Eastern Sierra Double Century 2011

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Click here to watch a short video of today’s ride

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The start/finish location of this double century takes place at
the La Quinta Inn in Bishop, which is on the eastern side of the Sierra. The
course covers 200 miles with 10,200 feet of elevation gain; the first half is
front loaded with climbing, leaving the second half of the double with only
3000′ of ascent. The time limit for this event is 18 hours.

The route takes us from Bishop to Round Valley, Swall Meadows, Mammoth Lakes, Crestview, June Lake, Lee Vining, Benton, Chalfant Valley and back. We ride through Inyo and Mono Counties.

There are 6 check points (CP) with two cut off times. CP#2 at mile 48.7 closes at
9:30 AM and CP#3 at mile 71.2 closes at 11:45 AM. If either CP is missed, you
will be required to turn around and ride back to Bishop on Hwy 395.

There is a “Mass” start at 5:00 AM. Temp is 55F. Sunrise is at 5:33
with sunset at 20:11. We exchange greeting s with Veronica, Kitty and Jason.
Everyone calls out their number as they roll pass Gary, the acting ride
director for this event.

We exit the parking lot and head out on E. Line Street to Warm Springs Rd for a
flat loop back to Hwy 395. We continue on Gerkin Rd to Sunland and Shober Lane. It’s a nice warm up on the flatlands through the Owen Rivers region.

We continue on Barlow Ln through a residential neighborhood to W Line Street and take Ed Powers Rd to Sawmill Rd. The sun is rising and the Sierra Mountains are coming into view; it’s absolutely stunning, WOW! The terrain here is totally flat.

The route continues to take us north on S Round Valley to N Round Valley Rds for the next 6 miles through cattle ranches and farmlands. The gradient through the valley is at a steady 2% and the winds have picked up a bit too. We arrive
at CP#1, Round Valley School, mile 29.6 at 7:05 AM. The surrounding landscape
is gorgeous! I’m in total awe of the scenery and feel so very lucky to be here.

We take Birchim Lane to Old Sherwin Grade Rd for the next 7.6 miles. The gradient starts off very gradually at 2-3% and increases to 4-5%. Once you see the left turn around the guard rails, the gradient increases to 7-8% as you make your way through the residential neighborhood. The road does seem to level out a bit; back down to 5-6% with pitches of 8-9% in between. It’s very quiet back here with minimal traffic. The road condition isn’t bad either. Take the time to look around and let the mountains draw you in, it’s a wonderful distraction to the long climb up to the summit. The last 3/4 mile to the top is at a steady 8-9% grade.

The descent takes us down to Lower Rock Creek. You can hear the rush of the
water flowing rapidly and see guys fishing along the bed of the creek. The climb back up to Hwy 395 is about 2 miles with an average gradient of about 5-6%. The road does level out a bit and then continues back at a 6-7% grade to the top.

We get a slight tailwind on Hwy 395 to our exit at Tom’s Place/Crowley Lake Dr.
The winds are howling as we ride through the valley floor towards Aspen
Springs. There is a 5% climb and a fast windy descent to our next stop. We
reach CP#2 at Crowley Lake Park, mile 48.7 at 9:30 AM.

We stay on Crowley Lake Dr for the next 3.6 flat miles to Hwy 395.
It’s 5.7 miles to our next exit at Sherwin Creek Rd. The road is
relatively flat with one short climb before the turn onto Substation Rd.
Substation Rd becomes SR 203; there is a steady 4-5% four mile climb into
the town of Mammoth Lakes. The next turn on Minaret Rd takes us through the ski resort area.

We head north out of town via the Mammoth Scenic Loop. The initial 7-8% climb
around the right hand bend is short. Thereafter, the road levels out and you
get a fabulous 4+ mile descent all the way out to Hwy 395. There’s still some
snow up there! The temp drops dramatically to a cold 46F.

The short 6% climb on Hwy 395 takes us up and over to our next stop. We reach CP#3 at Crestview Safety Rest Area, mile 71.5 at 11:35 AM. Total elevation gain at this point is 6100′.

We continue north on Hwy 395 for the next 8 miles. The 2 mile climb up to Deadman Summit has a gradient of about 5% with several pitches of 7-8%. The road levels out to about 2% as you approach the summit.

It’s a slight downhill for the next 3.9 miles to the next turn at June Lake
Loop/SR 158. We immediately get hit with headwinds at the start of the
15.3 mile loop and can feel small drops of rain coming down on us. The short
5-7% climb drop us through the resort area and takes us around several lakes;
June, Gull, Silver and Grant Lakes.

By now, it’s actually raining, we stop to put on our rain jackets and continue on. This area is very beautiful; it’s quiet and very scenic. It’s really amazing
to be able to see the snow capped Carson Peak serve as the backdrop to this ride; it’s both surreal and breathtaking!

Even with the impending weather conditions, I noticed that the RV campsites were pretty full. There were plenty of folks walking about with their dogs too. The end of the loop brings us back to Hwy 395.

Hwy 395 is the main artery for the first half of this double. We continue north for
the next 10 miles to the lunch stop. Riding along 395 is not too bad; traffic
is very light, the road conditions are pretty good and the shoulder area is plenty wide. The gradient is around 3-4% for the first few miles and then it’s a nice descent all the way through Lee Vining and into the County Park.

We reach CP#4 at Mono Lake Park, mile 104.5 at 2:05 PM. I share a turkey sandwich with Michael, munch on some chips and chug down half a can of Coke.

Leaving Mono Lake, we head south on Hwy 395 to Hwy 120. The climb back up is about 3.5 miles with an average grade of about 5%. It’s still lightly sprinkling.

Leaving Mono Lake, we head south on Hwy 395 to Hwy 120. The climb back up is about 3.5 miles with an average grade of about 5%. It’s still lightly sprinkling.

We get a nice tailwind on the flats heading east on Hwy 120. The descent takes us along the south end of Mono Lake. The views are superb! 

The climb up Hwy 120 seemed endless; it just went on and on and on. You’re on
rolling terrain with gradients of 3-5%. The climb to the false summit has a
gradient of 9-10%. The descent drops us down onto the flat high plains towards
Sage Hen Summit. It’s quite surprising to see such nice road conditions back
here; there’s absolutely no traffic!

We reach CP#5 at Sage Hen Summit, mile 130 at 5:00 PM.

The descent down the backside is fast and I can feel the winds really coming
on strong. The terrain is pretty flat with lots of rollers and short steep
climbs in between. The road conditions are bad; there are wide cracks
running across the whole road for miles and miles; at about 15 feet apart. I
felt every bump at every crack!

The winds were blowing fiercely and relentlessly! We were moving but going nowhere fast. This went on  for 30 miles…..

There is one short 8-10% climb out of the red lava canyons into Benton. The dramatic views of the changing and shifting of the clouds and the sun setting above us was really visually appealing to me. It’s striking and magnificent, I’m loving it!

We reach CP#6 at Ida Lynn Parkinson Memorial Park, mile 158.9 at 7:20 PM.

The last 36 miles on Hwy 6 back to Bishop is absolutely flat. The winds are still
very unforgiving and blowing as strong as ever. It’s now pitch black, I look
down at my odometer and we’re moving at a slug pace of 7-8 mph. At this
rate, we’re lucky if we can get back to the finish within the time limit.

In the dark, you have no depth perception; there are no lights to count up or
down. We would occasionally see the the tail light of some cars
disappearing into the darkness and never seem to get to where they were. It’s a
very strange feeling.

My lights did catch sight of a snake on the road along with mice. The winds never let up, it kept hitting us harder and harder. I would get up front for a pull
and the wind would just blow me around; it’s very demoralizing.

Finally, we could see some car lights in the distance; they’re on Hwy 395! We’re getting close. The last 3 miles into town was heads down pedaling. We arrive back at La Quinta at 11:00 PM. YEAH, we’re done!

The winds just beat us down for the last 60+ miles of the ride, it was absolutely

Thanks to Gary and all the PU volunteers for being out there and supporting us. The course was well marked and there was even a volunteer with his dog at almost every turn during the first 70 miles of the ride. I saw several SAG vehicles roaming the whole route throughout the course of the ride. Great job!

The views and scenery on this course is hands down “the best”! The Sierra mountains, lakes and forests makes this one heck of a spectacular ride.

VDO Stats:
Miles: 200.28
Elevation: 10.645′
Avg Speed: 12.1
Saddle Time: 16:29:29
Total Time: 18:00

Weather: Morning sun turning to overcast cloudy skies with some rain. Starting temp of 55F, reaching a high of 60F and dropping to a low of 46F around Mammoth Lakes. Strong winds through out the day and night.

Nutrition: Maltodextrin mix, lots of water, PBJ sandwich, a banana, a few pretzels, half of a turkey sandwich, some chips and a can of Coke.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>PUSH ON-KEEP MOVING!>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

This is the Eastern Sierra Double route:


  1. Nice writeup and photos!The Eastern Sierra Double is my favorite ride in the world. 🙂 It's too bad it was raining in the June Lake Loop for you … that is usually the highlight of the ride. Did you notice Horsetail Falls as before the loop turned North? Sweet.Anyway, just thought I'd mention that the stretch from Benton to Bishop is actually downhill! Most of it varies from 1-2% and there is even one 3% section. That usually makes for a sweet end to a beautiful ride, but you had that awful headwind to deal with.Congratulations!


  2. Hi Nancy,can you recommend a mini helmet cam for me to try at Paris-Brest-Paris? I saw some at Frys–pretty tiny and cheap—under $100. cheers,Kittykgoursolleatyahoo.com


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