600 Miles, Part 2

May 24, 2007

Originally posted to ydnar.vox.com in May 2007.

(continued from my previous post)

Confusion reigned at Rest Stop 1. We heard varying reports of a fire, running the course backwards, and other rumors. After the misstep after leaving the rest stop we took off into the road we’d spend most of the day on: Route 16.

Route 16 is a mix of good and bad. Parts of it are terrifyingly narrow, with traffic zooming buy on the way to the casino, and parts are wonderful pavement alongside a creek with whitewater rapids. The owners of the casino must’ve been fallling all over themselves to name it Cache Creek.

Around mile 60 the climbing began in earnest, and wouldn’t stop until we were back in the same place. At rest stop 3 or so we found out half the course had been closed and we’d be doing the back half twice. This turned what should have been a mildly difficult ride into a real climbing-intensive event. All the hard climbs (including the high point on Cobb Mountain) were in the back 100 miles.

By mile 80 at the lunch stop, we were tired. We’d already done some serious climbs in the heat. We asked various riders whether they were heading out or coming back, and those who were heading back told us of the treat that lay ahead: a climb with a 1-mile section with a very steep (10% or so) grade. Groan.

Heading up that hill was both extra hard and rewarding because we were being passed by riders zipping down the hill after having already completed it. Every one was smiling. By the time we descended the hill an hour later, we were smiling too. We saw the pain on the faces of the riders behind us struggling up that hill.

At mile 99.7 we hit the halfway point rest stop, just below the crest of Cobb Mountain. We did circles in the parking lot until we hit 100 miles and sat down for a well-needed break.

I looked at the route sheet’s elevation map and determined we had only 4 hard climbs ahead of us in the next 100 miles. That was true, to an extent. There was plenty of headwind, traffic, bugs, darkness and bad pavement between us and Davis.

By mile 140, we were coming down out of the hills again and back into the Cache Creek area. The sun was lower in the sky, and the temp was a reasonable mid-sixties. We’d eaten tons of food, consumed gallons of water, and done stupid amounts of leg stretching while riding.

By mile 175 we reached the first rest stop again. We were toasted. Tina swapped out her tinted lenses for clear lenses, and I geared up to be eating bugs. I have no clear riding glasses.

The last 20 miles or so were in twilight and darkness, eating gnats and alternating passing and being passed by a woman in her late forties who looked like she’d done a few of these before. Her technique was good, she was a strong rider.

By the end, I was ready to just lie down on the pavement and go to sleep. We ate a few scraps of food at the post-ride dinner and had our photo taken by a friendly rider. By the time we made it back to the hotel (by way of the grocery store), we were dead. I slept like a brick.

The Davis Double was the most enjoyable ride I’ve done this year. The Davis Bike Club and their volunteers made the experience completely worth it. One of my favorite moments was at the second to last rest stop when a kid, maybe 8 or 9 offered to valet park my bike and fill my water bottles!