Monday, March 7, 2011

Montezuma Mesa Espresso 205K Permanent - AKA: My Wife MADE Me Do It

I'm very dedicated to my goal of the R-12 award, but my lovely wife demanded I ride on March 5th. I was coming up with all kinds of excuses - the check engine light came back on the randovan. The check engine light came on the Taurus, lawn mower, and on the morning of the ride, the Surly. She even threatened to throw the Surly out the front door, then me, and lock the door behind. She wouldn't have anything about me worming my way out of riding this weekend. I HAD to go.

The 1st control is a mere 8.1 miles from the start. Quickly in and out departing on Friars Rd heading towards Mission Bay I see Team in Training out for their marathon training program.

Sue Krenn 15K has also started and Mission Bay is very busy. I pull up to the light E. Mission Bay Dr and another rider on a recumbant rolls up next to me. He asked me if I rode the Rainbow 200K, which I did. We chatted trying to get the light to change, but this was one of the lights the Surly couldn't get to change. Luckily a car pulled up behind us and tripped the light. The right onto Damon then Sante Fe which changes into the Rose Canyon Bike path. Making my way to UCSD, then up to North Torrey Pines Rd. A few miles and there's this nice downhill to the beach.

There's no way I'm going to one-hand ride down Torrey Pines. We'll be seeing this hill again on the way home.

Making my way up Coast Highway/101 is rather uneventful. The tough part is the near constant 15-20 MPH headwind. It was relentless for 50 miles! I made my way through Del Mar, Solana Beach, Cardiff-by-the-Sea, Encinitas, Leucadia, Carlsbad. As I approached Oceanside, I somehow got mixed up with a group of time trialists! I've never tried to time trial on the Surly so I gave it a try:

I don't think I'd find that position very comfortable for a 200K, but it was fun while it lasted!

I make my way through Oceanside, find the on-ramp to 5N and keep heading north. The headwinds are still howling but I'm used to it. I exit into the rest area but ride right through. I hit the off-ramp to Las Pulgas, aim the Surly through the opening of the fence on the Old 101 and I get a slight break to eat and drink. Plenty other riders are out. I duck under the 5 and make my way through the various campgrounds, past San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant, and notice all the traffic on the 5. Beach traffic in March!

I finally reach Carl's Jr - the northern terminus of this permanent. I grab a chocolate milk shake and wash up. I took about a 20 min break and chatted with some other riders. I depart Carl's Jr shortly after noon and can already feel the tailwind!

Normally when you have such a long headwind and you turn around, usually the wind turns around with you and there's more headwind to ride back with. Not this time! I took full advantage of this tailwind!! Soft pedaling it was easy to maintain 20 MPH. That's rather fast for a 32 pound bike and the Surly surely rides very smooth at this speed. It seemed like a blink of an eye I was flying down south 5, not stopping through the rest area, back to Oceanside and the Coast Highway. Carlsbad, and the remainder of the beach cities are a blur. I stop at Swami's to refill my bottles and just keep going. It's not too much longer and I face riding up Torrey Pines hill at mile 103. It didn't look as steep riding down as it does when you're at the bottom of the hill and you have more than 100 miles in the legs.

Torrey didn't seem so bad this time. I actually passed a few riders on the way up, not that I was trying. I just got into my rhythm and up I went. Once at the top, it was riding past UCSD, Rose Canyon Bike Path, then back through Pacific Beach & Mission Bay. Stopped quickly at the 3rd and final control, then I left to ride through Mission Valley. Finally there was Montezuma Road.

No, I'm not talking about the opera or the fifth or ninth Aztec Emperors, I'm talking about a significant climb with only 3 miles left! Same with Torrey, it didn't seem so steep on the way down but man, it was tough on the way up! I could smell the barn so all I did was grind it out. You know what the most depressing thing about cycling? When you try to shift into your lowest gear and you find out, YOU'RE ALREADY THERE! It was one of those climbs at just that time of day. I was rather tired, traffic was busy, and the sun was setting. Soon enough I was at the top and looking for the Starbucks to finish off this permanent.

I arrived at the finish. Here are the stats for this ride:

Distance: 205K (128 miles)
Overall Time: 9:51
Ride Time: 8:32
Average Speed: 15.1 MPH
Calories Burned: ~6500
Calories Consumed: ~2000

This was my first 200K where I finished under 10 hours! One of the changes I made to the bike was a slight adjustment to my saddle. Since I've lost all this weight, I kept sliding forward on my saddle, then using my arms to slide back up. Doing that for hours on end really makes my upper body tired. I don't know if the sliding is really related to the weight loss or not. I slide the saddle about 1/4" closer to the handlebars. What a huge difference! My back, hands, arms, and neck didn't get near as tired. The other thing is, I think I'm using more of my legs. At the old position, my glutes and back of my legs would get very tired but my quads wouldn't. Moving the saddle forward, I could feel more of my quads getting used. Not sure if that's all in my imagination but I'm sticking with it!

One other change I did was lower the pressure in my tires. Before I would run them near maximum of 115 PSI. I've been reading where lower pressures make tires roll easier and make the ride smoother. I didn't believe it at first but I gave it a 30 day try. I can say I don't think I notice the tires rolling easier or the Surly is easier to pedal, but the bike sure does ride much nicer! I've settled on 95 PSI in the front tire and 105 PSI in the rear.

So, that brings to an end --- oh, wait, there's more.

I had to ride home too. Oldest son needed the randovan for work with my wife and younger son at a track meet. That left me with no other option but to ride the 9 miles home. I hung out at Starbucks for about 30 minutes. I bought a Chocolatey Creme and a bagel. I donned all my night riding gear, powered up the lights and rode home. The ride home took me through La Mesa, past Grossmont Community College, then downhill to Santee. It was an awesome night to ride too. I think the 9 miles back home was as great as the 128 I just finished.

Another ride next month too. I've completed 3 out of 12 so far. Haven't decided on a route as of yet. I'm planning all my permanents the 1st or 2nd Saturday of the month. That way if something goes wrong on either of those weekends, I have two more Saturdays I could ride. Much thanks to Mike Berry for this new permanent. If you plan on riding it south to north, be sure to save alittle for the end. :)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sunset Beach Safari 228K Permanent

It's February and that means another brevet! Problem is, it's the Corona 300K and with all the time off I had over the fall, I wasn't too confident in riding that distance along with the 8000' or so of climbing. One of my goals last year was to work on the RUSA R-12 award. Since I had a 3 month gap, I needed to start over. I decided to ride the Sunset Beach Safari Permanent which starts in La Costa, ends up in Sunset Beach then returns. A permanent is like a brevet but can be ridden at anytime of the year with permission of the route owner.

I got started around 7 AM departing La Costa.

View of a lagoon, can't remember exactly where I was but somewhere on Coast Highway. Coast Highway takes me through Carlsbad and Oceanside. Once through Oceanside, there's an option to ride through Camp Pendleton or take the 5 freeway.

I decided to take the freeway!

Look mom! I'm finally playing on the freeway!

Riding the freeway isn't all that bad. It's very noisy and the shoulder is littered with all kinds of junk just wanting to puncture my tires. What's cool is semi surfing. If there's enough large trucks spaced just right and I have the Surly at just the right speed, I can use the bow wave of the truck to push up the speed!

One requirement of riding the 5 is that riders have to exit the freeway into the rest area. This is for safety as the on-ramp from the rest area is blind looking into the shoulder. It's not a bad thing to exit, good place to top off my bottles.

Surly taking a break.

After departing the rest area, it's about 4 miles until the Las Pulgas exit. Bikes must exit here.

Then quickly get on Old Highway 101 northbound. It's nice to be off the freeway. There are plenty of other riders out too, just not in this photo.

Pretty soon I'm riding past the San Onofre Nuclear Powerplant. It appears to be leaking something and I can feel a warm sensation. Oh well, I'm sure it's nothing...

Very nice paved road passing the plant.

Heading into San Clemente, then making my way north towards Dana Pt.

Dana Point State Beach
Uphill into Laguna Niguel. Laguna Beach is always jammed with traffic and this ride was no exception. Made a quick water stop at a local grocery store then started threading my way through Laguna Beach. Once north of Laguna Beach the road opens up nicely with a set of rollers but wide bike lanes.

Before I know it, I'm just a few miles south of Newport Beach. From here on to Sunset Beach, it's all a headwind! Plenty of traffic from time to time but not bad.

I happened upon this sports car at the Newport Beach Ferrari dealership. Yes, it's a Ferrari. The only thing I could read on the sticker was the price: $339,000. I didn't see any factory rebates or trade in allowance. It did say "DO NOT TOUCH" in very big letters across the top of the sticker. I didn't note what model it was so I emailed the dealership. No response so far.
Entering Huntington Beach

Making my way through Huntington Beach.

For some reason riding from Huntington Beach to Sunset Beach takes a long time. After 5 hours of riding, I arrive at my turn-around point, 7-11 16919 Pacific Coast Highway. I didn't stay very long, watered up and had some chocolate milk.

Southbound beach shot.

Backside of Laguna Beach -- getting ready for more traffic.

The southbound trip was uneventful through Dana Point & San Clemente. By this time of the evening, there are fewer riders out as well. Making my way down Old 101, I'm back on the 5 S. Problem this time was a CHP had someone pulled over. They were blocking the entire shoulder and I had no chance of "merging" into the slow lane of the freeway was just not an option. I was ready just to come to a stop and wait it out. As I approached, the car moved down off the shoulder, I rode past the officer, and he promptly stopped behind the car. I just kept riding on.

Once back in north Oceanside, I had to stop again for some food. I was really starting to tank and I still had 13 miles to go, but it seemed much further than that. Downed a cinnamon bun and I was off. Riding near the Oceanside Pier, the sun was beginning to set.

It's tough living out here...

While stopped, I donned my night riding gear. I was in very familiar territory but there was going to be some traffic as the night evolved. I had about an hour left of riding. I ride down Coast Highway for about 7 miles and make the left turn on La Costa Avenue. The temperature was dropping rapidly but I didn't have far to ride to the randovan. Soon enough, I was done!

This was my first, longest, and completed permanent! Here are the stats:

Miles: 141
Overall Time: 11:06
Ride Time: 9:06
Average Speed: 15.5 MPH
Average Temp: 72 degrees
Calories burned: ~7000
Number of Ferraris: 4 (not including the dealership)
Number of Lamborghinis: 2
Number of 1963 Jensen Healys: 1
Number of Mercedes: Who cares.
Number of Audis: See Mercedes
Number of BMWs: See Audis
Number of Surlys: 1

Planning my next permanent on March 5th. Stay tuned for more!

Monday, February 7, 2011


Yes, the SurlyRando is now on Facebook! You have to send me a friend request, my Facebook account is all private.

No, this blog will not be shut down. It'll still be used for regular ride reports you've loved. I'm going to use Facebook for real-time ride updates including photos as I'm out on a brevet, permanent, or training ride. I'll continue on with twitter, but it's limited, and I think Facebook updates provides a better reader experience during a ride, with the blog going into greater depth post ride.


Monday, January 17, 2011

2011 Rainbow 200K - Welcome Back Ride

Yes, welcome to 2011 and the start of brevet season here in San Diego! 2010 has left us and good riddance too. 2011 has to be better than last year, especially the last 5 months. My previous brevet was the Rollers to Bonsal 200K, then between getting sick, two trips to the emergency room two weeks apart, I amassed a total of 30 miles of training between Sept 28th and Dec 27th. I started training again the first week of January where I got 150 miles in that week, with a longest ride of 50 miles. I felt pretty good so decided to commit to the 200K, but with zero time pressure. All I wanted to do was cover the distance within the max allowed time.

It was nice to see the sun rise at Doyle Park in La Jolla. I could tell it was going to be a very nice day to be on the bike.

I brought all my cold riding gear with me but decided to leave most of that behind in the randovan. All I brought along was arm warmers and my night riding gear. It was probably the best decision I made all day - so far.

I wasn't the first to arrive, but I was pretty close.

I'm pretty sure we had nearly 80 riders at the start too. Great turn out! Got a chance to see friends that I haven't seen since last summer.

The Surly was configured just like normal. The photo isn't great since I used my phone and not a real camera.

The only changes to the bike was I rebuilt most of the drive train. After 11,000 miles of riding, I wore out the middle chain ring. It needed a new chain too and I decided to replace the cassette as well. The bike came with a 12-34 and I decided to go 11-32.

Promptly at 7 AM our RBA let us loose. As soon as I clipped in, I realized I was wearing my jacket! So, back to the randovan I go to drop off my jacket. When I turn around to leave, everyone is already out of sight! I mean totally gone. When I head down Regents towards the freeway it's sorta cold out, but not bad. I'll warm up in a few minutes as soon as I start riding uphill. It was a bit of a rough start as I was hitting every red light possible.

We made our way down the 5 to the Sorrento Valley exit and the temperature dropped rather quickly. I started second guessing my decision to leave my cold gear in the van but it was too late now. I'm not going back to the van.

Our first major climb of the day is on Del Dios highway. I was concerned that having a 32 rear cog instead of a 34 may come back to haunt me, but it didn't. I really couldn't tell any difference between the two. Maybe I should try a 30? Anyway, great views from Del Dios.

Rolling past the Lake Hodges Dam.

The route to the first control as uneventful. Temperature started warming up and I settled in to riding. I arrived at control 1 around 9:20. Not bad, I actually had to wait in line to get my brevet card signed! This was a first for me, I'm normally one of the last riders into any control. I found out there was about 15 riders behind me - not that I'm racing or anything. :)

Departing control 1 is the Twin Oaks Valley hill and a hill it is. This guy in a yellow car passed me going up TOV.

I rolled up beside him at the next light and inquired about racing for pinks. He was speechless. Seeing a guy wearing lycra and riding a Surly really makes a statement. He declined. Yeah, it's like that out on the open roads.

TVO downhill is a blast. It's straight, very nicely paved, and all I have to do is point the bike downhill. I know some riders can reach 55 MPH plus on this downhill. The terminal velocity of the Surly is about 48 MPH. I've run out of gearing to peddle, it's all up to gravity now. Believe me, 48 MPH is plenty fast enough.

I made it to control 2 exactly in an hour. I was there less than 2 minutes before departing. I didn't even get off the bike. Now, this is where the fun begins!

Leaving Deer Springs it's a slight downhill to Old Castle road and the uphill really starts. Temps are in the 80s and it's feeling like a spring day in the middle of January. I knocked out Old Castle rather easily, which surprised me. Heading down the backside on Lilac Rd it's another chance to fly. The approach to Couser Canyon Rd is at the bottom of this downhill and the turn is less than 90 degrees. I came in alittle too fast and alittle too late. I force as much weight on the outside pedal as possible and just lean into it. I'm watching as the rocks come real close to my right side. I miss skipping off the rocks by about 6 inches. I guess my cycling skills have rusted some since I was off so much. No problem, shake it off and start climbing. Couser is tough. I'm guessing it's around 12-15% grade. The good news is, it's not all that long, maybe a mile? I crest Couser and start flying down the back side too. This road is two lane, little to no shoulder, and no guardrails either. I came around a tight turn and was surprised by the road being wet. I thought, here I go. I was probably 30 MPH, came into the turn and just reacted. I tried to balance my weight as much as possible between the front and back wheels, then stayed off the brakes! That's the important part I think. Hitting the brakes would have probably caused me to skid. The Gaterskins held just fine but I won't try that again.

Once back down on the flats, it's an easy ride to Rice Canyon, and another tough climb. By now the temps are up to 88 degrees. I'm still feeling pretty good by this point. Last year I was totally hammered at this point in the ride. I was surprised to reach the top so quick. It was tough, but not what I remember last year.

I made it to control 3 in Rainbow. This is the final control for this brevet. I stayed about 10 minutes to refill my bottles and to hit the men's room. I got cleaned up and left. There's a slight climb going over East Mission. Temps are holding at 88 degrees but once at the summit, it's a nice downhill to the 76. I came to the 76 and 3 other riders pulled up behind me. The 76 usually has a ton of traffic and it's made worse due to the construction. Safety in numbers as they say so I stayed with the other 3 while going through the construction zone.

I quickly made my way to the San Luis Rey bike path. It's a very nice bike path, not too crowded, very nicely paved. The only problem is the headwinds! It's always a headwind and makes it seem like I'm riding up a nearly infinite hill. The path looks like this:

I roll into Oceanside and decided I need to take a short break. I stopped at Pappy's Liquor store and grab a chocolate milk. While drinking about 5 other riders pass me. I didn't stay too long, about 15 minutes and hit the road. The next 18 miles look like this:

It's one of my favorite routes to ride. Crowded with people, cars, dogs, cats, gerbils, and a sundry of other unleashed animals, I have to pay close attention so I don't hit anything.

It's starting to cool off and I put my arm warmers on. I look at my watch and start thinking I could possibly finish in daylight! Wasting no time I cruise my way to the final climb of the day, Torrey Pines hill. I just went for it and when I summited, I realized I'm not going to make it before dark. I stop at the top of the hill and put on my night gear and flip on the lights. No biggie. I make my way to the finish in due time - still missing the turn on Voight Dr at UCSD just like I normally do. It was a great day to ride and I'm very happy to be back on the bike.

Here are the ride stats:

Mileage: 121.55
Overall time: 10.5 hours
Ride time: 9.33 hours
Calories Burned: ~7000
Calories consumed during ride: ~2500
Total Elevation: ~8700 feet

I finished this ride nearly 45 minutes faster than last year. Wait, am I sure? Why, what happened? I've barely trained this past 6 months! My ride time was 3 minutes faster than last year so it looks like I've really not lost anything due to all the time off from training. I also did much better at the controls not spending so much time, plus I didn't stop as much during the ride either. Long story short I've lost 17 pounds since last July. Currently I'm weighing in at 177. Now the hard part starts, keeping the weight off!

Until next time, thanks for reading!!