This turned out by far the most difficult bike ride I had ever tackled. I learned the hard way, don’t try a tough double century only 12 days after running a marathon, especially one with hot temperatures. I also learned that general conditioning is not sufficent. Targeted training for distance, climbing and riding in the heat are needed. With the hot weather I should have taken a Camelbak in addition to two water bottles. Most everyone was running out of water between some of the rest stops. That is the receipe for dehydration.
I felt good in the morning as we climbed Mt. Diablo and then Morgan Territory, and was riding fast enough clear to the Mines Road rest stop. After another brief stop there I headed for the junction. I looked at my watch when I hit about the half way mark of 103 miles and roughly 10,000 ft. of climbing and saw I had taken 7.5 hours. Not bad, I thought,so that meant I could finish in about 15 hours, our around 8 pm. But then the problems began. People were dropping like flies. I usually do well in the heat, but something seemed to have gone wrong suddenly. I started to feel weak and sick.
I was completely out of water by the time I hit the lunch stop at the Junction. I decided to take a long lunch, maybe around 30 minutes, unlike the Solvang Double were I was shoving food down and then jumping back on the bike. I was feeling a bit better as I headed toward Mt. Hamilton were I was able to draft behind a tandem. I started the climb up the backside of Mt. Hamilton and felt strong again, but I was worried about running out of water again so I was conserving it, but probably too much.
About half way up I started to cramp, big time. All of a sudden I couldn’t even peddle and I felt sick to my stomach. I had to get off the bike and sit in the shade. I looked at my legs and they were drenched in sweat. I had never seen that before because usually in California the sweat evaporates about as fast you you can generated it. Then I started to lay down on the dirt along side the road. Some other riders were stopping around me, doing the same. The SAG drove by and I motioned to them all was okay, becasue I was NOT going to be SAGed in. After about 10 minutes I tried to get back on the bike but the cramping started again and was very painful, so another 10 minutes on the ground. I then tried a 3rd time and I could not peddle. I decided to start to walk the bike and try to work it out. I walked to the spring and drenched myself. That plus the walking helped and I was finally able to get back on the bike and finish the accent. I knew once I reached the summit it would turn a bit cooler and I was then confident that I could make it, but would need to do so with a slow pace and lots of resting.
I spent a long time at the Crothers rest stop. I was trying to get my stomach feeling better, give myself some time to hydrate and hopefully have it cooler before doing the last major climb up Sierra. Four riders were being SAGed in from there. When I did start up Sierra it was still 85 degrees but I was able to keep from cramping again by riding slow. I was very glad I had followed the advice to bring my old bike with the triple crankshaft. I don’t think I have ever climbed up Sierra so slow before. Lots of people were walking their bikes. A rest stop past the summit is where I had sent my lights forward to and it was a good thing because I needed them. The sun was just setting and I had to ride half of Calaveras in the dark. It was cool now and I found myself riding fast again, like in the morning.
I arrived at Sunol, the last rest stop at 9 am and learned from a club member there who had DNFed that several others had also. I was not going to give up at that point, so continued on chasing some riders in the dark. I was close behind two fast riders and noticed the lead one didn’t have any lights at all. They made the right turn to go up Palomares and bam! they both went down hard, slipping on gravel (which was hard to see at night). I was lucky that I avoided hitting them. I helped them to get up and used my lights for them to check themselves and their bikes. We then started the climb and I went ahead, not wanting to be around those guys any more. I was climbing well now but most people were still climbing like a tortoise.
I found one other rider who I had ridden part of Caleveras with and we rode together to the end. He mostly was drafting off me, but he didn’t have a very bright light so I didn’t mind waiting for him at the top of the climbs. The last 10 miles seemed to go on forever. It was a great feeling when I finally arrived at the end, just past 11 pm.�
Here is the graph from my Polar HRM. You can see that my heart rate was much lower the second half of the ride. While on the bike, I averaged 14.4 mph, which is not too bad considering the climbing. It was the stopping time that really added up.