Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Death Valley Double Century

Well, my first event on my quest this year was a bust.

Storm blows in the night before
Death Valley, natures playground, offered up a real challenge this year. WIND!!

We rolled out of Furnace Creek at 6:20 am on a beautiful morning. The winds had calmed some from the night before. It was so windy in the camp ground trying to sleep peoples tents were blowing away!

Getting ready to start in Furnace Creek

Our group with a strong tandem at the front.
 As we headed South toward Badwater the winds picked up strong and we had a nasty headwind all the way to check point 2 in Ashford Mills, just before the climb out of the valley. Lucky I had a large pace line to work with on this section. We only averaged from 8-12 mph even with a pace line. It took us a loooonnnggg time to get there.

My friends Chris and Saralie were manning the rest stop. It was great to see them.

These guys were real strong, both Furnace Creek 508 veterans, but would have to bow out of the ride before me.
 I left by myself for the long 16 mile climb up Jubilee and Salsberry passes. Before I left I thanked the strong tandem team for the pull into that wind. We were now heading more East and the winds were not as bad. It was still in the 50's though and going to get colder as we climbed from 200 feet below sea level to 3500 feet.

Heading up Jubilee Pass

Toping Jubilee Pass
Looking west toward Death Valley
I caught up with a couple of guys, one who was a solo finisher of the Furnace Creek 508 last year from the east coast. I didn't get his name but he told me he just did the ride on a whim and finished the solo. Unbelievable!!

We kept a steady pace for about 2/3 of the climb then they took a rest and I continued on over the summit.

Salsberry Pass
It was cold and windy on the descent but real fast with epic views. I hit the 75 mile mark in Shoshone feeling real good. It seemed to take absolutely forever to go that first 75 miles. I didn't stop long and started back up the pass for the return on the east side. It was harder and steeper than the front side but not quite as long. The first part was easy but got steep toward the top of Salsberry.

Heading westbound into the park. Climbing on the back side.

Salsberry Pass looms way ahead. It doesn't look steep but is 4-5% grade where I am and kicked up to 8-9% ahead.
 As I went down the west side of the passes the winds switched and started to become a headwind again.
When I reached Ashford Mills after the grueling 16 mile, or so, descent I was feeling real good and really hadn't seen that many double riders returning as I made my way to Shoshone. Awesome! I knew I must be in the top 3rd  at least and I was feeling real strong. (actually, so many riders had turned around an went back that there were not that many left)  Despite the wind in the morning, I might have a pretty good showing.

Wellllllllll.....As I was leaving the check the north west and in the direction we were all heading were giant dust clouds forming and I knew it couldn't be good!

Storm front moves in from northwest.
As I rolled up the road the winds picked up and were gusting to 40 mph this time right in our faces again. I was riding in my granny gear in the flats only managing about 10 mph.
My left eye started to act up as I got to the 120 mile mark. I did the smart thing and decided to get a ride back to the start before I went blind in the eye.
It was very disappointing as this is one of my favorite places to ride, just not when its windy.
The scenery and the cloud formations were spectacular the whole day in Gods playground. The sunset was awesome as I waited for the Sag wagon to pick my up.

As I write this, the preliminary results are it: Out of over 300 entrants, some doing the century, some the 150 miler and some the 200  mile event.

Only about 60 finished the 100
Only 20 completed the 150
And only 8, that's 8, completed the double.

I was feeling so good and about 40 minutes ahead of some of the people who ended up finishing . I timed the guys who passed me while I was waiting for a ride.

Maybe my next event will offer better conditions but who knows with the way the weather has been going this year.

1 comment:

  1. Nice report and photos thanks for sharing; I (Voler jersey) enjoyed spending some time on the road with you.