Sunday, June 6, 2010

Eastern Sierra Double Century

I made the six hour drive from San Diego to Bishop for the Eastern Sierra Double Century. The ride is advertised as one of the most scenic and beautiful on the California Triple Crown Schedule.

We have two options for starting. 4:00 or 5:00 AM. The 4:00 option is only if you will take over 14 hours, and this gives you an additional hour to complete the ride. Since I expected to take 15 hours, I opted for the early start.

Yawn. That is an early start! Lights on, reflective gear on, GO!

The first 30 miles are pretty much flat and easy. As light began to come through you could see the mountains, almost as if to say, “Good morning, I’ll be here to put you in awe, to delight you, and of course to make you suffer.” After the first check point at mile 30, we quickly got into the suffer part. Old Sherwin Grade; a ten mile plus climb, with occasional double digit gradients. Oh, and a nice head wind to boot. And I LOVED the false summit, descent, only to have another three mile climb.

After another check point, the roads continued to point upward. Over half the climbing in the entire ride is between miles 30 and 75. We were now in Mammoth Lakes, summiting at over 8,000 feet of altitude. Just off the road, there is still snow on the ground, this despite the temperature being about 70 degrees. Awesome and stunning scenery, the ride is proving to be as billed. And we weren’t even to the good stuff yet.

No, the real beauty, in my opinion, was the June Lake loop. Wow! Three lakes, rolling terrain, and the mountain backdrops. Michelangelo, Picasso? No, when it comes to artists, God tops all of them, and its not even close.

From there it was up to Mono Lake for the lunch stop. Over half the mileage is done, but 75 percent of the climbing was in the bag. Should be easy from here. Yeah right.

A climb back to Highway 120, where you could go west and really do some climbing, or go east like we did, and enjoy a rip-roaring descent. I hit 48.4 MPH on this descent. Then the road goes back up. For 10 long miles, this climb was tough on me. The legs were already rubber. Finally the summit at over 8,200 feet. A check point at the summit. Another rider said, “Wow, turn around!” We did, and you could see the majestic snow capped mountain behind us rising out of the valley we just ascended from. Amazing.

From here on the ride was pretty easy, another rocket – like descent, this time I topped out at 51.1 MPH! Then a few rollers into Benton for our final check point. From Benton to Bishop it was hot, but mostly a 1 to 2 percent descent with a cross and occasional tail wind. Speeds from 18 to 35 MPH all the way in!

Back in Bishop, the Garmin showed 197 miles, 9,993 feet of ascen, 14 hours and 16 minutes total time. All the stats are here, on Garmin Connect. And a whole lot of great scenery. The ride was as advertised, and then some.

Thank you to Planet Ultra for putting on this great event, and especially to all the volunteers, especially adding a water stop on the Sagehen climb, it was most appreciated.

The Udder Tifosi were out!

June Lake Loop


  1. Hi Steve,
    Good to see you out there on Saturday. I'm glad you liked the course. It is one of my favorites- and the double I have done the most often.
    BTW, the extra water stop was on the "Sagehen" climb.

  2. Karen, Nice to see you too. That was my 7th double, and I think it was my favorite. I made the edit on Sagehen, thanks, looks like I need an editor.

  3. Steve, the official results are out!

  4. Great job Steve and thanks for sharing. I have a question. I noticed that your GPS records the temperature. Is that feature only on the 500? I have the 705 and I don't see that it's recording that information. It would be interesting to compare performances in different temps though.

  5. Errin, I don't know about the 705, but I love the 500, and being able to see and have the temperature recorded is interesting. And as I accumulate some data I will check performance against temperatures.