Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Eastern Sierra Double Century Craptacular!

A scale of awesomeness must be applied to double century rides. So here it is:

The Scale of Double Century Awesomeness
The scale goes from 0
(0=ridiculously awesome. Beautiful weather. Great aid stations à la Heartbreak Double '09.)
(We'll make that approximately 11. This scale goes to 11.)

Apparently, upon receiving an email from the Planet Ultra Embassy, explaining that the original course was due for rain and highs in the 30s in some places, 51 of 227 people didn't even start.

They were the smartest ones.

At the last minute, Planet Ultra changed the course to ride East toward Death Valley instead of West into the mountains, in a misguided effort to evade horrific weather.

So off Robyn and I went, with 176 other people, confident we would not be led to our deaths by Planet Ultra. They care, right? RIGHT?

The first 25 miles went by quickly. Then we turned onto Death Valley Road.

It began to rain as we began to climb. Not hard rain. Just sprinkly rain. So we kept climbing and climbing and climbing as it got colder and colder and colder. Then, not only did my sweat turn to ice, so did the rain. Near the top, it began to hail, sleet, and do other ungodly things the weather only does in Discovery's "Deadliest Catch". Except we were in the desert. And my legs, hands, feet, face, and head weren't waterproof.

After somewhere around 12.5 miles of climbing came a descent. A huge descent. I have never not wanted to descend so much in my life. It was pouring freezing rain. My feet were soaked, my legs were soaked, the roads were soaked. And somehow, it seemed, I was going the wrong way--even though there was only one road; everyone who had been climbing in my vicinity had vanished. Nobody was coming down behind me.

Strange, I thought. They're taking their sweet time putting on rain jackets!

A few miles down, I lost all control over hand function and had to pull over for a good 20 minutes to swing my arms like a windmill to get the blood back into my fingers. Bear Grylls taught me that trick. Although it is somewhat intuitive...

I figured someone had to be at the turnaround. There had to be an aid station. If I could make it down this approximately 12.5 mile downhill, I'd be rescued.

Then I came around a corner and Robyn was standing to the side of the road. (As usual, she kicked my bum up the climb and was way ahead.)

"I'm so cold!" she lamented.
"Me too!"

We decided we didn't want to descend any more, so we moved our bikes closer to the mountain and huddled in the fetal position in a ditch on the side of the road. SAG would have to come by at some time, right? We'd seen the van before a few times on the climb.

A few dudes rode by going back up. "Been there!" said one. A trickle of people came down the other way. We stayed huddled. The van would come. The van would come. Those big boys had way more insulation than we did. That's why they could keep going. We are not wusses. Right? RIGHT?

Then, a vision: a 4-door Toyota Tacoma with an empty bike rack on top. WE WERE SAVED!

He slowed and rolled down his window.

"Are you OK?"
"Are you cold?"
Duh! "YES!"
"You know, you'll get warmer if you head back up. It's warmer on the bottom of the other side."
He rolled up his window and drove away.


Robyn and I were going to cry. We both ripped out our cell phones, hoping coachubby would be done with his long run and could come rescue us...even though he had no idea where the new course route went.

"No signal!" lamented Robyn.
"Me neither!"

Bring on the tears--the almost tears from the realization that although we weren't the only people out in this freezing desert, we might just die there anyway. And it'd be all Toyota Tacoma's fault.

Stay tuned for the chilling conclusion of today's EASTERN SIERRA DOUBLE CENTURY CRAPTACULAR!


  1. Life has been really boring for you lately, huh? I think you and coachhubby need to come to AZ for a while and relax poolside with us.

  2. Hahaha! I'm so taking you up on that offer. Maybe at the end of July :)

  3. Pool sounds nice...sipping Margharitas and soaking up rays. That would go to 11 on the awesomeness scale...or is it a 0? Which one means really awesome?

  4. I made 0 = super awesome, as in 0 non-awesome incidents occurred. But a pool and some drinks on a hot sunny day sounds way awesome. And 0 doesn't cut it, does it? Perhaps I shall revise the scale, so it goes from Eastern Sierra '09 to 11. Yeah. I like that.

  5. You're a gift! Freaking hilarious! Now I'm glad I rode this dumb-ass ride. Kudos to Planet Ultra, though, pretty awesome job throwing a new course together the day before.
    Hot tea with Old Grandad's, honey & lemon sure would have been a nice touch at rest stop #2.

  6. Thank you! And congratulations on making it through! I want to make t-shirts that say "SURVIVOR--Eastern Sierra Double Century" on them, in place of COMPETITOR or FINISHER like most event t-shirts. There will be an evil-faced cloud above mountains, and a person on a peak holding her bike above her head in defiance of the storm, altitude, and pain. :)

  7. LOL!!! Count me in for one of those T-shirts! :)

  8. Still as hilarious as the first time you told it at the coffee shop. Excellent job, Triathlete Diva! Good luck on your race across Oregon.

  9. Haha Thank you Anna! It was awesome to meet you!!!