The best-laid plans…
Mike and I arrived in Davis Friday night planned to the teeth. I had my clothes and bike gear, checked and re-checked and packed neatly into different bags for different parts of the day – including two light systems, a backup battery for my GPS, a dropoff bag containing clean bike shorts, clean jersey, and a big pile of caffeinated GUs (a present from Lorri). And a neatly planned timetable for the ride, courtesy of Lorri.
Everything went well right up until 4:45am. I was just about ready to go out the door when Mike, presciently, said, “Do you want to check your light one more time?” Lorri had lent me her brand-new Nite Rider Rage, and we had checked it out on Friday night and it worked fine. We plugged it in, and only the LED lit. We tried every possible trick, and the main bulb simply would not light.
Fortunately, I had brought my little Vega light system as a backup, so we rapidly swapped out the systems and mounted the Vega. Mike handed me his little headlamp (for reading in bed) as a backup system. I was still worried – the Vega is a sweet little system, but even on its lowest setting it only lasts for four hours.
As a result of the light mishap, we arrived forty-five minutes late and I barely made it out onto the course in time. (Davis requires that all riders start by 5:45am.)
I rode to the first rest stop, determined to catch up some time on Lorri’s timetable. At 6:45am, when I was scheduled to leave Rest Stop 1, I was still some 10 miles away from Rest Stop 1. I remembered that Rest Stop 1’s closure time was 7:30am, and started worrying. I didn’t push the pace much, remembering Lorri’s advice to take it easy the first hour or two, but I realized I’d be pushing the rest stop closure times all day.
At Rest Stop 1, they told us that because of a wildfire, the route would be run as an “out and back” and in reverse: we’d do the north half of the loop to the rest stop at the top of Cobb Mountain, then come back. What this meant was that (a) Lorri’s carefully planned timetable was hash, and (b) the ride would be poorly marked for the first half, since the Davis Bike Club had of course NOT planned to have the route run in reverse.
Anyway, off I went. Riding, riding, riding. At every rest stop, I arrived as one of the last riders, just as they were closing up the pit stops. I nearly got lost once – I missed a turn – but fortunately two riders saw me, flagged down a passing motorist, and got me back on track. (Thank goodness – otherwise I’d still be out there riding!)
I almost turned back at lunch rather than ascend Cobb Mountain, convinced they were going to close the pit stop before I arrived, but I found a group of four other riders who were ascending the mountain, and I rode out with them. It was a brutal climb, 2 miles or so at a 14-18% grade, 100 miles into the course. I kept myself going by muttering, “You’ve done this before. Page Mill, Mt. Diablo. You’ve done this before.” Thank goodness no one told me about it before I went up it, or I might very well have turned back. But at this point, there was no stopping me.
At the top of Cobb Mountain, I heard one of the pit stop workers say that the last rider had just left the lunch stop, and breathed a sigh of relief. I realized that, while one of the last ten or fifteen riders, I was nonetheless not the LAST rider, and that, moreover, the Davis Bike Club (bless their souls!) was NOT closing the rest stops as long as the last rider was still coming. The rest stop closing times were guidelines in case someone was really too slow to finish.
From there on out it was mostly a matter of keeping going. I made my rest stops short – just long enough to eat food, get water, and go – and by doing so, managed to stay about on par with the last fifteen riders. (We got to know each other by sight, since we always ran into each other at the pit stops.) I was feeling good, oddly enough, and lighter-hearted now that I realized that I wasn’t going to get swept.
119 miles, 9:32:00 by the bike chronometer, 7,270 feet of climbing. I have now ridden further and climbed more than I have ever gone before. I feel proud – a new personal best.
141 miles (or thereabouts). I crest the top of Resurrection Hill, the last big hill on Davis. Still feeling good. I realize I’m going to make it.
161 miles. I roll into Guinda Rest Stop as dusk falls. I find another two riders to ride with (riders must go out in groups of three or four after nightfall), and we go on together.
I now had to stop for longer than I would have liked, since the other riders wanted to stay in pit stops for longer, and they set a pace that was a little slower than I would have done normally, but perhaps that wasn’t a bad thing, all things considered.
177 miles. My left Achilles tendon starts to bother me. I keep riding. I know I’m going to finish – the only question is when. After 177 miles, I’m willing to sacrifice a week or two of training (and even Markleeville itself) to finish. It hurts, but I keep going. I feel like I could do another 60 or even 80 miles, minus the ankle.
201.3 miles. We roll into the finish line, at 12:15am. It has taken me 18.5 hours to do it, and I arrived as the sixth-to-last rider, but by God, I finished!! Mike meets me at the finish line with a kiss. 🙂 I collect my gear, change, and go back home, to take a well-deserved, long, hot shower.
I’m proud of myself (“bursting with pride” is more like it). I’m also not worried about Markleeville any longer – oh, I’ll keep training for it, and I may or may not finish on account of the time limits – but I feel like whatever I wanted to prove at Markleeville, I’ve amply proven at Davis. With 200 miles and 10,000 feet of climbing (along the altered route), this route is harder than I expect Markleeville to be. I’m content.
Davis Double Century: 201.3 miles, 15:14:05, 10,073 feet of climbing. Average pace: 13.2 miles per hour.