When we last left off, the sun was directly overhead of me as I was trying to make it to the midway point at Scotty’s Castle. There were still a few miles and a ton of climbing ahead of me; I was out of water and seriously concerned about dehydration and its side effects.
Things were looking bleak. I found myself hoping a magic SAG wagon would drive by with coolers full of magic ice cold water. Heck, I’d settle for magic lukewarm water, too.
I don’t know how long I stood there, looking up at that road.
Fortunately, my superpower of being really friendly with strangers was about to pay off (Being friendly is just one of my many superpowers; others include the ability to sleep anywhere for long periods of time, an absurd knowledge of useless trivia, and the ability to eat way more than I should. Oh, and I have a Wolverine-like recovery ability, too).
Some backstory: On the drive into Furnace Creek, my fiancée and I had met group of gents who were also on their way to Furnace Creek for the event. Introductions, handshaking, and camaraderie ensued. We later learned that they drove out hoping to camp at the Furnace Creek National Park campground. Unfortunately, due to the government shutdown, the campground would not be open until the day of the ride; when their heads grew heavy and their sight grew dim, they’d have no place to stop for the night. We let them know that the Furnace Creek Resort was allowing campers to stay at their RV lots because of the campground issue with the National Park. Fast forward to later that day, we saw them at the campground, happily setting up their tents.
And fast forward again, to me on the side of the road; one of the guys was riding up to where I was. He stopped, we talked, and he gave me some water! Hooray hydration!
Suddenly feeling much better, I gave my thanks, we said our goodbyes, and he headed off ahead. I was still thirsty, but I felt like I dodged a major bullet. I got back on the bike, and slowly made my way uphill to Scotty’s Castle. While I rested and got more water in my system, I chatted with some of the other riders who were there; some were doing the century, others the double. Once again, I’d like to add that in my professional opinion, they were nutcases.
Anyway, feeling replenished, and full of energy again, thanks to food, water, and my Wolverine-esque superpower, I headed off, enjoying the descent back to below sea level.
The ride continued; there were still sections of climbs, flats, and descents. I chugged along as best I could, trying to get back before the 10 hour cutoff time. When I realized I wasn’t going to make it, I just chugged along as best I could, trying to finish before it got dark. When I realized I wasn’t going to make it, I was very VERY glad I had thought to bring my lights. I was even gladder(?) that I had forgotten to turn them on at the start of the ride, and I had full battery for my front and rear lights.
It was pitch black, save for my lights, as I rolled up to the well-lit resort in the middle of nowhere. I had made it to the finish line, completing the Death Valley Century. Rolling time: 8:38:23. Total time: 11:05:52. 108 miles, 5135ft of elevation gain. I was greeted by a nice group of volunteers and other finishers, and of course, my lovely fiancee. The serenity of the desert was broken up by applause and a side of pizza. And red vines. And an ice cold Coca-Cola.
We went back to our campground, where I changed into some comfortable clothes, and we went back to the finish line to wait for my co-worker. The group of people had grown, and the subtle applause the crowd had given turned into a roar of cheers as people rolled to the finish. High-fives and hugs all around.
After that, things were pretty relaxed and uneventful. My co-worker had arrived at the finish line, but was unable to complete the last climb. Still, rather than wait for a SAG wagon to bring him back, he chose to ride to the finish line on his own; 180 miles is nothing to scoff at.
We had a delicious dinner of carne asada, roasted bell peppers, tortillas, and hummus, prepared by my lovely fiancee.
Oooh, and we had cupcakes. Dessert was cupcakes. Tasty cupcakes.
After dinner, we said our good nights and went to bed. In the morning, we woke up, got ready to leave, and left. Upon waking, I realized that I did not have any sunburn. This is pretty awesome, considering that I had only put on my Thinksport sunscreen once in the morning, and I had been out all day in the blazing sun of Death Valley.
The Death Valley Century was an intense ride; it was the hardest ride I’ve ever done. But I was positive, that it was certainly, a most excellent adventure.
Thanks for reading! Questions? Comments? Cheap shots? Next time I do one of these ride reports, what movie should I reference? Let me know.