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Joshua Tree Double Century

Joshua Tree Double Century is officially 193 Miles with 9343' of climbing.

2018 experience

The park service was up to its usual dirty tricks, threatening the use of force (police) to block any cyclist from going through the park, including those who had annual passes like myself. This is the state of America—unlawful use of force by bureaucrats with dubious legal basis: there is zero impact and absolutely no support within the park—yet actual threats of being turned away (or worse). So most everyone did the big circle loop route around the park.

2018-03-10: Lloyd after finishing 2018 Joshua Tree Double Century

I had an extraordinary day at the Joshua Tree Double Century on March 10m 2018 with only three minor setbacks:

  • Soaked feet /wet socks the rest of the day start around mile 100. It wasn’t the rain so much as my front tire kicking up water onto my shoes, which became squishy with water. The compensation: cool temperatures are ideal for me, since I put out relatively high wattage, so cool temps help shed body heat.
  • Rest stops 4/5/6/7/8 were not there. Even though I was the last one to leave (excepting a 3 man pacelining team), from what I can tell I outrode everyone excepting that 3-man pacelining team. Only by the kindness of a stranger (and at just the right time) did I get water at mile 144 right at the summit of 29 Palms / Hwy 62 and rice Rd. Otherwise, dehydration would have gotten very bad.
  • The worst issue: what feels like a small tear in the left hamstring about 3 inches above the left knee*, to the inside. This had been bugging me for about a week, but starting at mile 120 or so, I began to get shooting pains from that area all the way up my leg. This slowed my down significantly, but I was able to compensate by forcing the gluteus muscles to do more work, which made it only mildly painful.

* Turns out that pain in my left hamstring seems to be more serious than I thought. The large tendon that runs through the big hamstring muscle has a gritty feel to it, as if the sheathing that surrounds it were filled with fine sand. This has me worried—setting aside the Solvang Spring Double one week after the Joshua Tree Double Century, there is the matter the subsequent 6 doubles in 2018. With my strength and endurance waxing to high levels, the idea of having to quit cycling for a week or two weeks or a month to allow this thing to heal is extremely disappointing—basically the end of my season in competitive terms. So I hope it can heal quickly. Walking is no good; motions that lift the leg are worst of all.

It is Monday as I write this, which means only 4 more days for it to feel better before Solvang. So I guess I’ll fatten up and not ride or ride very little and see what happens. If it is not all but gone for Solvang, I’ll have to skip Solvang to allow time for it to heal for the next double on April 7 (nearly 4 weeks). I have no idea how to treat it and no one to ask 400 miles from home. The area is swollen some, from fluid it seems, and so maybe some anti-inflammatory agent might help. But I just don’t know. Today's ride (Monday) felt OK with the left leg; minor pain but nothing problematic. But when done with a very easy 20-mile ride, it seemed to be worse. Well, that was the test—whether I could use it and improve it, or use it and worsen it. Seems to be the latter.

I had no bronchospasms, but I also wore a face mask along the entire Interstate 10 section. At the finish, I noticed that cyclists had absolutely filthy faces—which means they were breathing that nasty stuff in. I will be using an N100 face mask a lot more, definitely any time there is significant dust or heavy traffic (which throws up dust and whatever toxic metals are on the roadway).

Regarding that 3-many pacelining team (beat me by ~29 minutes)—when they caught up to me at mile 100, they passed me, then I passed them, then they started drafting me. I had to wave them off but they did not understand, so I just stopped pedaling and let them go. So I was beaten in an unfair contest by a 3-man team in which each rider gets to rest for 2/3 of the way at greatly reduced effort—massively lower physical stress and effort needed when pacelining. Chuck Bramwell just won’t discuss this “external assist” versus solo effort ridiculousness; see my essay and his responses in How is Drafting in a Paceline Different from an Electric Motor?.


I consumed a total of 500 calories of Hammer HEED, and roughly 700 calories of GU and 120 calories of Osmo, equating to about 20% of the total caloric expenditure, a little low but nearly optimal (20 to 25% is best). The relatively cool temperatures kept dehydration far lower than in hotter years; I drank only 4.5 liters of water. However, that’s because I carbo loaded the two prior days, which stores a great deal of water.

Post ride

Rare in my experience in 36 double centuries, I felt ready to ride more when done. I went out and ate immediately and wanted to eat and it tasted good. Most doubles I feel like I don’t want to eat until tomorrow or feel more like vomiting than anything else. Not so this one, suggesting that my fitness has gone way up, and that I nailed the fueling and hydration.


start: 05:30:37
finish: 15:25:42
elapsed: 09:53:40
riding time: 9:47:11 (time actually on bike)

2018 Joshua Tree Double Century results

Riders {Mark Christopherson, Ludovic Hilde, Patrick Copp} were the 3 man team that “won” with identical times of 09:26. Their times are identical—pacelining for 196 miles is vastly easier than soloing. They should be listed as a team win; it is not a fair contest, and it is grossly misleading in terms of who “won”. It was clear when they passed me and I passed them and then they drafted me, that they were no stronger than me—but each guy gets to rest about 2/3 of the time. That’s no personal win, it’s a team win. While I respect their right and choice to paceline a double, I reject it as any kind of win except a team win*.

* There are some nuances such as a paceline group that forms ad-hoc and breaks up and so on. Then there are pre-planned 2 and 3-person teams who arrive, start, ride and finish together. Ever wonder why 2 or 3 or 5 riders finish with seconds of each other? It’s absurd to give these finishers indiviual credit, particularly when the whole affair is orchestrated in advance since it carries a huge time advantage with far less effort required (at least an hour reduction for most doubles).

I think team efforts should be noted as such in the results for all double centuries. But more important (to me), a SOLO designation (honor system) should be noted, which means taking no draft for the entire distance, thus ruling out pacelining or any kind of drafting. To be clear, some haphazard “by luck” drafting is at least a more sporting and honest effort than a pre-planned coordinated team effort. Why not just install an electric motor and call it a win—there is no difference; both are an external assist.

Red line is heart rate (bpm), green line is power (watts).

2018-03-10: graph showing power in watts, heart rate, elevation for 2018 Joshua Tree Double Century
2018-03-10: Lloyd after finishing 2018 Joshua Tree Double Century
f1.8 @ 1/500 sec, ISO 20; 2018-03-10 15:32:24
iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus back dual camera 3.99mm f/1.8 @ 28mm equiv (4mm)

[low-res image for bot]

2017 experience

Did not ride due to schedule.

2016 experience

No wrong turns this year.

Around mile 155 just after the blender strawberry smoothie at the radio tower summit (around the 8:45 mark), my stomach went AWOL. The problems may have started a few miles earlier—not sure. Or maybe it was the fruit—dubious.

And at mile 150+ or so, even plain water and Hammer gel were unappealing. I had to force myself to gag it down even as my belly felt bloated. When this happens, nothing get processed and I get no energy and I dehydrate (maple syrup urine at end as peeing into a bottle can show, a good test BTW).

The power output (green line) shows the substantial drop in power from the 8:45 mark or so to the end. Figuring out what causes this stomach upset is not obvious, but I’d really like to figure it out. I did take Endurolytes, so I think I can rule out electrolytes. I did eat a sandwich and chips and soda at lunch at mile ~100, but I felt good and charged up for at least 40 miles after that, so that seems unlikely to be the cause. Anyway, I limped in the last 45 miles or so with low power and not much energy, losing time steadily. Still, it was good for #7 out of 87 finishers.

Kilocalories: 7064

Graph shows roll time, not clock time (excludes rest stops).

Power and heart rate with elevation profile for Joshua Tree Double Century 2016

2015 experience

Due to a faultily memorized map lacking a “Y” turn (lacking in my mind), I took the wrong turn and did 12 extra miles and about 1400 vertical feet more than the standard course. So it was well beyond a double century.

There was no support within the park, so I rode unsupported for over 80 miles, which left me dehydrated and hot. Scarfing a liter of cold water upon reaching the interstate highway just out of the park, I partially revived, but It seemed to kill my performance for the rest of the day (120 miles or so to go after that!). Temperatures ranged from 39°F at the higher elevations at sunrise within the park to 90°F or so on the post-park outer areas. It’s never really possible to rehydrate properly while riding once too far gone, so this screwed the day. I was very, very glad to be done.

Still, I recovered faster from this one than the Southern Inyo (above). Just 48 hours later, I had a nice strong ride, albeit the muscles still need a full 4 days to be back at 90%, and probably 6 days to be truly back at 100%.

Course: About 68 miles is through Joshua Tree National Park, which are enjoyable miles with good pavement. The rest of the course ranges from boring to “the road never ends” slow climbs to some really unpleasant junk miles along the interstate highway, including dodging bits of tires, rocks, screws, bolts and having to wait ~5 minutes for a semi trailer truck with billowing brake smoke. By a miracle I did not flat on this section or this day.

Kilocalories: 7560

Graph shows roll time, not clock time (excludes rest stops).

Power and heart rate with elevation profile for Joshua Tree Double Century 2016
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