Monday, March 30, 2015

Riding my 600k solo

No riding this weekend. I spent Saturday checking out some potential issues with the route of next weekend's 600k and hiked 10 miles on Sunday. Fortunately neither of the potential issues is going to be a problem.

I rode my 600k solo last weekend because Amber was in Hawaii. The first loop went very well except I tried to ride the Long Beach bike path and they had it closed off right at Belmont pier so I had to backtrack. Nevertheless, I actually got back to the motel at 11:30 - about 30 minutes ahead of schedule. I had brought along three sets of shorts and jerseys so I took the time to shower and change. It felt decadent. I had a cheese pizza in the room which I had ordered the night before so I scarfed down a slice, renewed my sun block and butt cream and was out the door in 20 minutes. Even though I had just finished a century I felt almost completely refreshed.

Maybe cold cheese pizza wasn't such a great idea. By the time I got to the next control 22 miles later I had some slight nausea so I tried an old trick. I went to the Lucky Greek and ordered toast. I got two thick slices of sourdough, put a little jelly on, and down it went. The toast seems to soak up excess acid and I felt good again pretty quickly. The nausea may also have been caused by too much soda or Gatorade.

I made good time on the upper SART, aided by a powerful tailwind that had been with me all the way from the coast. It stayed with me on the climbing through Redlands and Yuciapa, diminishing slightly. I rode to the usual control on Beaumont Ave and, for once, left before sunset.

Oak Valley Parkway is closed and there's no safe way through for cyclists so I had to climb back up Beaumont Ave (no bike lane and lot's of debris on that side) and then make an awkward left turn on Brookside. There's no way I wanted my riders to have to do that so they'll be taking a shortcut on Oak View and making the miles up in the first loop.

From Beaumont to the next control in Riverside is almost all downhill. I made excellent time although it was a bit scary riding into the setting sun. I put both my bright tail lights into flash mode, hopefully that helped. I had a slight headwind for the first 10 miles, then as the sun set it died down. Ruth and Kevin signed my brevet card for me at their home in Riverside but I made a noob mistake there by not eating. I thought I could just have an energy bar because I wasn't very hungry.

The energy bar did nothing for me except make me feel bloated. It took me three hours to cover the next 35 miles. I was bonking but totally incapable of eating anything. I have a trick for that too - milk. At the Corona control I ate at the In-n-Out burger and ordered two milks and animal fries even though I wasn't at all hungry. Once I was half way through the first milk my appetite came back and I pigged the fries and milk down.

Ten minutes later I felt like a bull-moose and flew along the lower SART at 18mph - almost crashing into the fence across the bike path that forces us to use the detour. Thank goodness for good lights. Even with the poor time from Riverside to Corona I got to the end of the second loop at 12:30 - still 30 minutes ahead of schedule. I showered and changed and ate a smaller slice of pizza and went to sleep.

I set the alarm for 8am but woke up just before 7am so I jumped on the bike and headed towards Dana Point. I didn't make great time but still got there an hour ahead of schedule and ate at the Jack in the Box. There was a local loony there trying to sell pebbles and small bits of driftwood. I would have taken a look at her "treasures" but I had a lot more riding to do.

Nothing much happened between Dana Point and Oceanside. I had a slight headwind but it was no big deal. I ate at Angelo's because I love it so much when I'm hungry. I don't remember what I ate, but it had lot's of calories. I filled my water bottles with a 50/50 mix of coke and water.

Headed back north through Camp Pendleton I remember thinking the tailwind was stronger than I expected given the mild headwind on the way south. By the time I got to the San Onofre campground the tailwind was very strong and I made great time to the control at San Clemente. Flying downhill on PCH through San Clemente I almost t-boned an idiot making a left turn in front of me. That would have sucked at 30mph.

After I headed inland at Dana Point I lost some of my tailwind and slowed down a bit on the way to Lake Forest. I ordered coffee and a sandwich at a coffee shop there and the next thing I remember is turning into the parking lot at the end of the ride. I have absolutely no recollection of the last 30 miles. Scary.

As I drove home from the ride, a work colleague drove next to me on the 91 freeway and I never saw him. I must have been more tired than I realized. Very scary.

I finished with three hours to spare which was two hours ahead of schedule. I got 45 minutes less sleep than the last time I completed this ride and didn't get lost in Camp Pendleton which also helped. The weather was perfect (70-75 most of the time with a high of 80). I had so much tailwind it was almost embarrassing.

Monday, March 23, 2015

2015 Orange Triple Loop 600k Staff Ride

I rode the 2015 Orange Triple Loop 600k staff ride on the 21st/22nd of March.

We all know the Detour Demons are hard at work this year. Greg had to deal with a horde of them on the recent Solana Beach 400k and I had to deal with the same ones plus several more. Curiously, the end result may actually be an improvement. When life hands you lemons...

Before I start with the route changes, let me give you the good news that I have negotiated a 15% group discount for anyone booking a room at the Motel 6. If you book your room directly with the motel at (714) 634-2441 or through group services (800) 544-4866 and mention reservation #1004B00065 for PCH RANDOS you can save about $40 over the three nights. If you have already booked your room you can still get the discount if you call either of the two numbers with your reservation number. Please use this block reservation if you are arriving on Friday night. If enough people use it, we can get the same discount next year.

Loop 1

More good news. The Pavilions at the control #2 (mile 22) is now open 24 hours. You can ride as fast as you want - they will be open when you get there.

I have moved control #3 because I needed extra miles to compensate for a change in loop 2. This has the advantage of removing that awkward turn onto San Gabriel Parkway and the busy traffic on it. You will now continue a little further on the San Gabriel bike path to Peck Rd and then use a Shell station which also contains a Subway. There is a 10 yard section of dirt between the bike path and Peck Rd. Use the sidewalk to return to the bike path when you exit the control.

At mile 47, instead of the awkward turn onto San Gabriel Parkway you can go straight across Rosemead Blvd onto a semi-paved trail that takes you straight to the Rio Hondo bikepath where you pickup the old route. It's very rideable, even for 'bents and tandems. This is the same trail I mentioned on the 300k. You can still ride on San Gabriel Parkway if you really want to.

The Long Beach beach path is almost finished but as of the 21st it did not extend to Belmont Pier so we will be using the same detour that the Solana Beach 400k used. You will use Shoreline to go to 1st st which is bike friendly. If they have completed the beach path by the 4th I will try to let you know. Basically you're free to use whichever route through this section you are most comfortable with. Control #4 is more open now that we are approaching from a different direction. There are several good options including an Arco, 76, Mobil, 7-11, and Round Table Pizza. After the control you will use Livingston and 2nd to get back onto the old route.

I was preparing to take a photo of the Rio Hondo trail when I heard hoof beats and saw a horse galloping on a trail just above me. Hard to believe we're in L.A. County, isn't it?

Loop 2

Most of us are familiar with the detour on Riverdale Ave between Tustin and Lakeview. It's 1.2 miles long and adds almost no mileage. Much as I hate being diverted off my bike path, this detour is very respectful of the needs of cyclists. You will have this detour at the end of the loop also.

The Chevron which used to be control #6 has disappeared. It is now a dirt lot. You can use the Arco across the road or the In-n-Out or Lucky Greek on the far side of the 91 freeway. I like the Lucky Greek. You can get fries or toast and soda and be on your way in 15 minutes. However, for this year only, I will also allow any business at the top of Green River hill around mile 18 of the loop. This option leaves a long gap to control #7 so be warned. I'm sure something will have replaced the Chevron by next year's 600k.

As you leave control #6 you will see that Auto Center Drive is closed. Turn Right on Pomona and then Left on Maple. Then turn Left on Smith to return to the old route. This detour shortens the route slightly and adds a few feet of climbing. It's actually quite nice.

Walnut is a tough climb but the view from the top is nice once the dizziness passes

At the top of the ride in Beaumont we have another detour that shortens the route. The east end of Oak Valley parkway is closed to cyclists. Looking at the road work I can see why. You will turn from Brookside onto Oak View and enjoy a lovely descent to Oak Valley Parkway where you will turn Right again and ride to the Chevron (control #8) or one of the small businesses in the strip mall there. This control is easier to get to than the old control and is open 24 hours for the more speed challenged of us.

About mile 123 of this loop, I dealt with some road work on Grand in Corona. It's short but unpleasant. Please be sure to be careful here and have all your lights blazing.

Loop 3

Most of Newport Beach is a construction zone, it seems. Even though they've closed the bike lane on PCH, they've created a new one for us which was really nice of them.

Some riders have had problems with the Dana Point control #12  in the past and I see Dana Point has reconfigured one of their intersections so I've decided to simplify the route through Dana Point and make it an open control. You no longer need to turn on Golden Lantern - just follow Del Prado all the way to Dana Point Harbor Drive and turn right there. You can use any business in Dana Point as the control. There are several convenient 24 hour business near the bottom of Del Prado. This change shortens the route very slightly and simplifies it.

As you probably know, Interstate 5 is closed to cyclists at this time and cyclists are allowed to pass through Camp Pendleton. You must have photo ID to pass through the camp. If you cannot get through the camp for some reason there is a shuttle service available. If you need to use the shuttle service you must inform me so we can make arrangements for you to make up the miles. Using Camp Pendleton adds about 3 miles total. Consequently I can make Oceanside an open control (#13). This will be convenient for the straight-through riders because they can use the Mobil or Chevron gas stations on Harbor at the north end of Oceanside. You are free to use any business in Oceanside. This change cuts out an unpleasant stretch of North Coast Hwy.

Bike path north of Camp Pendleton, looking north.


Some of these route changes might be worth keeping. I'm looking for feedback, both positive and negative on these changes. Also, for reading the entire blog entry you get to tell me what pizza toppings you want at the end of the ride. Please email me and I'll try to accommodate everyone.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Running a Brevet in a changing world

Finally! After being sick for two weeks I get a decent weekend of riding. On Saturday I rode a nice easy 30 on the upper SART and ran into Jerry Cowden so got caught up on some of the latest news. Then at the Phoenician restaurant I ran into Lou who loves this place too. We had lunch together and had a great time. Such nice people - now I remember why I liked being a member of the RWBTC.

On Sunday Amber and I rode from Anaheim Amtrak to Oceanside Amtrak and the ride was special for two reasons. Firstly I have just got the ride registered as a permanent populair #2666. Secondly this was Amber's first ride on her new Lynskey Ti touring bike from Adrenaline Bikes in Orange County. She loves it - it's smooth and fits great. The only problem she had was in her hands so I told her to the the bars double taped.
Amber and her new Lynskey

On the drive down I noticed that one of the controls for my upcoming 600k brevet no longer exists. A perfectly good Chevron gas station has been ripped out, leaving a dirt lot. Fortunately I can make it an open control and there are other options, although this was the best option. As brevet owners we are used to CalTrans closing roads to cyclists and Parks and Recreation closing bike paths.

On a recent 400k, Greg Jones had to deal with closures to PCH north of Malibu, a closed bike path in Long Beach, and a closure to Interstate 5. There are many things an RBA can do to reduce the impact of these problems.

The key to road closures is to research ahead of time - a staff ride will help, together with the CalTrans website and the local knowledge of cyclists. I've had a couple of riders pre-ride my 600k already and they have provided invaluable information. You also need to be capable of routing riders around last minute obstructions. If a rider calls to tell you that a road is blocked, say by an accident, could you guide them around from ride HQ?

As for a disappearing control, I always try to use controls that have a backup. Ideally every control would be an open control. Even turnaround controls can be open. For example "Anything in this shopping center" or "Anything on Carpenteria Ave after Neptune St".

The key here is that the ride owner has to constantly monitor the state of the route, which is a lot of work for a 600k. It's always better to tell the riders the bad news, than to have them discover it during the ride.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Long Beach bike path

Amber and I went for a lovely ride from the top of the San Gabriel bike path in Duarte to Long Beach and back - 81 miles, 1100' climbing, very windy. It was threatening rain all day but we only got rained on while waiting for empanadas under an umbrella. Very lucky.

We checked the Long Beach bike path but it's still closed. I'm sure it'll be wonderful when it's done but it sure would be nice to see an estimate of when it'll be open again. For now, riding on Ocean is downright dangerous. We're going to have to do that for the upcoming 400k and probably even my 600k in April.

I watched "Stop at Nothing" on Netflix while working out last night. It's a good overview of the whole Lance Armstrong doping scandal. The problem when you're that hyperagressive towards critics is that when you finally come up against someone who can take you down, the defeat will crush you. I still don't believe he understands the harm he has done. He's still an alpha-dick.

I've read Paul Kimmage, Tyler Hamilton, and David Walshs' books and it was great to see their faces in the film and hear their voices. Emma O'Reilly is amazingly hot. After hearing Lance's description of her I was expecting a wrinkled old gin-sot who pleasures sailor's for the price of a beer, but she can still turn a room-full of heads.

Solana Beach 400k this Saturday and I'm fighting off a cold :-(