Monday, October 11, 2010

Bass Lake "Powerhouse" Double Century

 Clovis California, the start location for the ride, is a neat little western town with lots of history just East of Fresno.

It has been a few years since I have done this ride and it is one of my favorites. I used to fly to Bass Lake airport with my Dad for camping when I was younger. For those of you who are old enough to remember, there used to be a airport on the North end of the lake jutting out into the lake like a peninsula.  The airport is no more but the lake still looks as beautiful as I remember. I don't know how many times I swam and kayaked across that lake when I was a kid.

I arrived Friday in the afternoon and went for a short little spin around town to prime the legs for the mornings ride. I checked in and got my ride number so I wouldn't have to do it in the morning. The ride organizer reminded me not to miss the turn to Millerton this year. My friends Chris, Paul and I had missed a critical turn in the dark in 08 that sent us way out into the boonies on a major highway that wasn't fun in the dark and he remembered the phone call we made to him to help us get back on course.
 I retired at about 8pm.  Boy....Clovis is a party town. I didn't get much sleep as people, hot rods cruising, motorcycles, made so much noise I couldn't believe it.

I arose around 3 am and had my usual couple of cups of coffee then got ready for the ride.

I opted for the early start to try and beat the heat if possible on the Powerhouse climb. As I would find out later, it didn't help much.

Veterans Memorial Hall

I rolled out at around 4:15 into the darkness and the open fields of a great agricultural land.

The first 72 miles or so was mostly flat with some rolling terrain. We made a couple of different loops using the same rest stop on the first two checkpoints. Again as I would find out later, I think I was my own worst enemy as I went out way too fast, feeling fantastic but not really pacing myself for what was to come. You think after doing so many of these events, that I would know better but that is just me.

The temps were in the 50's before sunrise so it was perfect! As the sun came up we had a beautiful view of the California farmland and the Sierra foothills.

After the second checkpoint the climbing started immediately as we headed into Trimmer Springs and to Pine Flat Lake.  It was a pretty good little climb to get up there but only got harder as the morning went on.

Pine Flat Lake

 After meandering along the North side of the lake for a while we had our next climb, Maxson Road. I looked down and saw that the route slip said "DOWNSHIFT BEFORE THE TURN...Steep climb".
They were not kidding. It wasn't the worse climb Ive been on, but after the first climb and with 86 miles already in the legs, I geared down and just paced myself. That is when I first noticed a slight sign of cramping. I thought, " What is going on? It isn't even that hot." Something was off!
I really do love to climb but it is a whole different animal when the quads start to cramp!

We then went up and down through the Watts Valley and Burroughs Valley before coming to checkpoint 3 in Auberry.

  The course was different this year from the two past years I did the ride in 07 and 08. They claimed less climbing. I think there was more elevation gain than advertised which I don't mind at all. The climbing ended up all in the middle of the ride. Since I haven't done this course before I should have just took it easy on those first 72 miles. I will not make this mistake next year.

 After some moderate climbing to get out of Auberry, we had a steep descent down to the "Powerhouse" on, I believe, Kerckhoff Lake.

Now came the most challenging part of the ride, the climb up the infamous "Powerhouse Grade",Northbound,  to get out of the ravine. The first year I did the event they had a time trial on this climb to see how fast people could do the climb. It is a real grunt of a climb!! My Altimeter showed a max grade of 14% on this grade and averaged more like 8-9% but it was also very long and warm. On my way down on the return trip, I saw many people just walking up.

The steed contemplating: Am I ready for this climb?
 After the top we had more climbing up Road 274 to get into Bass Lake.  I ran out of water about halfway up and started getting some cramps again. I just geared down and paced myself on this 8.5 mile climb to the lake. I rested for a little while at the Pines Resort Checkpoint. I didn't want to sit around too long. I started to feel somewhat better after taking some electrolytes and scarfing down some salty food. I filled my camelbac water pack and headed around the West Side of the Lake past the area that used to be the airport.
The lake brought back many memories. It is a really nice lake.
Bass Lake
After riding around the lake and back toward the South end I started the nice descent back toward the Powerhouse. Wow...was that a fast descent!! The only problem? I had to climb back out of the ravine again to get back to Auberry.

These guys were motivating!!
I had a couple of Furnace Creek 508 vets pass me on their tandem. Wow did they come down that fast!!

   I ran out of water again on the Southbound Powerhouse. It didn't stop me though, as I knew that the climbing was almost done for the day. I made it over the top and back to Auberry.
The brain is telling you through these occurrences, "why do I do this to myself?"

After the Auberry stop I headed back for Clovis with mostly Rolly to downhill terrain to the final stop in Millerton. There were a couple of cruel little climbs put in for good measure though before the final stop. Less than 20 miles to go now as I had a wonderful bowl of shrimp pasta and some instant sugar. (A coke)
 I was fully recovered now and had a fast fast last 15 miles to the finish. I got in at about 6:15.  I felt really strong at the finish. It is amazing what the human body can endure when you put your mind to it.

 In retrospect, I guess I need to start enjoying these rides more instead of just pushing myself. Once I started the climbing, I was by myself most of the day. That's no fun! There are people though that would say that doing a double century can never The fun part is the feeling of accomplishment you feel when you are done.

Thanks to the Fresno Cycling Club and all the volunteers for a fantastic event. One of my favorites and really well supported.

Thanks Clay for giving me encouragement on the climb out of Powerhouse and offering me a "Mountain Dew".

You can view all the pictures at

Here is the link a "Ride with GPS" map of the course

Ride computations from VDO computer:

202.97 miles
Ride time (on the bike): 13:19
Ave speed:   15.20
Max speed: 40 mph
Ave grade: 4%
Max Grade: 14%
Elevation gain 11,100 ft.
Overall time: 14.20 hours

1 comment:

  1. Steve, I enjoy reading your blog. I feel like I'm right there on the ride with you. Thank you for sharing your experiences. ~ Jim