After muscles fell apart on Devil Mountain Double (now hard to believe I ever did it) and I fell totally apart on Central Coast Double, had mixed feeling about Davis Double. Glad this wasn't a timed event and could ride together with a bunch of Diablo Cyclists, and try to regain whatever form I had last year when 3 hard doubles in a row were easy. On the other hand Davis is the ride that has killed me the past two years. Hadn't had a good experience on a double all year (at Solvang because of the rain and piss poor support)--if this one turned out to be lousy I'd go back to my favorite distance--120 mile rides.
Unfortunately after a great week of training, great coming down Mt Diablo at 90 degrees, it suddenly turned cool and a 50% chance of rain was predicted. On evening before checkin after Mike, Doug and I checked out two great bike shops in downtown Davis--one full of great high end road machines, the other stocked full of bike clothes and components, it suddenly got freezing cold and a downpour ensued. Poor folks who had signed up for the outdoor dinner put on by the Davis Bike club--which included old casual hybrid ride buddy Aunt Pat--who at 67 was now going to try her first double.
I'm in great college/ biking town of Davis with bike art and two great bike stores across the street.
Indeed the Davis Double is a great first double to try. Some 200 mile courses are easier but no one combines a relatively flat doubles course with great support Rest stops every 20 miles--loads of sags--well marked roads and volunteers guiding you in early morning.
The course is flat for 35 miles from Davis to Winters. Then two mediocre* but noticeable climbs to the Napa Valley and loads of rollers going North for about 60 miles. Then 45 miles towards and back from Lower Lake involve two more climbs. This year, because of a road washout, the key climbs at the turnaround were 4 miles longer and 800' more than in the past. Then 60 miles back to the south that are slightly downhill (deceptive elevation map makes it look like you are going down a ski slope) that usually involves a crosswind. *Of course with Don riding his fixed gear for second of three doubles he planned to do on it, every climb was significant.
Some of the boys, California Mike, Jack, and Doug at Davis Double no frills checkin the night before-temperature is plummeting and heavy rain within an hour. "If you want to pee in the bushes, do it a mile or so before or after the rest stop, not in someone's front yard."-from Davis Bike Club Davis Double Instructions
Diablo Cyclists planned to leave at 5:30--first light--which is a little after most people leave. First ominous sign was that my expensive, new, wireless odometer NOT working--oh crap, I'm going back to a wired model. Sky was overcast but no rain, so I was overdressed in 4 layers including thin rain jacket, and hat under helmet.. (After a while I managed to pull off the vest but jacket sleeves caught under arm warmers, so it stayed on while I looked like Batman with jacket flapping about..) Toe warmers and knickers but after 90 degrees midweek I only had brought mesh gloves.
We rode past Rivendall Veronica who is going for Triple Crown status. To Doug's chagrin, we passed rest stop 1--intending on following Jack's plan for skipping every other rest stop. We soon passed Aunt Patty, which was a bad sign as she started an hour before us and we were only 25 miles in the ride, I had expected to pass her closer to mile 50. Later learned that she had taken a wrong turn at beginning--later on pedal would break, she'd fall when trying to unclip, and her light wouldn't work-but SHE FINISHED!. (Though Pat/ Veronica both Delta Pedalers Pat did all her riding/ training in Arizona overwinter, and Veronica trains by herself--no club support like in the Diablo Cyclists.)
At one point around Winters Jack and Steve jumped on a tandem train. Don, on fixed gear was limited to a top end speed of @26. Heck, not a timed event, great course for a social ride, -so I figured I'd ride Don's pace, and so did Mike and Doug. We'd stick together for the rest of the ride--when we came apart on hills we'd always regroup. And on the flats and gentle rollers Don keeps going to the max consistently so lots of times it is hard trying to keep up with him. (At Solvang Mike called Don "an animal", I promptly proclaimed him a penguin in the hope he'd slow down.) While Don's top end speed was limited he'd keep us honest by keeping the minimum speed consistently high.
On Cardiac Climb a guy with orange rims shot by and I chased--I rode his pace up the climb-passing all riders in sight. (I'd stay on lead riders wheel throughout the day, not wanting to pass as then we'd have to do more of a regroup further down the road.) To regroup on this downhill I pulled off for an impromptu Sierra Club dedication--Davis had asked all riders to use porta-potties, not pee elsewhere at rest stops (as is the habit on timed events) and if we have to go pull off 1 mile up or down the road from the rest stop. Perfect timing--I just about finished when Diablo gruppo came roaring by. Later a fixed gear guy blazed past Don, I told him my job was to chase anyone with orange wheels or a US postal jersey up hills,, his was to catch all fixed gear riders--sure enough Don eventually reeled in the other fixie. Don was helped by riding in our paceline to the fixie, as I was helped all day getting pulled to the hills by Mike and Don , and then Doug would lead out into the climb where I could then play.
At mile 64 we passed rest stop #3-Nichelini Winery, and Doug pulled in (9:00) --and I kidded him about blowing (now absent) Jack's schedule. On one hand didn't need to stop at a few of the rest stops, and this is one we could easily have skipped, as the next one is only 13 miles away. We could have saved an hour of rest stop time and been non the worst for wear. In fact leaving every rest stop my legs felt dead/ sore and I would try to spin in small chainring for a mile--but soon I'd be 300' down the road--at last rest stop of the day I finally left early so I could spin for a mile. But on the other hand we only stayed (albeit 40 minute lunch-more on that later) for about 12 minutes at the rest stops and after skipping a bunch of them last year it was fun pulling into them (we skipped #1 & #10). After my hunger strike at Central Coast I was eating much more than I should to kind of prove to myself that I had an appetite on these rides. I had bagged some Maltodextrian and Perpetuem and sent some to rest stop #8.
Davis Double rest stops are more like Century rest stops than Hammer product laden stops on climbing Doubles--NO bulk Hammergel or Endurolights, but plenty of peanut butter sandwiches, fig neutons, corn chips, bananas, strawberries, cereal bars or mini-Cliff Bars, and sodas or Cytomax.
Very quickly (9:50) to rest stop #4-Pope Valley Hall. As my odometer not working I was just counting off rest stops. Past the part of the Tour of the Napa Valley where Jerry /I, then Big Mike/ I racing people while oblivious to hubcap ranch off to the side. This stretch is my favorite of the ride-rollers for 20 miles along lightly traveled but nicely paved (usually doesn’t go together) Butts County Road, past Lake County line, to Middletown.
On these rollers played going up hard when attack by a Santa Cruz Team and their friend in US Postal kit. At next few rest stops we'd see Mike's Fresno friend Lori, a great rider, and we'd be hop scotching each other all day. Only "disagreement" when Mike snapped at Doug that he needs to let everyone know when he is standing.
We arrive at Middletown, mile 95, at 11:05--we started 5 1/2 hours ago and are almost half way through the ride. So far the course is the same as in the past two years, but now we'd soon be going up Cobb Mountain. The climb supposedly had 10% grades on it, but it wasn't bad except for the f'n traffic on Highway 175. A few times cars came close to the cyclists who didn't have much of a shoulder. Don didn't know if he was going to stop and flip his wheel on his fixed gear. I started signing "When the Music's Over, " great climbing song though everyone much rather have heard Jim Morrison. Unlike earlier rollers no one going up hard on this climb so I rode Doug's pace to the water stop 9 miles into the climb and 1 mile from the summit. After using the porta potty, reloading the Maltodexterin and Perpetuem bottles with water, and getting samples of Energy Jelly Beans, one of Lori's friends from Kansas (no hills) , who wasn't a fast climber, came in and said that Don/ Mike had passed him a while back. So where were they? Now Doug and I figured we may have missed them if they rode by and they didn't stop. We waited a couple more minutes and then took off--figuring we'd see Mike at the lunch stop and Don on the road, hindered by his inability to coast downhill while spinning furiously in a relatively small gear.
Though overcast (it looked like it might drizzle soon) on the climbs I was po'd that I was wearing knickers and a tee shirt. But at the summit -2910'- I pulled over to put my vest back on, which may have been the good move of the day. Doug went on ahead--and he is a good downhiller so I had no chance of getting back to him. Damn-it was cool--at least first event ride of the year my glasses hadn't fogged over in. It was real fast and cool going down towards Lower Lake, but luckily apart from a big motorcycle group that had gone down when I pulled over, it was relatively quiet and the roads were smooth. After 7 miles back we were back on the old route-rural Siegler Cyn Road which leveled off but was also real fast with a tailwind, and not the best pavement; at one point a gravel section rapidly approached and had no choice but to fly through it, keeping wheel perfectly straight. . Always expected to see Don around next turn. Got into a pack and quickly into Lower Lake lunch stop at mile 117, 1:00pm.
No Don or Mike at lunch stop--later we'd learn that Don had stopped to flip wheel and Mike had flatted on climb. We had caught up with Steve, an inspiration as he is 60, has to wear an ACL brace, and upchucks once a ride--yet he hammers the flats and downhills. I proved my bravery by sitting right in front of Steve, but he felt great (and wouldn't throw up on this ride.) Doug urged me to eat my veggies but I made the meat eaters sandwich special (make your own sandwiches-turkey, ham on wheat, banana, corn chips-NO DEADLY PASTA SALID that I tasted over and over two years ago.) But I did have a couple of V8's that has 7-8 different vegetables. After 15-20 minutes Don and Mike arrived; Steve and Lori and Kansas friend left We wound up not leaving until 1:40--Jack later said that if he stayed at a rest stop for 40 minutes or ate a big lunch he'd fall asleep. Yep, upon leaving it took me a long while to get loosened up again. Out of rest stops I'd soft pedal in the small chainring but almost immediately Don /Mike / Doug would be 300' up the road--a few times I'd use the Museeuw tactic and wait for someone to come pass me to bring me back up to the trio.
After going back down to around the 1000' level it was back up to 2000' on the Resurrection climb. Here there were alot of people who were going up the climb hard so I also went real hard and again successfully passed everyone. Damn, how come Devil Mountain/ Central Coast wasn't this easy. Then again-in 2004 I was falling apart here but in 2005 I felt great here and fell apart at the end--so I was still a little worried. This year the Resurrection rest stop placed a little further down the road (mile 140 instead of 134), and we hit it at 3:05. Great stop--one worker had done Solvang and was almost embarrassed when we talked about Planet Ultra Piss Poor support. Now, even though the elevation map looked like it was straight downhill to Davis, but from past experience knew plenty of uphill sections with crosswind and traffic coming up.
"I was really pissed at the Death ride organizers for basically coming up with an EBAY commodity (this years tickets can be bought and sold on the secondary market)--they've now changed the way tickets are distributed 4 times in 4 years. So I was ready to 'show them' and do my own 5 passes 'for free.' Of course that wouldn't show them anything and I'd have piss poor support during the day while trudging along solo. Now, while no symbolic protest I'll enjoy the ride. Grazie."