The Elephant

Let’s see.  What should I talk about?
Well, since Monday was a holiday last week, I figured it called for a ride.  Duh!  Tory and I played around on John’s Peak a little and had a good time on Rail, Twin Peaks, Atsahu, Arrowhead, both Canyon Vistas (backwards) and finally Boulder and Ol’ Miner’s.

Wednesday, Jacob, Shawn, and I were back in Jville for some mellow trail riding on the Beekman and Britt trails before meeting up with the Wednesday night group and heading back up John’s for a quick run down Granite.

Really, that’s about it for the week.  Oh.  Except for that big elephant over there in the corner.  I guess I have to talk about it.
Yeah.  The last double century I keep talking about.  Blah blah blah.  Everyone telling me I was going to kill it.  Hold up a sec.
For the record, as it got closer, I was getting worried.  You may remember me mentioning that a couple weeks ago.  I wasn’t feeling like I had the endurance I should have when doing recent long rides.
Anyhow.  Here it is.
We rolled out of Bishop, CA right at 5:15 am and traveled down Hwy 395 for about 15 miles to Big Pine.  As we turned East, there was just a hint of gray in the sky above the mass of rock that we were about to climb.  The climb had only a few short steep spots and averaged out around 8% overall.  I made sure I drank water from the beginning, even if I wasn’t thirsty, and by the time we reached Westgard Pass (at more than 7200′ elevation) I had two empty bottles.

Not having pushed too hard up the climb, I was feeling great and I have to say, the descent from Westgard down into the Deep Springs Valley is probably the most fun descent I’ve ever ridden.  High banked curves with some dips and short rises thrown in to make it interesting.  It is FAST!!
At the bottom was one of those desert roads you see in movies and pictures all the time.  Straight and looking like it goes forever.  Having ridden many of them now, I can tell you, it feels like they go forever as well.

Cruising along the valley floor, I still felt good.  It was a consistant 2% climb which was just enough to slow me to 14 mph or so in order to not wear myself out too early.  As I hit the other end of the valley and finished the couple mile climb out, I had passed a good 10 other riders without working too hard.  Yay!

In the above photo, you can see the valley and in the distance the mountain we rode over.  It is pretty spectacular out there, but it sure does get boring looking at the same point at the end of the road for a half hour or more sometimes.  At least it wasn’t like the road by Joshua Tree NP that I went straight on for an hour and a half.
It was about 8:30 am when the sun came out from behind some morning clouds and it started to heat up quick.  At the mile 63 water stop my Garmin was reading 90 degrees.  Still, I was drinking lots of water, eating right and feeling ok.
After a quick 20 mile out and back which took us briefly into Nevada and back, we hit another long straight stretch that brought us to the lunch stop at mile 89.  This year was really my first time being in the desert a lot and I’m still amazed at how you can be surrounded by nothing but rock, sand, and short, frickin’, non-shade providing brush, and then suddenly you see green grass and trees.  And people!  Literally, in the middle of nowhere!

The town that lunch was in was named Dyer.  I found it to be aptly named as I quickly went from feeling decent to feeling like I was in dire need of assistance.  I left the lunch stop by myself (I’d ridden by myself since the first climb broke up the group) and 10 miles later, I was laying down in the shade of a tree.  Yes.  A tree!  It might sound pleasant.  100 degrees, kicked back under a tree, enjoying the breeze.  No.  I was lying directly on the sand and trying not to throw up.  Once again, heat exhaustion was kicking my butt.
As the nausea subsided, I got back on the bike.  I had the same experience at the Joshua Tree Double and somehow made it through.  I could do this!
After drinking water and eating well all morning, I now found that even the thought of drinking or eating made me want to hurl so I turned to pouring water on my head to help cool me down.  After a while though, the water in my bottles was so hot, it felt worse than just dealing with the heat from the sun.
With the next rest stop in sight (like 3 miles away in sight), I tried to push on.  Over those next 3 miles, I had to stop and lay down (without the benefit of ANY shade now and right on the desert sand) about 5 times.  I was literally a quarter mile from the rest stop the last time I had to get off the bike.  I couldn’t even push through that last bit.  Eventually I made it and it was there that I threw in the towel. 
It was 102 degrees and I had ridden 123 miles.  I gave up.  In my defense, I wasn’t the only one.  The sag drivers were having trouble transporting all the riders that were giving in to the heat.
While I didn’t fully reach my goal of finishing 3 doubles this year, I can truly say I gave it my all.  It just wasn’t good enough in those conditions I guess.
I don’t know what else to say.  I hate the fact that I quit, but I really didn’t want to wait for an ambulance to drive 50 miles out to BFE to pick me up in worse condition because I was too proud to quit.  I’ve learned a lot from my experiences this year and wouldn’t change a thing.  Well, maybe I would change the fact that I didn’t finish, but that’s it.

I guess I’ll have to console myself with the knowledge that the last stage of the Oregon Triple Crown is in a couple weeks.  Oh, and also in the knowledge that all 3 of my teaser picks were right on opening day of the NFL season and I won a little cash in Reno on my way home!! Yeeeehaw!

AND, you know what?  The year ain’t over baby!  I’m not saying I’ll try another double, but I just might.  I mean come on!  Long Beach in December sound kinda awesome right now.

Aaron

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