Monday, November 17, 2014

Scoping out the Five Rivers 300k brevet

I rode 40 miles on the upper SART again with Sherry on Saturday and spent Sunday scoping out part of the new Five Rivers 300k brevet that I am hosting in February 2015 with Amber.

We started in Azusa at the north end of the San Gabriel bike path. The control in Duarte is perfect and there are no issues accessing it so it stays on the route untouched. Then we followed the route on the San Gabriel, Rio Hondo, and Los Angeles river trails. We had one mile of road and 40 miles of bike path. For some reason we had a slight tailwind and made excellent time to Shoreline village in Long Beach which is the next control on the route.

I had originally planned on using a 7-11 four miles further along as the control but pointed out that there is a potential shortcut. Amber and I ate at the Yardhouse which was really nice. I even drank half a pint of Murphy's Stout which is very unusual for me. After our meal we wandered around Shoreline village and saw many good options for food so I decided to move the control here instead. I think the riders will like it. La Copa Empanadas looked really good and we plan on eating there during a ride at the first opportunity.

Shoreline Village
After Shoreline village we rode along the beach path to the San Gabriel bike trail and rode all the way up it to the end for a total of 84 miles which included maybe four miles of road.

I've submitted my application for the Five Rivers 300k brevet and hope to get it approved soon.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Fantastic Weekend

As Tuesday was a holiday I decided to take Monday off too and make it a four day weekend.

I started with a 30 mile ride on my exercise bike on Friday night, then rode 40 miles with my wife on the upper SART on Saturday. On Sunday I rode the 56 mile Backbay loop with Amber, eating at the wonderful Champagne Bakery for the first time in too long.

On Monday I rode with a lovely couple from Kansas - Mike and Nancy Myers. They've ridden 12,000 sanctioned km so far this year. That's more than two years worth of riding for me!

Mike and Nancy Myers
They had chosen my Lucky Greek 100k permanent populaire to get their California brevet. They have ridden brevets in about 30 states now. After this ride, they were driving up to Las Vegas to do a Nevada ride tomorrow.

We met at the Panera at 6am which meant I had to get up at 5:00am :-( We got started at 6:18 under heavy cloud cover but with no wind and no chance of rain. We reversed the course because I was worried about rush-hour traffic, what with it being a week day. The upper SART was lovely and the recent storms meant there was actually water in the river. I joked with them and told them the river only flowed three days a year, but in California that still counts as a river.

They (especially Nancy) told me about the seven trans-continental rides they had done, and the different bikes they had used trying to settle on one that addressed all their different medical issues. They currently have a stretch limo of a recumbent tandem. Their license plate is [TANDUMB].

Before we knew it we were at the end of the SART and the traffic on Arlington was unpleasantly heavy. We got off after half a mile and onto River road through Norco which was nice and quiet. Traffic on Rincon, Smith and Railroad was heavier than usual, probably because it was a week day.

We got to the Lucky Greek and I decided to make the brevet an out and back to avoid traffic. We got pretty much the same number of miles either way. A gyro and fries later and we headed back. We talked a lot more about the people we had met and the kinds of things that randos like to talk about - how eventually every road reminds you of another road - how 300k rides always seems so hard. We talked about family and how lucky I was to be able to ride with my wife and both daughters in the same weekend.

I learned about slugburgers (seriously) and discussed how lucky we SoCal randos are with so many RBAs putting on so many rides for us.

About ten miles from the end the sun started to come out but it remained a pleasantly cool 65-70F.

It was a very special ride and I am honored to be part of Mike and Nancy's epic adventure.

I finished up my long weekend with a 23 mile ride on the upper SART with my youngest daughter and my wife. In the evening I virtually rode the first 43 miles of a new Utah 200k brevet that I am validating as part of my new duties for RUSA.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Against the Wind

I've been doing a lot of cycling lately, but nothing terribly interesting. The greatest challenge has been to avoid sunstroke.

Yesterday a decent storm blew through the Southland so I decided that would be the perfect day to ride my monthly R12 200k permanent.

It was a dark and stormy night. Seriously it rained and blew all night and even hailed a bit. I got a later than expected start because it was still stormy when I got up so I thought I'd wait a bit, but it didn't subside so I drove to the start and hoped it would clear up a bit.

It turned out that the storm was sitting over the mountain and once I got to the start of the ride it wasn't raining anymore. I started at 9am and, although it was cold and windy, it wasn't actually raining. But I could tell there had been heavy rain because the bike path was covered in mud and dirt and was flooded in quite a few places.

I was very glad I had recently replaced my tires with new Gatorskin 28mm tires that are flat resistant and track really well in mud. We all know that we get more flats during and after rain, but I got none.

After about 13 miles of riding it started to rain - a lot. I tried to shelter under a single-span bridge but the wind blew the rain right through the arch and I couldn't get any relief so I decided to just keep riding.

Q. When is a headwind a blessing?
A. When you are riding in a storm.

I had every reason to assume that I was in a localized storm cell. I could see blue skies ahead and the rain had come on very quickly. Fortunately I had a headwind which meant that I was headed South while the storm was being blown North. Six miles later I was out of the rain. Unfortunately I was soaked through after only a mile of rain. But with the temps in the 60s I never really got cold. I was wearing long lycra pants, a long-sleeved jersey, and a Pearl-Izumi convertible jacket. I also had a thermal layer in my Carradice bag that I didn't ever need, even when the sun went down.

Special effects from sweaty lens

Rincon was closed with gates across it. I assumed it was flooded so I went around the gates to see how bad it was. It didn't look impassable so I gave it a shot. The water was about 6" deep so I got my shoes wet again, but nothing else.

Water across the road at Rincon. It takes more than closed gates to stop a cyclist

By the time I got to the In-n-Out burger at mile 31 I was dry again (almost). But I was already stinky which meant I would be horrible by the end of the ride. I had a double-double and headed out 20 minutes later (they were slow for some reason). You'd think the smell would have given me priority!

It warmed up towards Newport beach and the headwind got fresher - even a bit violent at times. I got to the turnaround at 13:20. During the day there is a wonderful deli run by some Koreans so I had a turkey and ham on toasted ciabatta. Delicious.

Turning North I picked up a wonderful tailwind - a bit gusty but very nice. I just rolled along at 15-16mph having the best time. It was really a wonderful time to be out riding. I had to make an emergency detour to the Amtrak station in Anaheim to attend to the call of nature. Even Green River hill didn't bother me much. The tailwind didn't get me up any faster, but it was easier.

I got to the Lucky Greek at about mile 100 with the sun getting low behind me so I made it as short a stop as possible by ordering fries and soda. I should probably have eaten a little more but I wanted to get onto the last section of bike path before sunset.

The gates were still closed on Rincon but the water was much lower, only about 2" deep at the center of the road. Some asshole had taken the time to push a supermarket trolley around the gates and smash a bunch of bottles all over the road. I managed to thread around them all without getting a flat, but I fantasized about sneaking up to him while he was smashing the bottles and nailing him with my shock baton. That would have been fun!

I got onto the bike path a few minutes before the sun set and rolled along, still with a tailwind, enjoying a stunning sunset. About 5 miles from the end I started to bonk and ate some Belvita cookies I had brought along in my top tube bag. They really did the trick and I felt strong again in just ten minutes. I finished with a total distance of 130 miles in 9:57.

So this was a challenging ride in many ways. There was mud, debris, and flooding. It was cold, windy, and wet. This was my kind of epic!