Aug 4, 2011

Mt. Tam Double plans and predictions

In less than 48 hours, I’ll be starting my third and last planned double of the year (there’s always a chance someone will talk me into anther one), which will qualify me for the California Triple Crown in 2011.

One nice thing about this double is that at one point or another, I’ve ridden nearly all segments of road that have been stitched together into this 200-mile adventure. 

I’ve compared this double with the two I’ve already completed this year, Mulholland and DMD. This is definitely easier than DMD - frankly, outside of Alta Alpina, I don’t know if there is a harder double than DMD. Tam is also a bit easier than Mulholland, being a few miles shorter and having about 1000 feet of climb less.

One thing that will be different in this double is that I’m going to do it solo. I’m starting alone and I’ll probably be finishing alone. Knowing how these things go, I’ll likely be in a group here and there, but officially, I’ll be alone, which means I’m not waiting for anyone and don’t expect anyone to wait for me, and as always, all stops will be as brief as possible or medically necessary.

I’m going to go out on a limb and make a huge (for me) prediction right now: I believe I can finish this double in under 13 hours total time! Here’s why:

1. Comparing with past results. I finished Mulholland in 13:42, with 12:28 of that time riding. As I’ve mentioned above, Tam has a bit less mileage and 1K less climbing, which should help shave some riding time. I also took a slight, but nevertheless time-eating, detour at Mulholland when I missed a turn, which added about 10 minutes to the ride. I plan on not getting lost during Tam; "plan" being the key word here. So riding-time wise, I know I can finish it in at least the same amount of time, but probably very close to 12 hours even, leaving about 1 hour for total rest time.

2. No gear issues. A lot of time (relatively) is spent attaching lights, etc. to the bike at late stages of the ride when the sun is about to set – none of this will happen here. I’ll be starting at 5 am and plan to be done by 6pm, which means all I’ll have with me at the start will be a very light headlight and a rear blinker that I’ll need for the first couple of hours. I will not need any lights in the evening, as I plan to be done way before sunset, even if I miss my target.

3. Injury free! If you read my Mulholland report, you know that’s where I injured my Achilles tendon. Well, four months later, I can with certainty declare that my tendon is back to 100 percent with absolutely no pain or discomfort! I have been successful at managing the issue with Rocktape and an Ace compression brace, but toward the end of longer, climby rides (100+miles/10K+), my tendon would start to bother me. I’m hoping none of that will happen during Tam and the last 50 of 200 miles will be painless with respect to my Achilles. I’ve made peace with the fact that everything else will be in at least slight discomfort. That's just how you play the game.

4. Better fitness. Mulholland was in the beginning of April. Lots of miles, feet of climb and races have been put into my legs since then, and I hope the improvement in fitness will help me shed some more valuable minutes off the ride. Of course, this also means that my body is more fatigued, but I’m hoping that I’ve allowed myself proper rest in between tough weeks and properly tapered this week by not killing myself five days in a row leading up to Saturday. Fingers crossed!

There is, however, one thing that has the potential to eat up a lot of my time – rest stops! Because this ride is part of the CTC, I HAVE to check-in at every rest stop except the first one, otherwise I get DQed. I don’t know what the checking-in process is like, and I hope I can just roll by some of the stops with people writing my number down, as opposed to having to actually stop and check-in with somebody. Rest stops can often be black holes when it comes to time, so I only plan on stopping a maximum of four times for food and such (less if I can help it), and hope the mandatory stops will be as efficient as possible. After all, this is part of the Triple Crown Stage Race (something I'm not competing in because I didn't ride the Terrible Two). 

And this, my friends, is my plan and prediction for the Tam Double coming up this Saturday. As with anything in life, it’s great to have a plan, but it’s even more important to be able to change it on the fly (while hoping you won’t have to).


  1. Are you going to carry extra water? Or plan on about 10 bottles total? (2 per stop plus 2 to start with)

  2. 10 sounds about right and I can normally do 20-25 miles to a bottle. We'll have to see how hot it gets, but if I need to stop for 30 seconds just to top off a bottle, I'm not really going to count that as a rest stop. But to answer your question, I'm not going to carry extra water. The time that I will lose due to extra weight is probably doing to be > time to quickly fill a bottle.

  3. I haven't been to many events where I can get water that quickly, usually takes at least a minute if there are people in line, but that sounds reasonable. I've been starting off longer events with three frozen perpetuem bottles, which usually takes me about 50 miles before needing to reload, as well as being nice and cold. At which point I fill up 2 with perpetuem mix, and keep the empty in my jersey if I need it later.

    The water stop vs extra weight is a close call. If you are about 160 lbs, an extra 24 oz bottle (1.6 lbs) will cost you about 30 seconds on an hour of climbing I believe (1.6/160 = 1%, 3600 sec * 0.01 = 36 sec). I think the extra bottle has added mental weight though.