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: