Sunday, September 30, 2012

Knoxville Double Century 2012

I lived, and finished. That's my big accomplishment for this ride. Two hundred and two point nine miles, and according to Garmin and Strava, 15,752 feet of climbing. I even got a higher "Strava Suffer Score" on this ride that I did on the Devil Mountain Double.

I knew I was riding this solo. My friend Dan had crashed this summer, and though recovering well, is  wise enough to manage his recovery intelligently (with the help of his even wiser wife, Julie) and skip this ride this year. Ron didn't feel ready and did Levi's Grand Fondo instead. So I was alone.

I started at 3:41 am – even earlier than last time — and eventually limped in 19 hours later.

What a beautiful morning. Seeing the almost-full moon reflect on lake Berryessa and play hide-and-seek behind the mountains was wonderful. I only saw a few other riders before daylight. With no one on the roads, and the perfect weather, the start was an almost zen-like experience.

Knowing I'd be riding alone, and without my trusty navigator, I was more methodical with my bike prep. I bought a small head mounted light for my helmet so I could read my route sheet and see my Garmin computer. I used velcro and a large clip to make a bullet-proof map holder, and left my map in plastic. The light worked perfectly. I even hung an extra small blinky light on the back of the strap. I realized how glad I was that I'd left the map in a plastic bag when I saw how much "personal moisture" it was covered with after the first climb.

I'd brought my iPhone thinking I'd make photos, but this ride was just too hard. I think I shot one at the first water stop, then gave up

Knowing I'd be out alone, and forever, when the sun came up I decided to listen to an audio book. I have a great Onegood™ one-ear earphone Tricia bought me. It goes in the not-traffic ear, and because I'm not listening to loud music, just talking, it doesn't remove me from the audio environment. I listened to a lot of Ken Follett's Winter of the World. It's not "Literature" but it's a darn good story.

As I feared, the sun and heat started to become a factor on Knoxville Road. I'd brought two large water bottles and a collapsable  Platypus bottle. I went through all of them by the time I hit the water stop after the tunnel. It was so hot and I was so beat I stopped a couple of time, not getting off the bike, just hanging on it, to cool down a hair.

My usual riding plan is to ride my slowish pace, but not rest long at the stops. The heat made me toss that plan out. Every stop I drank a bottle of ice water, refilled and even sat a few minutes. Fellow East Contra Costa Cyclist Jay caught a photo of me resting at the water stop on Knoxville Road.

For some reason seeing others suffer makes my suffering easier to take. Maybe it's because it confirms there is actually a reason to feel crappy, and it's not just me being weak. I saw numerous riders taking a break (as I did) riding up the stupid-steep Loch Loman.

Quack Cyclists, the event organizers, realized how hot it was. They'd stationed two unplanned stops with ice and water on the short Loch Loman climb, and they were both life savers. Quacks rock. Their rides are the best supported rides I've ever been on. I don't think I'd have been able to finish without their excellent efforts.

At that point, mile 120, the ride is supposed to get easier. I guess it does a little. There's a nice long  downhill, and no serious climbing for a while. Still, it is 80 more miles and there are a few real climbs left.

I got to the second-to-last rest stop just as the sun went down and there were fortyish miles left. It started to cool off (at last!) and as I left, with my light color sunglasses, knee warmers, and base layer
back on, I could hear an owl in the woods.

The Berryessa climb that I'd been dreading — it seemed to last forever two years ago — wasn't bad, and the descent to the last rest stop was relaxing. Last time there were lots of cyclists near me, but this time, I only saw one.

The last rest stop is 12 miles from the end. Last time I thought I was almost done and was amazed how long it took. This time I settled in and just let it happen.

At the last rest stop I'd texted Tricia and left my phone on (I'd turned it off for the ride to save battery power for the end) so she could use Apple's "Find my Friends" and track me as I got closer. It didn't work as well as we'd hoped. It had me at 9 miles away even as I rolled in. Maybe it fails in roaming mode.

Tricia met me with a hug and a Sierra Nevada IPA. My friend Dan who couldn't ride surprised me by being there to congratulate me. It was a delightful way to end 202.9 miles.

This just in: Followup report


  1. Formidable (pronounced with a French accent and a sense of awe)

  2. Quite agree - inspirational Curtis.

  3. Midland9:28 PM

    Congrat's Curtis! Your a beast. 15,000 ft. is a crap load of climbing & you have done it twice now DMD and Knoxville. That's a hell of a year in my book.


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