It took a long time to get this posted, the highlights from my journey on Race Across America 2011.
Another a day another Double. This week was the Davis Double this is the 42nd year this ride has been run making it one of the oldest (if not thee oldest) double centuries, in California. I decided not to stay in a hotel and instead just drive up the morning of the race, unfortunately that meant waking up at 2:45am, to arrive by 5am for the race start. Despite my lack of sleep I was feeling pretty good, ride start off flat and there was no wind to speak off. Average around 20mph I rode along the long straight roads, through a maze of farms on the outskirts of Davis. The ride has a limit of 1,000 people, through it wasn't full there were probably around 800 people out riding. I had started on the late side of the starting window, leaving most people ahead of me on the course. The flat area at the beginning is ideal for drafting and there was a number groups doing just that. While I don't mind giving a pull, I don't actually like to draft myself, it defeats the purpose of the workout. So when it comes to pace groups I either lead or avoid.
Around 45 miles in the route starts to climb up towards the bottom of Lake Berryessa, the climbing the stabilized at around 1100 feet. The major climb of the day came at mile 95, with a fairly steep ascent to the 3,100 feet summit at mile 103. Most of the work was done then, lunch mile 117 and one more climb at mile 130. From mile 140 it was all downhill for the last 60 miles. The course was scenic and mostly free of traffic, the support was great plenty of rest stops and more SAG vehicles than I'd ever seen roaming the course.
While the end was flat the wind was there in full force to make the ending that extra bit special :-) My overall time was 12hrs and 32minutes. Not too shabby, the total climb came in at just over 8,000ft.
This weekend I was down in Paso Robles, for the Central Coast Double. I was familiar with some parts of the course the it is goes by Lake San Antonio, on the same roads was the Wildflower Triathlon, which I've done a number times. The course was very rural with Paso Robles being the only major town to pass through.
The ride started at 5:40am downtown by the city park, leaving the town the climbing begins. The weaves trough the hills on some single track roads with very little traffic. This road leads out to Lake San Antonio, down my favorite and scariest decent, on Interlake Rd, I've known people to reach 60mph on this decent, though I topped out at 40mph (thankfully). Through Lockwood, then through a military based, I have to say is weird to have convoys of military vehicles heading the opposite direction. Just past the main military base was a very scenic part of the ride, before hitting the biggest climb of the ride up and over to the coast and back.
The descent down to Highway 1 was narrow and winding and almost as soon as the route reaches the bottom, it is time to turn around and go right back to the top again. This whole portion of the route is long out and back, leading back to Lockwood. After reaching Lockwood for the second time for lunch, it was time to head north towards King's City. I had regularly seen other riders all the way to the lunch stop, but for the next 60 miles, the only people I saw were the course support. It wasn't until I had gone though some roads through no where, back past Lake San Antionio and out to Bradley where I finally saw another rider.
I should mention to get to Bradley there was a little trip down Highway 101, hmm, well luckily less than a mile on there.
From Bradley there was one more climb then a straight shot back to Paso Robles. I caught one more rider on the way to town, I had him in my sights for a while and slowly edged closer. Once I reached him there was only a few miles left to go and I was in full race mode. The ride end was rather uneventful, there were a couple people at the end collecting the results. The finishers were at a dinner nearby. I decided to jump in the car and start my long drive back. I was just glad to have finished the ride in daylight. Oh and I finished 10th (not to shabby).
The goal: 24hrs of riding as practice run with my support crew. We started in San Francisco, by the Golden Gate for a ride up the coast and back again. It sounds simple :-) I felt tired at the start not having everything as organized as I like at the beginning. Complications had lead to a later than intended start, but 24hrs can start at any time.
One mile in and the bump in my plan emerged, the road was closed bikes for an another event. Luckily I still had the option to walk it, which I did, but it didn't seem like a great start even though it was only a couple hundred yards. Before I knew it was crossing the Golden Gate, something I do very rarely. I headed over to Sausalito and promptly missed my turn to Highway 1. I realized that a couple miles later and that I'd lost the the only water bottle I was carrying which has flown on the back. Back on route I saw my crew and informed them I needed another bottle. Quick climb over Highway 1 ready for a nice decent, only to find road works and 5 minute wait.
On the coast now things were starting to get into a groove, I was battling a head wind but that was to be expected. The route I had picked and us going in land towards Guerneville, so there was at least hope later on. As we had started late, I told the crew to go on ahead and pick-up our final crew member for the day who was waiting in Petaluma. This was probably the biggest learning point for the day, be careful when you ask your support crew to abandon you. Due to very poor cell phone reception and an unfamiliarity with the area, it was two and half hours later till I saw them again. It didn't help when we finally got back in touch I managed to mis-drect them further.
Reuntited I had a sandwhich and continued on into the head wind. Due to the twisty road it is not a constant wind, but it is always wait around a corner like stalker. Relief came when it was time to head inland, rather than battling to maintain 15mph, I was crusing at 20mph. When we reached Guerneville, the crew asked "Where a we going?". Unfortunately printing directions at the last minute can be risky when your printer runs out of ink. I knew in general terms we want to reach Highway 127 going north but we had to now make up the rest of the route to get there. The crew did a fine job here of coming up with a impromptu route and navigated be through the towns.
Around 6pm we stopped and quickily got some dinner, before joining Hwy 127 for the final stint of heading north before the turnaround. Hwy 127 had a fairly long climb but my legs were feeling pretty good. Midway along Hwy 127, it got dark and I switched to my road bike for the nighttime portion of the route.
We reach Hwy 1 around 10pm and started heading south, it windy road with very little to see in the dark. The wind was now final at my back with a little push, but it has also started to drizzle rain. By 1am I was having a hard time focusing on the road, so decided to take my first break, I slept (well close my eyes) for 30mins. When I got out the van I felt a lot better, though the temperature had dropped as I added some layers before continuing on. It was still rain for the next hour but it was very light.
I ended up taking another quick nap around 5am, just before the sun came up. At this point I was starting ot move slowly on the bike, not helped by a few hills to climb a lon ghte road. The journey into Petaluma, felt a little grueling. Back Petaluma, we dropped off a the crew member would we had picked up the day before and plot the finla portion of the route out to Novato.
Sure enough there was more hills ahead of me, I whiched bikes to back to Tri-Bike as my road bike was starting to make excess squeaking noises. Getting rid of the sqeak helped me focus and when I got on the decent my legs came back and I charged up the next hill like I had just awoken from a good nights sleep. That might of had something to do with only having after twenty minutes left go, but it left great to power through to the end. We stopped a Gas station in Novato, I jumped in the van and called it a day, well 24hrs. A great ride with awesome support from my crew, can't wait to see you guys out there for the race.
I first did the race in 2008 it was my second double century and certainly the toughest I'd faced. That year I stayed hotel was where the race was starting to get as much a sleep as possible before the race. The second year I did the race, I decided to spare the hotel cost and do the extra drive in the morning to get there. This year I took it to a whole another level and decided to ride to the start from home, starting at 1:30am in the morning, adding another 40 miles to race.
After 3hrs sleep it was time to get up and ride. The ride up to San Ramon was mostly uneventful, though it is interesting what you see on the road at 2am in the morning. As I passed over Calaveras, I encountered a number of cars, who appeared to be organizing there own private road race, but I'm sure they were wondering I was doing out there too.
I arrived at the race start just past 4am, plenty of time to get checked in for the race. I was then I noticed that my new saddle bag, freshly filled with tubes and C02 was no longer attached to the bike. Two miles to go and no spares, well good thing it was a supported ride.
5am at the start line ready to I was ready to go. The first few miles are just riding in a sea of red flashing lights until the base of Mount Diablo, that's when the real race kicks in and people start to separate. There was some very strong wind near the top of the mountain, making it hard to stay upright in some instances. The views as the sun comes up are spectacular. You can all the way to Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose and Stockon on clear day, and this was a great day for it. The climb just before you reach the summit of Diablo is what they call the Wall. I still remember my very first climb on Diablo, when my heart rate reached 200bpm, on this short stretch. A few years later I'm a little wiser (only a little) and know how to pace my self better and made the up like it was just another hill. I was also better prepared for the chilly decent and kept my jacket, until I reach the next rest stop at mile 50 on Morgan Territory Rd.
While the decent on Diablo had be fairly mild due to the speed restrictions in place, found the decent on Morgan Territory Rd, to be quite the thrill ride. A combination of a tail wind a good decent, meant before I knew I had hit 48mph and was quickly trying to slow down.
The wind was with us and against us all the way through Livermore and to Mines road where the next major ascent was, Mount Hamilton. I've done this climb a number of times, 44 miles to the top, of course it isn't all climbing, but it is all work. The lunch stop is midway through the climb and after lunch I was energized and charged up the rest of the mountain like I was on mission.
After Hamilton, there are is still the infamous Sierra Rd, to tackle. I remained strong completed the ascent. The weather was warm but not hot and definitely made the tough climbs easier then previous years. From there onwards it just time in the saddle, though at point I'd already ridden 200 miles and was starting to feel it. But I had course to conquer (again) after a brief struggle through Caleveras, I reached Sunol. At this point I knew I only had another 20 miles to go, so I continued with all I had.
Finally back in San Ramon, just miles from the finish I'd joined a pack for the last short climbs. I was on pace and feeling good now. I had just come down the last decent and just one more mile to go, when... my chain got jammed into the crank preventing me from pedaling. I pulled over and took look, the pin that prevents this from happening was no longer there and my chain was wedged. I decided to freewheel the last mile and I was able to rock the crank back and forth to keep some momentum going. It cost me a few minutes but I finished, 246 miles with 22,000 feet of climbing!
Just two weeks since my last double at Solvang, I was back down south again for another. The weather was infinitely better, mostly clear sunny skies with a bit cold start in the morning. This was a new ride for me and I hadn't been in this area before, so I didn't know exactly what to expect. Turns out it is a awesome area to ride in! The ride started in land at Agoura Hills, with the first part of the ride descending down to the sea to Malibu.
It was a scenic ride down Highway 1 for about 10 miles before heading back up in the hills at Malibu. As the climb start the group of riders started to break apart, I decided not to be to aggressive and fell in to the middle of the pack. The route climbed up until Mulholland Highway, the road that give the race it's name. It is a great road that rolls through the hills by the coast.
After weaving throughout the hills the course lead me back down to the coast on Highway 1 again heading north. After a seven miles north on Hwy 1 we turned inland which is where the route would stay for next 75 miles or so. We had a short but steep climb to tackle before the lunch stop but not too bad. At around mile 90 we had lunch and continued through the towns, Westlake Village, Thousand Oaks and Moorpark, one street looks like the next so this became repetitive quickly, even though it was only 15 miles. Out of the towns, there was a bit of climb before a great decent into what I can only describe as a Labyrinth of Orange Trees. Having gotten through the maze there was of course a very steep hill gating the exit.
This picture (above) is from the top of the climb, which must reached at least 20% grade at it's toughest point. From here though it was all downhill and flat back out to Highway 1, for a couple more big climbs up in the Malibu hills.
Nearly at the top of the final climb and it was starting to get dark. It had been a painful climb and my legs were feeling it, but I only had a couple more miles before the final rest stop and decent. The final decent was steep and the daylight had faded I was now relying on my bike headlight to show the way. After the big decent there was a small climb back into Agoura Hills where the race started. There is something about city streets and possibly just because it was the end of the race, but the last five miles seemed a longer than the first. I was very glad to get back that the hotel and rest and feast :-)
A perfect day for a ride, a little windy at times but a great temperature, no rain and awesome scenery.
This morning I started at Natural Bridges in Santa Cruz, my plan was to go up to San Francisco and then head back to Santa Clara, but plans change. Highway 1 is notoriously windy, with a strong headwind when your heading north. I fought the wind on and off until Half Moon Bay, I stopped there for a drink and bite to eat and made the decision I better better off heading south. I was still feeling the affects of my early morning century from a couple days before and didn't want to injury myself by pushing too hard. So I headed south on Highway 1 enjoying the wind at my back. I turned on Tunitas Creek and headed up to Skyline, from there I continued up to Highway 92 and then south on Canada Rd, weaving my way back to Santa Clara. Not a bad a ride, 115 miles all said and done.
How early is early? I woke up at 1:30am after 3 hours of sleep to start my ride. My route was a loop up and over Mount Hamilton, totaling 115 miles. Why this early? Well I have to get the rides in some how and I'd never tried a Century before going to work in morning. The roads were quiet and I was on mission. I didn't feel too tired and the world was peaceful. I was using a new bright headlight to keep the road ahead visible. Forty five miles in, I got some pain in my knee, at this point I was just starting the climb over Hamilton from Livermore. I realized I could either turn back and go back the way I came or continue forward. It was going to hurt either way so I decided the climb would better. The climb was long but rewarding, I earned that descent back home :-) The rest of the day, was long but I made it through it.
Last year I did this ride when I was sick, which made for a long day, but the course was one of the easiest double centuries I'd done. This year the route had a few modifications but still had a similar amount of climbing. Continuing the theme of the last few weeks, the issue was going to be the weather. No matter how many times I checked the weather or which point of the course, the answer was the same "rain" and plenty of it. After last weekend's experience in riding in the rain, I knew needed to be less wet and much warmer. A quick bit of web shopping had given me water proof gloves and Goretex shoe covers, I was battle ready.
The mass start was at 7:30am but by the time I arrive at just past 7am, most people were already on the road. So instead of waiting till 7:30, I decided to join a small group and start at 7:15am. The beginning of the route was the same as last year, so it was very familiar, nice rolling hills with Vineyards everywhere. Before I knew it I was at the top of the first "big climb", which tops out at 1,500ft. I was still within sight of the small group I started with occasionally trading places. Then decent lead me to catch up with some of the riders that had started earlier and I was starting to pass people. I was keeping a great pace and opted to skip the first rest stop.
Now 70 miles and just under 4hrs in I was feeling good and little overdressed as the rain had not yet materialized. However just then rain decided it was time and with a high volume of "light" rain. At first the only issue was making sure you stayed away from the wheel spray you past others. My new gear was keeping me dry and warm. I opted to skip the second rest stop and keep my pace going.
Five hours and eight minutes in, I'd just hit 100 miles, this was a great pace! I was now on Highway One having just passed through San Luis Obispo, going towards the coast. I started to see the SAG vehicles helping other riders on the side of the road with flat tires. This began a sight all to familiar over the next 12 miles, to the point I was looking down at my own tires. Sure enough I pulled in to the lunch stop to find both my front and back tires were both slowly leaking air. Apparently there were metal shards on Highway 1, which sink well into a bicycle tire. I go the use of the pump at the rest stop used both my spares and picked a patched tube as new spare. Of course by the time I was done with everything I was cold, damp and spent nearly 50 minutes off the road, doing things in the rain just seems to take longer.
As I pulled out of the rest stop I saw two people walking back with there bicycles who had obviously immediately had flats and not for the first time by the looks on there faces. I really wasn't sure whether I face the same fate shortly and continued on with some trepidation. The rain was still come down hard but I knew I was over halfway there. It was not the ride I did a year ago, which by most accounts was a pleasant ride on a sunny day with the temperature hitting the high 70s, we nearly hit the 60s, almost a 20degree difference.
I skipped the next rest stop to try and recover the time I'd lost but, my pace had fallen. I was still putting out the power but was rewarded with a headwind for my efforts. Cold and wet I arrived at the last rest stop at around mile 160. They had Pot Noodles! Generally not a favorite of mine but this was exactly what I needed to push through to the end, hot and plenty of salt.
The next part was one a barely paved road parallel to the Freeway, it only lasted a few miles until I hit a proper road again. Then was the slow climb up what was seemed a small climb first in the morning. This was one of the major differences on this years course, previous year had gone over Drum Canyon Rd, which was riddled with pot holes and know doubt lead to a few accidents. So the new climb was a welcome replacement. The route ended on a nice quiet and well pave road through a different Canyon. The light was now fading and as it was now 7:30pm, I had now gone past my original 12hr estimate for the course.
As if no course would be complete without a missed turn, I indeed with just a few miles to go missed a key turn and ended up adding another couple miles to the course. Not much time wasted and I was glad to be finished. My bike was badly abused, subjected to awful conditions and I was wet and damp. The new rain gear had helped a lot, though I'd still be interested if anyone knew of any research on waterproof forcefields? :-)
Thanks to folks at Planet Ultra for putting on a another great ride!
While not spending much time out on the roads, in this week, I had to turn to spinning indoors. I can't remember now how I happened across this site http://www.thesufferfest.com but I glad I did. The site has a number of videos designed for spinning. I purchased "The Downward Spiral", which is a one hour long set of intervals. Action packed race footage and great sound track, it turned out to be a really heart pumping workout. The graph below will give you an example of the intervals:
Full disclosure, I was ready throw-up after 30mins (the mark of great workout) so I stopped there. Next the full hour. :-)
This morning I was starting from Aptos, I had a fairly ambitious ride planned up to San Francisco, returning to Santa Clara in a 170 mile route. However the weather had other ideas. As I was preparing for the ride, it started to hail, it stopped after a few minutes and I set off on my journey in the rain. I was wearing a new Goretex cycling jacket and expecting it to shield me from the conditions, and it did very well. Unfortunately there was the rest of my body which was not covered, my hands and feet were quickly drenched with cold rain and more hail. I changed my route and decided to head directly back, by going up San Jose Soquel Rd to Summit Rd. By the time I'd reached Summit Rd, I couldn't feel my feet or fingers. When swimming in wetsuit there are ways to warm-up, utilized this same method, it helped but only a little. I really should of considered wearing a wetsuit for the ride, it really was a perfect day for it. The water was streaming down the road at alarming rate, it felt more like a waterfall than a road. By the time I reached Skyline and Black Rd, I knew a descent down Highway 9 would be dangerous in these conditions, so I took the Black Rd decent, forgetting it was a dead end on to Highway 17, which is not for bicycles. I was still freezing and looking to finish as quickly as possible and finish in Los Gatos. I will not be publishing or recommending the route I took to finish. :-) My ride was now a 33 mile ride and a tough one at that.
Today's route, I planned was just over 100 miles with around 6,000ft of climbing. Out to Livermore, via Calaveras to Tesla Rd then on to Patterson Pass. Patterson Pass peaks at 1,550ft, with the grade reaching 15%.
The descent is a lot of fun reaching up to 40mph. In the distance you can see the hills are covered by Windmills, they aren't there by accident, it's windy out there. Sure enough when I reached Altamont Pass Rd, the wind was in full force at around 30mph. With the wind came the rain, by the time I left Livermore, I was drenched, but the rain stopped and I was mostly dry by the end of the ride.
Today I had a 150 mile route planned that would take me up to San Francisco. When it comes to doing long rides there is something very satisfying in ending up in a different place to where you've started. I started off in Los Gatos at around 7am, with a goal of being up to the city around 6pm. My route was fairly simple, adding miles to my last attempt at this route and removing dangers of the freeway into San Francisco with a more sane alternative.
Not much to report on the ride, weather was generally good with a few windy parts on Highway 1 (which is generally expected). It took a little while to get into the groove, my gears were slipping as I climbed Page Mill Road and I had to do some adjustments.
I took a couple of detours off Highway 1, to break the monotony of that road. First was Swanton Rd, which nicely joins right back onto Hwy 1 after a few miles. The second was Stage Road, three nice climbs with some great views.
At Pacifica, I left Hwy 1 and entered a resdential area, certainly more scenic than the freeway.
The morning challenge is simple wake up and cycle before work. I've done a number of morning workouts in past but driving in morning traffic and being stuck for up to an hour is self defeating. I live surrounded by freeways, this doesn't always make for a good or safe ride come rush hour traffic.
I drove to one of my usual starting points and got on the road as quickily as I could. My chosen route would of given me 50 miles and around 4600 feet of climbing up Mount Hamilton. This being my first attempt, my timing was off, by the time I was just over half way up I realized I was not going to get to the top and back in a reasonable time so I turned around. Still this gave me a good 42 mile ride, but unfortunately I still hit a lot of traffic on the way to work.
Earlier, much earlier, also I change my starting position to be closer to work while maintaining a 50 mile distance. On the road just over an hour earlier I was able to reach the top of mountain with enough time to get back. I kept up a good pace and race back to my car, only to be stuck in traffic once I reached it.
Refinement and simplification, ditch the car and the cycle through traffic. I started even earlier and by hitting the traffic lights just right I was able to make good time, reaching the summit of Mountain Hamilton a few minutes earlier. Very cold morning the descent was freezing, but a great 58 mile ride, without the frustration of being in stuck in traffic afterwards. Of course crossing over a couple freeways does make you a little paranoid, but it's not paranoia if they really are out to get you, right? :-)
Today I was up in Petaluma, to meet a prospective new member of my crew and after a chat over coffee, I had found myself a bike mechanic. My ride for the day was going to be a simple out and back to the coast. It was 16 miles to coast, over nice rolling hills. Although the weather had been great when I had started, the further out I was the more dubious it looked. Along the coast you pass through a bunch of small towns, with populations less an 100 people. One such town was called, I kid you not, "Dogtown", yes really. Unfortunately I can't find this on a map but next time I go through it I'm going to take a picture of the sign. The area itself actually bears a striking resemblance to Scotland (especially with a over cast sky), you have a small fishing villages and a sign to Inverness. There is indeed a Inverness very nearby.
I continued down Highway One past Stinson Beach and continued up the Panoramic Hwy, towards Mount Tamalpasis. I turned round at the Ranger Station, which was the 50 mile mark, it was tempting to go all the way to the top, but as I had a late start to the day it was going to need to wait. The way back was uneventful until I was a few miles away from Petaluma and the threatening sky, came good on the promise of rain. Luckily I was back to car before the worst of it.
Last time snow fell in Bay area at sea level was over thirty years ago, so it is no surprise that it made big news when the weather came. Curious to see what had fallen on Friday night I set out Saturday morning to see what was out there. I headed up Highway 9, around 1500ft I started to see some patch of snow at the side of the road. At the top of Hwy9, I turned left left to follow Skyline past Castle Rock park, to the peak of Skyline at 3100ft. By Castle Rock, families were out with there kids, enjoying the dusting of snow.
I've spent the last hour climbing I was fairly warm, however it was now time for the descent :-) 30+ mph into the cold, doesn't lead to warm feelings, it wasn't long before may face, feet and hands had no feeling. I had reached a point of thermal runaway, at which point I was not going to regain the feeling in my extremities. So I cut the ride short, after a descent on Pagemill, I headed back to car, closely followed by a Starbucks, to warm-up. Resolved not to let the cold get the better of me again, I headed over to Sports Basement to pick up better clothing for the weather, an extra layer for the shoes, thicker gloves and a hat.
Next morning, was a supposed to be just as cold so I set out slightly later, with my new gear and thicker layers. However I was a mile into the ride when I realized I'd need to shed a little for the climbs and save the clothes for the descent. I head out over Calaveras Rd from Milpitas, towards Livermore. As I past by the reservoir I saw the TNT's Ironteam heading in the opposite direction, but it recognize anyone. I kept up a good pace as it's a fairly flat route until you reach Mines road in Livermore. After a quick out and back on Tesla road to get some extra mileage, then it long climb up Mines road began.
It last six miles of climb up Mount Hamilton, lead me to a winter wonderland with a number of snowmen at the side of the road. As with the day before there were a number of people at summit enchanted by the snow. At the top and put on all my warmest gear for the decent and the race against the now diminishing sunlight. I made it to the city street before the dusk had completely set in.
This should of been simple double, if there is such a thing :-) Two hundred miles with 8,600 feet of climbing. On my way down the night before, driving through a storm, it was clear that the weather was going to be an issue. Forecast called for rain all day. My expectations were low, but I wanted the miles. The mass start was at 6:15am and to my surprise there was no rain. We started off through the urban jungle of Irvine, there were a lot turns through the first part but the traffic flowed well. It was about 20 miles before the pack started to break apart. Once we reached the Pacific Coast Highway, there were just five of us together, we flew by the first rest stop at mile 40 without stopping. The wind was in our favor and the rain was staying away, so all was good. The group I was in broke up at the 54 mile rest stop and I left the stop on my own.
The route paralleled Interstate 5 (I5), until the road ended. Where next? Well it turns out the route called for 4 mies of riding on I5, apparently on this stretch of the road it is legal. After all when you have a 4 lanes in each direction freeway (motorway) with cars and trucks going 70mph, why not add bicycles to the mix. There was a big shoulder so I continued on as fast as I could not quite managing to keep up with the rest of the traffic. It wasn't long before I reached Oceanside. As I looked a the cue sheet, I saw in bold “Caution sunken grate”, unfortunately it was at that same moment, I hit said sunken grate. No damage, just a little shock from the half foot dip in the road.
As a reached the next intersection a couple other riders caught up with me, they complemented me on my grate handling skills, which they just witnessed and we continued on together. The next section was on a bike path with pedestrians, but we were able to keep good pace with safety in mind. The front rider was wearing a California Triple Crown jersey, which are award to those who complete three or more double centuries. Mr Triple Crown (as I'll call him) was riding like a man on a mission, we dropped a couple other riders and then it was just me and him. I kept him in my sights all the way to the lunch stop.
By lunch we had our first great down pour of the day. The race volunteers serving lunch were at least covered themselves under a tent. I was already drenched at this point, eating my sandwich in the rain. So not to get cold I didn't hang around and was the first to leave the stop. This actually meant I was now in first place! However this victory was short lived indeed, as I promptly missed the next turn after the lunch stop. After a mile I realized my mistake and got back on track. I caught up with the people who were pulling into the lunch stop as I was leaving. They told me how Mr Triple Crown had left the lunch stop hot on my trail :-)
The weather dried up nicely after lunch and we were now finishing up the southernly part of the course back on the bike path again heading towards I5. We (currently a group of 3) stopped the 120 mile rest stop and found out Mr Triple Crown was now waiting for us to catch him. Back on the road, I heard the sound of metal braking... and sure enough I had just lost a spoke from my back wheel. Well I hadn't come all this way to just have a 120 mile ride, so I cautiously continued on.
A few hours later we were immersed in the urban jungle again. The rider just in front of me ran over a piece of wire, which complete wrapped around his front wheel. We all stopped and he managed to untangled, luckily no damage had been done. It was at this point the other rider, uttered the words "Well what else can go wrong?". It didn't take more than an hour to answer that question.
160 miles into the race and my back wheel now was far from true, I had to completely release the back brakes to prevent them rubbing. After a small downhill to the last rest stop I was contemplating whether to continue on, but now with end within reach, I had to go on.
It had now been raining for an hour and I was drenched again, we were on the final climb and it was starting to get dark, add thunder a little lightening then hail. There was some weird humor to be found in this, never ask the question "What else can go wrong". The hail only lasted a few minutes but was painful and obviously very cold.
Now dark, wet, and very cold and desperate to be done the finish was just ahead. We finished in a combined second place, just 15 minutes behind Mr. Triple Crown. What started as simple double felt like a struggle for survival by end (as all good races should).