Last saturday, I attempted the Mulholland Double. As far as I can tell, there have been 0 finishers in the fixed gear categories within the time limit. I knew the odds were against me but I had to give it a shot.
This was my first planet ultra event and they ran a very professional event. They had a hotel, security, ballroom rented for registration, food at the finish, sag vehicals on the course, many checkpoints, a century route, and arrows on the ground marking the turns. Plus the controls were manned my some of my new brevet and velodrome friends. Great job, PU!
The route: 17000 feet over 200 miles. Starts in Agoura, bumps around Malibu, then around the coast to Potrero, and out across Moorpark to Filmore over Grimes, back over Balcom, then up Decker and Piuma/Stunt climbs. Any of these hills by themselves would be a challenge.
Forecast predicted rain, adding to the challenge, but the rain appeared to hold back. It was 39F at the start and I am soliciting ideas to keep my nose from freezing on the ride out. Willie was there with me at the 5:30am start but very quickly pulled away and I didn’t seem him again all day. As soon as the sun came up, we were on PCH and warmed up. The ocean was glassy and the dolphins were arching in the distance. The weather was truely perfect.
The first climb was up topanga and old topanga. These are my hills! I am so familiar with every pitch that I confidently climbed up those and the climb up Mullholland by the Rock Store. I had fun riding the ridge and it was rewarded by bombing down Yerba Buena. The road was rough but I was able to gain on many geared bikes by wrapping around the turns at full speed!
I was able to avoid walking up hills until Potrero. Looking at the google topo maps was misleading, as this hill pitched up to 20%. I road most of the time with two mexican guys in green. One didn’t know english and the other would rather not speak. I tried to communicate with them for a while but kept putting french words in for the spanish. How could I forget the word ocho?! Well, I wished I spoke more spanish because when we got to the lunch stop we found out they were on the century ride and had just completed 90 miles on the double. So they could either ride back 20+ miles to get on course or go on for 5-10 miles to the finish line the easier way. I have no idea what they opted to do. I was at the lunch stop with a tandem couple from New Mexico and they had convinced me we were behind schedule.
They were right! I road with John and Liz to the Fillmore control. I pulled ahead a little on the climb up Grimes Canyon and enjoyed that amazing descent. The canyon was much greener than I remembered it. We stayed at the control for only a few minutes. I was fortunate enough to meet Snoopy, who advised me on Townes Pass and Balcom Canyon. The ride up balcom was windy but it didn’t pitch up until the end, making the climb a really steep walk for all of us. Okay, 2 hills walked, not too bad.
With Balcom done, I ad to haul tail to get to Decker by 7pm. The headwind was slowing me down. Initially, I had to maintain a 13 mph average to make it there. By the time I hit PCH, I had to maintain a 22 mph average to make the checkpoint. I had little time to notice the view but did catch what looked like jet skis in the ocean., but turned out to be a whale.
Well, I used all my energy to make it to Decker and PCH with a minute to spare, only to realize the check point it is top of decker. 3 miles at 10-15% grade. I was spent, my asthma kicked in, and I could not calm my heart. I had talked myself into not pushing myself to ride anything over 10% on my inclinometer, but most of the canyon is that way.
The SAG kept checking on me and I felt guilty riding late. I knew I was the last rider and I knew I would be walking much of the rest of the ride. The Sag would come by, ask how I was doing, and I’d reply “I’ll ride until u stop me.” Beth, the SAG volunteer, would’ve never stopped me. But next time I saw her, at mile 158, 14 hours in, I threw in the towel. Beth and I spent the next several hours navigating the hills of Malibu together doing SAG. Mulholland Double and I may have a rematch next year, and I may have to convince the SF fixed riders to come down and be among the few to finish this amazing challenge.