Archive for the 'Devil Mtn. Double' category

DMD Ride Story

| April 25, 2010 9:33 pm
DMD Ride Story

by Russ Stevens

Those of you who know me better might be perplexed to hear that I rode the Devil Mountain Double yesterday, especially since I swore off rides over 120 miles about a month ago (at least for a little while). After failing to finish the Hoodoo 500 last year, I found myself unable to back off on the mileage or intensity and spent the next four months riding myself into a hole.  I eventually got to the point where everything I did on the bike seemed painful and unpleasant.  I knew I had to change something when I realized I was starting to hate doing something I have loved since I was a little kid.  Luckily, it’s amazing how fast your mind can recover.  It seems that only a few weeks of lower mileage and no intensity were required to bring back my passion for this sport.

Given the fact that I have been taking it easy (or at least easier) for the past month, I really had no idea how to approach DMD.  I knew I could finish and probably even have a really enjoyable day by riding moderately and taking time to enjoy all the rest stops.  However, part of me also wanted to see if I could beat my prior time of 14:20 recorded during the stage race in 2007.  I finally decided to start with the fast folks at 6:00 AM and just see how long I could hang on.  I figured if it got too difficult, I could always fall back to the moderate riding/enjoy myself plan.  With prior stage race superstars like Marc Moons, Robert Choi, Phil Hornig and Graham Pollock signed up, I figured the fall back to plan B would happen pretty fast.

We started the ride with great weather.  It was about 50° in San Ramon and according to a weather station at the top of the mountain, it was actually slightly warmer (54°) on top of Diablo.  The great weather would follow us all day, never being too warm or too cold.

The first half hour of riding was very relaxed.  That only lasted to the base of Mount Diablo.  Marc Moons set a pretty fast pace right at the bottom, and from there things only ramped up.  People started falling off the back as I watched my heart rate climb into dangerous territory.  By the time we got to the top, less than 10 people were left in the front group.  The entire climb up Mount Diablo took only 61 minutes (only 5 minutes slower than my record time up that mountain).

I picked up some time on the descent and for 10 minutes or so, I was actually in the lead, able to back off and recover a bit while the rest of the group caught back up.  Easing back was a smart move because once we started climbing again, things only got more intense.  As we neared the top of Morgan Territory, my power meter started reporting sustained output over 300 Watts.  I was getting worried.  I knew if I maintained this level for too much longer, I would be so tired that even reverting to plan B would still be miserable.  I decided if I was going to be miserable anyway, I might as well stick with plan A and hang with the leaders a little bit longer.  As we left the preserve, our group had shrunk to only five people: me, Marc Moons, Robert Choi, Curtis Taylor, and a guy from Colorado I did not know.

I have to admit that being in the fast bunch on Altamont Pass was a kick.  There’s always a nice tailwind on that road.  We charged over the pass in a rotating pace line, readily clocking over 35 mph.  I kept asking myself, what am I doing here?

As the grade increased on Patterson Pass, it got harder and harder to hang on.  The steeper the hill got, the more power Marc Moons put out.  I would have lost the group except that Marc and Robert stopped for a few seconds for water at the Patterson Pass mini stop.  Skipping that stop allowed me to get to the summit just in time to be caught by the leaders and follow them down the hill.

Some blissful pace lining and recovery along the flat sections of Tesla and Mines Rd brought us to the Mines Rd checkpoint.  It was pretty crowded with riders who started at 5am, so it took longer than I wanted to fill my bottles.  Marc, Robert and Curtis headed out a few seconds before I was ready, but were nice enough to wait for me and Colorado guy to catch up.  Unfortunately, my tenure with the front pack was not to last.  As soon as the grade increased, Marc once again picked up the pace.  Robert matched Marc’s pace and the guy from Colorado also started to pull away.  I knew it was finally time for me to back off or risk not finishing.

To my surprise, Curtis Taylor also started to back off and we both soon found a fairly compatible pace.  I was pretty wiped out and unable to help much, but Curtis was nice enough to let me draft him most of the way up Mines Rd.  Along the way, he informed me that he was doing the stage race along with the guy from Colorado, who was flying to California with his bike for each of the three rides.  As Colorado started to pull away out of sight, Curtis started to worry that Colorado might steal his third place standing, a position he currently defended by only 17 minutes.

My first bout of cramps started on the last few short climbs before lunch.  I told Curtis to keep going, but he did not leave without handing me a packet of his new secret weapon: Pedialyte.  I quickly dumped the packet in what remained of my water bottle, backed off a bit and nursed the bottle all the way to the junction, arriving just as Curtis was leaving.  I quickly topped off my bottles grabbed some food and headed off.

The Pedialyte started working and I was able to leave the junction and slowly increase my power.  What had been a nice tailwind along mines road turned into a stiff head wind on San Antonio road.  I got into my aero bars and picked up some speed.  Pretty soon, I caught up to Curtis and Colorado.

I expected the backside of Mt Hamilton to be miserable, as it always is.  While it certainly wasn’t pleasant, it was better than I expected.  I soon learned that while Curtis was slightly faster than me on the flats, I was slightly faster than him on the climbs.  Since he had helped me all the way up Mines Rd and shared his secret weapon with me, I promised not to go off the front.  This allowed me to back off slightly, giving me not only company but a much less painful climb.  Curtis, Colorado and I stayed within eyesight of each other to the top.

I really can’t describe how magical it is to reach the top of Mt Hamilton on DMD and start the descent.  As I headed down the hill I know like the back of my hand, I started to pull ahead.  As I reached the fire station and started the first mini-climb, I slowed a bit to wait for Curtis.  By this point, he had pulled in front of Colorado.  We left the Crothers rest up just as Colorado arrived.  At that point, I realized there was hope for Curtis to defend his third place position and decided I would do everything I could to help him.

At the Crothers rest stop, I realized I had not seen Phil Hornig all day.  I mentioned this to Curtis and he said he had not seen Phil since the start.  We headed back down Crothers road and just as we made the right hand turn to finish the descent down Mt Hamilton Rd, a rider turned right onto Crothers.  Curtis said, “That was Phil Hornig!” It seemed we now had two people chasing us.

Given the fact that Phil showed up out of nowhere, I fully expected to be quickly passed by him on Sierra road.  This expectation got stronger when I immediately started cramping at the first pitch.  Damn it!  I got off and started walking up the hill, while taking some more Endurolytes, and drinking as much Gatorade as my stomach could handle.  Curtis inched away, but not as fast as I would have expected.  It turns out that when you are tired you can walk up Sierra road almost as fast as you can bike.  After a minute or so, the cramps subsided and I was able to get back on my bike.  I caught up to and passed Curtis.  Ken Emerson welcomed me at the Pet the Goat and informed me that I was currently in third place, about 25 minutes behind Marc and Robert.

I waited about 45 seconds for Curtis and then we headed down Felter.  I could not believe we had not yet been passed by either Phil or Colorado.  We climbed over the Calaveras wall and headed out towards the reservoir, both of us wondering where our two chasers were.  We thought we were out of the woods until Calaveras offered us a nice view of the road behind us at which point we saw two cyclists riding together behind us.  It was time to pick up the pace.

I’m not sure I have ever ridden down Calaveras Rd so quickly.  Curtis and I traded turns in front all the way down the hill.  In Sunol, we were told we were now only 20 minutes behind the leaders.  We left Sunol before Phil or Colorado arrived, but we sensed they were close behind.

We maintained the pace down Niles road and up Palomares, where we were surprised to catch up to two cyclists: the last two of the 5:00 crew.  It was a father and son pair, Max and Bruno Mehech.  The son was only 22.  I thought we would pass and leave them behind, but we must have inspired them because they were still with us at the summit.  Now we had a team of four.

We charged up crow canyon and turned right onto Norris canyon: the last climb.  I started to pull away from Curtis and realized I could probably take third place.  But then I remembered there’s no way I would’ve gotten here without Curtis’ help, so I slowed at the summit to wait for him.  A tie for third place was good enough for me and making friends on the road is more important than any time or place.

Final Stats:

  • Total Time: 12:32
  • Rolling time: 12:15Miles: 207
  • Total Climb: 18,481
  • Avg Heart Rate: 132
  • Average Speed: 17.0
  • Avg Power: 226 Watts
  • Place: tied for 3rd
  • 1st and 2nd place time: 12:14

Speaking of friends, one of the most fun things in the day was seeing so many people I knew along the way.  Barley Forsman, Peter Merrill and Kley Cardona all joined me at the 6:00 AM start.  Along the way to the Morgan Territory Preserve, I saw Clyde Butt and Joan Deitchman <> .  Ken Emerson greeted me at the top of Morgan Territory, which is also where I saw Dave and Deb Hoag and Brian Chun.  I passed Laura Hipp on Altamont. As I headed up Mines Rd, I saw many other club members heading the other direction on the Mt Hamilton challenge including Guy Neenan, Kryia Adams, Dennis Uyeno and Art Cruz.  Paul Duren and Ken Emerson took care of me at pet the goat.  Susan Forsman went barreling down the Calaveras wall on her fixie just as we were heading up and I saw Scott Guillaudeau as I was descending Calaveras (along with Guy Neenan, Kryia Adams and Art Cruz again).  Ben Waters supported me in Sunol and I saw Steve Saeedi there as well after driving back to pick up Sheila at the end of the ride.  The smiling faces and encouraging words I received from all of these people along the way inspired and energized me the entire ride.

Finally, a big thanks to a Quack cyclists and all the DMD volunteers.  Nobody supports double centuries or makes them as much fun as you.

Devil Mtn Double – No Trouble with a Double

| April 29, 2008 5:02 am

by Franz Kelsch

I finished the very difficult Devil Mountain Double on Saturday. It is 206 miles with 18,600 feet of climbing. It is probably the most difficult double century in California. My final time was 15 hours, 32 minutes, a big improvement over last year

I was happy with my time since it was hot again. I got worried coming up Mines Road because of the heat and started to get a bad case of hot foot. There was a breeze this year that helped. I really focused on drinking all day, and took a lot of Endurolyte tablets. I was so worried about cramping again on the backside of Mt. Hamilton that I went up slower than I probably needed to, but I never did cramp anywhere on the ride.

I was also happy to make it to Norris Canyon, the last section, before dark. I don’t like biking on Crow Creek Canyon road in the dark due to all the traffic. I had carried my one pound light the entire day and could have got by with a small Cateye light.

I left the aero bars on the bike which was a good thing. It gave me an alternate position not only for my hands but when I am in the aero bars I get a different position on the saddle, which greatly helped to take some pressure off a tired butt. It was either that part of the body or my right foot that hurt the most.

This year I used my newer bike with only a double crank, but I had no big issue with the higher gearing. I would have preferred to climb up Sierra Road with a triple but the better handling of the newer bike was a benefit on the rest of the ride.


Here is a detailed comparison with doing the same event last year.

2007 2008
Body Weight 135 139
Bike Gearing Triple (30/25) Double (39/27)
Total Time (hr: min) 18:12 15:32
Riding Time (hr:min) 14:51 14:31
Avg. Speed (mph moving) 14.1 14.3
Stopping Time (hr:min) 3:21 1:01
Average Heart Rate (bpm) 136 136
Maximum Heart Rate (bpm) 167 169
Average HR Climbing Sierra (bpm) 142 146
Issues to Deal With Significant Cramping Significant Hot Foot
Weather Hot No Wind Hot With Breeze

Time Comparison

This chart shows my arrival times into the various rest stops. You can see that for the first 115 miles, up to the junction cafe, I did almost the same between both years. Last year my times slowed down considerably due to cramping on the backside of Mt. Hamilton. Click the chart below to view enlarge.

Stopping Time Comparison

This shows a comparision between my stopping time between years. Times shown are in minutes. Most of the improvement in the total time was due to a signficant reduction in the amount of stopping time at the rest stops.

Stop 2007 2008
Diablo Summit
Morgan Territory RS
Mines Rd RS
Junction Cafe
Cramping on Mt. Hamilton
Crother’s RS
Pet the Goat RS
Sunol RS
Other, stop lights, mini rest stops
Total Stopping

Last Time

I don’t plan on doing this event again. It is very difficult and takes out of you far too much. Since I had a difficult time last year, I wanted to do it again to see if I could do it right with better training and more of a focus on hydration during the event. Having accomplished that, I don’t feel a need to repeat it.

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!