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2009 Double Century Thread (& longer rides)

Old 12-31-08, 09:44 PM
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2009 Double Century Thread (& longer rides)

OK, here's the "official" 2009 Double Century Thread.

When you finish your Double Centuries, post 'em here! And tell us a bit about the ride ... where it was, if it was solo or with a group, how long it took you, stuff like that.

Just for informational purposes, a "Double Century" is 200 miles completed as "all at once" as possible. Reasonable breaks are allowed, of course, but if you do a century on Saturday, and another century on Sunday, that's called a "Back-To-Back" century, not a "Double Century".

If you want to do one a month, like the Century-A-Month challenge, go for it! If you'd rather do just three in July, that's fine too.

Anyone got one lined up for January 1st?

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Old 01-05-09, 03:36 PM
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My last double was Dec. 13th '08 and my first one for '09 isn't until Feb. 21st. Will post here post double. I posted the story of my Dec. 13th double in a separate thread.

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Old 03-05-09, 10:01 AM
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Camino Real Double Century and Poker RunFeb. 21, 2009
Presented by Planet Ultra

Training: Not So Good

The first double century of the year is always fun, as long as the weather cooperates, which it did this year. Not such a long gap since the last one for me, due to the Hemet Staff ride on December 13th so a bit over two months' interval between the two doubles. Had I been riding enough since then? No. Had I been climbing enough? No. What’s worse, the week before the double I’d been in the U.K. on business with exactly zero miles ridden. Not good preparation, but looking on the bright side, at least I’d be well very rested!

The Double Formerly Known As
This Camino Real double was formerly known as The Butterfield Double, plus (according to Tom Parkes), numerous other names in the not so distant past. Regardless, it was to be the same course as 2008, so a very “local” double for me, over many roads I use for training rides, hence very little chance of getting lost and adding “bonus” miles. A few Rebels were riding, including the inevitable and aforementioned Tom Parkes, plus Andrew May, and Frank (don’t know his last name). We also saw David Slaton at the start, and it was good to see him walking without a cane, and making a fine recovery.

Dark and Early, but Not Too Cold

There were two official starting times, 5:30 and 6:45 AM, with the early start time for riders who would need more than 14 hours to finish. Plus, the way the rules read, any rider who started at 5:30 and finished before 7:30 PM would be DQ’d. I didn’t think that was likely for me, with 8,200 feet to climb, so no worries. I spent the night in Irvine, at the host (La Quinta) motel, so I was ready to go a few minutes before the 5:30 start. It was a bit cool at the start (54° F), but once I took off and began generating some body heat it was quite comfortable.

Do Not Hammer Early!

The usual little sub-packs formed and broke apart at different speeds as the ride started, and I fell in with a group of seven or eight riders, but no one I recognized in the glare of the bright bike headlights and hundreds of blinking (or not) tail-lights. It was Sand Canyon to Irvine Center to Harvard to University, i.e. pretty much slightly downhill for the first several miles until the left turn on Jamboree for the first climb of the day. I had given myself my usual admonition to just hide in the pack and not hammer up any of the early climbs . But did I listen? I guess not. Somehow I was off the front on the climb up Jamboree to San Joaquin Hills! I realized my folly and backed off the power on the climb to Newport Coast plus the rollies down Pacific Coast Highway (PCH).

Our Micro Peloton

By the time we’d made the left turn to climb Laguna Canyon, it was overcast but light out, and our little group was down to four. Taking the longest pulls was Keith from Sacramento (50+), then Tina (young and lovely), Jose, about the same age as Tina (Spanish descent, not the least bit Mexican!) and myself. So much for stereotypes! I thought everyone named “Jose” would be Mexican…guess not. Fortunately, the four of us seemed to have about the same comfortable pace, and I kept throttled back on the climb up Aliso Creek and subsequent ups on Crown Valley before the course dumped us back on PCH again.

In First Place (But Not For Long)

There was a guy on a short-wheelbase recumbent who was with us on and off through here, but he didn’t seem particularly willing to join our group, nor particularly friendly. At one point he made a wrong turn ahead of us, and even though we yelled at him, he kept going the wrong way. I guess it’s easy to mistake Alicia for Aliso if you’re not familiar with the road names in Orange County. Regardless, and back on PCH again, I was determined not to miss the turn onto Green Lantern (as Loyal Readers will remember I did last year), and while I warned everyone how steep Cove is, it’s still a surprise if you’ve never descended it before. At the bottom we were met by the ever-cheerful Jon Shellenbarger at our first “Mini” checkpoint, at mile 39. “You’re in first place!” Jon shouted out as Keith and I pulled up. “Not for long!” was my response, since I knew the fast riders (i.e. 6:45 AM starters) would be passing us soon. Still, it was a bit of a surprise (and a wake-up call) to find that we were the first of the 5:30 AM group. “ Going too fast, too soon!” was my note to self. As Jon snapped photos, we filled up our Camelbacks and bottles, ate a few of the Clif Bloks (Cranberry!), and were shortly on our way towards Dana Point.

Rolling into the first Mini Checkpoint (recumbent guy still with us!)


Filling Camelbacks and bottles at the first Mini Checkpoint


Through San Clemente

No worries along the bike path through Dana Point then up through the rolling hills on the marked/dedicated bike route through San Clemente. The route is kind of a pain to follow, scouting out the little green signs at each intersection, so I made a further self-note to take a different route on the way back in the afternoon. Our friend on the recumbent caught up to us along here, and he was a lot more conversational than he’d been earlier. He didn’t seem happy with our pace though, as he’d either follow quite a distance behind, or alternately scoot up ahead by 50 feet or so. Saw lots of early morning surfers as we rode past the Nuclear Power Plant, through the San Onofre campgrounds, eventually arriving at our first real Checkpoint, at mile 55.

Our First Real Checkpoint

There we were met by Paul and Elise Haussler; Paul serving up the “Poker Cards” for the Poker run part of the ride, while Elise helped me get some Sustained Energy and Hammer Gel into my Camelback. Plus we saw Rebel John Long and Chris Hedberg (she may be ADO Gang) working there as well. I hadn’t seen Chris since, when…probably the Heartbreak Century last year? The fast riders passed us just before we got to the Checkpoint, and in fact flew past it until they heard the checkpoint workers yelling at them! It was kind of funny, really. I saw (Super-Fast) Keith Brodsky all dressed up in ’08 Silence-Lotto kit. “Wow, I thought you were Cadel Evans!” I said. “Yeah,” he replied, “I get that a lot.”

The 5 Freeway South
Jacket, glove-liners and balaclava off, bottles filled, stomachs filled (or at least somewhat fueled), we were soon on our way further South, riding along the marked paths, through the tunnel (very dirty, yes, but thankfully not muddy!) out past Las Pulgas to the shoulder of the 5 Freeway. We had a great tail wind through here, so it wasn’t as bad as I’d feared, but still…lots of assorted trash and bits of car/truck tires we had to dodge. 70+ MPH traffic was flying by just a few feet away, so not a relaxing ride. On the other side of the coin, flying along at 23 – 25 MPH was feeling good! After seven miles of freeway shoulder and a mile or so though the town of Oceanside, the route directed us up onto another seven miles of dedicated bike path, or really “MUP” (Multiple Use Path). We had runners and walkers to dodge, plus the occasional stroller w/micro-kid pushed by Mom or Dad, yet overall we kept up a solid 16 – 18 MPH without a lot of effort.

Warm Sunshine, Fast Pace Lines

We had quite the contrast from freeway to MUP, then off the bike path to country roads. Not the best surface in the world on these back-roads, kind of bumpy, really, and a bit of traffic but the temperature had warmed up nicely by now (guessing mid 60s F.), with bright sunlight and it had become a lovely day, really. Eight miles on we were passed by a fast moving pace line, including Dr. Jerry Brown, and probably ten other riders. Too fast for me, but Keith hung on, so I rode alone the final mile or two into the Lunch stop, otherwise known as Checkpoint #2 at mile 88. Lots of friendly faces here including Chuck Wentworth (from the Rebels), Grumpy Pig (Frank) from bikeforums.net, Frank Neil from the CA Triple Crown, Rebel Robert Freed and his tandem stoker Karla (whom I’d met while working the Borrego Ordeal Double), plus probably some others I’ve forgotten (sorry!).

What’s for Lunch?

I picked up the ubiquitous Subway Sandwich from Debbie Bowling (Minister of Planet Ultra Food) herself, and then settled down for a quite relaxing lunch, talking with Keith and whom ever else wandered within earshot. Yes, I know the clock is ticking and this is a timed event, but sometimes it’s really therapeutic to wind down a bit, eat some “real food” (as opposed to Sustained Energy and Hammer Gel, often known as “Funnel Food” since it’s delivered to your Camelback or water bottle through a funnel), drink a Coke, eat some Doritos and engage in some off-the-bike conversation. We even had the audacity to tease Debbie about always serving Subway Sandwiches on Planet Ultra rides. Of course, she had a very well presented defense (she is a lawyer, after all), based on price and availability, plus she was open to considering having “wraps” as an alternative to the sandwich format! I warned Keith that we would have some serious climbing to do right after lunch, so maybe that thought was keeping me at lunch a bit longer than would have been optimum, ride-time wise.

Get on Your Bikes and Ride!

That said, we did eventually get our “Poker Card” for this checkpoint, get back on the bikes and on our way. As promised, it was a short 30 feet down Hwy 395, then a quick left and into an eternity of climbing. Okay, I exaggerate, but it was basically 12 miles of mostly climbing (with the occasional descent for a moment's respite), plus on a full stomach, plus the hottest part of the day with the temps in the low 70s at this point, i.e. about 12:00 PM. Overall though, I felt good. No nagging fatigue, still climbing at reasonable speeds and properly focused, picking out the fast lines on the descents. Keith and I picked up another rider through here, but I never did get his name. Much like the recumbent rider earlier in the day, he would follow behind us without really drafting, then sprint ahead for no apparent reason, then drop back again. Some riders are hard to figure!

And Back Again

After a couple of hours, these roads through and around Fallbrook dropped us (via an excellent, fast and long descent) back onto Hwy 76, which led back to North River Road, and eventually back to the afore-noted bike path/MUP. As much as I like climbing and descending, the flat path felt good and at least it seemed like I was getting some recovery to my legs as Keith and I traded off pulls into a bit of a headwind. Our mystery rider was still with us at this point, not really drafting, but not taking any pulls either. Eventually we made our way to the Benton Road exit from the MUP, to discover the second “Mini Stop” and Our Friend Jon Shellenbarger, once again. No “Poker Card” here, but I filled my Camelback, ate more Clif Bloks and talked a bit with Santiago Cycling rider Doug Patterson. Doug is lots faster than I am, so catching him made me feel lots faster…until he told me he was suffering from stomach flu. It had to be a reality check for me (no Rick, you’re not fast, Doug is sick)!

Rolling into the 2nd Mini Checkpoint . . . other rider is still with us!


Me, being a goof, trying to run into the photographer. Sorry Jon .


North on the 5 Freeway

From the “Mini” Jon directed us back to Hwy 76, and from there, into the town of Oceanside (Main Street?) and eventually the entrance to the Northbound 5 Freeway. Here I had a bit of déjà vu as a very quick pace line went by, Keith jumped on, and I didn’t have the power to follow. Of course, they came by just after I’d taken a long pull (yes, timing is everything), but even failing that, I’m not sure I could have hung on to the draft. That done, I was on my own through Las Pulgas and up to Checkpoint #3 (same as Checkpoint #1 this morning) at San Onofre, and mile 136. This was also the “Light Drop” so I dug down into the plastic bin, eventually finding the paper shopping bag with my name on the outside, and my lights on the inside. Paul gave me my “Poker Card” which gave me two Kings, even though, since I am so not a card-game guy, I had no idea what that meant. Keith had waited for me, and he added that the pace line got to be too fast for him, and it broke up anyway, so I hadn’t lost much by not joining in.

Hardest Climbs Still to Come

Okay, still plenty of light so I didn’t turn my lights on yet, and the temps still felt warm enough to keep the jacket, etc. in my jersey pockets. More Sustained Energy, more Hammer Gel (Espresso this time, I could use the caffeine!), and we were on our way with only 58 miles to go! Hey, we’re almost home! Long about here I asked Keith if he’d looked at the course profile for this double. He hadn’t. “Oh,” I remarked as casually as possible, “ Then you should know that some of the hardest climbing is still to come.” Keith just grinned and gave me a kind of “Bring it On!” look, so yeah, we were good to go! Back weaving through lots of surfers up to San Clemente, then over to the “back way” off of PCH, but not on the bike route we’d followed this morning. It was the same distance, just lots fewer stop signs and traffic lights. Once we hooked up to PCH in “downtown” San Clemente it was a nice descent onto the Dana Point flats, then up the hill to Camino Capistrano, San Juan Creek to La Novia, right on Ortega Highway (scary fast traffic, no bike lane), and finally onto the ten mile climb up Antonio Parkway.

Uphill All the Way

True, there are a couple of half-decent descents on the climb up Antonio, but once past Oso, it’s pretty much uphill all the way to Santa Margarita. I must have been feeling the effects of the caffeine at this point, since I led everyone (including Doug) up the first half of the climb. Doug eventually caught me, and then when we got stopped by the long light at Oso, the rest of our micro-bunch caught up. I was able to hold a really good pace all the way up the rest of the Antonio climb, then it was a quick turn onto Santa Margarita before the left onto Trabuco Canyon, down the switchbacks, and a stop at Checkpoint #4 at the General Store in Trabuco at mile 168.

The Final Checkpoint

When I pulled into the Checkpoint, I looked around for Keith, and didn’t see him anywhere. He told me later than he’d had to pull off on the final mile of Antonio to massage his legs awhile. I didn’t know any of the Checkpoint workers at #4, but one of them gave me my “Poker Card” as I dug into a Cup-O-Noodles and drank some hot chocolate. Before long, Keith pulled in, and introduced me to his wife, Ann, who was one of the Checkpoint workers. Tina and Jose rolled in; I gave them a little preview of the course from here in, noting that the climb up Live Oak (pretty much right out of the Checkpoint) could be fairly brutal with so many miles on our legs. Not sure how long we stayed at Checkpoint #4 exactly, but I’m guessing at least half an hour. Keith and I were both aware that we needed to finish after 14 hours, and since it was about 5:30 PM when we left, we thought we might have to hang out somewhere for a while before we rolled into the finish. So a little extra time spent here didn’t bother us at all.

Lights On, All Clothes On

Before getting back on the bike I put on all the clothes I’d stuffed into my jersey pockets previously, then turned on my lights and got mentally prepared for the Final Assault. Keith and I rode up Trabuco to the Live Oak climb, taking it fairly easy, saving a bit for the Really Steep bit at the top. Maybe it’s because it’s in the dark, but it always seems to take a long time to reach the Live Oak summit on this double. That done (ref: much pain and suffering), we had the long, fast descent into Cook’s Corner, then a right turn and that long, but not too steep, climb up the first part of Santiago Canyon. I warned Keith about the false summit, but after that, it was a pretty easy descent with only three small climbs all the way (well, 12 miles) to the left on Jamboree. As we rolled down the Jamboree descent, I checked my watch. Exactly 7:30 PM, so no worries about finishing too soon.

Three Kings?

The last part was rather anti-climactic with a left turn on to Portola followed by a right on to Sand Canyon, down the slight incline, under the 5 Freeway, and a left turn onto Burt Road followed by a right in to the La Quinta lot. Keith and I checked in, and Debbie gave us the same time: 14 Hours, 27 Minutes. You might think the fun was over, but we each had one more “Poker Card” to draw. Keith ended up with a pair of something (don’t remember what), winning a bottle of Hammer Gel. I pulled yet another King for a three-of-a-kind, which won me a free entry to any single-day Planet Ultra event (translation: will save $85 of my money when I enter the Eastern Sierra Double.) So that was a nice surprise, and a pleasant way to end the day.

So Overall . . .

So, overall, it was lovely day weather wise. You really couldn’t have asked for much better. I didn’t know Keith before the ride, but we had about the same pace, so it was great having someone friendly and intelligent to ride with all day. The Checkpoint workers were all great, the food was quite adequate (gotta love Subway!), the course was excellent, and the route sheet was spot on. Plus, as worried as I was about my inadequate training for the event, I really felt pretty good all day. Guess all that rest really helped! I should add, however (and my wife Jackie will verify, should you doubt), that I was virtually worthless all day Sunday! Thanks to Debbie and Brian of Planet Ultra, thanks to all the volunteers and thanks to Jon Shellenbarger for his work at the Mini-Stops and the photos you see here.

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Old 03-05-09, 11:41 AM
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I just did my first double this weekend in Death Valley. It was a solid ride with very little discomfort and a quick recovery. I did have two flats but that was my fault for starting with a tire I should have replaced before the ride. 9000 feet of climbing with the bulk of it in miles 50 through 100. My new eDelux was great. Highlight of the night was surprising a coyote while cresting a rise just beforethe finish.

Looking forward to Davis, Mt Tam and the Fall Death Valley Double later this year.

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Old 03-05-09, 01:02 PM
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nice report rick, i like the photos.

i haven't done a double yet this year, just a few centuries and a 200k. but on the 21st our first official 200k is happening, and i'll be adding close to 100k in commuting to the ride on top of that. so i might sprinkle on a few more kms and end up with a double, we'll see.
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Old 03-05-09, 02:54 PM
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The 21st will bring a 300km permannent for myself. With the commuting to and from the start I am sure I can make it a double century.
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Old 03-05-09, 03:31 PM
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My next double is Solvang on March 28th, then Hemet on April 18th. Both are too far away from home to commute to, but congratulations to the spin guru and mattm for riding to the ride start and home from the finish!

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Old 04-05-09, 11:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Rick@OCRR View Post
congratulations to the spin guru and mattm for riding to the ride start and home from the finish!
thanks rick!! lately i've been getting rides home after the ride, i'm just too tired to keep going. kind of like an unofficial DNF, but oh well, the ride to the ride is a good warmup!

i did a 300km brevet yesterday, and rode about 40km to the start, to make it a double overall. also got lost for 8k or so... 224 miles for the day, my first double of '09. but certainly not the last. here's the route we did.

13:05 overall time for the 300k, my best 300k so far!

Entire workout (150 watts):
Duration: 11:53:35 (17:00:05)
Work: 6473 kJ
TSS: 490.9 (intensity factor 0.652)
Norm Power: 186
VI: 1.19
Pw:HR: 5.09%
Pa:HR: -5.65%
Distance: 361.366 km
Elevation Gain: 5018 m
Elevation Loss: 5124 m
Grade: -0.0 % (-106 m)
Min Max Avg
Power: 0 837 156 watts
Heart Rate: 85 175 133 bpm
Cadence: 15 131 75 rpm
Speed: 0 71.8 27.4 kph
Crank Torque: 0 192.7 19.5 N-m


i rode 40k to the ride, and just barely made the ferry! somehow i have a knack for doing that..

at the beginnning of the ride i was telling BF'er cliftongk1 about how i'm going to "pace this time," and not try to go fast at first. easier said than done, i guess.

so what happens as all 60+ of us rolled out? well of course chris ragsdale and brian O. shot off the front, heading for an eventual finish time of 10:30 or something like that. (they finished first, as usual)

i ended up in between packs, and started (stupidly, this was in the first hour of the brevet) chasing down a group of 8 ahead of me. finally caught them after 10 minutes of working too hard, held on to their nicely-organized paceline/group for a few hours until i had to peel off and take it at my own pace.

i think the nuun electrolyte tablets i used, combined with ensure and some classic american junk food, made it so that i didn't lose energy towards the end of the ride. i even had energy at the end, for once!

although i did have to call my GF for a ride home, i didn't end up riding back out of weakness. maybe next time...

my sit bones are a tad sore today, but the muscles feel fine! i might do an easy spin today just for good measure.

clifton, how did the ride go for you? tommy?
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Old 04-06-09, 12:18 AM
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Hey Matt, congrats on a great ride! I was in the group of eight that you were with for a while. We were wondering where you went. Man, what a perfect day for a ride, huh? I drove to the start, so I can't count it as a double. I think my computer was showing about 195.8 miles at the end. I suppose I should have done a lap around green lake after I got home just to put it over the 200 mark, but a hot plate of food and a cold beer seemed like a higher priority at the time.
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Old 04-06-09, 09:55 AM
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hi steve, thanks for tugging me around for so many hours! was a great ride.

who knows if your cyclo-computer is accurate.. could be 4.2 miles off, and maybe you did do a double? close enough anyway. =]

did you guys all finish together?
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Old 04-06-09, 11:59 AM
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Originally Posted by mattm View Post
hi steve, thanks for tugging me around for so many hours! was a great ride.

who knows if your cyclo-computer is accurate.. could be 4.2 miles off, and maybe you did do a double? close enough anyway. =]

did you guys all finish together?
Six of us were together for the whole ride (Bob, Mark, Matt, Wayne, Dan and me) and we finished together. We had a couple others join us somewhere around B'ham and they stayed with us to the end. It was a fantastic group and I felt privileged to be a part of it. We rode the stretch down Hwy 9 from Deming to Sedro Wooley (love that name) in a double pace line, just like we owned the damn road! Some of the locals that passed us weren't too impressed...
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Old 04-07-09, 09:20 AM
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I did the Solvang Spring Double on 3/28, Rick@OCRR was out there somewhere. I ended up with 193.6 miles for the course with 7,598’ of climbing. My ride time was 11:44 and overall time of 13:00. I met up with some friends from NorCal and spent a little too much time in the rest stops. When I was finished my bottom bracket was toast, maybe that’s why Drum Canyon seemed a little steeper.
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Old 04-07-09, 10:19 AM
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Originally Posted by mattm View Post
clifton, how did the ride go for you?
Really well! I finished in 17h 03m and wasn't totally demolished like I was after my only other recent ride at this distance (STP last year.) Putting that taller rise/shorter reach stem on last week has totally fixed my position on the bike so my hands, shoulders and neck were fine. Even better, my butt wasn't hurting like it was after the 200k. I think I was rolled a bit too far forward previously and it would put me off the bike for a couple days after a long ride. I rode into work on Monday and even took an easy spin to the grocery on Sunday afternoon and felt fine.

I have no idea what the total mileage was for me because I kept resetting my computer at each turn once I got into Everett, so I wouldn't miss any streets. This was the first event I managed not to get any bonus kilometers, so I could just call it the official event distance of 308.2km.

I'm still blown away thinking about the lead group's finish time of 6h 30m faster than me. Holy cow!
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Solvang Spring Double Century
Presented by Planet Ultra
Saturday March 28th, 2009

Too Good?

The Solvang Double Century was just entirely too perfect, and fortunately not too exciting. Is that a good thing? Well, yes when you're out there riding, beautiful weather is a great thing and very much appreciated. When you sit down to write about it . . . not so good. One thing writers learn fairly early, is that any good story involves conflict. In the case of double centuries it's usually conflict between the riders and the weather, the riders and the road conditions, sometimes the riders and the locals. Then there are doubles where the route sheet seems to have it in for you!

New Start Location

Not this time, though. If I'm counting right, this was my fifth Solvang Spring Double, with my first having been back in 2004 and missing 2007, so the route sheet is almost superfluous. For a rider like me who gets lost easily, that’s saying something! The start location was changed, and was actually up the road (3 miles!) from Solvang in the even sleepier town of Buellton (famous for the movie “Sideways,” Pea Soup Anderson’s Restaurant, and not much else).

Ride Registration

I had my pre-ride dinner on Friday evening with O.C. Rebels Linda Adams and Keith Christensen, both experienced double riders, plus at registration I’d seen Rebels David Slaton, Ulmont Smith and Robert Freed. Always a fun / friendly time at registration since everyone is excited by the prospect of the ride to come, but yet not too hyped-up because it’s still pretty far from launch time. Tome (from Norway) was there with her kids (she is much too fast for me to ride with!), plus Dante (of bikeforums.net 50+) and probably another dozen or so too numerous to mention (or remember!).

5:00 AM Start Time

After a night of fairly decent sleep, which was in spite of the constant cars-on-the-highway noise from just outside my Motel 6 room, the wake-up call had me up at 4:00 AM, with plenty of time for breakfast (bananas, yogurt and Pop-Tarts), getting dressed and pumping up the tires on the bike. It was a cold start, so “dressed” included a wool base layer, shorts, jersey, light jacket, knee warmers, wool balaclava, skull cap and long-fingered glove liners under my short-finger gloves. Temp at the start was mid-40’s, with many riders opting for the 5:00 AM start, given that it would mean about an hour and a half before first light. Fortunately I was able to locate my frequent doubles-riding partner Terri Boykins at the start, get our numbers marked (to verify our start time, should the officials decide to check later) and we were on the way just moments after 5:00 AM.

Early Darkness

Probably 50 or more riders had elected to start at the earliest time, so it was a long line of flashing taillights visible up the road as we headed off toward Solvang. Some conversation among the cyclists at this early hour, yet Terri and I most listened. Once past the easily miss-able left turn onto Happy Canyon (mid-way through a fast downhill right-hand sweeper), the riders were more spread out, with the occasional later-starting rider flying past us. Daylight crept up on us as we started the climb up Foxen Canyon. We saw Linda Adams along here just before Terri and I stopped for a potty break, plus Lisa with whom I’d ridden the Eastern Sierra Double a couple years ago. Never know whom you might see on these rides!

Trees and Wineries

Foxen Canyon was our first major climb of the day, and it’s mostly an easy 3 to 4% with two “bumps” that ramp up to 6 and 7% respectively. Still very cool, if not quite cold, still in the shadows of the surrounding hillsides, past the Fess Parker Winery (wasn’t he Davey Crockett on TV? Maybe Daniel Boone?) and nothing but bicycles on Foxen Canyon Road at this still early hour. This is the area where several pro teams come for pre-season training, and in fact I have a photo of the Discovery Team riding up Foxen Canyon, though probably at more than twice our speed! Eventually we got to the backside of The Wall (which we climb from the opposite direction on the Solvang Century), which is a pretty decent climb too, then a rollicking (if somewhat frozen) blast down the The Wall, a quick right turn after Firestone Brewery (on our left), to the “other” Foxen climb.

Checkpoint #1 at Sisquoc
This one is much twistier with worse pavement, yet still rather scenic, especially so with the sun just starting to light up the tops of the trees. Something about feeling the sunlight warms me up, even though it’s still rather chilly out. Add to this an essentially 15 mile descent off that last climb, and it’s a fairly easy ride, trading off pulls with a rider wearing a Grizzly Bear Century jersey, and rolling into the first checkpoint in the nearly microscopic village of Sisquoc at mile 41.5. There to greet us were Rebels Julie and Colin Stokes, plus Saralie Liner along with assorted other helpful volunteers I didn’t know! Time to re-fill bottles, have Sustained Energy funneled into the Camelback, and grab a Cliff bar to eat as we peddled off onto the next relatively flat stretch of road.

Terri in the Morning


California Countryside


Lovely Morning for a Bike Ride

Out in very rural California now, rolling past miles after endless miles of irrigated farmlands, the occasional farm house, and being genuinely sun-warmed now (about 7:30 AM) but not to the point of taking off any clothes. The surface is bumpy along here, with clots of mud and broken concrete causing most of the undulations, while the landscape remains flat with mountains and hills in the background. Very nice riding, in fact, and still no conflict! Ten miles in, a right turn takes us though a small town, and then some climbing begins. My legs want a climb by this time, plus it feels good to get out of the saddle for a bit. Air temp was up to the mid-50’s F. by this time, much more comfortable, with a cluster of variable pitch climbs, then a left turn onto a fairly busy (relatively speaking) state highway, followed by a two miles descent (following a rider on a fixed gear through here), then back onto some climbs and through the outskirts of Nipomo.





Infinite Rollers

After Nipomo we entered the stage I refer to as Infinite Rollers (see photo above). Of course they’re not really infinite, but the first time I rode this double, they certainly seemed that way. I took a photograph along here, but it really doesn’t do the rollers justice. Plus, it’s actually only eight miles . . . Lots of CA poppies along the roadside (see photo below) here, literally by the thousands. Terri and I were (of course) up and down through here, finally hooking onto a tandem-driven pace line, only to be (ultimately) flung off the back when we were unable to match the tandem’s speed on the descents. Eventually, at long last and by and by we did roll into the 2nd checkpoint, in a lovely roadside park on the outskirts of San Luis Obispo at mile 86.7. There we saw Our Friends Nina Bartoli (her daughter Renee and husband Clem were riding the double), Rebel John Long, Chris Hedberg, etc. See photos (I finally remembered I had my camera in my jersey pocket!) for details.

Checkpoint #2 San Luis Obispo

By this time we were ready to shed clothes, (a bit past time, but we didn’t want to stop), with the temperatures by now in the low 60’sF. Of course we had the usual checkpoint rituals, use the restroom, fill the Camelback, etc. I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich here, another Cliff bar and a few (lost count!) Fig Newtons. Terri must have been up to pretty much the same, and while I kind of lost track of her in the checkpoint area, we were both ready to ride at exactly the same time. Funny how that works! Departure from Checkpoint 2 leads directly onto a climb (quite visible from the Checkpoint), which leads the cyclist into the town of San Luis Obispo, with multiple right then left, then right turns mostly on residential streets, eventually leading to CA Highway 1.

Checkpont 2 San Luis Obispo photos:






Time for Headwind!

Here we were riding right alongside fast traffic (65 – 75 mph), on what was really, a very nice wide shoulder, so, no worries. Not exactly pleasant, but not as bad as riding in the shoulder of the 5 freeway on Camino Real Double, for example. We did have a bit of a headwind through here, which first of all is fairly predictable, second, was not nearly as bad as it has been in the past, and finally, we knew it was only about thirteen miles to the turn around in Morro Bay, at which time this would become a wonderful tail wind! There are a couple of long, though not horribly steep climbs in this section, and I got a good distance ahead of Terri. She says she has trouble in the 2nd third of a double (yes, she divides double into 3 parts), so was not at her best through here.

Mark Numbers and The Rock at Morro Bay


STOP, Get Your Number Marked

After exiting the freeway, it was a minor truddle through Morro Bay, to (nearly) the infamous Rock for which Morro Bay is famous. The Checkpoint was actually on a hill above The Rock, so I got a photo of the checkpoint as I rolled in behind some other riders, with The Rock posing majestically in the background. Also, they had ’57 Ford station wagon they used for the SAG vehicle! Is that classic or what! I got off my bike for a few minutes here and talked with the workers, until Terri showed up a short time later. The workers there marked our numbers (again, to verify that we’d been there in case anyone cared when we finished), and we noted per our route sheet that we’d passed the half-way point, and were now at mile 104.1. Not only that, but we were also being powered by the aforenoted tail wind, as we made our way through the Embarcadero, up a rather steep climb, and before long through a lovely park on the edge of town.

What’s That Buzzing Noise?

That’s the good news. The bad news is that as this park goes along, the pavement goes from bad to worse, to horrible to “I wouldn’t really call this pavement.” Thankfully, this only lasted about three miles (felt like six!). Just when I was remembering last years ride at this point, and the Scooter Gang that had come from the opposite direction, I began to hear the drone of motorized buzzing in the distance. I have no idea what this event is, or how often it happens, but here came hundreds of scooters. My generic term is “Vespa” but there were many different marques, most of which I’d never heard of (not being a scooter guy), in an amazing variety of colors and liveries. They all seemed to sound about the same though. Probably the Real Scooter Guys (and Gals) can tell the difference in the pitch and tone! Still, a little something out of the ordinary so the scooters had some entertainment value too. After the scooter “peloton” had gone, we did see several scooter “groupettos” that had apparently been dropped, and finally one lonely scooter abandoned along the roadside. Very sad, that!

What’s for Lunch?

That said, we had a lovely tail wind all the way to lunch, riding the (mostly) good shoulder of Los Osos Valley Road up some very easy climbs, then mostly flat and straight all the way into lunch at Laguna Lake Golf Course in San Luis Obispo. As Loyal Readers have come to expect from a Planet Ultra ride, we had the Exceptionally Predictable Subway Sandwiches for lunch; your choice of Turkey-Ham (that’s one choice, not two), or Veggie. I took the Turkey-Ham, figuring I could use the protein, while Terri went with Peanut butter and jelly, forsaking Subway completely. It was nice to sit in a chair for awhile, even if it was one of those molded plastic sorts, at least it was a temporary change from the Sella Italia! A Subway sandwich, bag of Doritos and a Pepsi later, we were ready to ride again, having spent probably a bit over half an hour at the lunch stop, thoughtfully located at mile 118.5. I didn’t know any of the volunteers at Lunch, with the exception of the Always Friendly Frank “Garfield” Neil, otherwise known as the CA Triple Crown Data Guy. Great job on the website Frank! If you would like to view Frank’s fine work for double century riders in California, please go to: www.caltriplecrown.com

Who Was Le Roy?

After lunch the roads are a varied lot, with some climbs, though nothing horribly serious. Eventually we turned toward the ocean, riding through Pismo Beach, and then through the small town of Oceana. A bit of traffic in this bit, with lots of annoying stop signs (yes, we stopped), before heading back to the rural (read “agricultural”) plains and struggling up the climb on Hwy 1. Following the big climb, there are several smaller ones, yet overall a nice twisty road, lovely shade trees, and nothing too severe. There were also lots of riders in this section, as this is about the point in the double where the fast riders (who started later) catch and pass those of us that are somewhat slower, but started earlier. It was about 2:30 PM by this point, with the temps in the low 70’sF, so quite comfortable with the continuing tail wind. After the twisties end, the road drops down quite abruptly, back to the agricultural plains, and heads pretty much straight-even all the way to the town of Guadalupe, a mostly Hispanic community, and our checkpoint # 4 in beautiful Le Roy Park at mile 147.3. Yes, I know “Le Roy” doesn’t sound Hispanic, and no I don’t know how the park got its name!

Refill and Refuel

Guadalupe is also the “Light Drop” where your better head and tail-lights can be transported so you don’t have to carry them along with you all day. For me this was a bit early, yet strap them on I did since you never know what could happen. At Guadalupe we saw Julie and Colin once again, plus Saralie and Jim Henderson, who Loyal Readers may remember from my Hemet Staff Ride report. I put more Sustained Energy and Hammer Gel in my Camelback, and plain water in my bottle since that’s often a nice change from the “Funnel Food.” It seems like we spent about half an hour here, yet eventually we were back on the bikes and headed towards the 2nd to last checkpoint in Los Alamos. Rolling out of Guadalupe we rode with a gentleman (and double century rider) who filled us in on the history of Guadalupe, and extolled the virtues of the more recent improvements there. Unfortunately, I don’t remember any of them, but I do recall that he was quite expressive at the time. Terri noted, however, that he did miss the next turn, so possibly his mind was still on the History of Guadalupe. I should have asked him about Le Roy!

Guadalupe to Los Alamos

A quick left turn at the end of the town of Guadalupe (across from the cemetery, in fact) put us on the very flat and otherwise boring Hwy 166, which was quickly absolved of such visual dreariness by the absolutely astounding tail wind that propelled us along at 20+ mph without much effort at all!
This lasted for a glorious five miles, before a right turn onto Black Road turned it into a buffeting side wind. A few miles later, a left turn onto Hwy 1 restored our tail wind, and all was right with the world once again. Cyclists may be a funny lot, but at least we are easily amused by a tail wind! Yes, there was one big hill to climb, rather long actually, but after that had curved and turned us into a side wind (followed by a long smooth descent), a long sweeping left curve of the roadway returned our tail wind and propelled us all the way into Los Alamos. Over on the negative side of the coin, the road surface was continuously rough (fairly new chip-seal), and almost absolutely flat, so a bit on the boring and rattle-along side, so becoming rather tedious (in spite of the tail wind) before finally rolling into Los Alamos, and Checkpoint # 5 at mile 176.8.

Almost Finished Then?

So, almost finished, you might think, but no, the worst climb of the day was yet to come. Before facing The Dreaded Drum Canyon, however, we had a fine visit with John Long and Chris Hedberg, plus forumite Lee Scott (you know him as scvroadie) doing a fine job working the Checkpoint, plus we enjoyed several conversations with other riders (Drum Canyon Newbees) we hadn’t met previously, but who were desperately seeking information relating to: How Bad is Drum, Anyway? We assured them that it was fairly long, steep, with lots of switch-backs and really terrible pavement, but overall, not too bad. Oh, and did we mention the cattle guards? Yeah, two cattle guards too, one at the very summit. Oh, yes, you’ll like it! And if you think the climb is bad, the descent is even worse. “Yeah, how can that be?” Well, remember that bit about the bad pavement? Lots of chuckholes, broken pavement, plus bumps that are really “filled” chuckholes, all that? On the descent, at any speed, they’ll just about rattle your fillings out! Your hands get tired from gripping the brake levers so tight, not to mention the drumming your butt takes from the saddle . . . yes, I tell you, the descent is worse than the climb!

You Can’t Be Serious!

Not sure anyone believed us, as they kind of stood there silently shaking their heads, but as noted above, cyclists are easily amused! It didn’t matter, really, as they’d find out for themselves soon enough. As would we. I’ve probably ridden Drum seven or eight times, and really, it’s not too bad. I led up most of the climb, but Terri passed me near the top and led over the summit (cattle guard = thump, thump, thump, thump, thump). A rider on a fixed gear passed us (different one from this morning), as we were about half way up. Slow cadence on the fixed gear for sure, but he was moving along well! Once over the top, Terri’s good sense had her slowing down a bit, whereas my lack thereof kept me moving (bouncing, really) down the descent at a somewhat higher rate. Oh, the abuse! And I was using my brakes, quite a lot I thought. It’s ten miles total, for the ascent and the descent of Drum Canyon, then (given that you’ve survived that), a left turn onto Hwy 246, which (after one not-real-serious climb on excellent pavement) leads directly into Buellton, and the finish. As we rolled into Buellton a few miles later, it was a quick left onto Avenue of The Flags, then a right onto Damassa Road, and a quick right into the parking lot of the Marriott, where we had started this little ride 13 Hours and 45 minutes previous. Total mileage was “only” 192.7, so not quite a double, but close enough for us (and the CA Triple Crown). Debbie Bowling checked us in without checking the marks on our numbers, but whatever, . . . as long as she signs us in.



After the Finish

So in the big picture, a relatively easy double (I know, Chuck Bramwell says there’s no such thing as an easy double), 7,500 feet of climbing, no mechanicals, good weather, and no hassles, no problems, no “conflict.” At the finish we learned that “All Day Ordeal Gang” member Clem Bartoli had crashed at some point, broken his collar bone, and his daughter Renee had dropped out of the double to take care of him. We didn’t see a lot of folks we knew at the finish, but a kind stranger (waiting for her husband to finish) took a photo for us (see above). Then it was back to Motel 6 (maybe a ¼ mile away) for a well deserved post-double shower and a good night’s sleep. Thanks to Debbie and Brian of Planet Ultra, and all the wonderful volunteers for another excellent event!

Rick / OCRR
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Old 05-28-09, 08:36 AM
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The Davis Double Century May 16, 2009
Presented by the Davis Bike Club

Thanks to the Davis Club!
Davis is the 2nd oldest Double Century in California (after the Grand Tour in Malibu) and this year was the 40th edition, so you’d think the Davis Club would know how to put on a double century, and you’d be right. The Davis Club did a more than excellent job from any angle, and on several levels at once. Well, except for the weather, they couldn’t control the weather. However, they did do everything possible to help the riders adapt to the rather severe searing the sun was dishing out. So yes, the Davis Club is to be congratulated!

My Davis History
As if that weren’t enough to endear the Davis Double (well, at least to me), this was the first CA double that I had entered, way back in ’03 on the advice from my lovely wife, Jackie. I had given up doubles after Paris-Brest-Paris in ’91, but Jackie thought I should at least try a CA double, just to see if I’d like it. Of course it comes as no surprise to Loyal Rebels that Tom Parkes had also been harassing me to ride a CA double back then, so for a number of reasons, Davis was it . . . my first double in CA.

Cobb Warnings
I’d been away from the Davis Double for three years, however, since the Davis Double happens to fall on the same weekend as the Lake Pepin 3-Speed Tour; a Very Different Event (in WI and MN) that Loyal Readers may also remember. In ’09 Jackie and I decided we’d take a break from traveling to WI and MN and return to the somewhat shorter journey to Davis, CA. One change that I heard they’d made in my absence was the addition of the (Greatly Feared) Cobb Mountain Climb; having to replace the somewhat more gentle (but now officially closed) Big Canyon Road. Jackie (and others) had warned me that Cobb was not to be trifled with, so there was that to consider too.

Rebels on the Ride
The drive up was seven hours (with a stop for lunch) from Whittier to Davis, arriving just before Registration was due to open. We talked with Rebels Colin and Julie Stokes in the lobby whilst waiting for Registration to really open, but oddly enough didn’t see anyone else we knew. The only other Rebel we saw was John Long who would be riding with Teresa, his new tandem stoker. Jackie and I met John and Teresa at the Motel after Registration, which was a good thing, really, since they were not to be seen (by me) during the ride. I didn’t see Colin and Julie on the ride either, for that matter, but later learned that they had started and finished about 20 minutes after me. Timing may not be everything, but it is something! John and Teresa didn’t finish, due to numerous flat tires on their tandem.

On My Way, Then
All that said, I was planning for a 5:00 AM start yet found myself ready to ride about half an hour earlier. Jackie had given me a ride to the Start (she would be going on 70 mi. ride later), and since I was ready to go, and didn’t fancy standing around the Start for No Apparent Reason, I hit the road on or about 4:30 AM in pretty much absolute darkness. There are few tricky turns at the start, through the actual city of Davis, so I followed a fast moving mini-peloton of riders who certainly seemed to know where they were going! There was certainly no shortage of early starters, with a long line of blinking tail-lights in the distance offering some assurance that I was, in fact, still on course. Sure, they could be lost too, but what are the chances? Ah, well, pretty good really, but in this case the riders were pointed in the correct direction, and we found our way out to the rural areas, by which time Davis Club volunteers were stationed at each turn, accompanied by a large flashing yellow lights on (Cal-Trans approved!) folding stands.

Darkness to Light
Making our way out into the countryside now, mini-pelotons would form and break up, as we passed (or were passed by) single riders, riders in pairs, and the occasional macro-peloton with a couple dozen riders. The Davis Double is a Big Event, by double century standards; with just under 800 riders entered in this years ride. The good news is that most are very experienced and accomplished riders, so it’s rare to see the novice mistake or really dangerous bike handling issues. Dawn arrived a bit earlier than it does in SoCal, and riding over the relatively flat farmland, as we were, the first hint of sunlight was a long time transitioning into adequate light to ride by. A lovely time to ride, actually, since motor traffic was almost zero, and the occasional vehicle we did see was most often a Davis Bike Club SAG van. Plus, it was still cool in the early morning, with temps in the low 60’s, so great riding weather this early on.

The Davis Double Route
The easy way to explain the Davis Double route is: 40 miles of flat roads, 120 miles of climbs and descents, then 40 more miles of flat roads into the finish. A bit over-simplified, but mostly right with the climbing “Middle-Loaded” as opposed to “Front-Loaded” as on the Eastern Sierra double, or “Back-Loaded” as on the Bass Lake Double. For this reason, Davis has often been recommended as a good First Double. With the addition of Cobb Mountain, this recommendation has been rescinded somewhat, but still, with this layout; if you can make it to mile 160, you can certainly make it to the finish. Not that The Finish was on anyone’s mind at this point, and it was a happy group of riders I found as I rolled into the first Checkpoint, Farnham Ranch, at Mile 23.1. Some riders (see the report from Curtis) had been keeping up a mighty pace to the first Checkpoint, but most (myself included) had been riding at a more sedate pace, saving energy and enthusiasm for the climbs to come.

Nothing to Eat but Food
This is also where I first discovered that there would be no “Sustained Energy” or similar liquid food available on this double (as there is on most), so I had to adjust to eating what is colloquially knows as Real Food. Not that this is a bad thing, other than the fact that it’s more time consuming than dumping “Funnel Food” into a Camelback, and a bit more difficult to take along on the bike. No real worries, though, just a slight modification to my ride plan! Nor was I getting hungry by this time, but I knew that if I waited until I felt hungry it would be far too late, having learned a thing or two after riding a couple dozen CA doubles. At this first Checkpoint, I saw Ron (spingineer from bikeforums.net), and he introduced me to Pete (taxi777 on bikeforums.net), plus mentioned that Curtis (cccorlew from bikeforums.net) had just left the first Checkpoint a few minutes earlier. I ate a PB&J plus a few Oreos, and then grabbed a few Fig Newtons to munch as I rolled back onto the road after a ten-minute stop.

Touring the California Farmlands
As I returned to the ride the roads were oddly vacant, with maybe one rider visible way ahead and no one coming up from behind. This lasted for maybe half an hour before I hooked up with another rider, trading pulls through the seemingly endless miles of California farmland. Eventually a good sized pace line came by and we both jumped on, riding a fairly effortless pace until the road tilted up for the first climb of the day, about a mile up to the dam at 6 and 7%. Everyone seemed to be quite pleased to be able to climb, particularly after 40 miles of flat and somewhat boring roads. There was some scenery to entertain our eyes, the lovely lake in the morning mist, the mountainsides and lots of trees! Now we were definitely into the climbing and descending miles of the Double and the next challenge on the chart was the climb affectionately known as “Cardiac.”

The Climb Called Cardiac
I started the climb with one other rider, who almost immediately stood up and sprinted past me. “No worries,” I thought, “If you want to hammer up Cardiac, you go guy!” But when he was about 40 feet ahead of me, he sat down and slowed down. I kept my same steady pace/cadence and before long I’d passed him. “Okay,” I thought, “That guy burned out quick!” But no, he wasn’t burned out, just taking a break I guess, because a minute or two later he came blasting past again, standing up, sprinting his way up the climb. “Well, whatever,” I laughed to myself. You just never know what some riders are up to. As before, I slowly climbed past him, wondering if the scenario was due to repeat. And yes, it did, twice more, in fact. I found it amusing, so the next time I passed him I smiled and said, “You know, I can see a pattern developing here!” He didn’t say anything for a while, just gave me a look that seemed to say, “What are you, a smart-ass?” Finally, he remarked “Oh well, we’re at the top now.” Which was, in fact, the case, and while I wanted to thank him for making the climb a bit more entertaining, I was afraid he might take it the wrong way!

Checkpoint #2, at Mile 45.5
Cardiac led to a wonderful descent, which I thought I was taking competently quickly, until I was passed by a huge peloton (led by a tandem), going at least 10 mph faster than I was! I had my top gear (53t x 12t) all topped out, and I was tucking on the steep bits, but still . . . these riders just flew past me! That’s what I get for thinking I was moving along rather well. Good reality-check, actually! Regardless, I was passing some riders through the next series of climbs and descents, and feeling good about my progress and the fact that I wasn’t really hurting anywhere quite yet. Eventually and by and by I rolled into the 2nd Checkpoint, at mile 45.5, only to be met with more Real Food. Okay, I was getting used to it now, and gave myself a little talk about how the extra time spent actually eating things didn’t matter, this is not a race, after all, etc. So . . . more PB&J, some kind of Quaker energy bar, the requisite Oreos and Fig Newtons (yes, from the “cookie” food group!), some orange slices, half a banana, fill the Camelback with Gatorade; okay that’s enough fuel, now back on the bike!

Checkpoint #3, at Mile 76
The next stage involved several climbs, but nothing brutal or extended. The day was heating right up by this time (approx. 10:30 AM), and I’d taken my jacket off at the prev. Checkpoint, so now I was down to just the basics with nothing more to remove if the day were to get hotter still. We were well out into rural California farming country now, rolling past what looked like rather small family farms, but overall very nice scenery, without anything truly dramatic. Checkpoint #3 was one I recognized from prev. David Doubles, this one featuring a crew that was loud and enthusiastic, i.e. very encouraging to the riders, and that’s always a bit of a boost. After filling my bottles and Camelback I spread sun block over my exposed surfaces (sun block donated by a friendly recumbent rider from Corvallis, OR). More Real Food here, but not much variety, i.e. pretty much the same as at the prev. two stops. Still, food is fuel, so I took on another couple of PB&J’s, more assorted fruit and the (essential) cookies!

Middletown High School, Checkpoint #4, Mile 95.4
By the time I left this checkpoint, I was beginning to really feel the heat. It was probably in the low to mid 90’s by now, but with lots of shade from the trees along the road, and as long as I was moving along fairly quickly, it really wasn’t too bad. The riders were more spread out by now, but still, on a ride this big there were usually a few in view both ahead and behind. Plus, in the natural order of riders on double centuries, the faster riders were generally ahead by now, as the slower riders fell further off the back, such that those of us in this area were traveling at pretty similar speeds. There was no one to talk with through here, but I found a huge crowd at the next Checkpoint, at the Middletown School, long about mile 83. The staff at this checkpoint was enthusiastic to the point of being boisterous, which at this point was a really good thing! One fine gentleman was making Mocha Frappacinos with his ice and blender moving through multiple Mochas while I was there. I found myself craving salt, so in addition to a couple of E-Caps (Hammer’s electrolyte capsules) I filled up on pretzels and heavily salted baby potatoes. I packed my Camelback and bottles with ice at this checkpoint, before filling in the bits between the ice cubes with even more Gatorade.

Cobb Mountain Challenge
The next challenge on the chart was the (Greatly Feared) Cobb Mountain, as prev. noted, a recent addition to the Davis Double Route. As if that weren’t enough, the temperatures had continued to climb, with 102 deg.F. indicated on one rider’s bike computer (mine is not so equipped). Nor was there any lead-in, with the road tipping upward and the Cobb climb beginning right out of the gate from the Middletown checkpoint. I started out riding with a Cobb Veteran, taking mental notes, and overall deciding that it really wasn’t going to be as bad as Jackie had suggested. Eventually said Veteran climbed away from me as I stuck to what I considered to be a Very Conservative Pace up Cobb. I actually spoke with several different riders as I made my way up the mountain, until I was eventually passed by the Very Famous Curtis (cccorlew from bikeforums.net), whom I recognized by his “Poseur” jersey. We had a fine conversation on numerous subjects, none of which I can remember now! Eventually I rode up the mountain ahead of Curtis, eventually arriving at Checkpoint the Davis Club had thoughtfully positioned about three-quarters of the way up Cobb Mountain.

Mostly Up the Mountain, Checkpoint #5
It was here that I happened upon the Very Famous Gert, who, at 78 years is the oldest active doubles rider that I’m aware of. I know Clem Bartoli is 73, but Gert even has a few years on Clem! Of course by this time my Camelback Ice/Gatorade required a refill, but it was a relatively quick stop (sure, a few Oreos and Fig Newtons, why not?) before resuming the climb with another (just shy of 70 years!) rider who was on his Cervelo TT bike because his Merlin road bike had a cracked frame. He was not pleased because he’d just learned that Merlin no longer honored their “Lifetime” warranty on frames. You hear all kinds of stories as you climb up the mountain roads . . . Once over the summit of Cobb it was a wonderful, fast and glorious descent, in and out of sunlit and shady areas but over a very good surface, so no real worries, no need for brakes, with just the occasional short ascent to break the boredom (yeah, right!) of the quite long descent.

The Lunch Stop, Lower Lake High School at Mile 117.2
Once slowed down and back in the direct sunlight, the heat was once again rather oppressive, yet here it was, barely noon! At this point, I knew it would get worse and hey, it was bad enough already! A few miles thereafter I rolled into the Lunch Stop, thankfully in the same place I’d left it three years ago, and thankfully stocked with lots of Different Real Food, or at least, different from what I’d eaten at the prev. noted Checkpoints. After I parked my bike I noticed an elderly woman (yeah, probably about my age) standing behind a ubiquitous gray-plastic garbage can filled with what looked like long white tube socks. Suddenly, in a moment of Brilliant Revelation (or something close) I realized that what I was looking at was a fine collection of the Storied Ice Socks! Yes friends, several years ago (six?) Chuck Bramwell, the Very Famous CA Triple Crown Guy, had told us stories of crossing the U.S. with PAC Tours (ref: Lon Haldeman and Susan Notorangelo-Haldeman) and using Ice Socks as they crossed the desert on several 100+ degree-days. So what is an Ice Sock? Imagine a long white cotton sock (Tube Sock?) filled with ice cubes, then tied at the open (ankle) end so the cubes can’t escape. Drape said Ice Sock over shoulders (around the back of your neck), and it equals Instant Relief from Oppressive Heat!

Ice Sock Salvation
Of course, with my luck, prev. noted Elderly Woman told me I couldn’t have an Ice Sock until I’d gotten my lunch. She probably didn’t want me dripping on all the food, and who could blame her? Please note, however, that once I did have my sandwich assembled, my pasta salad heaped upon my plate and a few cookies (chocolate chip this time) added for good measure . . . I received a fresh cold Ice Sock draped around my hot, crusty neck. Wow! That felt SO GOOD! As I sat on the grass, in the shade, eating my lunch, I remember thinking, “This Ice Sock saved my life!” Looking back, that may have been a bit overstated. Still, the effect was enormous. After lunch I phoned Jackie, “I’m at lunch and still alive!” then restuffed my Camelback with ice and Gatorade, ditto my bottles (one with water and ice only), and departed lunch for the 2nd Great Effort of the Day, i.e. the climb known to Davis riders by the single name: Resurrection. After departing Lunch, there is a seven-mile stretch of Highway shoulder to negotiate before arriving at the base of the climb I call Pre-Resurrection, which is about half a mile long and only 5 - 6%, before entering into a very long (2.5 mile) descent. In addition to the afore-noted heat, I was consumed with the thought that I was descending into a very deep hole out of which I would then have to climb.

Severe Heat on Resurrection
I had climbed Resurrection before, so (unlike Cobb) I pretty much knew what was coming. At the start of this climb, the incline is really pretty gentle. Still, I was out in the absolute open without a spot of shade in sight, a warm headwind blowing in my face, and only a rapidly melting Ice Sock as defense against the brutal elements. As the grade increased my gearing dropped ever lower, and even though the grade would not have (under normal circumstances) have justified it, I found myself reduced to pedaling in a very slow cadence in my 30t x 27t Granny Gear. At times like this, I’m reduced to simply suffering my way through. Several riders passed me, I passed no one. My thoughts were running to: “I’m this tired, this hot, this lifeless, and there’s still 70 miles to go?” The Camelback was sucked dry; one bottle held a few sips of luke-warm Gatorade, the other half a bottle of luke-warm water. Then, much to my surprise, I saw a SAG Truck parked up ahead. When I got there, the friendly Davis Bike Club volunteer filled my bottles with Really Cold water, sprayed my helmet, face and legs with Really Cold Water, and advised me that I had “Only two miles!” until the Resurrection Checkpoint. And then I felt better! A mile on someone had chalked a Biblical quote, referencing The (other) Resurrection, on the shoulder for all cyclists to contemplate, but regrettably I don’t recall it now. I was rather cooked by this time! Much later, I was told it was 107 deg. F on the Resurrection Climb, a the time I went up.

Resurrection Checkpoint #6, at Mile 139.8
One mile further on, I arrived at the (much-anticipated) Resurrection Checkpoint, though I’m more inclined to call it the Resurrection Party! In addition to the couple dozen or so cyclists milling about, the Davis volunteers were doing a bang-up job of cooling off the riders. Lots of kids working this Checkpoint, happily spraying cold water on the riders (who quite happily received same), handing out cold Cokes and Mountain Dews, filling Camelbacks and bottles with ice and generally celebrating each rider’s arrival a the Summit (well, almost) of the Resurrection Climb. I traded in my dry Ice Sock for a brand new frozen one, thanking the Ice Sock volunteer profusely. Background music seemed to be mostly Eagles and John Mellencamp, but I was still in a bit of a mental blur, so there could have been others that failed to register. I relaxed in a Very Comfortable cloth chair in the shade of one of the canopies and discussed the upcoming “Road Work Ahead” signs we’d been seeing with another rider, wondering just how bad it would be. When I finally got my act together (feeling much better now, thank you), on the bike but not yet shoved off, a young lady (maybe 12 years old) offered to dump cold ice water (from a garden sprinkling can) on my helmeted head. “Sure,” I said, “Go for it!” And friends, she did. Within seconds my brain felt like it was in a deep freeze . . . and loving it.

Leaving Resurrection, Hitting Construction
I was mostly soaked when I left the Resurrection Party, but so refreshed and with vastly improved spirits. Evaporation is a wonderful cooling agent, so between my wet socks and the top of my freshly frozen brain, I was feeling all right. The Party, plus a fresh Ice Sock had put me in a very positive frame of mind, which lasted (with only occasional regression) the rest of the day. From the Summit there is a very fast descent, fortunately on very good pavement, which leads to another climb (3/4 of a mile) before a much longer descent to a right turn. Unfortunately, most of the way down that descent a Flag Lady had her “STOP” sign pointed in our direction and traffic was down to a single lane. When I arrived there were maybe twenty riders already gathered, but they all seemed to be okay with it, having a friendly discussion with the Flag Lady (who held a sign, not a flag, but whatever) about a variety of cycling subjects, about which she likely cared very little. The rest of us talked among ourselves until the line of cars in the opposite direct abruptly stopped, the Lady turned her Sign from Stop to “Slow,” and we were allowed to proceed once again. Still over on the “unfortunate” side of the ledger, we were forced to proceed on a dirt and gravel path for about 200 yards before returning to the reassuring stability of fairly decent pavement.

And Now, for the Fun Part!
Once past the construction we were on a truly wonderful descent, the downhill payback for the tough climbs we’d been doing all afternoon. Plus, this whole section is visually entertaining with steep, rough hewn rock walls on one side, and a picturesque bubbling stream on the other. I was riding with a young girl through here (probably late teens or early 20’s), and we talked about the scenery, wondered if the stream would be deep enough to kayak (we decided probably not), but mostly glided silently down the mountainside. Every thousand feet another elevation sign would greet us, rather amazing how quickly we could lose elevation after the many hours spent gaining it! And, while there is the occasional small climb through here, just to make sure your legs don’t go to sleep, the overall impression is a delightfully easy glide through breathtaking scenery, and some “free” miles as we head into the next stop at the Guinda Fire Station, in the very small town of (you guessed it!) Guinda.

Checkpoint #7 Guinda Fire Station, Mile 162.8
By the time we hit the Fire Station, the air temperature had begun to back down a bit (low 90’s by this time) and with the most difficult mileage behind us, the mood was relaxed and positive here. They still had the water misters going, plenty of ice for Camelbacks and water bottles, lots of Cokes and Mountain Dews to drink, but at least one step down from the intense heat earlier in the afternoon. This was the light-drop, so I found the bag with my name on it, and proceeded to mount my Princeton-Tech headlight and battery, all the while hoping I wouldn’t actually have to use them. Still, you never know what types of challenges may be waiting, so it’s good to be safe rather than sorry. I ate more real food here, with forty miles still to go it wouldn’t do to be undernourished. More of the same, but by this time I wasn’t hungry for variety, just more fuel for my body! It was here that I met Tom, the man from Sella An-Atomica, and had an interesting discussion about his saddles (I’d recently fitted one to my fixed gear bike), and his four years of intense study regarding how to make a better saddle. He was riding one of Craig Calfee’s bamboo frame bikes, but I didn’t think to ask him about that!

Back to Farnham Ranch at mile 181.1
I took off from Guinda alone, and rode the next miles with maybe one or two other riders in sight, past the Casino, up and down a few minor climbs and descents. At one point traffic was stopped by an Emergency Vehicle (looked like an ambulance), and I caught up to Tom’s group, as we rode the far right shoulder passing dozens of stopped cars and trucks. A right turn a few miles later put us on the road to Farnham Ranch, which attentive readers will note was also our first checkpoint this morning. Was that really this morning? Time plays tricks on me sometimes, as if so much seems to have happened; it just doesn’t seem possible that the first Farnham Checkpoint was earlier today. There was lots of energy apparent in the Checkpoint workers at Farnham, noticeably less in the riders! Over in the food section, they did have some very tasty new potatoes, which seemed to go well with lots of salt (to take the place of all the salt my body had deposited on my cycling shorts and jersey throughout the day) and yet another cold Mountain Dew.

Checkpoint #8 Plainfield Fire Station, Mile 196
By this time, I was ready for it to be over. Sure, it had been fun, but what (?) just 19 miles to the finish. What’s nineteen miles; nothing really? Still, I was tired, and it was still pretty hot, so maybe these miles wouldn’t be so easy. The scenery was the same as when we were on these roads this morning, i.e. nothing to entertain the eyes, just miles to cover, mostly straight roads with perpendicular intersections. Running on the caffeine from the Mountain Dew and the carbohydrates from the potatoes now, or at least that's the way it seemed. Just keeping the pedals spinning, yet I was kind of surprised how easy it still was, how 18 – 20 mph was still possible over these mostly flat miles. Eventually, and long past where I thought it should be, I rolled into the Plainfield Fire Station Checkpoint. I have been known to pass this stop by, but Jackie wanted me to phone her when I got here, so no worries. Plus, they have home-made grilled cheese sandwiches, which are really excellent, and home-made chili which I didn’t try even though I’d been told that it was excellent too. That done, I phoned Jackie, and got back on the bike for the last few miles into Davis. I caught up with a young woman, Joan (from Canada), and had a fine time talking with her as we rode the last section through the countryside, and finally into the town of Davis, CA, which we’d left so early this morning.

The Finish
Jackie was waiting for me at the finish, and after introducing her to Joan, and Joan to Jackie, I went inside to let the Davis Club Volunteers know that I’d finished. The last bit of daylight hung in the sky, so I had made the finish without having to use my lights. At the finish sign-in location, the nice woman at the desk asked if she could have her sock back. “What?” I had no idea what she was talking about. Okay, my brain was really cooked, but still, I had no clue. Then Jackie said, “Around your neck.” And then the light came on. I still had the last Ice Sock I’d picked up (where was that?) caked and dried around my neck. I peeled it off and handed it to the nice lady, noting how wonderful the Ice Socks had been, and asking her to thank all the folks involved in making the Ice Socks available throughout the ride. She gave my an embroidered patch, “Davis Double Century. 2009” to add to my collection of embroidered ride patches that I have no idea what to do with . . . Still, I think someday in the distant future I may look at that patch and remember the day I cooked on the Davis Double. I might even smile before placing it back in the box with the other embroidered patches. So I guess they are good for something! I enjoyed the after-ride meal of veggie lasagna, salad and roll, then Jackie drove me back to the Motel for a very deep night’s sleep. Must not have been enough, though, since I slept most of the way back, making the passenger’s seat of Jackie’s Subaru a quite acceptable makeshift bed! So overall it was a fun yet challenging double and a wonderful introduction to the life-saving capabilities of the Ice Sock!

Rick / OCRR
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Old 05-29-09, 06:52 AM
  #16  
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I did my first 400K, which was also my first double century, last weekend. Very flat, which took me by surprise by making my knees hurt more than the extremely hilly 300K a couple of weeks before it. I think the fact that the flats didn't force me to constantly change position all day is what did it.
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Old 06-22-09, 03:54 PM
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The Eastern Sierra Double Century
Presented by Planet Ultra
June 3rd, 2009

What’s the weather going to be?
Of all the doubles I’ve ever ridden, the 2009 Eastern Sierra gets the award for the most times I’ve checked weather.com pre-ride trying to figure out what to wear and/or bring on a double century. My first alert was from Dante on bikeforums.net warning about cold temperatures in June Lake, with 37 the predicted high. I’d ridden this double three times before, always in very good weather conditions, so I wasn’t really worried. Then came the forecasts of rain and yes, even snow in Mammoth, one of the three places this double gets over 8,000 feet of elevation. Still, I never questioned whether to ride this double or not (I’m not that smart), but rather went searching about to dig up the appropriate clothing for the challenge.

Rebels on the 2009 Eastern Sierra
Not very many, really. There was David Wu and his friend Tony Wang, Eric (who I don’t really know), Jose who’s a friend of David and Tony’s . . . and me. Even the inevitable Tom Parkes passed on this one. David Slaton’s name was on the roster, but I didn’t see him in Bishop, or on the ride; later found out he didn’t start. I took Friday off work for a leisurely drive to Bishop (4-1/2 hours from Whittier), arriving to see many cars festooned with bikes and many of the usual cyclists (you know the type when you see them!) walking the sidewalks. After checking into the Motel 6, I walked down to the “Host” motel (Comfort Inn), where the double riders were milling about, most in animated conversation. I saw someone coming out and noticed he wasn’t even carrying a route sheet. “No route sheet?” I asked. “They’ll have them in the morning.” was his reply. Then I saw Dante and asked him what was up. “Route change, the normal course is too dangerous because of all the snow in Mammoth.” So there went all of my valuable previous experience with the Eastern Sierra route, right-out the window!

The Morning Of
Getting ready the morning of the Double, I decided to dress for cold weather. So, in addition to my Rebel jersey and Pearl Izumi bib shorts, I had a long sleeve wool turtle-neck base layer, wool balaclava (plus skull-cap), full length leg warmers, long-finger gloves, Sugoi jacket, wool socks (Woolie Boolies) and DeFeet shoe covers over my Sidi shoes. I also had my Camelback, which I could strap un-needed clothing to, plus stuff my jersey pockets with extra clothing as (or if) the day warmed up. Since Planet Ultra had changed the course, they had also done away with the Early Start (usually 4:30AM) and decided to have everyone start at 5:00 AM. I got bundled up, ate breakfast, pumped up the bike tires and was at the start about 10 minutes early to pick up a route sheet. Lots of riders milling about, we were talking among ourselves . . . until Debbie gave us our final instructions (no roll call this time!), and Brian sent us off, right at 5:00 AM.

Over-Dressed for the Easy Part
It was almost, but not quite light when we started, and of course the fast riders were sprinting right out of the gate, while the rest of us proceeded at a more “reasonable” pace. This first bit was actually the same (or very similar) to previous Eastern Sierra starting bits (yes, cattle guards included!). Some minor climbs and descents, some good surfaces and some bad, plus in retrospect a very good warm-up for the climb to come. After much turning and traversing, we were eventually led out to Highway 395 near the town of Big Pine riding on its very wide and smooth shoulder, hitching onto the occasional pace-line. By this time, and even though the morning was cool, I was feeling over-dressed, sweating into my base layer, yet hoping it would get cooler as we gained altitude. Retrospective note to Self: Be careful what you wish for! The first checkpoint was at mile 25.8, just after we turned left off of Highway 395 and onto CA 168.

Checkpoint #1
Lots of riders here, everyone still in a very good mood, nothing but easy miles so far. I saw Dante and Ron (spingineer on bikeforums.net) engrossed in conversation, thought I’d go over and say “Hi!” but then thought “No, I’ll see them again later.” As it happened, I never did. I added a bit of water to my Camelback, grabbed a couple of Fig Newtons, but really didn’t want to spend too much time here, so early in the ride. As soon as we turned onto 168, we had started to climb. Back on the road, the climb began in earnest. We were climbing White Mountain, or perhaps plural: White Mountains, but in any case a very good road surface, with long straight sections joined by huge sweeping curves (mostly) climbing at between 6 and 7%, with the occasional boost to 8%. Those didn’t last long, but it was one of those 8%-ers that I first went from my 39t x 27t to my “granny” inner chain-ring, spinning at a higher rpm in my 30t x 25t combination. There were lots of riders along here, yet I should note that of the 227 riders that signed up for the 2009 Eastern Sierra Double, only 176 actually started. Most of this was (I’m guessing) because of the weather predictions, which were for very cold temperatures mixed with rain and/or snow. Who would want to ride 200 miles in those conditions, I asked myself rhetorically. Well, 175 riders plus me, so it certainly wasn’t lonely on the road, at least at this point. Sometimes I would pass other riders, sometimes they would pass me. Often, it seemed, we would pass and re-pass each other before a true climbing dominance could be achieved, and how silly that was, I thought, that we should play such trivial games on such a non-trivial climb!

The Long Slog
Every so often I would see a rider to two stopped along the road. Often they were adding or subtracting clothing, attending to a flat tire, taking a “nature break” or simply taking a rest from the long climb. And a long climb it was, right at twenty miles without so much as a flat section or a minor descent. The British refer to this as a “slog” and it did indeed feel like a long slog! Looking on the bright side (being generous here), while it was darkly overcast, at least it wasn’t raining. Plus, as I’d hoped, it was getting colder as we gained altitude and my clothing choices were beginning to look really smart after all. Starting from Bishop (about 4,000 feet of elevation) we had climbed to the 6,000-foot sign before we felt the first light mists of rain. As dark as the clouds were overhead, I can’t say it was much of a surprise. The riders seemed to thin out about mid-way up, mostly due to different climbing speeds, but also (as I found out later) a huge loss of motivation, especially for the riders who were under-dressed for the cold and rain. By the time we reached the 8,000-foot sign, the rain had evolved from a light mist to a steady downpour, and the temperature had dropped even further. I don’t have a thermometer on my bike, but I heard it was 34 deg. F from another rider.

Over the Summit
We still had quite a ways to climb, but I remember thinking, “Well, if it’s really that cold, why hasn’t this rain turned to snow. Not long after (and not exactly prophetically) it did just that. The funny thing was that I really liked the snow better than the rain. Sure, I was probably delirious from all the climbing by that point, but the rain had seemed so “evil” and “rude” kind of . . . and the snow seemed somewhat “friendlier” and more “gentle.” But remember I was dressed for it, lots of riders weren’t. Eventually, and as I caught up to a tandem couple, we did finally crest the summit, and the snowfall diminished. Unfortunately, the descent was quite steep, the road went from mostly straight to quite twisty, as I found myself feathering the brakes (didn’t want any tire lock-up here!), whilst leaning as far into the corners as I dared, hoping to keep the bike both upright, and on the roadway. Quite the wake-up called after the three-plus hours of dreary boredom slogging my way up the climb! Once through the steep, fast and twisty bits, the pavement deteriorated from quite good actually, to really very poor. The kind of poor pavement that makes even new chip seal look good, the kind where you can pick out individual rocks that the crusher missed!

Hail on the Way to Death Valley
As if that weren’t enough, as we sped down this bumpy (but thankfully straight) road, it began to hail! Yikes, if Snow is Friendly and Gentle, then Hail is Snow’s Evil Brother. Most of me was okay and well padded, but the hail on my face, while descending at speed (30 – 35 mph here) was stinging and quite painful. What was this ride turning into? And we still had, what . . . 145 miles to ride today? The hail only lasted a few minutes, then as we descended it turned to a light rain, and finally dried up completely before we reached the floor of Death Valley at Wacuba, Checkpoint #2 at mile 55.2. This is the point where the pavement, bad as it was, stopped completely. It was a fine place for a checkpoint too! I checked in with the gentleman with clipboard, then went over to the food canopy, expertly manned by the Very Famous Jon Shellenbarger (whitecarbondude on bikeforums.net). Here I discovered a “Latte” flavor of Perpetuem (news to me!) so had him pour three scoops into my Camelback. He advised against it, saying it wouldn’t mix properly in a Camelback, and would “settle-out,” but I ignored his warning, and really didn’t notice any problems! I should add that it was quite a lot warmer (50 deg. F?) at this lower altitude, here in Death Valley.

And Now for Something Completely Different:
Okay, so, the good news was that instead of a 20 mile climb like we had over White Mountain, the climb out of Death Valley was only 15 miles, or maybe 17, no one was quite sure. Less than 20 though, in any case. Bad news, the surface that was so annoyingly bumpy and irregular on the descent was so much more difficult to climb than the practically perfect pavement coming up White Mountain. I was feeling a bit dehydrated, so starting drinking frantically from both the Perpetuem in my Camelback and the Gatorade in my bottles. I started out feeling quite tired, but the more I drank, the better I felt. Funny, hydration works that way! Somewhere along here I saw the SAG van go by with eight (yeah, I counted) bikes on the roof, an early indicator of the poor finishing rate on this double. Again, a bit of a long slogging climb, made worse by the terrible pavement, and then the rain started again as we reached the given altitude for rain showers. At least it seemed like a “Given Altitude” at the time. None of us were surprised! I was following a couple of single riders and tandem along here, when we began to hear thunder in the distance. Okay, well, it’s raining, thunder isn’t so strange. Yet this thunder was strange, it was far away, then part of a second later it was very close, going from dull to loud to Extremely Loud to Roaring in the matter of maybe a second and a half. Just after it seemed to be right on top of us, a NAVY F-15 popped into the very top of our field of vision. It must have been 200 feet above us; it felt like 20! Instantly, we were hit with an uneven but very strong wind, i.e. the “wash” of air from the plane’s wings.

“Wash” Recovery
I felt my bike wobble when the wind was dumped on it, yet it was fairly easy to control. The tandem couple up ahead didn’t have such as easy time of it, as I watched them leaning all over the bike, trying to keep it upright. At exactly the same time, or perhaps a moment earlier, the jet had banked straight up and disappeared. Just like that. I rode up to the tandem couple and congratulated them on keeping their bike upright. “Yes,” replied the captain, “We were close to going down!” All that said, and as scary as it was for a moment or two, in the end, being “buzzed by an F-15” was a welcome relief from the eternal monotony of the rain-soaked climb. Note: I know nothing about airplanes. Long debates from those who do finally settled on the F-15, after lots of opposing votes for an F-14. I say “whatever,” it was just some loud, fast fighter jet. Some said it was a pilot from the China Lake base, others said they’d been buzzed by fighter jets in Death Valley before. In any case, it was a new and very different experience for me!

Yes, This Climb Too is Finite
An hour or two later, as we neared the summit, the pavement (thankfully!) morphed back into the “excellent” I remembered from this morning, we’d ridden above the rain, and while it was still cold, it didn’t seem quite as cold as on our previous visit to this summit. I noticed a familiar looking silver Chevy Tahoe on the side of the road, then saw my Good Friend Terri Boykins, who was driving SAG for the double, waiting to take my photo as I rode by. “You’re riding Good!” she lied. I said “Thanks! And thanks for being here!” I probably should have stopped and given her a hug, but I didn’t stop. “No worries,” I thought, “I’ll see her later on, I’m sure.” Seeing Terri perked up my spirits, which were rather cold and wet by this time, then as I crested the summit another SAG volunteer drove by and shouted, “Good job, you made it!” So here I was, what, seventy miles into a double, yet I really felt like I had made it, or a good part of it, at least. As if on cue, the sun popped out of the clouds, and shone on my wonderful descent! Often in these reports I emphasize the climbs and ignore the descents, as effortless as they usually are, but this one was so welcome! Smooth; dry pavement in bright sunshine, and almost three-quarters of an hour, coasting at 35 – 45 mph with no need to use the brakes. The only option: Get into an aero-tuck, or not? In this case the aero-tuck (knees against the top tube, butt back, hands against the stem, feet level, head down) was good for almost five extra mph, so well worth doing!

Unfortunately, the Descent is Finite as Well
Good descents don’t last forever either, and so it came to pass that I rolled into Checkpoint #3 (exactly the same location as Checkpoint #1!) at mile 86. Dr. Nancy was doing a fine job keeping the riders supplied here! For me it was more Latte Perpetuem into the Camelback, more Gatorade into the bottles, Sugoi jacket off, long finger gloves off, balaclava off, sunglasses on and the temperature felt like mid-60’s, so a huge improvement on the prev. noted temperatures at the summit (i.e. at 10,000 feet elevation). From this Checkpoint it was a short drop down to Highway 395, a right turn and 15 miles directly back to the town of Bishop into a slight headwind, and lunch at the same Comfort Inn we’d left so early this morning, now at mile 108. Lunch was the usual (for Planet Ultra) Subway Sandwich. My initial plan was to forego the Subway this time, just fill my Camelback and go . . . but it didn’t work out that way. When I stopped I saw Terri was there, so went over to talk with her for awhile, then I did take the Subway Sandwich when Debbie offered it to me. “Do I need to check in here?” I asked. “No,” Debbie replied, “Only if you’re dropping out.”

Dropping Out?
And, in fact, I did see quite a lot of riders hanging about; some I recognized (Lisa), most I didn’t, but the fact that they were all clean and changed into their street clothes was more than a hint that they’d decided to call it a day. Me, I’m not that smart! It’s beautiful weather now, I remember thinking; the rest should be easy! I ate my Subway sandwich and a bag of Cheeto’s, while drinking a Mountain Dew and talking with Terri. So, I was actually in an excellent mood as I hugged Terri goodbye, finally bid farewell to the Comfort Inn based riders, and headed out to the next Checkpoint, in Benton, CA some 36 miles on. But wait, I’d be going right past my hotel room, why not stop and drop off some unnecessary clothing? Why not indeed, so that’s what I did. I took off my shoe covers, dropped off the Sugoi jacket and leg warmers, re-lubed my shorts with Bag Balm, and took off into the sunshine. All good, except now that slight headwind I’d been fighting coming into Bishop earlier was a decently strong headwind, as I traveled toward Benton at a somewhat slower pace.

Fighting the Headwind
Five miles on I did catch the rider I’d seen ahead of me for so long. Just as I was easing up on his rear wheel to suck a little draft (and respite from the wind), his rear tire blew out with a sharp “Bang!” and I was back into the wind alone, only hoping to catch another friendly co-drafter and draftee. As fate would have it, a pace line actually passed me, including my friend Tony and the Very Famous Isabelle Drake. I latched onto that one, and it was working fine for several miles, plus I noticed we were catching another rider, who I eventually recognized to be the Very Famous Victor Cooper (Hwy395 on SoCal bike forums). Victor, however, was able to fight the wind much more effectively than my previous draft-companions, such that we eventually dropped them all. We were switching off pulls, with Victor taking three-quarters of the time on the front, posting an impressive (considering the conditions) 7-mph for many miles at a time. I should add that, in addition to fighting this horrendous headwind, Benton sits some 1,500 feet above Bishop, so we were climbing too! By and by, eventually, and at long last, we did catch another rider. He introduced himself as “Mark” but I remember him best by “Cal-Poly” which was emblazoned on the yellow-orange-white kit was wearing. Thus, we had a 3-man pace-line, now down to 6-mph, but still plugging along!

Long Climb into Stiff Wind
Finally, Vic announced that we were, in fact, getting quite close to Benton, since he recognized a junkyard for mobile homes and RV’s, for which he had a colorful name, which (unfortunately) escapes me now. I want to say “Nirvana” but I could be wrong. It was something along those lines, in any case, and I admit I’ve never seen anyone quite so happy to see a junkyard for mobile homes and RV’s! Not one of the loveliest sights in rural California, I’m sure, but any sign that we were (Finally!) coming into Benton was welcome to me. And so it came to pass, that, at long last, we rolled into the Benton Checkpoint, i.e. Checkpoint #5 (Lunch was 4, in case anyone is counting) to be greeted by Lee Scott (scvroadie on bikeforums.net) and his wife, plus the aforenoted and oft appreciated Jon Shellenbarger, this time with clip-board in hand. After signing in with Jon, Lee took my Camelback and filled it (yes, once again) with three scoops of Latte Perpetuem, a handful of ice, and topped it off with cold water.

This Isn’t the End?
All along I’d been thinking that once we got to Benton, all we’d have to do was turn around and go back to Bishop for the finish. But no, that would have been too short. Instead, we were informed, the next stage would be a climb of an additional 1,500 feet (added to the 1,500 we’d climbed to get to Bishop) and another eight miles to Benton Crossing Road on Hwy 120. There, we’d make a U-Turn and return to this same checkpoint (which would then be #6 . . . or would it be #7?). Since I was ready to go before Victor and Cal-Poly, I took off with a “Don’t worry, you’ll catch me!” as I clipped in to my pedals once again, now at mile 135.5. This was about 3:30 PM, and even though I knew we had until 10:00 PM for an official finish, I was hoping to get done in daylight. At this point, it wasn’t looking likely. More climbing, what a joy! At least the weather was doing better (Note: dark clouds in the distance), and I was feeling quite happy going into my 30t granny gear as the road tilted sharply upward once again. Not a lot of joy, to be honest, since some parts were so steep (10%) that I was standing up while in my granny gear! Eventually, i.e. half an hour or so later, Vic did ride past me, chatting happily with another rider while I had no extra breath for conversation at all!

What To Do?
At the top of this very steep climb, there was a lovely descent to the aforenoted Benton Crossing Road, where we expected to see the ubiquitous Planet Ultra Canopy, with a dedicated volunteer holding a clipboard and happily recording names, and times. But no, there was nothing, just endless desert. It was Vic, Cal-Poly, the other conversational rider and I. What to do? According to our bike-computer odometers, we had ridden beyond where the checkpoint was supposed to be. Plus, as Victor pointed out, we were well past Benton Crossing Road, which is where we were supposed to make a U-Turn. Not knowing what to do for sure, but certainly not interested in racking up more “Bonus Miles,” we decided were could verify each other’s stories that we had really made it to Benton Crossing Road . . . and headed back towards Benton. Looking on the bright side, it was a “Yee-Haw” Scoring descent back into Benton (45+ mph), and we did see dozens of other riders still agonizing up the climbs we’d done an hour previous. I wanted to stop and tell each one, “There is no checkpoint, just turn around at Benton Crossing Road,” but I didn’t. I was moving too fast, and they were moving too slow; it just wouldn’t have worked.

Back to Benton
When we made it back to Benton, we (verbally) attacked the innocent Jon Shellenbarger with “There was no one at the U-Turn at Benton Crossing, you should have been there!” but Jon wasn’t impressed. He just smiled, and said, “It wasn’t necessary, you guys did fine. You made the U-turn didn’t you?” And yes, he was right. What could we have been thinking? Brian Bowling (one of the organizers from Planet Ultra) was there too, and he thought their arrangement was just fine, so who was I to argue? The good news, of course, was that we would have a wonderful tail wind (and a drop of 1,500 feet) on our way back to Bishop. I had picked up my lights when I went back to my motel room earlier in the day, but Brian added, “Rick, you aren’t going to need those lights!” I wasn’t so sure, but it was good to hear. Victor was being his usual conversational self, so Cal-Poly and I took off for Bishop without him, and this time we didn’t even offer a “Don’t worry, you’ll catch up!” Mark (Cal-Poly) told me he was going to hammer back to Bishop, so he could set the best time possible. “You go then,” I answered, “I’m just going to cruise back to Bishop and try not to kill myself.”

Lovin’ the Tail Wind!
And folks, let me tell you, that tailwind was A Wonderful Thing! It had taken three and a half-hours, fighting the head wind to get to Benton. It took us just over an hour, flying with the tail wind back to Bishop! Mark was down on his aero bars, hammering it out in front of me, as I buzzed along happily in my 53t x 12t high gear, nearly spun out. Sometimes I did spinout, and tried to sit up tall (yes, like a sail!) and let the wind push me along at 27 – 30 mph. And, even though I wasn’t trying, I noticed I was catching up to Mark (guess the aero bars don’t help much with a tail wind). Eventually he looked back and saw me, and then half a mile later he stopped by the side of the road. “Are you okay?” I yelled as I got close. “Yeah, just stopping to . . . “. I couldn’t make out, really, what he said, or why he stopped, but he was okay, so I kept going. I never did see him again. I rode the wind back to Bishop, finishing at seven minutes after 7:00 PM (in the daylight!) for a 14:07 total time. I checked in with Debbie Bowling, then just sat and relaxed for awhile before riding back to my motel. I drake a Coke, talked with other riders as they finished, and generally was happy doing absolutely nothing for quite awhile. I talked to Victor a bit when he finished, then slowly rode back to my motel room for a Very Welcome shower and a Great Night’s Sleep. Regarding other Rebel finishes, David Wu and Tony Wang finished in 13:15, so about an hour before me while Jose finished in 15:28 or a little more than an hour after me. David Slaton decided not to ride the Eastern Sierra at all, proving that he is a very smart man indeed! I couldn’t find Eric on the Results List, so either he didn’t start, or started but didn’t finish.

In Conclusion
In the end, of the 277 riders that registered and the 176 who started only 103 of us finished. My friend and current 50+ bikeforum.net poster, Dante, had a much rougher time of it, eventually finishing in 16:30, just one rider away from the dreaded DFL. In conclusion, and considering the weather conditions in the Sierra Mountains, Debbie and Brian did an excellent job of taking a terrible situation and making it only Very Challenging instead. I’ve heard the word “Epic” used to describe this double, and while words are cheap, I would have to agree. Not since “Butterflood” 2006 have I used the “Epic” word in conjunction with a double century. Yes, Davis was brutally hot, but Eastern Sierra was brutally cold, plus the climbing was much worse (and more of it) on the ESD. And to all of you that think riding doubles is crazy, I would have to agree that when this much adversity is thrown at the riders, that description may be accurate. Thanks again to Debbie and Brian, plus volunteers Terri Boykins, Lee Scott, Jon Shellenbarger, Dr. Nancy and all the others that made the 2009 Eastern Sierra Double possible, and a little less difficult.

Rick / OCRR
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Old 07-05-09, 06:21 PM
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The Los Angeles Wheelmen Grand Tour 2009
June 27th, 2009 from Malibu, CA

The Grand Tour is the oldest organized Double Century in the U.S., and once again the Los Angeles Wheelmen’s organization was excellent, from check-in (thanks Vanessa, AKA Grrlyrida from bikeforums.net!) through all the checkpoints and all the way to the finish (thanks to Frank Neil). For the Grand Tour there are several options, including Highland and Lowland routes for the double, a double metric (125 miles), plus triple and quad centuries for the really dedicated riders.

Rebels on the Grand Tour
Several Rebels rode the Grand Tour 2009, including the inevitable Tom Parkes; who I didn’t see all day, but I have information from reliable sources (and other Rebels) that he was there. David Wu and Jose were escorting Karen Robbins (not a Rebel) who was riding her first double since having her prosthetic leg and foot fitted (all carbon fiber and titanium, she assured me with a huge grin!). Cathy and Wick Waltmire were on their tandem, and escorting their friend Eddy on his first double century. David Slaton was all dressed up in Columbia High Road kit, looking very much like Mike Cavendish, only maybe a tad slower in the sprints. Who else was there? Linda Adams and Keith Christensen, plus your Faithful Scribe and his lovely wife Jackie.

Getting Started
Before the start (at the Malibu Community Center), Jackie and I saw Linda getting ready, so they decided to ride the first part (the dark part) together, while I went searching for my usual doubles riding friend and companion, Terri Boykins. Linda and Jackie took off a little after 4:15 AM, whereas Terri and I hit the road closer to (or a bit after) 4:30 AM. Riding up PCH in the dark (audio: waves crashing on the shore) Terri and I picked up Art, a rider in Banning’s Bikes kit, riding his first double. We gave him a little Grand Tour “What to expect” primer, but since he was doing the Lowland while we were riding Highland, most of our notes were not applicable! Early mornings on the Grand Tour are a time of pace-lines, so by and by we hooked onto one, which, with some addition and subtraction of riders along the way, took us all the way to Port Hueneme (why-knee’-me) and Checkpoint #1 at mile 35.5.

Livin’ it Up in Port Hueneme
Here the LA Wheelmen had provided paper grocery bags and markers, so riders could drop off any lights, jackets, or whatever riders may have needed in the cool and dark of the early morning, but wouldn’t need for the remainder of the day. This convenience is due to the fact that Port Hueneme would also be our last checkpoint, sometime in the (seemingly) distant time know as “this evening.” In addition, there was lots of wonderful food, Hammer Gel, Sustained Energy and Heed so “fueling up” was another priority. We had to provide our numbers to the workers at this Checkpoint, and indeed this would be a recurring procedure throughout the day. All that done, we were off through the city of Port Hueneme, then all too soon over the freeway “bump” and out into rural CA agricultural country. The fog that we’d encountered before Hueneme (at Point Magoo Naval Base, approx.) was still with us as we cycled along the mostly deserted farm roads. Our only entertainment was watching a crop-dusting helicopter make it’s way along the fields, and wondering if he would “buzz” the cyclists like the F15 pilot on the Eastern Sierra double! And no, he did not.

The Three Climbs of Potrero
Shortly thereafter we were greeted by the first of three climbs known as Potrero, with the worst in the middle. This first, pre-Potrero is a long slog at 9 and 10%, so surely enough to get our attention, and put me into my 39t x 25t, but other than being a slow slog, it’s really not too bad. A short descent and a few rollers later, you are greeted by the middle, or Real Potrero, which is almost a mile (seems longer!) topping out at a quarter mile of 18 and 19 %! This coincided with the sun breaking through the fog, so pretty dramatic visuals as my legs screamed out in pain ascending at a mighty 4.5 to 5.5 mph in my 30t x 27t lowest gear. I started this climb with Patty (CbadRider is her bikeforums.net handle), who was resplendent in a bikeforums.net “Foo” jersey. I don’t hang out in the Foo forum, so I had no idea they had their own jersey! I was wearing OCRR kit, so when I told her I was Rick@OCRR on the forums, she didn’t seem overly surprised.

Everybody’s a Racer?
After I dropped Cbad another rider sprinted past me, smiling, saying, “I’m going to beat you up this hill!” “Yes,” I thought, “You probably are, and that’s fine with me!” But then he faded and I spun past him (at what, 5.5 mph?) before he sprinted past me once again. “What is it with these guys.” I thought, “I had a guy on Davis do the same thing! Guess they just don’t want to be passed by some old geezer!” I stopped at the top and waited for Terri, and as he rode by he said, “Well, at least I didn’t have to get off and walk like I did last time!” So I suppose that was some solace after getting beaten to the top by an old guy! Okay, two Potreo’s down, one to go. But wait, on the descent off Potrero #2 my back tire was feeling a bit soft. I asked Terri, “Does my back tire look low?” She told me we were close to the next checkpoint, and asked if I could I make it there, but no. It was on the rim by this time, so we did the roadside fix, and relatively quickly too, so no worries. Turned out to be “snake-bite” though I couldn’t remember hitting anything that could have caused it. And so it was that we proceed half way up the third Potrero climb (this one at a very moderate 5 and 6%) before seeing the Very Famous Dan Crain waving us into the Checkpoint #2 at mile 52.9. Dan was on the phone to Anny (who was crewing for a RAAM team) when we arrived, but the other guys took care of us, with Ken even pumping my rear tire back up to 110 psi. with a floor pump (thanks Ken!). Terri changed out of her base layer, I ate a few pastries, refilled my Camelback, and sucked down a raspberry Hammer Gel, but it was a relatively quick stop at Checkpoint 2 (no one checking numbers here).

The Final Bit of the Final Potrero
After the Checkpoint we were routed back onto Potrero by the aforenoted Dan Crain while hearing his shouted warnings (“Watch for Traffic, watch for riders coming down the hill!”) as we resumed the climb up Potrero #3 for another mile or so. Over the summit it was a long descent into Woodland Hills, CA and the start of the more urban (well, suburban really) part of this ride, with Moorpark and Simi Valley following our ride through Woodland Hills. Great bike lanes through here, so no complaints, and no “scenery” unless you’re into well-kept lawns and shrubbery. Plus, it was getting hot through this section, and we were running low on fluids so we stopped at an ARCO station and split a bag of ice, filling two Camelbacks and two water bottles, donating the balance to a vagrant woman who seemed to be loitering about. That done it was mostly suburban rollies all the way to Checkpoint #3 at Peach Hill Park, long about mile 78.3. Quite the reunion time at Checkpoint 3, with Rebel checkpoint workers Mary and John Long, plus Kriss Okubo, with (non-Rebels) Renee Bartoli (now Renee Smith) Paul Haussler, Shai from bikeforums.net and the Very Famous Karin Huber.

But Wait, There’s More
As if all these greetings weren’t enough, we also saw double riders Linda Adams and Keith Christensen, David Slaton, Jose, David Wu and Karen Robbins, and probably a few more friends I’m not remembering at the moment. We did eat a bit here, filled up the Camelbacks and bottles, yet our usual ten-minute Checkpoint stop was more like fifteen minutes-plus here. And yes, John Long was wearing a funny hat and recording numbers! Leaving Checkpoint #3 we were shortly at the foot of the Grimes Canyon Climb. This one is pretty moderate at 5-7% but it does go on for 2.7 miles, and it’s in bright sunlight, with the day warming up now (about 10:30 AM as we climbed Grimes), plus we’d headed inland which is usually good for a ten degree rise in temperature. Overall though, I was feeling good, sipping ice-cold Sustained Energy from my Camelback, rolling along pain-free up the climb. I waited for Terri at the Summit, then we descended into the orange orchards, enjoying the new pavement as we fought the headwind into the small rural city of Santa Paula, CA. Due to the high temperatures (mid 90’s by now) we were going through a lot of fluids, so we stopped at a small store Terri knew of in Santa Paula and bought a gallon of very cold water. Amazing how quick a gallon disappears into two Camelbacks and two water bottles! That done, it was time to attack the Dennison Grade.

The Dennison Grade
Okay, so we didn’t exactly “attack” The Grade, but with a mountain on one side and almost no shade for the first several miles, it began to be “not fun” relatively quickly. As if the grade and the heat weren’t enough, there were two places where the road was down to one lane, so we had to wait while traffic cleared in the opposing direction before proceeding (automatic traffic light assisted). On top of that, the air seemed to be quite still in the canyon, so any cooling effect (not even a headwind!) was put on hold. Near the top I seemed to be going better, and pulled away from Terri a bit. I passed Linda and Keith (who looked a bit ragged and dehydrated), then stopped at the Summit for a short time (less than a minute) waiting for Terri to catch up. This is where I met Julie for first time, as we shared some shade at the Summit of Dennison. I later discovered that she’d been riding with RobertKat from bikeforums.net though she said he’d dropped her “like a bad habit” on the climb. What were you thinking, Robert?

And So to Lunch, Checkpoint #4 at Mile 115
From the Summit of Dennison, it’s a lovely, twisty drop down into the city of Ojai, where lunch was waiting for us, at the Ojai City Park on Park Street, otherwise known as Checkpoint #4 at mile 115.1. I was ready for some “real” food, so stood in a line of sweaty riders for a short time before collecting my custom “burrito” of frijoles, a dollop of salsa, a slice of turkey and several slices of cheese. A bit further along the food table I added some pasta salad and a good number of potato chips. Not a very “balanced” meal, but it looked good to me! I sat down at the lunch table beside David Slaton (thought it was Mark Cavendish, but no), and across from Karen Robbins. I asked her how her “Campagnolo Leg” was doing, and she proudly lifted it up so everyone could admire the carbon fiber and titanium technology! It had been custom engineered so she could clip in and out of her pedals, and her leg power had not suffered at all! She also announced that she’s painted the toenails on her carbon fiber foot! I can only hope I’d be as cheery as Karen if I’d had part of my leg amputated. Also talked with David Wu at lunch, saw Jose, Eddy, Cathy and Wick, plus Nina Bartoli told me Jackie had just left and was doing great (a similar message was delivered by David Slaton). So that was good to hear, even though Jackie (on the Lowland Route) had left lunch before Terri and I had arrived.

On to Casitas Pass
After lunch we went through the “filling the Camelbacks” routine, iced down the bottles and hit the road, following the usual serpentine course out of Ojai and headed to the last major climb of the day, Casitas Pass. Like Potrero, Casitas comes in three parts. Unlike Potrero, the three parts are fairly even, as are the descents between them, with nothing-unseemly steep. Ojai sits a couple thousand feet above Rincon (the next checkpoint, pretty much at sea level) so our climbs of the various sections of Casitas are more than adequately rewarded with many more miles of descent. That said, it was getting rather warm (just over 100 deg.F.) as we departed Ojai, plus add a few more degrees of body heat due to the exertion of the climb, and then yes, it was rather toasty! Looking on the bright side, huge gulps of well-iced Sustained Energy were keeping me fueled and at least a little cooled. Another big plus is that it’s lots easier to take a big drink from a Camelback spout than it is to use a water bottle for the same operation. In the end, though, it’s just a long slog with only the occasional glimpse of Lake Casitas to entertain the eye. As I neared the 2nd Summit I rode by Patty (CbadRider) and assured her that she was almost to the top of this particular “moderate” climb.

Could You Take My Photo Too Please?
At the top of the Pass I pulled over at a turnout to wait for Terri, only to find a couple on a touring motorcycle had preceded me to the top. I took a photo of Lake Casitas, and the female motorcyclist was kind enough to take a photo of Patty with her camera, and a photo of me with mine. A minute or two later, Terri popped over the top, so it was the end of the photo ops, and back on the bike. After the 2nd Casitas Summit there is, in fact, a very long descent lasting for a couple of miles at least, which may lead the uninitiated to believe that the climbing is over. Just before the start of this last climb (about a mile long and a tad steeper than “moderate”) Terri advised Patty that “It’s not over yet, we have one more big climb to do.” Patty was visibly stunned and certainly not pleased. She turned to me and asked, “She’s kidding, right?” What to do? She seemed so disappointed, yet it was no good trying to fool her, as the climb would start soon enough. “No,” I replied, “actually, she’s not kidding.” Patty later reported that at this point she said some bad words, but fortunately (or not?) I didn’t hear them! Since Terri and I have done multiple Grand Tours, this last climb was no surprise at all, plus (doesn’t tell Patty this) it was only a little steeper than “moderate.”

Into Rincon, Checkpoint #5
That done, there was another moderately steep and long descent, just twisty enough to make it interesting yet not so much that it would be considered dangerous. I descend these kinds of roads faster than Terri (who obviously has more sense), so she was temporarily dropped. No worries though, as she hitched a ride on a pace-line driven by three enthusiastic Young Gentlemen in matching Death Ride jerseys. By the time they’d pulled her up to me we were about to cross the 101 Freeway and roll into Rincon at mile 137.0. Rincon is where the Highland and the Lowland Grand Tour Routes re-connect, so it was no surprise to see Jackie waiting for me when we arrived. Rincon is also the one place each year where I eat a donut (chocolate iced, yes), washed down this time by a Mountain Dew and a V8. The Very Famous Dave Evans was working the Rincon Checkpoint, along with the Equally Famous John Robbins and Mary Conte. Quite the double rider’s reunion here too, with RobertKat from bikeforums, Shai once again, Dante, Lisa (whom I’d met on the Eastern Sierra several years ago), Julie, and many others I’m probably not recalling at the moment! Jackie had already been there quite awhile, so she took off earlier than we did, saying, “I’m sure you’ll catch me!” She still looked good and strong to me, so I wasn’t so sure we would catch her. Somewhere along in here we started talking to the Extremely Famous Saralie Liner who is recovering very well from her horrendous bike crash. Terri is good-friends with Saralie, so it took them awhile to catch up. I should also point out, for those of you who may not have ridden the Grand Tour, that Ricon is when you start to see (feel?) the Beginning of the End. Sure, there’s still a hefty 63 miles to go, but it’s all downhill with a tail wind. No, really, it is (pretty much).

Back to Hueneme Then!
And so it came to pass, that after more than half an hour of eating and visiting at the Ricon Checkpoint, we did eventually get back on our bikes and head out onto the shoulder of the 101. Not much to report here, since we were flying along at 20+ mph with a Wonderful Tail-Wind at our backs, essentially powering us along the roadway, i.e. lots of fun and really not too much work at all. After the shoulder of the 101, the route takes you along the campsites, past rows of RV’s and their attendant SUV’s and Pickups, finally dumping the happy cyclists off onto the bike-only trail that takes us into the City of Ventura. From there it’s a few stop lights before the long straight stretch through Oxnard to the Marina Bridge, a right turn on Ventura Road, then a left on Park and into the Port Hueneme Checkpoint, this time noted as Checkpoint #6 at mile 163.3. And no, we didn’t catch Jackie. We did catch up to RobertKat and Patty, but Jackie was already at the Checkpoint when we arrived. I re-installed the lights I’d left here this morning (Wow, seems like that was several days ago . . .), put on my arm and knee warmers, plus my jacket, since the evening air was cooling off rather rapidly now. Jackie left just a bit before we did, so this time I knew we would catch her!

The Last Stage
Heading off through Port Hueneme from the Checkpoint for the last time, you really do get the feeling that the ride is almost over. The tail wind continued, thankfully, as we sped along the roads beside the Point Magoo Naval Base, then eventually turned onto Pacific Coast Highway, headed for Malibu. We did pass Jackie along here, but she was riding very strong, so I knew she’d finish well. The tail wind continued for the balance of the ride, and while we did have six or seven significant climbs (the one out of Zuma gets your attention!), it was still quite light out and traffic wasn’t too heavy. There were at least two sections where the valet parking from the local restaurants took up the entire shoulder / bike lane, and forced us out into the traffic lanes, but on most of the way through down PCH and through Malibu we had plenty of room. We passed Patty (CbadRider) again through here, and as I rode up behind her mid-climb I couldn’t resist saying, “As you’ve probably guessed, this is just a moderate climb!” Thankfully, she laughed! Eventually we reached the left turn onto Malibu Canyon (which becomes Las Virgenes), luckily getting into the left turn lane due to a fortunately timed break in traffic. Rolling up to the finish, we were checked in by Frank Neil (looked like he hadn’t moved since early this morning), Terri and I said our good-byes and headed to our respective cars.

At The Finish Line
Lots of riders had already finished, and there was quite a crowd at the post-double chili feed, but I went back to the car, changed clothes, put the bike on the rack and waited for Jackie to finish. She finished about 25 minutes after Terri and I, looking very fresh as if the double hadn’t been much effort at all! Much conversation with various rider followed (Saralie, Karen Robbins, David Wu, Jose, Dennis Miller, etc.) before Jackie and I sat down to enjoy our salad and chili with Nina and Clem Bartoli (ADO Gang Riders). That done, we set out for the drive up the mountain to the motel, seeing Cathy and Wick finish (on their tandem) just as we were driving out. So overall, a lovely day, a great ride and wonderful organization added to super efforts by all the volunteers. Only the next day did we learn that tragedy had struck while we slept. At about 1:30 AM two riders were hit (father and son) by a drunk driver, the father apparently died at the scene while the son survived after spending some time in the hospital. I think most of the SoCal Cycling Community is familiar with the incident, but if you are not, please contact me for more details.

Thanks again to the Los Angeles Wheelmen, M.J. Grove and all the volunteers and SAG drivers that help make the Grand Tour one of the best doubles of the year.

Rick / OCRR
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Old 07-12-09, 04:02 PM
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Finished my first ever double yesterday - Seattle To Portland (STP), 202 miles, rode it with four friends. We left Seattle at 5:00am and arrived at the finish line in Portland right around 7:00pm. Our moving average was 17.5MPH. We spent a couple hours in the various rest stops, and about another 30 minutes changing flats along the way.

It was a great experience for me, physically I felt great the whole way. Mentally, the last ten miles were the worst - I was just so ready to be off the bicycle!
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Old 08-06-09, 01:45 PM
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Hi All,

Yes still another double century report (#6 for 2009) but this report will be short(er) than usual since I'm still tired/recovering from the ride, the Mount Tam Double Century.

This double started and finished in San Rafael, Marin county CA (North of San Francisco), and wandered into Sonoma County (famous for wine) for a 100 miles or so. Due to CA State Budget woes, the top of Mt. Tam could not be accessed (not enough Rangers), as it usually is for this event, so the Marin Bicyclists Club wrote a re-route that was supposed to give us the same amount of climbing for the day (15,000 feet) and the same number of miles, i.e. 200.

My good friend and double riding companion Terri Boykins joined me for a Very Dark 4:00 AM start, and she surprised me by setting a torid pace up the first climb (5 miles up Lucas Valley Road). Once my legs were awake I was able to keep up alright, so no worries. I got a bit behind on hydration mid-morning, so had to become a heavy-drinker for awhile to catch up (Camelback and two Polar bottles!), but was then okay in that dept. for the rest of the day.

Just one climb after another all day, really, long climbs sometimes, twisty with hairpins, other times it was rolling hills, part way up Mt. Tam, then on to other climbs, a flat bit along Stenson Beach, then more climbs. You can imagine. The weather was cool, but not exactly cold, the air was moist (misty) but not exactly raining. Well, eventually, in the afternoon, the sun did peek out for half an hour or so, just enough to get us to take off arm warmers, jacket, knee warmers, etc. only to have to re-fit same when the clouds moved in again.

Just as I rememberd from doing this double in 2007, Coleman Valley Road (mile 120 - 140) was the most brutal (extended miles at 16%) climb of the day. As I was approaching the first summit, a herd of Happy California cattle was crossing the road in front of me, pretty much nose-to-tail in a long line. Just when I reached them (traveling at 4 to 5 mph here) the cow on the left stopped at the roadside so that I could pass by! Quite considerate, in a bovine way! And yes, there were cattle guards to ride over (3 or 4) which are extra exciting a very slow speeds. Again, you can imagine!

I was maybe 2 minutes ahead of Terri at the Coleman Checkpoint (after the 3rd Summit) but she didn't think the climb was nearly as bad as she'd heard it would be (her first Mt. Tam double)! It was way bad enough for me . . . The descent on Joy road was less than joyful (lots of bumps and pot-holes), but we eventually made our way to the checkpoint at Valley Ford, mile 155.

After a brief re-fueling stop, it was (mostly) full-on tail wind all the way to Petaluma (after fighting nasty head-winds elsewhere on the course all morning and early afternoon). We had a ten minute (approx.) stop a the checkpoint in Petaluma before heading off for the last 30 miles back into San Rafael. Night fell (gently) about half-way back to the finish, then it was up and down Lucas Valley Road once again (Yes, George Lucas does own all the property along Lucas Valley Road, but no, it wasn't named after him).

We caught up to some other riders along here, passed some (Scott Halverson and a friend), but continued on with HooDoo Rick and his friend Becky, plus the very famous (RAAM Rider) Killy Garsolle (with a creative sense of humor!). So, all that done, we rolled into the finish at 9:45 PM, for a total of 17 Hours and 45 minutes time for the Double. Yes, we were tired. Good ride though, lots of friendly folks at the checkpoints, plus the cool weather was really fine for all that climbing (a tad chilly on the descents though), plenty of food both "real" and powdered types, plus Hammer Gel, E-Caps (electrolite capsules) and Vitamin "I".

A few days later the reports started coming in that eveyone with altitude bike computers had gotten between 16,500 and 16,700 feet of climbing for the day (hey, only an extra 1,500 or so!) plus an additional 20 miles for a 220 mile day. No wonder it took us so long! Terri's computer battery died earlier in the day, and my computer stops working when I turn on my (Princeton Tech) headlights, so neither of us had a clue at the time. Well, except that we were more tired than we expected to be.

Thanks to the Marin County Cyclists Club for an excellent event. I'll be back next year if I can summon up the courage for all that climbing!

Rick / OCRR
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Old 08-06-09, 10:21 PM
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My autistic son [16 years old] and I did the Seattle to Portland ride [STP] in one day. It was our first double century [205 miles] and we finished it in 12.5 hours. The first 100 miles were done in 5 hrs 20 mins. We have a tandem and have trained for this ride all year. We only finished one Century in all of our training and it was a disaster. This training ride was only a month from the STP and my son was sore in all the wrong places. I did not think we were going to finish the STP in one or two days. We left a 4 am on the day of the STP and had some issues with wheels. The front was making a harsh clunking noise in the first 25 miles but we were able to change it out with a spare wheel from my support team [aka wife]. The rear wheel broke some spokes on the last 30 miles but again the support team was there to assist us with our spare rear wheel. No flats on this ride but we had plenty on the training rides. My son almost fell off the bike [which he never has in the past] when we went over a set of railroad tracks while braking. The weather was great with a tail wind on the first half and a head wind on the last half. Although I had a lot of fun my son was very worn out. He was sore but did not want to stop until the finish line. He had tears of joy when we finished because of the acomplishment that he just did. My son is no lightweight and we started this tandem thing because of his weight. Because of his issues he does not ride a bike very well. I really enjoy biking and the tandem works well for us. He would rather spend the time on the internet but after a few weeks he now agrees that he had a great time on the STP. The weirdest thing is that we normally ride at 16 mph in any distance. Our first Century we averaged about 15.3mph. During the STP we averaged over 18 mph the first 100 and over 16 mph for the entire 200. So we set an all time best for a Century and all time distance in one day. Now my daughter wants to do the ride in 2010, so that will be a fun time too. She is a lightweight, much stronger, and can be a real crackup. She too will be 16 next year so maybe with the right training we will do this ride in < 11 hours.

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Old 08-07-09, 08:13 AM
  #22  
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@Butcher,

Though I didn't ride a tandem, my 1 day STP experience was similar. I made (for me) record time to the 1/2 way point in Centralia. At that point I was way ahead of schedule, though things slowed down later that afternoon. My full report (posted in some other forums): https://www.yunt.net/blog/?p=388

I love finding big guys on tandems to draft behind - keep it up
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Old 08-10-09, 11:11 AM
  #23  
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Last saturday, Aug. 8th, I completed my first doubly century. Rode with a 6-7 person group from Willington, CT to Portland, Maine. Great weather and a great group. Had a beautiful ride through Route 1A by the NH coast. Got lucky with a tailwind and averaged 19.0 mph, we moved at a very fast pace.

My pics yet, support vehicle driving hasn't gotten them out yet, but I will post when I get them.

Now its time to start planning for the quadruple metric or maybe the triple century.
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Old 08-10-09, 01:55 PM
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I participated in the 24 Hours of Booty ride in Charlette NC which is a charity event that raises funds for cancer. I had a goal of 300 miles. If I completed it I had a donor who would give donate $3,000. The ride is a 2.97 mile loop in the Queens College area of town. Simple route with two small climbs. The event begins at 7:00 pm Friday and ends 7:00 pm Saturday. Since I came from TX I rode it alone for the most part.

Here’s the stats:

Total distance: 283 miles, that’s the equivalent of riding from Houston to North of the Texas Arkansas border.

Event Time: 24 hours. 7:00 pm Friday – 7:00 pm Saturday.

Saddle time: 18 hours 20 minutes. 5 Hours and 40 min was spent eating, drinking and resting.

Avg course speed: 15.7 mph

Max speed: 38.6 mph (down hill) pedaling as fast as I could around 12:30 pm.

Calories burned: 21,250. You read it right. That’s like eating 135 Twinkies and not having to worry about it.

Leg cramps: None until after the ride having dinner at a hamburger restaurant. I’m sure I looked funny sitting in the chair withering in pain.

Total single day weight loss: 14.69 pounds. Just like prior rides, I will put this weight back on and then some in the coming weeks. This begs the question…is cycling really helping me if I gain the weight back plus a few pounds each time. As I have said before, I need to change my diet..

Flat tires, crashes, or other mechanical problems: ZERO!! Thank goodness.

Sunburn: A little. It was really warm during the day. I lost so much weight through sweating that you could see the salt on my jersey, shorts and everywhere else.

Most inspirational moment: Watching a young man who was in his teens who lost his legs due to cancer in a wheelchair powered by his arms. He would crank the peddles like a bike with his hands to make his chair go around the course. He had three teenage buddies who rode with him at his pace to ensure he was never left alone on the ride. To see this group of young men was inspirational.

The worst thing heard during the ride: “On your left.” I heard that so much on Saturday I wanted to puke. I tried to make a game of it by picking off riders in front of me and passing them but it did not work as the hours dragged by. I was being picked off way more than people I picked off.

Finally, the most important numbers, drum roll please!
Pledge donation total: $5,241.00 and counting.
I lost count of my millage during the ride. I thought I was at 250 plus or minus a few miles. So the last four hours I thought I could not get to my goal so I took it easy. Had I known I was that close I would have pushed harder and gotten the extra 5 or six laps to get me to 300. So much for doing math with little to no sleep and on the verge of total exhaustion. I was so disappointed after I calculated the millage back at the hotel. I need a better plan of the next time to help keep track of laps/mileage when my Garmin powers down.
It was well worth it, I will do anything to help stop cancer.
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Old 08-27-09, 10:35 PM
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DOING THE HELL AND BACK OPTION OF THE GUTCHECK 212. ACROSS THE STATE OF SOUTH DAKOTA AND BACK (830 MILES w/detours) WITHIN 4 DAYS. https://www.gutcheck212.com/news/


STARTING AT THE BORDER: Travel fron Minnesota line to Redfield, SD
Wednesday August 5, 2009, 107 miles (172 km) - Total so far: 107 miles (172 km)

Leave from home outside of Ethan, SD Wednesday afternoon to begin trip. Feeling tired from just driving the pickup to Minnesota border. I meet fellow participant Keith Frick and his wife from Wyoming, they have driven across South Dakota with a support vehicle to begin at the Minnesota border also. We chat for a while and I tell him he should take off before me as I still have items to get ready. Keith later on because of injury and has to drop out.
In my haste to get going I do not get my gear strapped securely. 3 miles into trip hit some rough pavement and things start falling on to Highway 212 off of my rack.
I spend time looking for items but can't find my eyeglasses. I found the case and sunglass clip-ons but no glasses. I ride back to the border and get rope from my pickup in order to more securely tie down the load. After spending more time looking for dropped items and repacking I finally get going about 5:10 CT.

Strong southeast wind is really helping and I make Watertown by 7:15 and get some energy fuel at the Prairie Stop. I fall off the bike in making a quick stop to avoid a driver who comes out of nowhere and whizzes by driveway outlet next to highway.


Take another energy fuel stop in Clark as it is getting dark. Heading down the Prairie Coteau is an easy coast with a full moon lighting my way. My spirits are high and with a strong tailwind ride is just dreamlike. I make it to Redfield around 10:30PM. take another quick food snack at a convenience store and on to the Super 8 for some rest.


Rough start from Minnesota Border Met Keith Frick Casper WY.

Stop in Clark, SD - Evening and nite ride is peaceful and serene


A first 200 mile day(close enough): Travel from Redfield, SD to Faith, SD
Thursday August 6, 2009, 194 miles (312 km) - Total so far: 301 miles (484 km)


Travel starts after quick Convenience store breakfast and I'm on road sometime before 7 AM. I have to take a detour on back roads away from Highway 212. Road definitely becomes rougher with more large potholes when getting into Faulk county. Notice some gravel trucks which will play a role later.

Cool and cloudy with favorable winds. Get to Faulkton and becoming cloudier and get a steady rain about 16 miles east of Gettysburg. Stop at the "Burg" in Gettysburg around noon feeling cold and wet. Other "bikers" (the other kind) are also holed up and it really begins to pour. Strike up a conversation with one of the bikers heading east and he tells me it has been raining heavy since he left Belle Fourche. Another biker talks to me and tells of all his near misses on bike. Seems a little strange as he recounts near misses, bike accidents, and fights. Air conditioning is going full blast inside and all I really want to do is find a warm place to lay my head down, as I am cold, tired and beginning to shiver.

Call Julie who checks radar and tells me progress of storm. Clearing west of River and thinks I will be able to go by 2:30 pm or so. Right on cue rain lets up and I leave the "Burg" at 2:30. Hit a couple more light showers but eventually warm and dry enough to take off my jacket.

I have a scenic and scary descent in crossing Missouri River into Cheyenne River Indian Reservation. I am really enjoying the ride again and making very good time. Julie’s monster cookies are giving me a big energy boost. Reservation dog starts to chase me but can’t keep up. When I get to Eagle Butte it is very busy. Lots of traffic and a person doesn't see me in car who is crossing the road to pull into convenience store just as I am crossing paths down Highway. He brakes and is caught out in the middle of road and courteously lets me pass. I decide not to stop in Eagle Butte because it is so busy and I have Julie’s cookies to keep me going.

Make it to Dupree where I fuel up with quick stop food and drink. Getting a little tired and it is pretty dark by 8:30 when I get to Faith. Get to motel but their attached cafe has just closed. I experience another convenience store meal at the Cenex across the street. Want to get needed sleep but for some reason can't and end up watching movie late.




cold and wet layover at the "Burg"



Was a great ride going through the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation


Getting dark by the time I get to Faith



A monster day: Faith, SD to Wyoming border and back to Faith
Friday August 7, 2009, 228 miles (367 km) - Total so far: 529 miles (851 km)



Cafe open at 5am. Didn't get all the sleep I wanted but feel pretty good. Finished breakfast a little after 5:30. Needed to clean my bike and re-lube as t was getting light enough to do so outside. After maintenance and packing I was on road around 6:30 mtn.time. I did not realize the elevation change and rolling hills that would lie ahead. In addition have an unfavorable crosswind today that eventually turns into a headwind.

Thinking of the juicy hamburger I will get in Belle Fourche. In meantime lots of hills and no stops tell I can get to Newell, SD. Make it okay and really find that the combination of chocolate milk and tomato juice works good for me as a fuel. I have been seeking it out at my convenience store stops. Western cowboy tells me I have a funny looking bike and gives me an unfriendly look. Not so with most people who I have met who are genuinely interested.

Get to Belle Fourche kind of late and no McDonalds on the 212 route. Heading into a pretty stout headwind I decide to touch the Wyoming border first and then eat at Belle Fourche on the return journey. Approaching the Wyoming border I can see the support vehicles and other riders congregated along the highway. Get to border at a little before 2:00 pm. and several riders cheer me as I report in. Talk with some of the participants and take about a 30-minute rest on the ground. I leave before the group starts east and with idea of getting a good meal in Belle Fourche.

I eat at Jumping Jack's restaurant and have my worst hamburger ever. Burnt and froze at the same time. Fries are hardly edible but the tomato juice gives me a good pick me up. By the time I leave restaurant all the other riders have passed me but at least now I have a tail wind and elevation is definitely downward even though I still have to attack the rolling hills west of Newell.
Getting to Newell I have a quick snack and refill all my water bottles. A very friendly person stops to talk and wants to know all about recumbents. While talking I realize clouds starting to billow up. Very much looks like it could storm. Get back on the road and see sky darken to the south. Hear later that storm dumped baseball sized hail at the motorcycle rally. East of Newell I am starting to catch up with other riders and pass a few. It is really neat to see the support vehicles out on the prairie. People cheer me as I go by and ask me to stop if I need anything. I am actually in great shape water and food wise so I give friendly waves back as I pass on by.

When it gets dark I suddenly find my bike very unstable. My light system is working well but my bike seems like it wants to veer out of control on me. I wait for a good place to stop, finding none I finally pull off and tighten headset, steerer tube etc. I get going again and then lock up my gears. Mosquitoes have no pity on my as I have a difficult time lining up tire with disk brake back into the dropouts. As I loose a lot of time working on my bike in the dark, all of the other riders eventually pass me by. I can see the lights of Faith in the distance a long way off as it just me out on the prairie by myself.

I Finally get to Faith sometime around 11:30 pm. Motel was booked solid but was told beforehand that I could sleep in a garage overnight. I can see that there are other riders and their support vehicles also stopped in Faith. Debating what to do. Nothing open and I am tired and hungry and sitting by motel with no one around. Noticed a street dance going on a couple blocks away. I talk to some people coming back from the dance and they inform me that there was a food vendor at the dance.



At the Wyoming border around 2 pm on Friday



Lots of "motorized-bikers" out and about as Sturgis Rally going on.
My food was not the greatest at this stopover in Belle Fourche.



Many miles of open and lonely road between Newell and Faith





Ham Sandwiches and Mountain Dew are great: Travel from Faith, SD to Redfield, SD
Saturday August 8, 2009, 195 miles (313 km) - Total so far: 723 miles (1,164 km)


Going to street dance in Faith, SD. It is after midnight and I am just about washed out. No motels rooms available and I don't feel like making the call to sleep in someone's garage. Thinking about finding some big round hay bales to sleep next to in the open prairie outside of town, but that is where the rattlesnakes like to stay.

Anyway, surprisingly as I wander among the participants at the street dance no one is looking at me too strangely. I find the vendor and he informs me that he still has brats and hot shaved-ham sandwiches available. I order two ham sandwiches (should have taken 4) along with a mountain doo and sit down on a park bench to take in the scene.

Like a miracle life breathes back into me and I feel like I could ride another 100 miles. Notice that some of the other riders are starting back out also. Weather is getting a little cool but winds still favorable. I get on my bike and can't believe how good I feel. However it is getting cloudier again. Starting to sprinkle a little and pavement is getting wet. I am in Zieback County still west of the reservation. I see a SUV approaching me from the other way. It turns on its top lights and suddenly swerves into my lane coming to a complete stop a few yards in front of me. I am going at about a 20mph clip and hit my brakes going into a skid almost going headfirst into the vehicle. I shout out "what are you trying to do....!!?". The deputy perhaps realizing his mistake asks me about whether I had a car escort? No I explain as I am riding by myself. He apologizes and I go on my way. Mist is starting to turn into rain as I get to Dupree around 2 AM or so. Everything of course is closed. I find shelter at a closed gas station and lay down on the raised cement island underneath the canopy. Two other support vehicles and their riders also congregate under this shelter, they sleeping inside. I am offered a blanket by one of the support team members and it was greatly appreciated, as my windbreaker/rain jacket was not the warmest. Who thought August would be this cool and wet? I drifted off into a sound sleep and then a member from another support vehicle woke me to ask if I would want to sleep on a cot that he could set up. As I felt fairly comfortable and was too tired to move I declined. Don't know how long I rested maybe, 45 minutes. As I was trying to get back to sleep I could hear that it quit raining so I go up and resumed my ride. Getting to Eagle Butte around 4 am or so, a lot quieter than previously. I was very glad they had an open convenience store and was able to rest and refuel some more.

After getting back on road feeling pretty good. Going through reservation at light of day is beautiful. Even though the crosswind seems to become more unfavorable for a time I do not feel overly tired. Do take a very short nap along the road before I cross the river. One great descent downhill on the west side and one super hill to climb on the east side before getting on more level plain. Of course by the time I get to Gettysburg a little after 10:30am it becomes rainy again. Call Julie who tells me heavy rain behind me and that it is clearer to the east. I am wondering where all this sunshine is supposed to be that was predicted. I have a pretty good snack in town and quickly get back on the road again. I get ahead of the cloud front and am keeping a good rate of speed going when I get to Faulkton.

By the time I get to Faulkton I suddenly feel super tired. I sit down on the sidewalk next to the convenience store and contemplate my next move. Actually starting to get sunny and hot (I asked for it). I know where the Super 8 motel is in Redfield and it is early afternoon, too early to bed down here. So I head out of town and come up to the detour road I had taken on the way out. Surprise!

Coming at a good clip down the road I noticed some gravel, which didn't seem right. Thinking not too clearly I had passed that way before I kept going full speed and sunk into loose gravel about 6 inches deep spilling me over. Arm now bleeding I am not too happy and can actually see someone (county) dumped truckloads of gravel onto a perfectly good potholed road. Looked like it was at leas a mile of this. Not wanting to walk I tried to bike in the packed ruts or along edge where gravel was not deep. I invariably hit soft spots where I dumped a few more times. Not really fun now as it was really warming up and I just wanted rest. Finally came to area of road where surface was more packed and back onto the potholed pavement. Getting back to Redfield seemed to take forever but I checked into the motel at around 5:30.

Took hot bath and then laid on the bed realizing I needed to get up soon to get something to eat. Basically passed out and woke up after 10:30pm very hungry. Luckily a Subway was right next to the super 8 and didn't close tell 11 PM. I had a good meal and saved some items for morning breakfast.



Except for some periods of rain, and maybe portions of days where winds not alwasy so favorable, the weather was ideal

Slept for a short time on gas island during rain-shower in Dupree, SD




A very easy ride for end of Journey: Travel from Redfield, SD to Minnesota Border
Sunday August 9, 2009, 107 miles (172 km) - Total so far: 830 miles (1,336 km)


Getting early start around 6 AM as sun just begins to rise. Weather is almost too perfect to be real. Favorable tail wind, cool temps, and clouds drift over sun in east sky so it is not in my face. Climbing up the hill on the western edge of the Coteau de Prairie seems easy and I soon find myself in Clark with only about 68 miles to go.

I have filled my pockets with energy food. Got my sports drink mixed in my water bottle and my hydration pack in back is full. Don't see any reason to stop but I do at Culver's in Watertown for bathroom break. Go to window and ask if they have tomato juice, which is something my body has craved for on this trip. They don't have so I continue on. Make it through Watertown okay and now it is to the eastern side of the Coteau and a cruise downward to the Minnesota border. Highway a little sketchy in spots and there was some hellacious speed bumps I picked up earlier in Clark County and had misfortune of going over them. They are so deep that it seemed almost about to tear my bike apart.

Anyway cruising east of Watertown, Pickup passes and is in my lane head-on for me. I don't have a good shoulder but have to dive off into it anyway. Probably my worst experience as I shout a few obscenities and give the universal displeasure sign. Finally I hit the downhill section and it is a little before 1PM as I approach the Minnesota border. It is very satisfying as I again have a cheering section greet me. Rider Jason Harms along with his family and friends are parked nearby with their camper. Jason has become the first participant with crohn’s or colitis to take part in and complete the solo ride. After exchanging congratulations I am offered to partake in food and beverages with them. What a great way to end the trip. I go to my pickup and change into conventional cloths. While visiting with Jason and his crew two more riders approach, they also become firsts for this event. Jessica Walker becomes first Female to participate and complete the solo ride. Rider Jeremy Thomas becomes first amputee to complete the solo ride. Congratulations all around!


Back at the border after a successful trip



Conclusion: A Journey to remember

Cycling seems to put me in another world. I can be tired driving a car for 100 miles or so, yet when I get on a bike for a long distance ride I feel energized.

This was not normal August weather. The rain was an inconvenience but the coolness I experienced was a big plus. Trip would have been a no go for me if I had hit 95 plus weather. Parts of two days when it was close to 90 were definitely not as enjoyable. Winds were very favorable about 75% of my trip.

Preparation involved getting bike rack set up to carry what was needed. I am sure I could have camped with the right lightweight gear, but it was a big help resting in a motel 3 nights. Taking a hot bath always felt good. I did not have any major aches or discomfort. My knee actually hurt a little bit when driving the pickup back to Ethan. I cannot really believe how comfortable my LowRacer recumbent was. Did have a couple of problems on the mechanical side but everything worked out okay.

It was especially helpful for my wife Julie to give me weather info when I called. Also, I cannot forget to leave out the monster cookies she baked for me, they were great snacks on the fly. In addition her sewing front pockets on my bike jerseys made it easy for me to get nutrition from my energy snacks without stopping.

I may want to do this event in the future either in support or as a rider. Perhaps trying it oneway across at a faster pace.







Some things I packed. Most items in small carry pack with 4 sets of bike cloths in purple stuff sack. Rack worked well after I secured everything the right way.

Had 3 headlite system and Cateye 1100 mounted in back with an additional spare tailite.

Julie sewed pockets in front of my bike jerseys. Worked great for snacks on the fly. These cookies Julie baked suppleied energy for at least 200 miles

Last edited by karjak; 10-20-09 at 06:34 PM. Reason: wording and spelling edits
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