Sunday, September 12, 2010

White Mountain Double Century

I drove up to Bishop on Friday. After checking into my motel, I got the bike ready with lights, air in the tires, and fresh lube on the chain. After traveling with the bike I like to go for a short easy spin to make sure there are no surprises. So, 2.5 miles into my Friday easy spin I hear Pfffffffft. I picked up one of those annoying barbs from a tire retread.
Fixed the flat, bought an additional tube, and ready to go.

4:00 AM start time. That means a 3:00 AM wake up. That’s early. Seems even earlier when the room above mine was occupied by a heard of buffalo. Thank you rude people.

We roll out in a pitch black pace line south on 395. About 15 miles of flat easy riding. Sitting in at 18 – 20 MPH with little or no effort. Then a left turn. Another easy mile and BAM! Up goes the road. From 4,000 feet to 7,000 in about 14 miles. First aid station, fill the bottles and a left turn. BAM, BAM, BOOM. 10 more miles of climbing. Mostly with double digit gradients. Yes, double digit, and often 13-15 percent. At times 18 percent. Had my first experience with altitude issues at 9200 feet. Had to stop so I could breath. Finally the summit. 8:45 AM, 4:45 minutes to go 38 miles. No, I’m not a great climber. No, I wasn’t the last one up either. It was easily the hardest climb I’ve ever done. (Note the use of the word easy to describe something hard). As hard as it was, the views and scenery were spectacular. the ancient bristle cone pine forest has to be seen. I highly recommend it. Don't want to suffer on the bike? You can drive up. The best way I can describe it; God was showing off.
The descent was very technical, so I took it easy until we turned back east on 168. Then the descent was pretty straight, and I let it rip. The fun didn’t last long.

Why? Say hello to Gilbert’s Pass. More double digit gradients. Not as hard as White Mountain, but the legs are already mush. Summit Gilbert’s and a bit of downhill. Then into Nevada. Yahoo! A 1 to 3 percent downhill with a tailwind for 15 miles to the lunch stop. 26 to 28 MPH all the way to lunch.

After lunch a whole lot of Nevada desert. And crosswinds. And roads that seemed like they would never end. We get to Route 6. The sign says left to Bishop. That is where we are going. But the route sheet says turn right! It is a double century. To get to 200 miles we need a six mile out and back. The last two miles of the out portion was a wicked head wind. I though AWESOME! That means a long tailwind going back. Ha ha. It lasted about two miles. Even though my Garmin said I was headed west, and continued to say west, the wind became more of a cross.

One more pass awaited us. We were around 5000 feet and had to get over the 7110 foot high Montgomery pass. Montgomery is really pretty tame. No double digit gradients. But for me, with legs of rubber after White Mountain and a day of riding, three to five percents gradients felt like 15 percent. Summit. Bomb downhill to Benton for the last aid station of the day. Refuel, and cheat a bit with a fabulous hot dog. (That’s a first on a bike ride). Ready for the mostly 1 to 2 percent downhill to Bishop. But of course this is a HARD ride. A challenging ride. One that took us to a 10,000 foot plus peak. So, how to make the final 35 miles challenging. A nice big headwind, of course! Thankfully I spent most of it in a paceline. (Yes, I took a few turns up front). But it really helped.

We arrive in Bishop. The finish! I checked in, rode the half mile back to my motel. Showered, and walked across the street to Denny’s for a recovery meal.

The stats: 14:45 of pedal time 13.6 MPH average. (Was 8,8 the first 38 miles)
17:03 total time. Not all at aid stations, Stopped on the climb to get my breath, and two other times for an on the road break. The first climb took a lot out of me.

Top speed 44.6 MPH. Max heart rate: 178. (Really high for me)
11,775 feet of elevation gain.
Special thanks to Jim Cook and the ND Zone staff for a well supported ride. Excellent spacing of the stops, and considering the difficulty of the course and dryness of the area, it was great to have the extra water stops.

Equipment: Specialized Roubaix Expert. 50/34 crankset. 11-34 cassette. (Needed all the help I could get on White Mountain)* Selle Anatomica saddle.** Shimano RS80 wheels. Continental GP 4000S tires.

* The 34 really helped on the 12 plus percenters. But….I think I get lazy with it on 7-8 percenters so I need to be careful; or man up and go back to an 11-28.

**Ending a two and a half month test of this saddle. I put it on right after the Grand Tour since I had a while until my next double. Plenty of time to tweak it and dial it in. It isn’t a whole lot more comfortable on the bum than my avatar, and it bugs me a bit on the sides. I also thought there was a power loss since I’ve put it on. I put my Avatar back on for today’s recovery ride, and even with no effort, I felt like I had more power to the pedals.

You can follow my cycling exploits and other random thoughts on Twitter. I am @stevecycles200


  1. Interesting about the Selle An-Atomica. I had the exact same thoughts yesterday. It's just too wide for me. I even tried the straps to narrow it down, but after yesterday's ride, my inner thighs are very sore.

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  3. Nice write-up. I've driven up White Mountain before and remember thinking what a difficult ride it would be.

    How did this compare to other California double centuries you might have done? I'm seriously thinking of attempting my first double and had considered the White Mountain Double. Most California doubles on the triple crown website seem to be described as "not suitable for a first double". Solvang in spring and the Davis Double are two that are seemingly best suited for the double century rookie, but maybe I don't have to wait until next year if there is an option for this fall. I just finished the Death Ride a couple of weeks ago in good shape (albeit the 5th pass was long and slow), and Haleakala a few weeks before that, so I'm hoping my conditioning isn't too far from where it should be for a double like the White Mountain Double (especially the lowland option). However, I don't doubt that even an "easy" lowland White Mountain Double will be the hardest ride I've ever done, so any opinions and suggestions are welcome.