If you appreciate the environment of Bakersfield, the culture of Fresno or the city planning of Oakley, you’ll enjoy Hemet California, the starting point for the Hemet Double Century.
Fellow BikeForums.net poster LanceOldStrong and I launched from Northern California on Friday morning. Mr. LanceOldStrong commented that his Garmin only noted “Here be dragons” once we got south of central California. But we were on our quest for leg two of our attempt for the California Triple Crown jersey and would not be deterred. After a seemingly endless drive we finally arrived in Hemet, where we checked in and were informed that, “No, the route is not marked at all,” but we could leave as early as we wanted.
Bikes in order, clothes set out, we got to bed early and I promptly had dreams of trying to start, but not being able to find my arm warmer. I unpacked my seat bag and pulled out jackets, tires, cantaloupe and all kinds of impossible stuff, but no arm warmer. I had a two-foot tall stack on the sidewalk. What a dream. But I woke up and it was time to go. Oh, wait, no it was only 9:30 pm. And that’s how my night went.
Eventually it was really time to leave. We rolled over to the start and signed in and were on our way, with lights, in the total darkness of 4:30 am.
The first few miles were a preview of my entire day. I sat on LanceOldStrong’s wheel and hung on for dear life. Darkness? Ha! Bumpy road? Ha! Traffic? Ha! We just screamed through the night, him leading, me worried I’d lose his wheel and never see him again.
As strong a rider as Mr. LanceOldStrong is, he is not a climber (thank God.) Usually climbing is where all the work is. For me, the only rest I got was on the few hills when he slowed down. I often found myself praying for more hills. I didn’t get many.
There is one area I’m quick at: Rest/check points. Early in a ride I hate to stop for longer than it takes to fill my bottle. I’m so old I feel like my engine just seizes up if I stop for long. Mr. LanceOldStrong is more methodical at the stops. I found myself circling the parking lot enough that it showed in my mileage total.
But I can’t complain. Thanks to OldStrong’s big pulls we ended up with a rolling speed average of 15.9 for the first 100 miles.
A unique feature of this double is that it loops back to the start at 100 miles, so we were able to drop by our hotel, shed some clothes and restock energy stuff before we started our second half.
I’m not used to astroturf lawns, but if I lived in Hemet I sure would be. Our route took us through the mobile home zone where they seem to be a requirement.
At last we got to a decent hill. It’s really only 1000 feet over eight miles or so, but to hear people talk you’d have thought it was Mt. Diablo. It was the only real bump the entire day, and it was also by far the most attractive part of the ride.
We had a rest stop/check point at a winery where I caused some small amusement by buying four bottles and asking for them to be sagged back to the start. (It worked!)
After that it was just trying to hang onto OldStrong’s wheel again.
Right at dusk as the light started to fade and we started up a hill we rode past a stock yard ripe with the aroma of urine and manure and into a swarm of small bugs. It was really a low point. But after cresting that last bump we kicked on the lights and both got a burst of “horse and barn” and managed to light it up for the last few miles. It turns out that 203 miles feels a lot farther than the 195 of Solvang.
After the ride we managed to have another adventure trying to find a restaurant without a drive-through that stays open after 9pm in Hemet. We eventually ended up at what OldStrong called a “gringo mexican” place next to the ride start. I got the margarita I craved and all was good.
Final stats via Garmin 305:
203.65 total miles
6912 climbing (Ascent smoothed)
15.3 average moving speed
15:38 total time
Damage: Right knee really hurts. Enough I skipped riding to work today. I’m hoping to ride the Diablo Century on Sunday, so I’m doing lots of voodoo.
Best stat: 15.9 moving average for the first 100 miles
LanceOldStrong for the big pulls, and great navigation
Nick and Melgarpoe, who we hooked up with on the ride and were just plain fun to roll with.