My 115th Triple Crown event, The White Mountain Double, is one of my favorites. Starting in Bishop, Ca. like the Inyo Ultra 466, the event heads south to Big Pine before heading east for a huge counter clockwise loop out into Nevada. From there we continue northbound, before heading back south to Bishop again. The reason it is called the White Mountain Double is because it goes though and around the White Mountains.
There are a number of courses.
The highland course, which is the original course and the one we did, has you climb to the Bristle Cone Pine Forest at over 10,000 feet in elevation on White Mountain itself. It's then back down to highway 168 before heading into Nevada. They also had a lowland course which left out the crazy tough climb up the mountain and went straight into Nevada. They also had a 150 mile option.
The event is put on by Ndzone and is one of the best out there. Only a few stops signs on the course in all of 200 miles.
I drove up to the event on Friday afternoon with my friends John and Teresa. They were doing the event on John’s Tandem.
After we arrived in Bishop we went out for a little afternoon spin. We rode out of Bishop on Hwy 6 on the course I was on a month earlier on the 466 race. John was getting the tandem dialed in and I was just enjoying a nice pre-event spin.
|John and Teresa testing out the tandem|
|Cruising along side John, heading toward Benton.|
|Riding in the opposite direction of our return, on a beautiful Friday evening.|
On the way back we stopped to have Johns tandem checked over by our friend James at the bike store.
We checked in for the event, had a bite to eat and crashed early for the 3am wake-up so we could start with the 4am group.
The start in the morning was great. The temps were mild and in the low 60’s.
|Getting ready to roll|
After the little pre-race meeting we rolled out of town, lights ablaze, southbound for the 15 mile jaunt on Hwy 395.
I had a great time rolling the first 15 miles to the turn off of 395. I saw some friends I hadn’t seen in a while and carried on some good relaxing conversation. With the turn coming up though, a little voice in my head was saying that it was about time for the hard work to start.
The last time I did this ride, I got real sick to my stomach for the last 80 miles. This was not much fun. I also didn’t have altitude training to speak of so I was very much winded and dizzy going up the mountain on that day. (I over cooked myself way to early on the first climbs.)
We made a left turn on Hwy 168 and within about a mile and a half, we started the 21 mile, 6,000+ foot gain, climb to the Bristle Cone Pine Forest on White Mountain.
The highland route on the event is really front end loaded with climbing.
The first climb from Big Pine to White Mountain road is about 3,350 feet of elevation gain in just over 10 miles. It is quite a tough climb in the dark. Then the climb to the ancient pine forest is about 2,900 feet of elevation gain in the 10 miles to the turn around at just over 10,000 feet in elevation.
I guess riding an ultra endurance event a month earlier for 39 hours at high altitude did me some good!!
In the month between these two events I mainly rode near the coast in So Cal. I took it easy all month kind of doing all my rides like recovery rides. The week before White Mountain I just took it real easy.
The first climb to White Mountain Road seemed hard but I was able to keep a good pace and carry on a good conversation the whole way up.
|Jeff climbing Hwy 168 in the early morning light|
Just as it was getting light I reached the turn and the first check point. I grabbed water only and headed up the mountain while others rested at the stop.
|Looking east from White Mountain Road|
|Ndzone's Jim Cook got this great shot about half way up White Mountain|
|Those are the Sierra's behind me, looking south-west|
|Bishop, Ca. from 10,000 feet|
I did not drop off any lights or gear. I have always done these events carrying everything I need just in case. In fact, I was carrying enough food with me to do the whole thing. All I needed to stop for was water along the way. I did partake in some of the goodies along the way but did not need them.
I was the third of the 4am group to reach the summit; I filled up with water and passed the other 2 on the way down to the left turn. I did not make another stop at the bottom. I still had full bottles because there were not many opportunities to drink on the way down that steep, technical descent.
After the turn on Hwy 168, the next check point was at the top of Gilbert Pass.
I made the left turn and it was down....down.....down....and over Westguard Pass with a 2,220 foot elevation loss. It was a gas with beautiful epic views while going down.
|Cruising off Westguard Pass with smaller Gilbert pass visible in the distance.|
Cruising in my aero bars I made it to the base of the Gilbert climb. This one is always hot because you are climbing a south side wall and heading east. The sun is always baking you because it is rising right in your face.
|Looking west, back toward Wesguard Pass with the long road and climb.|
This was another tough climb. I filled up with water at the top and then headed down the hill toward Route 266 which would take me into Nevada.
I had somewhat of a headwind going into Nevada but I made it to the lunch stop at mile 90 a little after 10:30am. Lunch is held in Deyer Nevada at a place called “The Boonies”, and it really is in the boonies I tell ya!!
I talked with my friend Chris who was manning the stop, had a coke, and headed out for the next check point.
This was when I started getting some sciatic pain in my left lower back and leg. I was riding the flat areas and rollers in my aero bar position and it was starting to affect a problem that I have been having a few years. I rode the next 17 miles to the water stop by jumping out of the saddle often doing allot of stretching on the bike. I was able to keep my speed up pretty good into the mild head wind before I reached the stop.
My friends Steve Tiede and his wife Julie were manning the Dan Crane Memorial water stop this year. Great people and awesome ultra cyclists.
I met them both while doing the Inyo Ultra, Sherman Pass Super Century, this year. They live in Bishop and are both in their element climbing in the Sierras. Steve is the owner of "In The Zone Massage Therapy" in Bishop. Thanks guys for being there for all of us.
|Steve and Julie|
I made a right turn on Route 773 for a nice mild climb and descent down to Hwy 6. It was really beautiful on this stretch through the desert!
|Heading to Hwy 6|
Now on Hwy 6 heading toward Tonopah Nevada, I had a easy six mile cruise to “The Smoothie Stop”. I had a wonderful banana, strawberry and yogurt smoothie made by, ride organizer, Jim Cook’s, wife Priscilla. It was really good.
Riding by myself for the last 85 miles, I still felt pretty good as I started the toughest part of the ride; the long, 22 mile climb to Basalt check point before Montgomery Pass and the California border. There is a water stop in between, (thank God), but this is a tough section. The temperature reached about 97 degrees on the bike and it was brutal.
|Starting the long west bound climb toward the Cali border|
I developed some hot foot and my sciatic nerve started acting up again. Riding out of the saddle helped the sciatic nerve pain but it aggravated the hot foot pain on my left foot. I just took it easy.
About half way up, the first of the real fast guys who started at 5am caught up with me, said hi and went on his way.
I was really thankful to see the water stop about half way up. It was here where I ran into my friend Mike who was doing the lowland course. Mike is with the Bull Shifters Bike Club out of Arizona. I see him and his club at many of the events. The heat was really getting to him too.
We filled up our bottles and were on our way.
I felt much better on the final part of the climb to Basalt.
I rolled into the check point at a little before 3pm. 53 miles to go and most of it down hill to flat. It would be nice if we have no head winds coming out of the Owens Valley.
I decided to kick back and relax here for a while and wait for my friends John and Teresa on the tandem bike. I had a great time talking to my friend Chris who I had not seen for a while.
|After a little while, John and Teresa came in.|
Around 5:30 we rolled out together for the ride to the finish.
The final climb up and over Montgomery Pass is a little over 3 miles and a nice gradual climb. We had a slight tail wind heading South-west bound which was nice. The weather was beautiful with puffy clouds everywhere making the view of Boundary Peak spectacular.
We crested the summit and it was “white knuckle” time. I knew I would not be able to spin my pedals fast enough to stay with John on a tandem descent so I just tucked in behind him in his slip stream. It was tough!!
We dropped off the summit at over 52 mph. It was a blast! All of a sudden, we came up on a cattle guard and ....that was it. A split second on the brakes and it was hopeless that I would ever see them again.
It was not long after that when the grade lessened some and I saw a slight rise in the road way up ahead. I put my head down, got into my aero bars, and rode like a man possessed until I reached the rise in the road.
|I see a rise up ahead.....time to hammer and try to catch John and Teresa!|
Then I slowly pulled my self up to them as they slowed on the little climb. All I can say is......Wheeeewwww!!!!
|John got this pic of me just as I caught up as the road kicked up.|
|Nice but the photo does not do it justice!|
This is about when the wind switched. It had now turned into a crossing head wind. We rode into Benton check point for a hot dog, relaxed a little, then headed out for the final 36 miles to Bishop.
|Home stretch...36 miles to go!|
We had a pretty good little head wind heading back. I stayed in the draft of Johns tandem during the descents and then gave them a break on the gradual little roller climbs along the return.
This is always the hardest part of a ride. In the dark you can see the lights of the finish in the distance but it seems like it takes forever to get there. Especially with a head wind!
We made it back to the finish a little after 8:30pm.
An epic day of riding on an epic course.
Thanks to Jim and Fred of Ndzone for an awesome event. Thanks to all the volunteers, who without, this type of event could not happen