It's been a month or more since my last update, so here's the most recent news:
On the good side of the board, I rode the Solvang Double Century on March 29th, on a mostly beautiful day in the Santa Ynez valley and beyond (North to Morro Bay), and felt strong all day. No problems, the bike and the body worked well all day . . . 13 Hours and daylight finish.
On the bad side (or at least, not so good . . . ) I entered the Mulholland Double on April 12th and ended up with a DNF (Did Not Finish) at mile 161. This was my 2nd DNF in 31 double attempts since I moved to CA.
Early Morning Start for Mulholland was 5:00 AM, so still quite dark and kinda cold (38 deg.F) at the start, but down from Calabasas to Pacific Coast Highway (mostly a descent), then warmer along PCH and cold again as we started climbing Topanga Canyon.
All the morning climbs were no problem, and the morning total in the Santa Monica mountains was approx. 6,000 feet of altitude gain. We hit PCH again at mile 62 (100 KM) and rode directly into a hot dry wind all the way to Ventura. This was the beginning of the end for me. Simply put: I wasn't drinking enough for the conditions and became dehydrated.
I had a 70 oz. Camelback and a large (28 oz.) water bottle, but it wasn't enough. The next big climb was Protrero (some 20%), and while I can climb Protrero, this time I had to get off and walk (yeah, even with my 30t x 27t triple crank!). That was followed by several more climbs and fortunately a water stop by a fire station.
I filled up there, and by the time I got to lunch (90 miles, 8,000 feet of climbing) was feeling a bit better.
After lunch I was okay for the first 20 miles, but suffered on the Grimes Canyon climb (long, totally exposed and into a headwind), so was pretty darn cooked by the time I reached the next checkpoint at about 3:30 PM. The temp was up to the mid 90's by this time, so I packed my Camelback with ice, then filled with Sustained Energy and water. The bottle got ice, then pure water, but the next checkpoint was 40 miles away!
By this time my speed was down, but I still had to climb Balcom Canyon (part of the Tour de CA), which was very long and super steep (104 deg.F here), so yes . . . I had to walk part of that one too. The descent was good, and finally a bit of a tail wind, back through Ventura, onto PCH, and then the climb up Decker Canyon starting at mile 157. This is the one that did me in. Decker off PCH is very steep, a brutal climb really, and I was in my 30t x 27t all the way up. Going slow too, 3.5 mph on my computer!
When I reached the Decker Fire Station Checkpoint at mile 161 I was done. No power in my legs, very little power in my brain (early evening by now). I arrived at 7:10 and the official "cut-off" was 7:00 so I was officially "out" anyway. But even if I was allowed to continue, it was beyond me. I accepted a ride back to the motel from a friend of mine who had been working the ride (much appreciated, that!).
Back at the motel someone asked me "How'd you like Protrero today?" I couldn't even remember Protrero! The name sounded familiar . . . but that's about all. So yeah, my brain was cooked. I was relaxing on the bed for over an hour before I could get up and take a shower.
In the end, the Mulholland Double was too tough for me (or I wasn't tough enough for it), and in retrospect, i.e. with 20-20 hindsight, I shouldn't have tried it. Still, there's a part of me that's glad I at least tried it. That's probably the same part that found the Butterfield and Solvang doubles so easy, and was looking for more of a challenge.
Lots more challenges still to come in the 2008 cycling season. I'll let you know if it gets better or worse from here!
Rick / OCRR