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the Central Coast Double Century


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I had heard the Central Coast double century was hard, but beautiful.  In the two weeks leading up to it I saw posts from really strong CA doubles riders who commented on how difficult it was.  The website had the lowland route at 194 miles and 12,000+ feet of climbing, making it the most climbing in a double I have ever ridden.  When we got to Paso Robles to the registration I found the lowland route was 197 miles and the climbing was bumped up to over 13,000 ft. There were about 124 riders registered.

 I lucked out a few days before to be able to carpool with my long distance mentor (he will be 76 this year and has 78 doubles…. And he started riding them at age 65).  He has a Toyota Highlander, and his wife rode along too.  We had to take the wheels off my bike but got everything in.

 We left Motel 6 at 5:10 to ride the 1.6 miles to the start, and met another friend (he is 74, making me the youngest in our small group).  There was a mass start at 5:40, which was sunrise, so we didn’t have to use lights on the ride itself.  I turned my Garmin on when we left the hotel, then started the ridewithgps route from the park, or attempted to.  I accidently shut off the computer then had to start it again.  In doing this I forgot to restart it, which may have cost me a mile or so.  We started some mild climbing after about a mile or so, past ranches and vineyards.  I wore a wind vest and arm warmers rather than a jacket, and was a bit chilly on the descents but with a high of 78 predicted I didn’t want to be hot. 

 The first real test came at 29 miles, just before the first sag.  There is a climb called the Wall, a .5 to 1 mile climb with a 20% grade.  I made it to the top without stopping (I later found my HR hit 182 there).  After that was a nice decent to Cambria, then we rode north on the Pacific Coast Hwy for 50+ miles.  That was beautiful, but at the price of a 15+mph headwind.  A couple of women rode along with us (they recognized Jim from a ride last year).  I felt strong and would take the pull for 5 miles, then the others would pull for about a mile each until I was back at the front again.  It was beautiful, and we passed San Simeon and the road to the Hearst Castle, as well as a few places to view elephant seals.  After the ride along the PCH we started climbing the coastal range as the route turned inland.  The road was called Nacimiento.  It started with a 4 mile stretch with the grade in double digits, then another few miles where it flattened out to a 6% grade.  It was a real attention getter.  There was a mini sag at the top of the climb, and we regrouped there.  Jim’s wife was there also with ice, water, and cokes.

 There was a nice downhill then we passed Ft Hunter Ligget and got to lunch about 15:30.  There was a time cutoff at the last sag stop (about mile 170);  you had to arrive there by 2130 or you would not be allowed to continue.  Lunch was turkey sandwiches and soda.  We started moderately , and into a headwind again.  I was not feeling as strong as earlier, and my legs felt like they were ready to cramp.  Fortunately they didn’t, and we got a nice descent for a couple of miles until we turned and it felt like a tailwind. We rode thru ranches and vineyards, but it was more rolling and drier than it had been nearer the coast. 

 The next sag (Lockwood CA) was at 166 miles (lunch was at 116) and we had at least a 10 mile climb before it.  It was not nearly as steep as the climbs before lunch but it just seemed to go on forever (and did it 7-8%  at times).  The Lockwood sag had cold watermelon, V8, fig newtons, and fritos, among other stuff.  I munched down on those, and felt my strength come back by the time we rode into the last sag in Bradley CA, 30-45 minutes ahead of the cutoff.  By now it was dark, and just as we pulled in the wind picked up again with a vengeance.  Fortunately it was more of a crosswind than a headwind.  We had one last climb, 6 – 8 miles with grades 3-8%.  We didn’t have to fight the wind the rest of the way, but, my lights keep moving on my handlebars, pointing up when I would hit bumps.  That was a mild pain (and is seemed worse after riding 180 + miles and climbing over 12,000 ft).  We made it to the finish at 2340 (the time cutoff was supposed to be midnight, but we heard as long as riders made it to Bradley on time and were making decent progress the midnight cutoff was not strictly enforced). They had a meal of homemade minestrone soup, garlic bread, and ice cream there. 

 My legs were sore the next morning, for the first time in a long time after a double, but  I had a very real feeling of accomplishment. 

https://www.strava.com/activities/577523481

 

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That's amazing.  That's so far beyond my capabilities I almost can't comprehend it.  

Kudos to you, sir.

I remember the time we drove down Route 1 from Monterey all the way to San Luis Obispo (or wherever we picked up 101).  It's one of the most beautiful roads I've ever been on in my life.

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Excellent ride report.  As I am barely 57 I have hope that one day I could do a double if I chose to. 

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Why do I read these double century reports??!!! I get exhausted just READING them. And don't get me started on those absurd climbs. 

Of course I say this in self-depricating awe and respect for your cycling prowess! Chapeau!!

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You are a frickin' stud.  Even a robot could not do that without depleting his battery pretty badly.

BTW, jsharr is an asshat and not worthy to hold your sweat soaked 200 mile chamois.

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On 5/18/2016 at 10:08 AM, TrentonStrong said:

That's amazing.  That's so far beyond my capabilities I almost can't comprehend it.  

Kudos to you, sir.

I remember the time we drove down Route 1 from Monterey all the way to San Luis Obispo (or wherever we picked up 101).  It's one of the most beautiful roads I've ever been on in my life.

I have ridden thru San Luis Obispo several times on the Spring Solvang double., and that is beautiful country.  on the PCH I saw a sign that said Monterrey was 63 miles ahead.  that was not long before we turned off. 

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