Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Off Season?

I haven’t written a blog since October, and the Solvang fall double. That was my last event of the year. Even though we are in the off season, I am still riding and training; trying to complete my goals for this year, and preparing for next year.

What goals do I have to complete? I participate in the UMCA year-rounder. My goal this year was to log over 5,000 miles in rides of 90 miles or more. Mission accomplished. My other goal is to ride a total of 10,000 miles this year. As of this writing, I am 612 miles shy.

What is up for next year? Where do I want to go with my cycling? 2011 is a big year for those who are randonneurs. 2011 is a Paris-Brest-Paris year. Complete a 200, 300, 400, and 600 kilometer brevet, and you are qualified for the 1200 kilometer randonee that starts in Paris, France goes to the city of Brest on the Atlantic, and returns to Paris. This event is over 100 years old, and is run every four years. I will not be attending. I cannot afford it, and although I would like to do it, can’t justify that kind of money for one event. However, I still want to complete the brevet series. I DNF’d on the 600 kilometer last year.

I also intend on doing five to seven double centuries. Having done 10 in the past two years, I now have some favorites including, Eastern Sierra, and Solvang Spring. Those two are circled on my calendar as must do events.

Those of you who know me or have ridden with me know I am far from fast. But I am competitive, and am looking to satisfy my competitive appetite. That is the big change to my 2011 season. I have joined Tri Club San Diego, and have started to train for triathlons as well. I have already increased my running, took some swim lessons, and have incorporated BRIC’s into my regiment. This leads to my main event for 2011, which will be the Austin half ironman in October. I’ll do some sprint events throughout the year to get comfortable with the different disciplines, learn transitions, and I’ll have 10 more months to build up my swimming so I can do the 1.2 mile swim, which right now is the part I am least confident in.

2011 should be a fun and busy year. 10-12 cycling events over 180 miles, and, another five or six triathlons leading up to my October half-ironman Did I really commit to a half-ironman? GULP!

I hope you have enjoyed my blog throughout the year; I have enjoyed writing it, and will begin again in January with a report on the season opening 200K brevet.

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, stay safe, and remember its okay to indulge once or twice this time of year. If you’re feeling like you had too much, visit the Palomar Mountain General Store by bike.

You can follow my cycling and other musings on Twitter. I am @stevecycles200.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Solvang Fall Double Century

I awoke on Friday morning excited and a bit sad. I was ready to head up to Solvang for the Planet Ultra Solvang Fall Double, which I was excited to do, but this would be my final event for the year. There is only one double left on the schedule, which I am not signed up for. So I prepped my bike, and noticed my front tire was in need of replacement.

I packed up, and started north. Traffic slowed at the L.A. county line, big shock there, huh? But, really wasn’t too bad. I stopped in Newbury Park since I knew there was a bike shop there and picked up a tire. Oh, yeah it was lunch time and there is an In-N-Out burger in the same area. That had no influence on my decision. Well, since it was there and it was lunch time, and I was hungry.

I got up to Solvang checked into the Flying Flags RV Resort and found a spot for my Grand Caravan which would be home for the next couple of days.

I took the rear tire off my bike and put the new tire on, then rotated my old rear to the front, retiring the well worn front tire. Then took off on a 5 mile, 20 minute ride just to make sure the bike was okay, and ready for Saturday.

5:00 AM Saturday morning I woke up, had breakfast, kitted up, and headed by bike to the start 3.8 miles away. I got there at 5:55 for our 6:00 departure. Off we go in the dark, lights on, blinking taillights, solid taillights. I’m always amazed at the variety of light systems. Some riders have great set-ups, some riders I wonder if they really want to be seen in the dark?

We started with a few rollers in town, actually making several turns early before hitting Foxen Canyon. Somewhere I here someone call out ---- up. I know they didn't say car. I thought he said beer. A little early? I look ahead and realize he said Deer Up! A deer, in the road. The deer meanders safely into the woods and we continue. I've seen several deer on rides, but its the first time I've ever heard "Deer Up!" If you’ve read my previous blogs, you know one of Steve’s cycling facts. Roads named Canyon usually mean its time to climb. This wasn’t a big climb, but enough of an ascent to separate the field a bit, and of course, that meant Steve was dropping back some.

Looking forward to next year, I have been looking at simplifying my fueling. I decided after some research to work on using Hammer Perpetum as my main fueling source. This should mean little or no solid food, meaning less to carry, and quicker stops!

We hit the first check point at mile 41. 3 scoops of perpetum in one bottle, and water in the other. E-caps, and some Hammer gel. Back on the bike. Less than four minutes.

Mile 48.4 Bear Left onto Tepusquet Road. Looks pretty cool. About a mile in a get chased by a dog as the road begins to climb. A little ankle biter, a fake throw of my water bottle, he doesn’t go for it, and chases again. A give him a deep roaring WOOF! His tail goes between his legs, and he takes off into (his)? field at mach 1. Continuing on the climb up this really cool road, wooded, barely wide enough for two cars, smooth black top, no markings. Amazing! Then a descent to boot! It was technical, so no super speed, but really cool. If you’ve ever watched pro cycling in Europe, and you dream of climbing and descending some of those narrow roads, visit this area, and ride Tepusquet Road. I can only guess, but I’ll bet bikes out number cars on this road 10-1. There was a slippery when wet sign that had a picture of a bike on it!

Tepusquet Road.

Turn left onto Hwy 166 for Check Point 2. Nature break, Perpetum, water, quick tweet, and go!

Sat in a few times with a big group of riders from Arizona known as the Bullshifters, nice folks, I think as a group they probably pedal a bit stronger than I do, but I’d leap frog them at stops, then they’d catch up, go by, and I could usually hang on for awhile. Actually I could hang on until the road went up, then, I usually drop back.

104 miles was the lunch stop. I stayed with my plan, although I did have a V8, and pocketed another for the road. There was a lady rider from the Bullshifters that even mentioned to me, you are leaving already? I said, as a slower rider, the only way to finish in a reasonable time is to take short breaks. I also stiffen up if I wait too long, better for me to keep moving. She warned me of the climb ahead, said it got really steep toward the top. I figured, no problem I did White Mountain, I can climb anything. She was right, Prefumo Canyon Road got very steep. Get a sticker on your helmet at the top, a short descent then…..a dirt road. Time out, can I have my mountain bike? Bounce, bang, bounce, this is not a smooth fire road either. Okay, back to pavement, skirting the Pismo area on Shell Beach Road I felt hungry. Hmm, per Hammer’s recommendations, aha! I was taking on Perpetum at a rate of refueling every two hours, but in reality, I was refueling every 2.5 to 3 hours based on the distance of the checkpoints. I also needed a, um, nature break. I spot tennis courts and a porta-potty, so pull off. And happy that I was prepared! I had stuck a PB&J in my jersey just in case since I had only trained with Perpetum twice before this event. Perfect, back on the bike to Guadalupe.

I was getting tired, and I took a bit longer at the Guadalupe stop, probably about 10 minutes. I prepped for nightfall, put my helmet light on, and headed out.

It started to mist. I really don’t mind rain, mist, or whatever. The biggest challenge I have with it, I wear glasses. That makes it really hard to see.

The rest of the ride was focus, focus, focus. After the last checkpoint, I tried to keep riders in front of me, to follow the taillights since the rain made it so hard to see with the spots on my glasses. Other than that, lock it in, and get to Solvang. 14 hours and 47 minutes after the official start.

This was my seventh double of the year, and my fourth Planet Ultra, completing a Planet Ultra Grand Slam. I’m liking my new coffee mug!

Huge thanks to all the Planet Ultra volunteers. If I didn’t thank you when I came through, I apologize, and I give you sincere thanks now. Also thanks to Planet Ultra for putting on this, and so many of our double centuries.

So now the off-season. Yeah, right! I participate in the UMCA year-rounder, so I still want to put up a 100 plus mile ride every week.

But, I want to cross-train. As I plan my goals for next year my off season needs to be productive.

I would like to be a better climber. I’ll never glide up the climbs like the 130 pounders, but I know I can get better. How? Well, as Eddie Mercyk says, “don’t buy upgrades, ride up grades.” And if Eddie saw me, he’d say loose a stone or two.

I'm also learning how to swim. Hmmm bike, run, swim. Might Steve be considering a triathlon?

Yes, I think getting into an actual "race" will help me push and get faster. This will help me get to one of my big goals, either for 2011 or 2012, which is to do either the Hoodoo 500 or Furnace Creek 508. There I put it in writing.

If you read my previous blog, I am donating 10 cents per mile ridden in October to Livestrong. With this Double Century, my October mileage is now 616.11, I have also ran 10 miles. I should break 1,000 miles this month.

Equipment: Specialized Roubaix Expert, compact crank, 11-34 cassette, Specialized Roubaix PINK bar tape.

View the ride on Garmin Connect:

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Dude! You have pink bar tape on your bike!!

Yes I put pink bar tape on my bike. Why? October is breast cancer awareness month, and pink is the breast cancer awareness color. But it's more than just breast cancer. It’s about all cancers. In addition, October 2nd is global Livestrong day.

Earlier in the year, Livestrong did an “I ride for…” campaign.

Here’s who I ride for:

My mom, who lost her fight with lung cancer earlier this year.
My mother-in-law, who is a 13 year breast cancer survivor.
My father-in-law, who is currently battling mouth and throat cancer.
My uncles, Harry, Chuck, Elmer, and Harry who all succumbed to cancer.
My wife’s uncle Don, who lost his fight with brain cancer.
My wife's grandfather who lost his fight with non-hodgkins lymphoma.
I ride for the 28 million currently battling cancer

That’s way too many. So here’s the deal. For the month of October, I will donate 10 cents per mile, for every mile I ride. If all goes well, I should put up over 1,000miles this month; and since I have started running I will add $1.00 per mile run. My donations will be to Livestrong to help the global fight against ALL CANCER.

For Livestrong day on October 2nd, I plan on riding for 14 hours. Or, 28 half-hours, for the 28 million.

Here’s my challenge: Who else is in? I’m not about pledges and all that stuff. Just follow my mileage on Dailymile, or on this blog, and do what you can. Here’s the information to donate to Livestrong:

Oh, and guys; how many of you are man enough to join me in rocking the pink bar tape?

You can also follow my cycling and other musing on Twitter. I am @stevecycles200

Sunday, September 12, 2010

White Mountain Double Century

I drove up to Bishop on Friday. After checking into my motel, I got the bike ready with lights, air in the tires, and fresh lube on the chain. After traveling with the bike I like to go for a short easy spin to make sure there are no surprises. So, 2.5 miles into my Friday easy spin I hear Pfffffffft. I picked up one of those annoying barbs from a tire retread.
Fixed the flat, bought an additional tube, and ready to go.

4:00 AM start time. That means a 3:00 AM wake up. That’s early. Seems even earlier when the room above mine was occupied by a heard of buffalo. Thank you rude people.

We roll out in a pitch black pace line south on 395. About 15 miles of flat easy riding. Sitting in at 18 – 20 MPH with little or no effort. Then a left turn. Another easy mile and BAM! Up goes the road. From 4,000 feet to 7,000 in about 14 miles. First aid station, fill the bottles and a left turn. BAM, BAM, BOOM. 10 more miles of climbing. Mostly with double digit gradients. Yes, double digit, and often 13-15 percent. At times 18 percent. Had my first experience with altitude issues at 9200 feet. Had to stop so I could breath. Finally the summit. 8:45 AM, 4:45 minutes to go 38 miles. No, I’m not a great climber. No, I wasn’t the last one up either. It was easily the hardest climb I’ve ever done. (Note the use of the word easy to describe something hard). As hard as it was, the views and scenery were spectacular. the ancient bristle cone pine forest has to be seen. I highly recommend it. Don't want to suffer on the bike? You can drive up. The best way I can describe it; God was showing off.
The descent was very technical, so I took it easy until we turned back east on 168. Then the descent was pretty straight, and I let it rip. The fun didn’t last long.

Why? Say hello to Gilbert’s Pass. More double digit gradients. Not as hard as White Mountain, but the legs are already mush. Summit Gilbert’s and a bit of downhill. Then into Nevada. Yahoo! A 1 to 3 percent downhill with a tailwind for 15 miles to the lunch stop. 26 to 28 MPH all the way to lunch.

After lunch a whole lot of Nevada desert. And crosswinds. And roads that seemed like they would never end. We get to Route 6. The sign says left to Bishop. That is where we are going. But the route sheet says turn right! It is a double century. To get to 200 miles we need a six mile out and back. The last two miles of the out portion was a wicked head wind. I though AWESOME! That means a long tailwind going back. Ha ha. It lasted about two miles. Even though my Garmin said I was headed west, and continued to say west, the wind became more of a cross.

One more pass awaited us. We were around 5000 feet and had to get over the 7110 foot high Montgomery pass. Montgomery is really pretty tame. No double digit gradients. But for me, with legs of rubber after White Mountain and a day of riding, three to five percents gradients felt like 15 percent. Summit. Bomb downhill to Benton for the last aid station of the day. Refuel, and cheat a bit with a fabulous hot dog. (That’s a first on a bike ride). Ready for the mostly 1 to 2 percent downhill to Bishop. But of course this is a HARD ride. A challenging ride. One that took us to a 10,000 foot plus peak. So, how to make the final 35 miles challenging. A nice big headwind, of course! Thankfully I spent most of it in a paceline. (Yes, I took a few turns up front). But it really helped.

We arrive in Bishop. The finish! I checked in, rode the half mile back to my motel. Showered, and walked across the street to Denny’s for a recovery meal.

The stats: 14:45 of pedal time 13.6 MPH average. (Was 8,8 the first 38 miles)
17:03 total time. Not all at aid stations, Stopped on the climb to get my breath, and two other times for an on the road break. The first climb took a lot out of me.

Top speed 44.6 MPH. Max heart rate: 178. (Really high for me)
11,775 feet of elevation gain.
Special thanks to Jim Cook and the ND Zone staff for a well supported ride. Excellent spacing of the stops, and considering the difficulty of the course and dryness of the area, it was great to have the extra water stops.

Equipment: Specialized Roubaix Expert. 50/34 crankset. 11-34 cassette. (Needed all the help I could get on White Mountain)* Selle Anatomica saddle.** Shimano RS80 wheels. Continental GP 4000S tires.

* The 34 really helped on the 12 plus percenters. But….I think I get lazy with it on 7-8 percenters so I need to be careful; or man up and go back to an 11-28.

**Ending a two and a half month test of this saddle. I put it on right after the Grand Tour since I had a while until my next double. Plenty of time to tweak it and dial it in. It isn’t a whole lot more comfortable on the bum than my avatar, and it bugs me a bit on the sides. I also thought there was a power loss since I’ve put it on. I put my Avatar back on for today’s recovery ride, and even with no effort, I felt like I had more power to the pedals.

You can follow my cycling exploits and other random thoughts on Twitter. I am @stevecycles200

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Training Ride to Palomar Abbreviated

The Training Ride to Palomar is a 203 kilometer permanent route. It begins in Encinitas, CA, rides through Escondido, by Lake Wholford, and ascends Palomar Mountain. From there the ride goes to Santa Ysabel, and then returns to Encinitas via Ramona, Rancho Bernardo, Rancho Santa Fe, San Marcos, and Carlsbad. There is about 9,000 feet of climbing, with 7000 of it coming in the first 70 miles.

We started with a group of about 12, and left Encinitas at 0600 under cloudy skies with a temperature of 62 degrees. We stopped at a dog park in Escondido to pick up an additional rider. I have to say I felt better than I did a week ago, and felt like I climbed Lake Wholford, part of the Amgen Tour of California Race in 2009, on the 8th stage, fairly well, at least for me. Most of the group passed me, but I kept many in sight, and arrived at the first control only a few minutes after they did, at mile 35.

This is where the climb up Palomar begins. We gain about 1000 feet on Hwy 76 over 5 miles, then turn onto South Grade Road, where we will gain another 3200 feet over the next 7 miles. The climb begins at just under 1000 feet of elevation, and the summit is 5200 feet. I have never gone all the way up Palomar, I have gone by South Grade several times via Hwy 76, and that 5 mile stretch is always tough for me, but felt like I did okay today. Again, the group had passed me, but I felt like I was hanging in there. The climb was getting warm, and tougher, when about 3 miles from the summit I heard a deafening BOOM! I knew immediately I had blown a tube. Stop. Checked my rear tire, and it was solid, but the front was beyond flat, as the blow out took the tire off the bead! That made removing the tire easy. I gave it a good inspection, as one other time on a blow out I damaged the sidewall. Not so this time, so insert a new tube, get the tire back on and go. Not so fast. If you read last week’s blog, you know I killed my front wheel, so I am on a loaner wheel. It is a Mavic Cosmic Elite, which is a bit of a deeper dish, and I had a hard time getting the tire over the bead. Back to basics, make sure the tube is drained of air after giving it some to help get it in the rim, push, push, push. Grrr. It’s getting real hot, I’m on the side of a mountain road, with little shoulder, and I’m getting frustrated. I set the wheel down for a minute to gain my composure. Pick it up, and I finally got it. What should have been a 5 minute change, took over 20 minutes. Back at it, but I am really warm, and I quickly drained my bottles. I did the last 2 plus miles with no fluids. By the time I reached the summit, I was cooked, and had some minor cramping. I hit the Palomar General Store, and drained two Gatorades, filled my bottles, and sat down drinking a Coke and eating a Hammer bar. I also had been hitting the endrolytes hard with the heat.

I took extra time trying to get feeling okay, which I hate doing, I like to get in and out of controls, its one way I make up for being a slower rider, especially on rides with an abundance of climbs. Finally I took off down the descent on East Grade, back to Hwy 76, and Eastward to Lake Henshaw. Past the lake, and to Hwy 79 which climbs, albeit, not drastically for about 4 miles or so. This is where I knew I was in trouble, as even one to two percent gradients were causing me to stop with cramping in the quads, shins, calves, and hamstrings. A note on cramping, I don’t often cramp on the bike, and when I do it is usually mild enough that I can spin easy, hit a gel and e-cap, and be okay in a short time. But this was different. I was stopping every half mile to mile, and a couple of times the cramps were intesnse. Last week Kelly had mentioned Tums helps cramping, and I had a couple of those too! It seemed like the more I did, the less effective anything was. With about four miles to go on 79 before the Santa Ysabel control, I called the Team Car, otherwise known as Wifey, and asked her to pick me up in Santa Ysabel. It wasn’t just the cramping, I also had intestinal issues, which I have not had on the bike either. Perhaps the heat got to me, perhaps I wasn’t 100 percent at the start, or maybe I dehydrated worse than I thought on the climb, and simply couldn’t recover from it.

The day was done. I have to say, in doing eight double centuries, plus exceeding 200 miles on two other occasions, I have never felt as cooked, as I did when I hit Santa Ysabel.

Hopefully the rest of the group had a good ride, I thoroughly enjoyed the views from Palomar, and am happy I completed my first summit of the legendary local climb. I will be back, and I will finish this ride.

Final stats: 70 miles, 7,333 feet of gain, temperature range per Garmin 62-107, 39 MPH top speed.

The ride on Garmin Connect:

You can follow my cycling and other musings on Twitter. I am @stevecycles200

Sunday, July 18, 2010

San Luis Rey Revival Permanent

Last Saturday I flew out to Las Vegas for a business trip. I got back home Thursday, and when I finally got caught up on my cycling e-mails on Friday, one caught my eye. A group of the rando riders was going to do the San Luis Rey Revival Permanent route.

This route starts at the Oceanside pier, where RAAM starts, and follows the RAAM route to the first time station at Lake Henshaw. The difference is we then turned around and went back to Oceanside, as opposed to going another 2,950 miles to Annapolis.

We left Oceanside at 6:00 AM; it was myself, Kelly, Jaime, and John. We headed out the SLR bike path and were on our way. It was a pleasant morning with the temperature about 65 degrees according to my Garmin. That would soon change, as there was little or no marine layer, and the sun was out in full force early.

We cruised through Bonsall and headed toward Old 395, which meant the first climb of the day was near. A turn onto Old Castle Road, and up we go. I enjoy the Old Castle climb, mostly about 6% over about 3 miles. I also knew when I hit this climb today; I didn’t have my “A” game. While I am far from a strong climber, I was struggling on this one, being a Clydesdale, steep climbs usually kick my fanny, but 5-6 per centers, I can usually keep a descent cadence. Not so today. Summit Old Castle, a short downhill, and back up to Valley Center. The temperature is rising. Garmin shows 99.

Turn onto Valley Center and we are headed to Route 76. A nice fast descent on Valley Center. We are now 39 miles in, and hit the first control. Ultra Cyclist extraordinaire, George Vargas pulls in, he is going to climb Palomar Mountain. George has done 2 person RAAM, and will do the Furnace Creek 508 for the fifth time (I think) this year. With full bottles, we head east on 76 for a five mile climb to the base of Palomar Mountain. This climb has some 9 and 10 percent sections, so you can imagine if I was struggling with cadence on the 6 per centers, I was really grinding it out here. Route 76 takes us all the way to Lake Henshaw where we regroup, fill up and head back out. Garmin now shows 100 degrees.

Returning on 76, after passing the base of Palomar, we now get a rip-roaring descent. Light traffic made this a ton of fun today. We roll right by Valley Center Road, as the route has us return via Cole Grade Road. Cole Grade Road was part of the Tour of California route, stage 8 in 2009. It was rated as a category 1 climb. And its not real long, which means it is STEEP! 9-13 percent. Talk about grinding it out. Jaime, John, and Kelly all were way up the road, I just kept plugging along. Finally hitting the summit, we regrouped and took a short break. Garmin shows 113 degrees. John says his hit 118!

One more climb, this time up Lilac to the back side of Old Castle. I look back and don’t see the other three. Wondering if all is okay, Jaime catches me and said Kelly has a flat, but said is okay and will catch up. We pull into Bonsall to fill bottles, and Kelly and John are right behind. 14 miles to go.

This should be uneventful. An easy 14 miles or so to the finish. With less than 3 miles to go on the SLR bike path Jaime finds a second wind and takes it up to about 19 MPH, I decide I can’t hold his wheel any longer and pull up. I guess my brain pulled up too, and I drift off the path onto some jagged rocks, A strong jolt through the body, I’m back on the path, somehow I didn’t crash, but my left elbow is searing in pain, I look down and my front wheel is wobbling. Stop. Hold the elbow. John asks if I am okay, I say no and he stops. The elbow starts to calm down, so we look at the wheel. The rim is bent. Spin, in the brakes. John opens the brakes, pulls out a spoke wrench and works on the wheel a bit. While still wobbling, John gets the wheel so I can limp home the last 3 miles.

Thanks to Kelly, John, and Jaime for the company. John and Kelly are experienced randos, and great knowledge. I think Jaime has been doing this for about as long as I have, but really made some strong gains lately, he was riding great today. Props to you, Jaime.

Okay the stats: 114.99 miles. 6,526 feet of elevation gain. Max HR 162. Max speed 40.5. Temperature range per Garmin: 64-120. 12 bottles of fluids consumed. (Water, Heed, Gatorade). Equivalent of another 2 or 3 bottles of water poured over head on body.

You can see the ride on Garmin Connect:

Observations: I’ve lost 155 pounds over 4 years. It’s time to make another move. The only way I’m going to get up climbs faster is by loosing more weight. I’m tired of being way off the back on all the climbs. I’m also considering talking to my mechanic about a wider range cassette, maybe the SRAM 11-32? Whenever the grade is at or over 7 percent, I no longer spin, I just grind.

Thanks for reading! If you like you can follow my cycling exploits and other musings on Twitter, I am @stevecycles200.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Grand Tour

The Grand Tour, a double century put on by the L. A. Wheelmen begins in Malibu, CA, on the ocean. One of the most scenic places anywhere.

San Diego is a three hour drive away in reasonably good traffic. Going through Los Angeles, reasonably good doesn’t happen. So I left a little before noon on Friday, and got there a little after 4:00. Enjoyed a ride up the coast, back down, had some dinner, then got checked into the ride. I spent the night in my van at the start. Going to these events starts to add up the bucks, so if you can save a bit on motels, do it.

The alarm went off at 3:45 AM, as I was planning on a 4:30 start. I pulled out at 4:26, on the Lowland course. The Grand Tour offers lowland (about 5,500 feet of gain) and a highland (about 8,500 feet of gain). I chose the lowland only because I did it last year as my first double and wanted to see if I could better my time.

I pulled out, and felt pretty good heading out of Malibu. There are some rollers going up the coast to Port Hueneme, but I felt good on the way out. About 35 miles in, is the first rest stop. Fill the bottles, and we are heading to Moorpark. On the road to Moorpark. I was surprised at the lack of riders on the course. I remember getting into a pretty good pace line last year for a good 20 or 30 mile stretch. Finally a group goes by, at a pretty good clip, a jump in to see if I can hang with this group, and the speed is ideal. We are going about 20-21 MPH, which is faster than I go solo, but is still leaving energy in reserve. About 2-3 miles in, we make a turn. Someone asks if I am doing lowland, I say yes, and they say, you go straight. Darn it! I thought that turn was too soon, and it was the highland turn-off.

Back on the right road, and there is another solo rider, and we chatted off and on for a bunch of miles. He’d usually stay longer at the controls, but he always caught up to me, and then we’d chat some more. Thomas had crewed for the JDRF RAAM team, driving their R.V. After learning about his experience, as tough as it would be to ride RAAM, I thinking crewing is harder! Great talking to you, Thomas!

This route is pretty urban, with too many stoplights. I don’t remember as many last year. I’m sure they were there; maybe I just got lucky and hit more green ones? Maybe I was too focused on surviving since it was my first double? Anyway, it was pretty frustrating; I could never seem to get any momentum. Next year, the highland will be my route. I’ll trade some climbs for less traffic and lights any day!

In the end, it was a pretty good ride. My total time was 13:47, 14 minutes slower than last year. I attribute that to less pace line riding and not having anyone push me. Last year, my buddy Keith @cyclewarrior hung with me, and pushed me harder than I would push myself. Keith is MUCH faster than I am; he completed the route this year in just over 10 hours. I need to learn how to push myself a bit more and pick my speed up.

I have about 10 weeks before my next event, and that is what I will be training towards. More speed and power. I’m also putting my Sella AnAtomica seat on. I’m tired of my butt getting sore by mile 120. Time to see if the AnAtomica is all everyone says it is, and give it a good go.

Thanks to the LA Wheelmen for putting this even on for the 52nd year. This is the oldest Double Century in the country! For more information on the history (it’s a good story), follow go to the LA Wheelmen website.

The stats: 198.04 miles
Total Pedal Time 12:19
Average Pedal Speed 16.1
Total Time: 13:47
Max Speed 36.7 (no big climbs, no big downhills)
Elevation Gain: 5,279

The ride can be viewed on Garmin Connect.

I’m planning three more events this year.

White Mountain Double Century, September 11.
Santa Cruz Randos 600KM Sept 25
Solvang Fall Double Century October 16,

Thanks for reading, you can follow my musings and rides via Twitter, I am @stevecycles200.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Coronado 300K Brevet

The alarm goes off at 4:15 AM. Put on my kit, bike in the car and off to Coronado for the start of the SD Randos Coronado 300K brevet.

We were scheduled to start at 6:00. By 5:40 the riders were looking around for our Regional Brevet Administrator, Dennis. Jamie was there, who was volunteering for the event, but he did not have the brevet cards. About 5:50 Jamie called Dennis. Oops, Dennis thought we were starting at 7:00. He’s on his way.

Dennis arrives, goes over a few instructions and we are off at 6:15. South along the strand in Coronado. Coronado is an island, well really a peninsula since it is attached at the southern end, but they call it an island. Anyway, we head south, then around Chula Vista to Bonita, down to Otay Lakes, and then we head east.

Heading east in San Diego means heading toward the hills/mountains. Heading east on Otay Lakes road means making small gains in elevation for about 20 miles, a turn onto highway 94 for a nano second, then a turn onto Honey Spring Road where the fun begins!

Honey Springs Road is a 6 mile climb that gains about 1,600 feet. Prior to the climb was our first control, manned by Jamie. Water, bananas, grapes, and cookies! A well stocked control for a self-supported brevet. Thanks, Jamie! Then a quick one mile descent and a turn on Lyons Valley Road. Lyons Valley leads to Japatul Valley Road. Some up, some down, and eventually a lot more up than down, especially as Japatul Valley heads to Descanzo which is our second control. Greg is handling duties here with water, bananas, cliff bars, and bagels. I ran out of liquid about 5 miles prior to the stop, and started rationing about 12 miles out, so I’m a bit parched here. I go into the store for some Gatorade, a red bull, and a V8, and take a bit of a break to get replenished.

We are now on Highway 79 heading north, into Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. And we are climbing. And climbing. And climbing some more, before summiting between the Paso Picacho Campground and Lake Cuyamaca. Just about 5,000 feet. Finally a descent. Then more climbing, then a descent. We are now in historic Julian. Famous for its apple pie. There will be none of that today, I just want to start the downhills!

Previously anytime I have ridden through Julian, I just take 78 east to Santa Ysabel. This route had us go north on Farmers Road. Okay, pretty quiet, but all of the sudden we are climbing a bit, I’m in my 34x27, standing and really grinding. I look at my Garmin and see I am on a 20 percent gradient! Luckily it was a short pitch, but ouch. I guess this section was the rando tribute to the Giro. The treat to this was the super-technical downhill of Wynola Road back to the 78. Downhill to Ramona, and the next control.

A slight climb out of Ramona, then a bombing descent into Lakeside. Enjoy it, after Lakeside it’s a climb all the way to Alpine, the final control before the finish. After a chicken sandwich and Carl’s along with some chit chat with other riders, and realizing we had two Ironmen on this brevet, it was off for more climbing. About those two ironmen, I’m not just talking about guys that accomplished a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and running a full marathon in the same day. I’m talking about two guys that put up real impressive times. Mark did Louisville in 10:34 (apologies if I’m off a bit). I asked if that qualified for Kona, as I’m thinking that’s a great time. He said not even close, you generally have to break 10 hours. Jerald did Arizona in about 9:30 and did qualify for Kona. Okay, I’m beyond impressed.

Some more climbs and I finally return to Honey Springs Road, this time from the other side, which means a one mile climb, then a 6 mile descent. Yahoo! After peaking at 46 MPH, I’m back on Otay Lakes Road. We came back into Coronado a bit differently as we took Olympic Parkway, which means passing the Olympic Training Center. No matter how tired one is, seeing those rings, and the legs find a bit of juice. Mark had passed me on one of the climbs, but I see him, as he is finishing fixing a flat. We ride in together the last 15 or 20 miles.

Tim is handling the paperwork at the finish with some pizza, cookies, and coke. I don’t know why but a Coke tastes great after 190 miles.

Overall I was disappointed in my time for this ride. I took longer at the controls, but felt like I needed the recovery. I think I’m still a little fatigued and not 100 percent after my cold the previous week. The lungs were pretty good, but my legs seemed to tire much quicker. And the climbs seemed twice as challenging as they should have.

The stats: 190.82 miles. 12,313 feet of elevation gain. Highest elevation, 5,000 feet. Lowest: Sea Level. Top Speed: 46MPH.

Thank you to Dennis, Jamie, Greg, and Tim for volunteering and putting the event on. It was a good, albeit challenging route.

See the ride on Garmin Connect:

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Eastern Sierra Double Century

I made the six hour drive from San Diego to Bishop for the Eastern Sierra Double Century. The ride is advertised as one of the most scenic and beautiful on the California Triple Crown Schedule.

We have two options for starting. 4:00 or 5:00 AM. The 4:00 option is only if you will take over 14 hours, and this gives you an additional hour to complete the ride. Since I expected to take 15 hours, I opted for the early start.

Yawn. That is an early start! Lights on, reflective gear on, GO!

The first 30 miles are pretty much flat and easy. As light began to come through you could see the mountains, almost as if to say, “Good morning, I’ll be here to put you in awe, to delight you, and of course to make you suffer.” After the first check point at mile 30, we quickly got into the suffer part. Old Sherwin Grade; a ten mile plus climb, with occasional double digit gradients. Oh, and a nice head wind to boot. And I LOVED the false summit, descent, only to have another three mile climb.

After another check point, the roads continued to point upward. Over half the climbing in the entire ride is between miles 30 and 75. We were now in Mammoth Lakes, summiting at over 8,000 feet of altitude. Just off the road, there is still snow on the ground, this despite the temperature being about 70 degrees. Awesome and stunning scenery, the ride is proving to be as billed. And we weren’t even to the good stuff yet.

No, the real beauty, in my opinion, was the June Lake loop. Wow! Three lakes, rolling terrain, and the mountain backdrops. Michelangelo, Picasso? No, when it comes to artists, God tops all of them, and its not even close.

From there it was up to Mono Lake for the lunch stop. Over half the mileage is done, but 75 percent of the climbing was in the bag. Should be easy from here. Yeah right.

A climb back to Highway 120, where you could go west and really do some climbing, or go east like we did, and enjoy a rip-roaring descent. I hit 48.4 MPH on this descent. Then the road goes back up. For 10 long miles, this climb was tough on me. The legs were already rubber. Finally the summit at over 8,200 feet. A check point at the summit. Another rider said, “Wow, turn around!” We did, and you could see the majestic snow capped mountain behind us rising out of the valley we just ascended from. Amazing.

From here on the ride was pretty easy, another rocket – like descent, this time I topped out at 51.1 MPH! Then a few rollers into Benton for our final check point. From Benton to Bishop it was hot, but mostly a 1 to 2 percent descent with a cross and occasional tail wind. Speeds from 18 to 35 MPH all the way in!

Back in Bishop, the Garmin showed 197 miles, 9,993 feet of ascen, 14 hours and 16 minutes total time. All the stats are here, on Garmin Connect. And a whole lot of great scenery. The ride was as advertised, and then some.

Thank you to Planet Ultra for putting on this great event, and especially to all the volunteers, especially adding a water stop on the Sagehen climb, it was most appreciated.

The Udder Tifosi were out!

June Lake Loop

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Borrego Double Ordeal

The Borrego Double Ordeal. A double century starting in the small desert town of Borrego Springs. Heading to Oceanside, and back. Just over 200 miles.

I arrived Friday night, checked in, and found a place to park the van. Went to sleep about 10:00 PM. Up at 3:30 for our 4:30 AM roll-out.

Borrego Springs is roughly at sea-level. Oceanside is at sea-level. Nice flat ride, right?

Well it would be except for the approximate 4,000 foot mountain and other assorted hills in-between.

We got about 1.5 miles of flat to warm-up before turning onto Montezuma Valley Road. An 11 mile trek that gains 3,600 feet. Then we have a short, fast, cold descent, and hit Mesa Grande, a shorter climb but with some 13-15 percent grades. We hit Santa Ysabel for a rest stop. Julian apple pie and cold milk, otherwise known as rocket fuel!

Then the easiest part of the day; Santa Ysabel to Oceanside. This was mostly downhill or flat. Oceanside was the lunch stop. After a bottle fill and a quick sandwich, we had about 16 more easy miles out to Bonsall. Then we hit Lilac road with its short steep climbs. Finally into Valley Center, and Cole Grade Road. After three years of cycling, I’ve learned when a road has the name “Grade” in it, it means your climbing! Of course after a climb comes a rocket fast descent where even with scrubbing some speed I hit 44 MPH. A quick bottle fill and continue, now to Highway 76. From Valley Center to the base of Palomar Mountain is a 5 mile climb with 10-12 percent grades. This was brutal for me. I was going 3.4-4.4 MPH in spots, and rarely over 6. Now here is the puzzling part. My heart rate monitor was showing 120-125. I felt like I was working much harder. If I got out of the saddle and went hard it would come up, but seated it would not even if I felt like I was working. Not sure if the HRM was picking up accurately, or if I was just spent and couldn’t put out the effort to pick it up.

Finally I reached the summit and had a nice downhill. Soon, however, the road tilted upward, not too bad, but mostly uphill to Highway 79, and for about 4 miles south on 79. A short downhill, and back up again to Julian, gaining about 1200 feet in 7 miles.

Night fell on the way to Julian which meant descending Banner Grade in the dark. I scrubbed a lot of speed around the corners, safety first! Then there is a nice section of straight, so I let it go, exceeding 40 MPH again. Very little traffic which was great.

One more short climb of Yaqui Pass. Lesson two, if a road has “pass” in its name, your climbing. Hello, Borrego Springs. The desert welcomed me back with a billion stars, a near full moon, and a 25 MPH headwind for the last 2 miles. What should have been a nice easy flat finish felt like another climb. Thanks, desert.

What went well: Kept the sag stops short, climbed pretty well on Montezuma and Mesa Grande.

Lessons learned: Before the 600KM two weeks ago I put an aqua rack on my bike to hold 2 additional bottles. This was due to having a couple of long stretches without services. I left it on, but that was a mistake. The aqua rack is heavy, and it forces me to put my rear taillight on my saddle bag. I think the extra weight hurt with this much climbing, and my taillight popped off. Luckily even though it came apart, and I couldn’t find the batteries, after some fresh batteries it still works. I want to watch my heart rate monitor and see how it responds to my next hard effort.

Highlights: I met Jeff, better known as @BikeCrave on Twitter. We chatted for a couple of minutes on Montezuma before he glided up as I grinded away and fell back. We chatted again at the finish. I probably made no sense to him since I was spent after the ride and not feeling entirely coherent.
Saw lots of cows, many appeared to be watching, so I’ve dubbed them the “udder tifosi.”
Support second to none.
Going about 27 MPH on Palomar Airport Road thanks to jumping into a paceline for about 3 miles or so.

Many thanks to Anny for putting on a great event. Of course all the volunteers that kept us fed, watered, and encouraged. I don’t think I went 30 minutes without seeing a SAG vehicle just in case. That’s support! It’s a shame we only had 20 riders. If you are into double centuries, this is one that needs to be on your calendar. It is not an easy one, but with a 24 hour time limit, and great support it is very doable even for someone’s second or third double. It was my sixth, and by far the hardest, but I never felt like I wouldn’t make it. I do recommend Solvang Spring or Grand Tour for a first double.

I didn’t take any photos, but my picture was taken three times, if they are posted, I’ll relay, I think several others took pictures too, so I may add some links later.


Specialize Roubaix Expert, Ultegra
Compact 50/34 crankset
12/27 cassette
Shimano RS Eighty wheels with Conti Gatorskin tires
Pearl Izumi PRO bibs
California Triple Crown Jersey

Thanks for reading. You can follow me on Twitter. I am @stevecycles200. If you are into cycling, I also recommend following @BikeCrave and @cyclewarrior.

You can “see” my ride on Garmin Connect

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Rainbow Prelude Permanent

This week I rode the Rainbow Prelude Permanent. The what? You ask. A permanent is a route that can be ridden at any time for credit if you are a randonneur. This route is the one I do most often since the start point is closest to my house. It is a challenging and good route.

Starting in the LaJolla/UTC area we head into Sorrento Valley, up to Del Mar, across to Fairbanks Ranch, and then go out to Del Dios for the first climb. Del Dios goes up to the Lake Hodges Dam. From there we go through Harmony Grove and Elfin Forest. One of my favorite places to ride. About mile 33 we turn and go up San Elijo Road for the next climb. This one is about 3 miles at 5-6 percent. But has a wicked fast downhill that is straight, and marked at 9 percent. The only caveat is the two stoplights. I hit 44 this time; I have hit 50 on this one before. After the descent the route is benign until Old Castle Road. The first of 3 strong climbs in a row. Old Castle is about 2.5 miles, then a short descent and a turn on Lilac. Lilac has its rollers, then a turn onto the beast known as Couser Canyon. Bam! Grades at 8-10 percent are common. They spike at 14-15 percent! But Couser has a sweet technical downhill. My downhill cornering needs work, so I’m not so fast there, but I do enjoy it. Next up, Rice Canyon. And a couple more 15 percent spikes. Finally I get to Rainbow, roughly half way in distance, but almost 2/3 in the total time it will take. That is because the majority of the rest of the route heads to and down the coast. More downhill than up. Even with nasty headwinds on the San Luis Rey Bike Path, and dealing with a detour through Carlsbad. Finally there is one more climb, Torrey Grade. 1.4 miles, 5-6%. Over Torrey, and that’s about it. 121.45 miles. 7,110 feet of gain. You can see the ride here on Garmin Connect:

Notable on the ride: Saw a 50’s era Porsche that was immaculate. Also saw a Lotus, and a nicely restored Chevy Chevelle SS. Not to mention the Ford Model T, with license plates that said, “Horseless Carriage.” A good day for interesting cars.

Also saw the first snake of the year. This one was a sidewinder that lost an encounter with a motor vehicle. But beware So Cal cyclists, especially off road or in the back country. This is their time of year.

Specialized Roubaix Expert Ultegra
Crank: 50/34 Compact
Cassette: 12/27
Pearl Izumi PRO Bibs
Cool Breeze Century Jersey over DaFeet S/S wool baselayer
Specialized Arm Warmers
Shimano RS 80 wheels with Continental Gatorskins

Thanks for reading, and as always you can follow me on Twitter. I am @stevecycles200.

Upcoming Events:
May 1 – Borrego Double Ordeal
June 5 – Eastern Sierra Double Century
June 26 – Grand Tour Double Century.

Monday, April 19, 2010

SD Randos 600K

This weekend was the Solana 600K put on by the San Diego Randos. 600 Kilometers is 375 miles. You have 40 hours to finish. Our route was three loops of 200 kilometers each.

The first loop took us from Solana Beach (where Angi and I got married) inland to Escondido and Valley Center, then across Route 76 past the base of Palomar Mountain and to Mesa Grande. Over Mesa Grande and to Santa Ysabel. That was 75 miles. Those 75 miles was almost 7,500 feet of elevation gain. The hardest 75 miles I have ever done. Parts were very pretty. And despite the slow pace and climbing, I felt pretty good, thanks to a solid nutrition strategy.

After re-fueling at Santa Ysabel It is mostly downhill to Ramona, using Old Julian Highway one of my favorite cycling roads. My friend Keith, a very strong rider caught up with me on Mesa Grande, and again on Old Julian Highway. Keith is much faster than I am, but started late, and took some time at Santa Ysabel. We finished the first loop together. It took me over 11 hours to finish the first 200 kilometers, which was a disappointment, I was hoping for a sub 10 hour 200. I knew we had some good climbs, but I under estimated just how much climbing we had on the first loop.

Keith was looking at doing the entire event in about 24 hours, and he is fast enough to do it. He finished a 400K in the 16 hour window, but he too under estimated how tough the first 200K was. Since he had obligations on Sunday, he abandoned the ride after the first loop.

I took off, and of course immediately we were climbing. Right back up Scripps Poway Parkway, then a downhill to Lakeside, then a whole bunch of climbs through East County. Dehesa Road was relentless as the sun set and darkness took a hold. Only eight riders started the 600K, and I had no idea where the others were. I knew three were ahead of me, four behind, and that Keith had abandoned. But as slow as I was going, I was surprised nobody else had passed me. Unless someone did when I took a quick nature break? Finally turning off of Dehesa for the up and down, up and down, up and down of Japatul Road and Lyons Valley Road. Lyons Valley Road started to concern me, as I was really wobbling on the bike. Not just doing the “paper boy” on climbs, but even on flats and downhills. I stopped for a few minutes ate a Cliff Bar, and a Gu. Going over Honey Springs I had the same issue, and onto the relatively flat Otay Lakes Road. Luckily traffic was very light, so when I heard a vehicle behind me, I just stopped. Once I got into Chula Vista I called my wife to come pick me up. I surrendered to safety. Disappointed because my legs felt good enough to go one, and other than exhaustion, I was okay. But a couple of poor nights sleep before an event that requires sleep deprivation is not good. Yes I was disappointed, but I prefer to live to ride again. I understand the PCH Randos have a 600K in October; maybe I’ll give that a shot.

Route 76 the base of Palomar Mtn.

Lake Henshaw. AKA Time Station 1 on RAAM

I skipped writing my blog for a couple of weeks. On March 29th I flew out to Illinois to visit my mom who had been diagnosed with cancer on February 1st. She was in the hospital, but we thought she was sick from the treatment, which is very hard. Sadly, she had complications from the treatment including a stroke, and a rupture in the small intestine. By Wednesday morning we lost her.

I’ve lost my mom and four uncles to cancer. My mother in law is a 13 year survivor; my father in law is a survivor of many years.

After all the years, all the donations to cancer research why do we not have a cure? Why are treatments still so rough? What is the best approach to get rid of cancer?

I don’t know. I’d like to do something with my cycling, but I’m not sure what. Join Team Livestrong? Do something like a penny per mile?

Any suggestions from my blog readers?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Solvang Spring Double Century

This week’s event was the Solvang Spring Double Century. One of the most popular double centuries on the schedule with 550 riders. It is a Planet Ultra Event.

They had an open start between 5:00 AM and 7:30 AM. The course closed at 10:00 PM. The fast riders would go out at 7:30 for “official times.” I went out at 6:00 with @pedalobo, it was his first double century. According to my garmin it was a balmy 36 degrees at the start.

We start by heading east then turning into the Foxen Canyon area. Rolling hills, vineyards, and farmland. Quiet roads, minimal traffic. Cycling at its best. The downhills were cold, but fun. The sunrise was spectacular.

About 9:00 it started to warm up, it wasn’t long after that it also got windy. I mean really windy. With crosswinds that would push your bike, and headwinds that made doing 15 MPH a daunting task.

The second aid station was at mile 88, 48 miles after the first. This was a bit long for me as my bottles were empty with about 7 miles to go. I fought a bit of a hydration deficit for the next several hours.

After the 88 mile stop we headed to Morro Bay, a great little tourist beach town, known for Morro Rock. We then stayed along the coast through Pismo and on to Guadalupe.

Eventually we headed back inland. The final aid station was at mile 177. Immediately after that we turned on to Drum Canyon Road. Have you ever watched pro cycling in Europe? You know, narrow bumpy roads barely wide enough for two cars, no markings? That is Drum Canyon. Oh, and by the way, it a 3.5 mile 800 foot climb. By gradient, I’ve done many tougher climbs. But factor in the condition of the road, and that the climb started at mile 178, this was a grind. Then the descent! 180 degree switchbacks on roads that looked like the geological society had been testing earthquake damage on it. Needless to say, I took it easy on the descent. Finally the road straightened, and smoothed out a bit. Into the drops and full tuck, Yahoo! Back to Highway 246, about eight miles and done!

Congrats to my friends @pedalobo on finishing his first double century. Next stop, Triple Crown. And of course @cyclewarrior who started with the speed demons at 7:30 and caught us by mile 120.

This was the fifth double century I’ve done. And it was most scenic, a route I would enjoy doing weekly without getting bored. Especially the back country.

The stats: 193 miles. Average pedal speed 16 MPH. Max HR 161. Temperature Low 36, high 90 per Garmin. More like 36-82. Pedal time 12:08, total time 13:26. Max speed 40 MPH. Elevation gain 7,201. With the exception of Drum Canyon, mostly through rollers; the short but steep leg softening type.

A big thank you to the great Planet Ultra staff and volunteers, especially Mel at the lunch stop. (I spent about 100 miles with Mel on the PCH Randos 400KM).

Pismo Beach. The Pacific Ocean
Drum Canyon. Narrow, rough, steep in spots. The "Pain Cave."
The first control a popular place!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Dudley(s) Do-Right

It was an interesting week. I woke up Monday morning with a sore throat and fever. Perhaps the 400KM depressed my immune system, or perhaps I was just due for a case of the crud.

Started to feel better late Tuesday, so back to work Wednesday morning; and back on the bike Wednesday after work.

Had a good training ride on Saturday. Did 100.44 miles going up to Santa Ysabel, which is at 3,000 feet. Hit some strong winds, especially the final five miles approaching Santa Ysabel. These were head/cross winds; it took quite a bit of strength and concentration to keep the bike upright and on the road.

Going up Scripps Grade early in the morning was a treat. Watching the sun come up over the mountains to the east made for a spectacular sunrise. Not sure my photo does it justice.

The best part to this week’s training was I went back out Sunday, and did 33 miles. Could have done another 100, but had stuff to do off the bike. Feels great to do 100 miles and be able to bounce right back the next day.

Why was this titled Dudely(s) Do-Right? The famous Dudley's Bakery is in Santa Ysabel. It is one of four buildings in the town. Since I was on a training ride, I stopped at Don's Market for water and a bananna. No treats for me this week.

Feel free to follow me on Twitter @stevecycles200, or DailyMile.

Upcoming Events:

March 27: Solvang Spring Double Century
April 17: SD Randos Solana 600KM Brevet
May 1: (Several Events, not sure)
May 15: Davis Double Century (tentative)

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Early in the route. The mountains lurk.

On Friday I headed up to Moorpark for the Pacific Coast Highway Randonneurs (PCHR) 400KM brevet.

I signed up for this event since I had to take a DNF for the San Diego 400KM last week due to a mechanical.

Once in Moorpark, I gave the bike a final inspection, lubed the chain and took a short test drive. All seemed well, so now it was up to me.

We rolled out Saturday morning at 5:30 AM. It was cold, but dry, and no rain in the forecast!

We rolled out and quickly the faster riders took off, everyone settled into their pace and rhythm. I felt good, and felt like I was riding strong. I hit the first control with the idea of getting in and out. A line to buy water. A line to use the restroom. Then I had to reconfigure my clothing since it was warming up. Finally I took off. That was a theme throughout the day. I took way more time at the controls than I like to or wanted to. I also lost time when I missed a turn. Since several folks missed it, I’ll blame the cue sheet.

The hardest part of the day? Casitias pass. Big climb. By the time I got over the pass and into Ojai, daylight was waning. Ojai was mile 157. Almost a century to go, starting in the dark.

I think it’s better and safer to ride with a couple of riders in the dark. I hooked up with Mel and Jamie. I know Jamie from the SD Randos, and met Mel. We rode together for the entire final 100 miles. Good company for the long ride, and good to have companions while trying to navigate Ojai. Thanks, guys!

So the results: I finished. 253 miles, 248 officially, and about 5 bonus miles. 18 hours of pedal time. 21 hours plus actual time. My goal was sub 20, and my stretch goal was 18, so I’m a bit disappointed there. Gotta figure out how to get out of the controls quicker. Should have been sub 20 based on 18 hours of pedal time. Hats off to my friend Keith who came in with the lead group at 15 plus hours.

This was the first brevet I have done that had information controls and secret controls. I guess since the route was not a straight out and back or defined loop these are needed to ensure everyone rides the entire route.

East Mtn Road. Time to climb

A big thanks to the Pacific Coast Higway Randos, the Jones' and all the volunteers.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Five Percent

All ready to go for the 400 KM brevet. The forecast all week called for rain, but as the day approached, the time the rain was going to hit kept getting pushed back. At least we would start on dry roads!

4:00AM, depart Santee. After a bit of wandering through Santee and El Cajon, we were on Olde Highway 80 heading to Alpine. And the road starts to go up.

A turn to go under Interstate 8, and now we are on Alpine Road. Parallel to I-8. A short descent, and now we are climbing again. And will be for the next 30 plus miles. Peaking at 6,000 feet. A short flat section, so I go into a bigger gear, and another. One more. Okay. Now we are climbing again. Downshift. Click….Funny noise. Harder to pedal. Click the shifter. Nothing. Damn. The rear derailleur cable broke. When that happens it throws you into your smallest cog. For me that’s a 12. No way can I climb 6,000 feet over 30 miles in a 34x12. This was going to be a good challenge doing most of it in my 34x27. It’s only 5:30 AM. No bike shop open for another 3 ½ to 4 hours. That would put me past the time cut-offs. My day is over. 14 miles out of a scheduled 250 plus. I did barely over 5 percent of the ride.

Words can’t describe my disappointment. I felt like a little kid when their parents tell him “no.” I take great care to make sure my bike is ready for an event. I keep it tuned, I always inspect it, especially the condition of the tires. I just didn’t think about the cables. I took the bike to my shop, which took them all of five minutes to fix, and I learned based on the mileage I am riding, I should replace my rear derailleur cable ever other month.

The real bad luck is if this happened with a long straight or downhill section, I could have kept going, at least to where there was a bike shop, and gotten it fixed. No way is this hill slug climbing Mount Laguna in his 12 cog.

Okay, time to bounce back. The PCH randonneurs have their 400KM next weekend. I signed up. I want my 400KM!

It started to rain about 4:00, I feel for the riders still on the course. It is a cold rain, and after all the climbing they did early, the cold is going to bite. They are also getting a head wind through areas we would get tailwinds in normal weather.

My friend Keith, a very strong rider, was out in front of the field took a DNF about 300KM into the ride. He punctured while doing about 35 MPH. Luckily he kept the rubber down, but damaged his sidewall. Cold, wet, and a bad tire he called it a day.

If you are going to have something that happens that causes a DNF would you want it to happen early, or late?

Sunday, February 28, 2010

The week Between Events, Part II

No events this week. Had a typical week of training with my after work rides.

The forecast for Saturday was awful. Rain, heavy at times. Starting overnight Friday, and all day Saturday. I decided to push my long ride to Sunday. I’ll ride in the rain for an event. I’ll ride in the rain if I haven’t done it for a while, to make sure my gear set up is good, etc. But after the past month, I’ve had it with riding in the rain. Actually the worst part is the two hour bike clean that follows.

I did put new bar tape on my bike! If I were wealthy I’d do this at least once a month. Something really cool about fresh bar tape.

Friday night, I decided I’d go run with my wife on Saturday. She LOVES to run in the rain. I thought, a little cross-training, maybe help encourage her as she prepares for the Rock –N –Roll half marathon. So we ran. 6.5 miles. I’m not a runner. I run, about twice a month for cross training. Usually 2.5 to 3 miles. My longest ever was a little over 4 miles. But I felt really good to start with. I could have gone faster, but wanted to stay with wifey, and I wasn’t sure how I would hold up. Well, I made it, and finished pretty good.

Wow I was tired later in the day. And the quads were sore. I woke up today and felt okay, but not great. I went out for my ride about 8:30. Rode 34 miles, stopped for a water fill, and realized I was gassed. So I turned and headed for home. Did a metric century finished right on 62 miles. Slower than normal for the route, but hopefully the body will respond to the curve ball I threw it.

This week: Back to regular pre-event training, as Saturday is our 400KM Brevet. For the metrically challenged, that’s about 250 miles. You can see the map and profile here.

My upcoming events:

March 6: SD Randos 400KM
March 27: Solvang Spring Double Century
April 17 SD Randos 600KM

Tune in next week for a ride report on the 400KM.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

El Camino Real Double Century (and poker run)

This week was the first Double Century of the season. The El Camino Real DC. This ride is put on by Planet Ultra. They put on many double centuries as well as the famous Hoodoo 500 and other ultra events. This was my first Planet Ultra event. I give them two thumbs up, for a well run ride with great volunteers.

The ride started in Irvine and we did a bit of a loop on some roads I had never ridden. I was planning on rolling out at 5:30, but that was about the time I was finally ready, and got to the start as the ride director was giving final instructions and sending the riders out. I still needed to check in. I got checked in, and rolled out about 5:50. Less than a mile down the road it started to mist, then rain a bit harder. Here we go, I thought. It’s two weeks ago all over again.

As I continued on, the rain stopped, but the roads were soaked from heavy overnight rains. Then, much to my surprise I saw it. A big orange glow in the eastern sky. Could it be? The weather forecast called for rain through 10:00 AM, then a chance of rain, and even in periods without rain, it would be cloudy. Zero chance of sun, but there it was coming up over the horizon in all its glory.

The unexpected sun put some jump in my legs as I turned south on coast highway, only to turn back inland a short while later, more new roads for me. This is fun, as its part of the adventure, but also requires checking the queue sheet. Eventually we were back on coast highway heading south.

One of my goals is to spend less time at aid stations. Some riders enjoy taking their time there, chatting with the volunteers, or other riders. That’s great, if you want. I have noticed too much time off the bike, and I get stiff, plus, since I’m not super-speedy, I want to make sure I make time cut-offs. The first aid station was at mile 39. I filled my bottles, added Hammer Gel to my flask, and I was rolling within 3 minutes. Mission accomplished.

Continuing south, the next aid stations was also the first “control” where we got a playing card, as they had a poker run theme with this event. I drew a 5 of hearts. (This also verifies the riders hit the controls to get an official finish). Topped off my bottles, took about 4 extra minutes to adjust my clothing since the sun was out, and gone. Mission accomplished.

Cyclists know that in most cases they aren’t allowed on Interstate Highways. There is an exception on I-5 between Oceanside Harbor drive and Las Pulgas. This is because the only other way to get between those points is using Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton. Since the base may have needs to limit access, cyclists are allowed on this 8 mile stretch of interstate. I actually feel safe on the interstate with its huge shoulder. But man is it noisy with the traffic. You actually get a push from cars going by at 70 plus. Before I knew it, I was in Oceanside and heading east.

The next aid station, control, was at mile 87. Rainbow. This was the lunch stop, with Subway sandwiches available. I grabbed a turkey, ate about 2/3, filled my bottles and flask, and took off. Now for a bit of climbing, a fun descent, more climbing, and finally, heading back to Oceanside.

On the bike path heading back, I bonked. Not big time, but all of the sudden I went from 16 MPH into a headwind, to struggling to keep 13. The legs were heavy; I was in the pain cave. I grinded to the next aid station, and took a few minutes there. I drank a bit extra. I took off, feeling a bit better, but not great. Okay, I figured, I was way ahead of the pace I expected, so if I’m a bit slow coming in, no problem. Just keep turning the cranks. Back up I-5, and onto Old Hwy 101 which is a dedicated bike/pedestrian path. There is a point where the path goes under I-5. This tunnel was covered in dirt, which became mud after the overnight rains. It looked like a cyclocross mud pit. Makes a mess of the bike. Continue to the next aid station, control. My cards: 5, 6, and 9, mixed suit, but a chance at a straight! Yeah, right.

I pull out of this control, and shortly after another cyclist pulls along side. We start chatting, he is not doing our ride, but we are talking cycling. Turn out I am riding with Marty Jemison. Who, you ask? Marty is a two time Tour de France finisher, and former US National Champion, to name just a couple of accomplishments. A bonus for me, and chatting with him for 5 miles or so seemed to put some jump back into my legs. Thanks for the conversation, Marty!

Back in Orange County we turned off Coast Hwy, back to roads unknown to me. Eventually to Trabuco Canyon Road. This road would be blast to descend… the daytime, see darkness had fallen, and I don’t like to outride my headlights, which meant holding back on the fabulous technical descent. The final control was off a Trabuco Canyon. I drew a 10, killing my straight and any chance of a descent poker hand. No bonus prizes for me.

25 miles to go. A bit of climbing, a bit of descending, and a bit of flats. Hammered where I could, finishing at 8:20 (I think).

All in all a fun day. Again, kudos to Planet Ultra. Thank you Lord for the sunshine and keeping me safe. Thank you wifey for use of your vehicle.

Sorry for no pictures, with the expected rain, I had my phone in a zip lock bag making it a bit tough to break out for photos.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Week Between Events

Last week’s 300KM took a bit out of me. I didn’t ride again this week until Wednesday when I got back on track with 26 miles. I followed Thursday with my usual easy ride.

Friday is my normal off day. Without riding Sunday – Tuesday I wasn’t in need of a day off, but I wanted to get back on track with my training plan, so I stuck to my routine. I was really itching to get out and ride, though.

Saturday morning I awoke at 0600 for my weekly long ride. I was planning on about a 100 mile route. But I woke up with a massive headache. To put it in cycling terms, it was a Hors Category headache*. I went back to bed. I didn't wake up until after 10:00, and was feeling less than 100 percent. So I was a slug for most of the day. Around 3:00, I kitted up and went out for a short ride. I still wasn’t feeling so hot, but it was a glorious day out.

Hoping to feel better Sunday I went to bed early, and got a good 9 hours of sleep. It worked! I jumped out of bed at 0600, and was out turning the cranks before 0700. Yes!

It was a chamber of commerce day in San Diego, as seen here along the coast where Solana Beach meets Encinitas.

A good tune up ride for next Saturday’s first Double Century of the year, the El Camino Real Double Century.

Happy Valentines day to my wife, Angi. (@vansmart262) Love U wifey!

My upcoming event schedule:

2-20: El Camino Real Double Century
3-06: SD Randos 400KM Brevet
3-27: Solvang Double Century
4-17 SD Randos Solana 600KM Brevet.

* For the non-cyclists reading the Hors Category is the toughest of rated climbs in pro cycling. Climbs are rated at Category 4, 3, 2, 1, and Hors Category. It means Beyond Category. The 2009 Tour of California Stage 8, Palomar Mountain was rated at Hors Category.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Super Epic

Epic. The most overused word in cycling. But what makes a ride epic? Is it distance? Is it difficulty, i.e. lots of climbing? Is it conditions? Is it struggling?

Saturday was our San Diego Randos “Dudley’s 300KM Brevet” So named since the farthest point out is in the small town of Santa Ysabel, which is mostly known for Dudley’s Bakery and their famous bread.

I thought I'd start my day like the pros do:

Rain moved into our area Friday afternoon, and was in the forecast for most of Saturday. We started at 6:00 under cloudy skies. Here is my bike, just before roll out. Ready to roll. Or is it?

About 10 minutes in we hit a stoplight. I unclip and look down. Son of a – I left my bottles in the car. I also took off without my gel flask and Hammer Heed. Turn around, start over. My ride starts at 6:22.

The ride starts in Southern San Diego County, in the community of Chula Vista. We immediately go east and start to gain some elevation. About 10 miles in, is Honey Springs Road, Honey Springs Road gains about 1,600 feet in 6 miles. Good Morning!

Here is the profile for the ride

Light rain, mist, and an occasional shower have fallen for the first 55 miles. The 55 mile mark was the first control, El Monte Park. I pulled in, and the skies opened up. It rained heavily on and off for the next 3 hours. There were many times when I thought about throwing in the towel.

For me, it’s all a mind game on a long ride. So, as the rain was coming down sideways and stinging, the wind was picking up and cold, the legs were sore from the climbs, with more to come; I broke the ride down into chunks.

Just get to Ramona, and “fuel up.” Okay, 15 uphill miles to Santa Ysabel. You can do that. Lots of folks gave it up at Dudley’s. It was COLD in Santa Ysabel. That's me, pulling into Dudley's.

I told myself, Ramona is back down the hill, just get there. My gloves were soaked, my feet were soaked, and so I had an idea. There is a bike shop in Ramona. I stopped, and got a fresh pair of socks, and gloves. Forgetting my bottles at roll-out earned me the moron of the morning award. Getting fresh dry gear gets me the genius of the afternoon award. Happy dry feet and hands, and we rocketed down to Lakeside. I pulled into a mini mart for fuel and rolled right out. Onto Alpine. Lights in full effect, it’s dark out there!

We had a control at a Carl’s Jr. in Alpine. I had been riding alone, but there were several riders at Carl’s. I went back out with John M. and Jack T. Two very strong, experienced randonneurs. I rode the last 37 miles with them, and it was most enjoyable despite continuing showers, getting really cold, especially descending Honey Springs, and being tired and sore. It was a pleasure to ride with John and Jack, thanks for the company, guys.

To sum up the day:

300 kilometers (176.8 miles), 13,141 feet of elevation gain. Water logged gear.

This ride, qualifies not only as epic, but I would say Super Epic!

I would be remiss if I did not thank all the volunteers. It was a tough day out there, with lots of coordination with all the DNF's, and keeping track of riders. Thanks to all.

A couple of pics I managed early before the skies really opened up:

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Endo of the Week

This weeks training was pretty routine. I was able to get out after work Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Friday was the usual errands, followed by bike prep for my Saturday long ride.

So where to ride this Saturday? I wanted to get about 100 miles in, with some climbing, but nothing too hard since next week is our 300KM brevet, with 11,500 feet of gain.

My friend Keith (@cyclewarrior on Twitter) was looking for someone to ride with him from Ramona to Borrego Springs and back. Sorry Keith, but that one would take me too long to recover from, although it would be a great ride, and I want to go back over Montezuma Road. (A 12 mile climb that gains 3,600 feet).

So I decided to head out from the house and go over Del Dios, a modest climb, and through the Harmony Grove/Elfin Forest area. I need to take some pictures of that section for those not from San Diego, it is probably my favorite area to ride. From there I went on up into Oceanside from the East, picked up the San Luis Ray River Bike Path, and headed to the coast. Strong winds out of the north/northwest which meant strong headwinds on the bike path. Once I got onto Coast Highway, though, it meant a pretty nice tailwind. Holding 24-26 MPH through Carlsbad and Encinitas felt great.

Normally I would continue south and go over Torrey Grade before heading a bit inland to home. However, with the pro golf tour at Torrey Pines, I thought it would be safer to go inland at Carmel Valley Road and take the 56 bike path.

Sometimes we should just stick to the plan. As I approached Camino Del Sur, where we have to cross the road, the light was green and the walk sign on; coming down a bit of a hill I looked just to be safe. No cars go for it. Out of nowhere there is a silver SUV about to hit me as I’ve started to cross Camino Del Sur. The only thing I could think to do was to angle right and hope the SUV stopped. It did, but I had too much momentum and hit the center divide. Turned a fabulous endo onto the median, landing on my left forearm and hip. I managed to bounce right up. The driver stopped and says, "what were you doing?” I said going through MY GREEN LIGHT!!!! He says, “It wasn’t green.” I point, and he has the look of a deer in headlights. A classic o-crap! moment. He apologizes. I wave him off as I am more interested in checking my bike out. Front rim looks okay, not taco’d like I had feared. Chain dropped, no biggie. My elbow and hip are sore. I spin the front wheel, looks to be true, so I get composed and put my chain back on. I take a closer look at the front wheel and notice the tire is off the bead. As I inspect it, I see a bit of a bulge. I touch it and BOOM! The tube pops.

I remove the tire, put in a tube, and fill it to about 75 PSI to not put pressure on the sidewall. I test the bike, seems okay. I’m only about 4 miles from Black Mountain Bicycles, my shop, so I proceed to the shop. I want them to inspect the bike and make sure all is okay.

In short, the bike is fine. I’ll need a new front tire ASAP, they had to true my wheel a bit, make a couple of adjustments. As usual, the guys at Black Mountain took great care of me.

I rode on home, just another 4 miles or so. Had recovery drink, food, shower, and have a nice hunk of ice on my hip. Hopefully I won’t be too sore tomorrow; I’d really like to ride.

Thank you, Lord for somehow keeping me safe through that one. If You are sending me a message to be a bit more careful out there, message received.

To all my cyclist friends, keep the rubber side down, and your head on swivel. Let’s be safe out there.

Twitter: @stevecycles200 -- Follow Me!

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Before I get into this week's writing, I want to take a minute and say Happy Birthday to my dad. He is 82 today. Happy Birthday!

I live in San Diego. Generally speaking we have the best weather, anywhere. Usually between 65 and 77 degrees, low humidity, little rain. This week, the weather made sure we knew not to take our blessings for granted.

I usually ride after work three or four days a week. Depending on where I am in my training schedule, and what time will allow 15-40 miles per ride. I got out on Tuesday in a short, but windy dry window for 15.55 miles. The wind had done some damage here:

Wednesday I did an hour on the trainer. I really prefer riding outside, but the biggest part of the storm hit Thursday. Wasn't feeling great on Thursday, so no riding, not even on the trainer. Actually took a nap after work, and went to bed at 8:30.

Fortunatley felt much better Friday, which is scheduled off on my training. I use my after work time on Friday to prep my bike and nutrition for my Saturday long ride.

Saturday, 7:00AM roll out. The skies are clear, but the air is crisp and downright chilly. 43 degrees. I am well layered. The roads are still really wet. This will be a good test for my new shoe covers. Through Rancho Santa Fe and off to the coast. Then through Camp Pendleton (Semper Fi)! And on up to San Clemente. Refuel and turn around. Back through Pendleton, and straight down the coast. Around Oceanside my legs felt like lead. Poor early season form? Not enough riding this week? Pushed too hard outbound? Pushed through and finished my 112.2 mile ride. Building the miles up, I have some long events planned for this year.

Went out Sunday, originally thinking recovery ride, but I really need to start thinking about good efforts back to back days for 600K, 1,000K, and 24 hour events I have planned this year. And the legs felt pretty good once I got out, so I went over Torrey Grade, pushed up the grade and set a Personal Best. I track my time over Torrey since it is near my house and I do it about once a week or so. Ending a water logged, less riding than I would like week on a very positive note.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Another Blogger!

Okay, I've just entered the 21st century and decided to write a blog.

I already know at least three cyclists who write blogs, @BikeCrave, The Surly Rando, and George's Epic Adventures. So do we really need another blogger? Probably not, but here I go.

Some have asked me how I got into cycling. So I will make my first blog as a brief history of what got me into cycling.

In April of 2006, I was 370 pounds. I had high blood pressure, and was on two medicines for it. I was diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea. It was way past time to make some changes.

Me before my second bike ride. Approx 370 at the time:

The sleep apnea diagnosis was a blessing. The Rx: a C-PAP machine. This allowed me to actually get a restful sleep, which gave me some energy throughout the day.

What to do? Running hurt too much. Walking bored me. Hiking was okay, but my feet would really hurt within a mile or two. I liked riding a bike as a kid, why not try it.

I knew nothing about bikes. Went to Sports Authority, I guess I knew enough to know Wal-Mart bikes were crap. Bought a mountain bike for about $220.

My first ride was on the Hodges trail. Less than 2 miles. I was gassed! But, I had fun.

I started riding after work. At first 2.5 miles around the neighborhood. It took until July to hit 10 miles, around Mission Bay.

Weight loss was slow since I still hadn't changed my diet. But I was feeling better. Way better. I discovered I preferred riding on the road to trails. I went to a real bike shop in October of 2006. Black Mountain Bicycles in Mira Mesa. I wanted to do some road riding. Could a 330-340 pound man ride a road bike? Based on my Internet research, no, but a touring bike might work, or maybe a cyclocross bike.

That was exactly what Brian at BMB recommended. The Specialized Tri-Cross. Part cross bike, but could be converted into a touring bike. Strong enough wheels and frame for my girth.

I couldn't believe I spent $1,600 on a bike! I better ride it, huh?

I started to watch my diet, as my wife and I really got focused around that time, and started tracking what we ate. And I started to ride. And ride. And ride. Since daylight savings time was over, and I was too much of a neophyte to ride in the dark with lights, I got a trainer. And I rode.
Fast forward, in August of 2007 I did my first century, the Cool Breeze in Ventura. I was hooked. In 2008 I did a few more centuries and my first brevet

In December of 2008 I purchased a true road bike. A Specialized Roubaix. Built for distance riding, in the first year I had this bike I road over 8,000 miles. I did my first three Double Centuries earning a California Triple Crown, several brevets, centuries, and just went for rides in excess of 100 miles. I joined the UMCA and completed what they call the Larry Schwartz award.
So here we are, in early 2010. I am currently 214 pounds. I like to say I've lost over 150 pounds and 4 chins. No more high blood pressure. Me today:

If you told me back in 2006 I would be 214 pounds today, I would not have believed it, and I would have been thrilled. Funny how your perspective changes. Hanging around cyclists, I realize I still have some work to do. But I enjoy the process, love cycling especially Ultra events.

I want to say, I don't think I would have done this without the support of my wife, Angi. Thank you! and of course without my faith in the Lord.

If you like, I often "tweet" during my rides. My Twitter is @stevecycles200.
Stay tuned, I am going to try and write regularly.