4:00 AM Saturday morning and I am up and ready to have a quick bowl of cereal and then off to the start of the Mulholland Double Century that will leave from the town of Agoura Hills and "officially" (or at least according to the Planet Ultra cue sheet) cover 209 miles and 16,500+ feet of climbing. I arrived at the start at about 4:40 AM and met up with some friends (Mick, Becky, and Mark) and awaited the 5:00 AM roll call and mass start. The start was a long descent down Lost Hills Road and then we went right and had a few short climbs. Feeling strong on the climbs and moving toward the front of the pack I was feeling good but I would find out later that a combination of never having ridden the course coupled by less than perfect course markings and some poor instructions would cost me dearly in the end. As we headed toward the first check point (mile 43) I noticed that I was going to arrive almost 30 to 40 mins prior to them being open so I slowed the pace down a bit. But after rolling in about 15 mins before they were supposed to open, we found out that the stop was optional. After 5-10 mins I rolled with Mick who had caught up with me a couple of miles back and we were off. Having been fooled by the "required" first check point I blew off Check Point 2 and continued the climb and then a "VERY ROUGH" descent (and I mean rough) and another climb and then a descent down to the Pacific Coast Highway. Arriving at the "mini" Check Point (mile 69.5), the staff tells me that there are only 8 people (the front of the pack) that have just come through. As I am getting ready to leave, Mick and Becky roll up so we decide to roll together up the coast. After climbing Portrero (which was a tough climb) there was a nice descent and after I started climbing again I got the feeling that something was wrong and there was, as I was roughly 2 miles off course. After a quick review of the cue sheet (and checking Google Maps on my iPhone), I could see that I missed a right turn on "Reino Rd". Not knowing exactly how far I was off, I caught up with another cyclist and asked if he was on the ride (or assuming he was a local could give me directions). After he shared the story of the 50 mile ride he just completed (which was honestly a lot more than I needed or wanted to hear), he told me I was now only one block away (plus the two I had chased him up into another neighborhood).
Now fairly frustrated after losing so much time I am back on track and heading for the next climb which is Lake Sherwood and after a few more rollers I am heading for the lunch stop which should be mile 93.8 but I am reading 97 miles thanks to my little detour. After a quick 15 min lunch I am off and roll with one of the local racers. After a few more modest climbs and a nice descent I roll into Check Point 4 for a quick refuel before heading off to the first of the nastier climbs which is Balcom Canyon. Listed on the cue sheet as "short but steep" this one had to be a steady climb at 18+ percent. After a fairly long descent and then some more slowing to review the cue sheet it was back down the Pacific Coast Highway to what would be in my opinion the second ugliest climb of the course, Decker Canyon. This one was a monster but it was really only the first mile or so that was bad of the 3.6 mile climb. After another quick refuel at the top at Check Point 5 (mile 166.6 or mile 170 for me), it was about 6:35 PM) and I thought I still had a shot at breaking the 16 hr marker.
I climbed at a pretty decent pace out of the canyon that we dropped into from Check Point 5 and then we had one of the nicest and fastest descents into Check Point 6 (mile 175.7 - I saw a photographer there shooting us as we came down and hope to see those photos - great location). With just under two hours left to make the 16 hr mark I headed for the final three climbs but after stopping again to confirm directions, I knew I'd have to slow down on the descents as it got dark.
As I caught up with another rider we tried to find the Piuma which would be the second to the last climb and while it was probably only 6 to 8 percent, it was still going to take 40 to 50 minutes climbing that and then we had and 2 mile climb to the last mini check point that was listed as a sticker stop but they actually just took your name. After descending the climb on Piuma I almost missed the left turn for the last climb (again not marked) but by this time it was clear that I was not going to break 16 hrs.
After making the final climb up Schueren (a pretty easy 4 to 6% grade) I was at the last check point (a bit above 2,000 feet) and it was COLD! Fortunately they had some extra jackets so I borrowed one and made the last 4 mile descent down to Mulholland and then roughly another 7 miles of rollers.
Checking the stats on the Garmin it showed that I logged 211.68 miles, 17,568 feet of climbing and that my riding time was 15:51. When I hit Decker Canyon (at mile 167) I had an AVG speed over the ride of just under 15 mph but navigational issues over that last 43 miles took it down to 13.3. The ride is listed as 209 miles and 16,500+ feet of climbing but there's no extra credit for the extra miles or elevation. My official recorded time for the CTC Stage Race Series will go down as 17:11.
Lessons learned; bring a clip to attach the cue sheet to the bars, "don't" assume that the course will be well marked, and check beforehand to see "if" you really have to stop at all check points. While it was a tough first event, I look forward to the Devil Mountain Double in two weeks as it is local and also the roads we train on.
I am riding this season to raise money for Primary Immunodeficiency. As the parent of a child that afflicted with this disease it is something that is very personal to me. The Jeffrey Modell Foundation has agreed to match donations that are raised through the onetoughride project and these will be directed to the Jeffrey Modell Diagnostic and Research Center at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford. Please donate by using the "Donate Now" button at the top right hand side of this page and thank you in advance for your support.
PS: My full stats on this ride can be viewed using the following link Mulholland Double