I Finally Beat the Devil – DMD Completed

I finally did it, I finally beat the devil, and I completed Devil Mountain Double. This is the DMD worker’s ride, with the actual event to take place two weeks later.

My first attempt at this was 9 years ago, back when roads were not damaged by rain, and when it was run by Scott Halversen and Quackcyclists. This year, Dzung Dang, creator of XDV, has taken the reins. It is a different route, which starts in San Jose, instead of San Ramon, and does Hamilton first, then Sierra, before going to Diablo. Previously, Diablo was the first climb, which was always challenging, to get legal permits to do the event. My failed attempt is documented at https://sevencyclist.wordpress.com/2014/04/27/devils-mountain-double-was-epic-but-dnfd/

The ride started at 3 am, so alarm set at 1:30 am (takes about 30 min to get to Berryessa Community Center, where the ride starts). For once, it’s a local drive for me, but it happens one of the most difficult doubles you can do. There were a total of 11 riders, with two of them starting quite a bit later (i.e. faster riders).

The temps were in the high 40s, so not too bad, as long as we were climbing. What’s first? Quimby … Oh, the hard way, or as I like to say, the short cut up Hamilton to Grant Park. By the time I made it up to the top of Quimby, the group was spread out, and was already riding solo.

By the time I got to the top of Hamilton (not at the visitor’s center), it was already light. This meant descending in daylight … woohoo! We had to descend back into the clouds, and boy was that chilly. What’s worse, I left my balaclava at home. You always forget something, even if it’s a local event. The return was back to the start where we could stuff things we didn’t want to carry in a drop bag, and have it carried to Mines Road. It was still cold, so I just left my jacket on, and just left an extra light in my drop bag.

The next climb was either going up Sierra (highland route), or taking Calaveras (lowland route). The difference is about 1500 feet, but Sierra is pretty steep. Most riders went highland, but I figure if I finish this, I’ll get in < 18,000 feet in about 200 miles. That’s enough! I still had to climb Calaveras, and the wall!

Since I was the only one in the 3 am group to do the lowland, I was doing it solo. As it turned out, I was the first one to arrive, and waiting at Control 5 is my fellow DC’er Peggy (who will be doing the same thing in two weeks!)

I also happen to bump into some friends who were doing a club ride going through Sunol. See what fun you can have doing a double?

The next big climb is Diablo, at around mile 86 … 86 miles in, and whatever climbing at that point, and then doing Diablo? At least the ride organizer didn’t have to worry about getting permits to ride through (which was an issue when it started from San Ramon and it was the first climb). I started to feel the miles and the climbing starting to catch up to me, but I kept at a steady cadence to this point anyways. I was marveling at how green the hills are here. If I weren’t doing the double, I’d stop and admire it, but I must continue on.

When I got to the summit, my fellow Owl Be Back SS 508 teammate was there to greet me at Control 6. I had to take an extended breather here, before descending down the hill. I was there so long, that my friend Stefan caught up to me (who had done Sierra). I descended down, but I was slowed way down by 1 car, who was going 10 mph around the turn. I was riding my brakes, but I didn’t feel it wise to pass him descending Diablo. Then, I went down to North gate, then a different car, was doing the same thing. Eventually, just after I got passed North gate, Stefan passes me up. I guess I’ll be meeting him at lunch.

Riding on Ygnacio Valley Road is never fun, especially with cars going at 50-60 mph, but at least we had enough shoulder room to work with. The sun was starting to beat down, but I was not about to take off my knee warmers and long gloves. I only had a long sleeve jersey, so I had to just suffer with that on.

Lunch was awesome … adobo spare ribs, it just hit the spot. The group is still behind at least 20-30 minutes behind, so we continue on. Oh, and yes, I was grazing again. 🙂

The next climb up is Morgan Territory, and the kicker with that is all the false flats. At least I’ve done it enough to not be fooled by the false flats … plus, my Garmin helps me cheat there, as it tells me how much more I have to climb. It has been > 1 year since I’ve done Morgan Territory, and the last 0.5 miles is a steep MF’er.

After a brief break for water at the top, time for the descent, aka “The Plunge”. Only thing about this is to watch out for bad drivers, so I kept my speed at a controlled pace. Lucky for me, because one car went way over to my side of the road (luckily I was still about 50 feet away from the car.

Next up is Mines Road (after passing through Livermore). We would then go 8 miles out on Mines Road, then turn around. Actually, the road is closed to cars at that point, so it was a perfect turnaround point. When we turned around, we had to turn on our lights. The good thing it was downhill back to Livermore. Stefan did have a bit of a problem, as his light was not as fully charged as he thought. I had extra lights, but unfortunately, his handlebar was shaped in such a way that I couldn’t mount the extra light on there. Luckily, Byron at Control 10 had an extra light with an adapter that would fit his handlebar, and we were all set.

We returned through the backside of Calaveras, but boy, it was dark. I had to use my other light, which was a 1000 lumen light (although I did have it on medium to low setting). It definitely looked much different at night than during the day. I couldn’t recognize where I was, even though I have done this route hundreds of times, but all in daylight. I was starting to get a little light headed. I was drinking, and I was eating bars, but for some reason, I was getting light headed. Then, all of a sudden, I approach what appears to be a bush in the middle of the road. No, that’s not a bush … it’s a tree that fell onto the road! D’oh! Luckily we were able to walk our way through the shoulder to get around that obstacle.

I had to stop for a minute and take some protein .. some beef jerky …Ah, that did the trick. I must have had some protein deficit at that point. Onwards, and we were on the home stretch. I looked at my clock, and it’s around midnight. Uh oh … I won’t make it before midnight. Oh well, the next goal is just to finish it … and boy we wanted this thing over.

We finally get back to the start at 12:30 am. I think we were the 6th or 7th to finish, but who’s counting. Now where’s my IPA, rice porridge and adobo?

I’ve gotta shout out to Stefan, who stuck with me from Mines Road all the way to the end. Having someone to ride with, in the dark, through Calaveras, definitely kept my mind at ease.

Final stats … 197 miles, 17,835 ft of climbing. Yeah, I did graze quite a bit … about 2:15:00 off the bike, but I don’t care … I completed DMD! I Beat the Devil!

Last Double of the Year .. I Promise

After accomplishing my goal of 25 DC’s, you would think I would slow down and relax … but how could I, when I enjoy doing them. Yeah, there is the going to sleep at 8 pm, to wake up at 2:30 am, to go for a 4 am ride. That’s normal, right? This time, it’s Dead of Winter. I’ve always enjoyed riding in this area, Port Hueneme, Oxnard, Camarillo, Ojai area.

I wasn’t sure who I would ride with this year, but I know that Kirsten (who is super woman, and I’m not sure how long I’d ride with her), and Peggy would be there (who I did ride with for “most” of the ride).

Kirsten was telling me the night before at dinner how she had not had much riding in lately, maybe a 30 mile ride, and it was going to be a slow roll. The route exited the parking lot, and a right turn and boom, she was out of sight. I remember riding for the first few miles, seeing a red dot ahead of us (that being Kirsten). We never caught up with her … like I said, Superwoman.

The route did a 40 mile, fairly flat loop from Port Hueneme through Camarillo and back, and who do we see jogging on the side of the road … of course it’s Memo. He is everywhere … we should start calling him Waldo … Where is Waldo? Memo is everywhere … is there only one of him?

It was a constant drizzle on the drive down, which made the road wet, but luckily the weather held up, and we wouldn’t get any drizzle or rain. However, it was still overcast, and the sun didn’t peep out too much, so we kept jackets on for most of the ride.

Since there was a loop for the first 40 miles, the next part of the route went on some of the same roads we just did on the first loop. We had loaded the route on our Garmin, and one of the after effects of doing that, with a route that travels on the same road, is it may think you are doing the first part of the route. In other words, it may take you in the wrong direction … and it did. We were supposed to be 8 miles from the lunch stop, and the route was taking us back to the hotel. I thought it was strange that we seemed to be going the same route as we did in the first 40 miles, so Peggy and I stopped, and looked at the route. Yup, we did miss some turn. We couldn’t tell where, but all that mattered is getting back on the course and onto the lunch stop.

I pulled out Google Maps, and had it route us the quickest way to Juanamaria Park. The ETA there would be an hour … damn! The thought in my head is I hope we will get there before the lunch stop closes. Google Maps took us through a bike path, and when you look on Google Maps, it looks like it wants you to go on the freeway (well Hwy 101). All it said was “turn right” but it didn’t mention a street. When we got there, I realized it wanted us to turn onto the bike path, which parallels Hwy 101. And boy, was that bike path dirty, and full of trash. We thought we would encounter some homeless camp there. Then, it took us on another bike path, but this time, it said “turn left”, and again, no street name. By that time, I figured it wanted us to go on another bike path.

Finally, we reached Junamaria Park, the lunch stop, approximately 1.25 hours later than expected, and there were still people there, with about 10 riders left behind us. We quickly fueled up, loaded food to go, and off we went, for the hardest part of the course, onto Ojai.

This is the part of the course where I anticipated I would be slower. Big thank you to Peggy for pulling me through Ventura Rd, till we got to the climbing portions of the ride. It was just a matter of time before I would lose sight of her. When we headed out to Dennison Grade and Ojai Summit, I knew I would be alone in the climb. There was no one in front of me, and no one behind me. This was a tough grind … not like Sierra Road or Hicks, but it still kicks your butt. As Peggy says, this was a MF’er climb.

On the way to the summit, I do see Peggy heading back in the other direction. I was meaning to tell her to go on ahead, and don’t wait for me, as I know I’d be trailing behind. She does have plans to do Double-Double (which is the same ride the following day …. one is enough for me).

When I got through Dennison Grade, and it flattens out, I thought I should be at the summit, right? Wrong. It descends a little bit before a couple of minor hills before we get to Ojai Summit. Oh, that’s cruel and unusual punishment.

Got to the summit before it turned dark, but I knew on the return, I would need my lights. By the time I got to the Mob Shop, for the next stop, it was definitely dark enough, where lights are required. This meant we had to climb Casitas in the dark. I didn’t anticipate this, but I was able to mount a light on the fork, near the hub of my front wheel. That worked out pretty good, as it would light up the road while I’m climbing. I figured I would use this, and save my main lights on the handlebars for the descent.

While climbing Casitas, there were just a few cars passing me, but there were tons of traffic coming the opposite direction (from the coast inland). The problem there was many cars had their high beams on, and at times, it would blind me for a split second. It’s a good thing there wasn’t any traffic behind me when that occurred.

For the descent, I had three lights, so visibility wouldn’t be an issue, but man, it was dark. Despite that, the descent was okay for me (although I was going extremely conservatively … aka slowly).

For the rest of the route, I hooked up with another group, who I recognized from previous doubles (Bass Lake and Davis), so I was not riding solo on the way back.

The original route was about 190 miles, but there was a detour which added 3 miles. With our extra detour, I ended up with 202 miles, 6942 ft climbing. The important thing is I made it back safely, and without any flats.

That’s DC #27 for me. Now to take it easy for the rest of the year, before ramping it up again for 2023.

Carmel Valley Double # 25 is Done

Carmel Valley Double is completed! This is my 25th Double Century, and I finally get a chance to buy, and wear the next level of awesomeness, the 25 DC jersey. This was not only a big deal for me, but we had a celebration of a 50 DC rider, Hoang Nguyen, a 75h DC rider, Peggy Kegley, and 100 DC rider, Dzung Dang, the directory of the Carmel Valley Double course. Awesome, with banners posted for all 4 of us.

I also came a couple days early, to assist in setting up this huge event. As with last year, I slept at the start. One would think that with others sleeping in the same venue, I would get enough sleep, but I normally don’t get as much sleep at these events anyways. With a 4 am start, I figure I would wake up 3:15 am, and hoping I would not wake anyone up … but soon after my alarm went off, everyone else’s alarm went off, so I was thinking the same thing, and lights went on in the building.

Check in at 4 am, and off I go. About 2 miles in, I suddenly realize I left my phone back at the start. There’s no turning back, I gotta just do it. Besides, they printed this big poster for my 25th, expecting I would finish this, so gotta pursue ahead. This just means I can’t take any pictures, so I’ll have to rely on what pics others have taken. This may not be a bad thing, no tempting distractions for me.

I rode with fellow awesome endurance rider Dr. Lam Do, from San Diego. We rode at around the same pace, so that was good, and not be tempted by the pace of other passing us. At around mile 16, we had our first excitement of the day. There was a house fire, with fire trucks, ambulance, and police all at the scene, blocking Elm Street. Ooh, but we have some directing us onto the sidewalk to get through the scene, and who was that? Oh it’s the awesome Peggy Kegley, the aforementioned 75 DC rider. Thanks a bunch Peggy .. you rock!

We get to the first rest stop, shortly after a series of small climbs, we get our first rest stop at mile 21. This was run by SF Adobo Velo, serving boiled eggs and Vicky Ma’s rice porridge. Oh, very yummy … it’s definitely the way to start a DC. Oooh … but no water. It was so early that it wasn’t a big issue for me, so off we go.

First climb up is Carmel Valley Road. That came quicker than I thought, but maybe it’s because I wasn’t lagging behind with no one in front. However, I did lose Lam somewhere here. Up the hill, we had two cows loose on the road, but we did see some ranch owners try to move them off with their trucks. We went by without a problem there.

Got to the summit, and the second rest stop, but couldn’t find Lam there, but I gotta move on, and limit my stops. Time for a long fast descent en route to Monterey. This is a nice recovery for the legs as there are no hard climbs until after reaching Monterey.

The climbs after Monterey are punchy … you know, short steep climbs, from 5-12%, just enough to wake you up. We then do an out and back of Jack’s Peak, and then my friends Brett and Brenda catch up with me. That is great … at least I get to ride and chat for a short time with them. However, that would last about 15 minutes, but it’s still good.

The next climb, San Benancio, is what starts to drain riders, me included. It is an exposed climb, with limited shades, so the climbers do gain time. We eventually get up to Laureles Grade, via an off road section that cars cannot get through. Lam eventually caught up to me at this point, but he passed me, and I would meet up with him later at lunch. The road exited through Rinconada Dr before we get onto Laureles Grade. There were reports from some cyclists that a pedestrian was complaining that it was a private road, but I think most cyclists came through there without an issue.

Finally lunch stop at Jerome’s Market. Before getting there, my friend Kirsten passes me. That was cool. I reunited with Brenda and Brett at lunch. They are ready to take off, and Kirsten limits her stops, so off she went (I don’t think she ever eats … hahaha).

Everyone was saying all climbs were front loaded, so second half should not have issues … except Cachagua is a tough climb. I know, because I’ve done that, and I helped SAG the workers ride two weeks ago. Soon after the summit of Cachagua, I start getting cramps. I was able to manage it somewhat, till we got to the water stop before starting the climbs again. I thought it would be fine, and I did munch on some salty chips, and popped some e-pills in, and ate a bar. However, it would still creep in.

I managed to get to the top of Calhoun Summit, where I spent a longer than usual rest stop, for probably a good 20 min. Here I downed some adobo chicken, rice, coke, and that seemed to help me recover. Most of the climbs were done anyways, but that was a good break.

There was another water stop at about mile 142. I didn’t think it was necessary, but since we had to check in at each stop, I couldn’t just bypass it. It’s just some more time to add into the ride. It was mostly downhill into King City. There were some combination head and cross winds getting back through Greenfield, so I had to go into time trial mode. I was still able to sustain 19-20 mph through there, so I felt pretty good. Those bouts with cramps …. what cramps? When we turned right on Metz, we got to take advantage of a stiff tail wind. That definitely help my time getting back.

Got to the next check-in before 8 pm, before we do the out and back down Jolon Road. It’s a 20 mile out and back, with one hill, but that was a cruel hill, at about mile 173. It was probably good that it was dark, so that I didn’t see how much hill there was in front of me. That was a nasty, sadistic hill (especially after 175 miles and 12k ft climbing in our legs), but we got through it. As soon as we summitted, I was eager to see the turnaround point … but we continued to go down. My thought was, the longer this descent is, the longer we have to climb back up.

While at the rest stop, Memo warns us to not stay to long, so that we don’t miss the time cut off for the ride. We have about 1:45 left to finish. Luckily the climb itself wasn’t too bad, which then would be followed by a descent.

As if the pressure to make the cutoff wasn’t enough, my chain dropped, and it’s stuck between the frame on the small chainring … Ugh … Finally got back with about 10 minutes to spare. Whew!!! I made it … 25th Double Century. This was harder than it looks on paper, and having cramps before Carmel Valley Road didn’t help either.

I’ll have to give a big shout out to Lam, who stuck with me through Cachagua and Carmel Valley Road. It probably slowed time by 15 to 30 min at least, so thank you Lam. I’d also like to thank Dzung, for all the encouragement, when I got back into riding doubles again … especially on a really hard Mulholland Virtual Double … I was ready to quit, but he kept at me, and it got me through it. I’d also like to thank Brenda and Amanda, for helping me out on those training rides.

And now I’ve got this big poster … need a big wall to post this on :). Thank you all that greeted me at the end. The camaraderie with this crowd is incredible, and the gratitude I have for their friendship and support cannot be put into words.

Eastern Sierra Double #24

This past weekend was Eastern Sierra Double Century, which starts in Bishop, Ca, just south of Mammoth Lakes. Before I go any further, this has got to be one of the most beautiful double centuries you could ride.

This is like unfinished business for me. I last attempted this 10 years ago, but the weather conditions were quite ominous then. Back then, we re-routed the course, so that we would avoid the rain … well we ran into rain, and then it hailed, then snowed, so I DNF’d that year. This time, I’m determined to finish this.

This year has been really tough for ride organizers, as the participation is still not up where it was before Covid-19 lockdown, so I want to first shout out to Planet Ultra, for making all these efforts to plan and prepare this wonderful event.

Getting to the start was a challenge, before actually doing the ride. First, I couldn’t find anyone to carpool with (most people participating were driving up from Southern California). Then, I got a good tip from my friend Mark, who said the most direct route is through Tioga Pass, Hwy 120, through Yosemite National Park. However, to drive through you need a reservation. Okay, fine, so I went onto reservation.gov, to try to make a reservation for Friday and Sunday, but no option to even make a reservation. It didn’t even say it was full. Bogus! So what are my alternatives? Either go all the way down to Bakersfield, then go east, and take Hwy 395 north … but that’s a long detour. Then there’s going through Sonora Pass, Hwy 108. Okay, that’s not as long, but it is steep, and the peak is ~ 9800’ … Dang! Oh well, I guess I have no choice. However, the view did not suck!

I’m staying with my friend Victor, in his condo in Mammoth Lakes. This will be his 50th Double Century. That’s quite an accomplishment … Hall of Famer indeed

Victor Cooper, on his 50th DC

Most of the riders were starting at 5 am, and that’s when we would start. I know a couple of friends are starting at 4 am, but the condo we are staying at, in Mammoth Lakes, is 45 min drive away from the start. We would have to leave by 3:15 am, and wake up even earlier.

5 am Riders

The temperature at the start was comfortable, not chilly at all (I probably could have started without the jacket, but I’m staying on the conservative side). As you could see, Stefan, has no jacket, and not even leggings, like it’s a summer ride.

We only needed lights for about 45 minutes, and then it started getting warm. After the adrenaline of the start of the ride wears off, we got into a good group, to pace ourselves before the climbing started.

In this group, we had the very unique situation of having two Ron’s in the group. Actually, there is a third, but we didn’t get a chance to take a picture with all 3 Ron’s, so you’ll have to settle for two instead

Photo courtesy Victor Cooper

The climb on Sherwin Grade on paper didn’t look that bad … but doing it .. that’s a different story. The first section of it, from Lower Rock Creek to Gorge Rd is 7.2 miles, and average 5%, but I faded towards the back of the group.

Not only were we climbing at altitude (beginning at 4500 ft), but we were also battling headwinds from time to time. The climb itself was deceiving, as when you look at it from the side, it doesn’t look that steep, but looking at my power and speed, I can definitely see I am climbing.

The climb continued as we turned onto Hwy 395. I then bumped into my friend Bob (who has a last name, that is pronounced the same way as mine, except he has a vowel in his name). At least I got some company before the next stop.

I finally caught up with the group at the next rest stop (surprised that they were still there). And I finally got to meet Nora in person (who I have been Facebook friends for awhile).

We continued on where our next destination is the climb up to the Mammoth Lakes area. Again, I find myself stuck at the back.

Pic courtesy Victor Cooper

One of our other friends, Molly, was going to ride with us from Mammoth Lakes. However, I was so far behind, I didn’t catch up with her until much later in the ride. I pretty much was riding solo, with some of the 6 am riders passing me (which I expected). Soon after getting to Mammoth Lakes area, we have a descent where we go back to Hwy 395 (we basically did a loop around Mammoth Lakes area).

I know the next destination is June Lake, which is a gorgeous area, and pretty much the highlight of the ride. With all this in mind, I somehow missed the turn to the next rest stop. I only figured that, when I see the same people that passed me earlier on, is passing me again. Wait, what happened? Then one of my friends Chris, comes up along side of me, and ask if I missed the rest stop. Well, I guess I did. Luckily, my friends Teresa (aka Tiger) and Nora, were doing leapfrog support, and I saw them parked along the side, and I topped off water, got a few snacks, then headed on. I already saw Vic and Molly pass by, but there’s no way I’ll catch back onto them, so I just continued at my own pace.

Pictures don’t do it justice, but this is the highlight of the entire ride. With Carson Peak hovering over June Lake, it is definitely a destination that should be on every California cyclist bucket list (no matter if it’s a double or not).

Next destination .. lunch … and thankfully, I got there to reunite with the rest of my group. I also found out I am not the last one on the route … one other guy came in after me, and then Andy, from New York, was about 45 min behind me, but he’s gone through the hardest part of the ride, so I know he’ll be able to make it through.

After lunch, there is still a climb up Sage Hen, which is another gradual grind, but with over 8000 feet of climbing, and 110 miles, each hill will drain you … and it did to me.

Sage Hen does have some downhills where you could really pick up some speed. I overheard Chris say on the tandem, they reached 65 mph. The best I could muster is 51.5 mph. Although that sounds fast, I didn’t feel like my bike was unstable going at that speed. However, I wouldn’t really want to go any faster than that. However, it was not all downhill. We had what Victor calls “whoop de doo” .. I guess that’s an appropriate description for it

Adobe Valley whoop de doo courtesy Victor Cooper

I hate these, especially at the 150-160 mile mark … every little bump takes it out of you, and that’s definitely what happened to me. I was really laboring at this point, and just waiting for the next descent to come, where I can tuck down, and just coast back.

I did have one concern about the trip back … and that is if we were going to have a headwind on the way back. Well, we kind of lucked out, as we had a tailwind for the last 30 miles back from Benton to Bishop. That definitely made the ride back oh so enjoyable.

We got back just after dusk, where we barely had to use our lights. Once again, Memo is there to greet us as we finished … of course, he started an hour earlier, and finished an hour quicker than us. But thanks for greeting us Memo. It was very well appreciated.

I’d have to say this was one of my most enjoyable double centuries, despite the suffering, and the rest stop mishaps I had earlier in the day. The views are just spectacular, and I want to take this opportunity to thank Planet Ultra, Deb and Brian Bowling, Teresa (aka Tiger), Nora, and Evan, for the fantastic leap frog support. I wasn’t sure what to expect coming into this, especially with the thread of not being able to get this ride approved .. but I’m glad you all made the effort, and it made for one of the most enjoyable DC’s I have ever done. I think this may be my new favorite, despite how difficult it was to get here … it was all well worth it. I can’t wait to do this next year, although it would be hard to beat the weather conditions on this day.

I also have to give a huge shout out to Deb and Brian Bolling for continuing to push this ride through to reality. Despite the low turnout, and skeleton crew for support, this had to be one of the most enjoyable, and well supported ride I’ve ever done. The weather really cooperated with us, with only a few drops here and there, it was dry. We really lucked out, as it rained half the time on my drive back home to San Jose area, so this was almost the perfect ride.

Ok now for the stats … 190 miles with 10,526 ft climbing, and 1.5 hour stoppage time.


Oh and congrats to my friend Victor Cooper, for completing his 50th Double Century. That is quite an accomplishment. Well done! Thanks for letting me stay at your condo for this. And this is my 24th DC. Next up, Carmel Valley in the end of August.

Davis Double #23

This past weekend was Davis Double, one the best supported double centuries. It had been on a two year hiatus due to Covid-19, but it’s back! It is also one of the most popular double centuries too. It is also the 23rd DC for me.

This year, I got a room right in downtown Davis, and was just a mile from the start. My friend Victor, from LA drove up, and we rode out together, starting at the wee hour of 4 am. This was more to beat the heat, rather than beating a time cut off. I don’t even know if there is a cut off … maybe just to finish before midnight?

You would think that riding at 4 am would attract those of us who are steady and not a speed demon, but there were several pack of fast riders, and I was passed left and right. I guess they wanted to finish in daylight, but they still needed lights to start the ride!

I’m not sure at what mile it was, but very soon after we started, I couldn’t keep up at the pace Victor was going at. One thing I remember about Davis … it’s always a sprint fest in the first 25 miles, so I decided to just keep within my own pace. I was able to see Vic at lunch, but only briefly.

One thing I live about doing DC is riding in the dark, and seeing the sunrise… it’s just an awesome sight, and photos just won’t do it justice.

Soon I caught up with my friend Dan, aka Lanceoldstrong, and my future SS 508 teammate Nancy. It’s so cool suddenly catching up with friends on an event like this.

First rest stop, and the sun is out. My two favorite supporters, Memo and Peggy are there to greet us all. They are so awesome.

Even though the sun is out, it is not ready to take the jacket off. It’s still cool, especially descending through the cool canyons. I’m still getting passed by some stronger riders (probably ones who started an hour after us). I couldn’t keep up with Nancy, so I just had to let her go, and just settle into my pace.

A lot of the ride used the same roads, and in fact, same rest stop points as the Knoxville Double, so it kept thinking to myself, am I doing Davis, or am I doing Knoxville. We just did a bunch of them in reverse. Of course, that meant climbing over Pope Valley.

Pope Valley

I was able to ride with my buddies from One Cycling, out of Stockton. They are so much fun to ride with, as long as I can stay with them.

I still have to work on limiting my time at rest stops. At rest stop 3, I felt I spent too much time there (about 20 min), but there is that balance between having rest time, and not resting too much.

Leaving rest stop 3, we start the climb up Big Canyon, which BTW, includes a 4 mile stretch of gravel. The good thing is it wasn’t a steep grade on gravel, probably 4-5%, if that. However, I did notice my speed was not stellar .. ~ 7-8 mph. Even though it was fairly flat, it still felt like I was climbing. It had ridges, which went perpendicular to where my bike was going, which made the road all that much tougher. Once we got through with the gravel, the grade started to go up … it just gets better :).

Once we finish Big Canyon, it’s a screaming descent down Seigler Canyon, reverse direction of the same route on Knoxville (where we climbed after lunch). I get to lunch, and reunited with Vic, who rode with a strong fast group, but we was about to leave … so short reunion. Here, we get to enjoy the benefits of ice socks, and stick it in around my neck to cool myself off, as I prepare for the climb up Resurrection.

The climb up Resurrection is not bad. There is a short climb, then long descent, only to climb back up again. The rest stop is at the top of the hill, where traditionally, people are suffering up the climbs, as it is all exposed. Peggy was many rider’s savior, replenishing us with ice and water.

Photo courtesy Mark William Calaway
Rock stars of the Day
I got a sock on my neck 😀

The hard part was done, but by no means did the mean the end of climbing. However, the rest was a series of rolling hills, but there was still about 70 miles left to go.

Rest stop 6 was in Guinda, yet another shared rest stop with Knoxville. They had a much larger layout of food, including baked potatoes, and every DC’s favorite, Cup o Noodles. Something about that salt, but because there was all this food, I spent way too long here. Looking back at my stats, I probably spent 30 minutes here … that’s even longer than the lunch stop. I definitely need to improve in this area.

The rest of the ride was a matter of continuing through, ignoring the pain in your butt (from all the time in the saddle). I couldn’t quite make it back before dark … I think I had a good 30 min where it was completely dark, but was able to see the sun go down.

I finally finished a little before 9 pm, which seems to be my average. I really need to limit my time at rest stops. I say this every time I prepare for a double. I guess I just gotta keep practicing, and eventually, I’ll get it right. There’s always something to learn on these events.

Ok, total stats … 194.30 miles, 9098 ft climbing.

Camino Real Double Century … #21

The first California Double Century on the calendar is Camino Real, which was held February 19th. I’ve always liked this one, for a couple of reasons … First, of course it’s the first one of the year. Nice way to kick off a year. Second, it’s held on President’s Day weekend, so there’s an extra day to rest, recover, or damage my body even more.

I drove down Friday, and met up with my boys Robert (who brought along some of us Las Vegas buddies from Adobo Velo), along with Memo. I ended up riding with Memo and Monica for the whole DC.

Being in lowland, we got to start at 4 am (highland riders started at 5:30 am, and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to finish in a respectable time starting that late).

The temperature at the start was 50 F, so it wasn’t too bad. That’s not to say it didn’t get chilly … it got as low as 39 F, and that was when we headed inland from Laguna Beach into the canyons. We did get an awesome sunrise view.

I somehow lost Memo and Monica when we started climbing through Laguna Nigel (and I even stopped at the first water stop). Eventually we re-grouped at the first CP at San Onofre.

One of the “non so pleasant” parts of the ride is riding along I-5, but at least we have shoulder room to work with. Normally when I ride this, there is bumper to bumper traffic, but it was moving pretty good today. When we got near our exit, the bumper to bumper traffic returned. It was nice to pass the traffic on our bikes past the cars … weehee!

When we got to Oceanside, we would then head inland towards lunch. When we got close by, I can just feel food coming, and like an idiot, I pushed the pace to get to lunch. I will never learn, but it was fun. Met up with long distance extraordinaire Steve .. always good to catch up with him.

After lunch, we do a climb up Old Castle Road, which I’ve never done before, but it’s not too bad. It’s longer than the climbs we did in the morning, but nothing too steep (maybe 5-8%). The only problem is it was right after lunch, at high noon. Luckily it was not in the 90s or 100s, but the sun was still beating down on us (although my Wahoo measured 106 F … don’t believe that!).

We then started to do some rollies, but my leg started to tighten up a little bit … it wasn’t cramping, but was on the verge of doing so. Memo had to remind me to drink .. egad, bottle is 3/4 full .. time to hydrate.

On the way back, Memo knows of this one street called Triple Crown Road, so it was a small little detour for us. That was definitely a Kodak moment, that we had to take. I’m surprised Planet Ultra didn’t have us go on this, just to say that we went on Triple Crown Road.

Back on the route, but to I-5, but this time, cars were speeding by at 70-90 mph (estimating 90 mph, based on how fast they were wizzing by us). The good thing is there was not too much junk and debree on the side of the road, so it was doable, but definitely not a pleasant experience.

By the time we got back to San Onofre CP again, we finally met up with Robert and the Las Vegas boys. However, they are going on the highland route, so that’s the last we would see of them. I thought it was odd we didn’t see them on the whole route, and yet, they were here at San Onofre before we got there … maybe it was a change in the route after lunch stop?

Anyhow, we return along the coast the same way we got here, and this is where the sun sets. With all the water I was drinking, to re-hydrate myself, I had to take bio breaks a lot more than this morning. That’s one thing I have to work on .. hydration. When it’s cold, it’s hard, because you don’t feel like hydrating, but you really should. Lesson learned for my next DC.

On the way back from San Juan Capistrano, we encountered pretty heavy urban traffic .. and in the dark! We saw another group of Adobo Velo riders come up, and we rode along with them to the next checkpoint. However, it was observed they had some personal SAG, as we could see them meet up with the group several times, and there was no SAG sign on the car. It’s a good thing no one from Planet Ultra saw them, otherwise, they would get disqualified.

The last 20 miles were a bit odd. It was all flat, but I was struggling to maintain pace. I had water, and I was drinking, and I had food, but somehow I didn’t have the energy. Memo kept warning me about the hill climb at the end … but then, when we got to the hill, I had this extra energy, and I powered up the hill. Maybe the flat junk miles were making me board, making me sleepy (I remember yawning quite a few times), and then when hill came, it woke me up.

We finished a little before 10 pm, with a moving time of 15:23:24, but a total time of 17:58. Too much stopping time .. will need to improve upon that. However, the more important part of this, is this double century is complete. This make number 21.

Total stats … 198 miles, 8104 feet climbing

2021 Retrospective and Getting Back into Double Centuries

Well here it is … another year in the books, and yet another year under the environment with Covid-19. From a cycling perspective, at least some of the restrictions have been relaxed enough to allow us to do some of the things we used to do. For me, it was getting back into Double Century riding (although I had taken a 7 year hiatus, separate from all this Covid non-sense).

I think I got the bug to get back into Double Centuries due to all the Virtual Doubles that my friends have been doing. However, one thing that prevented me from doing doubles in years passed, was partly due to work. My group was down to 2 people (where it used to be 4). What that meant was every other weekend, I had to be on call, which really impacts how much training you can do for long distance riding. I was fortunate that this year, the schedule was laid out, such that I was on call once every 6 weeks or so, and I had more flexibility to change schedules.

The first virtual double I did was in April, and it was for the Mulholland Double. It wasn’t the actual double (I would never be able to make the time cutoff). Still, it was 200 miles, and 12,000 feet of climbing. It was basically doing a big loop up and over Mt. Hamilton, then down the other side and over to Livermore, then back to San Jose. Well, that was 130 miles of it … we then made up for it by doing a series of smaller 3-5 mile loops until we reached 200. I felt like a hamster, spinning my wheels.

One of the best things about these virtual doubles is being able to ride in your local neighborhood, and being able to have local support (whereas actual double events wouldn’t let you have your own local support). The other nice thing about this was having local friends hang out and serve you food on the course.

My favorite was Melissa’s rice porridge .. mmm, that hits the spot, after 150 miles, and especially if it was cold. It was so good, I went around a couple more laps, stopping each time for rice porridge, but I had to continue on.

With this being my first double coming back after 7 years, I did have some doubts in my mind. At mile 130, I was tired, I was exhausted, and I was ready to throw in the towel. But thanks to my friend Dzung, he convinced me to continue on. I needed that push, to get me over the edge, and I thank him greatly for that. The funny part was his comment, that the first double I do coming back, was one of the hardest. Yeah, I don’t like to do things easy.

After succeeding there, I decided I wanted to do a double solo. Oh, big mistake. Well, I did my own loop, of ~ 60 miles, and met up with a group ride. There was a bit of climbing on the group ride, but I figure I should be able to handle that. Unfortunately, the weather (in May) was a little more wet than expected. It was pretty foggy … it was almost like a misty rain, but it was enough to make us all wet. I was the only one who knew the route well, and being the local, the group begged me to lead them back to the start, as everyone was wet and cold. So I led them back, but I still needed to continue my double, as I had only 90 miles with 110 more to go. I continued on, and instead of doing multiple 5 mile loops, I had a great 20 mile loop, through bike paths, and I figured I would be able to keep doing this to get to 200. My care was parked along the route, so if I needed something, I would stop by the car. On one of the stops back to the car, I was really exhausted, and since it was solo, I didn’t have anyone to motivate me, and that’s what did me in. I stopped at mile 155, and since I was at my car, it was way too easy to just go on home. So that was a failed attempt.

To this point, I chalked this up as a training ride, but I kept thinking if only I had more mental toughness to continue on. Others were impressed I continued on, after the weather conditions. I can’t blame the weather on this, as by the time I got back to the car, it was all dry, and should have been able to continue on … but it is a learning opportunity.

I was able to complete one more virtual double, and that was Grand Tour, which I did in July. That was fun, but that hardest part had to be doing all those small 5 mile loops, but at least we did it, and that was the 2nd one of the year, and that would end up being the last. Again, my favorite part was stopping for rice porridge on those 5 mile laps. Eventually we shortened them to 3.5 mile loops, just so we wouldn’t get delayed by traffic lights.

In August, it was our club’s double century event, Carmel Valley Double. This was not virtual, and I think it was the first non-virtual double. This was a tough one, as it was 14,000 feet climbing. The most climbing I had ever done in one event was Devil Mountain Double, but I DNF’d that one. By the time I DNF’d, it was 159 miles, and 17,000 feet climbing. When I finished Carmel Valley Double, I was ecstatic. This was tough, and it was the first worker’s ride I had ever done (I volunteered, and supported the actual ride which was held on Saturday, two days later).

There were 4 of us doing the volunteer ride, but I was the slowest. I was able to ride with Stefan for most of the ride, but by the time we climbed Carmel Valley on the way back, I was far behind. The difficulty was when I descended, it was pitch black (about 8 pm). Since this was rural, it had many turns, and I needed to put higher beams on. I definitely was not going as fast as I normally would down this road, and it would go on forever. One mishap on this ride, was that somehow, the screw on the mount for one of my lights was no longer there. So I couldn’t really use this light, so had to rely on my other one. Since I had to use my brighter beam, that meant using more battery, and I was running low on battery. I was able to finish before it went out, but that was a close one.

The best part on this ride was to actually cross the finish line. While riding this, I was worried I wouldn’t make it to the cutoff, thinking it would be after midnight before I finished. I underestimated myself, and I actually finished around 10:30 pm, so not too bad. That was one of the happiest moments of all the doubles I did. It also helped having so many friends to support me on this one.

I really had the double bug now, so I proceeded to do Bass Lake and Solvang Autumn Double. On Bass Lake, we had quite a few people from XDV drive out to Clovis (near Fresno) to do the ride. I wanted to do this as a group ride, but right off the bat, we got separated, as I rode with the lead group, but most of our group had a flat, which delayed them for about 40 minutes. I eventually waited for the rest of the group at the 2nd rest stop (at Bass Lake). I probably should have just continued on, but something tells me they would have caught up to me anyways (as Dominique and Ellen are so so strong).

Solvang Autumn Double was the week after Bass Lake. This would be my fifth of the year. It was a bit colder than I was anticipating, especially when we got into the canyons. This was a bit tougher than I thought, as we did Drum Canyon twice (once in each direction), and that road was really rough. Descending on a road bike felt like I was in a boxing match, getting my upper body taking body blows, with all the bumps the bike was taking. I think a gravel bike would have been more appropriate for these descents.

One thing I did observe was I did slow down quite a bit in the second half, while others took longer in the first half and finished stronger in the second half. Even after all the doubles I have done, I still have some things I have to improve upon (aside from the fitness).

The last double I was able to do was the Dead of Winter, which was held first weekend of December. It was a nice flat double, with a climb up Lake Casitas pass, which is always a lot of fun. This is the same as what we do on the actual Grand Tour Highland Double. What was nice about this was seeing a lot of double century friends that I know from the many trips I made down to So Cal. It was a blast seeing them, and was fun to complete my 6th double century of the year. I’ve never done 6 in a year before, so this was a first for me.

For 2022, I have a goal of completing my 25th double, and that will be for Carmel Valley Double. Melissa has said they will create a big banner for me for that one, so how could I not strive for that as a goal. So that’s my plan … that’s my new year’s resolution … I am currently at 20, so I will need 5 more to get to 25. Wish me luck!

I would also like to thank Dzung Dang for maintaining a group that encourages cycling and more importantly, keeps me motivated to keep riding. I was burnt out, and that’s why I had a 7 year hiatus from double century riding. It’s his emphasis on doubles and endurance riding that kept the double century bug in me. It also helps to have a group that has the motivation to do these rides (as these events are not for the normal every day bike riders). Thanks Dzung!

Bonny Doon Plans Thwarted by Flats

My co-worker Al, and I, had this lofty plans of doing a killer loop, with about 105 miles, and over 10,000 feet of climbing.  This was definitely going to be an epic ride, something Al has wanted, in preparation for his Death Ride training.

Those were good plans, but plans are not set in stone.  It all started fine, getting a nice warm up by climbing Page Mill (including those 12-16% pitches).  I felt ok climbing Page Mill, despite having some lower back “irritations”.  Al was faster up the hill than me, but I wasn’t too far behind.

All good there .. then we descended West Alpine, along with another faster group, which was going in the same direction as us.  However, during the descent, I heard some other noise coming from my bike, other than the freewheel … I had to slow down, and just as I feared, it was a leak.  My front tire got a flat.  Luckily this was just a slow leak, and I was able to hear it on my descent.  This was just before the right turn to continue onto West Alpine.

So we stop to fix the flat, and as I inspect the tire, I notice a sidewall gash.  It’s one of those, where once you pump up the tire, part of the tube will bleed out through a hole in the tire, and pow, there goes your tube.  Al had those tire boots, so we installed that, and we’re ready to go.

I think Al is ready for Death Ride, as every climb, he was definitely much stronger, and he was just flying up Haskins Hill, and didn’t see  him until I got to the corner of Stage and Pescadero Creek.  Good for him, but lot more work for me.  I was lucky enough to catch a few guys in a mini-paceline going to the coast.  One guy even had a DSLR, and was even able to take a few shots, without stopping!  Wow!

VIRB Picture

Paceline to the coast!

I re-grouped with Al at Stage Road.  We had to make a decision here .. do we continue on to the original plan of doing Bonny Doon loop, or do we alter it and do the obligatory Tunitas Creek loop.  With the tire situation, I was leaning more towards Tunitas, but Al had his sights on Bonny Doon, so we are continuing on.

We continued down to Hwy 1, with a scenic stop at Pescadero State Beach.  I mean come on, you gotta take a few pictures here (although we would be riding parallel to this anyways).


Off we go and the winds were going in a southerly direction, and guess what .. we’re going south.  We have a tailwind, and that means kick it up to high gear, and just spin.  Al wanted to just charge on so he passed me, and he was flying.  However, there’s a lot of crap on Hwy 1, and one of those pieces of crap was a stray wire, that caught my front tire.  It was stuck to the tire, and it kept rolling it with.  I think I rolled with that in there for a good mile before it dislodged itself, and now it’s just a matter of time before it does go flat.  It finally went flat a little after Gazos Creek.

So this is where the day turned sour.  I have no more tubes available, and Al is at least a mile ahead of me.  Hmm … cell phone … no bars … damn, can’t even text him.  I was close enough to a gas station, but they had no tubes to sell .. damn.  A couple guys were fixing a flat by the station, but no extra tubes.  Damn.  Eventually, I flag another rider, who happens to have an extra tube.  A lifesaver!  I’m all excited, replace the tube, pump it up, and as I take the pump out, it strips the valve.

Arghhhh!!!!  It is just not my day.  Another good samaritan comes by, who happened to be a SAG support guy for years.  He doesn’t have any tubes, but he tries to help.  Took part of the tape on my handle bar, and I was wondering what he was trying to do.  He was trying to use the tape as a patch, but I’m thinking that’s not going to hold.  Surprisingly, we pump it up, and it seems to be holding.  He takes off, then I put everything together, then I feel the tire, and it is not holding … damn.  So I pump it up some more, ride as much as I can, and I go maybe 1/4 mile, before it’s deflated again.

I guess I’ll just walk south for a while, until I see Al come back.  I’m not sure how much time we lost, from both the tube change back up on West Alpine, and my adventures on Hwy 1, waiting for Al, but we had to find the quickest way back.  I decided we should just head back up Gazos Creek, then double back up Haskings, then West Alpine.  I figure that should still be an epic climb, but at least it will be more familiar territory.

The wind is still blowing in a southerly direction, and we are going northbound … headwinds!  Oh well, this is kind of expected, but we charged on through it.  I think when Al u-turned back on Hwy 1, it may have taken a bit out of him, because on our way back on Pescadero Creek, we was behind me.  I guess he’s conserving energy for the W. Alpine climb, so that makes sense.  Maybe part of it was I had rested awhile, so I was more refreshed?

There is a warmup climb before West Alpine in this direction, and that is Haskins Hill.  It has some 10-12% grades, so it is no slouch.  At this point, I got my second wind, and I felt good climbing up Haskins, and as it turned out, I got a PR on this segment.

At this point, climbing up W. Alpine was not too bad … my legs were still pretty fresh.  Al and I traded leads up this hill.  By the time we got to Skyline, we had a sense of relief … we are in the home stretch.  Legs are tired, and we just want to get back to the cars.  By the time we got back, I had logged in 82 miles, and 7877 feet climbing.  Al wasn’t sure how far on Hwy 1 he got before he turned back, but I think he was by Davenport … he got in 99.4 miles.  We was too tired to take an extra loop around the block to even it out to 100.

That was a tough ride, even though we skipped on Bonny Doon and Zayante … not sure which way would have been tougher.  We didn’t get the 10,000 feet climb we were shooting for, but it was still one hard ride, so we still had a great workout, and a great day.

Saddle Slip, How Does That Happen?

I was riding along, just getting in some miles before my first climb.  It’s a flat stretch along Foothill Expressway, then all of a sudden, I felt something sink.  It wasn’t a flat, and it felt like my saddle position dropped.  It wasn’t too dramatic, and I decided to keep riding on, until I reached the intersection.  I checked, and it looked a little low, and my knees were bent a little more than usual.  I better head back, then suddenly, the saddle height dropped quite a bit more … it got to a point where it sank about 1-2 inches.  I couldn’t even ride seated.

I proceeded to ride standing … it is difficult to ride without your saddle.  I knew it would be tough, but this was ridiculous.  I went back to Los Altos Community Center, where I saw Dillon there, getting ready for another Pescadero ride with Steve.

Luckily, Dillon had a torque wrench, specifically designed for the saddle.  We loosened it all the way, and even then we had a problem raising the saddle height.  If we had this problem changing the saddle vertical position, then how in the world did the saddle height sink?  I did a ride the previous day, climbing Saratoga Gap, with a good 40 miles, 4000 foot climb … good thing my saddle didn’t slip while on that ride.

I took the bike over to Bicycle Summit.  There was ample grease on the seat post, so it wasn’t a lubrication problem.  Perhaps it just wasn’t torque’d down enough.  I still find it strange that it suddenly sank on me, and then we had problems raising the saddle height.  Oh well … I guess that’s one mystery that will not be solved.

Oh, while I was there, I might as well ask for a torque wrench.  The guy goes back, grabs a torque wrench from their tool kit, and gives it to me.  Let me say again, he gives it to me – For free.  “Are you sure”, I ask … he says they have plenty of them.  Really .. Well, that’s customer service for ya!

Picked up the Crash Replacement

So I finally decided to go forward with the bike crash replacement.  I was thinking of letting it go, but thinking of how smooth the ride is, I had to get a replacement.

I would be getting the Liscio 2, which for the most part is the same as Liscio 1, with the exception of the frame bottom bracket was changed to make it more standard with other components.  I decided to also upgrade the disc brakes to TRP Hy-Rd hydraulic disc brakes.


White fork vs. black, blck highlight on the down tube … ooh, I like this color scheme a lot. Cable routing is also inside the frame … much cleaner.

Take a quick look at the old Liscio


I took it out for a quick test ride, and the first thing I noticed was the braking … ooh, hydraulic is nice.  Much more responsive.