I am still recovering from this epic event as I’m writing this. My body has never been so sore and swollen after a bike ride before. I’m using my Hammer Recoverite everyday to try to replace and rebuild my broken down muscle tissue until I feel better. Thanks for this tip Ann Erickson! It really works!
After doing three Double Centuries last year and talking to a gal about the stage race finishers jersey she was wearing, during the Bass Lake Double, I decided to take on a new challenge in 2015. The three tough doubles in this year’s challenge started with the Devil Mountain Double on April 25th, then the Terrible Two on June 20th and finishes with the Mt. Tam double on Aug 1st. If you are able to complete these in the time cut offs you get the opportunity to buy a special jersey.
I have been training on the DMD course primarily this entire pre-season and even did a practice run of the first half to see if I could make the 1 pm cut at mile 94, so I knew it very well. I had heard it takes about two hours longer than the TT and was prepared with extra lights for the extended period of time that I would be riding in the dark.
My biggest concern as the event got closer was the weather. It had been calling for rain. I was relieved when I got up Saturday morning at 2:45 am that there were just slight showers tapering off to a cloudy day. I had a huge stack of things laid out depending on what the weather would be. I chose my sleeveless underarmor, jersey, vest, arm warmers and light rain repellant jacket, scull cap, long and short fingered gloves with some latex gloves to wear over my long fingered gloves in the morning, while it was raining. I also brought a ski type bandana to wear around my nose and mouth for the descent on Diablo, which I was grateful to have. It was a breezy and cold descent but I felt comfortable.
Friday night was check in at the San Ramon Marriott. I unfortunately dropped my Iphone, cracked the screen so it wouldn’t work any more right before check in at 5 pm. Now I had an unplanned trip to Clayton in heavy Friday night traffic to get my phone repaired before going to bed, I was really glad I had been preparing for this ride all week and had everything pretty much ready to go already and had gotten plenty of rest during the week as well.
Saturday at 4 am I drove to San Ramon to meet a fellow rider, Al, at his house. We road from his house about 2 miles to the start. By the time we reached the start, my shorts were already wet. At that point I pulled out my shower cap to cover my helmet to keep my head dry. After a short speech by the organizer, we were off at 5 am heading to Mt Diablo for our first climb. The roads were wet, but by the time we reached the mountain, the rain pretty much stopped. The mountain was breezy, foggy, and cold. but otherwise good climbing weather. I sipped on Fizz edurolytes in my water bottle on the climb and ate a Hammer Bar when I got to the top around 7 am. I headed down as soon as I could because it was really cold up there. As I rounded the corner of Northgate Rd and Oak Grove, James Davis was standing there cheering us on with a cow bell in hand. Mia was Cheering at the corner of Oak Grove as I turned to go up Ygnacio Valley Rd. at about 7:30 am, as well. I couldn’t believe they had gotten up that early on a Saturday to cheer us on, but it made me feel so good to have that kind of support.
The next climb was Morgan Territory. As we headed that direction we saw James again and the weather was starting to warm up. This is when Al made his biggest mistake. He gave his warm rain jacket, undershirt and rain proof long gloves to James. I peeled but kept everything. The climb on Morgan Territory went well. This is when I was passed by the elite set of riders that started out at 6 am because they are so fast they know they are going to make the cut. The rest stop was muddy and many riders including Al had a tough time getting their shoes clean enough to clip back in. I ate just a little and used the porta potty and was off again at 9:40 am.
After descending Morgan Territory you make a left and head toward Livermore. Al and I switched off pulling each other in the wind. By the time we got to Altamont Pass there was a group of five of us in an alternating pace line with the wind at our backs. This was awesome! We flew during that part, but I knew as soon as we turned and headed to climb Patterson Pass we would have a 19 mph head wind. Needless to say it was a tough climb. I skipped the water stop at the base of the climb. I just yelled my number out. There are check points at each rest stop where they write down your number so they know where you are on the course and to record that you finish the whole course.
There were only a few more miles of riding after the descent to get to the Mines road cut off. I made it at 12:40 pm with plenty of time before the 1 pm cutoff. I had started to bonk on the way there and started eating a bar to eat on my way there. Something I learned is that it’s important to have food with you and try to eat little bits as you go on these long events. At this point I was close to half way at mile 94 so I went ahead and plugged my Garmin into the backup battery and hooked up my shuffle so I had some music for the tougher second half.
Mines Road was next and the cut off at the Junction was very reachable. I put it into zone 2 t rest my legs and recover a bit before the afternoon climbs. I got there at 3:15 pm with plenty of time to spare before the 4:30pm cut off. I had some trouble with my right quad cramping and had to get off my bike, stretch and take some Hammer endurolytes. I was bummed I didn’t pack more than one. I think it was because it was a cold day. I usually don’t have trouble with cramps unless it’s hot and I’m sweating a lot. Lucky for me they had the endurolytes at the rest stops so I was able to take more and stock up with some. I also had some problems with my stomach on Mines Rd. When I got to the Junction I really didn’t feel like eating but knew that I needed to. I had a couple of slices of turkey, Lays potato chips and a grape flavored fruit drink. Somehow all that made me feel better.
Now I was off to climb Mt Hamilton. It was cool and very breezy but I preferred that to a hot day. Water and Heed taste so much better when it’s cold! There was no stop at the top of Hamilton but the descent was going to be cold! I stopped to put everything I had originally brought back on and needed it. The next stop was at a cyclist’s home about 3/4’s of the way down. I got there at 7 pm and saw Al getting suited up with some plastic bags to keep is core warm. I felt so bad for him. His legs were freezing up and not working well because he was so cold. The best part about this stop at mile 150 was the warm soup, fire and a real toilet! I spent the most time at this rest stop.
After leaving this rest stop it was a short 6 miles to the base of the mega steep climb up Sierra Road! It was dark by then and I was surprised at how good I felt. I dropped the group I road over there with and it was the last I saw of Al. There were a lot of supporters on the climb cheering us on in the dark which made me smile and cheer back. One guy even ran along beside me for awhile.
The next stop at mile 161, just beyond the top of Sierra Rd was just a quick grab a bite and go stop. They called it the “Pet-the-Goat” stop but I never saw any goats. At this point I was really, really glad I had music. It was dark and I was by myself descending the backside of Sierra Rd and Calaveras Rd into Sunol. It was actually a beautiful site of the city lights from where I was in the dark. As I pulled into Sunol at mile 181 there was a group of people cheering us on.
To my surprise as I got closer I saw that it was my fellow teammates and friends who had been there waiting in the cold since 9 pm. I was so happy to see them. It made my day! After pictures and a hot dog I was off again at about 10:30 pm.
Only 25 more miles to go but still more climbing. I got in a pace line on Niles Canyon thinking I would be more visible. This part had me worried before doing the ride since it’s dangerous with cars even in the daylight but it seemed to pass quickly. Without daylight the turn up to climb Palomares Rd came suddenly. I was glad I had my new bike with my electronic shifters that switched to my low climbing gears effortlessly. I found myself climbing with a couple guys that I ended up finishing the rest of the ride with. I think they liked how my lights lit up the road. I descended slowly, made a left, dropped down to Crow Canyon, made a right up Crow Canyon the another right onto Norris Canyon. I was getting tired of being on my bike by Norris Canyon. The last five miles of this ride were the hardest for me. I couldn’t believe I was still climbing! Finally we made it back to the hotel to check in. 1:01 am!!! 18 hours in the saddle and 20 hours for the event. It was a very long day! Dani, Kelly and Mary were there at the end to cheer me at the finish. I couldn’t believe their support, seriously that’s dedication. It was 1 am and it was freezing!!!
All in all I was happy with my results. I had planned on getting in at midnight and was on pace to do that until nightfall. I didn’t realize how much not being able to see well would slow me down. I just couldn’t justify the risk of hitting something that would take me down because I couldn’t see it. I just stayed steady and safe within my field of vision. This was one of the best supported Double Centuries I had ever done and it was really beautiful. Originally I thought this would be a one and done event but I do think I would do it again.