Sunday, November 25, 2012

Amtrak Century+

My daughter and I rode from Anaheim Amtrak station to San Diego Amtrak on Friday after Thanksgiving. We had planned on starting at 8am and getting to San Diego by 6pm to catch the 6:15 train.

We're both very familiar with the route down to Oceanside - less so south of there.

We didn't get started until 8:45 - partially because Amtrak required us to purchase tickets before we started the ride. They had a reservations-only policy over the holiday weekend. It was foggy and cold (57F) when we started - perfect.

About 10 miles into the ride Amber crashed while turning onto a wooden footbridge. The wood in the fog was super slippery. Fortunately she was not going fast and only bruised her knee and got a little road rash off the wood - no splinters. We made an unscheduled stop at the Newport Beach corner market for water and neosporin to irrigate and sterilize the road rash. To compensate for the stop we skipped the ferry at Balboa island and just powered down PCH. The ferry is much nicer but adds several miles.

Laguna Beach traffic was light which is always a blessing and we eventually stopped to eat at the Carls Jr just South of San Clemente. The teriyaki turkey burger was great. Continuing south we met up with a couple of retired guys who were tearing up the trail like 20-year olds. We were able to ride through Camp Pendleton marine base which is so much nicer than riding along the shoulder of the 5 fwy.

To avoid that dangerous stretch of PCH through Leucadia where Jim was killed we went inland on La Costa and Camino Real. That was probably a bad idea on Black Friday. The area was jammed with shoppers at all the stores along that road. In addition, there must be twenty extra stop lights on that route - most of which were red. That detour probably added 30 minutes to the ride even though it was only 5 miles longer. Next time I'll try Vulcan/San Elijo. Interestingly, as soon as we headed inland we lost the fog and it got quite warm. As soon as we got back to PCH it got foggy and cool again.

Further south is Del Mar with it's dangerous merger of Hwy S21 and Jimmy Durante Hwy (yes, they named a road after him). Next time I'll try 15th St instead. It looks much safer.

Next was Torrey Pines - the infamous 1.5 mile 6% climb that kills the legs on the Santa Ana century. I knew it was coming - I still suffered - thank goodness it was foggy and cool. After Torrey Pines there are several route you can take into San Diego. We stayed on Torrey Pines road and then climbed Nautilus. That's even steeper than Torrey Pines - topping out at 10% for half a mile or more. The ride through Mission Bay Park was very relaxing but next time I'm going to stay alongside the ocean.

We got to San Diego Amtrak about 5pm with plenty of time to spare and some very good ideas on how to improve the route. Total distance ridden was 111 miles. Great ride.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


I'm thankful that I have gone an entire year without losing a friend to a drunk or distracted motorist. I lost Jim Schwarzman in the summer of 2011 to a drunk hit-and-run driver. I pray he is the last. I still won't ride that stretch of PCH through Leucadia.

I'm thankful my wife is riding again. I just bought her a new carbon bike to replace her old steel one. I hope she gets many thousands of miles out of it. We're planning on riding her first half century in almost ten years on Saturday.

I'm thankful I'm still able to ride and so is my daughter with whom I enjoy riding the most. There are so many things that can knock you off the bike, both temporarily and permanently. I only spent two weeks off the bike from injury this year - more than most years but less than it could have been.

I'm thankful I have built my website I find I'm riding much more on my exercise bike because of it.

I'm thankful I still have a job, that my youngest daughter just married a great guy, that I still have my health and sanity, that my wife is getting stronger, and that I will have ridden about 8000 miles by the end of the year.

Have to go shave now - the in-laws will be here soon.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Reaffirming my youth

My daughter got married on Sunday. I'm so proud of her and she's chosen a great husband. I'm sure they will have a long and happy life together.

I came out of the ceremony feeling old so I rode my 200k brevet the next day. Since I had such a good ride last time by taking my time I decided to do the same thing again. It was 60F at the start with almost no wind. Lovely.

The first stop was at In'n'Out burgers where I sat down and enjoyed a double-double, fries, and a coke. They were unusually slow but, hey if I was in a hurry I'd be driving a car, right? Moving on I picked up strong off-shore flow but I figured it would make a nice tailwind coming back. The wind was strong enough to blow leaves uphill towards me.

OC Parks has refurbished the Edna Park restrooms. Very nice. They have installed a new type of drinking fountain that jets straight down from the top. It's big enough that you can easily fill a water bottle - fantastic.

I ate at the Newport Beach corner deli as usual but the sandwich counter was closed. So was Newport Burger across the road. Apparently they're both closed on Mondays. I'll have to remember that.

I headed back and still had a headwind. Huh? Yes the leaves were being blown towards me again. Might even have been the same leaf. Sucks. Oh Well.

I got to the Lucky Greek at mile 97 and stopped for a gyro and fries and three pints of soda. Yummy. At the head of the SART at mile 106 I picked up a tailwind and motored on home feeling strong. Even though I spent at least an hour off the bike I finished in 9:33 which is close to a personal best.

Does Coke count as a performance enhancing drug? Sure feels like it.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Lucky Greek - hot again

Summer this year is determined not to end without a struggle. It's November and it still managed to warm up again for the weekend. I rode on Saturday with Amber to the Lucky Greek and back which raises my official RUSA distance to 3630km and my grand total for the year to 6629 miles. On the way back the temperature got well over 80F and we had to put sunblock on to avoid burning. NOVEMBER for goodness sake!

I was still a bit sore from doing the same ride on Thursday but probably only spent an extra ten minutes cycling. The gyros at the Luck Greek are pretty good so we ate very leisurely.

On the way back we came across another idiot driving along the bike path in Hidden Valley. I'm getting the feeling the anti-cycling members of Riverside Parks and Recreation are planning on allowing vehicles on our bike path. I've sent one email which was ignored. It's time to start attending planning meetings to find out what's going on. According to there will be a meeting of the trails committee at 6:30pm on Saturday Nov. 28th at Park HQ at 4600 Crestmore Rd, Jurupa Valley. If my second email doesn't get a acceptable response I plan on being there.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Lucky Greek again

I rode my Lucky Greek 100k populaire last night after work but because of some production issues I couldn't start until after 5pm. I was feeling oddly strong, possibly because the normal head winds were very mild. I made it down to the Lucky Greek in less than two hours, bought fries and coke, took a bio-break, put an extra layer on, and headed back.

Coming back along the river trail I had to make an emergency stop to allow a skunk to cross the bike trail. Critters packing mercaptans get priority. For some reason I thought that whistling would reassure the skunk that I had good intentions. I was cycling on my own so I'm allowed to be a bit of a nutter. I don't think the skunk cared one way or the other.

I finished the ride in 4h10 including the 15 minute break at the Luck Greek and a couple of minutes with the skunk. My overall average speed was 15mph. One of my strongest rides for a while.

This morning I am sore. I felt so strong on the ride but sore the next day. If I was getting physically stronger I would not expect to be sore. So I wonder if I was only psychologically stronger - ie it was all in my head. An unusually light headwind means I ride faster and because I ride faster I feel stronger. Because I feel stronger I ride faster. All I know is I had a great ride.

It was nice and cool too - 57F at the end of the ride. I was wearing arm warmers, leg warmers, and a light jacket, unzipped. It's nice to know your cold weather gear works. I would have been comfortable even if the temperature was 10 degrees cooler.


I just finished virtually riding Land's End to John O'Groats on my website . This is a classic 960 mile ride from the extrene SW to the extreme NE of the United Kingdom. It normally takes two to three weeks but I spread it out over six weeks because I was only riding a couple of hours after work. It's a fantasic ride and now that I've ridden it virtually I can't wait to get over there in 2014 and ride it in person.

Now I'm going to virtually ride down from Canada to Klamath Falls, OR in preparation for my 2013 vacation.