Coming to ride in the Davis area is a little like coming home for me. I have ridden a lot in this area and did my first long rides here. My first double century was the Davis Double back in 1989 and I have been back for that ride many times since. This 600k route interested me for the fact that it follows the route of the Gold Rush Randonee’ 1200k which is held every few years and is also hosted by the Davis Bike Club.

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The start time for this ride is a little unusual with the departure set at 8:00 pm. That gave about an hour of daylight and then riding through the night. There were perhaps 30 riders at the start and the group stayed together pretty much for the first 50 miles or so until the second control. It was an impressive sight with this large group so well illuminated. The first 100 miles were pretty flat, traveling mostly through farm fields and along levee roads which were sometimes quite rough. There were very few residences so outside of our LED illuminated peloton the world was quite dark. The third control was at a 24 hour mini-mart in Sutter. It was probably the worst excuse for a convenience store that I have seen in some time but the DBC was there and provided a good rest stop in spite of the stores charms.

I was riding solo now with no other riders in sight so I had to be sure of my navigation. For the most part the cue sheet and the road signs matched pretty well, and with good lights I was able to follow the route easily. A front flat tire delayed me for a short time but I pulled into the forth control in Oroville well before sunrise. This control was well stocked but I wasn’t that hungry, or at least nothing sounded good to eat and I soon departed.

After a few miles of rollers the real climbing started. We headed up Highway 70 on a long but low angle climb. It seemed to go on and on with a number of false summits but eventually the final “top” was found. From this point I gave back much of the elevation I had earned by descending into the Feather River Canyon. This is a wonderful scenic route and this early in the day there was virtually no traffic. Once at the river the climbing resumed as we followed the river closely now. Typical of the mountains the morning winds were “down canyon” which made them a headwind. We would fight these winds all the way to the turnaround.

Control #5 was in a cabin at Tobin Resort just off the river. It was still cool in the morning when I arrived so a hot drink was in order but I still wasn’t able to eat too much. I got in a little rest and continued up the river. The scenery continued to be excellent with alternating rapids and still water and I thought I was making good time. It was only another 40 miles uphill to the turnaround but it took me almost 4 hours. I think I was starting to fade a little. I was quite happy to see Control #6 in Taylorsville but the route had a little surprise. You had to ride past the control for a few miles to get the distance right before returning to the spot to check in. This stop had excellent food choices but I only managed to get down a few snacks. My stomach was quite unhappy by now so I had to be careful what I put on it. I did get in a good rest for the return however.

I though everything would be great from here but as I headed out of Indian Valley and back towards the river the winds seemed to have shifted. Sure enough once I was back at the river, what was only an hour ago a “down canyon” wind had reversed itself and the wind now blew in my face again. It was now a warmer wind coming up from the valley below. The relatively gentile descent along the river wasn’t steep enough to overcome this headwind and I averaged from 12 – 15 mph back down the canyon. This made the return to Tobin about 2 ½ hours, which was longer than I had hoped it would be. On this visit to Tobin I stayed much longer but the extra rest did little good. I forced down some food and drank more but no energy returned. I continued the slog down the canyon to the bottom where the route turned away from the river. It was a 1500 ft climb out of the canyon and I wasn’t looking forward to it but the climb seemed to be protected from the wind and it wasn’t so bad after all.

Dropping out of the mountains and back to the valley all I had to overcome was some rollers to get back to the control in Oroville, but the south wind had picked up and the next 10 miles were really tough for me. I fought the evil forces of wind and hill which were working against me and finally made it to Control #7. This was going to have to be a major stop for me, I had to do something to try and recover! I tried to eat but managed only a few bites, my stomach was in full mutiny. I tried to sleep but after a half an hour I felt worse than before. I found it hard to focus my vision and my balance seemed off. I was able to drink a little but I knew that I could continue on that alone. It was now getting dark again and based on my recent pace I estimated that it would take me 10 -12 hours to complete the ride. That could get me in before the cut-off but I was dreading a second full night in the saddle. When I realized that there would be no available service for the last 77 miles due to the late hour I decided to throw in the towel. It was better to do it here than to be out on the course somewhere in the dark waiting for a support vehicle.

I had gotten to the 440 km mark in 23 hours which isn’t all that bad I guess but I was not feeling good about my accomplishment. In the end about 4 or 5 riders DNF’ed that day, one due to a broken frame from the rough road early in the ride and the others from fatigue or illness like myself. The DBC once again did a great job in supporting this event and they are to be congratulated.

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