White Mountain Double Century – Bishop, Ca.
The White Mountain Double Century http://www.strava.com/activities/194163309 (White Mountain Double) is a fantastic ride that starts in Bishop, Ca. with just over 11,000 ft of climbing. The ride starts in Bishop and rides south out to Highway 168. There you head east, and start your biggest climb of the ride. You start in the valley at 4000 ft, and you climb up White Mountain Road to the Bristle Cone National Forest Visitors Center at 10,000 ft. That gives you an immediate climb of 6000 ft, or just over half of your entire days elevation gain in 20 miles. The views are spectacular and worth every foot of gain. As you climb up White Mtn Road, you get to look west towards Mt. Whitney on the far west side of the valley. Once on top, you have a fantastic descent into theDeep Springs Valley on the east side of the White Mountain Range. You will have another quick climb out of the valley with another scenic view of the valley behind you, and now the scenery changes. You were in high altitude pine trees, and now you are in a dry and desolate open desert heading towards Highway 95 which would take you to Tonopah. The mountains are beautiful with pastel reds, yellows, oranges all streaking from one end of the mountain ranges to the other. If you love the desert, it is a magnificent geological wonder to take in. You continue your trek across the valley in a southeast direction mainly flat, then take a quick right turn heading to Highway 95. There you find another fantastic aid station where you turn around and quickly put Highway 95 behind you and head due west back towards Bishop. Again, nothing but low sagebrush, open vistas, and magnificent desert landscape as you trek up your last big climb of the day. This is a 16 mile climb, but nothing over 5% grade. And those 5% sections are short. This is a very standard, long but mild, desert climb. And once over this climb you are mostly home free. It is 50 miles of gradual downhill with a couple very small rollers all the way to Bishop. I rode this ride with Jeni, Brian, and Dave.
Here is Jeni’s account of the ride:
From me – all kinds of thoughts come to mind when describing the White Mountain Double Century – bottom line – I’d do it again in a heartbeat!- with the right company!
Sometimes I think I like planning and training for the big day more than the ride itself – and I’m sure that’s the case at about mile 125 with 5 more hours of saddle time to go; when I’m questioning my sanity (and my age) and parts of my body are telling me I should have been a little more diligent about my training. For the past couple of months, I’ve been getting ready for the White Mountain Double Century, my second double. I’ve studied the elevation charts, searched for other similar women riders (on Strava, of course), worried about whether or not anyone will ride with me, how many ride stops there are and how long I can spend at each one (never enough time). I’ve thought about how I will get myself through those flat stretches that seem to never end (I can only sing 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall so many times), and with a mass start at 5:15am, how will I do with a zillion people riding around me (I really don’t like crowds). By ride day, I’m ready to go, if for no other reason than to just move past the anxiety.
The White Mountain double started at 5:15am Saturday morning. We left about 5:21, letting the crowds (ok, maybe 100 riders) get out ahead of us. I’m feeling extremely lucky to be riding with my husband Brian, another strong rider Dave, and Rich Staley, who say’s he’ll ride with me the whole day. I’ve got great company! We have a short warm-up to the first turn, the skies start to lighten, and we start climbing. The 8-12% grades came a little earlier than I expected, but it’s nice to be in the foothills. I like climbing in 50 degree weather. And we’ve caught up to a few other riders, which adds to the confidence bank. We make the turn for the final 10 miles up to Bristlecone National Monument. The climb is wonderful, with a little something for everyone. 4-12% grades are normal, with a few 15% hairpins, and about a mile downhill in the middle. The legs are happy for the break. The vistas of the eastern Sierra’s are incredible with the rising sun and views of the mountains and valleys to the east go on and on. Riders are starting to come down, and I’m starting to wonder how much longer. Next thing I know, I see the 10,000 elevation marker and around the corner, Schulman Grove. 6000 feet. Climb #1 done. Time for the downhill reward.
Descending White Mountain is fun, but turns are tight. I’m on the breaks frequently. Little do I know the best run is literally right around the corner. Turning left, back onto 168, I’m on the best downhill 5 miles I’ve ever ridden. Wide open no-brakes- needed roads, with whoop-dee-do’s that leave you weightless (and breathless) at the apex, long perfectly banked turns, averaging 34 mph. I love how my mind clears, I love the focus required to ride well for these precious 10 minutes. Confidence bank full. I love it all.
The remaining 140 miles have more mountains and valley to cross. Time draws from the confidence bank. My mind thinks about what this area was like 50 years ago, 500 and 5000 years ago. How much has changed and how little has changed. We see the saddest of saddest properties on one side of the road and lush green fields on the other, water is life in these parts of Nevada. There are no cars and no people; however, there is a slight tailwind and an occasional cloud – thank you weather gods and goddesses!
The last 36 miles into Bishop are in the dark. The temperature is perfect, Rich sets a sweet pace (somewhere in the 24 mph zone) and I wonder what’s best – riding faster than I’m really comfortable but suffering less or going a little slower, but suffering longer. Rich seems to think faster is better and I’m too tired to argue, whine, or care. We must pass 25 people the last 10 miles. We finally turn back onto 395 and the last mile ticks off quickly. I’m tired, sore, and pretty sure that’ll be the last 200 miler for me this year. We beg a pizza joint to stay open for us. We finish the evening with a soak in the local hot springs. White Mountain is looking better already.