Archive for August, 2007

Everest Challenge Time Estimate

| August 31, 2007 5:14 pm

I am trying to figure out how long for each day for the Everest Challenge. Day 1 has 120 miles with 15,465 feet of climb and Day 2 has 86 miles with 13,570 feet of climbing. However the actual racing distance (excluding neutralized start and neutralized last descent after timing finish) is 92 miles for Day 1 and 61 miles for Day 2, or a total of 153 miles.

I found this on the website:How long will it take you? A rough guide is – you should be able to do Day Two in 15 to 20% less than your Death Valley to Mount Whitney time, or 35 to 40% less than your Markleeville Death Ride time. Day One should take you 10-15% longer than your Death Valley to Mount Whitney time, or 10-20% less than your Markleeville Death Ride time.

For the recent Death Ride my total time was 9:22 and a rolling time of 8:40. I doubt I can do any better, especially since the Everest Challenge is two days back to back. Using the 9:22 total time, less 10% less for Day 1 and 35% less for day 2, I calculate what I consider the very best possible time I could ever do as:

Day 1 8:25 (average 10.9 mph total time)
Day 2 6:05 (average 10.0 mph total time)
Total: 14:30

But looking at Gary’s time last year makes me think that I can not possibly do it in 14:30, maybe 15:30 is more likely.

For 2006, the time for my age group range from 12:40 (1st) to 18:04 (7th place). The best time in 2005 for my age group (55+) was 12:55. The slowest of the four entries was 17:33. For 2003, it is similar. The 55+ category that year ranged from 13:42 to 17:43.

So if I place, it will be only because there are no more than 2 other people in the 55+ grouping.

I am about ready to register for the event. I just need to decide if I should enter it as a race or tourist class.

BR Lights Initial Impression

| August 30, 2007 9:36 pm

Yesterday my new BR Light arrived by FedEx, just in time to give it 45 minutes on the charger before I jumped on the bike and headed north to Morgan Hill for a ride up Henry Coe with the Nightriders. I waited until dark before I started the ride back home from Morgan Hill so I could test out the new light. I had purchased the C2-H model, which is a handle bar version and the model with the higher lumen (and shorter run time).

The light has three power settings, high, medium and stealth. I had them program my light so the stealth mode was at 5% instead of the normal 2% because when I tested it last Friday during the mountain bike ride, I didn’t feel the 2% would be adequate. I am glad I made that change.

Before I get into how the light performed on the road, in the dark, here are some interesting comparisons between my new light and an older 20/10 watt dual light system I have used in the past.

BR Light compared with Older Light

On the left is the new BR Light, which is all self contained in one unit. That means the mount, the light, the battery, the controller switch are all together. Compare that with my old light with a separate battery, a bag for the battery, cables to connect the battery to the light, a light mount, and a control switch I had to attach to the handle bar.

I weighed both setups (san chargers). The BR light weighed 14.2 oz (408 grams) while my old light came in at 2 lbs, 2.5 oz (992 grams) or more than twice the weight. My old light has two lights, a 10 watt and a 20 watt, for a total of 30 watts, but with both lights I can only get a couple hours of run time, even with that heavy battery.

The BR light is small enough and light enough to mount on the handlebar with no need for cords (note I have small hands).

BR Light in hand BR Lilght in hand

I then did a very unscientific test and shined both lights in a dark room against the wall.

BR Light vs. Old Light

The BR light is on the left, the old light on the right. It should be obvious to even the most casual observer that the BR light is much brighter and the light is whiter, which is easier to use on the road.

The mount for the light is attached to it. It is a clever all metal mounting system that I believe is very solid, even fully adequate for mountain biking. Once mounted, it is easy to move the light left or right as you are riding, to aim the beam. The light does not come off as quick as those lights that have a mount that stays on the bike such as my Cateye HL530, but then those mounts are often flimsy. The BR light is relatively easy to attach and remove and certainly faster and easier than setting up a light that has an external battery that you need to attach to the bike somewhere then wire it to the light on the handlebar.

BR Light Mounting System

Now back to my ride in the dark. I rode 13 miles in the dark, part through the city streets and about 10 miles on a road that had no street lights and enough times with no cars to test things out. I found that on high power the BR light has plenty enough light for me to go as fast as I wanted. I took my speed up to 30 mph on a short descent and felt fully comfortable.

On the medium setting the light is adequate for 20 mph, what I would usually do on a flat road. If the route was short enough I would still opt for the higher light setting, but the medium setting was fine, especially if the road has a white line to gauge off and is in reasonably good shape.

I had a short climb where I tested out the stealth mode (my light was set at 5%). I found it adequate, but barely, for climbing at up to 7-8 mph. I am glad I had them change the setting and maybe a slightly higher setting would be useful. In any case it is about as bright in the stealth mode as my Cateye HL530, which has a claim of 1,500 candlepower (a useless measurement in my opinion).

I feel that with this particular light, I could basically go all night on a single charge by using the medium setting for flats, the high power for descents and the stealth mode for climbing. The light has a 6 stage battery indicator. A colored LED goes from green (full power) to blinking green, then to orange, then blinking orange, then red, then blinking red. It is a clever system and very easy to see how much battery life left.

I found using the single control button on the light to work very well. It was very responsive.

If I owned a HID light I would make a direct comparison. When we did the night mountain bike ride last Friday we did an informal comparision with some HID lights on the ride and found the BR Light similar in terms of illumination. The BR light has the big advantage of using the new CRED LEDs which are very reliable and much more shock resistant than a HID light. The LED light turns on immediately and it is no problem to shut it off and back on as you wish.

I have a sophisticated light meter back from the early days of photography that will measure LUX, but I have to find some batteries first. They don’t make the mercury button batteries anymore for this device that is 25 years old. When I get it to work, I can do more testing.

In summary, I am very glad I bought the BR light.

Bright Lights into the Night

| August 24, 2007 11:55 pm

I ride with a group called the Nightriders, who both road and mountain bike. Tonight I decided to join them for a night time mountain bike ride up Henry Coe, the largest State Park in California. I wanted to join the ride tonight because we were going to have guests from BR Lights come join us and bring some of their new lights for us to test out. I was in the market for a new light, needing something I could use for the Furnace Creek 508 in October and other events I want to do, in addition to the night mountain biking.

BR Lights Car

They let me try both the handlebar light (C2.1-H model) as well as the helmet mount light (Jen-H model) with the auxilary battery pack. I got the lights setup quickly due to a clever design for both the handle bar light and the helmet light. Unlike my existing lights that required me to first put an a handlebar bracket, attach the battery, attach the light, connect the light to the battery and finally attach the control buttons to the handle bar; this unit is all self contained so the battery and control switches are all in one unit. It makes the design look a bit boxy but I was pleasantly surprised that in the field when I had mounted the unit on the bike it didn’t look as big as I thought it would after looking only at their website.

The helmet light is a nice looking design, again all self contained. The only downside of this is that it is a bit heavy on the head, but not unreasonably so at only 300 grams.

We took off soon after 7 pm, with plenty of light to make the first climb. Kyle and Jeni, from BR Lights, were out in the front and I struggle to keep up with them even though we were on a fire road. I realized they were great mountain bike riders in addition to knowing a lot about LED light technology.

Klye and Jeni from BR Lights

Kyle and Jeni from BR Lights

Franz with BR Light on helmet

Franz with BR helmet light

As we reached the first regroup area it was getting dark and we had a chance to finally try out the lights.

After the rest of the group arrived we had a chance to compare the lights. Jim had a triple shot on his handlebar so we pointed it ahead to the right and I pointed the BR handlebar light to the left. You can see the comparison in this photo.

BR Light vs. Triple Shot

Comparison of BR Light (left) and Triple Shot (right)

The BR light was clearly brighter, not only over the wide area, but much brighter in the spot area.

Jim also had on one of the BR helmet lights while he hammed it up for the camera.

Jim with BR helmet light

Jim with BR Helmet Light

We made our way to the tricky single track. Not being a real experienced mountain biker, I normally would have been very nervous doing this single track in the dark but I found the combination of the BR handlebar light and the BR helmet mounted light illuminated up things fully. I usually was running the handlebar light on half power and relying more on the helmet light, which seemed to work fine.

Both lights have a stealth mode, that sas some extremely long battery life. I tired that mode but found it too weak for anything other than maybe climbing on a road bike.

Some of the riders in our group were using HID lights. I didn’t see that they were any brighter than what I was using, which is quite a feat considering the BR Lights use CRED LEDs, are all self contained with a total weight much less than the HIDs and much greater durability.

It was well past 11 pm when we finished about a 20 mile ride.

I was so impressed with the BR Lights that I ordered the handlebar version (C2.1-H model) right away. I would like to buy the helmet light also but that would be a bit much for me right now, but I am tempted. I hope I get my new BR light quickly before the our big night mountain bike adventure in September.

Franz Kelsch

See also:

(my personal endurance sports website)
(primary cycling club where you can contact me at

Furnace Creek 508 Update

| August 20, 2007 8:26 pm

I received this by email today about the upcoming Furnance Creek 508 bicycle race that I will be participating in.

The 2007 Furnace Creek 508, “the toughest 48 hours in sport” and the world’s biggest and most prestigious ultracycling race, is coming up on October 6-8. There’s a record field size of 223 racers. Here are the stats:

95 solo racers (12 women and 83 men, including one tandem, two fixed gear, and two recumbents)

27 2x teams = 56 2x racers (1 mixed two tandem team, 3 men’s recumbent teams, 1 mixed recumbent team, 7 mixed teams, and 15 men’s teams)

17 4x teams = 72 4x racers (1 mixed tandem team, 6 mixed teams, and 10 men’s teams)

Total of 223 competitors: 127 rookies and 97 veterans; 41 women and 182 men

Participants by Country: Austria-2, Belgium-1, Brazil-1, Canada-5, Denmark-3, Finland-1, France-3, Italy-1, Mexico-1, Sweden-2, UK-2, and USA-202.

Participants by US State: AZ-5, CA-151, CO-5, CT-1, FL-1, ID-1, IL-2, KS-1, MA-2, MN-1, NC-2, NV-5, NY-4, OH-3, OR-6, PA-2, SD-1, TX-3, UT-2, VT-1, WA-9, WI-3, and WY-2.

Online roster: Note: the todem for our team is “Prarie Dog”

The Mileage Myth

| 5:29 pm

Just after I put on my blog the accumulated miles this year (both cycling and running), I was reading the September 2007 edition of Runner’s world on an article about the mileage myth. There are a lot of great resources around when it comes to training for a marathon or other long distance event, but when it comes to the equivalent in cycling the information is not as readily available. I fell that the principles are the same so I have attempted to adapt some of the information in this article in terms of cycling and preparing for an ultra distance cycling event.

Cyclists can get caught up in the mileage trap, thinking that more is better. That may be true, but only to the point where you achieve your potential. After that the additional miles onlyl increase your risk of injury or burnout. Adapting the Runner’s World Six Rules to help find the right number, but for cycling:

Rule #1. The longer the event you are training for, the higher the mileage requirement. Obviously it is going to take more weekly miles to prepare for a double century than for a century.

Rule #2. Mileage requirments increase as performance goals increase. If your goal is to just finish you can cycle fewer miles than if your goal is to finish with a fast time.

Rule #3. Some miles count more than others (Part One). When your miles include tough workouts (such as hill climbs, hill repeats, tempo rides, intervals) they’re harder to recover from than if you do he same easy aerobic cycling. So when you add quality workouts, decrease your total mileage slightly to make up for the added stress.

Rule #4. Some miles count more than others (Part Two). The farther away your miles are from the pace you wish to do the event at, the less they will help your performance at the event. If you mostly do long miles cycling at a slow pace, you will become proficient at that but don’t expect to be able to ride the double century at a significantly faster pace.

Rule #5. Allow for adaptation when increasing mileage. To avoid injury when upping your mileage you need to take it slow and allow time for your body to adapt.

Rule #6. A healthy cyclist beats an injured cyclist every time. I am not speaking of injury due to falling, but injury to your muscles.

Blast to New Idria (FC 508 Training)

| August 18, 2007 9:16 pm

Joe lead the club ride today for Furnance Creek 508 training. Myself and Gary showed up. I think the warning in the ride description about the need for strong wheels, and winds, scared some people away. Joe’s wife, Rosa, was there to drive their SUV vehicle as a SAG. We would need that because there was only one place to get water. It turned out to be a 128 mile ride and very difficult. I had been out on these roads before but never tried to do it at the the speed we rode today. For some reason my legs felt like lead from the very beginning. It was a long, hot and hard day riding.

I brought back some Mavic wheels from Utah because they are strong (and on the heavy side). I put them on my older Trek bike and installed the aerobars, all on Friday night, after driving all the way home that day from Utah. I am thinking to take my older bike for the FC 508 so I wanted to test it out.

We started the ride in Hollister and biked first on Southside over to Tres Pinos, then highway 25 to Paicines, then turning left on the Panoche road. We did not stop until we hit the Panoche Inn where we got some water because Rosa had not yet caught up with us. We then headed further on toward New Idria. The road gets very rough out past that spot, with twisting turns and up and down. I tried to use my aerobars at times but it was almost impossible because it was so bumpy. There was some forest fire out there because we were being passed by many big fire trucks, from CDF. When we were almost to New Idria, we were stopped and could not visit the ghost town, I guess because of the fire. We decided to eat our lunch which we had loaded in the car with Rosa. The image below shows the route we took (click to enlarge).

Google Earth - Hollister to New IdreaThere The way back found the headwinds we expected. I felt wasted and didn’t attempt to keep up with Joe and Gary. I saw that they were drafting behind Rosa in the car so I knew that I would fall even further behind. About 6 miles from reaching the Panoche Inn, Rosa dropped back and pulled me in. Drafting behind a SUV, especially with the headwinds makes a hugh difference.

Back at the Inn I drank a couple of cokes and ate some more bars and filled up my water bottles.. Then it was the ride back to the start. Again I fell behind the othr riders and again Rosa dropped back later to pick me up. She said Joe was only 0.3 miles ahead so I drafted behind her until we caught Joe. The two of us drafted for awhile but then Joe dropped off, I guess because of the pace. It also took a lot of effort to draft behind the vehicle because you have to ride your brakes and pay close attention. I used the draft most all he way back to Highway 25, but we never to catch Gary. I then biked on my own and finally caught Gary, who had stopped at Tres Pinos. In went in the store there and bought a pint of chocolate milk. I could not seem to drink enough. I drank that right down and then Gary and I jumped on our bikes and went the final 8 miles back to to Hollister. It was now 5:20 pm, rather later for the miles we did, but it was a hard ride.

I found this information about the New Idria town on the website.


A part of a mercury extraction plant of the New Idria Quicksilver Mining Company.


A part of a mercury extraction plant of the New Idria Quicksilver Mining Company.

The New Idria Mining Company was formed soon after the discovery of cinnabar (quicksilver ore) in southern Diablo Range of central California in 1854. The town of New Idria began around 1857 and about 300 men were employed at the mine by 1861. The first school opened in 1867 and the New Idria Post Office opened in 1867. In 1894, the New Idria Post Office dropped the word “New” and the town become known as Idria. The New Idria Quicksilver Mining Company closed 1974 and the town has since become a ghost town.

New Idria is a California Historical Landmark (#324) and home of the world’s first Gould Rotary Furnace. The Gould Rotary Furnace revolutionized ore processing technology worldwide.

The New Idria area is known for its abundance of rare minerals such as Benitoite, named after San Benito County. Gem quality Benitoite is only found in this area of the world.