting up with my crap, getting up at 3:40 am on the weekdays and falling asleep by 9:30 pm. The riders that came out and folks that gave me tips along the way. One of the coolest most touching was James Draper, a former work colleague reaching out on Friday - he saw what I was doing and he convinced a couple of his riding buddies to ride with me on Sunday at 4 am for 140 km - crazy thoughtful. I called him and told him I really appreciate the support, but I am sleeping in. I only need 100 km - that was fine for James, Jeff and Bart as well. I asked Cynthia to join as well - so we had a easy 100 km that included a stop to enjoy Mary's (James' wife) Coconut Almond Cycling Bars and an ice cream at the Dairy Freez.

So that's it- 1023 km. It was an incredible week. I am truly grateful for all who helped me achieve this goal. I am most grateful every moment I had with Rick, I thought I was tough, but he pulled more out of me and continues to do so.

Miss you buddy.



- Darcy Haggith, President, Infinit Nutrition Canada