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It starts with having the right crew.

Record Attempt: WUCA Capital to Capital (to Capital) Sacramento, CA to Carson City, NV and back to Sacramento, CA
Rider: Mark Christopher Davies, Solo Male 40-49
Crew: Robert Baldino, Kevin Van Dyke
Official: Paul Carpenter
Ride times:
Sacramento, CA to Carson City, NV (S -> N), Aug 8, 2017, 00:09a to Aug 8, 2017, 10:27, 10 hours, 18 minutes, 147.1 miles, 12725’ of climbing,
Carson City, NV to Sacramento, CA, (N -> S), Aug 8 2017, 11:10a to Aug 8, 2017, 21:56, 10 hours, 46 minutes, 147.3 miles, 8256’ of climbing,
Sacramento, CA to Carson City, NV to Sacramento, CA (S -> N -> S), Aug 8, 2017, 00:09 to 21:56, 21 hours, 47 minutes, 294.4 miles, 20981’ of climbing
Sacramento, CA Capitol Building, 1100 N Street, Sacramento, CA, 95814
Carson City, NV Capitol Building, 101 N Carson St, Carson City, NV 89701

The Bike: Hong Fu FM-079 disk, SRAM Force 22 53/39, Power2Max power meter, Wolf Tooth Components RoadLink, SRAM Force22 mid-cage derailleur, 11-36t rear cassette, Infinity Saddle.

It was a dark and gloomy night. No, it was a clear moonlight night in the high 50s. I rolled out of the hotel, opted to ride to the start down a few streets, waited… where’s my follow vehicle?

Let’s take a step back. What started this ride was a thought I had in my head in 2012. I learned about the WUCA and wanted to set a record. I moved from Florida to Silicon Valley to train for RAAM, dabbled in a few events but still wanted to set an World UltraCycling Association Record. The Capital to Capital record seemed like a good first step.

What is the Capital of California? Sacramento… What is the nearest Capital? Umm.. Carson City, Nevada. I’ve done the Death Ride, I’ve ridden Carson Pass, it’s about 130 miles and fits the longer than 100 mile criteria. The ultimate route turned out to be just over 147 miles each way.

When Paul Carpenter and I were driving to Borrego Springs 6/12/24 Time Trial in 2015, we chatted about the Capital to Capital record attempt and maybe doing two attempts for two riders back to back. Milling around Christmas Circle I talked briefly with Robert Baldino and he seemed interested as well. Over time I had mentioned the idea to a few people and the concept was, one rider one day, next rider the next day, next rider the next day. If only it would have been that easy.

Each of us had ridden parts of the course so I drove up and did a survey of the course. I found that part of the intended route was closed and we needed to come up with some alternates. This added a bit of challenge as time was coming near and we hadn’t really settled on a route. Amador County said, sure, your preferred route will be open. Preferred became another problem. Kevin Van Dyke set up two TomTom units for observation point notifications and the route, but, his definition of Preferred was the route we would probably take, but, in my mind, that was the alternate route.

Back to the phone call at 12:03, “Where are you?” Follow vehicle, ‘Where are you?’ A little conversation and we get the follow van around to the side of the Capitol Building and we’re off at 12:09. Carson City in 144 miles. Getting out of the city hits a number of lights that are prevailing green for our outbound leg. Bear right onto 16 and 30 miles to the next turn. Blam, sealant everywhere, flat. Why couldn’t I have checked my backup bike earlier? When I went to check it the night before, the right brake lever refused to work. I attempted to bleed the rear brake thinking there was air in the system from a previous crash. But no luck. I pulled the wheelset off the bike… the uninflated tires I hadn’t ridden in ages. Kevin swapped the tire, we pumped it up, kicking ourselves for not having pumped it up the night before and I’m back on the road. However, that 50mm wheel had my 11-36t cassette which I knew I would need later. He made quick work of pulling the tire off, mounting a new tire and tube and we waited to swap it at a better time. Do check rides on all bikes well before you need them — make sure they are in good working order.

Around this time my Garmin popped up a message saying the power meter battery was low. Three minutes later, no more power readings. I’ve been experimenting with power budgeting and keeping a decent wattage rather than spiking up for climbs and coasting on the other side. The idea was to pedal constantly but don’t go all out on sprints or climbs or rollers. This is a long ride and by keeping my power in a much narrower band, I felt this would keep my average speed higher because I wouldn’t burn my legs out early. However, losing the power meter early meant I lost a pretty important metric for pacing.

I hit some rollers and then made the left up Ridge Road. Ugh, time to change to the other cassette, so, a wheel swap and I’m back on the road. The real climb began around mile 43 — the 60 mile climb to 8576’. As I got closer to the summit, the sun was rising and the temperatures were fairly decent. Riding past the few restaurants along the way, I thought, I’ve had a burger at this one, a burger at that one, a burger… I eat a lot of burgers. As I got closer to the summit, 700’ to go I hit a descent losing 500’ over some pretty rough road at Carson Spur. I know I’m close to the summit and I just keep turning the pedals.

Mistake number two was stopping at the summit for a break. I didn’t really need one and I spent more time off the bike than I should have. I hit the road and the headed down the descent into Carson City. 43 miles of downhill with some speeds around 50mph. Now the 53/11 was coming in handy. Passing the Nevada border sign, I was close. Two tough pitches and there’s the right, left and City Hall.

My third mistake was taking a long lunch break. 43 minutes off the bike for lunch, swapping batteries in the power meter, learning that the cover for the power meter didn’t have captive screws and losing those in the grass next to the follow van. I even said I was going to roll through, but I stopped for a few minutes, then decided to get lunch, ate, swapped batteries in the power meter then hit the road. The rest was good but I could have easily compressed that into 15 minutes off the bike rather than 43. I also could have eaten on the road.

On the climb up Carson Pass… it was tough, really tough. Kevin said, is your back wheel wobbling? Yep, broken spoke and it is rubbing. We toss the other rear wheel on but now I’m going up Carson Pass, 8% with a 39-28 and 160 miles on my legs. Kevin says, let’s swap the cassette. Cool, but I don’t have the 36 as the derailleur is not quite lining up. No big deal, I can live without it. Another stop to get some ice water. Kevin is getting concerned about my time off the bike. My right foot is hurting, my right knee has been hurting but both are manageable. We make another stop to get aspirin and a soda, but, end up with only a soda. I drink it quickly and we hit the road. Nine miles to the summit. At the top, Kevin makes an adjustment to the limit screw so now I have the 36t again which will make some of the steeper pitches easier on the return.

A quick descent, around Caples Lake and back to the rough road with 500’ of gain on Carson Spur. Then more downhill and another climb. A little more downhill and another climb. Where’s this huge elevation loss? It’s gusty and I can’t stay in my aerobars so I probably lost some speed from that. Kevin reminds me of this over the Cardo and as there are more trees on the sides of the roads, the gusts are more predictable and I’m back in the aerobars. Over time I am losing elevation, hitting road construction here and there and moving along.

Making the turn back to Ridge Road I’m going over the remaining route in my mind. Descent with two kickers, then flat back to Sacramento. As I finished Ridge Road, I’m hit with four rollers that I completely forgot riding earlier in the day. I remembered the comment that Kevin and Robert made about how far above the water the bridge I was crossing was. I opted both on the outbound and return trip not to take a quick dip and continued on.

Left onto California State Route 16 and I’m hitting more road surface that has been prepared for paving. It’s rough, there’s some smooth parts but a lip in the pavement so I continue on the road rather than risk going on the shoulder and crashing. I’m facing headwinds and only pushing about half the watts I would normally want but trying to push harder results in putting out a lot more power for only a little more speed so I settle back in at 15-16mph for the final few miles.

Sacramento City border sign, stop for a light, get rolling again, five miles from the Capitol Building, get through the intersection and whoosh, another flat. I never saw what I hit but we made pretty quick work of changing it and back on the road.

Then as we approached the final turns, the route takes a left, then a right, then a… dead end on a one way street. Make another left, next street is one way in the wrong direction, go one more street, make a right, now, every street crossing has a light or stop sign. There’s 11th, oh, it is one way here too, go to 10th, one way the wrong way, 9th, there we go. Make the right on N, two blocks and voila. There’s the Capitol Building which I had seen for the last 15 minutes as we rolled around. Mistake number four, survey both ends of the route.

We learned a lot.

I should have checked my spare bike a week or more before. I should have made sure I had a spare wheelset with the appropriate cassette. Having the Cardo’s mounted on the helmet so the crew can see the blue or red blinking LEDs would be handy. Non moving time really eats into your speed. As this was my first crewed ride, I was riding as if I was riding solo. I stopped at times because I would stop at a convenience store to get a drink and I had built this into my routine. Lunch stop was a stop rather than a rolling lunch. I’ll work on that. I had minor fit issues related to shoe or cleat placement and my right knee had some pain that seemed like saddle height.

We checked the route ahead of time but should have spent a lot more time navigating the start and ending as I wasted time trying to get back to the start with one-way streets and roads that were closed.

While my crew, Kevin Van Dyke and Robert Baldino were awesome, and my official, Paul Carpenter, was great, we should have had a third crew especially since we expected me to ride this, rest, Paul ride, rest then Robert Baldino to ride it the day after. There’s no way this would have been possible.

Kevin Van Dyke, thank you very much for making the trip. Your knowledge of racing and crew chiefing/bike repair and mastery of navigation devices is second to none.

Robert Baldino, thank you also for providing the vehicle and quite a bit of of the route preparation. Your local knowledge of the roads and alternate routes helped a lot. Your perseverance to continue crewing as your wife, Kathy, was in surgery was a sacrifice that won’t be forgotten. Best wishes to her for a speedy recovery.

Thank you too, Paul Carpenter. Our conversation up and back regarding all sorts of aspects of racing, WUCA and bikes in general was very enjoyable.

I could not have done this without the three of you.

Thank you also to the World UltraCycling Association and Drew Clark for the endless back and forth emails while we gathered tons of .pdfs to get these record attempts done.