6pm on Wednesday, May 27th and the Death Valley crew is on it’s way to Davis. Well, Morgan had a paper or some shit for Thursday so he flew up to Sacramento that night and Emilio, Megan, and I (and Morgan’s bike) piled in the rental hybrid off to Davis. First stop is Glendale to drop off the disk for BikeSummer newsletter two (which I would spend part of the next couple of days on my cell phone trying to coordinate the details of). Then DelTaco.
We left on Wednesday night cause I had to work in Sacramento on Thursday (so work paid for some of the rental car!). Meanwhile Megan and Emilio chilled in Davis; possibly the most bike friendly city ever. There is a graphic of a bike on the city emblem! That night we met up with Temra, my partner in having a full-time job based on our politics. Thai food, coffee, chillin. Friday morning Morgan and I did a quick 20-mile spin, dropping Temra off at work on the way, while the other kids cooked up a hearty California breakfast. Drove to Oakland, then BART with bikes over to SF for vegan ice cream and Critical Mass. CM was out of control; fist fights and some dude who drove through a group of cyclists and continued on despite one of them being on his hood! SF don’t play around. Permanent image on my brain of a guy on the hood of a car smashing the windshield with his bike as the car sped off.
The Devil Mountain Double Century starts at fucking 5am. Setting an alarm for 345am at 1215am is humorous. We probably would of even started on time if it wasn’t for getting lost. The stupid road had two different road signs! So we missed the group start and didn’t get out till about 540am. This ride was put on by the Quack cyclists, the same group who did the Knoxville ride Matt Pro and I got lost at on my birthday. I joked with them about not getting lost and they handed me a bandana with a map on it! Was getting this printed a direct result of Matt Pro and I getting lost last year at Knoxville? Funny either way.
First climb up Mt Diablo is EPIC. A serious mental challenge. I started to question the feasibility of my completing this ride (did I mention this is the hardest double in CA at 207 miles and 20,000 ft of elevation gain?). The ‘racers’ started at 6am and passed us soon after at a pace that I would consider inhuman. The first person done with this DC finished in under 12 hours, shattering the previous record. Finally make it to the first checkpoint at the summit at roughly 4000 feet. The descent is invigoratingly fast. My new bike takes turns at unbelievable speeds, even with my teeth chattering and my hands shaking from the cold. Next climb is aptly named Morgan Territory and we finally start to catch some people, despite Morgan’s bike and its noises.
As the morning moves on we are enjoying ourselves more. Our pace picks up and my mind drifts from the physical demands of the ride to the scenery. The Mt. Hamilton climb begins as rain starts to drizzle from the sky. The hill winds along the mountain, with the valley continuously on our right as we look up to see other cyclists pushing on. About an hour of climbing before we reach the top. Luckily the rain has stopped, but it is cold enough to need arm warmers for the fast (fast!) descent. Even at the next rest stop I am still shaking from the cold.
Before night falls, around mile150, we hit Sierra Road. Steep, unrelenting, and over three miles long. Afterwords Morgan takes a picture with a goat while giving the international punk/metal sign. After dark we ride with a group, cover some more fucking hills, then start the last 10 miles of the 207. Morgan is seeing trails of light from other riders. I worry we are going to crash the car on the drive home, but then I can’t remember where we hid the keys. We safely roll into the hotel at 1145pm, after 18 hours of cycling. We make jokes about clif bars and warm Gatorade, I pick up the ridiculous jersey (that you only get if you finish!), we find the keys and drive back to Oakland. Crash out on the floor and the next day we drink coffee, eat vegan Chinese food and drive back to LA. Road trips rule and make riding the toughest double century in CA even more fun. Thanks kids.