Devil Mountain Double Century
I rode the Devil Mountain Double Century on my Moots Vamoots RSL with the Lightweight Obermayer wheelset with Veloflex Record (front) and Sprinter (rear tires. My Vamoots RSL uses SRM Cannondale Hollowgram SL power meter.The Moots Vamoots RSL ride quality and wheel ride quality were superlative in every respect.
The 2012 ride offered stunningly beautiful green hills, perfect weather, and ideal wind conditions. Hamilton Challenge riders were not so fortunate with the wind which was reportedly brutal on Mines Rd. as in 2011.
Temperatures were cold until 9am or so, and double layers and a wind vest still left me chilled after descending Mt. Diablo. The temperature warmed steadily after that, but remained quite cool through the shaded Morgan Territory section. I ditched the tights and 2nd layer at the Morgan Territory rest stop, forwarding them to the Pet the Dead Goat rest stop (seriously, the goat died! Can't make that stuff up!).
Of special note was the high-speed ascent of Altamont Pass (the wind farm area), where I spun out at around 40 mph going uphill in my 50 X 34 chainring with the wind at my back. Speed in that section was 30-40 mph and that was a hoot!
Unlike the Solvang Spring Double which was dominated by 40-60 year old men, there was a greater mix of riders for DMD, including more women and more younger men.
I suppose I could have worked harder and got sub-14 (easily done just by cutting 14 minutes off the 45 minutes or so of rest stops, and avoiding wasting a few minutes at the end before time was taken), but sub-13 would be much harder. Still, I am quite happy with my results at #13.
Quality miles, nearly all of 'em
Nearly all the miles are quality ones— very enjoyable with exceptional scenery in spring green over 90% of the miles.
Exceptions include the Niles Canyon (nasty) and Crow Canyon (not quite as bad) mileage approaching the finish— being tired and dealing with the high-speed traffic is a bad combination, so stay alert.
I had trouble getting google maps to do the route in one piece. There might also be errors in these map.s
Google map: part 1 San Ramon to Altamont / Grant Line Rd
Google map: part 2 from Altamont / Grant Line Rd back to San Ramon
2012 Ride Analysis with power and heart rate
Clock time: 14:13 Roll time: 13:29:54 Power (watts)*: 187.9 Heart rate**: 124.0 Ascent: 18,827' Distance: 207.0 (nominal 206) Kilojoules*: 9087 (8687 calories)
Speed**: 15.34 mph * Power and kilojoules computed while pedaling only ** Heart rate and speed averages while rolling (does not averate in rest stops)
2015 Ride report
See To Draft or Not to Draft: What Does it Accomplish? I do all my double centuries as solo efforts, strictly refusing to draft (I will pull), and dropping back or springing past if necessary to avoid taking a draft.
I had a tough time at the 2015 Devil Mountain Double, losing power for much of the ride and never being able to get warm, my time a good hour longer than in the 2012 Devil Mountain Double time. The reasons seem clear, and they were not reasons of fitness, but foolish errors in fueling.
2016 ride report further down.
Fueling, power, catabolic muscle damage
Steve Born of Hammer Nutrition was kind enough to spend some time with me discussing what might have gone wrong. His assessment (which dovetails with mine) on the ride and the recovery is that my foolish mistake to take in any fuel until having burned about 1300 kilojoules meant that I used up a good portion of my glycogen stores. I also worked the first part of the ride too hard sprinting past riders and always riding solo (never taking a draft as is my wont) and “burning some matches” too early.
All of which added up to greatly reduced power output for the 80-170 mile mark or so. And which it seems, forced my body to eat its own muscles for fuel (protein), which explains the swollen feel in my quads for 4-5 days following—muscle tissue damage.
Anticipating warmer temps I made a crucial mistake: I stripped my tights and left them (still with a double jersey, outer one long-sleeved). But it never warmed up, with cloud cover blocking the sun too often. I never did feel warm again, not even on the climbs. My body, not properly fueled, seemingly could not both warm itself well and produce power. This is atypical for me; see the Central Coast Double discussion; I don’t have a problem staying warm down to the 50’s if properly fueled.
I had some wasted time on the ride: a stop light that would not change (most riders just run red lights and stop signs, I usually do not), a need to refuel/rest for a some minutes fairly late in the ride), and (ironically) finally feeling strong for the last 20 miles but having to back off the pace to stay with other riders who knew the route, because I could not read the route map without stopping (dark).
Recovery reflected my execution errors: it took at least a full 7 days, versus 4-5 days for all the prior doubles in 2015.
Unlike the three previous double centuries, I had a feeling of swelling/puffiness in my quads for 4-5 days which was fluid gain as the muscles went through a process of repairing significant damage (weight swing of 8 pounds!). This I attribute to the failure in proper fueling and the body eating muscle tissue for energy—a lot of damage incurred in a 15 hour ride.
I had a MUCH better time with the Central Coast Double.
2016 ride report
About 190 participants for 2016, down from ~270 last year. Maybe last year’s cold is responsible? The weather for 2016 outstanding—not really possible to be better, as compared to last year’s unpleasantly cold conditions (10-15°F colder).
Start time: 6:10 AM, finish about 21:30 = 15:20. Time is clock time including stop time and the wasted time of a few short navigational errors.
Given my extreme weakness less than a week prior (hardly able to do half a ride without being wiped out afterwards), my only goal was to finish in a respectable time. Given that 2016 clock time is ~12 minutes faster than 2015, I feel good about it. However, the roll time (time on the bike) of 14:39 was 18 minutes longer in 2016 than 2015. Weighing 180 pounds (should be 173 by now) is a huge disadvantage with so much climbing. Moreover, the vigorous wind pushed us down Mines Rd quite strongly. So 2016 is probably actually weaker than 2015 in spite of the shorter start-to-finish time (clock time).
I started in the 6:00 AM group (actual start time 6:10 AM). A friend and I were quickly dropped at the first small hill—the group was mostly young and lean guys—and I am neither! My power meter read 330 watts, and I was not gaining; that’s way too high a power output for a double. So I dropped back to 220-240 watts.
Hitting the climb up Mt Diablo, my friend fell behind, pacing himself due to a back problem he knew about in advance. His 49th double in 4 years! As it turns out, he would have completed nonetheless but his front brake pads vaporized by the Calaveras section about mile 160, so he ended up aborting.
Mt Diablo is one of these endless false summits—you keep thinking you are almost there, but it’s always “another 500 vertical to go”. About half-way up, I started encountering 5:00 AM riders descending, so I thought I was making great time. But what looked like only another 700 or so vertical turns out to be more like 1500! On and on I went, picking off only a lonely rider or two to the summit.
Descending Mt Diablo I saw no other riders until I passed one semi-lost rider down near the base. I proceeded apace but it was lonely riding until Morgan Territory, where I started passing intermittent riders and some more by the first rest stop. Thereafter I went on past 10-30 riders at each rest stop, making good headway (many riders linger at rest stops, so a quick stop and go at a rest top means passing 10/20/30 riders!). No one passed me; I only passed. Which is a psychological boost when riding slower than usual. However, I wasn’t “all there” descending Mt Hamilton so I was braking too much, and a rider or two passed me, but I believe I re-passed them later in the course.
In general, power output was disappointing, particularly the Mt Hamilton climb. But after a cup of noodles at Crothers rest stop, I rocketed up Sierra (relatively speaking), catching and dropping 3 riders who had passed me as I halted to fiddle with food/clothing. I remained fairly strong to the finish. Was it noodles, salt? Seems weird. As usually I have no real idea why power output is variable like this, or what to do about it.
Sierra Grade is a big plus for me—the steepness is not at all an issue and whatever has preceded, I always seem to find it a relatively brief non-event. Rather, it is the most efficient way to climb (steeply). It never bothers me, and I really don’t understand why other riders find steepness difficult, since most have ample gearing. Weird.
I ended up losing the most time backtracking—as it gets dark, I have a darned hard time reading the map in dim light (presbyopia in part), and I misread a turn, so I had to ride back to check the previous road signs. That cost me ~10 minutes or so, just after I had busted my ass putting 10 minutes on some riders! Frustrating.
I have mixed feeling about rankings. DMD is very tough, but Alpina Alpina 8 Pass Challenge is more climbing (figures for DMD are exaggerated by 2000' IMO). Given heat and altitude, I have to rate Alta Alpina as the #1 difficulty, and DMC a very close second. I would rate both as superb courses, but Alta Alpina gets my vote as #1 on route and scenery and minimal traffic.
Final note: my car died and I was left stranded at the hotel, unable to return home. AAA rejected my premier service status as unpaid, and ran me through the ringer (my bank verifies payment was made last August). I had to pay again to get (degraded) service, but by 1:00 AM I was fed up and instead went and got a room, and here I remain until Monday morning, so the billing team at AAA can fix their mess and get my car towed to the dealer across the bay. A day from 5:00 AM to 01:00 AM the next day with a 208 mile double in there is a very long day.