Tag Archives: DMD

Volunteering for DMD 2018

My feeble goal of completing DMD (Devil’s Mountain Double) was squashed by all the cold and rain we had in March/April.  My knees were just not having it, even though I felt good last week on Primavera Century.  So instead, I opted to volunteer to help support this event.

I volunteered for two stops … Morgan Territory and at lunch, at the Junction.  This year, DMD is the first event of the Ca Triple Crown Stage Race.  Every year, the Ca Triple Crown chooses 3 of the toughest double century, and times it, to see who is the baddest, most kick ass double century rider.  So I decided to be the time keeper, taking down all the numbers of every rider that passes through this rest stop.

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It was partly cloudy, but every now and then, the sun would show through (but not enough).  For a tough double century, this is perfect conditions (won’t have to worry about overheating on this ride).

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First Two Riders

First two riders came in around 9:15 am, and way ahead of everyone else.  I have no idea how well they did on the rest of the ride, but as you can see, they quickly got to the stop, then hurried onto the course.

The riders came in waves … there were two fixies doing the ride … Wow, major kudos to them.  Riding this hilly double century, on a fixed gear?  And then I saw one rider, who had a Colorado Triple Crown jersey.  Now that’s gotta be tough, especially with all the mountains they have there, and at elevation.

And then there was one guy, who was riding a bike from someone in Iowa, or something like that, called Strong.  It’s a Strong Bike.

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Strong Bike

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And then some of my friends showed up.  One of my dearest friends, Teresa came rolling through, affectionately nicknamed Tiger.  Of course, she loves mug shots!

After this rest stop, there is a steep descent, with road narrowing to 1.5 lanes, and of course with blind curves.  Well, unfortunately, despite the warnings we give to watch speeds, we had some riders go down.  Three riders went down … first fell on a corner (not sure if they went too hot into the turn … that’s the most obvious reason), and two others went down, not being able to react fast enough.  The middle rider got out of it fine, without having to go to the hospital … the other two unfortunately had to be shipped to the hospital … one with a fractured collar bone, probably some ribs issues … ouch!

What made this difficult is that the riders coming behind that accident, now had to wait 45 minutes to an hour for the firetrucks, ambulance, to come by, care for them, then clear the road.  It’s just unfortunate.  The combination of narrow roads, steep descent, just makes this very dangerous.

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The Junction Cafe

I finally made it to the Junction, which is a cool cafe, out in the middle of nowhere.  It’s about 25 miles down on Mines Road before you hit this spot.  I made a bunch of cold sandwiches for the riders.  Either my sandwich making is a newfound art I didn’t know I had, or the riders were so hungry, they will eat anything.  I had so many complements that the sandwiches were good … I had one guy take 4 of them.  I think it was the latter … but it’s great to hear those complements.

What’s constant though is how thankful everyone was for us being out there, volunteering our services for them.  To all those riders, thank you for the complements, and I have nothing but utmost respect for every one of them out there … at least they had the guts to actually do it (even if they didn’t finish it).  There were a few that had to DNF (did not finish) … but hey, consider this a training ride.  Not many others would even attempt this.

 

Devil’s Mountain Double was Epic, but DNF’d

I finally got the courage to enter and ride Devil’s Mountain Double, despite the advertised 206 mile, 18,600 feet total elevation.  However, the result was a DNF, but it’s not that I am disappointed at this.  I am pretty happy with my performance.

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I got really good news on Thursday, that my co-worker, who lives 12 minutes from the start, was offering to let me stay overnight.  Cool.  I was originally going to drive over at 3:30 am (meaning I’d have to wait up by 2:30 am).  This meant getting at least an hour more sleep, and a much shorter drive, and a civilized start of the day.  This was better than a 5 star hotel.

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We rolled out at 4:59 am, and started out with Curtis and Rick.  I made sure I took it easy at the start, as I knew we’d be heading straight up Mt. Diablo first.  I was amazed how many riders had the bad luck of having a mechanical, even before starting the climb.

This year, DMD is not one of the Triple Crown Stage races, and the organizers wanted to stress being able to enjoy the surroundings, and enjoy the scenery.  Ok, I can do that … don’t have to twist my arm.  One thing I’ll have to say … early morning Mt. Diablo climbs are spectacular, and even the best pictures, and best descriptions don’t do it justice.

Curtis and Rick ended up summiting Mt. Diablo before I did.  I was trying to stay within comfortable limits.

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When I finally got up to the top, my friend Victor was helping support the ride, and he was taking pictures if everyone summiting Mt. Diablo. Funny, he didn’t realize it was me until I pass by him. Very cool.

OK, down the hill, and here I made up some time because for some reason, I acclimated to the cold better than others, which caused them to be a lot more cautious on the descent, and I eventually caught up with Curtis and Rick.

We continued ride together through Morgan Territory, then over to Livermore, but split up by the time we got to Paterson Pass. This was the defining moment of the ride, as this is what kicked us all in the ass. We had gale force winds, plus the Double digit grades we had to climb. This combination was brutal.

I descended down the other side, and the route merged with the Wente RR.  As they pass me, I get a real cool kudos from the lead pack.  “Is that DMD you’re riding?  Awesome” … that’s pretty cool to get kudos from some hot shot racer.

One thing I have always feared was making the time cut off. We had to get to the Mines Road checkpoint and leave no later than 1:30 pm, then get to lunch at The Junction by 4:30 pm. It was pretty flat getting to Mines Road but I wasn’t sure how well I was doing on time. There were other riders near me, so that made me feel a lot better. We ended up getting there a little past 1 pm, so that’s one hurdle we crossed.

Now it’s onto Mines Rd., which Eye on the Bay called “the road that goes to nowhere”. That is such an appropriate adjective, as it just kept going on forever. I also had Scott in the SAG wagon, checking up on me just to see how well I’m doing. I started thinking if I’m the last rider, and will I make the cutoff for lunch? About 10 miles from lunch, we had a water stop and they confirmed I’m not the last one … It just felt like it, with no one behind me.

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Finally, I get to lunch, and there are still people here .. Woohoo. Victor was there to greet me, along with Kermit and a few other Double Century notables. More importantly, they had food here … Mmm chicken sandwich never tasted so good.

Off to climb Mt. Hamilton. I didn’t climb from the Junction to the top of Hamilton in a while … Maybe I should have? I forgot about the double digit grades at mile 10-12. I thought it was all from mile 5 but they still have some kickers before that. At this stage, the climbing was all a matter of survival .. Just turn the crank and keep moving. I had just done this climb a week ago, so at least my body is used to this, except I only had 25 miles in my legs, as opposed to 120 miles. The one saving grace is at least there is still some sunlight left.

I get to the top and only one person passed me. I was a little surprised by that. I thought there were more behind me. There was no rest stop at the top, and I had to go down to Brothers, so time to layer up, and get ready for a cold descent. I had no toe covers so I just gotta suffer through it.

The sunset coming through the clouds was a cool and eerie sight. I was descending this but really enjoying the scenery (I guess you can say I’m taking Scott’s advise, and take in the beauty). I wasn’t cold either, and this was probably my favorite part of the ride, as I’ve never descended Hamilton at this time of the evening.

The rest stop is off of Crothers and in someone’s home. Now that’s the way to have a rest stop. Nice warm soup awaits. I caught up to Curtis here, not knowing he was ready to their in the towel, due to cold, and not being able to keep control. That’s too bad, as I finally was able to ride along with him.

Ok, continuing on, and Sierra Road awaits. Lucky for me it’s dark so I won’t have to see how steep the road is that I have to tackle. As I climb, a group of DMD volunteers were parked in the hill, cheering me on, ringing cowbells … I I’ve that enthusiasm and I really appreciated it. This was just awesome .. Now if only I can finish the climb. Well that’s easier said than done.

I was struggling to find leg strength and it just wasn’t there. I found myself stopping about 5 times. I even walked a few hundred steps, but I had to keep on going. Another push, then I see a car coming down thinking “I wonder if that’s a SAG wagon” … and it was. I officially throw in the towel at this point. Checking my Garmin, I’m at 159 miles and just under 17,000 feet climbing. Wow these stats are out if this world.

http://www.strava.com/activities/134737680

So I DNF’d … I still feel great about what I accomplished. Some couldn’t even fathom doing this. I started but I simply did not finish. As my friend Lynn says, consider it as a kick ass training ride.

I got to chat with some of the finishers at the end, and it was refreshing to find out Patterson Pass affected them as much it affected me. This was brutal. It wasn’t raining, it wasn’t hot, but the wind made it so tough. Now that we are off the road, we’re all smiles.

 

Am I Really Ready For DMD

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Well, I’m not sure if I know the answer to that question.  With one week left, any massive epic training ride probably won’t make too much difference, so I probably should just re-acquaint my legs with one of the major climbs, and cutoff points, the backside of Hamilton.

I was originally going to do both sides of Hamilton plus Sierra, but I don’t think that extra suffrage would benefit me … Besides this would already have 7000+ feet climbing already.

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I’m not sure we was with me today, but I was hanging in there with Ramon almost to the full climb on the front side of Hamilton.  In fact, I was able to get  PR of 2:05.  My previous best was 2:07.  I wasn’t even trying to get
a good time.  I was trying to get a smooth cadence, a good rhythm with my pedal strokes going up Hamilton.
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After a brief stop at the top of the observatory it’s down the hill on the backside to the bridge, then a 5.5 mile grind back up the hill. I forgot to bring my heart rate monitor, so I couldn’t tell hard hard I was working, so I had to rely on rate of climbing, in ft/min climbed. I figured if I maintain between 1000-2000 ft/hr, that would still be a good pace, but it wouldn’t be killing me.

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Toughest part is probably between the 3-4 mile marker point. One thing I like about this climb is you see the mile marker clearly marked. You could even see it from a helicopter up above.

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With 1 and 2 miles left to go, I figured the hard part was done, but no. It was still up around 9-11% grade. Yeesh, glad I did a final reconnaissance climb here one more time. This was hard.

But getting to the top, we get the reward … Fantastic view
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By the time we got up here, we figured we knew Sierra well enough, we didn’t has to do that after this … I mean we already had 7000 feet of climbing in our legs. Recover time. Keep in mind, we still have a little annoying climb on the way back on the descent. Our legs were heavy.

So I guess I’m either ready or I’m not. There’s nothing more I can do at this point. I’ll just have to pace myself and not over extend myself. Just make the checkpoint and then let it all hang out at that point. My goal is just to finish it. And if I don’t make the cut off, it’s not a big deal … Just as long as I enjoy the ride, that’s the important part of it.

Stats for this ride, 50.7 miles, 7355 feet climbing. Now to find a cool down ride.

http://app.strava.com/activities/132052820

Volunteering My First Ride

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.

Hmm … Should I do DMD … NO!

There was another DMD trainer ride, and this would be a good opportunity to get in a good 100+ miler 2 weeks before my Solvang Double.  The route would be in excess of 100 miles, but damn … what a difficult way to get in those 100 miles.

Dan, our fearless leader, showing his stretching prowess

My friend Dan, aka lanceoldstrong, was the mastermind of this route.  He was originally going to do this with his buddy, and it was going to be just a two man ride.  Well, he had to bail, and so the ride plan goes on twitter … well, a two man ride turned into a 9 man ride.  Woohoo … the power of twitter.  Most of the usual suspects showed up .. myself, Bassem, Chris, Marco, Donald, Ben, and a couple new faces I haven’t seen before … Keith and Yu Hua.

We were originally going to start at Mines Rd, to pick up along the DMD route, but a bunch of us derailed that idea.  Longer drive than we wanted to, so we started from Bart in Fremont instead.  This was a nicer option, as it does give us a nice 25 mile warmup before hitting Mines Rd, and second, if we started from Mines Rd, we’d hit climbing immediately.

The pace out of Fremont Bart was brisque.  Of course, anytime you head out on Niles Canyon, and get into a paceline, you can’t help but have a fast pace.  At least this gives our legs a nice warmup.

First flat of the day

After a quick jaunt on I-680, then onto Vallecitos (Hwy 84), we suffered our first flat.  Keith was the unfortunate victim.

We forge on ahead to Livermore

Chris signaled us to move on.  Chris and Ben stuck along side with Keith.  They are guaranteed to catch us (and they eventually did on Mines Road).  So we forged on ahead.  I assumed my normal position .. in the back of the pack.

We made one last pit stop before heading out to Mines Road.  However, Donald got a flat there … two, and counting.  Bassem took some time to take a few pics.  For once, I’m in the picture.  This is a rarity.

Starting the steep climb on Mines Road

Onwards to Mines Road.  A left turn to continue on Mines Road, and suddenly, I lost visible contact with the rest of the group.  Oh well, I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep up with everyone, but this is ridiculous.  Anyhow, time to get into a groove, and just try to limit the pain.  I did eventually catch up with Dan, but only because he was disrobing …. uh, taking off base layer that is.  But a funny thing happened from this … when he redressed himself, one strap from the bib was just hanging out.  I should have taken a pic, but I refrained from that.  Had to give our leader some respect.  :p

Eventually Dan did pass me up, partially because the tourist in me is stopping to take in the views, as well as more pictures.

Re-group due to Marco's flat

I could feel the steep portion was over, as I’m able to pick up some speed and actually descend!  Then, I see a group off to the side … uh oh, not a good sign.  Whaddayaknow … another flat.  Flat #3.  This time, it’s Marco.

Onwards for more rollies, then, Yu Hua gets a flat.  That’s #4.  Everyone was getting a little antsy, so I stuck in with Yu Hua, and decided to meet everyone at The Junction.  We didn’t catch anybody, as we were struggling with the rest of the rollies on Mines Road.  These rollies kept going on and on … I kept looking at the mile markers on the road, and couldn’t remember exactly what mile the Junction was at … it’s mile 19.  The last few climbs before the Junction were kickers, and we just wanted it to end.

Lunch at The Junction

We finally get to the Junction, and Dan had already left at that point.  We did get to chat with a few of the group, but they went on ahead.  Sandwiches at the Junction take a while, and that meant we’ll most likely not see anyone the rest of the day.  I saw Britpower, who was leading the Cinderella training ride today.  No wonder we saw so many riders on Mines Road today.  I wasn’t sure if this was the norm, but it was good to see so many riders out today.

Britpower was waving a number of times at me today, but I was so out of it and tired, I didn’t recognize her, until she came up to me face to face.  Duh.  All I knew was I needed food in my stomach.  I could feel I was hungry about 3 miles before the Junction.

Beginning of the grind on the backside of Hamilton

Finally got our lunch, and we headed out towards Hamilton around 1 pm.  I knew at this point I would not be able to catch up with anyone else.  Yu Hua and I traded leads for the first several miles or so, until Yu Hua’s legs got into gear, and then it was a slow grind up the backside.

All along I knew this was just the beginning.  Yes, I do see the mileage markers on the road, but what I was really looking for was the bridge, because that’s when I know the real climbing starts.  Cross through about 3 or 4 cattle grates, and then finally, the bridge.

12% Climb

From this point on, it’s 12-14% climbs up until about 1.5 miles from the summit.  This is really where you have to dig down deep into the pit of your soul, and muster more energy to just turn the crank.

2 Miles to the Summit. What a welcome sight to see.

And of course, I was so happy to see the 2 mile marking on the road.  Although there is still a bit of climbing left to do, I knew the end was near.

Summit is right around the corner

A little further up the climb, then I see the big 120-inch telescope Observatory … ah the worst is over.

Once at the summit, I get a text message from Ramon.  Chris is not feeling well, and a bunch of folks decide to skip Sierra.  It’s 3:09 pm, and I need to get going if I want to finish the ride in daylight.  So I made the decision to skip Sierra too.  By the time I get to the base of Sierra, it’s already 4:31 pm … uh no, definitely not doing Sierra.  Plus, my legs just don’t have the energy to even make it up the first bump.

I finally made it back to Fremont Bart at 5:54 pm, and without needing lights.  I later saw a tweet from Dan at 6:18 pm, indicating he just finished.  This was one tough ride, and simulated actually doing DMD.  So should I even consider doing DMD?  Well, after this ride experience, I would say an emphatic NO!!!!  I think I’ll just stick to volunteering this ride.  I’m glad I did it, and even more glad that I made it all the way through.  I think this training ride is overkill for preparation for Solvang, but it should all be good.

For more pics, go to https://picasaweb.google.com/ronster/MinesRdHamilton#

Here is the strava stats: