Davis … Hot, Brutal, and First DNF

Every year, a precursor to summer comes around to Davis, as flocks of fit, athletic riders either finish their triple crown, start their triple crown, or end their hopes of completing a triple crown with the Davis Double.

FYI, a double is 200 miles … yes 200 miles. But Davis is set up so that you do all your climbing from mile 30 through 135, then it’s all downhill and tailwind from there.

Got to Davis Friday night, around 6:30 pm, and registered (as the group is leaving at 4 am). It was really nice to have pre-ride dinner at the same place where registration took place. This meant not having to drive to a restaurant, wait to get seated, wait for food, then getting back to the hotel and possibly getting to bed by 10 or 11 pm. This had to have saved 2 hours in the preparation over night (especially if we are to get up at 2:30 am). Major kudos to Davis for just doing this little bit.

With temps expected to be in high 90’s, and low 100’s, heat and hydration would become an issue. With this in mind, I decided to bring my camelback. I could also stuff a lot of junk in there.

As promised, we all took off at 4 am. The goal was to finish the ride in daylight. We started out in pitch blackness, which was a challenge in itself. Since we took off before the supported start time, directions could be challenging. Normally, a yellow flashing light at an intersection would warn you about a turn, but the turn to the first rest stop was not there when we got there. This added an extra 1-2 miles to our ride. When we made the U-turn, we did see the flashing light, and the flagman. We all said “That wasn’t there when we first approached it. Major failure on that course marshall!”

Probably the most famous rider in the double is this little girl, who rode stoker on the tandem with her dad. Someone asked her dad if she contributed any power during the ride, and he said no. That’s quite impressive for him to pull the whole load, especially with all the climbs we did.

After a short stop, we continued, and got into a nice paceline. I was riding behind Pete, and didn’t call out a big 6 inch pothole, that I couldn’t avoid. Next thing ya know, 1 mile later, I flatted. The group went on ahead, while I fix my flat. I figure I should be able to catch up with them later … NOT!!! Dang it … if only the pothole was called out!

Sun came out as we do our first climb, up Monticello Dam. As always, fantastic view as we pass it.


I eventually caught up with Dan (LanceOldStrong), my roommate at the second rest stop. Good … I didn’t want to ride the rest of the double solo, and neither did he.

We rode together, trading leads for the next 50 miles or so. Everything was going fine, until just before reaching the rest stop before the Cobb Mountain climb. Two things happened … first, a tandem flatted on a really fast descent, and wound up in a ditch on the other side of the road. They eventually had to be airlifted. Hope they come out okay. Second, on the flat stretch coming into the 4th rest stop, I leg cramps up. This was the first time my leg cramps up like that … oh, this is not good, especially with the toughest part of the ride coming up. I had to stop off to the side of the road, and Dan comes along to help out with some very useful stretching exercise, and e-caps.

After a bit of rest, and re-fueling, we’re off to Cobb. Dan went up ahead, and that’s the last I saw of him. I struggle up Cobb Mountain climb, and the heat at this point was just getting unbearable. Not only was I battling leg cramps, and heat, but Cobb is 17% at some stretches. It got so bad, that I had to abandon my pride and get off the bike, and yes, walk it for about 1000 yards. There were about 20 others who suffered the same fate. In fact, one of the SAG drivers saw so many suffering, she parked her car halfway up, with water, and to douse our heads with water. That felt great. Why is it that the end is a lot further along than you were anticipating it to be?

I finally caught up with Dan at the lunch stop, but he was ready to roll, so we bid goodbye at that point. I was really hurting bad, and I just needed to take a long rest here, and more importantly, eat. So I devoured a full bowl of pasta salad, plus a turkey and roast beef sandwich. I was hoping this would be enough to take me through Resurrection, but it was not in the cards. Resurrection is not that tough a hill, but it is long and more gradual. The heat was getting to its peak in the low 100’s, and that was draining my energy. I was in my granny gear, and still couldn’t get more than 3 mph. I ended up stopping a few more times on that climb, and it was not even in the shade.

It’s strange, I know it’s hot, and need to stay hydrated, but no matter what I did, after taking a swig, my mouth still had this cotton dry feeling. It’s like no matter how much fluids I intake, it wouldn’t go in. It was also a bad sign that I didn’t have to pee. I know I was drinking, as I did have to keep filling up my camelback, but I was still not staying hydrated enough. I wasn’t cramping anymore, but I still couldn’t get any power into my legs. I just couldn’t turn the crank at all. All the preparations I made … Wine Country in the rain, Primavera in the heat, and it all didn’t prepare me for this. I guess I didn’t have enough heat training.

At the Resurrection rest stop, I decided I cannot go anymore. I know there is a little down, then a little up, then it’s 60 miles downhill or tailwind all the way back to the finish, so the climbing for the most part was done. I normally would have just gone on ahead, but my leg was cramping so badly, and energy was so low, I just couldn’t go. Major failure here … first time I’ve ever DNF’d and SAGged in a ride. What’s worse, I’m sagging in, wearing a Triple Crown jersey. Oh well, I guess it’s better to save it for another day. This just means no triple crown this year. The exact same sentiments were heard from other riders, and they were wearing Death Ride and Terrible Two jerseys!

I did hook up with John (Dauphin) on the rest stops. Good to see him for a change. He was not suffering as bad as I was, but he was still willing to accept a spritz from the gal at the rest stop. I’m not sure who had more fun, the spritzer or John?


It was a long day … 136 miles and 7500 feet climbing, and my leg still under recovery, so no riding today.

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2 Responses to Davis … Hot, Brutal, and First DNF

  1. knotty says:

    Interesting fact about Davis, first climbing then downhill from there.

    Yeah, no yellow flashing light at turn, very bad. They should spot you the extra distance.

    Wow, the little girl tandem, dad must have pulled extra 60 pounds.

    Too bad the flat, a bummer, especially so early.

    I wonder if I would paceline in the beginning, especially if it’s too fast when fresh, think I’d rather go my own “long distance” (slower) pace, at least in the first 125 miles to conserve glycogen.

    Yeah, cramps are really the pits, sometimes, you just can’t get rid of it and it plagues you all the way.

    BTW, do you guys start to nibble little treats about 45 minutes into the ride? (pretzels, figbars, cookies and the like?)

    Sorry about DNF Ron, well, there will be another one. But, 136 miles is not too bad, only 64 miles left.

  2. merider (M.E.-rider) says:

    Ron, I know you won’t hear this, but I’m proud of you for stopping and listening to your body far more than I would be to hear that you finished but were now sick as a dog (or worse). Seriously, these are rides and our lives do not depend on whether we finish or not. I doubt anyone noticed your TC jersey (that you earned) when you SAGged in. You’ll ride and finish another double (or maybe not…maybe you’ll decide you don’t want to and that’s perfectly okay). Heat is horrific. And honestly, I’d have quit long before you did on that ride, and I’d have likely stripped off my jersey and waved it out the SAG vehicle too. 😉 Oh, and there is no shame in walking a bike on a climb when you’re hurting. I’ve done it and, honestly, I felt better on the ride after I did.

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