Saturday, May 19 in Davis, California:
This was to be my first double century, so I was rather apprehensive about it. My longest ride so far was 128 miles on the Grizzly Peak Century, which was a little bit hillier, but 72 miles shorter!
Before ride day:
In the days before the ride, I was trying to force myself to get up early and go to bed early so I could have a chance of getting something approaching a reasonable amount of sleep the night before the ride. I woke up at 5am on Friday, put in a nearly full day of work, and headed out towards Davis at 1:30pm. I had (foolishly) thought that leaving at 1:30 would beat the traffic. Ha! 2 hours and 45 minutes later, I pulled into the Davis HoJo (this drive should have taken about 1hr 15min) and checked in. I think I had been lucky to get a room near the start in Davis, as I’ve been told the nearby rooms fill up early. At 5 I drove over to Davis High School to check in for the ride and do some more carbo-loading. The registration went very smoothly, and I sat down with a heaping plate of penne pasta and salad. The food wasn’t terrific, but I didn’t really care, as it would provide much-needed energy for the next day. While eating, I talked to a number of Davis Double veterans, and got some tips for the ride (the usual tips – drink lots, eat lots, pace yourself, all good advice!). I headed back to the hotel around 6:30 and milled around for a while before going to bed. I had trouble sleeping due to my excitement, but got to bed around 10pm.
Ride day – the beginning:
My wakeup call came at 3am as ordered, and I blearily rose, donned my bike clothes, drank some coffee, and mixed up a bottle of Spiz liquid food, my favorite pre-ride “meal” because its extremely easy to digest (even if it doesn’t taste particularly good). I packed my jersey pockets with 3 more ziplocs of Spiz, 4 double-caffeine Power Gels, my knee warmers and windbreaker, and my sunglasses & bike mirror, and headed out. The outside thermometer in my car was reading 65° – at 3:30am, this forecast a very warm day! After arriving at Davis High School, topping off my tires, and turning on my headlight and taillight, I hit the road at 4:10.
Miles 0-22 – the dark hours:
I rode along the Davis streets for a few miles until the route went out of town. It was quite dark once we left Davis as there were no street lights illuminating the road, but I soon hooked up with 2 other folks, and we pacelined along (though cautiously, as we couldn’t see the irregularities in the road surface very well at all) maintaining a good speed, roughly 20mph. My light kept turning upwards whenever I’d hit even a small bump, which was annoying. Guess I need a more secure mount for it…
As we rolled into the first rest stop at Farnham Ranch, the sun was rising rapidly, so I took off my headlight, but left on the taillight for extra visibility. It was only then that I noticed what one of the fellows I was riding with was on – he was riding a Schwinn single-speed beach cruiser with coaster brakes and really wide tires! Wow! The folks I had been riding with stayed only a minute or two, but I stayed longer to use the facilities, eat some bread, and top off my water bottles. While there, I ran into Deb, who I’d met on the I Care Classic the weekend before, and her husband (whose name escapes me at the moment), but they were in and out of the rest stop in no time at all. I would see them many more times during the ride, though.
After the first rest stop, the route went out to Winters and started to gently turn upwards. We went by the south shore of Lake Berryessa, which was very pretty. By this time, there were a lot of 4x4s towing boats out to the lake. I was glad to have my mirror so I could see them coming. I hooked up with a paceline of tandems and we motored along at 20+mph to rest stop #2 at Markley Cove. My strategy was to spend 5-10 minutes at most rest stops, with longer stops at miles 50, 100, and 150 to drink a bottle of Spiz and get a good stretch in, so I spent a little while at this stop, drank 2 cans of V8, chugged a bottle of Spiz (mmmm, thick and chocolatey), and headed back out. V8 isn’t really what one might expect on a ride like this, but it tasted really good, and provided much-needed sodium.
Then came the first climb of the day, “Cardiac Hill”. The name proved much scarier than the hill itself, which wasn’t particularly difficult at all (though it was very scenic). I just plunked it down into my granny gear and did an easy spin up the hill. I wanted to conserve energy on the hills, especially the early ones, so I could be assured of having enough energy for the afternoon.
After Cardiac Hill, there was a nice descent, followed by some rollers along the hills near Lake Berryessa. I picked up another tandem to draft, and were were again cruising at 20+mph. I was definitely liking this tandem drafting thing! The tandem though, missed the turnoff on Lower Chiles Valley Rd. despite my shouting at them from 2 feet back, and I didn’t see them again. Rest stop #3 was only 15mi after #2, so I spent very little time there, just topping off my bottles and grabbing a quick bite. I saw Deb again at this stop, and rode with her & her hubby for the next several miles. This was Deb’s first double century too, and her husband was making sure they didn’t spend too much time at rest stops. Deb dropped back on some rollers, and I rode a while with her hubby – he is an extremely strong rider, who finished the Davis Double with a rolling average of 19mph last year – yowwch! He was a nice fellow, and we rolled along chatting for a ways until he decided that in the interest of harmonious marital relations, he should probably wait up for Deb 🙂
At mile 75 I pulled into rest stop #4 in Pope Valley. I must not have spent very long there, as I don’t remember it at all 🙂 I did appreciate the frequency of the rest stops – it made it a lot easier to pace myself and gave ample opportunites to stretch out.
The route continued onwards past Hubcap Heaven, a ranch with about a mile or so of fence that’s almost completely covered by hubcaps – a rather odd sight in the middle of nowhere! After a short climb, we passed by Detert Reservoir, a very pretty lake on Butts Canyon Rd. There weren’t really any pacelines around me at this point, and the few I saw were waaaay faster than I wanted to go, so I just chugged along at my own pace and enjoyed the view. I grabbed onto a tandem going by, but should have known from their Furnace Creek 508 jerseys that there was no way I was going to keep up with them, and in short order they rode me off their wheel 😉
Rest stop #5 at Middletown High School soon came along at 95 miles, and I took another longer break to stretch, drink another Spiz, some more water, and have a Power Gel (mmmm, caffeine!). Then it was on to the second big climb of the day on Big Canyon Rd. This climb wasn’t too terribly bad, though by this point it was getting pretty darned hot – somewhere in the low 90’s I’d guess. My Cateye was reading 95°, but it always reads a bit high. It was a very scenic climb up the side of a canyon (Big Canyon, I presume), and it wasn’t too exposed, which was nice!
Near the top of the climb at mile 105 was rest stop #6. They had a wading pool for folks to cool their feet off in, which sounded nice, but I was afraid that if I took off my cycling shoes, I wouldn’t be at all eager to put them on again, so I passed on that. I did chug a Mtn. Dew (I normally don’t like it at all, but hey, it has lots of sugar and caffeine!). I wasn’t having to use the bathrooms as often a I should have, so I drank a bunch of extra water at this stop to stay hydrated, then headed back out. At 106 miles, I was at the “Top of the DC” at 2175 feet. Just one more climb left, and I was feeling pretty good still!
The next 10 miles descended 1000 feet, and in no time I was at the lunch stop at Lower Lake High School. I didn’t really want to have lunch at this point, as the last major climb was just ahead, and a web page of tips for the DCsuggested that its best to put off lunch until the rest stop at mile 133, after which it was literally all downhill or flat, so I snacked, had another soda, drank a bunch more water, and stretched. I saw Deb and her hubby again, but again they left before I did.
The Resurrection: This was the final climb of the day, and from the route sheet it didn’t look too bad – a little under 1000 feet in 6 miles. By this point, however, it was getting very hot – my Cateye was reading 102°, and it was probably actually somewhere around 96°. This climb, unlike the previous ones, was completely exposed with no shade anywhere – uggh! I caught up to Deb and her husband and rode with them until her hubby went ahead, then I rode with Deb, as I was in no hurry at all! I was running very low on water even though I’d ridden less than 20 miles since filling up both of my bottles! I was getting a little worried as there were still a few miles to go, and 1/4 bottle surely wouldn’t be enough. Thankfully there were a ton of SAG wagons patrolling the hill, and one of them stopped to dispense water, which I gratefully accepted. After a while of grinding away at the hill, I was at rest stop #7, near the top of the Resurrection at mile 133! There were a bunch of kids here with spray bottles of ice water, which feltgreat. They had more iced V8, which really hit the spot, so I had a couple cans of that, and munched on a few handfulls of corn chips. From what I’d been told, it was literally all downhill or flat from here on out – I was feeling reasonably OK (though pretty overheated), and was now pretty sure I could do it! It probably helped me psychologically that from here on out, every mile would be a new personal record for me!
The rest stop wasn’t quite at the top of the Resurrection, so I slogged onwards until I came to the summit and we dropped down into a really nice, fast descent. I’m sure this could have been a 50+mph descent, but I was getting a bit sore, so I didn’t feel like crouching into my best aero tuck and settled for going 45’ish for several miles 🙂 The road wound along the beautiful Cache Creek for a number of miles. If I hadn’t been getting so tired, I would have stopped to take a few pictures, but I just wanted to get to the next stop. In a bit, rest stop #8 came along. They had lots of chairs in the shade, which my butt was glad for, and more V8. I spent a little while here drinking water, as I was starting to feel kind of icky from some combination of the heat and not enough water (though I was drinking tons of it). It didn’t occur to me at the time, but I was probably way behind on my caloric intake as well. I saw Deb & her hubby here for the last time – they spent so little time at the stops that I’m sure they finished well before I did.
After that stop, there were some small rollers, which I found to be really painful, as it was still extremely hot, and I was starting to feel rather un-well from not drinking quite enough water, and not eating nearly enough. I was looking forward to rest stop #9 at mile 165, which finally arrived after what seemed like an eternity.
They had valet bike parking and more spray-bottle-bearing kids at this rest stop, a bunch of reclining lawn chairs, and most importantly, ice-cold towels to drape over one’s shoulders, and staff who were happy to bring the riders whatever they wanted. I mixed up my last batch of Spiz and choked that down (thick chocolatey liquid meal-stuff was definitely unappealing to me at this point!), sat down, and drank another few cans of V8, a soda, and a water bottle or two. This was my longest rest stop at about 30 minutes. There were several riders who looked like death warmed over. One of them was nearly unconscious and had to be helped to the SAG wagon! From this point on, all of the SAG wagons I saw were full of riders being taken back, and I heard on the radio that a few had to be taken to the hospital – no fun! By the time I left, though, I was feeling much better, as I’d caught up on my hydration, and the 500 calories, 98g carbo, 19g protein, and various amino acids and electrolytes from the Spiz were starting to kick in.
With my newfound energy, I cruised along at a brisk (for me at least) 20mph clip and hooked up with a nice 7-person paceline, which pulled me all the way to rest stop #10 at Farnham Ranch (the same place as rest stop #1 was what seemed like an eternity before). I took a good long stretch here (and got a compliment from another rider on how flexible I was at this late point in the ride) and tanked up on more water. Thankfully it was getting cooler now – “only” in the high 80’s/low 90’s, I’d guess.
It was 15 miles to the next rest stop, and I was feeling really strong, so I tucked down on the aero bars and scooted along at 20-23mph, passing a great many people, including the folks I had been pacelining with previously. The sun was starting to set around this time, so I put a little more oomph into it, as I really didn’t want to be out when it was fully dark. A few people hopped on to draft me, but fell back after a mile or two. At mile 184, it was the last “hill” – the freeway overpass over Hwy 505 🙂 Rest stop #11 came along quickly. They had homemade chili there, which sounded really, really good, however I was concerned that it would upset my stomach, so I passed on that, and instead took a quick stretch, snacked a bit, and headed out to do the last 8 miles.
I had to put my headlight back on for the last stretch, as visibility was getting poor, but it wasn’t quite dark yet, so I figured that if I kept it at at least 20mph, I’d be done in 25’ish minutes. True enough, about 25 minutes later at 9:00, I rolled back into Davis High School, almost 17 hours after I’d left it. I had actually finished it! I was really, really happy about completing the ride, especially given the awful heat (my happiness was magnified by a small bit of delerium no doubt :-)!
I parked my bike at the bike racks and noticed a large cordoned-off area of bicycles that had been SAG’d back. There must’ve been around 100 of them. I heard that the ride usually has about a 10% DNF rate, and no doubt the heat on this day increased that by a bit. I went into the multi-purpose room, checked in, got my patch and T-shirt, and got some grub – rice, beans, and chicken with salad – Yummmm! After relaxing for an hour or so, I went back to my car, loaded it up, and headed back to the hotel, where I called my folks to assure them that I’d survived the ride, then I had a beer and promptly fell asleep.
This ride was really amazing overall – the route was beautiful, the support amongst the best I’ve ever seen at a bike ride, the riders were very friendly, and it was a great challenge to complete it! Next time, I think I’ll bring more Spiz to keep up on calories, and maybe a 3rd water bottle holder just to make sure I don’t run out. This was an excellentfirst double century with 12 rest stops, many more than most other doubles, from what I understand. CamelBak isn’t kidding: Hydrate or die! On this ride, I went through about 15 bottles of water, 4 bottles of Spiz, 6-8 bottles of Gatorade, 8-10 cans of V8, and 4 sodas and still was a little bit dehydrated!
|Total Time:||16h 50m|
|On-bike Time:||12h 53m|
|Average including rest stops:||11.8mph|
|Total Cimbing:||7200 ft|