Sunday, May 3, 2009

Davis 12/24 Endurance Time Trial 2009

How far can you ride in 12 hours? How about 24 hours? On Saturday May 2, 2009, I lined up at the start of the Davis 12/24. Riders leave solo at 15-second intervals to attack the “day loop.” There is no drafting allowed, it’s basically a 12 hour (or 24 hour, your choice) time trial. There are age categories and team relay divisions as well.

When you're a Double Century Superstar, chicks come out of the woodwork
Adrienne Ruggles (l), supported me on Furnace Creek 508 2005
Janet supported Michelle Santilhano (r) on Furnace Creek 508 2008

The day loop is basically the hilly part of the Davis Double Century course. It’s 162.5 miles in length and includes about 8400' of climbing, including Cardiac Hill, Cobb Mountain, and Resurrection grade. Once the rider completes this day loop, it's time to head out on the flat “night loop.” The night loop is 18.4 miles in length and the rider races on the night loop until time runs out. On the last lap, the rider records his/her last mile marker on the night loop when the time is up and the mileage is totaled.

I rolled out of the start at 6:39 AM, under cloudy skies and feeling great.

I made the call to roll with just a skin suit and arm warmers...

Weather called for 50% chance of rain with a high of 69 degrees. I figured even if it rained I'd be plenty warm, so I donned a skin suit and arm warmers. I immediately began catching riders, and by the time I reached the bottom of Cardiac Hill at mile 11, I had passed a half dozen riders. By the top I had claimed another half dozen after dancing up the climb effortlessly.

Climbing up Cobb Mountain

My goal was to ride a minimum of 200 miles. The record for my age group is 220 miles. I made a small cheat sheet with time goals and mounted it on my stem. I had two times for each checkpoint. The first time was what I needed to do to make 200 miles, and the second time was “record pace.” 70 miles in I was well ahead of record pace.

Stem mounted "cheat sheet"

But then everything took a turn for the worse. The rain had started just an hour or so into the race, and was becoming heavier. The temperature also plummeted. At the bottom of Cobb Mountain, the hardest climb on the ride, I was really cold. I elected to add a light vest as I thought that anything more would cause me to overheat on the strenuous climb.

As I neared the top at 3,000' I was borderline hypothermic. Curious about the temperature, I checked it on my HR monitor...47 degrees. Not exactly the predicted 69 degrees. I was drenched from head to foot. At Loch Lomond, mile 77, Janet stopped my support car and I jumped in with the heater blasting. I was shivering uncontrollably and in bad shape. I couldn't unzip my clothing to change into dry gear. Janet had to help me with everything. It took forever to get myself ready for the rest of the ride. I watched a dozen or so riders pass as I fumbled with my clothing with numb hands. I was basically finished for the day.

Cold and wet, now in survival mode. Note rubber gloves.

I got back on the bike and shivered down the descents. Visibility was poor, and the roads were slick. Caution was in order. I finally made it to the aid station at Resurrection grade (mile 109) after a long, slow slog. There I had planned a bike change. It was time to switch from my super light Scott Addict, to another bike equipped with aero bars and set up for more of a Time Trial position. Seemed a little futile though, as my tired legs could barely manage 19 mph on flat terrain.

Nearing the end of the day loop the weather cleared for a bit

I slogged down the canyon along Cache Creek, then rode the flats toward the finish. I stopped in Guinda (mile 132) for a bit, then got on the bike for the final push toward the finish. It was windy and slow. I finally made it back to the finish at 4:30 PM. I had about two hours to cover the needed 38 miles to complete a total of 200 miles, my minimum goal. I suffered badly on my two laps of the “night loop.” I could only get my heart rate up to about 120 bpm, but that was enough to deliver lap times of about 1 hour. After completing two laps, I had a few minutes remaining, so I sprinted for one extra mile lest I be left with the dreaded 199.3 mile total, which is the total of the day loop plus two complete night loops.

The start of the night loop included this historic bridge in Winters, CA

The weather, and the fact that I've only done one 100-mile ride this year (a week ago), threw a wrench in my soup for a good performance, though I am content with the 200 mile accomplishment in the tough conditions. It's a great event and I will be back to fight another day. Speaking of soup, the organizers supplied nice hot soup for the riders at the finish. Janet gave me a cup of soup before I headed out on my last lap. Without it, I'm not sure I'd have made 200 miles!

Route sheet with notes

Special thanks to Organizer Patsy Inouye and Course Director Lee Mitchell and all the volunteers for putting on this epic event with great spirit and support for this hearty group of riders. Also thanks to Janet DeHaven who supported me on the ride and took all these great photos.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

If you ever go cycling in Murphys, CA... ride your bike — have I got a ride for you! Last year, a group of CWC racers hung out in Murphys after the Copperopolis race and we rode Sunday with the S/O's. It was an epic day complete with sighting of the Easter Bunny. Read that blog here:

Beyond Copperopolis...Lies Murphys

As good as our post-Copper ride was last year, we didn't have any takers this year. So it was an opportunity for me to try to fashion the ultimate, killer, Murphys/Sheep Ranch ride on my own. And by golly, I think I've done it!

I poured over the maps and came up with a plan. Estimating the ride, or underestimating as it were, at around 60 miles and 7,000 feet, I hit the road in Murphys at 8:30 AM on Easter morning hoping for another Easter Bunny sighting. Sheep Ranch Road out of Murphys could easily be mistaken for a driveway. It's so narrow between the old town's buildings that it's one way at the bottom near the town. The cyclist begins climbing immediately and repeatedly as there are three stiff climbs before arriving in the lovely town of Sheep Ranch.


The town's gas station appeared to be closed for Easter. Probably since Easter in the 1940's!


After Sheep Ranch, I passed the site of last year's Easter Bunny encounter. Nothing happening. Either I was too early or it just didn't happen this year. Too bad. On to Railroad Flat road where a resident created what might be called "Little Africa."


Next to Jesus Maria Road, maybe one of the best cycling roads in Calaveras County. Tons of climbing, quiet, and lots of variety. Mostly wooded, the road then opens up on a huge descent heading toward Mokelumne Hill, a town with a surprisingly low population of just 328!


There are some steep climbing sections on Jesus Maria and one arrives in 'Mok Hill' with nearly 5,000' of climbing in just 33 miles or so. But then the rider gets a break. After Mok Hill, it's more or less a cruise to San Andreas. Riding smooth pavement with a nice shoulder, it's easy to cruise the mostly downhill at 25-30 mph, a welcome relief after all the climbing!

The rider then leaves Hwy 49 via Gold Strike Road, a back way to San Andreas. I took a brief break in San Andreas at a picnic area to study the map and get some nutrition.


From San Andreas the cyclist then heads toward the little sleepy town of Calaveritas on a beautiful one lane road.


I saw this fixer-upper there...


Now on to Fricot City Road. This road traverses a ridge top and has splendid views. And tons of climbing. The easy middle part of the ride is over now, and it's hard all the way back to Murphys.


The road eventually turns to dirt, but very smooth dirt this time of year. The rains pack the clay soil in such a way that it's smoother than some of the rough pavement, and there is no dust due to the moisture. I can't speak to how it would be later in the season, but in April it's perfect. This dirt lasts for 5.5 miles.


Fricot City Road brings the rider back to Sheep Ranch. From there we trace our route back to Murphys. This, of course, means we have to do the three climbs in reverse, so we still have another 1500' more to climb.

The ride stats? 67 miles and 9,040'. Not bad for an after race day spin!

On the way home, in Lathrop, CA, we ran into Trent Stewart and his custom '57 Chevy bicycle. Nice work, Trent!P1010639.JPG