Davis Double ride or how I spent May 21, 2005
I came up to Davis the night before and spent the night at our friends' house. Woke up before the alarm at 4:15. Ate, loaded the bike into the car and drove two miles to the start.
I was a little apprehensive about riding alone, but two blocks after the start I pulled up at a red light, looked over and saw a guy (his name is Ron) whom I met on a ride just a week earlier. I asked if I could ride with him and his buddy (Pat) and they let me, so we rode together for 95 miles. Knowing I'd have company was very reassuring.
Early on, it was nice and mellow and warm-up like, then a fast group caught us and we jumped on that paceline. That was mostly good except that the roads at miles 12 to 23 were in pretty bad shape and it was bouncy. And because of the surface there was a lot of coast-and-sprint accordion-type riding in that group. That wasn't so good. The fast guys didn't stop at the first rest stop. We did and that was the last we saw of them. At this rest stop I had to get rid of my saddle bag. Before going to Davis I switched to a larger bag which I hadn't used on my double century bike. On this bike, the bag was swinging wildly, hitting my on the butt with each pedal stroke. It was hard enough to take for 23 miles... So, I stuffed my pockets, left arm warmers and the bag in a plastic bag (this was also rest stop #9 so I knew I could pick up the bag and warmers on the way back), and we set off again.
Weather and legs were mostly good and we averaged 21mph for the first 40+ miles until we hit the hills and the headwinds. The morning winds were pretty brutal and all the climbing -- 7000-ish feet -- is between miles 60 and 135. So, in effect, after a flat metric 100, we had quite a hilly 75 ahead of us. The ride certainly seemed hillier than I remembered it from 10 years ago. Having worked harder than I should have early on, I struggled quite a bit in the hills. Really had to slow down and pace myself. Didn't think hydration and nutrition were a problem, as I drank and ate all along. I told Ron and Pat to ride ahead. Around mile 90, the road flattened a bit and I got a tow from a tandem into Middletown rest stop (mile 95). At the rest stop they were serving V-8 in small cans. I had two. Mmmmm, salt. And I had 3 Advils. And a salt tablet. And I ate. Coming into that rest stop I had my first doubts about finishing and about the wisdom of taking on this ride, having trained less than I had hoped.
I left Middletown before Ron and Pat because I didn't want to stiffen up any more and because I was sure that they'd catch me on the first climb. I struggled up the climb out of the rest stop, then at the bottom of the descent a tandem passed me. I thought, "what the hell" and latched on. We rode the next eight -- lumpy but not too bad -- miles together. The captain was Harlan, a 20-something mountain biker. The stoker was his mom. Mom's name was Star. Star wore socks with a smiley face with a tongue sticking out. Seemed very appropriate for a stoker. Star was a hoot -- cussing and laughing as we rode. Riding with them was fun. I was feeling lots better and we were riding fairly fast. (I guess nutrition and hydration were a problem after all.) The road was just gorgeous -- through a forest along a very fast and full stream, wildflowers, hardly any traffic. Nice road if you don' t have to work hard. Finally, we started the climb to Big Canyon, high point of DC, the tandem slowed down a lot. I said good bye to Harlan and Star and rode away, twiddling my 34x27. Rode along the ridge for 2 miles and then hit Siegler Canyon Rd. -- the best descent I've ever ridden. I swear this road was not on the Davis Double route 10 years ago. Very fast, very green, beautifully paved, no corners requiring braking. Imagine Redwood with a very smooth surface only longer and faster and that's Siegler.
That brought us to lunch at Lower (Clear-) Lake High School (mile 115). It was around 12:30. The descent put me in a good mood and physically and mentally I was feeling a lot better than at Middletown. Ron and Pat rolled in 15 minutes later, having taken a 2-mile detour after they missed a turn in Lower Lake. We ate together but I left before they did for the same reason as before. I did not see them again.
The ride out of Lower Lake sucks. It goes along a major road -- CA Highway 53, which has a lot of traffic and head wind. Out of the rest stop I was feeling pretty good and as I went along I passed a lot of people. About 5 miles later I looked back and realized that I was towing 6 guys for I don't know how long. Happy, I swung off and went to the back of the line. Three guys pulled us to intersection of CA Highway 20. Another road with heavy traffic and a climb right after the turn. The paceline broke up on the climb, but the hill was short, so I caught on to a couple of guys on the descent. The descent was nice and long and good for recovery. Ten years ago it was foggy there and in lots of other places. Today there was no fog anywhere.
We rode to the foot of Resurrection climb on Highway 20, which is the last major hill on the ride. Again, I started in 34x27 and felt OK. I started pouring water on my head and back and felt much better than OK. Then, when road flattened out a bit, I shifted up and started passing people. I kept jamming after the climb steepened again and rode hard all the way to the rest stop on top of the hill feeling good about the climb.
At the rest stop, I took more Advil and V-8 and had some Tums (potassium). After a fast descent, during which I saw the only car-related problem on the ride (passenger in an SUV had his arm stuck out the window flipping off the cyclists), we finally got off state highways and traffic mellowed out a lot. A 4-person group coalesced around mile 145 and we took turns for the next 15 miles at ridiculous speeds. We probably averaged around 24 for the next half hour. One of the people in the group was a woman who was probably 5'6" and at least 180lbs and she was hammering her boyfriend into exhaustion. At his request, we finally slowed down after 12 miles.
We pulled into Guinda rest stop (mile 160) around 3:30. Thermometer read 88 degrees. Again, I left before my group and caught up to a threesome. Two were pulling. The third guy was having saddle problems and/or leg problems. He'd take 5 pedal strokes, then stand up and coast. This went on and on for miles. I couldn't get any rhythm behind him and it was annoying watching him ride like that. So annoying that I WENT TO THE FRONT. (I went to the front. You know it must've been annoying.) We were going around 18-19mph. Soon after, a couple of faster guys caught up to us. Our foursome sucked their wheels at around 22-23 and I didn't have to look at Mr. Coaster again.
This was all fine and dandy, but by mile 173 I started feeling really tired and looking forward to the next rest stop at mile 178. I hung onto the wheels thinking it was easier to follow wheels than to ride alone at 15mph. The rest stop was in a farmhouse along a long straight road. There were lots of farm houses along this long straight road. About every quarter mile there was another farmhouse. After 175 miles, all farmhouses pretty much look the same. The next farmhouse... was not the rest stop. The next one was not either. That part sucked. Finally, pulled into the rest stop. The lead fast guy yells: "5 minutes here! 5 minutes." I'm thinking... Well, you can imagine what I'm thinking.
There was no question that I would finish, but it was going to hurt a lot. So, I spent probably around 25 minutes at the rest stop. There were lots of people on this ride with California Triple Crown jerseys and there was a bunch of them at this rest stop. I sat there looking at them and wondered how all these people could do three doubles in a year when I was having so much trouble with one and an "easy" one at that. More Advil, Tums, V-8. Also had a Coke. Ate a little bit. Legs got nice and stiff. Figured I might as well get it over with. Stuffed my oversized useless bag in the pocket. Gave away three Cliff bars, threw away empty Hammer Gel containers, and got rid of some other stuff that wouldn't fit into my pockets. Saw a couple saddling up their tandem. Got excited and started riding figuring I'll let them sweep me up. Within 200 yards caught up with a guy, riding really mellow ~16-17. Asked him if he minded company. He didn't. Started riding with him. This was his 20th Davis Double. He lives in Tacoma, WA. He and his wife took the train down to Davis. (Sounds like a great train trip. The ride starts 2 miles from Davis train station.) So, we are riding along and I'm feeling pretty good. The tandem passed us within 2 miles, but I let it go. There were 20 miles left and had no idea how my legs would respond and I really liked the pace we were going. I had no trouble maintaining it and it was reasonably fast considering I had 180 miles in my legs. Several times I shifted up to stand up for crotch relief. One of those times I didn't shift down when I sat back down and the bigger gear actually felt pretty good. So we sped up to about 18.
Anyway, we are going along and talking and I noticed that I'm asking all the questions and doing 80% of the talking and the guy from Tacoma is slowing down a bit. I'm still feeling pretty good. And he is slowing down a bit more. I said to him, "you know I'm feeling pretty good so I'm gonna waste myself over the next 10 miles" and took off. And I hammered for the next 10 miles into Davis averaging ~22. I have no idea where that came from. I felt like I was flying. My legs felt great. I was elated to be able to go that hard after 190, 195, 197 miles. I was just blowing past people. I don't know if anyone tried, but no one got on my wheel. When I got into outskirts of Davis I knew I'd be able to hammer all the way to the finish. That gave me another boost.
With 5 blocks left I stopped at a red light, put my foot down, and cramped. Both left quad and hamstring. Fortunately the cramps went away after 3 agonizing seconds and I finished without further problems. I finished at 6:30, 2 hours earlier than 10 years ago. Average speed was 18.5, 1.1 mph faster than 10 years ago. I was so happy!!!!!!!!!
Then I get in my hot car to go home. My 17-year old car doesn't have AC. It baked in the sun all day and I'm a bit worried about cramping on the way back, but I really wanted to get back as soon as possible to surprise my wife at the pre-school parents' night out. Anyway, I am driving and, fortunately, legs are not cramping, and it's really hot in the car. I have the back window open and, man, it's hot. I hadn't realized that I did a double century in such hot weather. I hit Fairfield around 7:45 and it's still hot. So I rolled down the front window and stuck my arm out. Hmm, it's actually pleasantly cool outside. I looked at my temperature dial and I had heat on half way from this morning's drive. Turned down the temp, the car cools down. Feels much better. I get out of Fairfield, merge right after the Bud brewery, following three cars to the 680 on ramp. Except all three get off the freeway at the exit 1/4 mile before 680 and I, like a good paceline follower, get off with them. Legs weren't cramping. Brain was.
Got to Tanjia restaurant, the site of parents' night out during the appetizers course. Ate, did a turn around the floor with the belly dancer, went home, and went to bed.