November 2, 2002 Death Valley Century and Double Century
Photos by Chris Kostman: Furnace Creek, Badwater, Ashford Mill, and Salsberry Pass

Report/Show 1 - Roster/Show 2 - Double Results/Show 3 - Death Valley Index

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A record field of 155 century riders and 168 double century riders enjoyed the most perfect conditions that Mother Nature has quite possibly ever had to offer cyclists in this most excellent of America’s National Parks. Riders came from Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Kansas, Illinois, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.

The double riders hit the road at 6am as the sun rose from the mountains on the east side of the valley, while the century riders followed in their wake between 630 and 700am. Starting at sea level at the Furnace Creek Ranch, the riders enjoyed a gently rolling and slightly downhill cruise to the Badwater checkpoint at mile 17, not to mention at 280 feet below sea level. Many riders flew on by, enjoying the windless morning and the benefit of paceline riding. Others stopped to visit the Badwater crew of Ken Kistinger, Jeff Spilker, and Brian Hjelmervik.

Next up was Ashford Mill, staffed this year by grizzled Furnace Creek 508 veterans Mark Panther Patten and Reed Flamingo Finfrock, both in Halloween costume (or was that their normal attire?). The Panther was "Evil Fuzzy," sporting a scary face on a body and hat that otherwise looked like SAG guru Lee Fuzzy Mitchell, while the Flamingo was "Buzzy," a bee/man hybrid that kept everybody guessing. These two had their hands full all day with riders coming both directions during their entire shift.

Century riders made their u-turn back towards Furnace Creek from the summit of 1,293ft Jubilee Pass, while double riders pressed on to Shoshone via Salsberry Pass, elevation 3315ft. Many stopped to get water, ice, and Clif Shots from the water stop run by Ray Coyote Barnes about halfway up Salsberry. In Shoshone, the cyclists competed for attention with the annual "Old West Celebration" and its cowboys sporting six-shooters, hot rods, craft-sellers, lots of good eatin’, live music, and much more. I got half my holiday shopping done while the riders scarfed food and drink at the checkpoint run by Doug Patterson and Tim Deyarmie.

But quickly the festivities were over and it was time for the riders to slog back over Salsberry and Jubilee in reverse and retrace their pedal strokes back to Ashford Mill, Badwater, and Furnace Creek. (Lots of good sandwiches and more awaited the riders at Badwater, the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere for a lunch spot.) The Furnace Creek Ranch was the finish line for the century riders, plus the 23 riders who decided to call it a day after 150 miles, a noble achievement. But for 132 riders, it was now time to enjoy the desert in the evening and under a blanket of stars while riding to Stove Pipe Wells and back. SPW was a welcome haven from the increasing chill of the night. It never got really cold, but some 80 cup o’ soups were guzzled down there by the hardy double riders, served by Ray Coyote Barnes and Brian Hjelmervik.

Meanwhile, the roving SAGs of Lee Mitchell, Mike Angelos, Clay Bowling, Keith Vandervere, and myself continuously cruised the course, providing encouragement, batteries, lights, reflective gear, and whatever else was needed to keep the riders homeward bound in a safe and legal manner.

Finally, the finish line at the Furnace Creek Ranch was a sight for sore butts for everyone that day. Century riders, 150-miles-is-enough riders, and double riders all enjoyed the yummy food and camaraderie from mid-day all the way until nearly midnight. The Cohn triplets and Debbie Dolphin Caplan held down the fort admirably, providing a great finish line for an awesome ride and an awesome year on Planet Ultra!

Of the 168 who started the double, 132 became official finishers, while there were also 7 DNF, 23 completed 150 miles, and 6 never checked in at the finish. It was a great way to finish off the year. Congrats to everyone!

Congrats to frontrunners Carol Breed and Doug Gratton of Gardnerville, NV who repeated their off-the-front performance from a year ago by smoking the course on their tandem in 10:24. The lead solo man was Jeff Landauer of Roseville, CA in 10:47 and the lead solo woman was Jill McLaughlin of Campbell, CA in 12:52. This isn’t a race, but one can’t be anything but impressed with athletic performances at that level.

Hats off to the first time double riders: Brent Blue, Arthur Combs, Karl Erickson, Scot Gould, Bob Kain, and Todd Kalchbrenner!

And kudos to those for whom this event was their third 2002 double, earning them the California Triple Crown: Bill Chadwell, Steven Cimini, Joan Gallagher, Ali Nikkhah, Jimmy Seneris, plus Ronald Zell who made the CTC Thousand Mile Club!

Finally, special recognition goes to Merrick California Condor Cohn for completing EVERY double century, the Brevet Series of 200km, 300km, 400km, and 600km events, AND the AdventureCORPS Furnace Creek 508 bicycle race. What an incredible accomplishment! Great job, Merrick!

- Chris Kostman

Thanks again to everyone for their efforts!

Badwater: Ken Kistinger, Jeff Spilker, and Brian Hjelmervik

Ashford Mills: Mark Panther Patten and Reed Flamingo Finfrock

Water Stop on Salsberry: Ray Coyote Barnes

Shoshone: Doug Patterson and Tim Deyarmie

Furnace Creek: Deborah Dolphin Caplan, Sandy Clare, and Chandra, Hannah, and Amy Cohn

Stove Pipe Wells: Brian Hjelmervik and Ray Coyote Barnes

Roving SAG: Lee Mitchell

Roving SAG: Mike Angelos

Roving SAG: Clay Bowling

Roving SAG: Keith Vandervere and Chris Kostman

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