Monday, May 20, 2013

Davis Double Century: Good, Bad, and Ugly (May 18, 2013)

May 18, 2013

In July, I have the Death Ride.  Last year, before the Death Ride, I completed three double centuries. Doing double centuries was my Death Ride Training. Since signing up for the Death Ride this year, I have been very sporadic in my cycling training.  I have not done any long rides.  So, I considered doing the Davis Double.  I need to put in some long saddle time and get my Death Ride training started.  

About a week before the Davis Double, I start thinking about doing the Davis Double.  I really need something to really kick my butt into Death Ride training.  I think doing the double will be tough but it will give me an idea of what I need to be doing to be ready for the Death Ride.  I have good endurance but I have not put in a lot of time in the saddle and I need to.  I sat on the fence in doing the Davis Double.  But, after talking to my friend Rachel about doing the Davis Double, she talks me into it.  We agree to do the ride together.  The Davis Double would be her first double century.  

The Ride


Tweet: "what to do davis now...think I'll go on a lil' bike ride....;-)"

I carpool out to Davis with my friend Jim.  It is his first double century.  I tell him how Rachel and I plan to ride together.  He can hang with us but he can do his own thing if we are going too slow for him.  He is excited to do this ride.  We get to Davis and meet up with Rachel, Griff, and Terry around 4 a.m..  

The ride starts at the US Bicycle Hall of Fame this year.  We get our registration packets and get ready to start.  The initial plan is for all of us to stay together during the flat part and then the guys will take off and it will just be me and Rachel.  

The five of us start riding out of Davis in the dark.  We get into a nice pace line.  Griff and Terry do most of the pulling.  We are going at a brisk pace but not too fast.  I am happy that I am able to maintain the pace.  I feel I have lost a lot of speed in my cycling but it seems my flat pace is not so bad.  We chit chit as we ride along through the countryside.  We see a beautiful sunrise.  And, in not too long, we arrive at the first aid station.  

Tweet: "first rest stop.  23 miles, pretty sunrise! thanks griff and terry for pulling us!"

After standing in a really long port-a-potty line and snacking a little, we get back on our bikes and start heading towards Winters.  Jim and I chit chat a little bit.  He is happily enjoying his first double experience.  He amuses me with his neurotic things he does.  He shows me the little aid station chart and hill mileage he has put together.  

Again, we maintain a pretty brisk pace out until around mile 40.  It is all flat on this section.  We stop at a bathroom just before we start the first climb.  I eat a gel and get ready for the first climb.  

We ride out and as soon as the climb starts, the boys all take off.  I ride along with Rachel right behind me.  We climb past Monticello Dam.  My climbing legs feel pretty good.  My cycling does not feel as bad as I thought it would be.  I can still descend well too.  I like going fast down the hills.  

We climb up Cardiac.  As I am climbing, my route sheet falls.  I don't like stopping mid-climb so I just leave it.  The course is pretty well marked and I generally know where we are going.  

After the climb, Rachel and I ride together and chit chat our way to the next aid station.  

At the next aid station, we see that Griff, Terry, and Jim are here.  I run into a few other friends at this aid station too.  I go to the aid station tables and see there is very little food here.  There's a bowl of hard candy and some bananas.  Last year, I remember the aid stations being much better stocked.  I also remember there was nice cold Cokes last year.  All I see is water and electrolyte drink.  I was hoping to snack on something salty (i.e. potato chips).  It's a little disappointing.  

Griff, Terry, and Jim hang with me and Rachel now.  We ride out together through Pope Valley.  Rachel tells me the story of how Griff proposed to her (just a few days prior).  I am enjoying having company on this double.  All my other doubles, I mostly rode alone.  This is much more fun.  

We get to the next aid station.  This aid station is much better stocked with all sorts of fruit, snacks, and cold sodas!  I eat various things and drink a cold Coke.  I feel pretty good.  Everyone else seems pretty happy too.  

Tweet: "76 miles in.  3rd rest stop is much better than the 2nd one!  there's coke here!  having a blast!"


We leave together from the aid station and start heading up to Honey Hill.  My knee begins to bother me a little bit.  I feel my legs starting to cramp up a little bit here and there.  I try to eat a gel.  I start falling back from the group.  Griff falls back and keeps me company.  He gives me some shot blocks when I tell him I am cramping.  I have him share his side of his proposal story.  I am grateful for having his company especially as I am struggling up the hill.  

After the climb, we regroup and ride mostly together through the rollers to the next aid station in Middletown.  

Tweet: "95 miles.  in Middletown"

Knowing there is some climbing after this aid station, I eat a gel and take some s-caps.  I take some motrin too as my knee is starting to bother me.  

We leave the aid station and have to ride on four miles on an unpaved road.  It is hard-packed dirt and gravel.  There are some holes there.  This is nerve-racking.  It is not flat either.  Rolling down this unpaved roll is nerve-racking as I slide around a little.  

After four miles, we finally hit paved road again. Then, it is actually a pretty area.  We then climb up Big Canyon Road.  It is a tough climb but some pretty views.  Not only is my knee bothering me, but my feet are starting to burn a little.  It is also pinching a little bit on the sides of my feet.  

After reaching the top, I have fun descending down the hill.  At least I can still descend fast.  My knees and feet are bothering me.  I make it to the lunch stop.  There, I immediately take my feet out of my shoes, getting a bit of relief.  

Tweet: "rode on a 4 horrible miles on an unpaved, dirt/gravel road...then a big climb followed by a nice descent.  at lunch stop. 114 miles"

We enjoy a nice lunch out near Clear Lake. We eat some sandwiches and drink some soda.  Everyone seems in mostly good spirits.   

After lunch, we head back onto the road.  It does not take too long before I fall behind the group.  I just cannot hang on.  I pedal away.  Griff is kind and falls back to help pull me along.  This is a busy road with no shoulder and some rough patches of road so it makes me anxious.  I ride behind Griff.  Some cars drive by us, some a bit too close for comfort.  Griff sees one truck brush his mirror on a cyclist's arm ahead of him.  Fortunately, that cyclist stays upright.  Griff goes up to ask if he is okay.  Some drivers! 

We finally turn off the horrid road.  Jim has waited for me.  We ride together as Griff goes and catches up with Rachel.  We reach the top of the hill and begin a really fast descent.  I fly down at 40+ mph and tuck myself in.  It is windy and feel myself getting blown around a little. I am glad Craig put newer wheels on my bike the other day.  Jim stays right on my wheel on the descent.  He talks about how fun that descent was when we reach the bottom.  


We then start the climb up Resurrection.  I watch the rest of the group disappear ahead of me.  It is getting warm out and my feet are hurting and burning.  My knee pain is getting worst.  My legs are cramping on me as well.  

I feel myself slowing down.  I think about stopping.  I slow down even more and am nearly stopped but I keep pedaling away.  Ugh, this is painful.  Every pedal stroke hurts my knee.  My feet want to get out of my cycling shoes, they hurt so bad.  I feel miserable.  I just need to get up this hill.  Then, it's downhill and mostly flat the rest of the ride.  Just keep going.  

As I pedal away slowly up the hill, a person passes and says I am almost there.  I think I am a mile from the top but when I look up, I am almost there.  I see the aid station.  Thank goodness!  

I get there and get off my bike.  Jim is standing there waiting for me, with a cold coke in his hand.  He helps me with my bike and gives me the coke.  I get an ice pack and wander under the tent and flop down into a chair.  I ice my knee and take some motrin.  I change my socks hoping that helps remedy the feet pain.  

Terry has taken off as he wants to finish before dark.  Griff, Rachel, and Jim are still feeling pretty good.  A lady at the aid station says she's glad I made it here.  She tells me how she saw me earlier and I looked like I was going to stop.  I tell her I definitely thought about it.  

We leave the aid station.  We climb a little before we have another fun, long descent before turning into the Cache Creek Canyons.  

Riding through the Cache Creek Canyons is nice.  This is a pretty area.  We mostly ride together, though I am often falling behind the group.  I think Craig would like riding here.  I see pink arrow stickers on the ground and know it is from the NorCal Aids Cycle.  I think about my friends doing that ride today.  

At one point, we hit a small hill and I start lagging behind.  A tandem bike comes past me and they tell me to hop on (draft off of them).  I ride behind them and they kindly pull me all the way back to my friends.  I trudge along trying to stay up with my friends.  My knee hurts every time I pull my knee up.  My feet are burning and hurting on the sides.  The shoes are too stiff for me.  I just feel out of cycling shape.  Ugh, this is rough.  

We eventually make it to the next rest stop in Guida.  

Tweet: "for not training for this double, i'm doing ok.  but i'm SO out of cycling shape.  and my knee hurts.  mile 157 now, eating magic soup!"

At Guida, I have a drop bag here.  I rid myself of my painful cycling shoes and put on soft comfy running shoes.  I had shoe issues last year so I put my running shoes just in case.  My feel much better in my running shoes. 

I eat some watermelon, boiled potatoes and "magic soup."  Griff and Jim really enjoy the magic soup.  I manage to find some ibuprofen and hope that will help me the rest of the way.  

We leave Guida and ride past Cache Creek Casino.  Traffic increases in this area and the cars go speeding by, some a little too close again.  My chain drops so I have to stop and put my chain back on my bike, hoping to not get run over.  Just my luck.  

I continue on.  I am doing okay in my running shoes.  I am able to maintain a moderately decent pace too.  I think the motrin is helping too.  

Tweet: "my cycling shoes were killing my feet so I switched to my running shoes in my drop bag.  feet feel much better.  @mile 176!"

We reach the mile 176 aid station, which is the same as the first aid station from the morning.  I feel much different than I did this morning.  I do feel proud of Rachel for still looking strong.  Jim is just enjoying every moment.  I thank him for hanging back and that he didn't have to do that.  He says no problem and that he's having fun riding with our group.  

We leave the aid station riding through the countryside as the sun starts to set.  My knee pain starts to worsen again.  I feel like my knee and leg are being torn apart with every pedal stroke.  My pace starts to drop down.  I hurt SOOO much.  Jim hangs back with me and keeps me company as I struggle along.  I tell him how we have to stop at the next (and last) aid station as it is the best.  They have better food there than at the finish.  There is grilled cheese!  

I basically limp my way to the next aid station.  I get there just as it is getting dark.  

I wander into the fire station, eager to eat some grilled cheese. I eat grilled cheese and chili.  I take some more motrin.  Another guy comes in with bad knee pain too.  A volunteer tends to him.  She asks him what he wants to do and if he wants to quit.  Quit at mile 191?!  He says "I'd like finish."  Good for him!  

Tweet: "at the best and last stop...191 miles, eating yummy grilled cheese and chili.  my knee hurts really bad" 

Tweet: "been having lots of fun and laughs riding with Rachel, Griff, and Jim all day!"  

After resting up a bit and refueling, we start getting ready for the final stretch.  The guy with the knee problem asks to ride with us as he doesn't have any lights.  So, we head out on our way to Davis.  The good thing is I know this area well and know exactly how much farther I have to go.  

And, in not too long, we get back to the US Bicycle Hall of Fame and finish the ride!  

Tweet: "and we finish the Davis Double!  Congrats to Rachel Harris and Jim Trainor for finishing your first double!!"

Post Ride After Thoughts and Acknowledgements 

The Davis Double was tough to do under-trained but it did what I had hoped it would do.  It gave me a good kick in the butt to start taking seriously my training for the Death Ride.  It also gave me a good indicator of the things I need to do to be properly ready for the Death Ride.  For one, I need to be more consistent in my cycling training.  But, I do have the endurance (thankfully from running) to be able to ride all day long.

I have learned that I still ride okay and still climb okay but consistent training will help a lot.  I need to be better with my fueling so I don't cramp so much.  I also need to get a bike fit and figure out how to fix my knee problems and feet problems.  I am also considering getting newer, wider cycling shoes.  I prefer to not have to ride the Death Ride in my running shoes.

Of all the doubles I have done (this is my fourth double century), this was the only one I have done where I had friends with me during the whole ride.  It made it a lot more fun.  I had a lot of laughs and fun riding with Rachel, Griff, and Jim all day long (and Terry for a lot of the ride).  I felt bad for holding them back but they said they had fun sticking together too.

Thank you Rachel, Griff, Jim, and Terry for hanging me all day long.  Extra thanks to Griff and Jim for falling back a few times to help me along when I started lagging.  Congrats to Rachel and Jim for rocking your first double century!  Proud of you guys!

1 comment:

  1. Nice write-up, Helen. We must have been real close during last year's ride. That last rest stop, by the way, is a long time favorite of mine. West Plainfield has always had hot food and warm smiles. I like the party there and usually stay too long as it is staffed by three family members and a good friend, helping Amy who has ran the stop for years. If you're doing the ride this year, be sure to stop again and say hello to Ada, Samantha, Gabriel and Jenee. Them being at Plainfield is what gets me through this ride during the moments like you experienced climbing up Resurrecttion. OH, mentioned Death Ride. If you did do the Death Ride, you might have noticed two people on the rocks as you reached the 7000' mark going up Ebbets. They were holding a sign that said Ebbetts 5.9 miles. That would be me and my wife Ada, out there supporting you. We'll be there again this year, so stop and say hello. Hope to see you on the road again this year.