Apr 28, 2011

Devil Mountain Double prelude

Everest is known as the mountain of firsts: the first man to summit, the first woman, the first one-legged man, the first father and son team, the first septuagenarian, etc. It is the tallest of all mountains on Earth, which is why it draws such a frenzy of climbers each year. Though now that I’ve typed it, it seems that the transition I was going for here is a bit too attenuated, but I’ll run with it.

To get me to do a ride on a bike, all I need to hear is that it’s in a class by itself: the toughest, the longest, the most number of climbs, the steepest pitches. Whatever the ride has that separates mentally sane people from those like I am is what attracts me to it the most. So when I read that DMD was the toughest double century in California, it was a done deal. I also managed to talk a few people into doing this ride with me, and I hope that after we’re done they will still be talking to me.

This will be double two of three of my California Triple Crown pursuit, and I’m as excited to tackle this bad boy as I was about riding Mulholland Double. This will be a slightly different double than Mulholland, however. There will be longer climbs in the early part of the ride, and the climbing appears to be more evenly spread out, which means lower average speeds early in the ride and also a bit more fatigue as the climbs come later in the ride. Sierra Road will probably be an equivalent of Deker, which was one tough climb coming up at mile 160.

My goals for this ride are finishing uninjured, and as with Mulholland, in under 14 hours. My total time for Mulholland was 13:42, but DMD has an extra 5 miles, which assuming they are extra flat miles and I’ll be able to do them at 20mph, still adds on another 15 minutes, which doesn’t leave much room. The ride also has an extra 1.5k of climbing, which certainly will eat its share of time. It seems that if I can keep the same pace as I did for Mulholland, the only place to gain time is to take less breaks. I definitely could have taken less breaks if at least one of the rest stops had potato chips. Instead, I had to stop at each one after Deker to check if they had any – no such luck. I can likely limit my rest to 45 minutes to 1 hour, which would buy me an extra 15-30 minutes to still come in under 14 hours.

With all of that out of the way, here are some things I will try to implement at DMD that I took away from Mulholland:

1. Don’t be afraid to start hard. I started with a large group and stayed with the leaders for as long as I could, about 50 miles. After which, I settled into my own pace. Going hard doesn’t mean burning too many matches early on, but there is a tendency to be a bit too conservative early on in rides of this length, which is understandable.

2. Use any group I’ll be in to the max. These are not the types of rides where dropping people on the flats will lead to any substantial gain. If they are stronger climbers, they will catch me; if I’m the stronger climber, they will fall off on the climbs regardless. Energy saved on the flats in a group is energy that can be put into a climb later on.

3. Eat, drink, eat, drink – lather, rinse, repeat. At around mile 140 of Mulholland, I definitely felt the jolts from the Powerbar Gels I was eating along the way, and I started eating them at 15-20 minute increments instead of 30-45. I will make sure to start doing that much earlier in the ride to make sure to keep my calories up as well as my energy level – those things pack caffeine. Another thing that worked for me yet again, is sticking purely with Accelerade. Two bottles at the start, send enough mix for two bottles up the road with the gear, and that should be enough to get me through the ride – obviously I’ll be taking in a ton of water in between those Accelerade refills.

4. Leave enough kick to finish strong. It’s an amazing feeling to be riding the last 20 miles like they are the first 20 miles. The key to doing that is proper pacing and proper fueling, the adrenaline seems to take care of the rest. When I smell the finish line after all those miles, I just naturally speed up.

And that’s about is. If I had to make one more point, I’d remind myself to have fun and lift the head up once in a while to enjoy the views – hopefully they will be good! Expect a lengthy report sometime Sunday or Monday.

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