Bass Lake Powerhouse Double Century
October 9, 2004 Test Ride
Thanks again to you and your great support staff for the ride Saturday. The route was great, and other than the LONG climb on 49 out of Ahwanhee to the county line--very enjoyable. I think all the rest stops were appropriately placed, but don't know that you need the water stop at Maxon and Trimmer Springs. The water stop at the County line might be expanded to include sodas as well as water--I know the other Dave I was riding with really appreciated the fact that Ron Q was there with an icebox of sodas (I can't drink anything carbonated on these rides, so it wasn't a factor for me).
I really appreciated having the cracker and chips at most of the rest stops--I really need salty things on long rides like this to balance the Gatorade's sweetness and to help me retain fluids.
The ending mileage according to my odometer was 202 miles and my clock read 14 hours and 42 minutes. This calculates to a 13.74 mph average with rest stop times included. Dave and I rode the complete route with no detours or missed turns and I started and stopped my computer at the Veterans' Hall.
This ride is as nice or nicer than many of the doubles on the Triple Crown circuit I've ridden and definitely worth adding to the series.
Thanks again--I hope it's a go for next October.
Dennis and Chuck,
This certainly shouldn't be most rider's first double but it should be on every other rider's list. Plenty of challenge, big on scenery and quiet country roads. Lots of climbing, nothing really severe or too long (no Skags Springs or Gualala) but some good tests on Powerhouse and the Hwy 49 climb to the Mariposa County line. Great descents, even on Ben Hur (the sweeping turns reminded me of the descent off Diablo into Walnut Creek only the road was narrower and a little rougher - didn't think it was as bad as Dennis made it sound). But you were right about the 2 miles on Hwy 41 - no shoulder and lots of traffic - not as bad as Putah Creek Road though on Knoxville down from Monticello). Anyway, it was a pleasure to have ridden it. Thank you for the hospitality, Dennis. Very good support. Here's a few more notes leg-by-leg.
Start to Rest Stop 1: Flat section. Good warm up. Got into the country quickly. No traffic this early in the morning. My distance was 26.7 M. I didn't record my time here. Good spot for a rest stop.
RS 1 to Water Stop 2: Rollers. Lovely. Nice views of Pine Flat Lake. We didn't stop for water here so I didn't record my mileage. Don't think this WS was necessary this early in the day and only 13 miles from RS 1.
WS 2 to RS 3: Quiet stretch, easy climbing. By this time I have left all the worries from the office far behind and just into the scenery and chatting with my ride partner. Mileage to the elementary school was 53.3 and the time was 8:55. This was the right distance. The high school would have been too far, what with Smalley Cove only 15 miles further.
RS 3 to RS 4: The descent to Kerckhoff Lake was very sweet. With more familiarity, this is one fast, technical descent without those decreasing radius turns that can surprise you. Mileage to here was 70.0 and we arrived at 10:02.
RS 4 to WS 5 and the time trial on Powerhouse: Thank goodness this wasn't the 5 or 6 miles or the 12% grade I thought it was going to be. It seemed more like 4 miles max of climbing and then mostly flat (but no legs left). Knowing the WS was on top, I chose not to refill at RS 4 and carry the weight up the hill. BTY, my time from the cattle guard at the street entrance to Ken (?) was 35:20.
WS 5 to Lunch: I recall the road sign at the stop at mile 73.5 on your route sheet said Rd 200 to the left and Rd 202 to the right. We went right (D Youngs knew the route) but others might get confused. It seemed too that the road changed names before we got to Rd. 274. Very pretty here thru the pines and into Pines Village. Arrived at lunch at mile 89.0 at 11:58. Great location for lunch right along the shore of Bass Lake.
Lunch to WS 7: This was some of the toughest, most challenging stretch. The climb to the county line was by far the most tiring of the day. Glad you didn't decide to do a second TT here. Definitely was revived by a cold soda the sag crew had. You need chairs here and cold drinks in addition to water. If you were at all unsure of finishing earlier, this climb would cinch it. The mileage here was 106.4 and we arrived at 1:40.
WS 7 to RS 8: The downhill at the county line was well worth the climb and the climb up from the river wasn't as bad as the previous one. The descent into Mariposa was fast and sweet. No problems with traffic thru this stretch. Mileage was 130.7 and the time was 3:23 at Mariposa. Great spot for a rest stop and great restrooms.
RS 8 to RS 9: Ben Hur Rd. was better than advertised. Some new pavement helped but there were some nice turns here that you could use both lanes and some where you had better use caution. Good mix. Met a new friend here. The scenery again was superb. The last instruction says R on Rd 415. The sign said Rd 600 I recall. Same applies once we left the stop. The mileage here was 154.4 and the time was 5:11.
RS 9 to RS 10: The signage onto Rd 400 was OK but I noticed that it soon changed to 600 something. Then we got to a T intersection and there was no instruction directing us left (again, David Y. knew the way; he said a right turn would have taken us to a quarry). Pavement markings would prevent any confusion. The stop at the school was the right distance between stops and a good choice. We arrived there at 6:50 at mile 175.1.
RS 10 to the finish: Thank you for the tailwind!! Total mileage was 201.1 and we finished at 8:20 p.m.. Pretty well toast but satisfied. And ready to do it again, this time for CTC credit I hope.
Thanks again Dennis for hosting this.
Hi Chuck, Dennis,
It was a very good day to ride on a great course. The support for this test ride was very good. I was never wanting. I will attempt to answer the items outlined in the letter below:
Compare to other doubles ridden:
I probably have the least experience of riding doubles compared to the others. I believe this would be a nice addition to the triple crown.
There were two main areas of varied concern: 1) 49 coming out of Oakhurst -- the bike lane is wide enough, but the fast traffic on this two lane road was a surprise to me. This did not last too many miles. 2) The two mile section of 41 -- extra resources should be devoted to this section particularly at night. Resources should included well lit signs with flashing lights before and on the 2 mile section. Other areas to note: 1) Sections of Ben Hur were quite bumpy. My light wheels made it through just fine even though I rode with speed, but cautiously. It should be daylight when a majority to the riders get through this section. I believe Dave Evens and group may have hit this section on or just past dusk (need to verify). After Spring Valley School and before the turnoff to the back of Millerton are some bumpy sections and tight turns, but with reasonable caution, this should be fine.
Steepness and gears:
I do not use an altimeter, however, I do not recall long sections of very steep gradient, although the TT section would actually qualify. There was a good mix of varied gradients and lengths of climbing. I used a 53/39, 12-29. I tend to spin.
I came up with approximately 201 -- 201.25.
Judging from the various Climb to Kaisers I have done, the fantastic support FCC provides is second to none.
I am looking forward to doing this next year.
Dennis and Chuck,
I would rate the quality of this ride as very high. The positives far outweigh my only negatives which are sections of Highway 49 and Highway 41. I would sign up annually for this route without question. We had great support from Dennis and his crew as well.
My normal training grounds are the mountains east of Sacramento, so Saturday's ride was my kind of environment. Dennis and his group picked some outstanding roads, almost all with good surface quality and very little traffic. I will definitely be signing up for this ride annually. This was a pristine ride in almost all respects. The only negatives were the busy sections of HWY 49 between Oakhurst and Mariposa, and HWY 41 toward the end of the ride. I'm sure Dennis has considered all options to bypass these busy roads, and found none. Other riders may not be as bothered as I am with riding on busy highways -- it's a personal pet peeve.
Personally, I preferred this ride over most coastal doubles, mainly because there's less traffic and the weather is generally warmer and more consistent. Also, considering the level of support Dennis and his crew exhibited on Saturday, plus past experience in the Climb to Kaiser, there's no question this ride will be supported at the level of the best doubles. I hope Fresno Cycling doesn't throw in a century or even a metric century option. Mt. Tam double this year was dissapointing from a support point of view mainly because the double route joined the century route later in the ride and there were no cokes/hammer products left for the double riders. And this is coming from somebody who requires very little support - I normally carry all my own Sustained Energy and only need some Hammer Gel occastionally along the way and maybe a coke towards the end of the ride (I also realize that was Mt Tam's first double, so there's a learning curver as well).
I didn't find any of the grades difficult (although I train in a hillier enviroment), so I don't think any rider needs special gearing for the ride. In fact, I think Dennis overestimated the grades of the time trial somewhat (8%-12%) in his initial e-mail. It felt more like 3% - 6%. Unfortunately, my cyclocomputer battery died at the start so I couldn't check the grades.
Personally, I think it would be better if the ride started at 5:00AM rather than 5:30. This would allow more riders to get through the short but extremely busy section of HWY 41 before dark.
Regarding support, while I don't consider myself particularly fast (I just spend very little time at rest stops compared to most riders), I know that most of the faster riders don't eat much solid food along the way. They rely mainly on Hammer gel/sustained energy and maybe some fruit. So it's important to have plenty of Hammer products on hand.
Thanks again for the enjoyable ride -- it was a heck of a lot of fun. I look forward to next year's ride.
I know I speak for John D. Long in saying once again that the Bass Lake Powerhouse Double Century will be one of the highlights of the season. Dennis Horton and the gang, especially our guardian angle Liz, did a top notch SAG job. The route covered some of the most beautiful country available for doubles. The roads are no more or less challenging than other doubles. Sometimes the traffic is a bit tight but no worse than other doubles. Traffic seems to come with the territory. This double is also a great candidate for the stage race event. My hat is off to Dennis for having a "as long as you are out there trying, we'll support you" attitude about cut off times. I might be able to finist it next year. Now with 17 doubles next year we'll have our work cut out for us.
First thing is to thank Dennis and his crew for a fantastic double and a wonderful job of support. Special thanks to Liz, our own private SAG Angel. She was virtually never out of our sight for the whole 200 miles! Thanks to Ron, Dick and Cannon too, everybody did a great job.
As far as the course goes, I don't think it could be any better, I loved it! The absence of traffic on most of the route was great! A couple of the heavier traffic spots, Hwy 49 and later Hwy 41, sort of reminded me of our Southern California roads with very light traffic! I think it's just what you get used to.
As far as the rest and water stops go, I think that they were well placed. It was quite cool for us so we could've gotten away without the water stops, but on a hotter day, and especially for riders that just carry a couple of water bottles, I think they will be needed. At least use them next year to see how it works out. The food was very good, they had everything I needed and I felt great throughout the whole ride.
The slower group consisting of Tom Parkes, John Long and myself hooked up with Mike Rodriguez at Mariposa. He had gotten behind due to two flats and finished the ride with us.
We did clear the bad pavement on Ben-Hur well before dark so that should be no problem. If I had to ride that in the dark, I would just slow to about 15 MPH and ride it cautiously. I didn't see any unfilled dangerous holes though; it's just very rough.
The narrow stretch on Hwy 41 only lasts for about a mile, after that there is a good shoulder. I demonstrated "The Barbie Wobble" on that stretch and it amazed everyone how much room all the cars gave us!
I used a 39x27 for all of the steep climbing and it was fine. I had a 30-tooth chainring but didn't need to use it anywhere. I have an inclinometer on the bars and I saw numerous sections of 12% to 16% but they usually were quite short, just a steeper section of longer, gentler climbs. Some of the longer climbs were running 6% to 12%. Probably the hardest climb was Powerhouse, which I thought was going to be 5.2 mile climb, but the hard climbing was done at 3.3 miles with an average grade of about 8%.
I ended up with 200.22 miles using a Cateye Astrale 8 and 14,400 feet of elevation gain using a Polar S710i. When I downloaded the data, the Polar graph adds up the gain differently and it said 15,962 feet. Your choice but I think it is actually somewhere in between and favoring the higher reading.
I not only feel that this ride is good enough for the California Triple Crown, I feel that this will become one of the premier CTC events of the year. Even after riding Ben-Hur Road, I loved it!!! It is a tough ride but all the great ones are!
Dave Evans AKA BRD
Return to California Triple Crown Schedule Page
Return to California Triple Crown Home Page