Chris’ Excellent Adventure! Death Valley Century Part 1/3

Chapter 1: Strange Things are Afoot at the Circle K

A few weeks ago, my fiancee and I drove out to Furnace Creek, CA so that I could participate in the Death Valley Century. This ride involved 108 miles, with about 5100 feet of climbing. I’ve done century rides before, but none with this amount of climbing. I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Pffft. ONLY 5100ft? And no 2.4 mile swim before or marathon run after? Wuss.”

Well, hey, I’m a heavy guy who has only done sprint tri’s before. 100 miles on a bike for someone who weighs as much as I do is a pretty big deal.

In lieu of a hotel room, we camped out at the resort where the ride would start. $150/night for a room at the resort vs. $25/night in a tent. On a limited budget, it was the right choice. And it was kinda fun, too. One of the other guys from Triathlon LAB was camping in the spot next to us, so we had a camping buddy. He opted for the double century, which, in my professional opinion, makes him an absolute nutcase.

The evening before, I started prepping my gear for the following day’s adventure. My bike was ready to go, as I had cleaned and lubed it at the shop before we left. My Sidi Genius 5 shoes were “so fresh and so clean clean” (Ain’t nobody dope as me. Or Outkast), and my Speedplay pedals and cleats were lubed and ready to go. My food was ready, as I had made my favorite chocolate coconut peanut rice cakes from The Feed Zone Cookbook. I had plenty of water available. My two trusty Triathlon LAB water bottles ready to be filled with delicious Skratch Labs Drink Mix. It was then that I came to a horrible, horrible realization: I HAD FORGOTTEN MY DELICIOUS SKRATCH LABS DRINK MIX AT HOME. I panicked. I didn’t want to drink the stuff that was going to be on course, since I had never trained with it. We were probably a few hundred miles away from any shop that would carry it. Needless to say, after that realization, it was doom and gloom for a while.

Then, I thought to myself, “Self, we don’t have our delicious Skratch Labs Drink Mix. We can’t get any of the good stuff here in the middle of nowhere. We don’t want to use the stuff on course. There are only three choices: 1) Stick to water. Hope for the best. 2) Gatorade. Hope for the best. 3) Make our own drink mix. Hope for the best.”

Option 1 wasn’t going to cut it. I needed electrolytes in Death Valley, the United States’ driest climate. (It’s called Death Valley for a reason. Things go there, get dehydrated, and die.) The resort had a general store with knick-knacks and other assorted souvenirs, but it also had a market. Options 2 and 3 were doable. I headed over, looked at the brightly-colored, sugary-sweet bottles of gatorade, and walked on. I then found myself looking at a big container of salt. I grabbed that, and looked for some molasses. None. Hm… Lemons were $3 each. And there was only one left. I kept looking. Then, in their souvenir section, I saw a small bottle of prickly pear lemonade drink mix. I read the ingredient list, hoped for the best, and headed to the cashier to make my purchases. I grabbed a jar of pickles, too. Just in case.

Back at the camp, I experimented with different ratios of mix and salt, until I settled for a 3 teaspoon mix, half teaspoon salt per bottle concoction. I then put said concoction into a gel flask, marking off each bottle’s worth of drink mix so that I could carry it with me during the ride and refill at the water stations. I then took a 2nd gel flask, and filled it with pickle juice, just in case my legs started cramping. Once again, I hoped for the best.

After dinner, which consisted of a giant sandwich filled with assorted meats and cheeses, peanut butter-filled pretzels, and Pirate’s Booty cheese snacks, I went to bed.

The morning rolled around, and it was cold. Very cold. I then realized I had forgotten my arm and knee warmers. I got up, got dressed, put on the only sunscreen I’ll ever use, Thinksport, and checked over my bike. Everything was working perfectly. My Continental Grand Prix 4000S Tires were set to my preferred PSI (1 PSI before max, because I’m weird like that); I put my lights on the bike to help me stay noticeable during the ride, even though I figured I would finish with plenty of daylight to spare. Both my Triathlon LAB water bottles had been filled with water and drink mix and were well-chilled in the cooler.

I grabbed my GoPro, and then realized that the battery wasn’t charged.

Ugh. FINE. Things could be worse.

Then things got worse.

I pulled my water bottles out of the cooler, ready to load onto the bike.

Then I dropped one. And the floodgates were opened.

There, my water bottle lay, in a pool of what used to be inside of it. Once again, doom and gloom came over me for a few minutes. The lid had cracked apart on impact; small fragments of the lid are probably still laying there at the campground. My fiancee found some electrical tape, and worked to repair the lid while I refilled the bottle. Upon completion, the lid worked, but still dribbled.

Then I remembered that the general store sold water bottles. We rushed over, and were able to get one just minutes before my wave set off. We changed out the water bottles, and I was ready to go.

ALRIGHT. I had managed to screw up a few times, but was still able to make it to the starting line. My Garmin Edge 510 was fully charged, so I had that going for me. My bike had been looked over by the best in the business only a few days before. (Thanks, Nery, who wrenches at our Redondo Beach location!) I was finally ready to go. We were given the signal to start; I clipped in and headed out for what would surely be an excellent adventure.

And that’s where we’ll leave off for next time. Stay tuned for Chapter 2: WYLD STALLYNS!

Questions? Comments? Cheap shots? Let me know.

Thanks for reading!


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One Response to Chris’ Excellent Adventure! Death Valley Century Part 1/3

  1. Gina says:

    I did this ride in the spring and that 7-mile climb just before the turnaround is NO JOKE. Good for you for doing it; can’t wait to read Parts 2 and 3!

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