The 1997 Death Valley Double
by Chuck Bramwell
The Seventh Annual Death Valley Double Century was held on Saturday, March 22, 1997. The course consisted of a new route: From the Longstreet Casino at the Nevada State Line to Death Valley Junction to Furnace Creek to Stovepipe Wells to Shoshone and back to the Longstreet Casino, 194 Miles.
Unlike last year where the winds were blowing at gail force (40 MPH Gusts), the wind was relatively light this year. In addition, a cloud cover kept the temperatures down at least during the morning hours!! Many riders recorded extremely fast First Century times by the time they rolled into the Badwater Rest Stop!! Ben Jones, the mayor of Badwater, was there working the Rest Stop and proudly showing off the newly installed PERMANENT RESTROOMS in his city. A major breakthrough for Badwater, Ben is running for re-election and was working the crowd for votes!! Unfortunately, the election is at 2:00P.M. on July 4th when the temperature is forecasted at about 134 Degrees so Ben's not sure about the turnout this year!! :) :) Badwater is the lowest place on the Northern Hemisphere at an elevation of Negative 282 Feet.
Then things really heated up by the Ashford Mills Rest Stop before the 3400 Foot Climb out of the Valley via Jubillee and Salsberry Passes!! By this time, the cloud cover had burned off resulting in temperatures rising up into the 90's. Jubilee is a relentless 6 Mile Climb followed by a 10 Mile Climb up Salsberry so everyone was more than happy to see the top!!
The remaining 47 Miles were a major reward with downhills / flats and tailwinds all the way back into the Longstreet Casino!! It was great fun finishing off a memorable day in the saddle at Warp 9!!
The 1997 Death Valley Double had 287 Riders start and 222 finish or 77%. For comparison, the 1996 Death Valley Double had 270 Riders start and 177 finish or 66%. The 1995 Death Valley Double was very difficult as well since the riders had to climb 4000 Feet in the last 30 Miles -- yet, 78% of the 223 finished even that challenge!!
Ride Organizer Hugh Murphy also organized a Sunday Breakfast where Pete Penseyres gave a great slide presentation from his record setting Team RAAM 1996 in which he teamed up with Ed Pavelka, Fred Matheny, and Skip Hamilton. Pete was still answering questions a couple of hours later from some very interested riders!! It was super to have Pete out for this ride: he's an inspiration to all of us!! Thanks for coming Pete!!
The Death Valley Double is the first of 11 Double Centuries that are part of the California Triple Crown. For a lot more info on these rides, check out www.caltriplecrown.com
The results can also be reached from www.caltriplecrown.com and the 1997 Schedule Page. Stay up to date on all of the California Triple Crown happenings by checking the "What's New" Page from time to time.
It was a great weekend of cycling for sure!!
California Triple Crown Guy
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