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Planet Ultra’s Eastern Sierra Double Century

We use the analogy, sometimes you’re the hammer and other times the nail. Today I was the plywood getting smashed with a hammer and a nail driven into each leg. More details later after I can think.

Oof, to say this ride was tough would be an understatement.

On Friday night, while the gang and I were out enjoying dinner, the conversation turned to start times. Planet Ultra had given three: 5:00, 6:00, and 6:30. The 6:30 time was really there for the fastest and those most likely aiming for the Stage Race podium or to finish in under 12 hours. In our group that was pretty much only Caleb. Our group was evenly split between those who felt the need to start at 5:00 and at 6:00. I was on the fence between the two. After doing mental gymnastics about the decision I settled on the 5:00 start time. This would mean Ferdie, Jennifer, Arthur, Navin, Ren, and I would leave at 5:00. Dave, Kant, Joy, and Josh would leave at 6:00. I’m fairly certain I could keep up with the 6:00 riders during the flats, but the course has a serious climb which starts at mile 35 and lasts for nearly 10 miles. There is simply no way I would be able to keep up with those who are at least 25 pounds lighter than I am. So 5:00 was the safer bet. Then once they caught me, hopefully after the climbing, I’d just roll on with them.

Saturday morning started like any other DC. I woke up early and dug into my overnight oats and Starbucks coffee. Once that was all down I set about getting ready to go.

I made my way to the lobby and found the rest of our gang all mulling about talking. The night before we’d decided that everyone would get up early to see the early riders off. It was nice to have everyone there for a huge group picture. Soon enough we all made our way outside to the start.

The gathered crowd of riders was quite impressive. It seemed that the majority of riders felt they needed to start at 5:00 as well. I grabbed Ferdie and Jennifer and we worked our way to the rear of the pack. I told them I wasn’t in any hurry to get out there and would rather start from the back and work our way forward. Unfortunately, I failed to get that message to Arthur, Navin, and Ren. When they came out the hotel doors they didn’t see the three of us in the ocean of riders and setup right near the front. A short time later and we were off and rolling.

Right out of the gate and out of the parking lot I needed to stop. I told Jennifer and Ferdie to continue on and that I would catch up. I had forgotten to post the link to my LiveTrack to the Adobo Velo Facebook page for everyone to follow along. After sharing the LiveTrack I struggled with my little “wallet” because, I would find out later, a couple teeth in the zipper were broken. I eventually got my phone and wallet stored and started riding again.

I checked the route on my Garmin and saw what I thought was an error. For the turn-by-turn directions it was saying “Turn right on Warm Springs”. My immediate thought was that this was some weird navigation glitch that I’ve experienced in the past. Last year when I was doing a lot of Wandrering I would map my routes to and from work in order to ride on new roads. During that time my computer would randomly say to make a turn on a random street, very similar to what it was doing now. So I did what I normally did when that happened, I stopped the course and restarted it. After it did the calculation again, the computer once more said “Turn right on Warm Springs”. Now even more frustrated I came to another complete stop and this time I did a full reboot on my Garmin. Once it came back up, I pulled up the map and once again it said “Turn right on Warm Springs”. At this point I just resigned myself to going without turn-by-turn for the remainder of the ride and set off to catch up to the gang.

At this point I could barely make out blinking red tail lights off in the distance. I started putting down some power in order to get caught up. I kinda felt responsible for taking care of everyone from this first group. So I put in a relatively decent effort to catch back up to everyone. Soon enough I passed up Navin and came up alongside Ferdie and Jennifer. As I came around them they both jumped onto my wheel and we started motoring off in search of Arthur. Thankfully it didn’t take long before we spotted him in the middle of a larger group. We rode past and I’d hoped he would jump onto Ferdie’s wheel, but he never did.

During this time the road had southward and we were approaching a T-intersection. At this point my computer chimes in that I’m making a right turn onto Warm Springs. I look down at my computer and the map and be damned the road we’re about to turn onto is named Warm Springs. The entire fiasco earlier in the ride with the navigation wasn’t the odd bug I’ve experienced in the past. My Garmin had been correct and reporting the proper routing the entire time. I felt like such an idiot. Regardless Ferdie, Jennifer and I hung together as the route took us west back toward US-395.

As we approached US-395, I mentioned to Ferdie and Jennifer that we should stop and wait for Arthur, Navin, and Ren to catch up. The two agreed and just after making the left we pulled off to the shoulder to wait. Unfortunately, there was some confusion as Jennifer continued on, but I figured we’d just catch her up later. I was surprised how long we waited for Arthur and Ren to catch. We never did see Navin before we ultimately decided to continue on without him.

As Ferdie and I started riding off we caught up to Arthur and Ren pretty quickly. As we went by neither of them seemed to be interested in jumping onto our wheels so the two of us continued on in search of Jennifer. It wasn’t long before we caught her after a couple turns.

The three of us would stick together through the first rest stop and on to the base of the first big climb at approximately mile 35. Before getting there however the three of us just rolled past so many people. We would get on these quiet country roads and head-to-tail we’d just pass up these huge groups. Occasionally, we’d have a few decided to jump onto Ferdie’s wheel to ride along for a stint. Once we got to mile 35 we started climbing.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I was climbing well enough that I started leaving Ferdie and Jennifer behind. I was so focused on my riding and pacing that I kinda forgot about them or thought they were surely right behind me. This first climb was a total of 17 miles and nearly 3,000 feet of elevation. That was broken up with a few quick descents that would pick right back up and take you even higher on the other side. This would take us into the second rest stop.

Once at the second rest stop I was relieved to find Tony already there and I set about refilling my bottles with fuel mix and ate a couple minor things. Thinking back now I can’t really recall how I was feeling at this point. I will say I was pleasantly surprised when Jennifer and Ferdie rolled in, and even more surprised when Dave, Joy, Kant, and Josh came in a few minutes later. Seeing the fast four come in I gathered up Ferdie and Jennifer and the three of us got moving again.

Shortly after the second rest stop, and before our return to US-395, I spotted a little girl in the back of a pickup holding a sign reading “Shut up legs”. I thought it was absolutely hilarious, but I was kinda confused as we were going downhill at this point. It would have made more sense for a cyclist traveling in the opposite direction. As we continued north I started seeing riders coming from the opposite direction. Some were in full kit while others were sporting tutus. I looked it up later and found it was a ride named Pamper Pedal 2024 and is described as “a recreational organized bike ride from Mammoth Lakes to Bishop to celebrate female cyclists. The event is all about FUN and participants are encouraged to dress up and celebrate their love for bike riding with other females. Riders of all abilities and ages are welcome.” Super cool stuff. Watching all the riders stream by gave me plenty of opportunities to give a ring of my bell.

After making the left turn onto US-395 the route started climbing again. Once more I found myself riding pretty much alone as I lost Ferdie and Jennifer. Turning off 395 I took a look over my shoulder and saw a handful of riders behind me, but they weren’t close enough to identify. A short time later I rounded a corner and started approaching another 395 interchange and I started hearing familiar voices. I looked back to see it was Dave, Joy, Kant, and Josh coming up behind me. As they went by I seized the opportunity to follow a friendly wheel. I was doing a decent job of hanging with them, but the climb and pace grew to be too much and I had to fall back.

Finally making it through Mammoth Lakes and to the top of the Mammoth Scenic Loop I was greeted with an insanely quick descent that didn’t last nearly long enough. Returning to 395 I looked ahead and spotted a rider in familiar Las Vegas Adobo Velo kit. At first I thought it was Jennifer and that she’d failed to make the turn to go into Mammoth Lakes. As I closed, I recognized that it was Joy and she was about to blast right past a rest stop. I called out to her and she had to make a slight backtrack in order to join me.

As Joy and I pulled into the rest stop, Dave and Kant were getting ready to roll out. I learned that Josh had continued on and skipped it altogether. I watched the two of them roll out and started getting my stuff taken care of for the next leg of the trip. I will say that at this point I was starting to feel a little woosy and tired. Despite that I felt good enough to certainly continue on. I refilled my bottles, grabbed a small bite to eat, and Joy and I rolled out.

Not too long after leaving I was greeted with yet another climb. Once again I wasn’t able to keep up with Joy and watched as she would stretch out in front of me. Then she was nice enough to either slow roll or I would catch up to her on the descent. As we made the turn onto June Lakes Loop Road I was definitely starting to feel worse. I really didn’t have much in the way of legs, but I wasn’t soft pedaling quite yet. The loop itself was absolutely gorgeous. At the western most end of the loop we were greeted with the view of three different waterfalls. Continuing around I pulled over, and made Joy do so as well, and stopped near Silver Lake for a photo op. The area was simply amazing. I vaguely remember traveling through this area years back during a photography excursion. I don’t remember it being so nice, but I think it was overcast on that day. After our quick photo break we continued on the loop and then we started flying with a nice tailwind pushing us back towards 395. That wind would continue to propel us all the way into Lee Vining and our lunch break.

I was thrilled to roll into Lee Vining and welcomed the longer lunch break. By this time I was certainly starting to feel worse for wear. Joy and I rolled in just as Dave and Kant were rolling out. We exchanged a few words and they were off to the races while Joy and I settled in for lunch. Despite the spread, I had a difficult time eating anything. I just simply didn’t feel up to it. I did manage to get down Pringles, a Coke, and some water. Mostly I was just happy to have some time off the bike.

Leaving Lee Vining I checked the computer to see where Caleb was at. I’d been keeping tabs on him on and off throughout the ride waiting for him to fly past me. Knowing that I was doubling back on the route I thought I might as well check in hopes of passing him by. I watched as my Garmin reported him getting closer and closer. I came to a crossover in the highway and pulled into it waiting on the next rider who I thought was Caleb. I was disappointed when it wasn’t him and then realizing I must have just missed him. I crossed back over into the southbound lanes and joined back up with a waiting Joy to continue on.

Riding to the Benton turn off I was feeling a little more lively than I had rolling into lunch. I think this was largely powered by it being downhill and only a cross wind. After making the turn, Joy and I continued flying towards Mono Lake. We rounded a sweeping curve and I saw that the road started pitching up. Try as I might I watched Joy slowly but surely started to leave me behind. I resigned myself to the fact that I was going to have to ride this section solo, and perhaps finish solo as well. To make matters worse the temperatures had started to climb. I did my best to hold back the heat by dumping some of my water on my back, chest, and arms to cool off some. I knew there was another rest stop not too far ahead and I would refill there.

I started counting down the miles to the next rest stop and was crushed when my computer said that I was there but it was nowhere to be seen. Honestly, I started to get nervous. Both of my bottles were nearly empty and I knew I didn’t have enough of anything to make it back to Benton or Lee Vining. I can’t recall if it was before or after this point that Caleb went by. We chatted for a bit while he continued on. Thankfully it wasn’t much long afterwards that I spotted a few vehicles pulled to the side of the road and with some bikes. I guess the organizers had to move the rest stop at the last moment. I pulled off the road and found both Caleb and Joy hanging out getting refueled. I pulled up in a camp chair thrilled to once again be off my feet. I tried to relax as best I could while proclaiming to Joy I only wanted 10 minutes before we’d roll again.

My 10 minutes came and went and Joy and I started off. While I was certainly rejuvenated I certainly wasn’t feeling great. Thankfully this next segment started with a lovely downhill section. Joy and I were cruising along when we picked up another rider. The three of us cruised along with the two ladies chatting it up while I pulled them along. As we continued, the sweeping downhill we had started with gave way to a long stretch of rollers. I met each descent with glee to only be punished without mercy on the climb up the other side. The final kick to the teeth was a brief climb of less than a mile before the massive descent into Benton. Again Joy, and this other female rider, left me behind and when I crested the hill they were well out of sight. I just put my head down and enjoyed the descent, as much as I could, before catching the ladies before pulling into the final rest stop in Benton.

When we arrived at the park, we found Caleb there hanging out enjoying a nice break. I again told Joy to give me 10 minutes for rest and then we would roll out. I did my best to eat something and drank a Sprite. Despite that I was truly feeling awful while doing my best to hide it. Everyone there just gushed about how it was all downhill with a tailwind from here and I was very much looking forward to an easy downhill finish. Sooner than I like my 10 minutes were up and we mounted up and pressed on for home.

Starting on the final leg back to Bishop, it was indeed downhill; however, the winds had certainly changed and were more of a crosswind than tailwind. I certainly wasn’t one to complain, being happier with a crosswind versus a headwind for sure. Once again immediately after the rest stop I could feel some strength returning to my legs and I led out Joy for much of the segment. At one point my power started to fade, most likely on an ascent of a roller, and most, if not all, of my legs evaporated. I’m fairly confident this happened before Chalfant Valley. Joy came around and bless her heart for doing her best to tow me in. Unfortunately, there is absolutely nothing to the woman and she was unable to offer up much of a tow. She also did her best to try to get my spirits up and encourage me to finish, but I was having nothing of it. I felt absolutely terrible at this point and, if I’m being honest, was treating her like crap.

About 2-3 miles from the finish the road bent to the west turning our crosswind into a headwind. I watched in horror as my speed dropped from a previously steady 20 MPH to an abysmal 10 MPH. It was right about this time that my computer lit up with a text message from my wife which read, “GO BABY GO!!!!!”

Now up to this point I had been texting when I could with the little darling and she knew what state I was in. I’d told her my legs felt like trash at lunch. She hit me up one more time at the final stop and I admitted I was feeling awful. So that last text message came in at the best possible time. I sent a quick reply of “Yes” from the computer and started crying. Nothing like family to come through for you when you need it most and right then I certainly needed it.

After quite possibly the worst mile of riding in my life, the road turned back south relieving me of the headwind. I came to an intersection with a red light. I knew there was a high probability that if I stopped I would cramp up and I wouldn’t be able to get going again. Thankfully it was clear in both directions and I was able to safely roll through.

Less than a mile later I rolled through the finishing gate at the hotel to record my time. Knowing I was done I couldn’t wait to get off the bike. I put my left leg down, like I always do, locked the knee to swing my right leg over the bike and my quad cramped up. It is quite possibly the worst cramp I’ve ever experienced in my life. My left leg was completely locked straight and I felt absolutely helpless. For the life of me I could not get my leg to flex all while I was still standing over the bike. I flexed, squeezed, and punched my quad until it finally relaxed and I was able to flex the leg. I kept the leg bent while I finally got the other leg over the bike and went inside.

Right as this scene was unfolding Joy saw what was going on and asked if she could help. I told her I just wanted to sit down and relax in the cool hotel lobby. As I sat down I tore off my helmet and rested my head on my saddle there in the lobby. Almost immediately I started feeling nauseous and knew that it probably wasn’t safe to stay inside. I stood up and walked Shadow and I back outside. Thankfully there was a nice brick planter in the drive that was the perfect height to sit on while resting my weary head on Shadow’s saddle.

And there I sat for probably close to an hour. During that time Joy had relayed to the guys that I wasn’t doing well and couldn’t walk. While not technically accurate, I certainly wasn’t in the mood to risk trying and having my leg lock up again. Dave, Kant, Josh, and Caleb would all eventually come hang out with me while I sat there miserable. After about 15-20 minutes I finally did throw up as I had earlier feared I would. It wasn’t a pretty scene to say the least. Despite that I almost immediately started to feel better. The joke became that I truly left it all out there on this day.

Thankfully I started feeling well enough to get back up on my feet. Papa Bear Dave was super worried about me getting up. This was compounded when I mentioned that I sometimes get light headed when I stand up after big rides but that I’ve never actually passed out after one. So with everyone around to make sure I stayed upright I stood up and made my way to the room. One of the boys grabbed Shadow while I walked kinda bow legged. I absolutely refused to take any chance of another quad cramp while my knee was locked. Needless to say, it must have looked very odd, even eliciting a comment from one of the organizers, “Is he okay?”

It didn’t take long for me to find a nice hot shower. I really didn’t want to lounge around too much in fear of even more cramps. Afterwards, I even got dressed and was able to join the ranks of the living for a nice evening on the hotel patio. I never did get a full dinner for fear of seeing it again later that night, but I did have a few light snacks while hanging out with the crew.

Absolute crusher of a ride. I’m not certain exactly what caused me to have the GI distress I did. It could have been going out too hard at the very start trying to catch back up to Ferdie and Jennifer. Maybe I over exerted myself on that first big climb. Perhaps I ate too much for breakfast while adding more on top of it too early into the ride. Then again it could be the heat again. Honestly I’m not entirely sure and that makes it even more concerning. Right now I’m completely lost on what I need to do in order to be more successful at a double century.

New bike fund: $61.13 (+$0.00)
🎷🐛 184.63 new miles — From
395 vehicles @ 2.1 per mile, 0.6 per minute, Speeds: 46.9 mph (avg), 94.2 mph (max) — by
Clear-Sunny, 64°F-89°F, Feels like 63°F-89°F, Humidity 27%-11%, Wind WNW 5mph-NW 8mph — by Report —
Weather Impact: -8.9%
Headwind: 51% @ 2.6-24.1mph
Longest Headwind: 03h 28m 48s
Air Speed: 15.7mph
Temp: 49.4-85.9°F
Precip: 0% @ 0 Inch/hr
— END —