Why am I spending so much time talking about this? Well because…I OVERSLEPT the morning of the event. I was so tired I slept until 6:02 am when my roomie woke me up. Even with the prep I did the night before I still couldn’t get out to the start until the 6:30 wave. I lined up with only a couple of familiar faces. I recognized Jennifer Scharf, and Marcus Edvalson but that was it. I usually like to leave with the first wave when I do double centuries since most of the fast guys are in the first wave. But this was a century and I didn’t know anyone.
We take off from Furnace Creek at a really good pace. It’s Troy (I find out at the finish), Jennifer and me off the front in a very short period of time. Then the unthinkable happens — I flat. I was only 7.5 miles into the event and only 29 minutes elapsed time. I was riding tubulars and wasn’t carrying a spare tire. I know shame on me. But honestly, I have gone thousands of event miles riding my tubulars and I haven’t flatted. The tires I was using were only one Double Century old. I used them on the Death Valley Double Century- Southern Route. Race report here I sat on the side of the road and tried to figure out what was wrong because there was no way I flatted. I was eventually sag’d back to the hotel and switched out my wheels, switched out my cassette and then was dropped off at the point where I flatted.
That ordeal cost me 44 minutes off the bike. It was now 7:43 am and I was only 7.5 miles into the event–remember I started at 6:30am. Urg!! My chances of “winning” were gone. Now I needed a new goal. I needed something to motivate me. I thought I want to pass 50 people from this point and before the summit of Daylight Pass (the featured climb). My mission was to pass 50 riders in the next 44 miles and 6,000 feet of climbing.
On my descent towards Rhyolite I realized it was quite chilly at elevation. I was expecting riders to be heading back by now but I didn’t see anyone. This was a good sign. As I approached Rhyolite I started to see the first few riders were now heading back. I counted 1…2…3…4…ok it looks like I’m currently running between 12-14th. I make the turn off the main road towards the ghost town and see a tandem exiting. I’m thinking damn they are miles ahead of me. But there is a long climb to get back up and over to Death Valley. A fast turnaround at the aid station and I can catch the tandem on the climb. I now have a new mission. CATCH THE TANDEM FOR THE DESCENT BACK INTO DEATH VALLEY!
The descent was fast. We were moving at 40 plus mph. At one point we hit a top speed of 46.2 mph. With 5 miles left of the 16 mile descent we catch Troy who was in my 6:30am wave and who had set a hard pace at the start. I’m now feeling satisfied with my effort for the day. Troy and I stayed with the tandem until the finish.
My total time was 6:55. I know from my Power Tap that I spent 44 minutes off the bike with the flat issue. So my total time is 6:11 (6:07 rolling and 4 minutes at the various checkpoints). The winning time was 6:31. Yeah I would have crushed it by 20 minutes!
Overall I loved the event. This new route showed me parts of Death Valley I was never exposed to before. Artist Drive was a nice treat. Also knowing that there is a 16 mile climb just 11 miles from the Furnace Creek Ranch is very good for future training. I’ve been doing the spring and fall double centuries since 2003 and I often wondered “what else is out here?”. I like the diversity of this new century route. Great climbs and being able to see riders continuously throughout the route are great bonuses.
I haven’t done many organized centuries since 2004 because my training consists of solo centuries as I get ready for the 508. One reason I like doing doubles is so I can work on my nutrition strategy and of course my pacing. But this year my training time, and racing time are both limited. I’m really enjoying doing century routes instead of doubles. One reason would be less gear needed for a century as opposed to a double. I don’t need lights, and the staff doesn’t have to work the course for 18 hours. As far as training, riding a fast climbing century has plenty of training value and stresses my system just enough but yet I can recover possibly overnight and do another hard century the next day.
Another reason I’m diggin’ centuries this year is I’m actually hanging out at the finish line and meeting riders and hearing their stories of their journey. When I finish doubles I am completely spent, as I should be, and don’t have the energy to be social. I’m usually off in a corner just trying to recover from the 11 odd hours of punishing my body. You know riding a bike is supposed to be healthy but when I first finish my doubles I swear nothing about it feels healthy 😉
As always I am open to questions about my ride and welcome comments on my blog. Thank you for visiting my blog. I’ll be riding the Mount Laguna Bicycle Classic on April 17th.