Sunday, July 11, 2010

Rollers To Bonsall 200K - The Comeback Ride

Hard to believe it's July already! I've not done a brevet since Feb when I DNF'd the Dudley's brevet due to extreme weather conditions and the cold. Seems I've gotten a tad out of practice preparing for a brevet. Rollers doesn't have a bunch of climbing in it, but there's enough and it's very frequent that it makes it difficult to get in a good rhythm. Just when you settle into a pace, you have another hill to climb, and there are few really good descents to make up for the time! Here's a profile of the course:

And the course:

Overall, 123 miles.

5:47 - I sat up in bed and saw that time on the clock! Man, I was supposed to leave 2 minutes ago!! Didn't hear the alarm - again. It's been happening for the past few weeks. I quickly got dressed, filled my bottles, threw the Surly in the randovan and made my way to breakfast. Luckily no one was in line at McDonald's that early in the morning. I pulled into the parking lot of the Old Towne Trolley Station only to realize I forgot my camera. Sorry folks, very few photos of this brevet. I took some with my phone, but it's too difficult to use while riding. I quickly mounted up and rode to the start at the Caltrans station about half a mile away. Upon arrival, there's the usual cast of characters - some I haven't seen since February. Seems they've all gotten trim and fit over these last 5 months. Congrats to Jaime on his Super Randonneur accomplishment!

At the start, everyone just milling around waiting for the RBA. Last minute changes to the route and some randos ended up at the old start.

We're off around 7:15 or so. Weather was cool and overcast, very nice riding weather. I decided to hit the ground running and take advantage of the coolness - riding with a purpose I say. That worked pretty good, cruising through the second control about an hour and fifteen minutes after the start. I didn't get a photo of the person manning the control - I always forget to take a photo of the first control!

Rolling right along to the third control is when things got interesting. I got my brevet card signed, water bottles refilled, and got back to riding within about 2 minutes. This time, I did take a photo of the two people manning the control, but forgot to ask their names! One of these days, I'll get it right!!

I left the control, pushing the downhill to Palomar Airport Road. Making the right, it's a decent climb to the summit of Palomar Airport Road. When I got near the top, something made me reach back and check my seat bag. I could feel it was unzipped and when that happens it means stuff has fallen out! I stop and hop off to take a look. Wallet - check, car keys - check, gels - check, bars - check, brevet card - NEGATIVE! My brevet card fell out somewhere between the summit and the previous control. Looking back down the road, I don't see anything obvious, which means I have to ride back to find it. Without the brevet card recording my times at the controls, this brevet wouldn't count towards my R12. The correct and legal thing to do is to go cross Palomar Airport Road and ride with traffic. Problem is, Palomar Airport Road is 3 lanes in each direction, with divider - no chance of seeing anything from the other side of the road. Luckily for me, there's a sidewalk all the way back to the control, so I take that instead. I'm sure you know what I'm thinking, the brevet card is all the way back at the control - sure enough, it's very close! I found it in by one of the bus stops on Carmel Valley Rd.

Relief, but that means climbing Palomar Airport Road again! No worries, didn't cost me much time or bonus mileage. After this point, everything was going very well until I got to San Marcos and control #4. It's a 7-11 and I spot one on E. Mission Ave. I leaned the Surly against the window, dig my wallet out and proceed to go in to get a water and receipt. I look at the top of the door and it says 850, which I thought was odd. I go back to the bike to check the route sheet and I'm supposed to be at 7-11 at 260 instead! That's about a mile further away. No biggie. I bought a water, got my receipt and watered up. The next 2 hours or so will be warm as the sun has broken through the clouds and it's heating up. Fighting nice headwinds on N. Broadway, I turn left on Jesmond Dene Rd. I keep thinking about Julian Dean, the pro rider in the Tour de France. I stopped partway up Jesmond Dene for this photo of the Surly:

If you look at the vine that's by the back wheel, you'll see the very rare Surlious Brevetous plant! I couldn't believe my luck to find this plant! When it's mature, it's the same color as the Surly - amazing.

This is how I have the Surly configured for brevets. The very bottom water bottle contains powdered HEED. I use that instead of messing around with baggies. I have a new seat bag from Navarro which worked very well. It's a two compartment seat bag, the lower compartment I have 2 tubes, patch kit and spare route sheet. The upper compartment I keep my wallet, gels, bars, car keys that are attached with an internal clip, with plenty of room to spare. The other improvement I've done is with the handle bar. I double wrapped with bar tape which made this brevet probably the most comfortable I've ever had for my hands. In the top-tube bag I keep my electrolytes, antacids, partially finished gel pack, etc. Easy to get to.

Anyway, things were going very well until I made it onto Old Highway 395. I crested a hill, grabbed for a gel, and ripped the top off. I'm not one of those guys that can squeeze the entire gel pack in my mouth all at once and wash it down. I have to nurse it along, so when I take the top off, I try to only have a small opening to squeeze the gel out. As I crested the hill, I started descending rather rapidly - watching my speedometer hit 20, 25, 30, 32 - you get the idea. Well, at that speed, I NEED to have both hands on the bar!! The gel pack got trapped between my left hand and the bar. Every time I hit a bump, and if you've ever ridden on the 395, it's all bumps, I squirted out some gel! As luck would have it, the gel hit my front tire, then flung the gel back up hitting me in the chin! So, hit bump, squirt gel, get hit in the chin!! Just the way the wind was working and by this time I was up to 40 MPH! This was one of my favorite Hammer gels too - Espresso, which I couldn't let got to waste!! I simply opened my mouth and tried to catch as much gel as possible! It was like trying to eat straight from the cotton candy machine at the fair while it was on one of those spinning rides at 40 MPH!! From a distance this probably looked really odd because the thin stream of gel coming off the front tire couldn't be seen, my head bouncing all around with my mouth open. By the time I got to the bottom of the hill, I was out of gel, but I had caught most of it. Whew, energy is hard to come by on a brevet - don't want any going to waste!

I made it to control #5 and decided to get some solid food. I tell ya, a McDonald's cheeseburger and iced mocha coffee is pure jet fuel! This was the longest control I stayed at, about 15 minutes. After the cheeseburger, I left to head to Oceanside. There was a change in the route from last year which required me to make this loop then come back to the 76. When I got back to the 76 I realized where I was so I didn't read the route sheet. I made a right turn onto the 76 thinking there's no way the Regional Brevet Administrator (RBA) would have us take a left turn across the 76 without a light. I rode about a mile until the "divided highway" sign and figured I was supposed to take a left. Reading the route sheet, sure enough! So, I waited on the side of the 76 for break in traffic. That took about 10 minutes before I could sprint across both lanes and head in the right direction. When I got back to where I made the ill-fated right turn, I saw Elaine and Matt reading their route sheet. As I passed I was yelling out go left, but there was so much traffic noise they probably didn't hear me.

As I rode along alone it got me thinking. One of the reasons I'm hesitant on brevets longer than 300K is riding alone, but here I am with two people only about 10 minutes behind me. As I got to the San Luis Rey bike path, I stopped to refill water. Elaine and Matt showed up, I decided to ride with them. What's 10 minutes anyway? It was great riding along with others all through Oceanside then back to the finish. I go through a low period between 2 to 4 PM on brevets. I think it's mostly mental, but it happens. I've just learned to wait it out - drink plenty, eat, and don't stop unless I really have to. Being in a group this low period went by very quickly! So, thanks to Matt and Elaine for the mental assistance!

We arrived at the finish about 10 hours. Not bad I'd say! It's about 40 minutes faster than last year too!

Ride Analysis

This is the part you've all paid admission for! I like to analyze my rides to see how things are going. Some of you know I used to be a daily commuter, 28 miles/day for the last couple years. My employer has closed our local office, so I now work from home. This means I have to train! I've been able to get some good rides in before I have to be at my desk, but my overall mileage is about 25% less per week than commuting. I have been able to do the same distance in a single ride twice a week, and have incorporated riding more hills. I have plans on doing longish rides of around 60 to 70 miles every other Saturday. That's going to help, but I think the biggest improvements have been with my physiology.

I've blogged about changing my diet as that is the only way I've been able to loose weight. When I first started commuting, I weighed 187. Two years commuting 28 miles/day and I gained 20 pounds! I've been following the Paleo Diet for Athletes since November 2009. So far, I've dropped 15 pounds and 2 inches off my waist. Pretty good I'd say! It's clear diet plays a much larger role than training, exactly the opposite of when I was in my twenties. If you're not familiar with Paleo Diet for Athletes, essentially it's about eating only fruits and vegetables as your main carbohydrate source when not heavily training or on days off. Avoiding all processed carbs, grains, potatoes, beans, sugars, etc. Eating high quality protein, nuts, and good fats is essential too. When on long/intensive training rides or brevets, eating high glycemic foods is OK, including the hour "golden window" to replenish carbohydrate stores post workout. I must admit, I need to reread the book as I've not read it since last year.

What's the impact medically? Aside from the weight loss, my cholesterol numbers have greatly improved. I went in for a quick check with my doc last month and he noticed I've not had any blood work done in a couple of years. My overall cholesterol score dropped 44 points, all ratios, and blood sugar have come in very nicely too! I was borderline for a few years, but that's all changed now. There was one odd finding - I was slightly anemic. Following my docs instructions, I'm now taking iron supplements. I've not had another blood test done yet, it hasn't been enough time, but I think I've noticed a huge difference riding. Back in April, I was hiking the Grand Canyon and was totally out of breath after leaving the 3 mile rest house. It was a huge struggle for me to breath. This part of the Bright Angel trail is very tough, but I never struggled like this before. Couldn't imagine why either, I was down 11 pounds from the last time I hiked the canyon so it should be easier - right? Well, seems red blood cells are rather important to aerobic performance! So, in another month or so, I'll get my iron checked again and see what's going on.

This brevet was the strongest I've ever felt on the bike. I could ride fast enough to stay with others, which was an awesome feeling. I'm thinking being able to go on longer training rides during the week, ride more hills, and (hopefully) keeping getting leaner, my riding performance will only get better.

Until next time!


Anonymous said...

Entertaining write-up, and a great ride Mark. You've got quite a thoughtful set-up on your Surly now as well.

Sorry I didn't introduce myself at the start - I'm the guy cut off to the right your first photo above. Maybe I'll see you on the 300?

Errin said...

Great to finally meet you in person Mark. Hopefully I'll see you on the 300.

Doctor on a bike said...

Great to find another LHT rider out on the brevet circuit. Looking forward to more ideas from your experiences.

Tamia Nelson said...

What a novel way to lube your chain, Mark, with gel!

The HEED... you carry only powder in the lower bottle, do I get that right? Sounds like a good idea. And so is double-wrapping the HBs. Thanks for mentioning those. Congrats on the successful ride, and thanks for the great write-up.

Mark Schoonover said...


Yes, I only put HEED powder in the lowest bottle. The bottle on the seat tube is HEED with water, the bottle on the down tube is plain water.

-- Mark