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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.