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    Eschew Obfuscation SesameCrunch's Avatar
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    Thinking about a Double Century

    So, I've been cycling for 1.5 seasons. I've done 4 centuries the year and they're no problem for me at all. All my centuries have been under 6 hours.

    Now my so-called friends are tempting me with a double century (the Death Valley Double) next Spring. I must admit some trepidation. 14 or 15 hours in a saddle = ouch!

    So, I need some encouragement!!! How difficult/easy was your experience in jumping up to a double? What's the key to making it successful - stamina, determination, comfort? What was your longest training ride prior the the event? Was it worth it afterwards? Why did you do it?

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    Senior Member howsteepisit's Avatar
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    BEst advise I can give is to spend a lot of saddle time, and to remember to eat while you ride from the start. My only double I did not eat enough and do't think I rode more than 10 mph for the last 10 miles. But you cna do it. Take it slow and easy, and the miles will go by.
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    A few years ago I did a few doubles - then I got burnt out and pretty much quit riding for a few years.

    At the point that I was riding doubles I was doing one or two centuries a week. A double is like a century only longer. If you can comfortably ride a century, a double isn't that much more difficult. If you can ride a century in six hours, you should easily be able to complete a double in 13 hours. If you can complete a century in five hours you should be able to complete a double in 11 hours.

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    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SesameCrunch
    So, I've been cycling for 1.5 seasons. I've done 4 centuries the year and they're no problem for me at all. All my centuries have been under 6 hours.

    Now my so-called friends are tempting me with a double century (the Death Valley Double) next Spring. I must admit some trepidation. 14 or 15 hours in a saddle = ouch!

    So, I need some encouragement!!! How difficult/easy was your experience in jumping up to a double? What's the key to making it successful - stamina, determination, comfort? What was your longest training ride prior the the event? Was it worth it afterwards? Why did you do it?
    Stamina - yes, obviously. You probably have enough to do it.

    Determination - very important. Beyond 100 miles, the mental aspect is as important as the physical. Always make an effort to focus on the positive and maintain a good attitude.

    Comfort - certainly. you should have some idea of any comfort issues from doing centuries. More miles means more aches and pains. This is where determination makes a huge difference.

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    Senior Member Richard Cranium's Avatar
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    Now my so-called friends are tempting me with a double century (the Death Valley Double) next Spring.
    Go on, give it a try, there is no alternative. Of course, there must be a reason they call it "death valley"......

    Without knowing anymore about the Death Valley Double, maybe you should ask your friends what and where the easiest double century rides are. You know you can do it, it's just a question of whether or not the weather in Death Valley makes your first double a "death ride."

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    My first century was Solvang in April of 2003. After that I did one other century before completing the Grand Tour Lowland Double in June of 2003. Determination is key. An all day event is a long time to spend inside your own head, specially if things are not going well.

    Oh yes, it was worth it. I still don't know why I do these things. That is a question that comes up about mile 150 or so.

    The Spring DVD is using the southern route these days. You head down the road to Shoshone and then back to Furnace Creek, and then down to Stovepipe Wells and back. This means that at mile 150 you are back to the start, with a nice shower and your hotel room quite close. You are also seeing the fast guys already coming back from Stovepipe Wells. This is where the determination comes in.

    Death Valley hasn't been good for me. I have DNF'd the southern route twice, and the northern route once. This Saturday I will try the double once again.

    With regards to doing the DVD as your first, just keep in mind that the scenery doesn't change that much, particularly for the southern route. If you like a lot of visual stimulation, you aren't going to get it. That said, this is a very reasonable first century. Certainly not the easiest around, but doable.

    Ron

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    Dagger Boy Extort's Avatar
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    Doubles are not easy, but they are rewarding because of the realization that 'You can do it' once it is behind you. Some people have issues riding in a car for 200 miles, so sitting on a bike seat for that distance should be a major accomplishment in your life. I do disagree with Katysax on the amount of time a double will take because you will not be putting out the same wattage on a consistent basis during a double as you would on a regular century. I can run a century in just over 5 hours (about 85-90% effort @ 19+ MPH), because I know that I only have to expend the energy for that amount short of time. Doubles are slower and more consistent (65-70% effort @ 15-16 MPH) because I realize that this is not just going to end quickly.

    Death Valley is the most arid spot in North America.... remember that when you are planning the trip. I drank about 1/3 more water than recommended (~90 oz/day or 11 glasses vs. 64 oz or 8 glasses) for the week leading up to my Death Valley Double (I did the fall ride) and during my stay out there I consumed an enormous amount of water.

    Just remember that Death Valley is the place where things go, get dehydrated, and die.

    However, if you have not been to Death Valley, then it is definately an experience as the scenery is unreal, but very gorgeous.

    I believe that my blog is still available on my ride out there... Yahoo Blog Space
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    Quote Originally Posted by SesameCrunch
    So, I've been cycling for 1.5 seasons. I've done 4 centuries the year and they're no problem for me at all. All my centuries have been under 6 hours.

    Now my so-called friends are tempting me with a double century (the Death Valley Double) next Spring. I must admit some trepidation. 14 or 15 hours in a saddle = ouch!

    So, I need some encouragement!!! How difficult/easy was your experience in jumping up to a double? What's the key to making it successful - stamina, determination, comfort? What was your longest training ride prior the the event? Was it worth it afterwards? Why did you do it?
    I did my first double (STP) this year. I've done 3 or 4 centuries and a couple of back-to-back centuries in the past.

    The short story is that I felt good for the first 120 miles, then I got sick (allergies, but I didn't realize it). So, I spent 80 miles riding at a constant pace (no paceline) because that's all I could tolerate.

    I did finish it, but that was the closest I ever got to abandoning a long ride. I had the stamina, but I felt so bad.

    My time on the bike was around 11:45, with something like 14 hours elapsed (longer breaks because I felt so bad).

    My big notes are:

    1) Prepare for things like allergies.
    2) Plan for food fatigue. This was my biggest problem outside of headache and nauseau.
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    Steel is Real. markw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SesameCrunch
    So, I've been cycling for 1.5 seasons. I've done 4 centuries the year and they're no problem for me at all. All my centuries have been under 6 hours.

    Now my so-called friends are tempting me with a double century (the Death Valley Double) next Spring. I must admit some trepidation. 14 or 15 hours in a saddle = ouch!

    So, I need some encouragement!!! How difficult/easy was your experience in jumping up to a double? What's the key to making it successful - stamina, determination, comfort? What was your longest training ride prior the the event? Was it worth it afterwards? Why did you do it?
    Davis is a good first double, and close to you. Check out the California Triple Crown site. Lots of options there. I may or may not shoot for the Spring DVD, as it may conflict one of the few mass start races I can enter on my Bacchetta. If you don't do DVD, plan for Davis. Especially if you're finishing in under 6 hours, just back the pace off a bit and you should be good. Good luck!

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    Eschew Obfuscation SesameCrunch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Extort
    Doubles are not easy, but they are rewarding because of the realization that 'You can do it' once it is behind you.
    I think this is the key reason we do these crazy long rides, isn't it?

    I also very much like the advice of doing the Davis Double. First of all, I don't have to drive 10 hours to get there. Secondly, it seems better supported. Thirdly, it's less hills. Probably a good bet for my first attempt.

    I'll definitely set a Double as a goal for next year. I guess if so many others can do it, so can I. Just got to want it bad enough. Who know, maybe this time next year, I'll be asking you guys about the jump to 300 miles :-)

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    Steel is Real. markw's Avatar
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    Davis is flat for the first 40 miles, climbing in the middle, nothing too hard, then downhill onto the flats for the last 60 miles. Great first double, make sure you're rolling by 5am and go at an easier pace than you would for a century. You may want to work up to it by doing 200 and 300k brevets.

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    Eschew Obfuscation SesameCrunch's Avatar
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    Oh yeah, I'll be training for it. Don't think I'll take 200 miles for granted. I'm going to start by doing back to back 100 miles. Then I'll gradually increase my distance. I live along the Pacific Coast Hwy near San Francisco. I got a 40 mile stretch of highway without a stop light or sign where I can ride. Plus beautiful scenery. So training won't be too bad.

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    I'm going to start by doing back to back 100 miles. Then I'll gradually increase my distance.
    honestly -- doing a century is enough for physicial conditioning. Everything after that point is eating and willpower. Doing long rides back-to-back is good for training to do multi-day events, but you'll probably see diminishing returns if push yourself to do more than two successive centuries as part of your training. For my 600k (almost quad century) the furthest training ride I did was a 100 and 50 mile ride on a Saturday and Sunday.

    At this point, what you really should be focusing on with your long rides is tuning your eating and hydration schedule.

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    Quote Originally Posted by markw
    Davis is flat for the first 40 miles, climbing in the middle, nothing too hard, then downhill onto the flats for the last 60 miles.
    How can you say this seeing how you DNF'd the ride, needing a lift from a SAG vehicle over most of the major climbs? I clearly remember seeing your recumbent in the back of the SAG truck.

    As someone who has successfully completed the Davis Double for the last two years, I can state that this is a very good first double. However, because of the detour around Big Canyon, the climbing has been increased by a substantial amount. You go up Cobb Mountain to Loch Lomond before descending to Siegler Canyon, where you descend some more. Cobb Mountain is steep.

    This year's Knoxville Double also had to detour around Big Canyon, doing Loch Lomond and Cobb Mountain in reverse. It was leg breaking climbing.

    It is correct that you have 40 miles of flat at the beginning and 60 miles of flat at the end. That means that you have about 100 miles with about 8000ft of climbing in the middle. The three major climbs are Cardiac, Cobb Mountain and Resurrection. There is a SAG stop at the top of Resurrection at mile 140 which marks the end of the climbing.

    The Davis Double has incredible support. Make sure you stop at the mile 193 sag stop (yes, 7 miles from the end) to enjoy chili and grilled cheese sandwiches.

    Fast guys will complete the double in 10-11 hours. I, not being so fast, completed it in 16 hours each of the last two years, taking a lot of time at the sag stops farting around and socializing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Extort
    I do disagree with Katysax on the amount of time a double will take because you will not be putting out the same wattage on a consistent basis during a double as you would on a regular century. I can run a century in just over 5 hours (about 85-90% effort @ 19+ MPH), because I know that I only have to expend the energy for that amount short of time. Doubles are slower and more consistent (65-70% effort @ 15-16 MPH) because I realize that this is not just going to end quickly.
    I'll agree with this. Spending this much time on the bike can bring to light other issues that will cut into your finishing time. Right now I can do a century or 200k without even thinking about it. A double century, well now, is still something to think about. I can be pretty much guaranteed that I will have stomach problems of some sort, which is something I don't have to worry about in an 8 - 10 hour day (the time it takes for me to do 100 - 125 miles).

    Last weekend I did the new Solvang Autumn Double. It took me 7 hours even to make it to the mile 105 lunch stop. The stomach was good. After that, my stomach shut down. That caused energy problems. The remaining 95 miles took almost 10 hours because I was never able to recover my stomach and "energy systems".

    Speaking of food, something you like to eat for a century may start to taste like dog food after 10 or so hours. Imagine being at a sag stop and not wanting to eat anything, knowing you have to. Yuck.

    All of this said, there are plenty of people who can get on the bike and do back to back fast centuries. The OP may be one of those. One thing is for sure, you are going to find out some day.

    Don't think about it excessively. What is the saying about battle plans and first contact with the enemy?

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    Steel is Real. markw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ronsmithjunior
    How can you say this seeing how you DNF'd the ride, needing a lift from a SAG vehicle over most of the major climbs? I clearly remember seeing your recumbent in the back of the SAG truck.

    As someone who has successfully completed the Davis Double for the last two years, I can state that this is a very good first double. However, because of the detour around Big Canyon, the climbing has been increased by a substantial amount. You go up Cobb Mountain to Loch Lomond before descending to Siegler Canyon, where you descend some more. Cobb Mountain is steep.

    This year's Knoxville Double also had to detour around Big Canyon, doing Loch Lomond and Cobb Mountain in reverse. It was leg breaking climbing.

    It is correct that you have 40 miles of flat at the beginning and 60 miles of flat at the end. That means that you have about 100 miles with about 8000ft of climbing in the middle. The three major climbs are Cardiac, Cobb Mountain and Resurrection. There is a SAG stop at the top of Resurrection at mile 140 which marks the end of the climbing.

    The Davis Double has incredible support. Make sure you stop at the mile 193 sag stop (yes, 7 miles from the end) to enjoy chili and grilled cheese sandwiches.

    Fast guys will complete the double in 10-11 hours. I, not being so fast, completed it in 16 hours each of the last two years, taking a lot of time at the sag stops farting around and socializing.
    Hehe.. sssh.... As Arnold said, "I'll be back." The knee issues seem to have disolved, I think it was a combo of cleat position and over extension on the seat, plus lack of mileage. I did get sagged up course as I wasn't going to make the next 2 climbs in time. Total of 170 out of the 200. I've since knocked out Hotter than Hell, Grand Tour Lite Highland, and Poway centuries without issues. Well, 2 flats on GTL. Looking forward to a Triple Crown jersey next year starting with Butterfield. I still think Davis is a good first double, flat-climbing-flat without too much elevation gain. We should do a training double sometime in Nov/Dec before next season starts. You up for it? I would like to ensure no bike fit issues. Stomach seems to be ok for me as I felt fine at the Davis, and my issues popped up before mile 100. Haven't had them on the other rides, so I think I'm good.

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    Eschew Obfuscation SesameCrunch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spokenword
    honestly -- doing a century is enough for physicial conditioning. Everything after that point is eating and willpower. Doing long rides back-to-back is good for training to do multi-day events, but you'll probably see diminishing returns if push yourself to do more than two successive centuries as part of your training. For my 600k (almost quad century) the furthest training ride I did was a 100 and 50 mile ride on a Saturday and Sunday.

    At this point, what you really should be focusing on with your long rides is tuning your eating and hydration schedule.
    Advice taken....

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    Quote Originally Posted by markw
    Hehe.. sssh.... As Arnold said, "I'll be back." The knee issues seem to have disolved, I think it was a combo of cleat position and over extension on the seat, plus lack of mileage. I did get sagged up course as I wasn't going to make the next 2 climbs in time. Total of 170 out of the 200.
    Don't get me wrong; 170 miles is a good day, and you did the right thing to get SAG help to avoid further bothering your knees. But I am here to make sure you "walk the walk" before you "talk the talk", and we all know how much you like to run your mouth.

    To the OP, the Spring Solvang Double, put on by Planet Ultra, is also a good first double. It has a reasonable amount of climbing and a lot of scenery. The support is excellent. There is also the Grand Tour Double in June, which starts in Malibu. The Lowland version has so little climbing it is boring, whereas the Highland version seems to be more interesting without having a huge amount of climbing. Both have very nice scenery, especially the last 60 miles, which goes from Rincon (where 150 hits the 101) south to Malibu.

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    Senior Member Rushfan's Avatar
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    I did my first double, STP, this year after four seasons of riding, with 2 or 3 centuries a year. STP is probably the easiest century around with little climbing and ideal weather this year. I worked the Davis Double this year (I'm in the Davis Bike Club) after my training washed out in March rains, but agree that it's a good first one. DBC does a great job on support.

    Suggestions
    1. Train in similar terrain as your double. If the double is mostly flat, like STP, no trouble training mostly on the flats. If it's hilly, make sure you ride similar hills in your training.
    2. If you have special food needs, make a plan to deal with them. One of the more experienced long distance riders who posts here is allergic to peanut butter, which was the food of choice at a ride.
    3. Fit issues crop up after 100 miles. I had very sore arms after the double, never experienced that before. Also realized that I was experiencing significant soft tissue issues after the ride, which led to a new seat and fit change. In retrospect, I needed a 140 mile day in my build-up; didn't go past 110.
    4. Riding slightly below your normal pace can lead to a great experience. I rode with a buddy who was a little slower than me, so I rode in the front all day and still had lots left in the tank at the end of the 200 miles.

    Good luck, and maybe I'll see you at the Davis Double next year, if March isn't epic rains again...

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    Dagger Boy Extort's Avatar
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    Solvang Spring was my first double, and I have great memories from that event. Grand Tour (Highland) was my second double (or should I say double double? ) and it is also a great route.

    Therefore ronsmithjunior's advice is good... too bad the OP lives near SF.
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    Senior Member Oak Park Biker's Avatar
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    Central Coast was my first double century. Before that my longest ride was 65 miles. There are alot of variables but proper hydration and food intake is very important along with a fair amount of determination. I did five doubles this last year and each one had a different set of problems. I think the spring death valley is already sold out. In addition to Central Coast, Mt. Tam and Vacaville are very good. I enjoyed the LA Grand Tour Highland route. From your century record, you should be fine.

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    "To the OP, the Spring Solvang Double, put on by Planet Ultra, is also a good first double. It has a reasonable amount of climbing and a lot of scenery. The support is excellent."


    I hate to be on a ride where you thought the support was poor. IMO every other double I've been on has had MUCH better support.

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    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Riding a double is not so much about 'speed' like you can do on a century.
    Some extra saddle time helps; do a couple centuries and a double metric before thinking you're ready to do a double.
    Much of it is mental; think positive.
    Food/water: drink, drink . . . if you can't 'P' at the rest stop you ain't drinking enough. Do not depend on what will be available at sag/food stops . . . you may not like it; bring some of your favorite stuff in jersey pockets. Eat something every 1/2 hour . . . keeps that fuel tank on 'full!'
    Keep breaks to a minimum; mine were 5 minutes at the max: Get some food, use the john and get back on the bike.
    Only problem I've had on a double was when I peeled off my gloves, the skin came off with it . . . had a couple blisters. The cure for that on the next double was to ride without gloves for about 3 months before the ride to harden up hands. Worked just fine.
    Pace yourself! Don't go hammering out full tilt; work the pace lines if available.
    'Kids' used to ask me "Hey old man, how will you finish" . . . I'd thell them not to worry about me. Usually would pas the 'kids' at the 150 or so mile mark and wave at 'em.
    My goals was to tdo the Desert Double ( 204 miles,Tucson, AZ) in 12 hours even. (was in my 60s then).
    Did it, and finally quit doing doubles.
    Yup, you can do it!

  24. #24
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    We have been riding the California Doubles for a while now and our favorite "easy" double is the Spring Solvang Double. It is an easier and (we think) nicer route than Davis. The first 140 miles of Davis are great (although harder than Solvang), but sharing the narrow shouldered road with the drunk drivers pulling out of the casino is a drag and the long flat miles to the finish at Davis are pretty boring. Davis has a wider variety of food, etc., but when we're riding 200 miles we're a lot more concerned about the route than with the gourmet offerings. Planet Ultra (which runs Solvang and many other CA doubles) provides a good selection of appropriate food and drink, but doesn't try to make the menu a selling point.

    We agree the Mt. Tam is a great double, but with around 15,000 ft. of climbing it definitely qualifies as a hard double and we wouldn't recommend it as a first double except to VERY strong riders. For that matter, the best double we've ever done in terms of route, challenge, food, support and everything else is definitely the Terrible Two --- which we expect rates among the hardest doubles anywhere.

    A couple of other great CA doubles are Eastern Sierra (Planet Ultra), which is only a little harder than Davis, but has one of the greatest and most scenic routes of any double anywhere; and the Bass Lake Powerhouse Double (in the Sierra foothills), which is only a couple of years old, but deserves recognition as one of the best rides around (it's close to Mt. Tam in difficulty, though).

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    I thought that Bass Lake was a great ride. It had about the same amount of climbing as Mt. Tam (actually a few hundred more feet according to the revised numbers), but didn't seem to be as steep. The Powerhouse Grade wasn't so bad - nowhere near as tough as climbing Coleman Valley Rd. In exchange for this, you are almost always either going up or down, unlike Mt Tam, which has some flat sections.

    Knoxville Fall Classic was a good ride, and could be a good beginner ride. The pace is slower than some of the other rides, so you won't feel left behind if you don't zip through the course. The registration limit is pretty low, so the rest stops won't be mobbed. However, it has significantly more climbing than Davis and Solvang.

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