In my previous post on the Knoxville double, I mentioned the California Triple Crown (CTC) Awards breakfast and the fact that first-time winners like me were asked to identify ourselves and enumerate the rides we had done. (A "winner" is anyone who completes three doubles in a single year, although "earn" might be more accurate since you are only competing against yourself). In the interests of time everyone kept it brief, but I'm sure some people would have liked to have said more about their experience. So here is what I would liked to have said.
Hi, my name is Mick Jordan and I've been a bike commuter all my life, but I only started recreational riding a couple of years ago, when my knees told me that it might be a good idea to give up running and playing soccer. On my very first and then longest organized ride of 78 miles in 2007 (The Tour de Cure), I drafted a rider wearing one of these Triple Crown jerseys. To be accurate I was just following him, as I didn't now about drafting then. I remember thinking, wow, 200 miles in one day, how is that possible, he must have been a lot younger when he did that. But looking around this audience I see that I was wrong on that one! In fact the average age of CTC riders is surprisingly high. The next year, when I rode the Death Ride, I saw more of these jerseys and finally had to ask people how they did it. The answers boiled down to riding longer and longer until you get there. So no magic secret.
I was intrigued, but I still had my doubts. In fact. in January of this year, I made a decision not to try for the CTC. At that time I decided that there was something crazy about a bike ride that you couldn't finish in daylight (I didn't know about randonneuring then). But it kept nagging at me until I decided I had to try one, so I signed up for the Solvang double, which is correctly advertised as a good first double. I slowly built up my training mileage until I got close to 200 miles and had a good time at Solvang, meeting and riding with some great people. I also had my first experience of riding in a paceline, which was fun, and I hope not too scary for the people behind me.
Next up was the Devil Mountain Double, from the sublime to the ridiculous! Although I like climbing, I was really quite nervous about the DMD, but I had a great time, discovering how a group of people can help each other conquer adversity. Finishing the DMD in a reasonable time is still the highlight of my year, and it is unquestionably my favorite ride so far, one that I plan to ride every year from here on. By this point I was hooked!
Next came Davis where in the 100 degree weather I had my low point, feeling as tired as I have ever felt on a bike at the top of the Resurrection climb. I was so tired at the end that when I called my wife I told her I was alive but beyond further conversation and I'd call in the morning.
Then I DNF'ed by choice at 6500' on the Easter Sierra, not wanting to risk hypothermia in the hail and snow on a re-routed ride that I wasn't mentally enthused about doing. I still don't regret that decision and I had fun climbing Tioga pass in the afternoon instead. The next week was Alta Alpina, where I took (and used) my ski pants and gloves, and just barely made the cut-off for the 8th pass. A great ride destined to be a classic in the CTC series.
I didn't really want to do the Terrible Two so soon after Alta Alpina, but a co-worker was riding it, so we car-pooled and room-shared. I was really, really, unsure I could make the 10pm cut-off for this ride as I hadn't completed a hilly double in less than 18 hours, but cool weather helped me to finish in 15 hours, which I still can't quite believe, the only double I completed in daylight. My co-worker, who's admittedly half my age, came in an impressive 28th!
The year was rounded out with Mt. Tam and Knoxville, with White Mountain to come, and then I'm done. My only regret is missing the Central Coast due to family commitments, which prevented me from completing the Stage Race series. I've had a great time, made some great new friends, and been impressed by everyone I've met. There are some truly awesome people in the CTC. It's a great organization and the volunteers are fantastic. I exceeded my initial goal of the Triple Crown and made it into the Gold Thousand mile club, which will be my annual goal from here on out.
A big thanks to everyone who helped and supported me this year, especially my wife Jenny, who had to put up with a lot of weekend absences!