Furnace Creek 508 2012: Stage 3-Trona to Furnace Creek

Saturday, October 6, 2012

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Tim and I are psyched to start Stage 3, we hit the road at dusk after receiving the baton from Lisa & Jason; the support van is following right behind us.

Trona Rd take us through the middle of town with views of all the dry mineral deposits in Searles Dry Lake. We pass the high school and a small residential neighborhood as we continue to exit town. By now, we’re riding in total darkness with the headlights of the support van lighting up the roadway ahead of us.

The flat miles out of Trona bring us to the 1000′ climb up the Trona Bump to the Panamint Valley. It’s about 10 miles long with gentle gradient ranges of 2-4.5%. We’re rolling along at a pretty good clip, passing many single riders as we make our way up to the summit at 2960′.  Can you see us?

Having a support crew handing us water bottles and food is such a luxury! We just let them know what we need and in a few minutes, the exchange is smoothly done with minimal effort on both parties. WOW!

We pass a few more single riders on this section of road and at one point, a rider we had passed previously leap frogs in front of us. In the meantime, Tim is munching away on half of a PBJ sandwich. After having his power snack, we ride pass the same guy and he looks over to us to say “I hope we’re not going to be doing this all night!” Tim says “I was eating!” and we pull ahead of him-I can  see him drifting away from my rear view mirror.

At the summit, we pass a single rider that surprisingly looks over to us and says “really, you’re gonna pass me here?” Without hesitation, Tim quickly replies “yeah, this is a race!” and we’re off!

The winding descent drops us though the valley down to 1300′ with short rolling climbs up to the turn at Panamint Valley Rd. The next few flat miles take us to the turn up Townes Pass.

Townes Pass is considered the hardest mountain climb of  the whole race; gaining 3800′ in 13 miles!  There are elevation markers at 2000′, 3000′ and 4000′. The first few miles up to 2000′ is fairly gentle. The remaining climb up gets much steeper with gradient ranges of 6-9% and increases to double digits grades of 10-13% as you near the 4000′ marker. The last few miles up to the summit are pretty gradual.

Tim casually remarks “how come my name isn’t painted on the road?” I reply with a few shouts of “Allez! Allez!” That produces a few laughs from both of us. I told him next time, we’ll have to bring our own cowbell and ring ourselves up the mountain. We can be the most obnoxious tandem team ever!

The night temperatures were in the mid 70’s-it was great to be able to just have on a short sleeve jersey and shorts!

It’s pretty cool to be climbing Townes Pass in the dark. I can look back to see the long string of bright headlights behind us and a few red taillights ahead of us. That’s a good thing; there are more riders behind us than ahead of us! We’re just keeping a steady pace all the way up to the summit at 4956′.

Tim tells me that once we crest the summit, the moon will be on the other side. The dark skies above us already has thousands of shining stars, it’s a really clear night! And right he is-the 3/4 moon is there to welcome us into Death Valley.

I thought it would be really chilly descending from the summit down to Stovepipe Wells, but it was amazingly warm!  We come across a coyote crossing the road in front of us, Tim yells at it and it continued on and disappeared into the darkness.

The 17 mile descent down through the valley was fantastic! The road felt smooth and there were no technical turns. The route continues south through Death Valley. We’re very fortunate to have mild winds along this whole flat section of the valley. We descend to a low elevation of -282′ below sea level.

We pass the Scotty’s Castle turnoff, the Furnace Creek campgrounds and continue on the desert rollers into Furnace Creek.

We arrive at Time Station #3-Cheveron gas station at 1:25 AM. We did some quick calculations and realized that we did 98 miles with 7538′ elevation in 6 hrs and 10 mins-WOW!  Thank you Tim and thanks to our teammates for supporting us out the road!

The baton has been passed to Steve and Julie for their run up Jubilee Pass and Salsberry Pass.

Start Time: 19:01
Miles: 98.19
Elevation: 7538′
Arrival at Time Station #3-Furnace Creek: 01:25
Elapsed Time: 15:55:00
Time from last Station: 06:24:00
Avg Speed: 15.34 mph
Miles into Race: 252.0
Temps: Mid 70’s, clear night with bright moon & stars, mild winds

My Nutrition: 3 bottles of maltodextrin mix, water, Cliff Shot Bloks, Enduralytes and a banana.

Click here to read a ride report from Lisa Mc’s perspective; inside the support van

Click here to continue on to Stage 4

Click here to view the route map & profile

This is the route sheet for Stage 3:

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