[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 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.
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.