May 20, 2012 Endurance Events
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
I raced the Vineman 70.3 Half Ironman last Sunday. The race starts with an upstream-downstream swim in the Russian River in Guerneville, the bike course then leads east along the river, north over the Canyon Road climb to Geyserville and back south over the Chalk Hill climb to Windsor. Finally the run course is a lollypop from the Windsor Highschool to LaCrema winery and back. This was my third time racing up there, so I roughly knew what was coming.
Despite a couple gaps in my training caused by visiting family in June, I knew I was hitting form fairly well after setting new PRs at the Sprint and Olympic distance at Rancho Seco the weekend before.
I was set to start in the first age-grouper wave, just behind the Pro, at an ungodly start time of 6:38am. At least I could hope to be done before it got too hot and because I got to the swim start early, I skipped the line for the Port-A-Johns… Setting up my swim to bike transition, I engaged in the typical low-balling with my transition neighbors. It was overcast so I put my heat-gear back in the bag and got into my wetsuit.
Watched the pros go off and only did a couple short bursts for my swim warm-up. As the gun goes off for me, the first 100 meters are the typical washing machine of limbs flying. I was swimming head-up again, water polo skills come in handy after all. I was able to find my rhythm fairly fast and settled into finding my own line. My sighting kept me a bit to the left of the pack, and I only bumped into two other swimmers, mainly having open water in front of me, but still pacing of the pack (as I mostly breath to the right anyways). The river near the turn did get a bit shallow, but not as bad as in years past. Right at the turn buoy there was a slight traffic jam and 4-5 guys stood up and waded around. They didn’t seem in a hurry, so I slipped past them, dove back in and quickly had two length on them.
On the way back downstream I got passed by two speedy women from the wave that started 8 minutes behind me. I reached the beach in 37 minutes, not too fast, but just as expected and planned. I actually did manage to avoid the usual slight calf-twitch, taking of my wetsuit while running up to my bike. I lost a few seconds readjusting my helmet, the sizing mechanism must have taken a knock in the morning. Grabbed the bike and out of T1, pushed the bike up the little 100ft. beach hill and clipped in at the top. I guess course knowledge does come in handy as well, Stacy told me later that she saw 3 people crashing right there because of clipping in at the bottom or the middle of the hill, tumbling over or being in the way…
Riding out of town I was feeling good, passed a couple people in my age-group in the first section. I found my legs and soon reached the Sunset Road turn off, a tricky off camber, 130-degree turn into a downhill. After a first big ring climb on the other side, I started into the worst part of the bike leg. The next 10-15 miles have rather questionable road conditions with lots of bumps, potholes and concrete plates. I was jo-joing back and forth with 3 guys in my age-group and two fast women, trading places as the terrain alternated between climbs, descents and power sections. Until my water bottle with my concentrated Iso ejected the first time. Then my flat kit rattled loose. Then my water bottle ejected again. As I approached Healdsburg, I had enough of it. I knew the first aid station was coming up just after the next turn, so I splashed half of my concentrate in my aero drink and hoped that the reduced weight would stop the bottle ejecting. I also stuffed my flat kit in to my jersey pocket. Slightly aggravated I started off again, figured the backtracking and re-arranging must have cost me 2 or 3 minutes. Thankfully I didn’t get too caught up with that issue and managed to find my rhythm again quickly. Despite this section being a false flat, I was getting some nice speed, kept on top of my nutrition and hit the climb on Canyon road strong, passing and dropping several people. Right after passing the timing matt, we passed under HWY101 and turned back south towards Chalk Hill. From experience I knew that this is a good section to eat and avoid the bonk, so I forced down my Odwalla bar. It actually started drizzling, giving me a little boost – I like racing in light rain, keeps me cool.
I tried to control myself and stretch, my Canyon is quite comfortable – not even a hint of backpain or tensing two hours in. I must have gone a little bit too hard on the five miles of rollers between mile 40 and 45, followed by a push up the only real climb at mile 45. From there it is a nice fast downhill section and the last 6 miles of the bike twist through the town of Windsor, giving me a chance to pick up a couple more people that burnt too much on the hill. Approaching Windsor HS and the second transition, I saw the leaders of the men’s pro race on the last half mile of their run. Finishing in under 3h50m, wow…
I managed a quick second transition, mentally grateful for the still overcast skies, but still put on my running hat – never know how quick those clouds burn off. The first three miles were pretty exciting, but painful. I got to see the Pro men (starting at fourth) and women finishing up, trying to recognize them and figure out the ranking in my head. I saw locals Kyle Leto (Walnut Creek) holding on to 5th, obviously having a great race, even in front of Chriss Lieto (Danville) in 7th. At the same time my quads and hamstrings were cramping a bit. All four muscles at the same time. I actually stopped to stretch once about two miles in, and after the little roller I have nicknamed “skunkroad” due to an incident last year, I found my legs and was able to up the cadence. At this point I really started enjoying the run, recognizing course markers, looking forward to the friendly participating neighborhood at mile 4 (a quarter mile of cheering, aid station and gardening hoses). There I also saw local pro Kelly Dunleavy coming the other way. She was rather dark red in the face with purple lips. I guess she took a couple stumbles only a few turns later, but still managed to finish. I made it along the bigger rollers by the Airport, picking of lots of people in their pain cave. I had two guys in my age group in my sights, in really ugly black and green kits making them the perfect (but not pretty) carrots. Coming into LaCrema winery for a one mile loop, my legs acted up again. I checked my watch, saw that I was on a good pace well within the set goal of going sub 2h for the run, so I took a one minute walk break and stretched again. I hoped in behind another tall, but older guy and let him drag me back to the airport. At the aid station I made sure to grab a banana for some calories and potassium against the cramps. Back in the neighborhood, now at mile 8, I switched to taking a cup of coke for some finishing energy. I settled into a good pace again, focusing on my run split instead of trying to do math about the overall. Then I made it over skunkroad again, and let my legs roll on – no more hills now.
Back on Windsor road, with half a mile to go, I caught up to another guy in my age-group. He was obviously aware of me being competition, so we shadowed each other for a quarter mile. As we turned into the highschool campus with a quarter mile to go, I opened up. Careful not to burn out too fast and keeping him in the corner of my eye. I managed to open up a 10ft gap on him, speeding up and trying to inflict some pain. Then with about 200 yards to go, one turn left and the finishing arch in sight, he attacked. I knew I couldn’t let him pass because there was no room left for a counter, so I started speeding up as well. Before you know it, we are both sprinting down the finishing chute. I barely managed to stay ahead of him, going all out and keeping him two feet behind me. They actually listed us with the same exact time, 5h37m40s, but I got the glory of placing in front of him – both of us in the middle of the pack for the M25-29 AG.
As I was panting quite heavily, I didn’t know my time right away. Looking at my splits I was quite happy though, all three went as planned, nothing overly strong, but no weak spot or blow up either. Another personal best, this time by 11 minutes compared to Oceanside in April and quite a bit more compared to my prior Vinemans.
Here are links to the GPS files from my bike and run, although my heart rate monitor was obviously having some accuracy issues: