Terrible Two – June 2015

On June 20, 2015,  Johnna Davis and Nancy Morrow completed the Terrible Two.  The Terrible Two is a 200 mile bike ride on a circular route through Sonoma County starting and ending in Sebastopol. This ride is part of the California Triple Crown Stage Race series. One of the things that make this course challenging is the strict cut off times for the various parts of the course. Not only do you have to conquer steep climbs, technical descents and scorching heat, you have to do all of that with a good average pace.

At 5:20 am. Johnna, Nancy and Todd Meier, a Renaissance Club Sport friend,  lined up for the race day briefing, and then rolled out  at5:30 am.  For the first 16 miles a pilot car lead the way through town to help trip the stop lights.

Outside of town, after a few rollers. the first climb began at Trinity grade. Our goal was to ride a smart race at a good pace and make it through the day, with the time limitations and no crashes. Our first rest stop would be in Calistoga at mile 55. This was 3 1/2 hours into our ride and the first opportunity for a porta potty. We had to keep our hydration to a minimum early in the morning as we did not want to have to stop on the side of the road (like many of the guys were). We were in and out of the rest stop in record time.

After the first rest stop at approximately 9 a.m., we headed out ready for the first serious climb up the Geysers.  The Geysers is a 10 mile double summit climb. After all this climbing one would hope for a fun descent.  However, it wasn’t the case on the Geysers.  Instead we faced a steep technical descent with drop offs, potholes and cracked roads and long sections of gravel.  All in all, it made for some tricky and slow descending.

Our lunch stop was at mile 110.  We picked up our drop bags, restocked our bento boxes and were ready to tackle the harder half of the ride starting with Skaggs Springs Road.  Skaggs Springs road is an endless (15 mile) series of steep sun baked climbs and false summits. The temperature was about 102 degrees on this exposed section and it was just grueling. The best rest stop was at mile 118 where the volunteers draped cold wet towels over us. It was getting hard to take in calories from food so we relied on our Hammer Nutrition products, for example, Perpetuem and Hammer bars which are soft and moist and go down easily. This was also the first time we both experienced leg cramps, so we took in extra Endurolytes which helped.

About this time is when Nancy and I had to do some serious talking to ourselves and remember Rule #5, which to put it in polite terms here, is basically “Suck it up buttercup!”  Just keep pedaling!  On a 200 mile ride with significant time restrictions, you have to keep moving because you never know what lies ahead (mechanicals, bonking, muscle cramps) and time cannot be wasted.

We finally get some much needed downhill/rollers along the Gualala River.

Nothing good lasts on the Terrible Two, so before the rest stop at mile 143, there is a 1.7 mile 900′ wall. This is just cruel. Luckily for us, about a month ago we came out and did a training ride over this section so we knew exactly what to expect. Knowing it was there didn’t make it any easier. Ignorance might have been bliss in this situation!  Finally I arrived at the coast and headed down to the Fort Ross rest stop at mile 162. Here they gave us chicken noodle soup with saltine crackers in it and it was delicious!  I picked up my lights and as I was about to leave Nancy rolled in. I was so happy to see her!  I hadn’t seen her since about mile 120. She was dealing with some bad leg cramps but kept on pedaling.

Now to climb Fort Ross!   It is 2.6 miles; it averages an 11% grade, but it feels steeper. Fort Ross is followed by a bumpy narrow descent and then of course more climbing as it’s another double summit. Descending into Cazadero is long and technical and it was getting dark.  At mile 184 the last rest stop is  Monte Rio and we were surprised by our support crew showing up to cheer us on.  My husband James, RCS friend Kristin Penick, and dmc team mates Kelly Weissburg. and Laurie Anderson. The last 15 miles were in completely after sunset, which I had been very worried about, having never before ridden at night. It was not as bad as I expected.  The pace was relaxed and we were going to finish with no problem. Our awesome support crew was waiting at the finish cheering us in.

Wow!  The Terrible Two is aptly named!  It was one extremely difficult ride and we did it! There were 244 riders at the start and 167 finished by the  11:00 p.m.  cutoff time. Proud to say we are 2 of 13 women who finished that day. This was the hardest and longest ride I’ve ever done.

After my cycling season got off to a rough start I am grateful to have the strength to do this extremely challenging ride. The Terrible Two has been on my Bucket List for 10 years.  Since I had Nancy to train with this was the year I decided to give it a try. Mission accomplished, one and done for me! I may be back next year but only as a volunteer if Nancy is crazy enough to do it again (and she is). Nancy has now completed two out of three of the California Triple Crown Stage Races! She is certainly Double Crazy and Double Awesome!

Johnna Davis