Sunday, July 19, 2015

11 + 2 = Audax ride

Rarely do so many factors conspire together to make it difficult to ride a brevet as we contended with on the 2015 Night Audax 200k which I hosted yesterday. This is a 200k brevet that starts in Huntington Beach at 7pm and heads inland to San Bernardino and then back. The intent is to ride as a group, but as we are Americans, this can be a challenge.

The weather forecast was appalling with 50% showers and thunderstorms predicted for the night of the ride. There were heavy thunderstorms all morning and continuous light to moderate rain all afternoon. As I drove down to the start at Huntington Beach I got a stream of phone calls and texts from people who had decided not to ride.

In addition there was a fatality on the Amtrak tracks around Oceanside and both north and south bound trains were seriously delayed. Mel called from Los Angeles to say he could not make it and Lisa and Hector called from San Diego to say they were going to be very delayed.

When I arrived at Huntington Beach the roads were wet but the storm had moved through leaving the air muggy and warm, but dry. As I waited in my car riders started showing up so we got their paperwork done. A couple of riders called to say they would be late for the start of the ride so I left their brevet cards on my windshield in case they got there within a hour of the ride's start time.

James called at 6:55 to say he was at the park - where were we? I don't know why Garmin likes to take people to the other side of the park. While we were waiting for him to drive around, Lisa showed up having ridden down from Anaheim Amtrak. We got started at 7:10pm with eleven riders and two more on the way.

The bike path was wet from the recent storm and exactly half of the bikes in the group had fenders. Five bikes had full fenders and I had a rear fender. The storm had reversed the prevailing wind so we had a headwind. It wasn't strong but is wasn't the expected tailwind. We rode cautiously on the wet pavement and got to the Mobil on Green River Hill a little late. As we rode by the road works on Green River Road Amber got a front wheel flat from some sheet metal that Caltrans had left by the side of the road which we fixed quickly. 

Atmospheric photo of bridge over SART - credit Brent Shaver
We felt a few drops of light rain for a few minutes at several points but it was never unpleasant. But when we got to the upper SART we started seeing lightning on either side but heard no thunder which tells me the storms were more than ten miles away. Still quite alarming. The storm had brought down a tree on the bike path which had left maybe 12 inches for us to squeeze by. It's a good thing we were running good lights.

As we regrouped at the top of the upper SART Lisa's front tire blew as she was just sitting there. Weird. She runs tubulars with slime. I have never seen slime work and it didn't this time either. It just ran across the bike path. Useless stuff.

With two flats, headwind, and wet roads, we were 45 minutes behind schedule so Lisa got 45psi into her tire and we rode the last 1.5 miles to In-n-Out for the turnaround. We thought Hector and David would join us here, but they didn't. We ordered an immense amount of food and somehow got some extra burgers and fries.

While we were eating it started to rain which was worrying, but by the time we were done the rain had stopped. As we were pulling away from In-n-Out, Lisa's front tire flatted again so she put a tube in and as she was doing that we saw Hector and David pull into the In-n-Out. We took off without them.

Riding back we had a strong tailwind and suddenly we were riding 18mph. We flew back until Doug caught a goat-head in his front wheel in Corona. Flat number four. We refueled at the Arco in Corona and kept on going - still with a tail wind. On Green River Road - almost exactly the same place she had flatted on the way out, Amber flatted again. Flat number five. By now the sky had cleared although the roads were still wet.

Dawn lit the eastern sky as we rode past Yorba Linda park and the tail wind grew even stronger. Hector and David caught us but David Nakai had ridden off the front so we were now twelve. We got to the end at 6:25 which put us 1:15 behind schedule. But considering the wet roads and five flats, I'm OK with that. The good news is we didn't get soaked, no-one crashed, and we weren't hit by lightning.

It's raining again as I write this. Damn we got lucky!

Although every rider who completed this brevet deserves credit for overcoming adversity, several riders deserve a special mention...
Brent (in blue) rode this bike on a 200k brevet

Brent Shaver who rode a beach cruiser wearing sandals. Single speed? Who does he think he is? Shai? That was a very impressive performance and if he ever gets a real bike he will be awesome. He also posted some photographs on his RWGPS trip.

Lisa, Hector, and Osvaldo took the train up from San Diego and were going to ride my 125km Anaheim to Oceanside permanent populaire with Doug and then ride on home. I think if you can do that then you're in good form for PBP.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Keller Peak

Got the bike serviced with a new chain, cleaned the drive train and trued the first wheel. It cost $125. I got the Prius serviced this week too - that only cost $30. Something wrong here.

I picked up my sparkly bike from my LBS and rode up Keller Peak again like I try to do each week. I really dug deep and managed the 5.7 mile 1800' climb in 55:15 - a new personal best @ 6.19 mph.

I'm hosting a 200k night audax brevet on Saturday night and have 16 people signed up already. Should be fun.

Yay me!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Colorado vacation day 2

Before we started riding Amber, Sherry, and I went up to Glenwood Springs Adventure Park which involved a fancy ski lift up and down. There was a lot to do but we stuck with the cave tours which were pretty cool.

After the cave tours we ate at the Pullman Restaurant. It was phreeking amazing.

Amber and I rode from Glenwood Springs to Eagle in the afternoon. It's 38 miles with a fair bit of climbing, but once again things didn't go as planned.

Everything started off well and we rode on the bike path alongside the Colorado river. With all the rain we have had lately the river is running high and the rafters were having a good day. We had a strong tailwind and the climbing was no big deal.

Everything went well until we got about half way through the ride. First it started raining, then the road was closed and there was no way around. We had to wait for a bus but the bus driver was off somewhere getting food so we waited under the bridge that was closed to stay out of the rain. We didn't realize at the time, but we were being eaten alive by carnivorous mosquitoes. By the time the bus finally arrived we were weak from loss of blood.

It took another 30 minutes for the bus to get use around the closed bridge. No matter - we finished up the ride in plenty of time.

Colorado vacation day 1

I dropped Amber and Sherry off in Aspen so they could ride down 40 miles to Glenwood Springs. On paper it looked like a fun ride with 1800' of descending in 40 miles of class A bike path. However, Mother Nature had different ideas.

To start with there was about three miles of packed dirt instead of pavement in the first five miles. Fortunately my wife and daughter have bikes that are very capable on packed dirt. Unfortunately it started to rain - hard - very hard. I had driven the car back to Glenwood Springs and my cell phone had decided it didn't want to work today. So they got soaked and chilled and had to take shelter all while sending me frantic messages that they wanted to be picked up. I had no clue.

My plan was to drive to Glenwood Springs then ride up the path to meet them and ride back with them. I reckoned I would meet them within 20 miles as I was climbing and they were descending. I got 20 miles up the bike path and still hadn't seen them so I assumed they had gone past me when I went off the course for three minutes. I turned around and headed back to Glenwood Springs - assuming they would be at the hotel room when I got there.

Looking up the Glenwood Springs to Aspen bike path
When I got back they were not in the room so I started to get a bit worried. I used the motel room phone to caall them (long-distance even though they were only 5 miles away). Amber answered and told me they were only about three miles from the end. They had sheltered in the rain for so long they were still a couple of miles above me when I turned around.

I had a great ride with 38 miles and a little light rain. They had not had such a great time.