Devil Made Me Do It
in 1999 when I finished the TT, I had heard about the DMD, but it never
occurred to me to attempt it. Since it comes
so early in the year, it seemed daunting to train for it, and I also was afraid
of night riding. For slower riders like
me, the shorter days in April would necessitate some night riding for a hard double
century like DMD.
things have changed! I equipped myself
several years ago with a 1400-lumen Exposure Race handlebar-mounted light, a
Light and Motion headlamp, a backup handlebar-mounted Cateye that can also
strap onto my helmet, a 75-lumen taillight, and a motley assortment of
reflective items. A few years ago, I had
ridden a couple of double centuries in the autumn, and I became comfortable
with night riding.
Adams agreed to shepherd me on my maiden DMD voyage. Sherry being Sherry met me at the corner of
Deer Park and Silverado Trail in St Helena on the Friday afternoon before the
DMD after a day of working (and riding her bike) somewhere near Howell Mountain. Sherry showed up with all her necessary gear
for the weekend stowed in her rando bag.
Incidentally, just my stash of electronics alone (lights, cords,
transformers, spare batteries, Garmin, etc.) could have filled her rando bag. I loaded her bike onto my car rack and off we
went to the Marriott San Ramon.
forecast for the DMD was favorable: mild winds and highs around 79 degrees. Our 5AM mass start meant that riders would
need their lights for about an hour in the morning. The faster riders could
start at 6AM, no lights needed. The
Quackcyclists modified this year’s course to eliminate the portion along Morgan
Territory Road and the return on infamous Sierra Road, due to road closures
from the rainy winter. As a result of
the route change, the course dropped 8 miles and eliminated about 3000’ of
climbing: DMD Lite. Only 86 riders came
to ride this year’s course. For me, the
drop in climbing was a bonus: the only way I could ever complete this ride is
the year when they dumbed it down. I’m hoping
they don’t sell a 2017 jersey with an asterisk next to the ride stats.
beautiful sunrise emerged from behind the silhouette of Mt. Diablo on what
would be a perfect day for the ride. Other
than high winds at the top of Diablo, the remainder of the course was
relatively calm and cool. Veteran DMD
riders commented on how comfortable the morning was on Mt Diablo; usually folks
shivered down the Mt Diablo descent.
the out-and-back on Diablo, we meandered along the flatlands of Livermore suburbia
towards Altamont Pass. A local rider
came upon our small group of DMD riders and wanted to verify what our event
tags meant. He asked us if we really
were riding 200 miles in a day. After I
confirmed this, he muttered something about his being an underachiever, using
some self-deprecating term of “genetic garbage.” I’m glad we made his day! He peeled off as we approached Altamont
Pass. Who would’ve known that just north
of Interstate 580, a quiet frontage road ran parallel to the freeway over a cul
and down into the next valley? We
climbed with Manny D from Union City. Two other guys we rode with, Travis and a
guy whose top tube was too short for him we dubbed Short Stem, were rather humorless. (Rider names were written below the rider
number.) They pretty much ignored Sherry and me, despite several overtures to engage
was relieved to arrive at the next rest stop (mile 64), as I worried about not
having eaten enough at the previous rest stop at the top of Diablo. A local Filipino cycling club, headed by
Jerry, the elder of the Filipino cycling group, manned this rest station. He and his buddies checked our bikes for us
while we helped ourselves to fruit, bagels, PB&J, Hammer nutrition and
bars. Throughout the day, Jerry and his
Filipino crew leapfrogged us to the following rest stop and offered us yummy homemade
Filipino food: stir-fried noodles, fried rice and chicken adobo.
riders would be climbing the exposed Patterson Pass climb much later in the
day, but by eliminating Morgan Territory Road, we approached the summit before
noon. Next was the 91-mile out-and-back
up to Mt. Hamilton. Along Mines Road, we
passed somebody Sherry knew from the Silver State 508, another humorless one we
dubbed “Big Hair.” Sherry managed to get only one word out of Big
Hair. Mines Road seemed to continue for
an uphill eternity until we reached the Junction Cafe rest stop.
and I unexpectedly ran into speedy Carl Sanders at The Junction. Sherry correctly deduced that the only way
this could’ve happened was that Carl was on his return leg through the rest
stop, whereas we were on our outbound leg to Mt. Hamilton! We rode 18 miles to arrive at the top of Mt
Hamilton: an 8-mile stretch of uneven terrain preceding the true climb, 5 miles
of gentle climbing, and a final 5 miles of serious climbing to summit at 4185’.
top of Mt. Hamilton provided terrific views of the Bay Area, but we didn’t
linger long since there was no food here.
During our return leg from Mt. Hamilton to The Junction rest stop,
Sherry commented to me that she thought we would finish around midnight; I had
been hoping for 10:30. In her
matter-of-fact way, she said that I burnt up a lot of time at the rest stops,
so far using up 1 hr, 20 minutes of time off the bike. Her prediction was that if I continued such inefficient
behavior at rest stops, we might finish even later than midnight. Well that lit a fire under my ass! I swear that I wasted a good 5-10 minutes at
each rest stop just waiting for dudes to do their business in the single
porta-potty that each rest stop had. Not
Mines Road we picked up Andrew, a San Franciscan with a British accent. We descended down Mines Road in the dusk,
still having enough ambient light to feel comfortable descending briskly. At the Mines Road rest stop (mile 165), I
choked down a Cup o’ Noodles while Sherry patiently waited. Then it was onward to the next rest stop in
21 miles. When you’re tired and not
thrilled about riding late into the night, what to do? Laugh and gossip! Sherry wins Shepherd of the Year: she always
pulled, pacing me perfectly. She hardly
needed to work when climbing at my speed so she belted out some songs: Rolling on the River, Say hey, we’re the
Monkeys (even laconic Andrew chimed in), Good Day Sunshine. We laughed at our social faux pas (Is that
guy’s name really Dung? I’ve been
calling him that the entire ride!), and poked fun at Short Stem, Big Hair, Team
Travis and Genetic Garbage. After the
final rest stop at mile 186 and just a little climb up Norris Canyon, we rolled
in at 11:15.
ride time: 16 hr 15 min. Time off the
bike 2 hours.