Friday, February 28, 2014

P12 Insanity

Every month I ride a 200km+ ride for my R12 award and a 100km+ ride for my P12 award. For various reasons I left it very late in February to ride my 100km ride and had to schedule it for after work on the 28th - the last day of the month.

The weather gods decided to have a laugh at my expense by scheduling a major storm to pass through the Inland Empire on the day of the ride. I decided to try to complete the ride before the storm arrived. I almost managed it.

I got up at 3am and as I drove to the start of the ride the rain was very light. I got coffee, breakfast burrito and a receipt from Jack-In-The-Box and started the ride around 4:15am in light rain.

The storm had reversed the normal wind patterns so I had a strong tailwind all the way to the Lucky Greek at mile 32. Rincon is closed for roadwork but I was able to ride through and walk my bike around the closed gate at the East end. I got to the Lucky Greek a little damp just after 6am with a 17mph average and grabbed fries and raspberry coke. There was almost no traffic on the surface streets but the 91 freeway was already stop-and-go.

While I was in the Lucky Greek the rain started coming down hard. The return trip had hard rain and a strong headwind and took about 3 hours with an average of 11mph. I got back to Panera around 9:30am - frozen and soaked. I was at work by 9:45. That's OK, they owe me a whole day because I worked President's day - not knowing it's a holiday. I grabbed my change of clothing and towel from the car and dried off and changed.

I think I'll sleep well tonight.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Crema for a change

Amber and I rode a nice easy 50 mile ride to The Crema and back. We haven't been there in ages. The weather was great, the food was great, everything was great. On the way back we were passing a group of three when the guy in the middle decided to ride no handed - in the middle of a group no less! He immediately lost control and veered onto the wrong side of the trail just as Amber was passing. We warned him and he had the gall to blame us for not calling out. I explained if I had known he was an asshole I would have called out.

If he had done that as I was passing I would have pushed him off his bike. Some people are jerks no matter what they're driving.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

SLO 300k

On Sunday Amber and I rode Vickie's 300k in San Luis Obispo, hosted by PCHRandos. Last year this was a wild and windy ride - the first time I've ever been blown off the bike. This year the wind whipped up the evening before the ride but the weather forecast for the day of the ride was 20% chance of showers until 10am then warming with winds 10-15 mph.

I woke up the morning of the ride with a sore throat. An unmistakable sign of an impending cold. We all started at Vickie's house at 6am covered with lights and reflective gear and headed up North towards Cuesta College. At some point my pump fell off the bike but I didn't know. When we got to the info control Kitty showed up with my pump. Thanks Kitty.

After the info control we then headed south towards Los Alamos. I was feeling weak from the initial effects of the cold. To try to counteract the cold I stopped at a gas station at mile 27 but the only cold medicine they had was Nyquil. I took some. Bad move.

By Los Alamos I was as weak as a kitten. The climb up Drum Canyon seemed twice as steep and long as last year and the descent wrecked my back, even at a cautious 15mph. Then we turned towards Lompoc up a long hill into a strong headwind. I estimated it was about 20mph. In Lompoc we stopped at the Albertsons and refuelled and I got some Zicam. Then we headed towards Solvang on Santa Rosa road and the 246.

I was still very weak and barely able to hold 12 mph on Santa Rosa. Every climb had me in my granny gear, barely able to turn the pedals at 4-5mph. At Solvang we ate at Nielson's market and then had the long climb up Pinto Almada (or whatever). Eight miles at 5mph even with the strong tailwind. Eventually we got to the top of Foxen Canyon and had a long downhill with a strong tailwind. When we got to some small risers I found I was able to power over them. Yay - Perhaps the Zicam was kicking in. This was Amber's first chance to see her new Schmidt dynamo and Lumotec light working at high speed. That thing is awesome. Coming down Foxen at 35-40mph, the light still shone far enough ahead that she didn't have to constantly brake. We got to Sisquoc in good time but my back was still killing me.

I lay down on a bench and gave Brad, the control mom, a bit of a scare by screaming as I lay down. Part of that was because I forgot I had my glasses in my back pocket and they dug into my very sore back. Brad was great and looked after us as a good control mom should. Just before Amber and I left Ivan showed up so we stayed to talk to him and decided to finish the ride with him. He was visiting from England so we had many things to talk about.

We finished the ride in good shape - even my back felt better. We were slow - I normally finish a 300k in about 16.5 hours but this one took 17.5 hours. The route and weather were far better than last year. This year I brought all my own problems. I would love to swap my road bike for a full-suspension mountain bike between Los Alamos and Lompoc. I don't think it would speed me up at all, but it would be great on the back. Reading the rules, I think this would be OK.

Thanks Vickie - see you at my 600k.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Let the Train take the Strain

On Saturday Amber and I rode from Anaheim Amtrak to Oceanside Amtrak and took the train back. Amber finally has her generator hub and light installed so this was a test ride to make sure there wouldn't be any major problems on next week's 300k in SLO.

This is my favorite climbing ride and the weather was perfect. We modified the route to add 12 miles of bike path and bike lane at the front and take 15 miles of unpleasant PCH through Leucadia and Encinitas off the end. This is the section where Jim was killed by a drunk driver while riding Willie's 600k about two years ago. I much prefer our current route.

I was dismayed to see a new ghost bike at the top of the dump hill climb. Someone was killed there on Feb 2nd, just a week ago. There's no excuse for bad driving at this point. The road is wide and straight. It seems a drunk driver swerved into the bike lane at 7am while speeding and fled the scene. The sordid details are available here. Read it - may she rot in Hell. I pray she gets more than the normal 2-3 years for murdering a cyclist. How is this manslaughter? I'm getting sick of drunk or careless motorists mowing down pedestrians and cyclists and getting a slap on the wrist.

We got to Cook's Corner at mile 28 around 11:30. Service was even slower than usual and the food wasn't that great. I'll avoid the ham and cheese grilled sandwich in future. The downhill to the coast was awesome as usual but we had a strong headwind which was a bit worrying. However when we got to the coast and turned south the wind because a strong tailwind. The temp was smack in the middle of my comfort zone.

We got to Oceanside at mile 79 around 3:30 to catch a 4:59 train so we took our time at Angelo's. I had the steak sandwich - average to good for that kind of restaurant. Amber had the French toast which was massive and very good. I checked Amber's new front wheel - it was a millimeter out of true which is to be expected for a newly build wheel so she should get that trued this week if possible.

We took the train back which was great because it had to deal with the headwind instead of us. I still can't believe you can get two people and two bikes from Oceanside to Anaheim for just $42 - what a great deal. We had a nice conversation with an ex racer who had just started riding again because someone gave him a cruiser bike.

It was dark when we got back to Anaheim so we decided to take Amber's new generator hub and light for a couple of miles along the bike path. Her light is amazing - she is so happy. It's twice as bright as mine and has a really nice beam pattern which gradually brightens towards to top to a clear cut top line so the effect is event illumination with very little light spilled up and wasted into the air. It also throws some light out to the side so you don't turn into the darkness. I know generator lights are expensive but when you ride all night there's really no alternative.

She bought a Schmidt SON 28 and a Lumotec IQ Premium CYO, both from Peter White Cycles. It's pretty much the same setup as mine except for the Lumotec upgrade. I may need to upgrade too :-)

Monday, February 3, 2014


To be a good endurance cyclist you have to be stubborn. I've always said the key to completing long bike rides is to not quit. It may seem obvious, but wait until you get on the bike and try cycling 200km or more. There will be times when you don't feel like you can finish - like you should never have tried - like you never want to do a long ride again. Fortunately we have several sprightly septuagenarians in our group, and when I feel like that I just think of them and suck it up.

I've also grown to understand that negative thoughts are normally caused by poor nutrition. I can tolerate pain and sore muscles, lack of sleep and sheer exhaustion, but the thing that knocks me off the bike more than anything else is simply bonking. Thank goodness for top-tube bags and trail mix. I have come to believe that 24 hour gas stations are California's greatest gift to the world. How do riders in other parts of the world manage without them?

Amber and I once rode a 600k in Colorado and we were dumbfounded when we got to a gas station that was closed! We were counting on it for calories and caffeine. We kept riding and the next one was closed too. We had to abandon the ride. OK - so the second most important thing about long distance cycling is good planning. Maybe the third.

RUSA offers an award called an R12. To get it you have to ride at least one 200km+ sanctioned ride for twelve consecutive calendar months. To a long distance cyclist this sounds fairly easy but it actually requires a lot of commitment.

My friends, Greg and Stacy Kline, have ridden 39 200km+ rides in a row. January was a serious challenge as Stacy had hurt her leg earlier and two attempts to ride my 200k permanent towards the end of the month ended in failure. So she borrowed Willie's 'bent and rode her first 'bent brevet on the last day of the month. It took 13 hours which is an exceptionally long time for her, but she managed it. That's stubborn. I sure hope she feels better soon.