Beep-beep, beep-beep, beep-beep.... My alarm goes off at 5:15 AM on Jan 3rd to start the 2009 San Diego Randonneuring season! First up, our course: Rainbow 200K
Feet hit the floor and I quickly take a peek outside. Roads are wet, slightly cloudy and it's still dark out. Weather predicted 30% chance of rain, it's not raining now in east county so I think I'm good to go! I don't see any reason to take the rain gear with me, I'll just ride in my normal gear and florescent green jacket. I should be fine.... Before leaving, I make sure to properly apply sunscreen. Gotta stay protected!
I get to the start at Doyle Community park in La Jolla and it's what the regulars call a heavy mist... Well, I'm really not one to ride in the rain, but what the heck, there's only a 30% chance right?
I get signed in and promptly at 7 AM, we all head out. I always stay at the back of the peleton. It's safer for me and my fellow riders to just camp out in the back. By now, it's raining pretty good and by the first mile, I'm soaked and cold. Getting sprayed by all the rooster tails, I drift even further back by the time we get to the 5 freeway. As we slightly descend, all I can imagine is slowly sliding across the pavement in essentially nothing but my underwear... Despite the not so great starting conditions, I push on. I figure I'll warm up and besides, it's only a 30% chance of rain today.
I make my way north east and the rain subsides some. Few riders end up with flats, but in general I have an uneventful but cold ride towards the Elfin Forest. When I finally get there, no cookies. The elves must still be sleeping. It's starts to sprinkle again, I'm sure I'm getting very close to that 30% !!
I make it through the forest and we hit our first climb. Long and steep, and yes it's now raining very hard. Me and the Surly push on since it's only a 30% chance of rain, it should be stopping soon. There's a long downhill following, I'm on the brakes often. I still have thoughts of sliding across the pavement.
I make it to the first control at AM/PM in Deer Springs. Loaded up with water, switched around my fuel, made a natural break. Didn't stay long.
I crossed the 15 headed North on Champaign Blvd/Old 395. I took advantage of this road to eat another peanut butter sandwich. This old standby is really becoming my staple on bike food. I do carry Heed, and assorted gels as well, but sometimes having a decent sandwich stops the stomach growls. It's amazing how hungry I get riding. Taking the right on Old Castle Road, it's a long slow climb up that grade to Lilac Rd. I don't see anyone in front or back.
Turning left on Couser Canyon, I'm simply destroyed at the steepness of this hill. One of the few photos I took.
I had to take a break to sew my legs back on. Even though the Surly has rather low gearing, I'm still adapting to the hills. After a few minutes, I press on, but not before I get passed by one of the faster riders. Good news is, it's not raining! The RBA catches up to me, and this should have been clue number two, but didn't register. We have a grand time riding Couser down to the 76. Quick left on the 76, then right on Rice Canyon.
Rice Canyon is very rural. It's raining again and the road has plenty of roller coaster type hills. I'm totally freezing wondering where did I do the math wrong. We're past 30%!
The RBA drops me like a bad habit, and I get passed by another rider who recognizes me as that "Santee Guy". Yes, that's me! She goes on while I stop to check the sutures on my legs to make sure they'll stay on. Right before she leaves me, a couple of loose dogs appear on my right. Mail lady is delivering mail, but the dogs ignore her and the other rider. As I'm riding uphill, both dogs kinda pace me on their property. The dogs keep with me and take a small path down to the road. By this time the mail lady and my fellow rider is gone. One dog paces me on my right, the other on my left. I'm thinking here we go, attack from both sides! So, I do my best Lance impersonation, give them both the "look", upshift and go for the sprint! Probably not the best idea, but hey I'm not going down without a good chase. Both dogs roll over laughing so hard, they're no longer interested! The Surly and I dodge one...
Taking the left on 8th, then quickly on Rainbow Valley, I make my first of many wrong turns. I end up going left instead of right. I figure out the hard way after blasting down a small hill, the road simply ends! I grab handfuls of brakes and luckily come to a stop before getting clothes lined by a barbed wire fence.
I get turned around, figure out my mistake and start riding back up the small hill. I took a photo of the Old 395:
I see the fire station on the right, blink and miss the 5th street left turn! Well, I ride along for about a mile, and notice a bunch of bikes leaning up against this building. Oh, there they are and I pull in. The gentleman that comes out wonders what I'm doing and starts talking to me in Spanish. I don't speak Spanish and he didn't speak English so I figured I'm not in the right place. I continue on Rainbow Valley until I reach the 15 onramp. By this time, I finally figure out I missed a turn. So, I turn around and head back. I've probably gone 1.5 miles too far and when I get back to the fire station, I see 5th. Turning left, I made another wrong turn. Quickly flipping a U, I see another rider making the correct left onto 5th. The next control is up on the left. Upon arrival I get off the Surly and grab some fantastic hot soup. I sit on a bench with my feet out of my shoes trying to dry them off. They really aren't drying much so I take my socks off and wring them out. That helped. I stay at the control until it closes.
I head out feeling much better. There's a small uphill then a long downhill through Bonsall. As I get down near the 76, my trusty Surly starts getting this all familiar bounce instead of its normal smooth ride. I look down and notice my rear tire has a slow leak. I figure I could ride another couple of miles with it, but decide to stop in front of a gas station and a McDonalds that has a nice grassy area. Sounds like a great place to fix a flat.
20 mins later I'm back on the road. I couldn't find the little piece of glass in my tire that caused the flat. It was barely perceptible, I must have gone over that tire ten times!
I make my way to the San Luis Rey river bike path. First I made the correct turn, then for some reason decide it's the wrong way and turn around. I go back under College and ride to the end of the path! Quickly figuring out I made another wrong turn, I turn around again and start off in the correct direction. The bike path was a nice break from traffic and I pull out another peanut butter sandwich to enjoy. The bike path ends at N Cleveland in Oceanside. By this time, it's around 5 PM and getting dark. I know where I am now as I've done many train runs when I used to run marathons. I stop to switch on lights, rearrange my fuel and start doing the math. I'm not exatly sure I'm going to make the cutoff time at 8:30. I know for sure I won't make it standing beside the road, so I get back on and start riding.
This is the first time during the ride I know where I am. I just concentrate on keeping the pedals turning. Flying south through Oceanside, racing Amtrak and dodging folks running out of the local establishments. I ride by all the campgrounds with those wonderful BBQ smells! I was getting really hungry, but I pressed on to Del Mar.
I'm cruising through Del Mar, then it hits me... I have Torrey Pines hill to climb! Oh man, this is going to be close. I make my way down to Torrey Pines State Beach, ride across the flats of the beach and start my way up. Well, the sutures are holding and I make my way up very slowly. I keep grinding and finally summit! I have 45 mins to make it to the final control.
I make the right to stay on N Torrey Pines road, I make the left into UCSD. Doing my best to follow the directions, I can't find Campus Point, so I turned around once again. Heading back on Voight, I turn around again looking for Campus. All this time I have students asking me where the gym is for a basketball game. I'm starting to think I'm going to blow it right here, a mile and a half from the finish...
I finally find the turn on Voight to get me to Health Sciences Dr. I finally see Regents! I'm at the corner turning right and another rider sees me while he's driving home. I have about a mile to go. I arrive at Doyle at 8:10, 20 mins to spare! I could have grabbed a hot chocolate at Starbucks!
Thanks to Mike and Robert, plus another couple for sticking around to the bitter end for this lantern rouge! Total mileage 132 miles with about 8000 feet of climbing! Can you say bonus!
Up next, Dudely's Bakery 300K! Yum, tasty bread.