White Mountain Double Century - Bishop Ca.

White Mountain Double Century – Bishop, Ca.

By Rich Staley/on September 27, 2014/in Blog

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.