Each year there are 21 double century cycle rides in California that qualify towards the California Triple Crown (CTC); long and often arduous journeys of 200 miles that generally must be completed in around 17 hours (the CTC official line is that the organizers of individual events can set the completion time themselves). These rides aren’t flat of course – they range in elevation gain from 5,000 to over 20,000 feet and can put you through all kinds of hell. In 2012 I rode the Davis Double Century, 8,500 feet of climb in mountains east of the Napa Valley in Northern California. While I also rode several centuries as well, I was bitten by the long-distance bug and have decided to try for the CTC in 2013. This involves riding three double centuries in one calendar year, choosing from any of the 21 official events available during the year. The less difficult rides tend to be at the beginning of the season, although these are mainly in Southern California where the weather is better in the late winter and early spring. Last year (2011) 475 riders completed three rides and earned their coveted Triple Crown Winner’s jerseys; of those 195 were first-time contenders. I’ve signed up for three four doubles in February and March, and then one in May:
- 2/16/13 Camino Real Double (8,800 ft)
- 3/2 Spring Death Valley Double (9,000 ft)
- 3/16 Joshua Tree Double (9,400 ft)
- 3/23 Solvang Spring Double (7,200 ft)
- 5/18 Davis Double (8,000 ft)
Assuming I finish three they will earn me the Triple Crown. It’s a shame they’re not a little further apart from each other; that’s going to be a rather stressful five weeks. If I’m feeling more adventurous I could keep going and ride two more doubles in the same year to enter the more rarified ranks of the Gold Thousand Mile club; cyclists who have ridden five doubles and volunteered to help on a sixth. In 2011 only 112 riders were inducted so it clearly takes something special to pull that off without a heart attack or some other medical emergency. My cycling buddy Jim A. (@JahMuse) has agreed to ride with me on three doubles during the year so he too can earn his jersey, but he’s only doing one of the three I chose in the early part of the year. This means (unfortunately for me) that I’l need to ride at least two others to keep him company. What we do for our sport!
If you feel inclined to join me and Jim, check out our options here.
UPDATE – 2/19/13. I completed the Camino Real Double in 14h 20m (official time) in 47th place. 12h 38m in the saddle + 1h 43m at rest stops. Not too shabby! Next up, the Death Valley Double…
UPDATE – 3/3/13. Managed to survive the Death Valley Double, finishing in 15h 08m (14h 6m in the saddle + 1h at rest stops). This was the hardest ride I’ve ever done, for sure. Hot and windy, with long straight roads that stretch ahead for miles and are thus quite demoralizing! BUT it was fantastic and I enjoyed it hugely.
UPDATE – 3/16/13. Completed the Joshua Tree Double in 15h 42m (official time). Very tough headwinds and searing heat made this a very hard ride, I promise you! This was waaay harder that Death Valley.
UPDATE – 3/23/13. Completed the Solvang Spring Double with colleague Jim A. in 14h 15m (unofficial time) and won my Triple Crown jersey, so I’m a happy bunny. Next up the Davis Double in May.