Sunday, January 31, 2016

Knee pain

Amber and I rode The Crema yesterday. The weather people forecasted a winter storm for Sunday so we rescheduled for Saturday. I know randonneurs are supposed to be able to handle all weather conditions but there's not point deliberately courting bad weather.

While I was preparing my bike at Anaheim Amtrak station Greg and Stacey Kline rode by on my SART 200k reversed permanent.

The clouds towards the beach looked ominous so Amber and I both packed an extra layer onto our aerobars. They are so useful for carrying a little extra stuff. It was cool and a little breezy and the storm gave every indication that it was closer than the weather weenies predicted.

Amber's knee has been troubling here for the past few weeks and her description of the pain sounded like her saddle was too low. It's a split leather saddle that has a fair amount of sag in it. I tightened it up to raise the center part about 1/4 of an inch. Hopefully that will help a bit.

The Crema was as awesome as ever. Just as we were leaving our waiter mentioned that he felt a few drops of rain. I explained to him in no uncertain terms that it wouldn't dare rain until we were done with the ride. Unfortunately it did start raining just before we got half way back and we had to deal with increasing rain almost all the way back. We only managed to ride out from under the storm when we were about five miles from Anaheim. We were soaked. That extra layer felt pretty good.

Somehow Greg and Stacey managed to avoid the rain entirely. I've no idea how they did that.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

2016 Five Rivers 300k staff ride

I solo rode the Five Rivers 300k staff ride yesterday. We have been pretty lucky with detours this year but there are still some changes to the route so read carefully.

The biggest issue is the start location. Someone has opened a night club right next to the Motel 6 so half the motel is filled with Thump-Thump music on Friday nights. This is not acceptable so I have moved the start across the road to the Best Western at 1084 Pomona Road. It is literally a 60 second bike ride away from the Motel 6 if the light is green, The Best Western is more expensive so you can make whichever choice you want. If you stay at the Motel 6 make sure you get a room away from the north end (ie towards Pomona Rd). Those of you who have already booked the Motel 6 can cancel without charge up to the night of your stay.

There is construction along Pomona, under the 91 freeway, and along Green River Drive. Be careful going under the 91 - I strongly recommend having tail lights running through here. There are metal plates and the road narrows and forces you into traffic. Other than the first and last four miles, we got pretty lucky.

I ate at the GoodFellas restaurant the evening before. After a massive plate of fettuccine pesci my glycogen and cholesterol levels were both through the roof. It's a great restaurant and right next to the ride start.

The weather was perfect - cool, dry, overcast, calm. You should have such great weather. Or maybe not. Who knows? I rolled along on my aerobars having a wonderful time mainly in my big chain ring. I grabbed a tuna sandwich at the first control at mile 35 and ate it while riding. At one point I rode through a big cloud of gnats and, looking down, I saw the exposed tuna salad was covered in tiny black flecks. It didn't seem to affect the taste too much though.

I completed the first 100k in 3:40 - a new personal best by quite a large margin. Surely I had a tailwind? Nope - actually I had a net headwind.

I got to the control in Duarte at mile 85 too quickly for pizza so I settled for a cream cheese, ham, and tomato sandwich. Wow that was good! I added a cheese danish for later and set out again. I was five minutes at the first control and fifteen minutes here - pretty fast. The wind was choppiest around Duarte - I guess it was coming out of the mountain passes.

About ten miles north of the Long Beach control the usual headwinds hit, slowing me down to 16mph even on the aerobars. This would have been a good stretch to have a riding buddy. In Shoreline village at mile 120 I went to a tiny place called Twisters and Coffee. They sold me a home made garlic pretzel and a mocha frappe that went down a treat. There was a chap strumming on his guitar just practicing. He wasn't very good but it was fun to listen to anyway. I poured half the mocha in my water bottle for later. Twenty minutes here and I was off.

Exiting the control, the Long Beach bike trail is open again and it is lovely. Down on the aerobars with a strong tailwind I was really able to open up. The peds have their own trail now so it's safe to ride 20mph through here. I covered the first 200km in 8:01. Another personal best by a wide margin.

I stayed on the beach path all the way to Newport Beach. With the cold and overcast the path was very quiet and it avoids all the stop lights along PCH. With the tailwind I just stayed on the aerobars in my big chain ring and span along at 18mph with no effort.

The underpass that takes you safely under PCH and inland on Dover at mile 142 is closed for construction. You have to make a tricky left in traffic. Please be very careful here. Once you've made the turn onto Dover get up onto the sidewalk as soon as you can otherwise you might miss the bike path up to Castaway Park. And I mean UP!

Headed inland I picked up the expected onshore flow which allowed me to continue rolling along with a tailwind all the way to the last control in Lake Forest at mile 150. I got to the control more than an hour earlier than last year. A rice bowl with veggies, chicken and extra teriyaki sauce for the salt. Soda to dilute into my water bottles. I used a fork instead of chopsticks because it's faster. I was out of there in fifteen minutes. With only four controls, you can keep your off-the-bike time below an hour with some discipline.

Last stretch has some climbing. Curses! Who designed this route? Oh yes - me! No tailwind now but it's perfectly calm. I'm still holding 17-18 on the flat without too much effort. The hills slow me down because my knee is starting to bother me but everything else feels great.

Right at the end of the bike trail, where we enter Green River Drive I felt an unfamiliar sensation. I had a flat! I never get flats. I pulled the rear wheel off, pulled out the tube, checked the tire (nothing), slapped in a new tube, filled it with CO2 and prayed. Eight minutes! Go go go before it goes flat again.

I finished the ride in 12:56. Another personal best by 75 minutes. My goal had been to break 14 hours. How on earth did Willie ride this in 11:29?

Sunday, January 17, 2016

It was one of those days...

It was one of those days when everything goes right. The weather was perfect - overcast with a touch of sun, cool, calm, dry - perfect. For some reason I was firing on all cylinders. I couldn't believe I was holding 22mph on the bike path at about 80% effort. I kept checking my computer to see if somehow it had slipped into km/h mode. There was no perceptible tailwind - I was just in the zone. I was carrying some food with me so I didn't have to stop except for two minutes to grab more fluids.

I got to the beach market in Newport Beach in record time. Huge waves were rolling in off the Pacific and the wind started to freshen from the northwest. Yes - I would have a tailwind headed inland. I turned around and the wind continued to freshen until I had close to a 20mph tailwind. I was a little tired by now but I was still able to hold 20mph on the bike path. Riding in traffic was slower but I destroyed my previous record for the course.

Yeah it was a good ride.

I'm on a short course of prednosone, an oral steroid. Now I know that they don't have any of the muscle building effects of anabolic steroids, but I couldn't help thinking "I'm Floyd Landis". Maybe my strength was purely psychosomatic. Wouldn't that be cool. Hope I can avoid the 'roid rage and shrinking genitals.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Anaheim to Oceanside permanent populaire

I was planning on riding the Malibu Coastal Cruise 200k brevet on January 1st with the club but when I took the Serotta in for a new chain the mechanic told me my rear rim was full of cracks. The bad news is it wouldn't be ready for the ride and would cost me $220. The good news is that the wheel didn't collapse while I was riding it.

I have a spare Trek 520 touring bike set up with mudguards, rack, and rack bag. It has a un-broken-in Brooks B17 on it and weight about 30lbs more than the Serotta. So I decided to skip the Coastal Cruise and rode my Anaheim to Oceanside permanent populaire instead. It's a lovely ride that starts with a stiff climb over Santiago Canyon and then a long slow descent down to the coast and heads to Oceanside on the usual route.

We had headwind all the way. Normally this route is very wind friendly but we had a 15mph headwind freshening to 20mph. Lugging the Trek up Santiago canyon is hard enough without a headwind. We got Cook's Corner too late for breakfast but the lunch menu is almost as good. It was a lovely day so there were lots of bikers there. Last time we did this ride the weather sucked and all the bikers stayed at home - I reckon that's how they keep their motorbikes so clean! Pussies!

It was very cold on the descent to the coast especially with the headwind but the sun came out once we were in Dana Point. I had iced coffee when we got to San Clemente but Amber was still so chilled she needed hot coffee. We weren't making great time so we headed out quickly with Amber's coffee in a water bottle. Really didn't work out very well.

There is a sign at Las Pulgas road that says the shoulder of the I5 is still closed to cyclists and there is a shuttle. It was there last year. I need to figure out if CalTrans simply forgot to remove it or if the restriction is still in place. Last year Camp Pendleton was allowing cyclists through all night.

We got to Oceanside with an hour to spare before the train so we ate at Angelo's as usual. I go my breakfast burrito fix there. Not as good as Cook's Corner. At least the wi-fi was working on the train and we managed to get seats this time.

I need to start planing the staff ride for the 300k Fiver Rivers brevet which is coming up in a few weeks.