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.


  1. Looks like your had a great ride Steve. 16mph average is flyin' to me. I will say that section north on the 101 to Rincon didn't look to fun. I saw all the riders heading north and I wondered if that was the Lowland route. I'm glad I went over Casitas instead. I think that's a better option, and it's really not that bad of climb.


  2. Errin, Yes, I've done Casitas, and would have traded for the climb over the headwinds in a heartbeat. Pretty much 20 miles of strong headwinds. And yes 16 is good for me too, I just always want more! Since I dnf'd the SD 600K and I would really like to complete the series, I'm looking at Santa Cruz in September. How about you?

  3. Steve,

    Great job on the Double. I prefer the highland routes whenever I do the Grand Tour. I usually do the Triple Highland. Last year (2009) I tried the Quad (400 miler) which you have to complete in 24 hours to get a plaque or something like that. I was completely stressed out trying to stay on schedule because of all the lights. I also missed two turns for a total of 13 miles off course. Urg!! I didn't complete the Quad in 24 hours but PR'd the Triple-- 20 hours.