Filtering by Tag: Double Century

Davis Double

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.

 

Central Coast Double

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).

Ride Overview:

Devil Mountain Double

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!

Ride Overview:

Mulholland Double

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.

Another steep climb into the hills (above).

Back on Mulholland Highway just before another decent and climb.

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.

 

Route Overview:

 

The Solvang Double 2011

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!

 

 

The Camino Double

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). 

Alta Alpina Challenge 2010

At the top of MonitorMy toughest double of the year! This is the like the infamous Death Ride on steroids, 8 mountain passes instead of 5, resulting in 200 miles with over 20,000 feet of climbing. The start was just outside Markleeville, at Turlte Rock Park. I was also camping there so I didn't have to go far for the 5am-5:15am start window for 8 pass riders. I despite my proximity to the start, I was the last to start. Some of the riders had choosen to go as early as 3am! I had a long day of catch-up ahead...

My timing was good from the prespective of daylight, the sun was coming up so there wasn't much need for the lights. The route starts out with a decent into Nevada, with a flat run through the valley to the first pass, Kingsbury Grade. As I got near the bottom of the climb there I could see the first riders of coming back in the opposite direction. The first climb up Kingsbury grade was great, with a stunning view on both the climb and descent. Next up was Luther this really wasn't too bad. Carson Pass was tougher and by now I'd started to pass a number of people. Followed by an out and back to Blue Lake which was rolling hills and due to the road not being open all the way, they added Airport Rd. Now over 100 miles in Airport Rd, was short but tiring and thankfully followed by lunch.

After a short break for lunch it was time for Ebbetts and Monitor, this is what you call a long afternoon. Ebbetts was definitely a challenge and by the time a I got the first part of Monitor I had nothing left in my legs. The West and East climbs on Monitor were slow, but once up at the top of Monitor for the second time I was ready to bring it home, before the sunset. It was pleasant surprise to find I was the third to finish all 8 Passes at the end.

Back to Death Valley... For the fall Death Valley Double

After six short weeks of training it was time for my first Double Century of the year. My expectations were in line with my training, I knew it was going to be a long day and a hot one with a forecast of 93F. The key to survival was going to be staying hydrated.

In rare turn of events I had actually managed to get a good nights sleep and felt well rested for the earlier start. Adventure Corps (the race organizers) all put together a good race. We started if the customary speech wishing the racers luck and obliviously going over what not to do also. Before I knew it we were off..

 

The race started off in a giant pelaton but quickly started to thin out within the first 10 miles. Death Valley is an awesome place to ride, at least first thing in the morning when it is still cool. The first part of the course is a out and back to Stovepipe Wells, for the first stop. Out and back was at a good pace and now I was on the main part of the course and started a gradual climb up to Scotty's Castle. As I got near to castle, the heat was rising and it was good to get into the canyon area with a little shade. Into the canyon, began a steeper stretch of climbing, but that was better than what was coming.

After reaching the other side of the canyon and the peak of the climbing I was presented with a nice downhill with a strong headwind. I thought with the placing of the stops I could use a one bottle strategy, so I've filled up at every stop. This strategy work well until this point, when I realize I was nearly out of fluid heading into a head wind on a long straight stretch to Nevada. This out back to Nevada was the toughest part of the race, I was over 100 miles in and beyond the limits of my 6 weeks of training. I could see the turnaround way off in the distance, but it didn't seem to be getting any closer. My salvation came when a group of riders came along, with some conversation and a bit of draft I was on my way again. At the turn around rest stop I filled up two bottles, so I could properly re-hydrate. 

With the wind at back I start-off well, 30mins later I was slowing down again with more doubts. 90F was not feeling good, but the canyon was back in site and there would be a descent towards Scotty's Castle, which was the lunch stop. After took a couple pictures I carried on up the uphill and soon enough it was lunch time and I was ready for a break.

 

Lunch rejuvenated me and I was back on the road with one more detour, the crater. A bumpy road to get there, but definately worth the trip. A stopped a the crater brielfy for a picture and then continued back. Rolling hills then reaching second last rest stop just before the last big climb of the ride, totaling around 2000ft. I took the climb in my stride and ended-up passing a couple of people on the way up. By the time I reached the top the sun had faded away and I had to start my descent into the darkness. I had a couple headlights but they weren't up to the task of a high speed descent. I was straining eyes to see the best I could, following the yellow line in the middle of the road so not to stray off the edge of the road. Now safely at the bottom of the climb I was energized to pull in the last 10 miles. 

 

Finish Time: 13hr 11min, 16.2mph (Moving Average), 9,000ft of Climbing  

 

Eastern Sierra Double Century

My second Double Century of year, was at high elevation, starting in Bishop. The ride start was early still dark at the time, the course started off doing a loop around the outskirts of town before heading up towards Mono Lake.

The first 80 miles had the majority of climb for the day, it also offered great views of the valley. We passed through Mammoth and then on to Hwy 395 towards to get to Mono Lake. Having just arrived the day before I was not acclimatized to the elevation, going from 4,000 at the start to 8,000, I was really starting to miss the oyxgen of sea level.

I took a longer than usual break at lunch to recover. Back on the road I was ready for the last big climb.   The last 50 miles was almost all downhill, the really bonus was a tail wind on the last 25 miles. I finished the riding feeling great!

 Ride Details (Click here to view on Google Earth):
11hr 25min Ride Time
197 Miles
10,875feet of climbing

 

 

 Heart Rate:
155bpm Avg.
183bpm Max

 

 

 Speed:
17.3mph Avg.
52.7mph Max.

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