Against the Odds: My Camino Real Double Century 2024 Experience


Yesterday marked a significant milestone in my cycling journey. Against a backdrop of insufficient training and a brief hiatus from cycling, I completed the Camino Real Double Century. Covering the full 192-mile course in 16 hours and 53 minutes was an achievement that took me by surprise, given the circumstances leading up to the event.

The Decision to Ride

In the weeks leading up to the Camino Real Double Century, my training was far from ideal and my fitness was in the doghouse. Life’s responsibilities, injuries, and a myriad of other reasons led me to barely ride at all since my crash at the Bass Lake Powerhouse Double Century in October, with no saddle time in the two weeks directly preceding the event. The lack of preparation, as well as being plagued with a persistent shoulder injury, left me contemplating withdrawing. However, the spirit of endurance sports is built on challenging oneself, and I decided to toe the start line with the mindset of “let’s see how far I can go.” Expecting to complete around 120 miles before calling it a day, I was prepared mentally for an incomplete ride but determined to give it my best shot.

Embracing the Brevet Style

This year, the Camino Real Double Century took on a “brevet style” format due to diminishing ridership, presenting a unique challenge by offering minimal support—only a lunch stop was provided, leaving riders to fend for themselves for the majority of the event. This significant shift towards self-sufficiency required riders to plan for every aspect of their journey without the safety net of support stations along the route.

The Journey

My ride began at 5:15 a.m., and I set out into the pre-dawn darkness alone, as most other cyclists had already set out at 5:00 a.m. Riding solo for the entirety of the day provided a unique experience; it was a journey not just through the scenic routes but also a deep dive into personal endurance and resilience. The solitude of the ride, punctuated only by brief exchanges with fellow cyclists, offered a meditative quality to the challenge. It allowed me to reflect, to appreciate the effort, and to focus on the rhythm of my own progress.

The additional hours of night riding before dawn and after dusk added another layer of challenge to the experience. Night riding requires a different set of skills and an increased focus on safety, and it pushed me to adapt and persevere through the quiet and less visible parts of the course.

Surpassing Expectations

Completing the full 192 miles felt surreal. Crossing the finish line, I was a blend of exhaustion and exhilaration. The ride was undoubtedly slower than my usual pace, a testament to the impact of my recent lack of training. Yet, the accomplishment was not diminished by the time on the clock. Instead, it was magnified by the obstacles overcome to reach that point.

This experience has been a powerful reminder of the importance of perseverance. Starting the ride without the expectation of finishing, yet pushing through to complete the entire course, has reinforced my belief in the strength of the human spirit and the endurance of the body.

Reflections and Looking Forward

The Camino Real Double Century of 2024 will be remembered as a ride where mental fortitude carried me through when physical preparedness fell short. It’s a testament to the fact that sometimes, just showing up and giving it your best is enough to surpass your own expectations.

As I look ahead, this ride serves as a catalyst for renewed focus on training and preparation. The journey ahead is filled with more challenges and opportunities for growth. With the lessons learned from this experience, I am more motivated than ever to continue pushing my limits and exploring the boundaries of what I can achieve on two wheels.

To those who find themselves doubting their abilities or facing seemingly insurmountable challenges: remember, the power of perseverance can carry you far beyond where you might expect. Here’s to many more miles and milestones ahead.

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