Monday, May 18, 2009

Davis Double Century 2009

Curtis and Pete (Taxi777) at the end of the 2009 Davis Double Century

Note: Don't miss my This-American-Life style audio report linked from this page.

I asked a lot of people on the 2009 Davis Double Century why they were riding it. Their answers left me unsatisfied. Then I realized I hadn't really answered the question for myself. I tried on a lot of answers to see how they fit, and discovered many of them were flip, trite, or just wrong if I really examined them. My favorite not-quite-completely-true one was that I really wanted the jersey. They didn't have one last year, and this years is particularly well done. But honestly, is a jersey really enough to do a ride this hard?

I think I rode it because it's important to have something this important that really has no significance.

Let me try and explain that.

This ride doesn't matter. If I don't make it, nothing bad happens. I still have the same life. If I do make it, I get no money, no more love, no extra vacation days, no lovely parting gifts. It just doesn't matter.

And yet, it's huge. It's an attempt at something so difficult that has a chance for failure. For me, a person who has never been an athletic, never played on a high school team, never been fast or quick or been the kind to crush home runs in softball, the Davis Double is a gigantitic undertaking. Like being a kid waiting for Christmas, the build up to the event was a rewarding and exciting experience in itself. I know I'm not alone feeling such anticipation because normal has about 200 posts from people before the event acting like kids shaking presents under the tree, and another lengthy thread reliving the ride the ride.

A ride like this is like a whole lifetime. The excitement of the start, the sunrise, the realization that you've ridden a long way, but still have hardly started. I went from despair to jubilation, from fear to acceptance and from being sure I couldn't finish it to thinking I just might. As I sit with my feet up I can't believe I put myself through that much pain, yet at the same time the feeling of pain is already gone. I can remember that it hurt, but I can't really remember what the pain felt like.

Here's the blow-by-blow description of my Davis Double century 2009

I enjoyed dinner with BritPower, LanceOldStrong and Taxi777 from NorCal forum. The pasta was so much better than normal ride pasta we actually talked to the cook about it.

I was thrilled to have a chance to chat with the jersey designer. The jersey and its high-quality design were motivations for me doing this ride. I was disappointed there wasn't a jersey last year -- they only do one every five years, a detail i didn't know in 2008. I was determined to get one, and to do it had needed to ride this year. I even got a copy of the poster using the design, so I'm double happy.

We met to leave 4 a.m., and I felt kinda bad that BritPower, a friend, wasn't there with us, but I knew if I was going to survive I needed to launch on time. I figured she'd pass me at some point anyway.

I like riding in the dark with lights. It's magical seeing the sky lighten and eventually see the sunrise. We joked and laughed and rolled pretty well. I swear the corner marshal and sign weren't there when we rolled past the turn, even though both were on our return. It added a few miles and minutes, which contributed to my slightly-later-than-last-year finish.

Then, well, I blame it all on 's LanceOldStrong, who set a blistering pace for many miles. As the sun got light enough to see my speedometer I saw we were well above 20 for an extended period. For several minutes we were running at 27. This is not a speed I ride on level ground. I eventually got smart enough to let them go before permanent damage was done, though I do think that later I paid dearly for the mornings speed run.

I caught them at rest stop 2 (or was it 3, who can keep this stuff straight?) after Lake Berressa. I hate stopping, so I grabbed water and rode off alone.

I rode smart up Cobb Mountain, at least for me. I took it easy from the start. Last year I had to stop three times on the way up to let my heart rate settle. This year, no stopping. No speed, but no stopping.

I met my friend Pete at the summit rest stop, and we descended together and then hit lunch together twenty-something miles later.

Again, I was afraid if I waited too long I'll stop moving, so I left quickly, figuring Pete would catch me like he always does.

The ride from lunch to the next rest stop was harder than last year. I've never hurt so badly, or for so long, on a bike. I'm pleased I didn't stop at all, but it was ride-ugly, survival-style riding, barely turning the pedals. I'd miscalculated the distance to the rest stop and kept thinking--for five steep miles -- it was right around the next bend. I think that's why I made it, I kept thinking I was almost there. Later I heard it was 104 degrees on that hill. One report said 110, I just know it was amazingly hot, maybe hotter than last years hotter than hot ride.

I was almost ready to leave when Pete sagged in. I was amazed. He is so strong, but he had bonked on the hill. But seeing me alive seemed to cure him. I think he likes me. He rested a moment, decided he didn't want to wait to be sagged all the way to the start, and he took off. Even though he seemed beat moments before, I couldn't keep up with him going uphill the next half mile. Go figure.

We limped down the valley and into the next rest stop. Again, I left early and eventually Pete came by on a pace-line. We hit the next rest stops together, and rolled in together for the second time in two years.

I'm amazed how hard it is to think when I'm that hot and tired. Just doing the tasks I'd dreamed about riding uphill: Get water, hit restroom, sunscreen up, adjust computer, record for pod-cast, make a photo were SO hard to remember, and I had trouble figuring out what to do first, second, and third.

I got through on Hammer products (HEED and Perpetium). I didn't eat real food at all until mile 140, where I had a half of peanut butter sandwich. All the drinking that liquid and not having to deal with chew food worked for me.

Smarter this year: I didn't just fill my bottles at the rests. I drank more than 1 full bottle, then refilled and left.

All in all, this years Davis Double was a lifetime on a bike. I'm glad I did it, and finished it, but I'm still not completely sure why.


  1. Great philosophic analysis Curtis...glad I got to share it all with you!

    hmmm...Next year?

  2. Plans for two more this year? :-)


  3. knotty8:25 AM

    Good going Curtis, your doing great. I used to do the DD back in the 70's but I don't know about today being such a old fart.

  4. Perfect. "Because I can, but there's a real chance I might fail. That's why."

  5. goldrush10:11 PM

    I'm not sure which was worse, '08 or '09. I finished and felt OK, but then ended up in an ER the next afternoon hypovolemic and hyponatremic, couldn't stand without getting dizzy and/or throwing up. Finally got an IV, 48 hours later I'm fine, except for GI stuff.....glad to have finished...but don't know if it's worth the price the body takes.....I'm sure they won't change, but scheduling it for the 1st or 2nd Saturday in May might save several ER visits and even more serious consequences.

  6. Yes Curtis,

    You did get a bit philosophical about it! I had a great time on the ride and enjoyed it a lot, i.e. the pain was but a small part of the total experience.

    Good seeing you climbing Cobb, at Lunch, and after the ride!

    Hope to see you on the Knoxville Double in the Fall (starts in Vacaville and is my favorite double).

    Rick / OCRR

  7. Anonymous12:32 AM

    I think I recall you 'interviewing' me during the pasta dinner the night before the ride. Great job. I was also in survival mode up Cobb and Resurrection. But, once we left Resurrection, I felt much better and finished feeling better than in '08. I didn't like the traffic past Cache Creek Casino on hwy 16 and my buddy motored through there with me in tow at about 25 mph just to get out of that darn traffic. Thats a fine time to pass a Casino; A saturday evening around dinner on a hwy with no shoulder! Thats the only part of the Davis DC I don't like at all.


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