I got up at 3:45am after a restless nights sleep spent worrying about the event and was driven to the 5am start by my wife. I used to fret about not getting enough sleep before an event but now I just think of what Cyril Guimard said to Greg Lemond on the morning before he won the world championships. Lemond had had little to no sleep the night before and Guimard just said ” Greg, all the great exploits are done on no sleep”. The weather was quite cool so I figured that long fingered gloves and a wind vest were the order of the day. I was the only recumbent in the staging area and got lots of funny looks from people.
I wasn’t too worried about doing any particular time but I did want to try to average 12.7MPH up to the final checkpoint so that I could ride Niles Canyon in daylight. I had lots of doubts before the off as deep down inside I didn’t really think completing DMD on a recumbent trike was possible. I did however want to be the first person to beat the DMD on a Trike so I was not going to go down without a fight.
[At the Start]
[Riders Patiently Waiting for the off]
Start to Top of Diablo Rest Stop #1: 19.6 miles
As soon as the ride started I immediately had a problem with the trike. Despite my brakes working perfectly when I tested them yesterday, as soon as I applied the left brake it grabbed and vibrated badly. I must have somehow contaminated the rotor and there was nothing I could do about it. The noise went away if the brake was applied with full pressure but it is rare you ever need that much braking force. Fortunately the Catrike doesn’t have brake steer so I could still brake smoothly on the right.
The first climb of the day was the 3800ft Mount Diablo and this was the first time I have ever ridden it in the dark. I set a brisk pace but not too hard and soon found myself about mid pack in a group of 3 riders (including Internet friend Bassem). About half way up the climb the sun raised its head and we were treated to a lovely early morning vista of the bay area. As we got near the top I was gapped by my two riding companions and I found the last 200m of the climb a real struggle. It was on this very steep section that I discovered that the new rear tire I fitted to combat wheel-spin was not really working very well. In first gear I could easily overcome the available grip.
I crested Diablo in 1h54m which put my average speed at 10.3MPH. this was well down on my target of 12.75MPH but I wasn’t too concerned as the first 20 miles were virtually all up hill. I was encouraged with my climbing performance on the trike and was shocked to be climbing mid pack.
[My climbing Companions For Diablo as the sun came up]
[The Very hard top section of Diablo – No getting out of the saddle for me]
[The top of Diablo]
Diablo Rest Stop#1 to Morgan Territory Rest stop #2. 19.6 to 51.8 miles.
The descent of Diablo was quite fun but very cold. My squawking left brake made me have to descend much more carefully than normal but I developed a technique of braking late and hard to shut it up. I was not looking forward to Marsh Creek Road as it is hilly, bumpy, has no shoulder and often has aggressive drivers. I tried my best to stay in a small group as we pulled out of Clayton but they dropped me on the first serious climb.
[Pulling out of Clayton and heading onto Marsh Creek Road – Diablo in the background]
Fortunately Marsh Creek was very light on traffic at the hour we were on it so it was actually quite enjoyable. The next big climb was “Morgan Territories” which is a steep, bumpy and twisty single lane road that winds it’s way through tree lined park land. It’s a very scenic road that suffers from pretty poor pavement and this made certain sections pretty nasty on the trike. Even though my new Catrike seat did a fantastic job of isolating road buzz there was no way to avoid the potholes hidden by a thin layer of chipseal. This climb was quite challenging on the trike and I got passed by lots of riders. The top section has some very steep and dirty corners and I had to ride carefully to keep traction.
Just before I got to rest stop number 2 I actually got caught by a bunch of riders that set off an hour later. I pulled into rest stop 2 in 4h07m which put my average speed at 12.6MPH and I was almost back on schedule. It was already getting really warm so I got rid of the Wind vest and gloves and hoped things were not to chilly on the descent.
Morgan Territories Rest Stop#2 to Patterson Pass c.p. 51.8 to 79.7 Miles
The descent of Morgan Territories was exhilarating (especially with my braking issues) and I was soon onto familiar home roads for the blast through Livermore and onto the Altamont Pass. The route actually passes with a few hundred meters of my house. I was feeling a little fatigued so I didn’t push the pace until I got onto the Altamont itself where a huge tailwind allowed me to catch and pass other riders like they were stopped. I saw speeds over 40MPH at times and I reckon I could have gone a lot faster with fresh legs. I paid dearly for my exuberance once I hit the climb on Midway and was forced down onto the grannie ring which would be the story for the rest of the day.
The next big climb was Patterson Pass and on this climb mother nature really turned up the heat. There were 3 steep sections on Patterson where I needed bottom gear and suffered some traction issues and all the people I had passed on the Altamont (+ others) came past me as I leg pressed my way up the grade.
[Steep Section 1 – Patterson Pass]
[Steep Section 2 – Patterson Pass]
[Road graffiti to chill the unwary traveler]
The Mini Checkpoint at 79.7 Miles is just before the final steep section so I chose not to stop especially as the next rest stop was only about 11 miles away. I passed through the Check Point at 6 hours which meant my average speed had climbed to 13.3MPH (ahead of target).
Patterson Pass c.p. to Mines Road Rest Stop #3. 79.7 to 90.9 Miles
[The final Steep section In the distance]
The top section of Patterson Pass is hard with fresh legs but after 80 miles it was quite a struggle. I found myself down in bottom gear trying to avoid wheelspin by pedaling as smoothly as possible. Lady number 9 passed me again near the top and I was glad of the company on the flying descent down to cross road. The wind in your face was very refreshing after the oppressive heat of the preceding climb. The trike absolutely flew along the generally down hill section to the mines road turnoff and I made the most of it. I rode with Lady number 9 up to the Mines road rest stop with a sense of foreboding of what lay ahead ahead.
Mines Road Rest Stop #3 to Junction Cafe Rest Stop #4. 90.9 to 115.6 Miles.
I pulled into the rest stop at 6h42m which meant my average speed was up to 13,6MPH.
Mines road is one of my favorite riding roads and despite the climbing I normally find it enjoyable on the trike. With 90 miles in my legs it was much less enjoyable and I found myself riding at no more than a steady pace. The first part of the climb on Mines was really hot and I was passed by several riders but as the grade flattened I found myself riding alone. There was another event going the opposite way on Mines (Mount Hamilton Challenge) so I had a constant stream of riders to wave to which kept my spirits up. Mines was actually pretty busy today with lots of Ranchers trucks and bird watchers trying to catch glimpses of nesting Bald eagles. Thankfully I had a tailwind all the way along this section. It was with great relief that I started the last little climb before the Junction lunch stop but also my first encounter with a Cattle Guard on the 700. I thought the trike was going to shake itself apart on the Cattle Guard and it was absolutely horrendous. I knew I had another 3-4 of these things left to negotiate on The San Antonio Valley road and I hoped the trike would hold together.
[Mines Road Climb]
[The Final Climb on Mines]
Junction Cafe Rest Stop #4 to Crothers Road Rest Stop #5. 115.6 to 150.9 Miles.
I pulled into the rest stop at 8h50m which meant my average speed was down to 13,1MPH (a worrying trend that would continue).
I didn’t bother with any special lunch and instead just grabbed a ½ Banana and PBJ sandwich to eat on the hoof. I typically find that a combination of Hammer Perpeteum, Cliff Shot Blocks and the odd ½ Banana are enough to get me through a double. I did also sample a few strawberries which taste unbelievably good on doubles.
[First Section Of San Antonio Valley Road]
I absolutely hate the first section of the San Antonio Valley Road as it has a rough surface of chipseal that they just pasted over the top of a poorly made road without bothering to fill in the holes. The scenery is really nice but the constant jarring bumps makes it pretty miserable. I do not know how I would have survived this section with my old trike seat. For some strange reason the road didn’t seem so bad today and the time actually passed quite quickly. About half way along I encountered another horrendous Cattle Guard which marked the beginning of the Hamilton climbs.
[Just Before The Climbs]
The climb up the backside of Hamilton has 3 distinct climbs that get progressively harder and longer. They put a rest stop just before the final 6 mile grind to the summit but before you get there you are faced with two really hard climbs. I really suffered on both these climbs and my average speed began to plummet as I had to use first gear for long periods of time. Just to make matters worse, along this section of road my rear derailleur developed a squeak when in the lowest 3 gears (at least I think it was the deraileur as I never did manage to figure it out). Not only did I have the torture of slogging up the climbs in the oppressive heat but now I had to listen to a squeak too.
[The Start of the First Hump]
The two climbs went past without any incident of note other than my squealing brakes and a cool bobcat running out in front of me (They are a fantastic looking creature up close) until Icame to the bridge just before the water stop where I hit a huge bump and went airborne for a short while. That certainly woke me up but fortunately nothing was damaged. As I pulled into the water stop at the base of Hamilton (10 hours on the clock) I was feeling pretty tired and at a bit of a low ebb. I took on Perpeteum and the good wishes of the excellent volunteers and set about the brutal 6 mile climb to the summit.
[About half way up]
The Hamilton climb starts of at a reasonable gradient but one which at this stage of the game required the use of 2nd or 3rd gear. As my speed was pedestrian on the climb, the miles passed by incredibly slowly and I began to bake in the sun. The heat always seems to be an issue for me on this section of DMD. As is traditional for 90% of California climbs, Hamilton gets steeper as you get further up. With 3 miles to the summit I was down to bottom gear and starting to suffer from sore feet from the continuous pressure of trying to keep forward momentum. I was passed by a couple of riders but they didn’t seem to be in much better shape than I was. The last mile to the welcome sight of the Observatory at the summit was torturous.
[A Very Welcome Sight]
Hamilton descent has 3 distinct sections with climbs in between. These little climbs absolutely sap the very lifeblood out of you. The first descent is very bumpy and technical on the trike and absolutely no fun at all when you are very tired. The second section is a bit better but still suffers from big bumps and holes. The final descent however is pure trike bliss and it is my favorite triking down hill in California. I caught and passed a few riders on this bit and was in great spirits until I remembered the nasty little climb up to the Crothers rest Stop. By the time I got there I was feeling very tired and completely off the idea of food.
Crothers Road Rest Stop #5 to Pet The Goat .150.9 to 161.2 Miles.
I dragged myself into the Crothers Rest stop with 12h12m on the clock which meant my average speed had climbed to 13.2MPH
The next section had my most feared obstacle in it (other than Niles Canyon) in the shape of the Sierra Road Climb. In previous attempts of the DMD I have been reduced to having to stop several times on this climb and that was on a 17 pound road bike. I was genuinely worried about having to walk this one. I soft pedaled up to the base of the climb, dropped down to first gear and prayed. There is no other way to describe the climb other than absolutely horrible. It was hot, my feet hurt and I was barely able to achieve 3MPH so the climb took an eternity. I was the tortoise on Sierra Road, people passed me and then stopped further up the road and I would pass them again. Despite wheel spin, a quick bout of cramp in my toes and sore legs I managed to do the whole thing without a rest . The goat at “Pet the goat” had passed away so I made do with a banana and some icy cold HEED. I normally switch from Perpeteum to Heed for the later stages of doubles as I find it more refreshing.
[Climbing Sierra and Looking Rough]
[View From Sierra Road]
Pet The Goat to Sunol Rest Stop #6. 161.2 to 181.2 Miles.
Looking at my average speed (Now down to 11.9 MPH) I figured out that my goal of hitting Niles canyon in daylight was not really achievable but I was going to try. The descent of Felter is very fast and normally a lot of fun but my braking issues made me have to back off a lot. It was quite cold on the way down but I knew I would warm up again on Calaveras. The climb up the Calaveras Wall was hard but felt like a walk in the park after Sierra road. The first half of Calaveras is undulating and slow but once you get on the down hill bit it is great fun and I was having a blast on the trike. As I neared Sunol I was joined by my two climbing companions from Diablo and we entered the final rest stop together. It was time to fire up all the lights and put back on the cool weather gear. There was 15 hours on the clock as I pulled into this final rest stop (Average speed 12.1 MPH)
Sunol Rest Stop #6 to finish. 181.2 to 207 miles?? Miles.
I was terrified about Niles canyon. It is a busy road with several narrow sections with no shoulder. I was lit up like a Christmas tree and covered in reflectors but I still kept one wary eye on my rear view mirror. I absolutely hammered it down the canyon and everything went well until just after the first narrow bridge crossing. I got caught by an SUV on the section and there was no shoulder for me to use. The guy laid on his horn and this really got my adrenaline up so I sprinted like mad down the next straight and over a narrow bridge and into a turnout. I was doing over 30MPH trying my best not to impede traffic but there were about 5 cars/trucks that all let me know how upset they were with abuse and horn blaring. I was physically shaking from the experience.
With Niles out of the way I set about the climb of Palomares in the pitch black. It was an eerie climb on your own and it felt much longer than when you do it in the light. There was no traffic but the air was full of the sounds of Frogs and Wild birds. I was into cruise mode now which is the kind of pace you get into late in a double where you feel like you could practically ride forever on auto pilot. I was caught by a group of 6 riders about ¾ of the way up but was unable to lift my pace to hang on their wheels. The 6 riders stopped at the summit of the climb and I passed them for the descent. In the daylight Palomares is a super fast downhill but in the dark with only one properly working brake it is a different matter. I went fairly quickly but got caught by the 6 riders as I nursed my ever worsening left brake. Fortunately they passed me near the bottom so I got to draft down into Castro Valley in the relative safety of a big group.
I got dropped on a small climb just into Castro Valley and then hit 3 red stop lights in a row so I was on my own again as I passed through the busy streets. I was a bit intimidated through this section by big SUV’s blaring rap music and gangs of Harley riders doing the same. Crow Canyon Road is not much fun in the dark as there are many sections where there is little to no shoulder and the traffic can be quite aggressive. I rode through all sorts of junk on the side of the road and had my fingers crossed that I didn’t get a flat. About a mile before the Norris Canyon turnoff I got passed by my two Diablo Climbing companions again and rode behind them to the start of the final climb.
Norris canyon was pitch black, Calm and totally traffic free and what is more, I actually felt pretty good. I kept up with my companions to ¾ of the way up the climb and then my legs seemed to give up. I dropped down into the granny gear and spun my way to a euphoric final summit. I was tired but the end was in sight. I turned up my excellent front light to full power and bombed down the descent like a mad thing. I cared not who heard my brake squeal now. It is hard to describe just how fast a recumbent trike feels descending in the dark.
I wound my way through the last couple of stop signs and intersections at a good pace and I could taste the sweet smell of success. As I pulled into the hotel it finally dawned on me that I had completed the DMD on a recumbent trike!
My wife came to greet me and all the miles and suffering caught up with me and I felt totally drained but very happy. I had met some great people on the ride today (some I only knew previously through Strava and Twitter) and suffered and conquered with them. I could agree with Cyril Guimard and say that another great exploit was done on no sleep.
My stats for the day were : 207.48 Miles, 19,364ft of climbing , Total time 17h10m (Riding Time 16h31m) and an average speed of 12.1 MPH. My time of 17 hours was three hours slower than my best time on my Road Bike.
Damage Report :
I had sore feet, muscles and neck but my Catrike 700 padded seat had remained comfortable all day (truly a remarkable feat). I felt a lot less sore than I normally do after a double but just as exhausted. I could have easily fallen asleep on the drive home after my belly was filled with the race finishers meal.
[After note: On Sunday I was totally wasted all day and actually didnt touch a bike at all. I was 7 pounds lighter on Sunday morning than when I weighed myself on Saturday morning and I actually ate and drank quite a lot on Saturday night. I dont think I have ever been so tired after a double]
If you are wondering what all that aggressive cornering and wheelspin did to a brand new Vittoria Open Pave tire in just 207 miles, this is the answer.
It was toasted !
A great Video of the day: