See also 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. The reasons seem pretty clear, and they were not reasons of fitness, but foolish errors in fueling.
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 previous doubles this year.
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.