Salton Sea Rider Levels

Salton Sea Rider Levels These Rider Level descriptions offer detailed course info and no-nonsense advice for riding the Salton Sea Century. We understand riders have widely varying cycling goals, skills, and conditioning levels. This will help fill in some of the unknowns. Future updates will include comments from veteran Salton Sea riders within each rider level. The best insider tips come from riders with multiple Salton Sea Century rides. Variable factors (like temp, wind, humidity) radically alter the tactics for riding this desert course. We strongly recommend learning as much as you can to help develop a smart Training/Ride Plan for a safe, enjoyable, and thoroughly memorable cycling experience.
                                   Click here to return to Salton Sea Century page

Recommended Reading for All Rider Levels:

Salton Sea Detailed Course Descriptions Special Weather Considerations 360 x 60
          
Rider Level Details, Tips, and Advice:

     Beginner White 2   Beginner/First Century/First Time at Salton Sea Century
     Fitness   Fitness/Health
     Veteran Rider   Veteran Century Rider
     Time Trials 2   Individual, Tandem, and 4-Person Team Time Trial options
     Prep for El Tour   Preparation ride for El Tour de Tucson
     Tandems   Tandem riders
     Club Team   Club/Team
     Triathlon IM   Triathlete/Ironman
     Speedsters   Speedsters/Categorized Riders
     Ultra Distance   Ultra Distance Riders

Salton Sea Course Description:

A. Course Overview:

First off, thanks for considering (or registering) for the Salton Sea Century.  Whether you're a beginner, or veteran century rider, it’s vital that you fully understand the course—how it’s laid out, where the hard and easy stretches are, potential danger zones, impacts of weather, and where the rest stops are located.  Equally important, is to know yourself!  Make sure you’re well-prepared physically and mentally for a challenging ride.  We highly recommend getting checked by your doctor before attempting a strenuous cycling event, such as the Salton Sea Century.  It’s also vital that you're prepared for variable weather elements.  Weather can be more difficult than any static uphill climb.  Fact is, most experienced riders would rather ride uphill than downhill with a headwind!

Let’s start with the course.  The Salton Sea Century is set up as a recreational road bicycle event held in the low-to-middle desert elevations in Borrego Springs, Anza-Borrego State Park, and Salton City, California, USA. The 100-mile course has about 4,400 feet of gentle climbing; and we rate it as average difficulty, overall.  The Yaqui Pass segment contains the longest climb on the route, rising 1,242 feet in 5 miles. The Yaqui Pass summit, at 1,750 feet el., is also the highest point on the course and is followed immediately by a fast 5-mile descent.  The other primary desert pass, on Lap 3, rises to 975 ft, then plunges to -75 ft below Sea Level, approximately 10 miles later, at the turnaround point in Salton City.

Overall, the ride is not a technical challenge, but variable afternoon winds and potentially hot conditions in the desert in October must be respected when selecting your distance. We have purposely designed the course to be flexible, with three distinctive "Laps" allowing riders several decision points to modify actual riding distances based on the weather conditions and how riders feel out on the course on the day of the ride. In addition to individuals riding various distances, the century course offers optional individual, tandem, and 4-person Time Trials options.

The low-traffic roads and pristine desert scenery flanked by soaring mountains make this ride another marquee “safe, scenic, and sensational century ride on roads less traveled” Shadow Tour century experience. The ride starts and finishes at the grassy community park in the heart of Borrego Springs, known as Christmas Circle, at an elevation of 600 feet above sea level. The full century course is comprised of three laps. Each rider may select which laps to ride and in what order to ride them (unless weather conditions or field size dictate otherwise).

The order preferred by most full century riders, is to ride Lap 1, the 28-mile lap containing the 5-mile Yaqui Pass climb, first. Then Lap 2, a fast and scenic 17-mile tour around Borrego Springs.  Followed by Lap 3, a much more challenging 55-mile out-and-back segment heading east toward the Salton Sea on S22, over a 975 ft el. desert pass, creating pano-views of the Salton Sea, mountains, and desert, before descending to Salton City at about 75 feet below sea level.

The Salton Sea is the largest lake in California and one of the largest saltwater lakes in the world. It was formed from 1905 to 1907 when a poorly constructed temporary dam on the Colorado River collapsed. The Salton Sea is a breathtaking sight from a distance and is home to hundreds of species of birds; however the lake is not recommended for most water activities due to high saline content and poor overall water quality. Several local and federal projects are underway to improve the fragile ecosystem of the lake.  Learn more about the Salton Sea on the SDSU Salton Sea website (click here).

B. Course Details:


Lap 1:  Proceed Southeast on Borrego Springs Rd toward SR 78.  From the main intersection of Borrego Spgs Rd and S3, known as the "Hot Corner".  There will be a full rest stop on the northwest corner of the intersection if you need fluids or carbs.  Riders continue staight on Borrego Sprs Rd about 3 miles up a gentle grade to the turnaround point.  Watch carefully for the turnaround sign and markings on the road.  If you somehow miss the turnaround, you'll end up at the Hwy 78 intersection a few miles up the road.  But that's only happened once, to our knowledge!  From the correct turnaround point, make a safe u-turn and return to the Hot Corner, where the course turns left (south), onto S3, and up a gentle 5-mile ascent from 508 ft el. to the Yaqui Pass Summit at 1,750 ft el. It's a classic desert climb: long and gentle.  You can see the summit from the base.  At the base of the climb, you should be able to hold a fairly good pace, depending on wind direction.  As you near the last  1.5 miles, the road carves a couple turns before reaching the summit.  There will be an abbreviated water-only rest stop and portajohn at the summit.  Stay completely off the road surface at the summit rest stop/turnaround point.  The route then returns down the (well-earned) 5-mile downhill stretch.  Keep your pothole guard up!  When cycling, you always need to be alert for road hazards, both for fixed (potholes, cracks, bumps, etc) and unexpected (turtles, foxes, rabbits, tumbleweeds, etc). Back at the Hot Corner, turn left onto Borrego Sprs Rd, and spin back across the flat, usually breezy, 5-mile desert floor to the Christmas Circle/Rest Stop.  Always flow with the direction of normal traffic on Christmas Circle!  Distance is approximately 28 miles.  There is a fully-stocked rest stop and public restrooms and portajohns at Christmas Circle.

Lap 2:  From the Christmas Circle rest stop, continue with the flow of traffic, about 1/3 of the way around and turn right (north) onto Borrego Springs Rd (north) for a 17-mile mid-morning grand circular tour of the City of Borrego Springs.  There are 5 turns on this lap, so be watching for arrows, and (always) keep an eye on your cue sheet to stay on-course.  This lap is mostly table flat.  In the early hours of the morning, the winds are usually minimal. Don't be surprised to look down at your cycle computer and see a nice fast number showing.  Enjoy the impressive views of mountain ranges as you navigate this delightful segment of the ride.  You'll end up at the Hot Corner (4th time!).  From the Hot Corner, turn left onto Borrego Springs Rd, and head back to Christmas Circle on the same 5-mile section as you did on Lap 1.  You're now at approximately mile 45.  Once again, we encourage you to visit the fully-stocked rest stop and rest room/portajohn facilities.  By this point in the ride, you'll likely be feeling the almost imperceptible incremental increases in temperature and wind.  The cummulative effects are very real.  Drink BEFORE you are thirsty.  Eat BEFORE you are hungry.  The desert can be wildly unforgiving if you take it on mono-a-mono!  Apply extra sun screen and lip balm.  Chamois B'ttr is also helpful.  While eating carbs ares important, even more critical are:  potassium, magesium, and sodium.  Ecaps contain all of these and are available at all rest stops.  Included Lunch meals will be served at Christmas Circle starting at 10:00 A.M.  Before starting Lap 3, ask yourself if you're ready for the much more challenging 55-mile segment out to the Salton Sea.  Be honest with yourself.  If you're not feeling AT LEAST "GOOD", don't do it!  The volunteers and SAG drivers cannot possibly pick up every tired rider in the field.  SAG support is primarily for cyclists with bonafide equipment malfunctions of more severe issues (like dehydration or crashes).  And we know, the desert can, and will, try to lure you in.  Example:  if you proceed onward to the Salton Sea, you will almost certainly be aided by a tail wind, which you CANNOT FEEL.  Even heading over the desert pass, you'll be riding strong.  But trust us, you'll feel that wind, in a BIG WAY, on the ride back to the finish!  It builds gradually all day and peaks in the afternoon.  So be ready for it.  Experienced desert cyclists know it's always about the wind + heat, not terrain and hills.  It's much better to step through the course with an open mind.  One lap at a time.  Don't FORCE this ride!  If you are not completely sure about it, or are on the bubble, another way to approach Lap 3 is to commit to riding together with several other riders in a pace-line.  A pace-line allows small groups of 3-6 riders to take turns "pulling" in the front, then rotating to the rear of the pace-line.  This method is about 25% more efficient in windy conditions.   Again, the main threat of this desert ride is the final 27-mile section from Salton City back to the finish.  So stay together, or re-combine, at the turnaround point in Salton City.  With 6 riders, each will end up pulling about 4-5 miles, sharing the effort. 

Lap 3:  From Christmas Circle, assuming you've decided to contiue, from the rest stop continue all the way around Christmas Circle, with the flow of traffic, and turn right (east) on S22 toward Salton City.  There is a rest stop approximately about 17 miles away, at about mile 62 at near the far side of the desert pass.  At the rest stop, riders may turn around and return to Christmas Circle for a 78-mile ride.   Full century riders continue east over the 975 ft el. desert pass, to the turnaround point in Salton City at mile 72.  As the course desends below sea level, the road surface becomes rougher from mile 68 to 71.  Riders should slow down and use extra caution on this section.  This is part of riding a gutsy desert course.  When you descend below Sea Level, things get weird.  Whether here, or Death Valley, or anywhere below Sea Level.  It's always dry and usually HOT.  The sun's rays beat down on the road surface and winds grind into every crack and crevise.  So just know this section exists.  It's a pain, because you're going downhill with a tailwind.  Stay cool and just take it easy on that stretch.  You'll get through it soon enough.  Plus, on the way back, it's not a factor at all.  As you approach Salton City, there's a full rest stop with portajohn at the turnaround point (mile 72) portajohn(s).  Make a safe u-turn and return west bound on S22 to the intermediate rest stop, and then continue on home to the full century finish at Christmas Circle.

Please note, that in addition to the course descriptions above, there are smaller rollers and sections of slightly more effort all along the course, in all directions.  The intention was to shed light on the primary desert passes and areas of caution.  A century remains a true test of overall cycling endurance, mental and physical.  Becoming familiar with the course is always a huge advantage.  We invite you to ride Salton Sea each year, as a part of the Fall cycling season.  You'll gain experience and confidence with every circuit of the course.  Knowledge and experience breed confidence.  Confidence, skill, and dedication produce the most rewarding results.  As with all Shadow Tour full century rides, you'll earn it!  

Summary:  The Salton Sea Century's primary draw for most riders is virtually traffic-free roads, with mostly wide bicycle lanes and fantastic vistas and scenery.  There are no stop lights, none at all.  Fabulous scenery graces the entire route.  However, desert riding is more advanced than most urban cycling events and requires extra finesse.  Weather and hydration are absolutely in play at all times.  For first-time desert riders the course is designed to allow maximum flexibility and rest stop support.  All Full Century riders, and those attempting Lap 3, need to be well prepared mentally and with their conditioning levels.  The Lap 3 section, out to the Salton Sea and back, is more challenging as desert heat, afternoon winds, and gradual elevation gains creep up during the ride.  Expect tailwinds on the way out (which you probably won't feel) to Salton City and strong head winds on the way back (which you definitely will feel!).  Roughly 2,400 feet of climbing accumulates in the first 45 miles on laps 1 & 2. The remaining 2,000 feet of climbing is embedded in Lap 3.  If you've never been to Borrego Springs, you owe it to yourself to visit this cycling-friendly community.  Once you've seen it in person, you'll likely be hooked and want to return to more fully explore this worthy desert destination.

Go to top of page

Special Weather Considerations:

As you review the previous Salton Sea weather details below, you will see the temperature range is nearly ideal to hot & windy.  You can expect predictable rising afternoon winds and temps in the high 80s to low 90s F, which combine to challenge many riders.  Especially riders who do not hydrate enough throughout the course  Desert winds will almost certainly be in play, and they speed the dehydration process.  But understand, that's just the desert being the desert!  For the full century, you will face wind, in some form or fashion, most of the entire day.  Due to lake-effects, the prevailing winds are from the east toward the west; meaning you'll likely have friendly tailwinds pushing you out to Salton City, then face headwinds all the way home from the turnaround point in Salton City to Christmas Circle.  Sometimes the winds are mild and intermitten, sometimes more sustained, with gusts, and sometimes downright evil.  The best prep is to be physically well-conditioned and to ride smart, with a plan, and well within your personal limits.  To formulate your plan, please carefully review the "Ride Smart" section below.

1.  Previous Salton Sea Century Weather:

 

     2007:  Warm/High P.M. Winds:  60 - 93 F, mild A.M. winds 5-10 MPH, P.M. gusts to 17+ MPH, Sunny
     2008:  Warm/Average P.M. Winds:  67 -97 F, mild A.M. winds 3-5 MPH, P.M. gusts to 15 MPH, Sunny 
     2009:  Ride not held

2. Accuweather Mid-October Temperature Profile:

    Borrego Springs (Start/Finish) Normal Temps:  High 92 F, Low 62 F, Average 77 F.  Variable winds.  
    
3.  Clothing Items:  Riders need to be fully prepared for sun, heat, wind, rain, and any combination of the above.  By prepared, we mostly mean be prepared for abnormally hot temperatures.  Try to wear light colored, high-tech, moisture wicking fabrics.  For full century riders, you might consider arm "coolers", lightweight white sleeves warm on the arms, to shade arm skin from direct sun rays.  Arm coolers not only prevent sunburn and exposure to harmful sun rays, they help keep your core temperature cooler out on the course.  There is a rider Gear Bag drop at Christmas Circle.  Because you pass through there at the end of Lap 1 and Lap 2, you may shed, or pick up, clothing and other items as you navigate through the course.  Bags will be available before the start and are marked by Rider Bib #.  Signs are posted to remind finishing riders to claim gear bags and the DJ will make many announcements.  Unclaimed gear bags will be sent back to riders upon receipt of $7 to cover shipping expenses.  

4.  Ride Smart:

    A.  Before the ride:

         (1)  Get yourself in shape!  Don't wait until Oct 1st to start training!  Based on your goals for Salton Sea, get a headstart with your training aimed at YOUR PERSONAL goal.  For full century riders, at the minimum, try to work in at least 3 rides of 1-2 hours during the week, with at least one longer ride of 3-4+ hours on the weekend.  Include a variety of terrain, if possible.  For shorter distance riders, or riders primarily interested in fitness, understand most real fitness benefits happen after the 1st hour of sustained elevated heartrate training.  So it's best to develop a consistent plan with at least 2 rides per week over one hour in length.

         (2)  Mechanical Preparations:  The desert is the last place to take a chance on questionable tires, worn brakes, or poorly tuned or maintained drive train components.  Borrowing a friend's bicycle is not recommended for this event.  Prior to the ride, all riders need to take their bikes to their favorite bike shop (click here for some quality San Diego bike shops) for a complete Safety Inspection by a qualified bicycle mechanic prior to the ride.  If needed, have them perform a tuneup, or overhaul.  Ask the mechanics to point out what components show signs of wear, or need to be replaced.  It's a fact of cylcing life: bicycles need mechanical attention and will require replacement of components from time to time, especially when you load up the miles.  Long-time Shadow Tour on-course mechanic, Tom Cody, and lovely wife Dawn, are owners of Bike Mobile, and have developed the following Preparation Checklist:

              (a)  Check tires for excessive wear and sidewall cracks. Make sure tires have adequate pressure.
                     Look carefully for any tiny embedded glass shards, nails, staples, or any other foreign object. 
              (b)  Check wheels for trueness and dish.
              (c)  Have your bike tuned at least annually. Brake and Deraileur Cables should be replaced if there
                    is evidence of kinks or fraying.
              (d)  Check chain, cogs, and chainwheels for wear; replace if excessively worn.  A chain that slips
                    in the small gears (fast gears) almost certainly needs to be replaced.
              (e)  Check condition of brake pads; replace if worn 1/2 way. Verify brakes are centered on wheels
                    and brake shoes are properly positioned in relation to rims.
              (f)   Clean rear gear cluster with rag or stiff brush.
              (g)  Clean chain with rag and environmentally safe solvent (many options available).
              (h)  Take off chain and soak with solvent (mineral spirits work extremely well! Just remember to
                    be "Green" and dispose of properly); otherwise, clean it in place with spray and solvent.
              (i)  After cleaning chain, drip lubricant into pivots between links. Avoid over lubricating as this will
                   attract dirt and dirty the hands of the mechanic!  Wipe chain after lubricating.
              (j)  Ensure you have spare tubes, a tire pump, or CO2 cartridges w/valve adapter.
              (k)  Each cyclist should have their bike inspected by a qualified mechanic prior to riding the century.

    B.  During the ride:

         (1)  Clothing:  Wear the right amount of clothing to protect you from wind and possible warm temperatures.  Recognize the weather conditions gradually change, thoroughout the day, in what can be an unforgiving desert environment, react accordingly.

         (2)  Fluid Replacement:  Rehydrate all day long!  Even in ideal circumstances, the dry air in the desert combined with winds and your own cycling effort will conspire to dehydrate you.  Drink plenty of water.  Many riders choose to carry extra water in Camelbak systems.  This is recommended and encouraged.  If you use a Camelbak, we ask that you arrive with it fully topped off.  At rest stops, there will be water and Vitalyte in separate containers.  Water is primarily in 1-gallon jugs.  Vitalyte will be mixed in 5-gallon containers and will have ice, based on weather conditions.  Please do not handle ice for health reasons.

         (3)  Nutrition:  The rest stops are spaced at strategic points along the course.  Click here (tba) for a list of standard items.  Replacing carbohydrates is vital in events over 2 hours.  Be sure to eat something at every rest stop.  Clif Bars, PB&J's, Pretzels, Banana's, Red Vines, Oranges, Fig Newtons, there's gotta be something everyone likes, so dig in!  The included lunch will include a sandwich, potato chips, a soda or water, and a cookie dessert.  All lunches are served at Christmas Circle.

         (4)  Creature Comforts:  Take care of yourself in the desert!  Apply plenty of sunscreen.  Use chapstick or lip balms from start to finish.  Mission Product lip balm is at every rest stop.  Samples of Chamois Butt'r is included in every rider's goodie bag--it's a wonder product and we highly recommend using it.  Additional Chamois Butt'r is at every rest stop.  Advil and First Aid Kits are also at every rest stop, along with hand sanitizer and paper towels.  Portajohns are at every rest stop and at the lunch stop.  Everytime you dismount your bicycle, take a minute to stretch out your quads and hamstrings, back too.  Ask your riding buddies, or volunteers how you look.  Any dried sweat?  Sunburn?  Something falling out of your jersey pockets?  It's amazing what you'll learn when you ask.  Take care of eachother out on the course.  If you see something wrong, let the person know, or inform a volunteer. 

         (5)  Ride the Right Distance:  Every rider must select their own "right" distance on the day of the ride.  The smart way to approach Salton Sea is to break it down into bite-sized chunks.  For some, that may be in 5-mile increments, or possibly hour-by-hour, or rest stop-to-rest stop.  Whatever interval you choose, check yourself out when you get there.  Salton Sea is a wolf in sheep's clothing.  It will start out gentle.  The first taste of what is ahead, is the 5-mile climb up to Yaqui Summit.  Then an extended relief of the downhil, followed by a very pleasant 17-mile lap of Borrego Springs.  But watch out, the desert can lure unsuspecting riders into it's afternoon trap!  Never let your guard down.  Constantly take on fluids.  Re-apply sunblock.  Eat food.  Salton Sea is a worthy foe, but manageable for those who know what to do.  We don't expect that everyone wanting to complete the full century will succeed.  That has NEVER happened.  Instead, just ride with a little finesse.  Be flexible out there.  If you're feeling good at your individual 'check points', by all means, continue.  But be honest with yourself.  At the early signs of dehydration, like cramping, your body is signalling the need to take the big "u-turn", or forego that next lap.  Be mindful of the time cutoffs too.  They are in place for important safety reasons.  The time cutoffs are listed in your final instructions.

    C.  Post Ride:  If you've completed the Full Century, after you cross the finish line in Borrego Springs, dismount your bike and check in with the DJ/Timing Marshal.  He/she will verify that your wristband was validated at the turnaround point(s), and add your Bib #, name, and city to the Full Century Finishers list, which will be posted on the Shadow Tour website.  If you opted for a timed event, the Timing Marshal will give you a finishing time and note the net time on the results sheet.  If you used a gear drop, be sure to pick it up right away.  The DJ will be making reminder announcements and signs are posted to help riders remember to claim their gear bags.  Unclaimed bags will be returned upon receipt of $7 to cover shipping expenses.  Lastly, if you haven't already done so, maybe let a volunteer know you appreciate their efforts.  Volunteers are giving up most of their weekend, to help you enjoy yours!  

Go to top of page  

Beginner/First Century   

1.  Overview:  Although the Salton Sea Full Century can be a challenging course, it's also a good choice for beginners, or first time century riders.  Here's why:  the course is setup for shorter distances using 3 laps all starting and finishing at Christmas Circle in Borrego Springs.  That means you're never more than 27 miles from the finish line.  Plus, at the end of each lap, you can decide whether to continue, based on how you feel, weather, time, etc.  Lastly, you can even change to order of the laps to suit your own needs.  The course is set up to support the idea of taking it "one bite at a time.  That means, don't think of the course as a full 100 miles.  It's really a series of smaller rides building up to the full century.  

The rest stops are carefully located to insure you're never very far from on-course support.  It also means you are fully supported, no matter what lap you are on, or where you are on the course.  There are 3 turnaround points on the route.  So be careful.  Come to a full stop and watch for vehicle and rider traffic before turning around.  More support is available on the course in the form of Support Vehicles ("SAG wagons") with orange magnetic signs that say "Shadow Tour Support Vehicle".  You may flag one down if you need any assistance.  Most carry extra water and have limited evacuation capability.  Tom Cody's "Bike Mobile" is also patrolling the route with a full compliment of tools and parts to get you rolling again if you have a mechanical issue.  The best way to avoid mechanical problems is to have a complete bicycle tune-up done at your favorite bike store PRIOR to the ride.  The desert is no place to take a chance on worn tires or poor maintenance.  

2.  Weather:  For all cyclists, especially those new to Salton Sea and desert cycling, weather plays a huge role.  No matter what the forecast calls for, you need to be prepared for a wide range of weather conditions in the desert.  In October, that primarily means 1. Wind, and 2. Temperature Changes.

    a.  Winds:  The prevailing winds are usually light in the early morning and build gradually throughout the day.  The main impact of wind is on Lap 3, specifically, the return 27-mile segment from Salton City back to Borrego Springs.  We strongly encourage small groups of riders (3-6), form "pacelines".  A paceline is a single file of riders, spaced about 1/2 bike length apart, working together to draft off eachother.  A good paceline allows the lead rider to break the wind, and create a draft for the other riders.  The lead rider is doing much, but certainly not all, of the work.  All the other riders in the paceline take turns at the front ("pulling").  Depending on the wind direction and speed, it's good practice to take pulls in the lead position of about 1 - 2 miles, which is about 3 - 10 minutes, depending on the wind and degree of climbing elevation.  When your turn in front is complete, carefully pull out to left, checking traffic first, and allow the other riders to pass on the right, then assume the "tail-end Charlie" position at the end of the paceline.  The tail position offers the most beneficial drafting effect and gives the previous lead rider a chance to recover.  The correct rotation of the paceline is entirely up to the riders to manage among themselves.  If the wind is howling, short pulls make much more sense.  In modest winds, longer pulls work fine.  Good communications is crucial to a well organized paceline.

    b.  Temps:  In the early morning, the temperatures are usually in the 60s F.  Riders unfamiliar to the desert need to know this will change very gradually throughout the day.  Winds and heat will rise and can lead to dehydration for the unprepared, or unsuspecting, cyclist.  The best rule is to drink before you're thirsty!  Hydration is definitely the name of the game.  It's recommended to wear lightweight, light-colored clothing items that wick away moisture to help keep you cool.  Don't overdress!  Excessive layers of clothing will only lead to overheating and dehydration.     

3.  Start of Ride:  A Gear Drop will be available at Christmas Circle.  You may check in with the volunteers running the Gear Drop to leave items you want as you come through Christmas Circle later in the ride (3 visits).  Gear Bags are marked by Bib #.  If you wear and extra layer of clothing, like a lightweight vest, on the first lap, you'll likely want to take it off by Lap 2.  Volunteers provide a plastic bag and it will be marked with your Bib #, either before, or during the ride.  Don't forget to pick up your gear bag at the end of the ride .  There will be signs and DJ announcements to remind you.  Forgotten gear bags will be mailed back to riders upon reciept of $7 to cover shipping costs. 

4.  Lunch:  All paid riders receive a Lunch Meal included with their registration.  The Lunch Meal will be a Sandwich, Chips, and Soda style meal.  It will be served at Christmas Circle beginning at about 10:00 A.M.  More details will be posted as the event draws near.

5.  Finishing:  Regardless of how many laps you ride, or the order, you'll always end up back at the Start/Finish in Christmas Circle in Borrego Springs.  If you completed the full century, check in with the DJ/Timing Marshal so they can record your Bib # as a Full Century Finisher.  If you opted to be timed, same thing.  It's your responsibility to check in at the finish.  This rule applies equally to all riders.  See Time Trial Rules for more details.  If you used a Gear Bag, be sure to retreive immediately after finishing. 

6.  Ride the Right Distance:  Depending on how you feel the day of the ride and the weather conditions, riding the full 100-mile course may not be the wise decision.  Avoid the trap of letting the more forgiving early morning weather conditions guide your distance decision.   Producing a desert century is a monumental challenge for the organizers and volunteers.  To keep it safe and well-supported for all riders, everyone needs to ride within their personal limits .  At the conclusion of each lap ridden, each rider should take on fluids and nutrition items, top off water bottles, and make an honest self-appraisal of how they feel before proceeding onto the next lap, taking into account personal conditioning levels and the weather factors in play on the day of the ride.  We provide superior levels of support for all riders in the form of stationary rest stops and on-course SAG wagons.  But, we are not able to evacuate large numbers of riders who mismanage themselves out on the course.  By mismanage, we mean cyclists who ride too far, too fast, ignoring nutritional considerations and subsequently cramp up, become ill, or otherwise cannot continue for a wide variety of reasons, such as missed medications, avoidable crashes, etc.  It also means these riders have possibly ignored time cutoffs and other details contained in the Final Rider Instructions, along with numerous warnings about riding smart.  They end up requiring evacuation resources, which are in short supply that far out in the desert.  This situation obviously is to be avoided.

7.  Ride Smart:  The smart way, and best way, to ride the Salton Sea Century, especially for first-timers, is to simply take it one small bite at a time; just take it Lap by Lap.  Don't focus on the totality of the full century.  Each time you stop, or complete a lap, do a complete physical check of yourself.  Make sure you have replenished your water and Vitalyte supplies.  Ask the volunteers to check you out.  Take note of where you are on the course in relation to the various time cutoffs detailed in your Final Rider Instructions.  Consume lots of energy items.  Take E-Caps tablets, which contain sodium, magnesium, and potassium--all great for avoiding cramps.  Get off your bike and stretch out your hamstrings, quadriceps, and back.  Take care of yourself with sunblock, lip balm, and Chamois Butt'r to reduce chaffing, maybe even take an Advil.  If you do all these things and you still begin to feel cramps, or other physical limit signs, like dizzyness, nausia, vomiting, or you stop sweating, then it's definitely time to stop, or turn around and head back.  The real trick is to stop BEFORE you hit the wall with these obvious physical limit signs.  The desert is completely unforgiving and a worthy foe.  It gets gradually more difficult all the way through.  If it's particularly windy, or hot, or both, everything will be that much more difficult.  Don't try to be Superman out there!  If it turns out not to be your day for a Full Century, you'll get another chance to go for the Full Century next year.  Instead, make the tough call and don't start the "Lap too far", or if necessar, make a safe "u-turn" and ride conservatively and smart.  We've had riders make 2 or 3 attempts before completing the Full Century at Stagecoach, our other desert century ride.  That's just fine.  Take it from them, a desert century is definitely in the "Century Earned" category, there are no easy shortcuts.  Although it may go without saying,  all riders attempting the Full Century must prepare by training well in advance.

Below are the marked optional courses: 

    Lap 1:    28 miles, includes Yaqui Pass 5-mile climb,
                from el. 508 ft to el. 1,725 ft 
                returns to Christmas Circle/Rest Stop. 
     Lap 2:  17 miles, tour around City of Borrego 
                Springs, returns to Christmas Circle 
                Rest Stop/Lunch Stop. 
     Lap 3:  55 miles, east on S22 to Salton City 
                and return to Christmas Circle/Finish. 

8.  Desert Plants:  As beautiful as the desert plants are, they are almost all of the cactus variety.  At the lower elevations, watch out for the devilish plant called the "Jumping" Cholla Cactus.  These spiny little monsters dominate the desert floor.  DO NOT GO NEAR OR LEAN YOUR BIKES against these, as they will almost certainly leave you with painful thorns in your hands, arms, legs.  Not sure how they do it, but take our word, these plants are plain ole mean and to be avoided.  At primary Rest Stops, we have bike racks set up, so please use them.  Or place your bicycle on the ground, but off the road surface.  We cannot overemphasize that you must avoid any contact with the Cholla Cactus!

                                       Cholla Cactus 348 x 230

                                          Jumpting Cholla Cactus:  AVOID ALL CONTACT!
                                                   Photo Courtesy Brightroom.com

Go to top of page  
               
Fitness/Health:

1.  Goals:  The Salton Sea Century, or any subordinate distance, offers riders a tangible and worthy platform to pursue fitness and health goals.  Cyclists in this category are generally less concerned with riding fast, or with completing the full century distance.  Their objective is to simply enjoy a spin on a nice, safe, stretch of road mostly, devoid of vehicles, showcasing nature's beauty, and having top-notch support.  It's more of a platform to assist in their pursuit of highly personalized goals.  Some riders are coming back from successful bouts with cancer, or various other illnesses, or other serious injuries.  Others have suffered losses, or significant stress in their lives, and seek a pathway to help restore energy and happiness.  Still others may have turned to cycling because of injuries sustained in higher impact sports.  These injuries may prove limiting in their ability to enjoy extended pain-free aerobic activities.  Cycling is perhaps the ultimate non-impact aerobic exercise.  The Salton Sea Century also offers a wonderful venue for many riders as part of a wider personal re-committment to lose weight, lower blood pressure, or to just get back into shape; to feel better and to build self confidence. 

2.  Training:  All of the reasons above for participating in the Salton Sea Century are completely acceptable and encouraged.  Like so many of life's challenges, the path to achieving success begins with a personal committment.  One great way to solidify that committment, is to establish a series of smaller goals.  Salton Sea is indeed a worthy intermediate fitness/health goal to shoot for.  It requires substantial invested effort, in the form of training, well in advance of the actual ride date.  Each time a rider goes out for a training ride, the odds for personal success are advanced.  That, in turn, builds self confidence and improves fitness at the same time.  The 3 Lap design of the Salton Sea Century offers numerous distances and degrees of difficulty, which allows each rider to select what works best for them, as individuals (see Beginner/First Century). 

3.  You're Not Alone:  Even though many riders have intensely personal reasons for selecting the Salton Sea Century, the event involves an elaborate supporting cast of wonderful, energetic people.  Starting with Borrego Springs, a destination desert town, who's citizens and businesses welcome riders and permit the use of their Community Park the entire day of the ride.  Then there's a remarkable spirit of cooperation as the citizens of Salton City, 27 miles east, eagerly volunteer to staff rest stops on the course.  These communities have been hit harder than most by the tough economic times, yet they do everything they can to make the day enjoyable and memorable for every rider visiting their communities. There are also support vehicles all along the course to help riders with mechanical issues, or any other issue requiring attention.  Everyone involved with supporting Salton Sea Century is very aware of the extreme challenges riders face, physical and otherwise, and are there to help each rider in the best way possible.  They will be there for you.  If you get a chance, please let them know they're doing a good job!

Go to top of page

Veteran Century Rider:

1.  Overview:  The Salton Sea Century is hosting in the low to middle elevation desert regions in and around Borrego Springs, Anza-Borrego State Park, and Salton City, CA.  The start at Christmas Circle in Borrego Springs, is at about 580 feet above Sea Level.  The course is made up of 3 separate laps.   The 28-mile Lap 1 includes a 5-mile climbs up to the highest point on the course, near mile 17, with an elevation of 1,750 feet.   The 17-mile Lap 2 is an easy spin around Borrego Springs.  The 55-mile Lap 3 is an out-and-back over a gradual 975 ft el desert pass, to a turnaround point in Salton City at the low point on the course, -75 ft below Sea Level.   The Full Century course then returns back to the Start/Finish at Christmas Circle in Borrego Springs.

2.  Difficulty:  For veteran century riders, the basic layout of the Full Century is not difficult in ideal weather conditions.  But as wind or temperatures become more extreme, the Full Century becomes more difficult.  Generally, mild winds and sunny/warm conditions prevail in the early morning hours, see past "Previous Salton Sea Weather" below.  But as the day wears on, the aggregation of gentle, but lengthy, elevation gains, dry desert air, and gradually increasing heat and building winds, can dehydrate riders unaccustomed to desert cycling.  Fitness levels are also and obvious variable in all of this.  However, a veteran century rider, with adequate preparation, and a good ride plan, will likely find the Full Century very manageable century ride, well within the average level of difficulty range overall.

3.  Weather:  Without a doubt, weather is the major environmental foe at the Salton Century.  Because of the remote desert location, during the fall shoulder season (between summer and winter), weather conditions vary widely, even within a single day.  

    A.  Clothing:  Riders need to be fully prepared for sun, heat, wind, and possibly rain, and any combination of the above.  By prepared, we mostly mean be prepared for abnormally hot temperatures, with light colored, high-tech, moisture wicking fabrics.  For full century riders, you might consider arm "coolers", lightweight white sleeves warm on the arms, to shade arm skin from direct sun rays.  Arm coolers not only prevent sunburn and exposure to harmful sun rays, they help keep you cooler out on the course.  There is a rider Gear Bag drop at Christmas Circle.  Because you pass there at the end of Lap 1 and Lap 2, you may shed, or pick up, clothing and other items as you navigate through the course.  Bags will be available before the start and are marked by Rider Bib #.  Signs are posted to remind finishing riders to claim gear bags and the DJ will make many announcements.  Unclaimed gear bags will be sent back to riders upon receipt of $7 to cover shipping expenses.

    B.  Weather:  Typical mid-October desert weather consists of pleasant morning temps, 70-75 F, at the start, with negligible, or mild 5-10 MPH winds from the north.  In the afternoon, temperatures usually rise into the 80s and 90s F and winds pick up to 10-15 mph from the east from about noon until sunset.  The east end of the course, near Salton City, is generally a few degrees warmer than the start/finish in Borrego Springs, due to the lower elevation, -75 ft below Sea Level. 

    C.  Previous Salton Sea Century Weather:

        2007:  Warm temps 64-93 F, average morning winds 5-10 MPH, gusting later to 17+ MPH, Sunny
        2008:  Warm temps 67-97 F, mild morning winds 3-5 MPH, gusting later to 15 MPH, Sunny 
        2009:  Ride Not held

    D.  Accuweather mid-January Temperature Norms:

        Borrego Springso (start/finish):  High 92 F, Low 62 F, Average  77F.  Wind data not available. 
        
    E.  Salton Sea Century Comps:  Total                 Vehicular      Natural           Overall
                                               Elevation (ft)      Traffic         Scenery          Difficulty 
  
         Salton Sea Century           4,400               Minimal        Outstanding       Average 
         Stagecoach Century          4,635               Minimal        Outstanding      Moderately Difficult
         Solvang Century               3,501               Average       Very Good         Average  
         Tour of Palm Springs          3,100               Minimal        Good                Easy
         Death Ride                       Much more        Average       Outstanding      Very Difficult
         Breathless Agony              Much more        Average       Outstanding      Very Difficult
         Tour De Poway                 Less                High             Good               Average
         San Diego Century            4,331               High             Good               Average
         San Diego Gran Fondo       5,280               Average        Excellent          Difficult 

4.  Start:  Daybreak in the desert is truly a sight to behold.  Expect ideal temps in the morning before the start.  Might even be slightly cool, remaining from overnight lows.  First light is usually around (TBA) with the sun coming above the horizon around (TBA).  Winds are almost always mild, or non-existant.  The sun usually pops above the horizon just before the start.  Riders will warm up quickly, so don't overdress.

5.  Low Desert Cycling:  On Lap 3, riders will experience a unique opportunity:  cycling below Sea Level.  As with nearly all areas below Sea Level, it's a far different world than what most of us are accustomed to.  Severe temperature changes and relentless winds take their toll on the environment and man-made structures alike.  Following the intermediate rest stop on the way out to Salton City, the road surface becomes rough for a few miles as the elevations descend below Sea Level.  We've marked this section as a "Red Zone", meaning to use extra caution, slow down as necessary to keep it safe.  We recommend a maximum speed of 20 MPH and be sure to ride single file at all times.  The rough road surface is certainly magnified by friendly tailwinds (which you probably won't feel), a fairly steep downhill stretch, and the fact it's occurring around mile 65 of a fairly challenging century ride.  We've used the phrase before, but this is just "the desert being the desert".

No one is ever going to repair that couple-mile stretch of road to give cyclists a smoother spin.  It's absolutely not worth becoming angry at the staff, volunteers, or anyone else.  Regretfully, several riders felt the need to vent over this in the past (c'mon, life's too short!).  Just press down a little on the brake handles, raise up off the saddle a bit, and safely steer clear of any especially rough sections of asphalt, and you'll be fine.  We are well-aware it's disappointing to miss out on some free speed as you descend below Sea Level.  Especially since you earned the descent by climbing to the intermediate summit.  But take a look around you in this "Twilight Zone" area.  If you can do it safely, try checking out the fiercely carved badland canyons on both sides of the road (Fonts Point) and the unbelievable panaview of an impossible 40-mile long by 20-mile wide lake (Salton Sea), directly ahead of you in the distance, in the middle of an unforgiving, even hostile, arid, desert.  Incredibly, on the return segment, on that same road, you'll likely not even feel the very same rough section when you climb back up out of the Salton City basin.  Again, keeping your cool has multiple meanings out in the desert.  Easy does it out there!  Everyone will be delt an equal hand of these, and many other, minor and major obstacles that naturally stand between you and a well-earned century.

Following the Red Zone descent, and several miles more of gradual descent to Salton City, you'll encounter the turnaround point.  Use caution, as its near a busy intersection.  There will be a fully stocked rest stop with at least one portajohn.  There is also a restaurant nearby if you need to step inside out of the heat for a moment, or need additional food or drink items not available at the rest stop.  But as with all rest stops, we recommend that you do not linger.  Forward progress is essential in the desert.  One can never fully know what the afternoon holds.  As we have mentioned before, the prevailing P.M. winds will be headwinds for the 27-mile return to the finish.  So break it down.  First, work methodically to cycle back up above Sea Level.  Next, focus on taking out that first major climb up to about 400 ft.  Then focus on making the intermediate rest stop.  It's about 10 miles from the turnaround point to the intermediate rest stop.  Be sure to stop, top off, eat some pretzels, have a Clif Bar, or a banana, something, then get back in the saddle.  Hard to believe until you experience it, but what looks to your eyes and brain as a glorious downhill stretch can be transformed by pesky afternoon desert winds.  At their worst, gusts can nearly stop you in your tracks.  So, if at all possible, and depending on the severity of the winds, buddy-up at the rest stop.  Work together with small pacelines, to share the task of pushing back through the wind.  Again, we assure you, no one rider is singled out by the desert.  We ALL are vulnerable if she decides to whip up the winds.  Avoid dropping into the Pity Pit of despair!  It's all about relentless forward progress, staying hydrated, and staying inside your fitness window.  We know desert weather, but especially winds, can rattle your confidence.  Just try to remember you've made it 83+ miles to this point.  You're almost home.  EVERYONE is feeling tired.  EVERYONE is feeling the heat.  EVERYONE is cursing the winds.  Keep it together during this most challenging section of the century.  You CAN make it! 

Go to top of page 

Time Trials:  

The Borrego Springs Century will offer limited timed Time Trial (TT) options for the categories below.  The intention is to allow cyclists who wish to race against the clock an opportunity to do so, with certain conditions and restrictions.  The timing system used, will be less high-tech than most larger scale races.  For a small-sized event, the cost of a high-tech timing system is cost-prohibitive. DO NOT EXPECT chip timing, disposable chips, or any other state-of-the art timing system.  However, the final timing system used will be designed to be as accurate as possible, fair, and will be applied consistently for all Time Trial participants.  No one will gain an unfair advantage.  Also note, this is not a race against other riders, it's an INDIVIDUAL EFFORT 100-mile TIME TRIAL.  That means, it's you vs. the clock.  NO DRAFTING!  Once the clock starts, for all categories, it does not stop until the finish line is crossed.  Read the TT Rules carefully for all the details.  Without a doubt, a 100-mile Time Trial in desert conditions is a monumental test of endurance and race management skills.  Only the most well-prepared and highly conditioned individuals and teams should consider Time Trial options.  Final times and placings, along with rider names of all successful individuals and teams, and their city and state, will be posted on the website.  Certain age-groups and categories will be used for rankings and records.  More details will be posted as the event draws near.

     a.  Individual:  Mono-a-mono, just you vs. the Clock.  Century Course (100 miles only).  No drafting permitted.  Clock never stops until you complete the century.

    b.  Tandem:  2-person Tandem teams vs. the Clock.  Century Course (100 miles only). No drafting permitted.  Clock never stops until you complete the century.  

    c.  Team:  A special optional Time Trial called the “Ultimate 4-person Team Time Trial” (TTT).  There are categories for 4-person (men & women), Club, and Open teams.  The TTT is a structured sub-event, where teams test themselves, against the Clock, on the Full Century course (100 miles only).  Teams start ahead of all individual riders to have virtually exclusive unobstucted access to the entire course.  The format is similar to TTT's at the Tour de France.  Teams ride together the whole way (not a relay!).  The Team Formation process is flexible, to allow teams to adjust their final composition of team members.  The TT Rules for the Salton Sea TT are much more specific and designed to maximize safety, while insuring a level playing field for all teams.  Teams are encouraged to strategize how best to navigate the course, planning paceline timing, anticipating when and where to stop for fluid replacements, where to put the hammer down, where to recover, etc.  The clock doesn’t stop until the 3rd member of the TTT crosses the finish line.   Times will be posted for all teams completing the Full Century.  Course records will be posted on the Shadow Tour website, along with the other Individual and Tandem Time Trial results.

Go to top of page

Prep for El Tour:

For riders training for the 109-mile El Tour De Tucson (Sat, Nov 10, '10) the Salton Sea Century offers a similar desert venue, with similar temps, wind, and dry conditions.  Typically, the El Tour has a temperature range of about 50-80F.  Tucson is generally a little cooler in late November, as compared to Borrego Springs in October.  But the dry weather, gradual desert climbs, and variable winds are comparable.  Learning how to stay well-hydrated with the right intake of fluids, calories, sodium, potassium, etc., takes practice and little finesse.  At El Tour, the number of cyclists is in the 8,000 to 9,000 range.  With that many participants, it can be daunting for a cyclist accepting the challenge of a true desert century for the first time.  Further, the El Tour course is not configured with concentric loops, due to the large number of riders.  While they do offer shorter distances, the flow of the each course is primarily in one direction and not nearly as flexible as what's available at the Salton Sea Century.  Regarding wind, both venues will have variable winds throughout the day.  Learning to work in a paceline, or in a group, is another skill that will be needed at El Tour.  The Salton Sea Century allows riders wide bike lanes and low vehicle traffic to practice these skills.  Further, the Salton Sea Century is a full month ahead of El Tour.  It's an ideal opportunity to see how your training is coming along.  If adjustments are needed after riding the Salton Sea Century, there's sufficient time to both fully recover and work on needed skills prior the the El Tour.      

Go to top of page

Tandems: 

The Salton Sea Century is a tandem-friendly event.  Tandems are welcome to ride recreationally, or participate in the Tandem Time Trial.   Click here (tba) for details on the Tandem Time Trial option.  The course will offer a good mix of tandem-advantaged sections, as well as truly challenging sections for tandems.  As with any century ride event, tandems must use added caution when riding with, and among, individual cyclists, of all levels, on the multi-route format.  Always announce when overtaking slower cyclists in a clear and audible manner.  Same thing when making any turning or stopping maneuvers when riding in groups.

Go to top of page  

Club/Team:   Members of organized clubs and teams are always welcome at the Salton Sea Century.  Leaders are encouraged to contact Jim at Shadow Tour to explore ways to support the Club’s goals and to generate interest and incentives for Club/Team members to participate in the ride.   Numerous clubs and teams currently list the Salton Sea Century on their websites and in their newsletters.

Go to top of page 

Triathlete/Ironman:  

1.  Overview:  Multi-sport cyclists are always welcome at the Salton Sea Century!  Unlike many “citizen” styled recreational century rides, the Salton Sea Century has several built-in degrees of difficulty.  The outer serene and pristine desert scenery sometimes conceals the inner beast personality.  Under normal conditions, the full century route offers riders an ideal low traffic course, with plenty of sun and magnificent natural scenery.  But the subtle cumulative effects of dry desert air, 4,400 feet of elevation gain, and sometimes evil desert winds, make the Salton Sea Century a worthy adversary.  Mother Nature sometimes decides to up the ante with extra winds, high temperatures, or combinations of both.  For multi-sport athletes, this is an ideal platform to learn how to deal with a wide variety of cycling conditions, without worrying about vehicle traffic or a multitude of stoplights. 

2.  Ironman:  One of the event founders, Jim Knight, has participated in many triathlons, including two participations in the Hawaii Ironman.  In his opinion, the Salton Sea course layout is uniquely well-suited for Ironman training.  As with the Big Island Hawaii Ironman, the course contains several out-and-back sections on extended gradual climbs.  Riders face headwinds and tailwinds all day, just as one faces at Kona.  The first half of the course is fairly easy similar to Hawaii.  Temperatures, while generally mild in the first half, can also go to extremes in the afternoon.  Hot conditions are magnified by the dry desert air, so fluid replacement is vital and provides a chance to train under some of the same conditions Ironman athletes face in the heat of the summer race calendar at events like Wildflower and Vineman.   

3.  Distance:  The full century is exactly 100 miles.  However, participants riding comfortably and well ahead of cutoff times, may optionally continue past the 100-mile finish, adding an additional 6 miles out (past the Hot Corner), and 6 miles back on Borrego Springs Rd, to create a customized 112-mile Ironman distance course.  The additional 6 miles is gradually uphill the entire way on Borrego Springs Rd, thus adding not just distance, but difficulty too.  This optional section is not officially supported, so it’s only for the most experienced riders, who are well-conditioned and understand the optional section is outside the support boundaries for the Salton Sea Century.  Alternatively, riders seeking a 56-mile course can easily lengthen Lap 3 from 55 to 56 miles.  Doing this back-to-back would add up to 112 miles and be fully supported the entire way.  Distances at the Salton Sea Century are adjustable, so make riders can decide on the day of the ride what’s the best choice given the weather conditions and how they feel out on the course.

Go to top of page

Speedsters/Categorized:  

1.  Overview:  The Salton Sea Century is not a race, it’s a recreational desert century ride. But, that doesn’t mean a fast rider should avoid participating.  In fact, the course offers the fastest cyclists something very special:  it’s another classic “thinking man’s” course (goes for women too!).  The course appears relatively tame, with only 4,400 feet of total elevation gain.  The long climbs are not steep, but are 1-5 miles long.  There are fantastic sight lines, so riders can clearly see what’s coming for miles and miles.  All that seems to add up to fairly easy century spin, right?  Not!

2.  Why it’s hard to ride fast solo:  (tba)

3.  Jim’s Lessons Learned:  Shadow Tour Co-Founder, Jim Knight, circa 1960, has ridden the Salton Sea Century many times.  He almost always rides solo, unsupported, yet timed vs. the clock.  Jim typically does century rides solo at 20+ MPH average speed.  Even at more difficult 100-mile courses, like Furnace Creek in Death Valley, he finishes under 5 hours.  At the tough 112-mile Hawaii Ironman, his average speed was comfortably over 20 MPH, finishing in about 5:15 at both Hawaii Ironman participations.  Yet, at the Salton Sea Century, the a sub 5-hour century has proved elusive.

4.  Pesky Winds:  When desert winds really blow, we’re talking sustained winds of 15-20 MPH, perhaps gusting to 25+ MPH, it’s nearly impossible to hold speeds anywhere near 20 MPH, even on downhill stretches.  Since most headwinds are buried in the last 27 miles of the course, its necessary to bomb through the course to balance out the inevitable slower pace on the final section from Salton City to the finish in Borrego Springs.

5.  How to Break 5 Hours:  (tba) Number one, you’ve got be in great shape!  Number 2, you need a little luck with the winds—not too much, not too little.   And Number 3, you need to be patient in the saddle, especially when staring at your computer/Garmin showing a current speed of 9-10 MPH on the return from Salton City.  

6.  Salton Sea  Record Time:  Tony Darr, Imperial, CA, 5:09, 2008.

7.   Theoretical Salton Sea Century Record:   With a large peloton, the course can easily be ridden well under 4 hours, probably under 3:20.  But for a true solo effort, in the October heat and wind, the potential solo record is probably in the 4:10 - 4:15 range.  The Salton Sea Century welcomes speedy Cat 1/2 riders, or other gutsy and fast cyclists, to come out and test themselves.  Post an untouchable time.  Let's see what you've got.  Riders going for a solo record at Salton Sea must not benefit from any drafting, or outside support.  Timing is informal, but once the clock starts, it does not stop for any reason, until the rider crosses the finish line.  If you’d like to give it a try, please email Jim for the details. 

Go to top of page

Ultra Distance Riders:

1.  Overview:  For experienced and well-conditioned ultra distance riders, Salton Sea offers a challenging option of up to 155 miles.   The ride is comprised of the Full Century course, plus the additions of Lap 1 (28 miles) and Lap 2 (17 miles) after completing the full century.  This adds exactly 55 miles, making a total of 155 miles.  At a different time of year, it may be possible to have enough light to complete 200 miles, but with longer days come oppressive heat in the desert.  So 200 miles during mostly daylight hours is not an option in October.  The course is officially open from 7:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.  All support is designed to support riders during only that timeframe.  The reason for the 5:00 P.M. cutoff is that’s when the permits expire.

2.  How to do 155 miles:   It’s all about riding efficiently and committing to disciplined time management.   Having just 11 hours to complete 155 miles of desert cycling, is not easy.  And at Salton Sea, those pesky winds and heat will make it even harder.  But for determined, experienced, well-conditioned riders, it’s possible.  We recommend focusing on first finishing the Full Century, without regard to the 155 miles.  If all physical systems are still greenlight after the first 100 miles, and there's adequate time before time cutoffs, riders may do the extra 55 miles.   All riders, including ultra distance riders, are specifically prohibited from riding past 5:00 P.M. for safety reasons.  The course will be officially closed and will have no support available after 5:00 P.M.  All riders, including ultra distance riders, must adhere to the time cutoffs detailed in the Final Rider Instructions.

3.  Early Start Option:  For experienced, well-conditioned, ultra distance riders, who have adequate front and rear lighting systems on their bicycles, an early start is possible.  This option is NOT available to century riders who wish to start early.   Ultra distance riders who have picked up their packets in advance (on Friday) may begin riding at 6:00 A.M., with the full understanding they are riding ahead of the Salton Sea Century support plan by one full hour.  That means none of the early rest stops will be operational when they arrive, nor will on-course support vehicles be available if they have mechanical issues.  Ultra riders choosing to start prior to 7:05 A.M. understand that they are riding outside the official Salton Sea Century support boundaries, must carry additional supplies, and waive all liabilities and accept full individual responsibility.

Go to top of page