Monday, January 26, 2015

Five Rivers 300k staff ride

Amber and I rode the Five Rivers 300k brevet staff ride yesterday.

The Motel 6 that is the official start of the ride is a typical Motel 6 - cheap and no frills. There's a Best Western across the road that is $30 more per night and a little nicer. It also has the advantage of being right next to the Goodfellas restaurant which is a great place to eat.

SART looking south at dawn

We started the ride at 6am heading down the SART at the end of a Santa Ana wind event which meant it was warm and windy. The detour between Lakeview and Tustin is still in place so I will be updating the map and cuesheet to include it. Even though we had a tailwind on the way to the beach, it was so strong it was quite disconcerting at times. We covered almost 22 miles in the first hour and, if we had not had a mechanical problem, we would have arrived at the first control before it opened. Oddly we still had a tailwind even after turning right to head up Atlanta.

We continued along Atlanta and eventually got to PCH. I elected to ride the beach path but it was choked with early morning joggers so PCH might have been the better option especially as it would have allowed us to take advantage of the continuing tailwind.

We turned right again to head inland along the San Gabriel trail and miraculously we still had a tail wind for the next ten miles. It must have been the onshore flow overcoming the Santa Ana wind. However soon after we encountered a headwind that was to stay with us for much of the rest of the ride.

At mile 65 we went under San Gabriel Parkway where the bike path tilts up to 30% for 10 feet or so before a tight right-hand turn onto the San Gabriel bike lane. We pushed our bikes to avoid trying to merge into traffic while wobbling at low speed. This turn is particularly dangerous on long wheelbase bicycles. The climb up over Santa Fe dam was as hard as usual but the view from the top is lovely.

Looking north from the top of the Santa Fe dam

The top end of the San Gabriel bike path was very pretty but it got very hot in Duarte. I tried to buy sunblock at the 7-11 control but they don't stock it. Can you believe that? Not the greatest control, but it looks more sanitary than the pizza place next door. We headed back down the San Gabriel bike path and somehow we still had a headwind. I think the Santa Ana was dying and being replaced with the prevailing winds.

Avoid tricky turns with a little light off-roading

Around mile 95 there is a tricky turn onto San Gabriel Blvd. It looks like there's a partially paved path on the other side of Rosemead Blvd that runs alongside San Gabriel Blvd which would avoid this, but it involves a little light off-roading. I might give that a try sometime.

The bulk of the Rio Hondo and Los Angeles bike trails don't have much scenery but made up for it with plenty of headwind. As we approached Long Beach we saw heavy, ominous clouds. A storm was moving in and messing the winds up again. There's normally only a headwind for the last 10 miles but we had headwind for 40 miles.

La Copa Empanadas at Shoreline Village

We ate at La Copa Empanadas in Shoreline Village - it was amazing. We pigged out on Empanadas, guava pastries, and rum balls washed down with soda. It's a tiny shack and they don't do printed receipts but they will email them which works fine if you can show it to me on your smart phone. We spent way too long here but it was worth it.

The next section of the ride is supposed to follow the beach path but it's all ripped up right now so I'm going to reroute along Ocean Blvd. I will alter the map and cue sheet to reflect this. There's no bike lane most of the way, but it's the only option we have.  If they've fixed the beach path by the time you ride you are welcome to use it.

Heading back down the coast I jumped onto the beach trail again but this time it was clogged with evening joggers. Is there any time when there aren't throngs of joggers? Oh, yes - we had a headwind down the coast thanks to the incoming storm but at least it was cooler.

Looking over Back Bay from the San Diego creek trail

The San Diego creek trail is one of my favorites. The sun was setting as we got to the top of Back Bay so we stopped to take photos. Now an offshore flow was developing which meant more headwind for us. At least there weren't many joggers. As we got to the Crossroads shopping center and ate at the Flame Broiler the wind finally died down and we enjoyed our rice bowls under a calm, partially overcast sky.

The next ten miles need some attention. It's easy if you've ridden it before but without GPS you need to pay close attention to the cue sheet. Once you're on Pioneer Road it becomes simple again. The bike path skips some lights but all in all I think the road and bike path are about the same speed. Soon enough we turned off of Lakeview onto the SART. I've always enjoyed the SART at night and we made good time and finished the ride under perfect conditions. Green River hill is not any easier with 180 miles in your legs.

My target ride time was 15 hours but we actually managed 14:09 feeling very strong. I spent at least 80% of the ride in my big chain ring. This is definitely a big chain ring ride.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

How do you fix a flat on a hand-cycle?

Amber and I rode to Beachwood BBQ and back last night. We met up early at Adrenaline Bikes in Anaheim so Amber could order her new titanium Lynskey Cooper light touring bike. She's replacing a well used Trek TCT which has served her well, but simply isn't suitable for touring or light off-roading. Coincidentally we met with a young lady by the name of Teri on last week's 200k who was riding the same frameset that Amber just bought.

The Lynskey comes with disk brakes which means her dynamo hub won't be compatible. She decided to buy a new dynamo hub that can take disk brakes which means she will have to sell her old wheel. This was built by Peter White less than a year ago on a Mavic Open Pro rim. She payed $500 for it so someone is going to get a cheap entry into the joys of dynamo hubs. The total cost of the new bike is $5000. I really hope she loves it.

As we rode back from Beachwood BBQ with full bellies and burps tasting of bread pudding, we passed someone in a hand cycle by the side of the trail. It was late at night and it occurred to me a few seconds later that he might be having mechanical difficulties. As he was in a hand cycle I assumed he could not walk so we stopped and I asked if I could help. It turned out his brake lever had seized up and he couldn't brake. He had an emergency brake which was still working so he was able to complete his ride.

What do you do if you get a flat on a hand cycle? Something that is a minor annoyance to us must be a major problem to a hand cyclist. Think about that next time you see one.

Tailwinds, Ryan.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

I'll call this rain if you'll call this a hill

Amber and I rode the 2015 edition of the Views of Anacapa 200k yesterday. We had a 42 riders sign up but several DNS, probably from people who had access to better weather forecasts than me. My weather forecast said "chance of rain Saturday evening."

It was cool when we rolled out at 6:30am and didn't warm up much as the sun rose while we were climbing Grimes Canyon, but the grade warmed us up anyway. We made good time through the rolling section to Ventura at mile 30. Greg had a secret control and the info control was manned by a lovely young lady whose name escapes me.

There was a hint of rain in the air as I ground up one particular climb and Kerin, a life-long SoCal and excellent climber came up alongside me. "Would you call this rain?" she asked. "No," I said, "would you call this a hill?".

As we turned onto the Ventura bike path, Nicole was waiting with her van and loaned me an energy bar because I was worried about bonking before getting to the first receipt control at mile 47. Thank you. We got to the control at the Corner Market in Oak View with Shai (fixie) who climbs better than me even though he's always in the wrong gear. Unfortunately they've almost completely removed their wonderful deli section so I had a choice of two pre-made roast beef sandwiches. Rather a let down but calories are calories. I also grabbed a Santa Barbara bar to replace the Odwalla I had eaten earlier.

There was a gentle mist in the air as we started the real climbing over Casitas Pass towards Carpenteria, which I always enjoy for some odd reason. Once we crested there was a long downhill and, for some reason, the roads were wet. I didn't want to start my season with a 30mph crash so Amber and I were very cautious on the corners. Hal went flying by us like a cat with eight more lives and I had to work very hard on the flats to catch up with him again.

The coffee shop in Carpenteria was a very welcome sight. While we were inside savoring our coffee the weather outside turned for the worse and there was a very definite hint of rain in the air. We met up with Iria who was riding her second brevet and considering PBP. As we left I swear I felt a few raindrops hit me. I saw a small group of riders about 1/2 mile ahead so we bridged over to form a group of six or seven.

Riding on the new bike path south of Rincon Point there was an inexplicable amount of standing water, mainly on our side of the path. We rode on the wrong side and whenever a cyclist came the other way our leader would call out and we would move to our side with water spraying everywhere, mainly into my mouth it seemed. Still, I love that path even though we all got to the end covered in mud. The threat of rain had disappeared by now and it looked like it would be a beautiful day.

At the last control in Hueneme I grabbed a burger and a side of chili. Soup and chili are great ways to warm up if the weather is slightly inclement. While we were there we noticed it was starting to lightly sprinkle outside. Amber put on another jacket (I think she carries five) and I zipped my jacket up. Iria needed an extra layer but hadn't brought one so I think she was suffering a bit, but I never heard one complaint from her.

We rode the rest of the ride in a light mist with occasional sprinkles of rain into a gentle head-breeze. Part way up the Santa Rosa climb we did encounter a refreshing cloud burst which put a smile on our faces although you couldn't tell because our teeth were covered in mud too. About half way up I started to bonk so I ate the Santa Barbara bar I had bought earlier. It was pretty awesome. Amber and I were both having problems with stuff getting into our eyes. I think the torrential rain gentle sprinkles were washing dirt from our foreheads into our eyes. We had to stop several times because we simply could not see. The lesson of the day is to wash your face if you get mud on it.

We got to the end of the ride at Greg's house too soon. Greg made us custom pizza and there was hot tea and cocoa. Wonderful. I wanted to stick around but we still had to go back into the light sprinkles and ride a mile back to our cars.

I am prepared to state with confidence that my Five Rivers 300k will have better weather.

Thanks to everyone, especially Greg, Lisa, Nicole, and the nice lady at the info control.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Heavy tires = easier no handed riding?

Sherry and I went for a short ride just to get out of the house, because a recent snow storm had us snowed in for three days. It was very cold on the ride - about 40-45F and our fingers were freezing but I was able to ride no handed and warm my fingers in my pockets.

For eighteen years I was unable to ride no handed. A year or so ago I bought a Trek 520 touring bike that has a more relaxed geometry and I found I could ride it no handed very easily (but only when it was completely safe). Once I had mastered riding that bike, I found I could ride my racing Serotta with no hands too - but it was more difficult.

Recently I changed from 25mm Vittoria tires to 28mm Gatorskins which are a lot heavier. One thing I notice is that it is easier to ride my Serotta no handed now that I have heavier tires. There's probably more gyroscopic stability or something.

So - fewer flats, better tracking in mud, and now easier no-handed riding. Lot's of benefits to these tires.