Lone Pine Double Century

April 28th, 2001

By Peter Pop

Brutal, windy and beautiful are the adjectives which come to mind, reliving the newest California Double Century. Initially riders were to leave Hugh Murphyís new headquarters at Post Ave. Lone Pine towards Olancha, take Hwy 190 to Death Valley, climb Gunsight Pass, go over Darwin Point and pass Father Crowley Look out. Descend to Panamint Valley Rd. and turn left on Wildrose to start the climb to Emigrant Pass. Do not and I repeat do not turn right towards the worst pavement job in Cal Trans history (I have seen worse, but not in any civilized country). Descend to the guard station in Death Valley and climb out of Death Valley to Townes Pass. Then  climb back over into Owens valley. An epic ride!! Unfortunately parts of Wildrose Rd were washed out. Hugh changed the route towards the Summit of Trona Wildrose Rd (ouch!) After battling fierce headwinds on Panamint Valley Rd, we even had worse winds making the right towards Trona. To add insult to injury we had to do that atrocious, teeth chattering, hand numbing piece of screwed up road TWICE!!! The winds in the turns on the climb were unbelievable, on one of the turns my left foot had tailwind, my right one headwind. Amazing!

To get enough miles, Hugh send us through the Alabama foothills, 1000ft climb in about 4 miles. A few short wicked climbs and dips. The road is very narrow, making it look even steeper. This section is quite beautiful with spectacular rock formations framing snow peaked mountains in the distance. I can recommend riding this to anyone, especially as the most scenic approach to the climb to Horse Shoe Meadows, the giant switchbacks easily seen from Hwy 395. With its spectacular views, not too steep a grade and good pavement, this climb is a must for any serious cyclist. I rate this climb second to Whitney Portal only because of lack of water at the summit.

After having climbed Horse Shoe Meadows, as far as the road was passable as well as the steep part of Whitney the day before and bonking on the way back up from registering for the ride, my legs felt like lead. Itís amazing how much time one can spend with taking off the various cold weather garments, stuffing them in the back pack, lathering up with sun lotion etc. After the Death Valley debacle I was going to be prepared for any weather conditions. In the back  of the pack ,but in front of the Twin Team (Barbara and Angelica, twins in their fifties originally from Austria and fierce competitors in Ultra Events such as the Badwater Ultra Marathon), onwards to Olancha. Nice climb to Gunsight Pass, a  neat manmade chasm through lava rock. Head winds towards the 5100 feet mark near the Darwin Turnoff. Great descent past Father Crowley Point, lots of " Kodak" moments. Anxiously looking toward Panamint Valley for dust storms crossing the road to Townes Pass, as we experienced last week during the 508 Camp with Chris Kostman. Praise the Lord, I donít see any. Never the less we turn into very strong head winds. This is going to be another long day, I am going to need lots of the Chamois Butt'r. While on the bad pavement I suck the wheel of a tandem. What the hell!! We are passed from the opposite way by two tandems (Mike Moseley and Bob Smith, both riders from Bakersfield) and by  two bikes drafting (Tim Coleman). Unbelievable, they must be nearly two hours ahead of us, after only 110 miles! After a few minutes they are followed by Paul Biron, fellow 508 camp graduate. Well, I will just keep plodding on into that darn headwind. I love Panamint Valley, but only going the other way mind you. I dropped the tandem and finally pass some riders on the climb. Except for last weeks climb of Townes Pass this is the most head wind I experienced on a climb as far as I can remember. Finally the summit. Getting off the bike, I nearly get blown over. The wind is just roaring through that Pass. I am really having lots of fun.  Ludomir Christov, a strong rider, somewhat over heated, takes a breather. Canít wait. Back on the bike and DOWN. After quite a few miles, I see the tandem walking up; this is truly a brutal affair. Get stopped by someone, red as a beat, begging for water and there goes a bottle of precious ice water, oh well doing 32 miles an hour with this tailwind I can afford it. At Panamint Restaurant I cave in to my craving for Orange Juice poured over buckets of ice. Load up on more water and on we go. Did I mention it is now HOT? Especially with the long awaited tailwind it is HOTTER than Danteís Inferno. Sweat is pouring, eyes are burning and there go the shades. Some guy is standing dazed along the road. " Need anything?" I donít know. Water?" There goes the rest of my water. I know The Look Out point (rest stop) will be close. At the rest stop there is the usual gathering of "fagged out" cyclists. Unfortunately I left my lights there and have to add another pound to the bike. Thomas Miller joins me for the rest of the climb. I am able to drop him on the climb but he zips by me on the descent towards Lone Pine. The view from Gunsight Pass towards Hwy 136 is beautiful. Racing downhill doing consistently 30+ miles/hr, I can't wait to get back before dark and before the winds turn. Another view of the switchbacks of Horse Shoe Meadow road in the distance. Dust storms over Lake Owens. Snow capped mountains in the distant haze. Back on the 395 and sudden headwinds, oh well only two more miles. Sign in at the Pizza store 19:52. First riders in were   the two tandems and  a few solo's at 17:10. Dan Crain/Annie Beck tandem at 18:34. Paul Biron 19:06. No other riders behind me to at least 20:30.

Thanks Hugh for another tough Double Century. This time we had ice, cold drinks, Hammergel, Sustained Energy and Ecaps, etc. at all the rest stops. One thought for the next edition: go to Stove Pipe Wells instead. There is more climbing, but the climbs are great and we avoid those nasty, joy killing headwinds. My bike and various parts of my anatomy will be appreciative as well for not having to endure the nasty pavement TWICE!

By Dan Crain

Lone Pine was amazingly wonderful. Get this ... Hugh figured that he'd better not do the over Emigrant pass to DV and return over Towne (washed out roads, he said, but I believe there's been a gravel stretch for at least a couple miles at least since '96, when I was up there going to my first DV DC). So he made a "lowland route", that went to the pass between Trona and Panamint Valley. Well it was spectacular, but hardly a lowland route. By our Cateye, it had 11,930' of climbing. It had a mean headwind going south out of Panamint Valley, but after the turn-around, we had  tailwinds of about 25 mph so we cruised back to 190 (the road up Towne pass, but where we turned left to go back over Gunsight Pass, a climb of about 4000') at about 33 mph with heart rate in the 120's.

We did the second half with John T Clare, who's an amazing athlete. We learned from him that he didn't do any athletic stuff until 55, when he started running. He took 5 golds at the Long Beach Senior  Olympics. At his running peak, he had a resting heart rate of 39!!! When he developed some sort of running problem, his son suggested a double century. John, the younger, said it was just like doing several 25 mile bike rides, each from rest stop to rest stop. And that was only a bit over a year ago, I believe  He says his resting heart rate has speeded up now, and it's in the low 40's!! Well, he encouraged us at the end, and we rode together, and finished in a bit under 13 hours (he said he was superstitious, and didn't want to end up with a 13 hour ride). The tail wind helped us much, though we had to pay for it with the headwind going south through Panamint Valley. The turn-around point was the summit north of Trona, before you drop into Panamint Valley. The wind was blowing through that notch at 35-40 or so. The ride was spectacular. We started at 5:45 with a 10 mile loop through the Alabama Hills, west of Lone Pine. Everyone was very stoked after that first loop and as we came back through Lone Pine, Hugh cheered everyone on. I'm sure they all had grins on their faces as big as the grins on our faces as we rode past him and he cheered us on. We were very pleased with our time and the ride. We did have a broken spoke that took about 30 minutes at the lunch stop. Then this morning, Sunday, we rode up to Onion Valley from Independence. It was 5000+ climb that took us 3 hours, with the fatigue from the Saturday ride. We ran out of water, but got some at the top where a ski-tourer was waiting for the rest of her party. The ride down took about 20 minutes, and we averaged over 40 mph for the descent, getting as high as 52.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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