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Davis Double Report

by Donn King    05/27/00

The Davis Double was last Saturday and I thought I would give you a report. Here's the report: It was HOT! Almost 100 in the shade and certainly over that at the road surface. I started at 5:00 AM straight up. My goal was 14 hours. I knew it was going to be hot and I had reconciled myself and decided to not think or worry about it, just accept it. I experimented with wearing a long sleeved jersey. My reasoning was that it would limit my actual exposure to the sun, thereby lessening it's effects. The Bedouin theory of dealing with sun. Most were out there wearing as little as possible. Did it work? Hard to say, because certainly I was hot, but I knew everyone else was too. My attitude adjustment was effective though, because I noticed that I spent very little energy noticing the heat. 

The ride support was geared up for it. At one point around noon, I came to a climb and there was a rest stop at the base of it which I had already decided to pass by, but there was a volunteer standing in the road with a hose with a nozzle sprayer.  His job was to hose down people who passed who wanted to get cooled off. I said, "do me, do me." He told me that if I wanted, I could circle back and stand there and he would give me as much as I wanted. So I came back around and just stood in the road, straddling my bike as he hosed me down, thoroughly soaking me. I was sloshing in my shoes as I pedaled away a few minutes later to start the climb. I could have stayed in that spray all day. I never wanted to leave. It was like descriptions of freezing to death: a feeling of luxury overcomes you, and you just want to go to sleep in the snow.  I knew it would be hours and hours before I felt that good again.

I stopped only twice before lunch, which was at 113 miles. After lunch, there is this interminable, ugly climb on a busy highway up to the last ascent of the double century, called Resurrection. On a nice day it is tolerable, on a hot day it is torture. At the top I met Dave, the chief mechanic of my favorite local bike shop, The Hub, in Cotati, and we agreed to ride together for the next stretch. From there, it was essentially downhill back to the Central Valley, getting hotter as we descended at what was now around 3:30. We talked only a little, both intent on using our energy as economically as possible. The descent ran down through the spectacular Cache Creek canyon, as the ride became beautiful again.  

I was watching the clock all day, push, push, pushing. I knew that I needed to accomplish this ride is a certain amount of time to have a prayer of finishing Terrible Two in just a few weeks. Was it fun? Not really. When TT is over and done, and I am successful, I will go back to enjoying centuries (yes, and double centuries), schmoozing, talking at rest stops to all of the people in this glorious sport that I have met over all of these years, not worrying about the clock. But not now.  Dave and I would roll into a rest stop, and I would say, "5 minutes max, OK?," and Dave would nod.

As we descended farther and farther into the Central Valley, the rest stops were more and more prepared for the overheated riders. Big tubs of iced sodas dominated the landscape, and riders, including myself, would kneel in front of them, splashing icy water up over their heads and necks. I drank three sodas and two V8s at each rest stop, and scooped up ice and held it on the back of my neck, and held handfuls of ice on top of my head to relieve the heat. At the Canyon School rest stop, where Amy, the club president was presiding, one volunteer would take your bike and another volunteer would hand you a large towel soaked in ice water to drape around your neck and wear over your head. 

Dave and I stuck pretty closely to our 5 minute agreement, and as we headed out of each rest stop, I would feel fabulous for about 5 miles, completely refreshed. After that, the realities would set back in, and we would stick it out to the next rest stop. Davis loomed, closer and closer though, and the amount of miles left to travel became smaller and smaller, until the mileage left was just a typical Saturday morning club ride jaunt.

My brevet training really asserted itself. Our mentors from the Davis club always say, "if you are feeling low, keep riding and the feeling will pass," and I have found that to be true over and over again. Especially on the long rides, many emotional states are available, and all of them are transitory. Having already ridden a 250 and a 375 mile ride this Spring, I knew, despite how I felt, that this ride was in the bag. The discomfort ended abruptly as we passed under the Davis city limits sign. Without a word between us, we agreed to forego the traditional sprint to the city limits sign.  Knowing that there were less than 5 miles to go, my attention shifted to being aware that this is the end of the ride--in a few moments it will be over. 

As I knew it would, my discomfort vanished as the Davis High school appeared ahead. One of the features of the Davis Double that I love is that people actually cheer for you as you approach the finish and ride the ramp up into the parking lot!  Who could feel bad while that is happening? In that moment, I understand the seduction of fame, and I could bask in that applause forever. 

Inside, I rushed to the finishers' table to get my time: Just a hair over 13.5 hours. Now the schmoozing and eating can begin in earnest! Talking about the day is the reward for having done it, and we all compare notes, and times, and impressions.  Unlimited tacos and ice cream and cold sodas are available here in the high school gym. I have barely eaten solid food since lunch. I believe that I actually can do these long hot rides on sodas alone, and I am still not that hungry. I know that I will be hungry for about two days though, as my appetite catches back up with me.  My friend Tom and I finally headed back over to Amy's where we had slept the night before, took showers and headed home. It was still warm but got cooler and cooler as we got closer to Sonoma County. 

Donn

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