It ain’t over till it’s over!

This is a double century ride that I have ridden only twice before, first in 2002 and the again in 2014. I decided to head back and give it another go this year.

Loop 1, a 105 mile lap around the inland empire.

The Hemet Double Century normally occurs in early April each year, but this year the spring date was cancelled for some unknown reason and it was rescheduled to the September date. The route is not particularly spectacular but it is also not difficult. Given my training level for this year I thought that it would be a good choice. The route consists of two separate loops, each of which come back to the start finish venue. They serve a nice mid-ride meal at the lunch stop! This would be the 53rd year for this event.

It had been pretty warm leading up to the event and I was getting nervous about the possibility of warm temperatures for the ride day. The heat had started to ease somewhat though and by ride day it was supposed to cool down nicely for the ride. Overcast skies in the morning followed by temps below 80 degrees for the entire day were in the forecast!

I ride a lot of different bikes at events but for this ride I would choose my preferred double century bike, the Pegoretti Palo Santo . It is an all day bike, comfortable to ride but still pretty sporty. Over the years I have put on almost 20,000 miles on this bike alone, mostly on double centuries.

I decided to get an early start and was underway by 4:30 am. There would be just over 12 hours of daylight for this date and I knew that I would have maybe 3 or 4 hours of riding in the dark or twilight. My plan was to get some of that out of the way on the front half of the event when the roads would have less traffic. I don’t mind night riding but not so much when there are lots of cars on the road!

The first 105 mile loop went well, traffic was light and I kept a sporty (if not fast) pace. I was back at the start/finish well before noon and not feeling overextended. The skies were just clearing and the winds were still light. I was able to eat a nice lunch and then stopped back at my hotel room for some supplies before heading out for the second loop. The next 95 mile loop would be very different!

Loop 2 is a 95 mile jaunt around Temecula wine country and Lake Elsinore

About 10 miles after departing on the second loop you begin on the major climb of the day. It is just a moderate climb but on a full stomach and in full sun I seemed to plod along. The wind had also picked up to about 20 mph out of the southwest, which meant a headwind for the next or so 20 miles after the climb. These winds would dog me for the rest of the day either as head winds or cross winds. There would be no tailwinds for me today!

Eventually I had made my way to the final stretch of the ride, at about mile 190 a wide parkway that led back to Hemet. The shoulder was wide but it was a little trashy and I tried to stay between the debris on the right and the fast traffic on the left. I was in the last 5 miles and feeling pretty good about my mediocre performance of the day when I got a flat tire. CRAP, this really sucked, just 15 minutes from the finish! The shoulder of the road was very trashy here and I had picked a big construction staple in my tire. I had tire sealant in the tube but it was just too big of a hole to be sealed and my tire quickly went flat!

I just got down to it and went ahead with the repair on the side of the road, in the dirt and in the dark. It actually went pretty well and I completed the job quickly and was pleased with myself. Packed up again and ready to go, I threw my leg over the bike to get re-started. Somehow, either through fatigue or disorientation in the dark I missed my move and went tumbling to the pavement in a heap! Looking up at the stars with a bloody lip, a lump on my forehead, a gouge on my leg from the chain ring and a scraped knee all I could think of was WTF!

I rolled myself out of the traffic lane and got up to assess the damage. It was too dark to see much but I could taste the blood on my lip as I was cursing myself. I wasn’t really hurt (other than my pride) but I had broken my left shifter and it was dangling in the dark. Everything else seemed to be okay though and I knew that I could finish the ride. I very humbly rode the last 5 miles in to the finish, very happy to be done. I guess that in the end I got the ass kicking that I was expecting! What is the moral of the story? It ain’t over till it’s over!