I felt so good after completing Knoxville, that I decided to do Bass Lake Powerhouse Double, two weeks later. Egad, 2 weeks? Is that enough time? Well, I figure Knoxville was a training ride for this …hahaha
Donald and I carpooled together, and we agreed to meet Dan and Curtis at 4 am. However, their pace heading out was a bit slower than our easy pace going out, so that’s the last we saw of them. Now it’s really dark at this hour, and it’s also hard to see street signs (let alone the arrow markings on the road). As a result, we missed one of the turns (which was a flat 8 mile loop). No problem, because it did actually meet up with the same road we were on. After we had gone on for some time, it looked like we missed a turn. We turn around, but after riding about a mile, we saw a pack of double riders heading the other way. There was no mistaken they were double riders, because who else would be out here at this hour, riding bikes, and in a pack?
Anyhow, they had gone 8 more miles than what we had. Oops, we missed one loop. Oh well, at least we know the first checkpoint is up ahead. Then, we see a couple riders passing on the left. I immediately recognize the lead, and it’s my friend Dante. We then hooked up with Dante, and my other friend from OCRR, Rick, and we proceeded to ride the first half with them.
The first 70 miles or so was really flat, so the four of us rode together, forming a nice little paceline, and trading off leads. It was a nice organization, and we kept up a nice 17-20 mph pace without too much effort. This was really Dante’s domain, so it was nice to take advantage of the paceline.
The first climb of the day was at 67 miles out, climbing to Pine Flat Lake, and it wasn’t too bad. It was the first time of the day to get our climbing legs out. Right there, we knew who the climbers were … Donald, followed by Rick, then me, and Dante.
The climbing continued, and this was the first hard climb of the day. The climbing was a variety of 5-10% grades, but it kept going on for a good 20 miles, before we got to the lunch stop at Auberry. This was some hard climbing, but our climbing day was just starting. It’s a good thing we are at lunch, just so we can rest our tired legs a little bit, before starting the “queen’s hill”, or the toughest hill of the day (okay, I made up the “queen’s hill” bit of it … think of it analogous to the queen’s stage like you would have in the grand tours).
After lunch, we descended past the Bass Lake Powerhouse, which I guess is a power station for this area. Hmmm … so that’s why they call it Bass Lake Powerhouse … not very scenic though. Oh well … we descend for about 4 miles down. What’s strange is I see some riders climbing up in the reverse direction. Am I that far behind? Am I that slow? On second look, those guys look fresh, and do not look like they’ve done 100 miles … must be some other group.
After descending a while, then the climbing starts up North Powerhouse. This climb seemed to go on forever, and it was constantly up. This was a constant 10%, and for a while, I didn’t see anyone in front of me, or anyone in back of me. I stopped several times, just to make sure I am on the right route. Next turn should be on Road 225 … I pass by Road 235 … I had to look 3 times at both the street sign and the route slip … nope … damn, gotta keep going. Eventually, I did see some people pass me by. For once, I was glad to see myself passed up. One of them is Lyresa, who I know from Western Wheelers club. She is a really strong rider. She actually did the Triple Crown Stage Race, so you know how strong she is. Plus, she passed me by with her Alta Alpina jersey … was good to see her, but that was a “hi … bye” greeting.
I get up to North Fork, which claims to be the exact geographical center of California. I was looking for some type of monument or sign claiming that, but I had more important things to do … like finishing this damn climb! A little more climbing, then finally I get to Bass Lake, and the next rest stop . Whew!!!
By this time, Donald and Rick has already moved on ahead, so I took my sweet time resting my legs, and getting some salt in my system (aka cup o’ noodles). Most of the climbing was done at this point, but we still have to climb back up Powerhouse, which is not going to be fun. On the other hand, we did have a nice cruise around Bass Lake, so at least that was very pleasant. I didn’t stop very long to take many pictures (if I were on a century, I probably would have). It was 3 pm, and I wanted to try to get as close to the finish as possible with ambient light.
The descent was fast and fun going back to Powerhouse … that is until we got to climbing the very same hill that we were descending after lunch. They say the climb back up Powerhouse was not as bad as the climbs going up to Bass Lake. All I knew was I was not in a hurry, and just grinded away. My heart rate was definitely not on the high side, hovering around 130 …. definitely well into zone 3.
One thing that was shocking … as I was climbing Powerhouse, I still saw some riders just heading out Powerhouse from the lunch stop. Damn, it’s around 5 pm at this point … if those riders are just heading out to Bass Lake just now, they are in serious danger of not making the cut-off time. That is just crazy.
By the time I got back to Auberry, back to rest stop 5, it was around 6 pm … which meant time to put the light back on. So that meant approximately 2 more hours of battery time for my Niterider. At least the rest of the ride “should” be mostly downhill, and for the most part, it was. There was only one significant bump, which was a right turn on Nicholas. It’s just cruel to add in a steep hill in the dark … just had to add my commentary on that. However, I did see a slight error on the route slip, which added to confusion … in the dark! The route slip shows you making a right turn on Hwy 168, then a left turn on Millerton. However, when I got to the end of Nicholas, I only saw Millerton, and never did see Hwy 168. I think they may have missed something on the route slip, as we could clearly see the arrow on the road pointing a right turn onto Millerton. And I was originally going to make a left on Millerton based on what the route slip said. That’s probably the only knock on this ride, which was otherwise very well run.
At rest stop 6, they had won ton soup, and I had two helpings of pasta (one of the few rides where the rest stop has pasta). One thing I regret is not having Adobo soup … in fact, Dante came specifically for that. Gotta try that next year.
Ok, back to the ride … my battery was running low, and it was on the last led indicator (which shows you battery level), and it was red. My light eventually went completely out as soon as I got into town. Whew, that was a relief. I was able to use the street lights to guide me through … just in the nick of time. Also, my Garmin battery life went off at this time too. That was lucky.
I rolled into Clovis at around 8:51 pm … nice … 17 hours. Donald was there since before 7 pm. Kudos to him for completing his triple crown, completing the ride without completely puking after lunch, and getting in right before dark. Rick showed up a little after Donald, and he rode back to his motel. Curtis and Dan were still out there somewhere. I was also looking for Teresa all day, but I guess we left so early, our paths never did cross. I did see Mark on his Trike at lunch, but that was the one and only time I saw him. Damn … that must have been really tough to climb those hills on the Trike.
So I now have my 2nd triple crown … woohoo. I’d have to say I’m a lot fresher after my 2nd triple crown than I was my first one … and the 2nd one was definitely much tougher, and a lot more fun. I did two double centuries in three weeks … that’s quite a feat for me. Dante’s doing two doubles in two weeks …. damn, I can’t imagine doing that. So this marks the end of my double century season, and so happy to get my 2nd triple crown. Now if they would only offer triple crown jerseys with full zips!
Bass Lake stats … 192 miles, 10,302 feet climbing, with total elapsed time of 16:58:00, and riding time of 14:09:08. That’s according to Strava …
Overall, I thought the ride was a lot of fun. There were a few things that I wish they had, but that’s only because I’m comparing them to Quackcyclists … I really miss those steamed potatoes. I kinda wish the arrow markings were a little more brightly lit, but when it’s dark, what can you do? So the big question is … would I do it again? Oh yes, definitely. I had fun on this.