What a day. It all started at 5AM as we rolled out of Bishop to do the Eastern Sierra Double. We weren’t doing the normal course because of cold and snow falling on the course. Did someone say this was June? The first 24 miles was an easy roll with a few small hills and some nice flats. After the first rest stop the fun began, there was a hill to climb. No one had an idea what laid ahead. It was starting as a good climb around 6-7%. This was ok but it just kept going, some it started to hail and rain. The rain didn’t quit and neither did the hill. Long story short the hill was 11 miles to the top and when we were all most to the top it started to snow.
I felt pretty good being able to get to the top and I wasn’t to wet. The only thing really soaked was my long fingered gloves and my shoes. As I started down the other side within 20 seconds I realized I was in trouble. Oh was it cold! Within a matter of second my hands stopped functioning, my feet felt like icebergs and I was shaking uncontrollably. I tried to stop the bike, I squeezed the brakes and nothing happened. I looked down and I was gaining speed. I looked and I did have my hands on the brakes but I just couldn’t seem to squeeze them tight enough. It was then I realized my hands weren’t working. Finally I got the bike stopped, but I still had 10 miles to the bottom of the hill. It took a long time to get to the bottom with several stops to warm up and catch my breath. At the bottom was a rest stop, they offered to help dry my gloves and get me some food, I couldn’t stop shaking. It was 66 degrees at the bottom and I still couldn’t warm up.
When the sag vehicle made it to the bottom it was full so the only way out…..back up the 11 mile hill I just came down with the thought of rain and snow at the top. As I was climbing out I noticed the skies were clearing and maybe by the time I got to the top it would be clear, luck was with me. A quick decent to rest stop 1/3 and I was back in warm weather.
Now the push back to Bishop, I was way behind and all the people riding around me had bailed. I got back to Bishop, 101 miles, at 3:15 PM and had a quick lunch. Now I had to go out and do the other piece of the course, out to Benton and back. It was only an 82 mile round trip with 1,500’ of climbing as I thought. The cutoff time was 10PM for the ride so that meant I had about 6:30 to be able to finish the course, sounds doable. As I left Bishop the wind was blowing, between 20-25 mph. The wind never stopped, 33.6 miles to the Benton turn. On the flats I could ride at a whopping 7-8 mph, on the hills I was down to 5. I kept thing to figure if I was going to make it, it just did seem I had enough time. When I got to Benton I stopped at the sag stop and then I had to go out Hwy 120 7.1 miles to a turn-a-around. Of course there was some more climbing to do, about 1,500’ in that 7.1 miles. I made it back to the Benton rest stop at 7:50 re-watered and tried to figure what I was going to have to do to make the cutoff time. 33.6 miles, I needed to average 16.8 mph. Bishop is 1,500’ lower than Benton, so I had that advantage and I did have the now tailwind. I made it to the finish with a half hour to spare that was a 22.4 mph average. After I checked-in it was a quick dinner, shower and bed. They shorten the course a little but added extra climbing. It ended up being 185 miles with around 12,200’ of climbing and of course rain, snow and wind.