2015 DBC Antelope Lake 600k

Yep, this was two years ago already. Spose I should just let it go – but I have this compulsion to write about these things, and I’m signed up to do the ride again (later today! yikes) so I was looking at the pictures, and… well here I am. blah blah blah. As I think I’ve said, there’s something to be said for writing about something right after it’s happened, so all the detail is fresh. But then I want to put it all in, which means the write-up would be just a long as the ride itself and who would read that?! Heck, go ride it yourself! That method does get down some things that I’d otherwise forget, which can be fun to revisit. On the other hand, letting something marinate for a while can help distill down to what really sticks.

Anyway, the Davis 600k is a night start, which, depending on who you talk to, is either great or evil incarnate. I’d never done one, but I could see an argument being made for riding through the night when you were fresh, and then getting the rejuvenating effect of sunrise to keep riding. It seemed like it might be a fit for my at the time as yet unaccomplished notquitesurewhy quest to ride a 600k straight through.

So there I was on a Friday evening at the Mace Avenue Park-n-Ride. I’d taken the day off, slept in, woken up for a bit midday, then gone back to sleep and gotten up about an hour before the start. I’d had breakfast and pretended it was morning. Although there were lots of familiar faces, I hadn’t made any particular plans to ride with anyone, and all of the route would be new to me (so even if I didn’t ride straight through it would go along with the year’s theme of riding new places/routes.) As we set out I fell in with Tim Mason, who is a super solid rider and a local who had done the route before. Ding! FTW!

We ended up getting on the lead group paceline that churned into the deepening twilight, chomping away at the flat miles to the first control about 50 miles in at a crossroads gas station in Sutter and then the second control at 85.6 miles in Oroville, arriving just after midnight. The first time Tim rotated off ahead of me he suggested “don’t spend too much time on the front.” Yeah OK. Volunteers were set up in the parking lot at the gas station, under the light mobbed by a swarm of bugs. Oh I think we rode through some of their relatives. Cruising through one of the “was that a town?”s a speed sign in a school zone blipped on at twenty something what is that right? mph. Did I need to know that?

I was tempted to linger with Our Lady of Oroville Deb Banks and a beer, but the road called. From here the ups began, and soon the red taillights of the fast kid train disappeared in the distance ahead of me. Well, it was great while it lasted, and it was nice to have knocked out all those flat miles. I settled into climbing mode, enjoying the pleasant darkness and my own pace. The road was quiet, punctuated by an occasional car that would give me a wide berth, and a few bridges and tunnels as I got up the river canyon.

Drew and Tuesday were in full randohost mode at the oasis of Tobin, plying me with warm food and checking what my plans were. Some riders from the group ahead of me had already rolled on, others were taking a sleep stop, and a few were still enjoying the hospitality but bracing up to resume riding. I was surprised to see Andreas, who I figured would be well on his way to Antelope Lake with the other speedsters, but he had decided to make this his turn around point for the ride.

Tim, Mark and Larry were continuing on, so I joined them. Another group of riders arrived just as we were leaving, and one of the folks from that group – Peter I think it was – decided to go with us too. The five of us rode together on and off the rest of the ride.

There was more climbing up along the river through the dark, and then the sky began that amIimaginingit slow fade from just the slightest bit less dark into grey and eventually the sun appeared. Glorious daylight! We rode through some wider valleys and meadows to the impossibly cute old-timey Genesee Store, with full hot meal service, which was awesome as we’d just ridden through that after dawn coldest part of the day. Brrr!

From the store is an out and back up and down final push bit steeper climb to Antelope Lake, and I’d gotten the suggestion to leave anything non-essential at the store and pick it up on the way back rather than carry it, but I didn’t feel up to making the decision about what I might not need, and wasn’t sure I’d remember to get it either, so didn’t take advantage of that tip. Aron had left his musette bag, and someone commented, I think jokingly, that we should fill it with rocks.

The climb to Antelope Lake was beautiful, which helped take my mind off the hurties, and it was fun seeing the folks ahead of me coming back downhill. Eventually I got to the top, answered the question, and got to be That Guy coming back downhill seeing other riders coming up.

I didn’t feel I needed much of a stop at the store again, but the others seemed to want to linger, so eventually I set off on my own, figuring they’d catch me, which they did. Overall to Tobin it was downhill, which was awesome, as was seeing the scenery that we’d ridden through in the dark on the way up.

At Tobin I put on fresh clothes from my drop bag, which was a nice lift. Unfortunately it had worn off by the bit of a bump that had to be gotten over to get back to Oroville and the flats to Davis, or maybe that was the afternoon sun that was zapping me. Everyone climbed at their own paces, I tried to think happy and cooling thoughts. Near the summit Mark and Tim were stopped at a roadside bar/restaurant. A cool drink really hit the spot, and Mark had gotten the last ice cream bars, but shared. What a saint!

And, what goes up … must still pedal?! Wind coming up from the valley made the descent not quite the free ride it “should” have been. But it was still downhill at least. At Oroville we regrouped, except… where was Larry? As we were starting to think about rolling on, he arrived. Some combination of running out of water and making a wrong turn for bonus miles/climbing he was not doing the best, but wanted to join us. We waited as he seemed to get himself back together, and then set out.

Since it was flat back to Davis we figured we could just easy pace and Larry could sit in and finish recovering and we’d get him back to the finish. In retrospect it might have been better to suggest he stay at Oroville longer, since it was a staffed control and there was plenty of time in the bank, but, not having ridden with someone before you don’t really know when their “I’m fine” really means they aren’t, and the rest of us probably weren’t fully sharp either. Anyway, it all turned out fine, thankfully, although he was frustrated feeling he was slowing us down and about not taking pulls.

It did start to cool off as the sun sank to the west, and we were treated to lovely views of the Sutter Buttes glowing in the magic light. The crossroads gas station was a receipt control this time, the same yet different on the inbound and a different time of day. Someone bought a bag of ice to share.

Nighttime again, on a road with rumble strips making for a narrow, junky shoulders. Mark decided to join us on the outside of the strip just before a large truck whooshed past. “Better to get a flat than be flat.” Yup. Which, Larry didn’t seem to have recovered, and now that it was dark again we started to worry whether he really should still be riding. There was only an info control before the finish, and we had oodles of time. Eventually we convinced him to take a break, which he did, and, after a solid sleep break resumed in daylight and finished, qualifying for PBP. YAY!

The rest of us carried on with the ride. At one point we got to a T intersection, if I’d had to choose I’d have said “go right” but it was actually “go left.” So much for my sense of direction. And good thing I wasn’t navigating! We got to the info control and someone realized we could finish this thing without going into another day. Tim in particular smelled the barn and took a monster pull. There was that weird time wrinkling where it feel like I was going very fast but also not moving at all. Or at least the finish wasn’t getting any closer. But eventually, finally, there it was. The last turn into the parking lot. And we were done. So. Glad. to be done. Really grateful to have fallen in with good riding companions, especially for the flat bits, and all the support from the Davis club was amazing. Hey I may almost be looking forward to riding it again!

Ride date: May 29, 2015

more pictures

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