Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Century Quest 2011: Camino Real Double Century

Well, after a disappointing Death Valley Double attempt, I received a message on Facebook that they were organizing a staff ride for the Camino Real Double workers.
I jumped at the opportunity to add this one. That way I could stay on track.

There were only four of us. Lynn Katano who I have known a long time and who has completed 94 doubles before this one. Terri Boykins who is one of the best support personnel on any of the rides and a real strong double rider. (we call her "The Queen of the Santa Monica's") She can be seen riding in the Santa Monica Mountains on most weekends on the most challenging of climbs. John Long who is also a very strong double rider with quite a background.

Left to right: John, Lynn and Terri
We started right at 5:30 am in the dark for the event which would take us up the coast to Oceanside first.

We rode through the hills around Newport and Laguna before stopping for our first rest in Dana Point Harbor.

Lynn and John head to San Onofre
It was then up the coast through San Clemente, past the San Onofre Power Plant to Camp Pendleton.

Terri approaching the power plant

We all just took it easy and enjoyed the camaraderie. We were having a great time. The weather was perfect with very light winds.
We entered the bike trail and encountered many other cyclists just enjoying the day. During the actual event 2 weeks prior, the course took the riders up on to Interstate 5 for seven miles to Oceanside.
We chose to take the nicer, slightly longer, route and go through the famous Camp Pendleton Marine Base. The base is open to visitors on the weekends and cyclists can ride through as long as they show identification at the gates. It was beautiful riding through the base. No traffic, clean smooth roads and real nice scenery. We saw many Marines training along the road and in the fields. We made sure we showed our appreciation as we went passed.

Heading up the nice bike trail
We left the base and stopped in Oceanside for some much needed water and fuel. It was then off to the San Luis Rey River Bike Path which took us inland to the Bonsall area near the 15 Freeway.

John and Lynn riding through Bonsall

John brought a giant sandwich in his Camel- Bac and we all split it on our lunch stop at the Four Seasons Campground.

Now the climbing began. John and Lynn left a while ahead of us since Terri and I were riding stronger. Terri was starting to have some stomach problems and not feeling too good. She was still climbing like an animal though. We caught them at the top of the first climb into the avocados.
 We had to climb up into the avocado orchard areas out and around the Fallbrook area. It was real nice and not bad since we were not racing and just enjoying ourselves. It did get warm in a few places though.

These videos below are of us climbing up Old Hwy 395 into Fallbrook.



We meandered around the area climbing and dropping until we made our way back to Oceanside and Camp Pendleton for the return trip. Terri was really starting to feel bad now. I stayed with her most of the time and we paced ourselves into the westerly head wind going up the coast.
Entering the base on the return trip
We retraced our ride until we reached San Clemente were we stopped for a break at Carl's Jr. and had bean and cheese burritos. Wow those tasted good. We thought we lost Terry as she was in the bathroom most of the time. She said she wasn't too good but could continue. 

We headed to San Juan Capistrano as it got dark before heading up once again climbing toward Rancho Santa Margarita via Crown Valley Parkway and Antonio Parkway.

Now it was down, down, down into a dark and chilly Live Oak Canyon on Trabuco Canyon road. 

  I looked back as I sped through the oak trees in the cold canyon and didn't see Terri. She was right behind me that last time I looked. What happened? Did she fall or get a flat? I turned around and started back. I then saw Eric who was driving support for Lynn and John on the final 3rd of the ride. He said she had turned right at the General Store. I went back and couldn't find her anywhere. There was a restaurant up that road also but I didn't see her anywhere. I looked for  her bike with its blinking lights. Nothing.  I was worried she thought that was our turn because the route slip tells you to turn rt. there for the rest stop at the store on the regular event. 
  The store is closed at that hour. I called out to no avail and then I called Lynn to have Eric come to drive up that road and see if he can find her. Just as I hung up she appeared, coming out of the restaurant parking lot. Wheww....thought we lost her.
  You really have to be careful on these long rides when you are riding "self contained", because your mind can play tricks on you sometimes. A lack of glycogen to the brain can really throw you for a loop if you don't keep refueling regularly. If there is nobody else around to help you, there can be a real problem, out there in the cold and dark. She still thought she was supposed to go up the hill on that road. 
  Good thing I saw she wasn't behind me because she would have kept going up that hill and then she would have really been lost and we wouldn't have know where she went.
   I told her that I had done this event many times in the past. "We are supposed to continue through Live Oak Canyon to Santiago Canyon", I yelled. 
   I was feeling great as I was just pacing myself the whole ride so far, not racing. The climb out of Live Oak Canyon seemed effortless this year.  Terri really started dropping back and by the time we got to Santiago Canyon she was done and very sick. I called Lynn to tell her and she told Eric. He came to pick her up and took her the last 22 miles or so to the finish. Lynn and John were just entering the canyon as I was heading up Santiago.
Just as I started the final climb and down shifted, my rear derailleur cable busted. I was not about to call it quits at this point. I left the rear in the small cog. I have a triple front chain ring so I downshifted into the granny gear and grunted on the 12 miles of Santiago Canyon in the 30-11 gear. Most of it was gradual uphill but the final portion was downhill and blazing fast with no sharp turns. I knew that once I got to the top of Santiago, it was mostly all downhill or flat to the finish in Irvine.

 I blazed down the hill with my lights on full as the small amount of oncoming traffic were flashing there lights at me thinking I was a motorcycle with the brights on. 

I made the left turn on Jamboree, the left on Portola and the right on Sand Canyon.

2.6 miles to go!! I could see Interstate 5 up ahead and smell the finish. I went under the freeway and turned into the hotel parking. Wooohoooo was that finish fast once I got to the top.
I finished by myself at 10 pm, got a hamburger, which I was craving, and drove home.

It was a great ride. It was the first event I have done in such a leisure manner and I just loved it. I never felt burned out and had lots of strength at the end. I think I have to seriously think about doing more rides this way and not be so hard on myself.  THIS WAS A BLAST!!

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