"The hardest two day event.... anywhere"
|Start of Day 1|
Day 1: This stage was possibly the most intimidating. Set to have 15,000 feet of climbing over 88 miles. We started at a small recreational center called "Millpond" a nice park with ball fields, and a "pond" that was a center for swimming… At about 7:20 the CAT 4 "racers" and myself departed on what would be the most challenging day of my life. After the 3-mile neutral roll out, the climb began, along with the "racing" immediately the grade picked up to 7%. As always, since the stage was so long, and everybody had the attitude to simply finish, I took control of the pace... But still remaining in my "comfortable" zone. This first climb is called "south lake" and is the third longest climb of the race. It lasts about 14 miles, and climbs a large amount. Nearing south lake, the grade steepens to 14%, for about a half a mile, before finally reaching the summit of the first climb. I did not realize until the U-turn that the field had exploded, and I was in the lead group with about 7 or riders. Now came the fun part, the rapid descent. This climb was one of those boring ones.... Just straight, long and consistent in grade, thus, making the decent the fastest possible. Since I am under 18, I have to use junior gearing, which limits my maximum gear to 50x15... Making me very vulnerable on descents. This group and road was fast, at about a -8%, in a tuck position, I was able to
|Riding to Pine Creek Climb|
|FInish of Day 1, at Mosquito Flat|
|Start of day 2|
Day 2: The final of 2 stages, and the one that was bound to be the hardest. Same start time as day 1, and 70 miles with 14,000 feet of vertical, could only mean one thing…. Steeper climbs. We started in the middle of a desert, on “Death Valley RD” and rolled neutral for about 3 miles, to the town of Big Pine. From there the first climb was right around the corner…. Literally, we turned a corner, and the road pitched up towards “Glacier Lodge” (no longer there, but there is a pretty good size glacier visible the whole way up) quickly the grade advanced to 7% and was sustained for about 3 miles before a wide switchback. From there, the land was dry, trees were gone, and the winds began to blow from all sides. Unlike the previous day, the field remained largely intact… surprising… until one guy decided to attack off the front. I was feeling quite “fresh” and decided to go after him, eventually a few other guys followed, and we managed to drop about half the field. Once at the top, and through a fast U-turn, came the RAPID descent… this descent I was not looking forward to. Since, for about 4 miles, directly to my right was a 250 foot drop, with no guard rail, as well as some very unpredictable winds, it was not going to be fun. Once again, my junior gears were not working for me, and even in the most aero position I could attain, the guys with bigger gears zoomed right past me. For some reason the only guys I was able to catch… and pass… on descents were CAT 3s, superior level racers to that of the CAT 4s. Once at the bottom I had a 4-mile TT to catch back on with the remaining “lead pack.” I tried to stay as relaxed as possible during the pursuit, which worked out, as I caught them before the second climb began, with ease. We then turned down “Death Valley RD,” which meandered its way through 13 miles of… NOTHING. The road was the only road closed to traffic, since it was washed out 30 miles in due to a recent storm. The sun was over the top of the valley walls, and heating the ground, FAST! Originally, I planned the climb up Death Valley Rd to be 10 miles… well, as 10 miles approached, no turn around came. We just kept on riding until finally, 3 miles later, we turned back to descend to the final massive climb.…As desolate as it was climbing, the descent was the same, however more fun, the road was old, and not properly graded, thus having massive dips. While descending at 40+ MPH those dips made it like a roller coaster, and on the last one I attempted to gain some air while shooting out of it…. Not sure if I actually did, but it sure felt awesome! The descent ended quickly, and the final climb began right away, shooting up to 5% then 6% then… 7-8% for 6 miles, until the final turn of the race onto White Mountain Rd.
|At the finish of the final day, Elevation 10,100 feet in the |
Bristlecone Pine Forest
Strava from day 2... EC
The remainder of the trip we spent around the area, exploring Yosemite National Park, and hiding from the smoke due to the fires in the area. I managed to ride Tioga Pass, a stunning and difficult climb into Yosemite, I guess I could call it a “Warm Down from the Everest Challenge” Tioga Pass Climb, Strava data
|Panorama of Tioga Pass|