6th place finisher
Approx 10,000 ft of climbing
This was my second Double on the Bacchetta. My first Double was the Eastern Sierra where it rained heavily, snowed and blew a mini tornado at me. Despite the weather forecast it was really nice in Death Valley (about 73 degrees) and there was only a tiny amount of rain.
I have had a lot of seat time on the Corsa since the Eastern Sierra Double (June 09) and I feel much more relaxed riding it. I felt as if I could be competitive on a double and set myself a goal of beating 12 hours and trying to get in the top 10. For this event I was also planning to just drink Perpeteum and eat only Cliff shot Blocks.
I set off in the fast 6:00am group of 50 or so riders and just like last year the pace was pretty hard form the start. By the time we got to around 30 miles the group was down to around 8 riders. I just sat off the back of the main group trying not to get in the way of the rotating paceline. I felt pretty comfortable but was getting gapped slightly on the undulations. My Garmin 705 bracket had also worked loose which was distracting. At mile 41 there is a reasonably long 4% grade and a few riders attacked of the front of the group. I just couldn’t react to the change in pace and dropped off the back. I blew through the second rest stop at mile 45 and got 3 places back putting me 5th on the road. The next section was where the bulk of the climbing was and I just concentrated on riding hard but within my comfort Zone. I had a little nature break just after 1290 ft Jubilee pass but still managed to keep the riders behind at bay.
The next section up Salsberry Pass was pretty taxing on a recumbent but I just concentrated on keeping a good pace. The climb is pretty much constant 6-7% grade with a 9% section near the top. I felt good at this point and when I crested the top at mile 62 I was looking forward to a fast descent to the rest stop at mile 74. Unfortunately the descent was anything but fast and it was quite a slog into the headwind. At mile 74.3 I filled up both bottles with Perpeteum and set off back up Salsberry Pass. I felt pretty good up the climb only really starting to struggle over the last few miles where the gradient went over 7%. My goal was to not get caught as I reckoned I could stay away on the descent.
The descent of Salsberry pass was fast but bumpy and the climb back up Jubilee pass was horrible. I always find my legs feel nasty after a long descent and the 10% plus grades really hurt. I think I saw 12% but this might have been a pain induced delusion. On the descent of Jubilee Pass I started to catch and pass lots of century riders and I found the descent much nicer than when I rode it on my road bike last year (its very bumpy).
I blew through the Ashford Mills rest stop at mile 103 again and had a bad patch for about 5 miles. This section of road is very bumpy and very slow and it took me a while to get my rhythm back. I knew the rest of the ride was just rolling hills all the way to the finish so I just concentrated on setting a good pace and passing century riders. It seemed to take forever to get to the next rest stop at Badwater at mile 130. Unfortunately I lost a bit of time here waiting in line for the bathroom but I kept to my plan of just restocking the Perpeteum (I did grab half a banana just for something different to chew).
I remembered from last year that the section between Badwater and Furnace creek had a few nasty little rises that really sapped your strength. I tried to keep a good pace on the down hills and flat sections then just spin up the climbs. It seemed to work well for me and I passed many century riders on this section but my legs were starting to feel quite fatigued. I blew through the rest stop at mile 148 and figured out I just needed to average 16MPH for the next approx 50 miles to achieve my goal of beating 12 hours.
Unfortunately on this section I noticed the 4th place rider in the distance so I set about trying to catch him. I was starting to fatigue quite badly and by the time I got to the Stovepipe Wells final checkpoint I caught up with him. He was suffering from bonk and was trying to cram the calories. I just filled up with Icy cold Perpeteum and tried to eat a PB sandwich but couldn’t stomach it.
I set off before the 4th place rider so 4th place was mine. I actually felt great until about 15 miles to go when I started having all sorts of leg problems and I was worried I was toasted. My legs were killing me with 12 to go when the head/cross wind picked up and there were a few spots of rain. I suffered for the last 12 miles determined I wasn’t going to get caught but finishing was a real relief especially as I finished in 11h20m (a whopping 40 minutes faster than my goal).