In an effort to fulfill my requirement for the gold triple crown jersey, it involves volunteering for one ride. Devil Mountain Double (DMD) is the local double, and it is also, by far, the most difficult (with in excess of 18,000 feet of climbing). This made my decision pretty easy to volunteer this ride, instead of riding it.
I was assigned the first rest stop, which is the summit of Mt. Diablo. We had to get to the south gate by 5:20 am (with enough time to get to the summit before the first rider reaches the summit. What dawned on me is I’m waking up around the same time the riders would (I had my alarm at 3 am). But on the other hand, I knew that the last rider should be leaving the rest stop at 8:30 am, so we would be closing shop at that time. I would then have the rest of the day to myself, and possibly a ride that day.
It was extremely windy up top. You could see the trees waving from left to right, and also hear the howling wind. I would not be one riding up this hill with this much wind. We had to strategize where to set up the table for refreshments, water, snacks, etc … we ended up finding a corner that was not gusting quite as much. I can only imagine how cold and miserable it is climbing up, and to battle with the gale force winds?
We had a good crew of 10 people for this rest stop. Melanie was our token cow bell lady, greeting and cheering on the riders as the complete the last few feet of the climb up the wall. We had spotters right along side her, checking the name, and marking their times. As you can see, she is all bundled up, so you can tell it is a bit cold up here (at 3850 feet of elevation).
The first rider who got to the top didn’t even stop. He just went around and headed down the mountain (he got his name marked off, so he got his checkpoint credit). Chris was the second one up, at 6:40:09 am. Damn, he’s fast and he’s strong. Good job Chris.
I was primarily manning the water, perpetuem, and hammergel refills. We had 4 flavors of perpetuem available, and I was surprised how many people expected us to have Heed. I guess they figured we would have all Hammer products … uh, no, just Perpetuem and Sustained Energy. We had an issue with Hammergel, especially with Chocolate. The viscosity of it was so thick, and rich, and it was hard to get them into the flask that they provided everyone. Air bubbles would form at the entry of the flask, making it a challenge to refills those flasks. Funny how I never had this problem when filling it at home, but then again, it wasn’t 38 F and windy when I was doing that at home. The banana flavored hammergel flowed much smoother. I also noticed some riders would mix multiple flavors into their drinks … 2 scoops of Perpetuem and 2 scoops of Sustained Energy … wow, that’s potent. I gotta try that some time.
A little later, my friend Dan (aka Lanceoldstrong) showed up, along with Bassem. Dan’s gotten really strong, and glad to see he made it up. I also saw Donald, Ramon, and Marco earlier. Ramon commented how strong the wind was, and he almost got thrown off his bike. Marco had some mechanical problem, as his front derailleur broke, so he came up without a front derailleur. Well, since it’s all climbing, I guess not shifting into the big gear shouldn’t be an issue, and it does save a little bit of weight.
Later on, my friend Steve, from Southern Cal, showed up. He’s a strong rider, a veteran of many doubles, and this is the first time coming up and doing DMD. Good for him. It’s funny, we actually looked at each other for about 10 seconds before realizing we know each other. I think it’s because he didn’t recognize me without my kit on.
I actually saw one guy show up in a fixie … damn, 206 miles, and 18,600 feet climbing on a fixed gear? That’s just nuts. I also saw a recumbent tandem. Now that’s a bit odd. I can’t imagine climbing Diablo on a recumbent, much less a recumbent tandem. Good for them.
The last rider showed up a little after 8 am. That’s awesome … so we went ahead and closed up shop, dismantled everything at that point. We had to get rid of perishables, so what better way to get rid of them than to eat them. LOL … that’s one nice perk of volunteering for a ride … not riding, and getting free food.
There were a total of 100 volunteers for the entire ride. They had enough staffing for the other rest stops, so as soon as we closed up this rest stop, that was it for me. Even though I had to get up at 3 am, I got finished and back home by around 9:30 am … enough time to get in a ride during the day … well except the wind was still howling, and the pollen was flying around like crazy, and made my eyes run and very watery. Oh well. This was a good experience, and it was about time I gave back, and volunteered for a ride. Now I know what it’s like to support one of these things. I got so many people thanking us for being out there.
It was indeed windy. It was actually hard to pour powder into the water bottle because the powder was blown everywhere. Good job, Ron! And thanks for all the volunteers that make such a tough ride even possible.
Between your work with the T.O.C, Rest stop work; Why not just go for it and sign up for an independent support team car for the T.D.F!