Davis DC is a special ride for me. It was the very first organized cycling ride/event that I ever did. That was 1979. I was a college student at UCD and one of my friends suggested that I try it knowing that I liked cycling. The problem was that the longest ride I had ever done at that point in time was a 60 mile ride from Davis the Lake Berryessa. I finished the ride that year at about 9:30pm after a 5:30am start. That was definitely a long and memorable ride.
I did it last year with my daughter, Tara. It was her first Double. She did it with a handful of her UCD Triathlon team members, all first timers. I rode most of the ride with her but the main goal was for everyone to pace themselves and try to finish before night fall. I’s not really the miles that kill you, its the heat and fatigue in the second half of the ride if mother nature decides to have a hot day. Dehydration is the main enemy on a hot day and last year I drank plenty and rode a very comfortable pace with my daughter and her friends. That was a very enjoyable ride for me.
This year would be something like my 16th time for this ride. This year I decided to see hour quickly I could do the ride one more time. I wanted to start early so I could get in a nice warmup before sunrise. The weather prediction called for mid to upper 80’s for Davis and the Clearlake area which is mild for this time of year. That was very encouraging, but still, everyone doing the DC wants to knock out as many miles as possible before the temps get too high. I had dinner with the UCD Tri team on Friday and they decided to meet at the start at 5am and take off about 5:15. Its still dark at this time so front and rear lights are necessary. I rolled up to the start at 5:05 and they were all assembled and ready to go, so I started down the road with them. Due to the relatively flat terrain and open roads and highways, this ride is very popular with Tandems and first time DC riders, as it is one of the easier DCs to finish. There are always some very strong competitive Tandem teams that will attempt to finish the ride in 10 or 11 hours and all the singles riders know this. These teams normally start as the sunrise approaches so they don’t carry any lights or excess weight. The singles get on the road and simply ride along hoping they can hitch a ride with one of these tandem led trains heading out of Davis. I was sitting in a big group cruising along at 23 led by the UCD Tri team. It wasn’t really necessary for them to do all the work, but boys will be boys and it was early. Tara was sitting comfortably in the line with me.
About 14 miles out we heard a group overtaking us fast. We were doing 23 but the overtaking group was going 26 led by two tandems followed by about 12 singles in tow. I knew this was an express ticket to saving some time so I jumped on immediately along with about 6 others from the UCD group. This is the DC riders dream, two strong tandems to break the wind for the next 30 miles! Although it seemed ideal at the time, these two tandems were really amped up and were doing between 24 – 28mph and we were strung out in a single line. This lasted until the first climb was reached at mile 45 at Montecello Dam, Lake Berryessa. Singles usually climb faster than tandems, but the lead tandem team stood up and sprinted up the hill leaving most of the singles to settle into a more reasonable pace. I backed off entirely to a comfortable climbing pace to save my legs for later in the day. Close to the dam I caught the 2nd tandem and thanked them for the tow, but they told me that tandem #1 did all the work and they were just along for the ride. This was a husband/wife team from Davis that was very fit and fast! All the climbing is in the first 140 miles and no single climb longer than 2,000 ft. Total climbing is about 8,200 ft, relatively easy as far as double centuries go.
From this point on, it’s rolling terrain through valleys of farm land and wineries. I spent minimal time at the rest stops and skipped the one at the top of the 3,000 ft Cobb Mt. climb. When I got into lunch, I was surprised to hear that we were the first riders to stop. That was the key word, stop, as Tandem #1 came through earlier with singles in tow but did not stop! This was at mile 117 and the hottest part of the ride with additional climbs was approaching. I decided to make a full stop and replenish everything. I ate a half a sandwich, drank a bunch of V8 juice and other fruits, replenished my sun screen, and used the toilet. I knew that I could afford to take it easy for the next 10 miles before the climbs called Resurrection 1 & 2. The weather forecast called for mid 80s but I was already measuring temps in the high 90s. When I climbed the final 1000 ft climb up Resurection 2, my Garmin measured a temp of 100. I was hot but my thoughts were for those that would come after me, as this was not quite the hottest part of the day. I was ahead of schedule and it was before 1pm and I was 135 miles in.
Resurrection 2 is aptly named because almost all the climbing is behind you and you have 1,800 ft drop of the next 60 miles. That all sounds good, but sometimes you have to face things like even hotter temperatures in the valleys as you get down in elevation. Just before leaving the stop, the husband/wife tandem team #2 came in. This was turning out to be my lucky day as the Davis DC route is a tailored for for tandems in the first 45 and the last 60 miles. I took off before them as I wanted to get down a few of the steeper descents before them. Tandems can hit over 55 mph on some of these descents and I didn’t want to take the chance of missing them. Several miles down the road they did catch up to me and I had my 2nd tandem lead train for the day. At this point in the ride, everyone is tired and hot. Your shoes feel like they’re 3 sizes too small. Every ache and pain is magnified. Your head feels like it’s in an oven. You’re wondering what happened to the padding in your shorts and your legs have no spring left. I was experiencing some pain in my right knee which made it almost impossible to stand and peddle. I was beginning to have doubts about staying with this group. Fortunately for me, everyone was tired and the tandem just rode at a survival type pace of about 20 – 21mph all the way into Davis. There were 8 of us in this group and when we checked in, we were told that we were the 2nd group to finish. It was 4:59pm
I had a lite dinner and took a shower, then went back out side to help direct traffic and greet incoming riders. I was waiting for Tara and the rest of the UCD Tri team. They rolled in between 7:30 and 9pm. Tara was in the first group at 7:30. One of the team members crashed out on a decent at mile 50 and broke his elbow. Another almost sagged in at the mile 187 mark due to severe cramping. Apparently his leg muscles all cramped at once and he fell of the bike and could not get back on. He rested for a while, partially recovered and limped back in, still cramping but he made it. All in all, another memorable Davis DC experience for myself, Tara and her friends from UCD Tri.
Number of participants: 900+
Maximum temp recorded: 98.6
Elevation Ascent: 8,494 ft
Riding time: 10:48
Total time: 11:53
Average speed: 18.6
Max speed: 48.2