By Scott Alumbaugh
May is Bike Month, a time that people across the country are encouraged to get out of their cars and ride their bikes.
Davis Bike Club member Larry Burdick doesn’t need any encouragement. At 75 years old, he’s on his bike five days a week, year-round.
But May is special, even for Burdick. He’s out riding even more miles than normal this month, gearing up for the 44th annual Davis Double Century on Saturday.
Why does a 75-year-old want to ride 200 miles in one day?
“It’s a fun ride,” Burdick says with a smile.
Maybe. But it’s not easy. The route takes riders from Davis over the Vaca Hills into Napa County before turning north to the halfway point in Middletown. From there, the route leads to Lower Lake at the southeast end of Clear Lake, over the Colusa Summit on Highway 20, then back to Davis via the scenic Cache Creek Canyon and Capay Valley.
There is about 8,000 feet of climbing in that 200-mile loop, and riders take anywhere from about 10 hours to the cutoff time of 20 hours to ride that distance.
Even so, the Davis Double is often called the perfect “beginner” double century.
“That’s because we treat our riders better than any other double,” says Robin Neuman, director of the DDC. “We have over 300 volunteers, nine rest stops, a lunch stop and SAG (support and gear) vehicles constantly patrolling the course. We also have amateur radio communications support provided by local clubs and individuals so we can keep in contact with our rest stops and sags in areas with poor cell coverage.
“They even fly a plane during the ride that carries radio gear to fill in gaps in voice communications and relay support vehicle locations.”
The Davis Double Century is one of the older doubles in California. And with more than 500 riders, it is the largest. But what does it take to complete a 200-mile ride?
“Determination,” Burdick says. “And it doesn’t hurt to have some training in your legs.”
He should know. Just six weeks ago, Burdick won a monthlong riding event, the Davis Bike Club’s 15th annual March Madness contest. In March Madness, riders track their miles for the entire month. At the end, the total miles are tallied and a corresponding amount of money is used to buy bike helmets for kids.
Burdick won by riding 3,131 miles in March. That’s an average of just over 100 miles per day for 31 days straight.
“He’s amazing!” says Gabrielle Morris, the March Madness chair. “He outrode everybody, even riders half his age, all month long. I guess that’s one of the reasons everybody calls him ‘The Legend.’ ”
This year, the start/finish of the Double Century is at the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame at Third and B streets.
Riders will be returning to Davis from about 3 p.m. Saturday until 1 a.m. Sunday, but fans who want to get a glimpse of The Legend may want to get there early. Burdick will be the rider wearing No. 75, in honor of his age.
For more information on the ride, visit http://www.davisbikeclub.org/annual_events/organized_rides/davis_double_century.
What: 44th annual Davis Double Century, a 200-mile bike ride through Yolo, Napa and Lake counties
When: Riders start between 4:45 and 5:15 a.m. Saturday and will return to Central Park starting at about 3 p.m. Riders have until 1 a.m. Sunday to pedal the entire course
Where: U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame, Third and B streets