2010 Hell’s Gate Hundred- Ride Report


My finishing time 6:55 good for 5th place.  I was off course for 44 minutes leaves 6:11 total time and 6:07 ride time.  I had a good day on the bike. The 16 mile Daylight Pass climb is a good one!! Bring some low gears for Artist Drive!

I arrived at the Furnace Creek Ranch shortly after 1am on Friday night.  Yes, another long day at the store.  It was Good Friday and the store was packed.  It’s good for business but bad if you are an Ultra Cyclist racing a 100 miler the next morning and still have to drive 6 hours to get there.  I closed the shop doors at 7:45pm, got something to eat and got on the road.  If there is a silver lining of traveling late it would be that traffic isn’t as bad on the 55 North, 91 East and 15 North freeways after 8pm.

BIKE– Sasha– Cervelo Solist SL with Zipp 808 Powertap with Continental Competition tubulars.– then Easton Orion II with Power Tap Standard Chainrings 53/39 and 11-23 Cassette.

CLOTHING- Skins compression tights, Bike Religion Short Sleeve sleeve and AdventureCorps cool armsleeves.

Once I arrived I had to go through the usual  routine of setting up the bike, laying out my clothes and nutrition.  My best guess is it was around 2am when I shut off the lights and closed my eye lids.  If you follow my blog you may know  from my previous posts that I wake up everyday between 4-415am.  Which means I had  been up almost 24 hours by the time I hit the rack.

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.


Artist Drive was amazing.  The climb was steep but the scenery was awesome.  It was well worth the effort.  I had no idea that this road even existed.  It’s so close to the Furnace Creek Ranch that you can ride out and back and have a great ride in a couple of hours.  The descent had a lot loose rock so I really couldn’t bomb down it but the twisty parts were really fun.  It is definitely a very cool addition to the ride.

I was passing people on Artist Drive as they suffered on the 10-12% ramps.  I started counting 1…2…3… I pulled into the checkpoint to see Elizabeth and Steve Barnes and posed for a few pics.  But then back on the bike and back on with my mission. I  finished the loop and got back on Hwy 127 and 7…8…9…passed more riders.  I was riding well and thought to myself “this is going to be a great day on the bike!”
I rode past Furnace Creek Ranch on the slight downhill and motored to Daylight Pass Rd.  17…18…19…I was reeling them in. Along the way, I saw Dean K on the eliptigo. I thought wow that must be tough.  I’m so lucky to be on the bike 😉  I made the right turn onto Daylight Pass Rd and see a SAG vehicle.  I refueled and saw Marcus.  Oh good, I was making good time since he left in my 6:30 wave and I caught him.  I kept the intensity pretty high on the bottom of the climb and I was passing riders “left and right”.   I was well over 40 riders that I had passed and I stopped counting.  It’s obvious to me that I will accomplish  my goal of passing 50 riders.  Ok what’s my next goal?  Just keep pushing and something will come up.

I reached Hell’s Gate and saw Picachu and his Adobo Velo club members. Thank you guys for volunteering. I’ve done the 10 mile climb and there is still 6 more miles to go. I refuel and leave quickly.  Up the road I’m zoning out when a rider passes me and I decide to jump on his wheel.  I had been gradually slowing down and this rider helped me ride faster.  This rider was really strong.  As I was watched my power in the low 300 watts I was beginning to doubt whether I could stay with him.  It was hurting me and being 12 miles into the climb didn’t help either.  I let him go.  As I reached the summit I saw him sitting at the checkpoint. I waved over to him and rolled through that checkpoint. Actually, I think it was more of a water stop.  I don’t really know because I didn’t stop on either leg, outbound or inbound.
Rhyolite Checkpoint

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!

From Rhyolite to Daylight Pass Summit

I refuel very quickly in Rhyolite and boogie out of the checkpoint.  I want to catch at least 5 riders on this climb.  It’s a milestone goal to help me achieve the greater goal of catching the tandem.  I’m working as hard as I can without blowing up to catch that tandem.  Of course, this is all relative since I’m starting to feel really fatigued.  And then I see it …we are less than a mile from the summit.  I turn myself inside out and I’m almost there.  They reach the summit before me and I’m hoping they will pause just enough to put on jackets or something for the descent.  YES! They are doing just that and they are still there when I crest.  I have about a minute to catch my breath and then down we went.  In less than 12 miles, 9 of which were on a climb, I have made up 3 miles on the tandem.  Go Vireo!!
The tandem I drafted on the 16 mile descent.

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.

8 thoughts on “2010 Hell’s Gate Hundred- Ride Report

  1. Pingback: Breathless Agony Ride Report | George's Epic Adventures

  2. Outstanding
    What great views, beautiful color in the flowers and you hit your goal and was looking for the next goal.

  3. Pingback: What’s Next for The Red-Eyed Vireo? Hell’s Gate Hundred « George's Epic Adventures

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s