Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Eastern Sierra Double Century Craptacular #2

"Maybe we should try to ride down," said Robyn.
"Ok, you're right."
We stood up. The wind blew against our frozen, wet legs.
We resumed the fetal position in the ditch.

"Maybe we should try to walk down," said Robyn.
"Ok, you're right."
We stood up. The wind blew against our frozen, wet legs.
We resumed the fetal position in the ditch.

"Ok, we're going to make it down, then it's over," I said. "There has to be a van at the turn around. Let's do it."

We stood up, slowly mounted our bikes, and inched down the rest of the mountain into the valley below. (Eureka Valley?)

Lo and behold, a van was there. As were a few other people, food, and the greatest sight of all: a tiny gas-powered camping heater in the back of the van. Robyn and I made this our permanent residence for another half an hour.

Then another angelic sight: the official giant SAG van. Its bike racks were full, and its interior was full of people. I poked my head inside to see if it was warm. It was. So lovely and warm. And in doing so, I spotted a friend in the front seat.

"We've got room for one more," the SAG driver said.

"Go Robyn," I said, "You've got your whole life ahead of you. Get out of this evil valley and live like you've never lived before!" (Or something like that.)

"You're not going?"

"I'm going to kick this mountain's ass!"

"Then I'm coming with you!"

And so it was. We had warmed up just enough to begin climbing again, and judging by the clouds, it seemed like we might just make it up and over without getting rained on.

We tapped into newfound pissedofficity to fuel the cycling fire; we had just seen Mr. Toyota Tacoma quad cab drive by--with 2 other cyclists' bikes on top, and cyclists inside his truck. HOW RUDE!

The aid station began packing up. We had stayed so long, everyone else who was trying to soldier on had come and gone. It was time to face the beast.

Slowly I turned my crank...pedal stroke by pedal stroke...inch by inch...

We began to pick off a few people here and there and after a few hours, we were back on top of the mountain that just 4 short hours ago tried to claim our lives. Only there was no evidence of its previous homicidal efforts--it was sunny out, the roads were dry. It wasn't warm, but it wasn't bum-numbingly cold, either.

Then, halfway down the descent, another angelic vision appeared: Laree! With Coachubby at the wheel! He'd come to save us after all!

After relating the horrors of our morning, we instructed coachubby to meet us at the lunch stop at approximately mile 100, then proceeded down the rest of the mountain, straight into a relentless head wind.
(Robyn and I at lunch.)
We reached mile 100, which, cruelly, was the start and end of the ride as well, at 2:15pm. We had started the ride at 5am. It had taken us almost 9 and a half hours to ride one hundred miles--a new slow-poke record if there ever were one.

We still had hope that we'd finish before sundown and took off north along the 6, which was supposedly a relatively tame stretch of road.

It's ironic that my gmail just decided I should read an article entitled, "Winds Losing Umph in US." That is ridiculous BS. Either that, or all of the winds in the US abandoned their usual haunting grounds to blow in my face for 36 miles straight on Saturday afternoon.

I figured we had about 5-6 hours left. Then it took me an hour to go 10 miles. It was going to take me freaking four hours just to get to the next rest stop 36 miles away!

I stopped to eat a PowerBar. It began to rain again.

I wanted to cry.

Then, another spectacular sight: a tandem, with the rear rider signaling to latch onto its draft! I was saved! (Robyn had put her head down and blasted off toward the begining of the wind tunnel of evil.)

For 20 miles, they pulled me--and eventually Robyn and a whole slew of other people.

Then, when the front rider signaled for me to take a pull, I obliged. But when I downshifted out of my big ring on an uphill and subsequently slowed down, I heard the sound no cyclist ever likes to hear: metal on pavement.

The tandem had eaten it. Was it my fault? What happened? What is proper ettiquete in this situation? They had pulled me and Robyn so far...but when another woman rode by and said the tandem had messed up its handlebars, we knew there was nothing we could do to help, and kept going at it alone.

(Robyn and I coming into the final rest stop.)
At the rest stop, we only had a 7 mile out and back, then we'd have a killer tail wind all the way home!

But the man at the rest stop had some sobering news: the 7 mile out and back was a climb...a 7% climb for the last 3 miles of it.

O. M. F. G.

Coming soon...the actual conclusion to the Eastern Sierra Double Century Craptacular!


  1. This is your best race report - EVER. Selfishly, part of me hopes all your future rides are sick, twisted, and pain filled so I can read the race report (OK - I don't really wish that).
    And what is coachhubby doing during all this time your out suffering?

  2. HA! I have my first 24-hour mountain bike race coming up in a week and a half. I'll see what I can do :P

    And good point! I'll have to add coachubby back into the story since he was out there, and not back at the hotel sipping spiked hot chocolate.

  3. I'm sure RAO will provide more sick, twisted, pain-filled reading entertainment for Xterra 29er! Loving the story thus far, particularly since I lived through it too! Can't wait for the conclusion!

  4. There are definitely massive kudos coming your way for being such a rock and doing the entire thing on your own--sans a Robyn or a tandem! (And for pulling a ton of wussy men!)

  5. That was Karla and me, Robert, on the tandem that went down behind you. We are okay, thank goodness, but Karla took too much but is recovering okay--she's a trooper. I was trying to be nice and take long pulls and rest at the back for a few minutes before coming forward again. I usually never rest at the back of a group (just wanted to keep some company along I guess) for just that reason--the male rider in front of me who should have gone up to pull rolled too far backwards and then took a sharp left and caught me off guard. Not your fault. Congrats on finishing a course that was harder than the one you signed up for.

  6. Hi Robert! I'm so sorry that happened! I hope you're doing well and are (already?) back on the bike!