The 1996 Heartbreak Double

by Muffy Ritz and Steve Born

"It's a heartbreak...nothing but a heartbreak" wailed the 170 riders as they rounded what they thought was the top of Heartbreak Hill at 126 miles, only to be heartbroken by the relentless continuation of the 8% climb.

The Heartbreak Double, formerly known as the Tour of Two Forests (TOTF) from 1980-1995 (may it rest in peace), now operated by Hugh Murphy Productions, was held on Saturday, June 1st, under beautifully warm (to become hot as the day progressed) skies in Palmdale, California. The 205 mile ride winds through, up, down, and around the Los Angeles and Los Padres National Forests (hence the original name), through the Lockwood Valley, and past many refreshing lakes. To add some challenge to the ride 13,650 feet of climbing are thrown in as well as nearly 50 miles of headwinds near the finish. Last year, in 1995, those winds were tailwinds and riders were literally blown back to Palmdale. Ah, but every year brings new challenges.

The top three male finishers were Peter Pop (11:38), Jim Frink (11:42), and Daryn Dodge (11:42).

The top female finishers were Muffy Ritz (12:49), Emmy Klassen (13:37), and Donna Dutra (14:03).

Cindi Staiger and Mark Patten set a new tandem record of 12:06 followed by other tandem riders Terri and Alex Lane (13:29) and Antoinette and Shawn Addison (14:29).

In my opinion The Heartbreak Double is one of the toughest of all the double centuries California has to offer. Only the Terrible Two and the Central Coast Double are more difficult in my book. It is to many people one of the most, if not the most, enjoyable organized rides to be found anywhere. This is due directly to the hard work and attention to detail on Hugh Murphy's (and staff's) part. The six evenly spaced rest stops were manned by enthusiastic and helpful volunteers and were greatly appreciated by all the riders. Fresh fruit, cookies, homemade banana bread, pretzels, potatoes, and cold drinks of all varieties were provided. The lunch stop was plentifully filled with sandwiches, energy bars, fruit, and more smiling faces. There were plenty of calories available! One of the best surprises was at the top of Heartbreak Hill where ice cold popsicles were waiting for fatigued riders. Perfect! Great touch Hugh!

Eleven ham radio operators were spread throughout the course to constantly update headquarters as to the progress and locations of riders as well as any problems that might be popping up. 205 miles is a lot of ground to cover. Hugh and his staff were on top of everything!

Every turn was well marked so if your route slip wiggled out of your pocket you'd still make it safely back to Palmdale. A large grassy area provided space for riders to sprawl out, babble about the ride, have a massage, and eat a variety of foods including sumptuous turkey sandwiches and chili. Also, within minutes of finishing, techno wizard (and fellow ultra marathoner) Chuck Bramwell had results posted with hourly updates as more riders rolled in.

As daylight turned to dusk, then to dark, riders continued to finish...most , if not all with smiles. The last reached the finish around 11:30 PM with both Hugh and Chuck there to greet them. For all, it had been a long day. Incidently the start was a self seeding start, any time after 3:00 AM. Most people rolled out after first light-- 5:30 AM.

The following morning Hugh organized a post ride breakfast which included some anecdotes by Hugh as well as my condensed version slide show of my two RAAM efforts from 1993 and 1995. The room was full of tired, hungry Heartbreak riders, most wearing their Heartbreak Double signature t-shirts. This is a great ride, one that many people do every year, year after year, no doubt due to the fact that it is put on by a well organized group.

Thanks to everyone who helped make this year's Heartbreak a great ride!

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