Archive for April, 2007

Devil Mountain Double

| April 28, 2007 5:16 pm

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.

Devil Mountain Double HR Graph

Cramming for Finals

| April 25, 2007 7:20 am

I feel a bit like in college burning the midnight oil cramming for the final exams. With the Devil Mountain Double (DMD) fast approaching and being mostly not riding for 3 weeks due to the marathon taper and post marathon recovery, I did get in some good miles this week with 75 on Tuesday and 62 today. But just like staying up late to study for an exam, I am wondering if this is going to help or hinder me come Saturday. The body does take some time to repair itself after a work out and without getting through that repair time, I suppose you do more damage that good. I guess I will take it easy today and tomorrow.

I am planning on doing the 5 am start. The start location is over an hour from my house so that means getting up at 3:15 am and out the door in 30 minutes. I am not expecting to finish until past 10:30 pm. That who period will be on the bike except only about an hour total at the rest stops. It is going to be some day. I only wish I had another week to get ready for it. It would have been much better to do the Mt. Hamilton Challenge this Saturday and the DMD the following, but they fall on the same day. I did the Mt. Hamilton Challenge a couple of times before and recall seeing the DMD riders going the opposite direction on Mines Rd. and thinking how stupid could anyone be to do that ride!

To put this in perspective, this is what they say on the DMD website: “THIS SHOULD NOT BE YOUR FIRST DOUBLE! This is a VERY TOUGH RIDE. On average, riders who have done the Terrible Two say the DMD takes two hours longer. The staff will do all they can to pamper you at the rest stops but THE COURSE WILL SHOW NO MERCY! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!!”


DMD Crazy

| April 24, 2007 2:57 pm

What was I thinking when I decided to do the Devil Mountain Double this Saturday. It is one of the most difficult one day bike events in California with 206 miles and 20,000 feet of climbing. My original plan was do the Mt. Hamilton Challenge this Saturday which is tough enough with 125 miles and 9,000 feet climbing, but the DMD is like twice as hard. I am not sure I am in shape so I did a 70 mile bike ride today, biking from home and then doing the Metcalf Mauler. I tested out a light system I borrowed for Saturday because unlike the Solvang Double Century, I WILL be riding in the dark. I anticipate starting at 5 am and not finishing for 17-18 hours, which means past 10 pm. Some people I ride with did not finish until 11:30 pm last year.

Normally I would not even do this ride if I had trained specifically for it, but I have not been on the bike that much lately because of the Boston Marathon. I just must be crazy!

The Long and Windy Road (Solvang Double Century)

| April 1, 2007 8:15 pm


It had been five years since I rode the Solvang Double. I had signed up two years ago but had to cancel when I had a running injury while trying to train for the Salt Lake City Marathon at the same time and decided to just focus on the marathon. This year I had the same dual training, with the Boston Marathon just two weeks after the Solvang Double but I was better able to manage the training.

It was cold in the morning, I mean in the 30’s type cold. The day turned quite nice, although it was windy and cool, especially on the coast. I sometimes thought the wind was always a headwind but overall nice biking weather and a lot more enjoyable than last year according to reports from those that rode in the rain in 2006.

Joe F., Gary F. and myself (I called us the three “F”s) were under pressure to break 11 hours since I had earlier sent out an email to the long distance riders in the bike club asking them to join us to break 11 hours, so everyone there I knew would be asking us how we did.

We knew some people were going to start as early as 5:00 am, which meant nearly two hours in the dark and cold but we decided to start the day off with a nice breakfast at Paula’s Pancake House, which opened at 6:00. During breakfast we decided to change our start time from the planned 7:00 am to 7:30 to reduce the time riding in the cold. However we realized that the 7:30 group would have their times recorded and posted so that put more pressure us, leaving no wiggle room when asked if we finished under 11 hours.

When we showed up at 7:20 am for a role call, I was surprised by the large group, which turns out to have been 42 riders. Just after 7:30 we all took off, in one of the largest pace lines I had ever ridden it, probably like riding with a big Pro tour. The speed was about 22-23 mph. Starting at 7:30 proved challenging because if you don’t hang on the fast train all the way there is not another real fast one coming from behind. All three of us stayed with the group until about mile 22 when I could not keep connected during a fast decent. Gary whizzed by and caught on but I found myself riding alone and the train slowly pulling away. Joe soon joined me from the rear, as did one other rider, and we tried to catch them but finally gave up. There were a few other smaller groups we rode with for awhile. I remember one group of 5 riders who didn’t allow Joe or I to take a pull, as if they didn need our help. Another group, with two tandems, were mostly from Cedar City Utah. I showed them I was wearing my Utah Velo jersey so they were kind enough to let us join (I am sure they would have anyway). After some recovery time, we knew had to go ahead or would risk missing our goal.

I think Joe and I rode just two of us for about half of the miles, until we were able to catch Paul D. from the bike club who had left a little earlier. Joe was glad because he had done more than his fair share of pulling by then. But then the pace picked up and I was off the back a lot on the flat part.

At the second from the last rest stop Joe and I were trying to calculate if we could still break 11 hours. We didn’t want to suffer the embarrassment if we failed after all we had done. I said I thought we could not make it because we would have to ride 20 mph for the last 50 miles and skip the last rest stop. Joe didn’t give up so neither could I. I think the lack of oxygen to the brain caused me to make some error in my calculation and was about to give up and slow down, but I kept chasing Joe and Paul.

I just was hoping for some hill to climb, which did not happen until after the last rest stop. At that point I was able to move a bit ahead of Joe and found one young buck to ride with. He was from that group that didn’t want us to take a pull earlier and I remember passing him on the hill. He said he as AHEAD of the rest of the guys in his riding group so I had now passed them all. The two of us took turns pulling the last 10 miles. He complained about the pace but I told him I was a man on a mission. We went past Ken E. with about 5 miles to go who … was riding his single speed. Gee how could someone do that, even starting when he did.

It was fun for me because I was able to do my fastest double so far. I came in at 10:42 total time, beat my goal, with an average speed of 19.6 mph.

This photo was taken out on the course.

Franz riding Solvang Double Century

Here is a photo taken after the ride, Ken on the left, Joe in the middle and me on the right (the only one not wearing a triple crown jersey). Gary had already gone back to the room, finishing a hour before the rest of us, and Paul had left before Ann brought the camera.

Ken, Joe and Franz after Solvang Double

The route started from the Royal Scandinavian where we were staying. We did a short warm-up in the eastern Santa Ynez Valley, then heads up world famous Foxen Canyon. We essentially bypass Santa Maria by jogging around that town on dead quiet Bull Canyon to Hwy 166. Next we more or less parallel Hyw 101 as we headed north. After some really neat back roads, the route skirted the edge of San Luis Obispo, then went all the way into scenic Morro Bay, right to the waterfront and a dramatic view of “the rock.” Next we rolled through some of the prettiest state park miles anywhere, then head south on PCH along the coast through Pismo Beach, and such. After Guadalupe, we stayed southbound on this desolate and beautiful stretch of Hwy 1, bypassing the whole Lompoc area, and then continuing onto Hwy 135 to the neat little western antique haven of Los Alamos, site of the final checkpoint. From Los Alamos, we encounter what is essentially the only real climb of the entire day, up and over Drum Canyon, a quiet, twisty, 800 foot, 3.4 mile ascent. It’s had a gnarly downhill. On the other side, we hop onto Hwy 246 back to Solvang, with a big shoulder all the way to town!

Here is the elevation profile of the ride. It was relatively flat for a double century.

Solvang Double Elevation Profile