Monday, March 12, 2012

Hammer into shape at the Death Valley Double!

If you have any desire in riding 100 or 200 miles and you just don't want to wait until the summer time, sign up for one of AdventureCORPS many organized rides in Death Valley. AdventureCORPS (Chris Kostman and all the volunteers) did a great job in supporting the ride at various locations throughout the 200 mile ride. AdventureCORPS are the organizers for the
Furnace Creek 508 bike race and Badwater 135 mile Ultramarathon. I plan to apply for Furnace Creek 508 and thought riding the Death Valley Double Century would be a great time to see the Valley of Death during a more pleasant time of year. Because, if I am lucky and get into the 508, the time you pass through Death Valley is in the middle of the night where you can't see all the amazing views as you can in the Double Century!

AdventureCORPS also do a great job in supporting everyone at the aid stations with plenty of food, water and Hammer products. They provide more Hammer products than most races do and so it's a great opportunity to try out Hammer's
Perpetuem, Heed and Endurolytes. Thanks to Hammer for all their wonderful products! Hammer is also my sponsor and give me the essential fueling I need to successfully finish my races or events. If you are interested and are a first time purchaser of Hammer, click on the website and save 15%:

The Death Valley Double Century was an excellent training ride for me and several Olympia riding friends. Josh Morse and I both rode the Double Century. Where Sean Sexton, Brent Warner and Jim Szumila rode the 105 mile distance. Both rides started at the same location in Furnace Creek Ranch with different starting waves, based on your predicted speed. I started with Josh in the 3rd wave at 6:30am. We were fully equipped as though it was another randonnuering brevet. We were asked many times by other riders, why the fenders or handlebar bag? But why not get some early training on mountain passes with the bike and gear that I'll be riding with in this years Rocky Mountain 1200k in British Columbia later in July.

Both 100 mile and 200 mile rides start south from Furnace Creek and passes by Badwater, the lowest point in North America (-282 feet elevation) and rises over many alluvial fans and the eastern mountain range of Death Valley.

The 100 mile turnaround is at Jubilee Pass (elevation 1293 feet above sea level). The 200 mile continues up over Salsberry Pass (elevation 3315 ft above sea level), then descends to the town of Shoshone, where it then turns around at about mile 74.

The descent into Shohone was a little windy on flatter stretches, but was not as bad as in previous years for this event. We heard from other riders that last year there was major headwinds for most of the ride and only 10 finished the Double Century. So we were very lucky this year.

Shoeshone is where it felt the hottest all day and was where I stopped the longest, refueling before climbing back up over Salsberry Pass. The climb back up over Salsberry Pass was not as bad, since there was a good tailwind. The descent down the west side of Salberry was also rewarding, with the bonus 15% grade climb up the east side of Jubilee. Once you come back into Death Valley, it was in the mid 80's and there was then a nice tailwind (with some cross
winds) most of the way back up to Furnace Creek. Once we got to Badwater the 2nd time (at about 133 miles) there were Subway sandwiches and cold sodas waiting for us.

I pushed on without waiting around for anyone else since it appeared most of the people I was riding with were stopping at the 150 mile (at Furnace Creek). So I knew it would be best to get onward and focus on getting to Stovepipe Wells. Since I just had eaten at Badwater, I didn't have to stop long when passing
through Furnace Creek. After leaving Furnace Creek, towards Stovepipe Wells, it was dark and so lights were required. This was another reason for taking my rando bike so I had a good light powered with my generator hub. Riding in Death Valley at night was amazing, seeing more stars than you ever get to see in March in the Pacific NW. There are only a few alluvial fans to climb over on the way to Stovepipe Wells. Once I turned around at Stovepipe Wells, I was glad I had a couple people to ride the final 25 miles back to Furnace Creek to the finish.

I finished at about 21:20, with a time of 14:50 (20 minutes after my official start wave - giving me an actual time of 15:11). Josh also rode great finishing about 30 minutes ahead of me. It was great to ride with Josh in the early parts of the ride. My friend Sean, Brent and Jim all rode a great ride in the 105 mile. Jim rode a great time for his first Century ride in 20 years. And Brent and Sean also rode strong under the finish cutoff time.
Here are results and more stories about the 2012 Death Valley 100, 150 and 200 miles:

Jim and I had drove down over snowy passes to get to this ride. Sean and Brent also joined us along the way. But on the way home Jim and I took our time and had a good time traveling through the north end of Death Valley, viewing Ubehebe Crater and taking the tour of Scotty's Castle.

Great to explore Death Valley for an incredible well organized bike ride! I'm looking forward to returning to Death Valley in July to crew Heidi at Badwater!

Thanks AdventureCORP, Hammer and all the volunteers for all the support in making this a fun and successful event!

John Pearch