Death Valley Double – My First Double on 3 Wheels

[THIS IS A BLAST FROM THE PAST – I think this is from 2010]

I have has a goal since December 23rd  2007 when I bought my Catrike 700 to finish a double century on it .  I entered 3 doubles with a view to riding the trike but always changed my mind at the last minute and rode my titanium DF bike instead.  I found the trike to be pretty tiring even on hilly centuries  (5000 ft + climbing) and doubted if I could do a 200 within the time limits imposed.

With my first triple crown in the bag I decided to ride one last double for the year and this time I was going to ride the trike no matter what.  Fate nearly dealt me another cruel blow as just 4 weeks before the Death Valley Double I came down with a respiratory infection that put me off the bike for 3 weeks ! Fortunately it cleared up the week before the double so Death Valley was a go.

Its always interesting trying to sneak a trike Into your hotel room

(Trike in Hotel Room)

Mile 0 to Mile 24.5

(Waiting for the start)

I decided to start with the first wave of riders at 7am to try to get as many miles in as possible before the heat hit.  The first couple of miles were down hill so I was heading up the pack for a while.

The first 3% plus gradient saw me lose the pack and I was on my own to enjoy the excellent roads up to the first checkpoint at Stovepipe Wells.  This would be the last time I drafted anyone.

(The end of my pacing for the day)

I stopped for no longer than necessary to fill my bottles and empty my bladder.  I was feeling OK but a bit sluggish.  My average speed was well up on my target to beat the 17 hour cutoff. 

(Highway 190)

(Highway 190 on my own)

(Stove Pipe Wells)

[Mile 24.5 – 54.5]

We doubled back after Stove Pipe Wells on Highway 190  to ride up to the turnoff to Scotty’s Castle. 

(Highway 190)

As soon as we hit this road the lovely smooth asphalt was no more and we were on rough Chipseal with the occasional expansion ridge.  I find rough roads like this to be sapping on the 700. The 17” wheels really don’t seem to roll well over it and my average speed started to plummet.

Along this section I had my only mechanical problem of the day when the bumpy roads made my rear view mirror fall off. Fortunately I got a help off the sag wagon and didn’t lose too much time repairing the problem. I also met another Catriker doing the century

(Mike on his red expedition in the distance)


The next rest stop for me was at mile 54.5. We had started the long climb to Scotty’s Castle at this point and the heat was starting to kick in.  

(1000 feet above sea level)

On this part of the ride we had joined up with the century riders so there was plenty of company and long lines at the portapotty

(Waiting in Line at the portapotty)

[Mile 54.5 – 68.2]

I think I was riding a little hard on the next section as I caught and passed several DF’s and suffered a minor bout of leg cramps just as the gradient started to kick up.  The two riders in the picture below I saw on and off all day. I passed them on the downhills and they left me everywhere else.

(Gradient Kicking up)

I throttled back and  tried to spin the best I could. The closer we got to Scotty’s the steeper it got and I was very glad of the rest stop there.  

(Scotty’s castle in the distance)

[Mile  68.2 – 94.6]

I realized time was not on my side so I made the briefest of stops then set off on what was by far the most grueling part of the course.  There was about another 7 miles of climbing before we were supposed to reach the flat section that ran for 21 miles to the next rest stop. The climb seemed to go on forever.

(21 miles of hell)

I was hoping that once I got to the summit I would be able to make some time up on the 21 rolling miles to the turn. Unfortunately the road was rough chipseal and it was an absolute misery for me.  I just couldn’t seem to get any sort of pace going and the desert played tricks with your mind.  It was hard to figure out if you were riding uphill, downhill or into a wind. The road also seemed to run on forever with the horizon never getting any nearer. Lots of people seemed to suffer flats or other mechanical woes on this section.

[Mile 94.6 – 121]

By the time I reached the Check point at highway 95 I was at a real low point.  For some reason the first 5 miles after the rest stop seemed easier and my pace picked up slightly but eventually it became a grind again. I could see a cyclist way of on the horizon but the downhill back the Scotty’s took forever to come.

The descent down to the lunch stop was totally wild. I was for the first time in 40 miles actually enjoying myself and I caught and passed a DF like he was stood still. It was very bumpy and at times things got a little scary but it felt good to be getting my average speed up. The Catrike 700 was built for downhills !

(The Lunch stop)

[Mile 121 – 130.1]

After a welcome Subway for lunch I set off descending again like a thing possessed. Everything went well till I hit the turn off for the Ubehebe Crater.  The road stared off OK but quickly became a horrendously rough bumpy road .  Every 10 feet there was a ridge in the road (about 1” high) that was nasty enough to launch me out of the seat on the trike.  After  3 miles of this I was going insane and was shouting at the road (good job I was on my own). I also noticed that I could feel the cross member under my seat which became quite uncomfortable for the rest of the ride.  As if the road wasn’t bad enough being rough it looked like you were going downhill but were actually climbing. The last steep bit was bad enough for a guy to snap his chain.   

(The Ubehebe Crater)

[Mile 130 – 169]

After riding the 5 miles back from the crater on the rough road again there was a long and pretty fast downhill to the next checkpoint. Going down the hill the light began to fade and at about mile 150 it became necessary to use lights.  The next 18 miles were undulating with a slight downhill and as there was no moon it was absolutely pitch black. Somewhere along this section I lost the will to continue. The road seemed to go on forever and with no landmarks to mark your progress time seemed to pass very slowly indeed.  The road was also pretty rough and it was very difficult to see where the edge was. As I pulled into the rest stop I was planning on abandoning there and then. I sat down for a long while, drank a coke and ate some of the nice food provided.  I couldn’t face the 6 mile 2100ft climb up hells gate. I heard someone mention that the next 6 miles were on pristine smooth road and decided to go for it.

[Mile 169 – 175.6]

The climb up Hells gate was tough but the road was smooth as glass and as such pedaling the trike was a pleasure. It was pitch black and as you laid back in the seat your eyes were filled with an incredible array of stars.  The milky way was very bright and every now and then a shooting star whooshed across the horizon. You could see tail lights of other riders miles in the distance and it just became a strength exercise to get to the top. The road builders had kindly set up mile markers so you could see how slow you were climbing.  The grade was relentless and got steeper as you went up.  For the last 2 miles of the climb I was in bottom gear but I still caught and passed a few struggling DF riders.

[Mile 175.6 – Finish]

At the rest stop I ate a couple of PBJ sarnies,  got some lovely bottles of ice water and prepared myself for 11 miles of descending in inky blackness on an unfamiliar road. The descent was such an incredible rush. I had to keep braking to stay within the comfort zone of my lights but it felt like I was doing 70MPH.  Some of the turns caught me by surprise but I managed to sat on the road (just) .   I caught and passed several DF riders and although it felt much faster I only did 40MPH. The worst bit was near the bottom where the sand had blown across the road, a passing car had raised a dust cloud and it was like riding in fog. In no time at all I was back on wonderfully smooth highway 190 for the 10 miles to the finish.  I was hammering back along the 190 chasing taillights of other riders in the distance whilst watching the incredible star display overhead.  I slowed dramatically on even the slightest climb but still touched 30MPH in places. I managed to catch several DF riders but unfortunately the last mile was uphill and my goose was cooked.

I was so happy to finally reach the end and complete my first Trike Double Century in exactly 15 hours.  My Garmin registered 9204ft of climbing (it felt like more). When I tried to get off the trike my legs were like jelly and I nearly fell over.  It was the hardest 200 I have ever ridden but definitely the most memorable.

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

High Desert MTB at Lake Walcott

There is a great dirt road along the North Shore of Lake Walcott that is extremely lightly used. It is gently rolling and quite rough in places. There are also some sand washes you have to watch out for, I didnt see a single other human being on this ride but just a coyote. I had planned to try to get to a cutoff road that goes up to Minidoka but turned round as I wasnt feeling great. I really must have another go at this.

This was with my Akaso camera at 1080p 60 frames but unfortunately Youtube ruins it, The original looks superb

A comparison of the original and youtube

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Rupert Firecracker 40K -3rd July 2021

Races are pretty non existent in Minidoka County Idaho so when I saw this event I couldnt resist having a go. At first I thought it was a Time Trial but as the date drew near I found out that it was a mass start event. I entered it with my wife Sandra on my 72″ gear Wabi Single speed. The beauty of the lowish geared single speed was that it kept my effort level down and I couldnt push too hard.


The event is two laps of a very flat 11.69 mile course round Rupert Idaho.

We set off pretty fast but a small group pulled away from us after a few miles. I was just trying to keep up 20MPH plus which is spinning on a 72″ Gear and a pace that was comfortable for Sandra. One guy came with us but as we turned onto the North 300 he dropped back and we were alone for the rest of the event. I kept expecting us to get caught and rode at a good tempo pace. We rode the first lap at a pace of 34:08 (20,6MPH) and my average pulse was 152bpm. The second lap I kept the same pace and we finished with a 34:02 (20.6MPH) with a pulse of 154bpm. I was super happy how consistently we rode and put that down to the 72″ gear. About 50 feet from the line Sandra flatted but she was still able to finish.

I think I finished about 5th but they never published the results so who knows. I certainly could have ridden faster on gears or with my other fixed gear bike (48 x 15) which I have lapped at 33:05 on my own and I had to slow at junctions. Next year I think I will ride the 48 x 15.

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Rupert Gravel

I am lucky to live in Rupert Idaho where I am surrounded by countless miles of Dirt roads. These roads are generally very lightly trafficked with only the occasional farm vehicle or annoying dog to give you any company. Harvest time however is best avoided on these roads. It doesnt rain much here so the roads are generally very dry and dusty. You do hit some wet patches from the irrigation sprinklers but in the summer a spray from these is very welcome. Generally there isnt much climbing and the roads are pretty straight and gently rolling. The only down side can be the wind which has been particularly nasty this spring. It can make riding as difficult as a steep climb.

After exploring most of the roads within a 15 mile radius I have noticed that the roads fall into a few categories. All of these categories are increased significantly by “Washboard” which can make the roads miserable. This year the washboard seems particularly bad on many roads. The other thing that severely impacts the roads is when they regrade them and add fresh gravel, Freshly re-graveled roads are seriously hard work to ride on and require major concentration

Gravel Zero :

The first type of Gravel isnt really gravel at all but very compressed dirt that is super fast when dry and horrible when wet. There are virtually no actual lumps of gravel on this type of road. It is pretty rare. This type of road would be no problem for a road bike.

Gravel One :

This is smooth gravel characterized by small rocks of up to a few millimeters in radius and is super fast, This is my favorite type of gravel and I seek out sections of it as a preferred place to ride. Probably ok on a road bike but perfect for gravel bikes. It can get pretty dusty especially if a farm vehicle is passing,

Gravel Two :

This is probably the most common type of gravel and is characterized by rocks up to about about 25mm. Generally speaking this is pretty easy if you let your bike go with the flow and dont fight it. It can become a little challenging if it is more than an inch deep. It is also horrible with washboard, Ok on a gravel bike but can be a bit sketchy if it is more than an inch deep.

Gravel Three:

Unfortunately there seems to be a lot of this type of gravel this year. Rocks of greater than 25mm and several inches deep make this really hard work. I really dont like trying to ride this on a gravel bike and I am much happier on an MTB with 2.2 tires but even with front suspension you get beat up a bit. Couple this with washboard and it is a true test of your resolve. An example of this type of gravel is on the 600N all the way out to Meridian. I finf this type of gravel exhausting.

Gravel 4 :

This isnt really gravel but there are some roads with in laid boulders on gravel roads that can be better suited for mountain bikes

Gravel X

There are also some Sandy sections that are beyond category in terms of difficulty. I seriously can only just ride these on a fatbike. Fortunately they are rare, Hit these when you arent expecting it and a crash is likely. I have gone over the bars more than once hitting one of these.

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Strava Heat Map June 2021

One of the cool features of Strava is it allows you to see what rides you have done in the form of a heat map. I have done a lot of exploring round Rupert and have ridden many roads within a 2 hour out and back time frame. My heat map is pretty busy

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The road to recovery and other musings


In 2015 I had some of my best form ever but I also had a life changing event. After getting a PR on the Mount Tam Hillclimb I had a stroke in the parking lot afterwards and it was touch and go for a while. After many months of hospital time I eventually started riding my bike again in spring 2016. My first efforts were pitiful and after falling off a few times I managed only a few miles.

My First Ride Back

Slowly but surely I started getting some sort of fitness back and the riding certainly helped my balance issues. I knew I was never going to get back to my previous form but I was enjoying riding the bike. Back in the fall of 2015 I had a 20 minute power of around 379W and my maximum heart rate was 184 BPM. I attacked 200 mile hilly rides with glee. I had big plans to ride Dirty Kanza and other mammoth off road events, Today my 20 minute power is 224W and my max heart rate is 170bpm. I ride less than 3 hours at a time these days but do try to ride for a couple of hours every day.

In 2019 I started riding a few time trials as a start back into racing but I found I pushed myself a little hard and felt absolutely dreadful afterwards. After one TT I felt so bad for 3 hours afterwards I thought I was going to have to go to to the hospital. I felt bad for a few days afterwards too. It was at this point that I decided to give up racing forever. I found that if I stay to around a 160BPM heart rate for extended periods I am OK but if I push harder I feel awful.

With COVID I pretty much rode on my own for 2 years but I recently joined in on the Tuesday Night group rides out of Burley to keep my wife company. I struggle a bit to ride in a group and my balance feels off when riding next to people but the rides are fun. In the video below you can see that I was pretty comfortable until a stop sign where I let a gap go . I was in the second group on the road and we had a strong cross wind but I managed to keep my pulse to around 150, I had to do a 400W plus effort to get back on and this drove my heart rate to 163BPM and I had to concede defeat. I reckon that if I had ridden more intelligently I would have finished with the group

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

City of Rocks MTB

I had a nice ride out with Dave and Amy round the City of Rocks on the “California Trail” . The trails were fun and very scenic but we had a bit of rain. I haven’t really done any climbing for a while so I suffered a bit. I also felt the altitude more than I would have expected, My companions were on Gravel bikes but I was on my trusty Stumpy 29er. All in all very enjoyable.

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Hutchinson Mamba CX

I got these for less than $50 from Bike Tires Direct to replace the awful Orange Donnely CX tires that I had on previously. These tires are superior to them in every way.

These tires roll really fast on both road and Gravel and have a buttery smooth ride even at 60 PSI. On the road they really shift at 60PSI and the grip seems excellent. I have ridden about 70% Road and 30% Gravel so far and have been very pleased with them.

The only down side seems to be the wear. I can see wear after only 260 miles and I was hoping for at least 1000 miles out of them. I will update in another 250 miles.


Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

FATBIKE In the Snow

After moving from California to Idaho I finally got to ride the Fatbike in the snow. I am really impressed by how it rides and it is an eerily smooth adventure. It is surprisingly hard work on fresh wet snow but on the compacted stuff it is pretty fast. If you ride in your own tire tracks it is much easier. Up till now I have only tried a few inches deep


Traction is really good. I love being the first person to ride on fresh snow

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Donelly PDX special Edition

These tires weren’t cheap at $70 each  but I got them on sale so I took the plunge.  When I first fitted them I found the on road performance to be terrfying.  Cornering on them was horrific and even on dry tarmac they slid.  Don’t get me started on damp pavement as it was like riding on ice.  Off road they worked well and they rolled fast and were pretty quiet.


I have been riding them for 500 miles now and as you can see from the above picture they are showing significant wear.  The on road cornering feels a lot better and isnt really an issue any more, I doubt I am going to get 1000 miles out of these,

Categories: Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Blog at