Monday, February 23, 2009

Versus/Cox Amgen Tour of California Cutoffs?

Did you notice any problems DVRing the AToC on Cox last week? From about stage 5 onward, anytime I DVRed the race, usually the afternoon 2 hour rebroadcasts, the broadcast ended about 15 mins before the actual finish of the stage. I tried manually extending the stop time, but that didn't help either. The DVR would promptly end right at 2 hours, with the peleton in full charge to the finish. The first few stages that were broadcasted were just fine.

Not sure what the problem was, but it was very annoying. Oh, hopefully Cox Communication will deliver Versus in HD soon! Watching AToC in 480p is getting painful.

All-in-all, it was a fantastic race, especially Mt Palomar. Next year, I'll be out on the road to watch - if the Amgen management staff will use Palomar for 2010.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Dudley's 300K or the "No Pain, No Elevation Gain 300K"

OnBike Productions along with Asphalt Technologies is proud to present the Dudley's 300K - AKA No Pain, No Elevation Gain 300K.

It was a great day for a 300K in the San Diego area. The start was slightly cool, humidity on the dry side but all in all a great day to be on the bike for an extended period of time! The Surly was all decked out ready for the ride.

A great group of riders assembled for this 176 mile ride.

Promptly at 7, with limited fanfare, our nearly fearless RBA said, "we're off"!

We hit the streets of Chula Vista in style.
Great views, pretty much right from the start.

Watching the sun rise from a Surly. It's a beautiful thing.

Making our way to the 94.

Then on it.

Taking the right onto Honey Springs.

Quickly the climbing starts with the sun starting to blaze.

Hitting Deerhorn Valley soon enough. Didn't see any deer.

Getting to Dehesa was uneventful, but that quickly changed.

Somewhere along Willow Glen Rd during a smallish uphill, I could hear that all too familiar grunting and the quick tipity-tap of claws on asphalt. Sure enough, I look behind me, and Benji is in full chase! I figure, just how fast can Benji go anyway? So I upshift, and stand up for the sprint. Well, little Benji made it about halfway up my back wheel with that look of determination to grab my left ankle. I upshift again to continue pouring on the speed. I put some distance on my Hollywood hound, but the snorting and tapping of claws get even faster! That pooch had another gear! Well, so did I. I reach down to slap my bar-end shifter into the next highest gear. I fly up over the summit and start a small descent. I can hear the snorting and claws on asphalt diminishing. Score one for the Surly!

A nice descent into Alpine.

After Alpine, I'm making my way to the first control at El Monte Park. When riding a brevet, you get to see the strangest things.

Great views riding into control.

Arriving at El Monte Park, mile 55.1.

While at control #1, I spend my time getting water. For this ride, I'm experimenting with using a CamelBack for water only and use my bottles on the bike for fuel. I'm using Hammer Nutritionals HEED and Perpetuem. I was very happy and surprised that the CamelBack didn't cause additional strain on my back and shoulders. Because I had 100 ounces of water on my back, it was very easy to stay hydrated. Using the CamelBack will become part of my brevet equipment.

Leaving control #1, we ride through Lakeside heading towards the second climb of the day. By this point, it's rather warm out, I'd say upper 80's. Turning right on State Route 67, we start a significant climb towards Ramona.

Keep going up....



Is that the summit?

No, keep pedaling!

And pedaling...

I've got to be careful and watch my uphill speed.

Still pedaling...

The summit appears!

Finally, arrival in Ramona.

Winding my way through Ramona, there is more climbing to do before reaching the 78. It's hot, a tad miserable but I push on. I reach the 78 in due time.

I'm at mile 90.3. There's still some more climbing to do before reaching control #2 at Dudley's Bakery.

Finally, after a long afternoon in the saddle which was mostly pointed uphill, I see the control off in the distance.

My arrival happened soon enough with the nice downhill. Dudley's Bakery is a cornucopia of carbohydrates!

A control can be run out of a vehicle too. Tina makes some of the best soup for a brevet. Tom was there too somewhere helping riders.

A couple of riders enjoying the control.

I spend about 40 minutes at this control getting water and refilling my bottles. I thoroughly enjoyed Tina's soup and homemade bread. Thanks Tina and Tom for a great control.

It's around 4:45 PM and I'm leaving a little later than I'd like. I wanted to descend the nearly 50 miles back to Lakeside with some sunlight. It's a lot of downhill, I can go faster with sunlight than I can go with all my lights on.

At this point of the ride, I stow the camera. I only have about an hour of daylight left and trying to take pictures in the dark would be too dangerous. Plus having the flash go off would really ruin my night vision, or the night vision of other riders. I grab all my cold weather riding gear and stow it in my trunk bag. I bid farewell to the control hosts and start my ride back to the finish.

Just because I can take anymore photos, doesn't mean it's going to be a boring ride!

I start the downhill back to Ramona riding down the same route I rode up. I'm pushing the Surly for speed. If you've ever ridden a Surly and pushed for speed, you know Surly's aren't really known for their speed. I did a downhill speed test on a long straight downhill near where I live, and 42 MPH was it. That's down in the drops and with no gears left, nothing but gravity.

I push the Surly through turns the best I can. What's really cool about this bike is I pick a line and just go with it. If there's a bump in the road, the Surly just floats right over it. Nothing skittish happens with the bike. I know I've run over a bump, but that's about it. I feel the frame flex some, but that's it.

It's dark before I know it, and I meet up with another rider, Dennis. We decide to stick together for the remainder of the ride, and he tells me he's trying to catch Nick up ahead of us. I met Nick at the start of the ride, but we got seperated around mile 40.

Dennis and I ride through Ramona together and we see Nick up ahead. We pull over and Nick's changing into his cold weather gear at the corner of 67 and Scripps Poway Parkway. There seems to be a unanimous decision that I lead the group down the 67 to Lakeside because I have the most lights. I told them both I'm not a fast descender in the dark, and I kept my word. I'm on the brakes most of they way down the hill to Lakeside. This side of the 67 is a mess, lots of debris on the sholder and it's narrow. We make it to the bottom, Dennis and myself decide to put on our cold weather gear too.

Another rider, Mike, catches up with us and we all stay together through Lakeside. We make the left turn onto Alpine Blvd to ride uphill once again to control #3 at Carl's Jr on Tavern Rd in Alpine. On the way up to Carl's I get passed by George and Brandy on their tandom. They had an excessive day on the bike with one mechanical after another.

We finally get to Carl's and there's Mike, George, Brandy and Dennis all chowing down. I'm at a crossroads. I've read it's best not to have solid foods on rides, but I've had about all I can handle of gels and Perpetuem. They're great products, but after 14 hours on the bike, I'm totally burned out on what I've been fueling with. So, at great gastronomical risk, I order a chicken club sandwich. I'm not a big Carl's fan, but oh this was heaven on a bun. I was very happy and suprised I didn't have any issues. Probably because I had a descent with low intesity to let things digest, plus it was cold out.

We hit the bottom of Japatul Rd and start uphill once again towards Lyons Valley Rd. Up and up we go. It's very dark out, almost midnight with clear skies and luckily, very few cars. Mike and Dennis go up the road while Nick and I stick together. About halfway up, we start taking short breaks every mile or so. During one of these breaks on a steep part of the road I have my first incident with the Surly. Nick clips in and rides up the road about 50 feet, and I try to do the same thing. I have the Surly in the lowest possible gear. When I try to take off, I only move about 2' forward, then veer out into the road, all the while trying to get my left foot clipped in. Well, I can't seem to do that, I can't find the handle and I realize I'm going down as the bike leans towards the right. Sure enough, I'm falling over to my right and can't get that foot out of the pedal. Realizing this, I rotate my shoulder so I'll land on the meaty part of my back. A few colorful metaphors later, I'm layed out over the double yellow line staring up at the sky. Nick hears me, stops and looks back down the road. He asks me if I'm ok, which I am, and I tell him I'm just taking a break looking at the pretty stars. Then it hits me, I'm right in the middle of the road and one of these vehicles could be driving up right now!

Nearly 6000 upright miles on the Surly and I dump it on a brevet. I get up and realize my right elbow is bleeding some inside my shirt. Nothing crazy, and nothing else feels broken. I get back on the bike and realize the saddle has been knocked out of whack. I thought the seatpost was just twisted, but no, the rails on the saddle are bent! Upon closer inspection, I have a slight tear on my saddle too. So, without further ado, I pull out my multi-tool and realign the saddle, get back on and go. I check I can get switch through all the gears, brakes are working, trunk bag is secure and decide it's safe to ride to the finish.

Nick and I stop once again, but this time he wants to push on by trying to walk the bikes uphill. I can't walk very well in my shoes, so I try to get back on the bike. I still can't get my left foot to clip in. I double check the pedal and my cleat and all looks fine. I think about my dilemma on how to get back on the bike on steep roads, then it hits me. While walking, I spin the cranks and upshift a few gears. I get back on and this time when I mash down with my right foot, the Surly jumps up the road about 10 feet, giving me enough time to clip my left foot in! Ah, the epiphinies one gets after 150 miles of riding!

Nick and I mount our steeds and start riding once again. After a few minutes we thought we saw Dennis on the side of the road, but it was Mike. His derailleur hanger broke! This is the definition of sucks. Only 20 miles left on the ride with a bike that can't be repaired. Next time Mike!

Nick and I get real close to the summit and in the distance we see Dennis' rear lights flashing. I turn my headlamp to spot and light him up. We're there at the top and this means we really have nothing but downhill to the finish!

We start our descent and quite honestly, it's a blur. My right shoulder and elbow is sore, the cold is affecting my hands through my long gloves. It's difficult to stay on the brakes on the descent. My fronts continuously squeal as picking up speed happens very quickly. Before I know it, Nick and I are at the bottom of the hill, turning left on the 94. At the corner of Otay Lakes Rd we see Dennis' lights once again. We ride together back to the finish. It's the coldest it's ever been during the evening hours. 9 miles later, we're stopped at the red light right near the finish. Dennis tells us he's been riding with only one eye because one of his contacts fogged over!
It's 1:55 AM according to the clock on the bank. The three of us discuss we have another hour before the final control officially closes. We decide to finish without doing any bonus miles. It's almost 2 AM, we're all cold, tired, very hungry and ready to call it a day.

I'd like to thank all the support folks to helped make this brevet enjoyable. Thanks to Mike and his band for designing such a challenging route. Thanks to Dennis for waiting on us 100 Watt Club riders, and to Nick for teaming up and pushing on to the finish.