Wednesday, June 29, 2011

2011 Los Angeles Wheelmen Grand Tour

What a better ride to celebrate my 100th Triple Crown Double Century than The Grand Tour.

It was my first Double back in the late 80's. I have done different versions of the ride. The lowland Double, The Highland Double, The Lowland Triple, The Highland Triple and the Lowland Quad. I did this event many times on my tandem with Brother in Law Vince including the Quad with him in 1993 where we got to ride with six time Race Across America winner, Seana Hogan for a while. Before she just flew away from us on the hills.

I did it with my oldest Daughter Cherisse on the tandem in 1997 while she was a junior in high school. (under 12 hours on her first and only double)

I took it real easy on the bike the couple of weeks before the event as I had just done three very difficult double centuries for three weekends straight. It has been over three years since I did a double on my tandem so I wanted to be fully recovered so it would not be too much of a suffer fest on the hills. Especially Portrero Road in the morning.

Vince and I went to the ride start on Friday evening for a early check-in so we would not have to do it in the morning. I wanted to be fully ready in the morning with no last minute things to do. The start is only 15 or so miles from home. I then went to my nephew Brett's graduation party in Burbank for awhile before heading home to lala land.

Team RoHo

We got to the start early at 4:15 am and hung around for a while. I saw my friend Roland with his team RoHo start the Quad at almost 4:30. Wow...that is just awesome. I wish I were doing it again. I almost was going to but changed my mind.

Slowly some friends started showing up and we got a small group together to start the ride. Friends Ken Mathis and Ron Ng started out a little ahead of us. I saw Lynn Katano who was doing the lowland double, on a tandem also, with friend Craig.
Our small group started around 5am. Terri Bokins, Kitty Goursolle, Julie Stokes, Vince and I started together along with a few others I didn't know. This Grand Tour was Terri's a Hall of Famer!
Left to right...Kitty, me, Vince, Terri and Julie

  We headed out of the start, passed Pepperdine University before turning onto PCH and heading toward Oxnard. The weather was nice and cool, not cold, and a little overcast. Perfect for climbing up Portrero Road which was to come at mile 44.4.
Along the way as it got light I got this video of Terri, Julie and Kitty along PCH:

We caught up to Ken and Ron somewhere along here and we rode together, mostly, the rest of the day.
We turned off of PCH at Pacific Missile Test Center Point Mugu for a stroll around the base before turning toward the first check point in Point Hueneme at the community center. We got food, water and fixed Julie's flat tire before heading out toward the beast which is Portrero. We called my wife Ginny and kids Cherisse and Nicole to let them know our eta to Moorpark. The plan was to meet them there and then they were going drive SAG along with us and to offer support to any other riders that wanted it. Cherisse and Nicole were bringing their bikes and were planning on riding some of the event with us.

We rolled for a while through the farmland on Pleasant Valley Road and Laguna Road before reaching Portrero. The road started off flat for a while then just after passing the back side of Cal State Channel Islands it starts to kick up with a small climb then a forgiving gradual section before it gets real steep. My friend Ron took this video of the climb with his helmet cam:
Too bad you cant hear him panting it would really add to the drama of it.
The climb was epic this day. It actually almost seemed easy on the tandem this time. I had been stressing about it because it has been so long since I did it on tandem with Vince. I think it was because together, Vince and I are 20 pounds lighter than the last time we rode tandem. We just down shifted and spun the peddles up the hill. We did not stop even at the top and then sprinted over the summit. Still cant believe I did that. I had a harder time on the Highland Triple last year on my single bike.
Julie, Ken and Jeff just before the steep part

You can see the start of the steep section to the left above. 20% in a couple spots
Vince and Ken at Check Point 2
Over we went. We had a nice descent before climbing another section and dropping into beautiful Hidden Valley. Along the way we hit check point 2 for fuel and refreshments.
Train rolling through Hidden Valley with Ken in the lead

Through Hidden Valley we rode and then we had a wonderful ride around Lake Sherwood before heading into Westlake Village. We turned left on Westlake Blvd. then headed North toward into Thousand Oaks.

After rolling along Westlake for a while I heard cow bells coming from the rear. To my surprise my cousin Eric came cruising up along side us on his mountain bike. He had just ridden from home to see if he could find us. I had sent him the route the week before and they were monitoring FaceBook posts of my where a bouts in the morning. (oh that social media). My family was monitoring FB and phoning my rear engine Vince to find out where we were so they would know where we were.We then saw my cousin Trisha, Eric's wife,  up ahead taking pics of us. Wow this was great!!. I think Eric rode about 10 miles with us before we turned on to Erbes Road in Thousand Oaks.

Another climb on Erbes, then a turn on Olson road would bring us into Simi Valley before turning toward Moorpark and check point 3. Peach Hill Park.
We rolled into check point #3 at mile marker 78 to find this!! My friend John standing under this sign with this great hat!
 They made a big poster for people to sign. I was soooo touched by this!!
Terri should be a part of this too since this was her 50th Triple Crown Double. She will now be inducted into the "Hall of Fame" at the Triple Crown Awards Breakfast.
Terri Boykins, John Long and I

Left to right: Hall of famer Kerin Huber, Rene, John and a couple more crew members who I dont know. Thanks to all.

Thank you so much to everyone who took part in this surprise at Peach Hill. I really wish I could have stayed longer and talked to all of you more. John you are always so much fun!!
My "tandem train" members were pushing to get going so we headed out for Grimes Canyon.

We now had a good train going as we rolled up Spring Street through old Moorpark to Grimes Canyon. It was clearing up now and starting to get warm as we started the slog up Grimes Canyon.

We all kept together on the climb but the heat slowed us down some.

Train in full flight with wheel sucker fish still attached well
As we got toward the top our family showed up and cheered us on over the top.

Right to left: Nicole, Cherisse, Ginny and Vince's wife, my sister in law Mardjie

Over the top we went for a blazing descent down toward Filmore and the orange groves of the Santa Clara River Valley. Now we had a nice flat area with light headwinds on our way to Santa Paula.
Rolling down Bardsdale toward Santa Paula

We were all rolling along just feeling great when I notice a guy coming up behind us real fast. Just flying. He was wearing a black and white cycling jersey and his pedaling style looked real familiar to me.
It turned out to be non other than my friend Kevin Walsh. Kevin was camping down in Ventura and decided he wanted to ride some of the course and see if he could find us somewhere along the route. He was not doing the event, just out for a spin. He could not believe that he was able to find us. He continued with us, ended up doing about 100 miles and stopped when we passed his campground on our way to the final check point.
Kevin Walsh
 We all stopped for a second so Cherisse and Nicole could saddle up and ride with us. We stopped for a natural break and to get some water from the girls while they took off to warm up ahead of us. We figured we would catch them on Dennison Grade.
Hey...what is my stoker and that other person doing out there in the bushes? Hmmm...Just noticed that...funny!

Cherisse and Nicole getting ready to roll.
After talking for a while we took off and were soon in Santa Paula. Through town we went quickly and then started the climb up Dennison. This climb is always hot!! Its never cool on this event. It was 97 degrees on the way up. We saw Cherisse and Nicole about 3/4 of the way up. They were stopped and waiting wondering what was taking us so long.....ha ha....they just started, are way younger and don't have 100 miles and Portrero Road in their legs...ha.
We all rode together through Upper Ojai Valley. Then we had the great descent down into Ojai for lunch.
Cherisse crank'n along with Ken Mathis to the rear.
We stopped at the top so Vince could take a personal break in the bushes when Cherisse rolled up. We started down the curvy descent together and then got stuck behind a bunch of cars. Cherisse was lucky enough to get ahead of them. Nothing worse than being on a tandem on a descent and having to brake the whole way down behind slow cars. If I was on my single bike I would have passed them and left them in the dust. Too curvy for the tandem to do that but I was tempted.

Into lunch we rolled. We saw my friend Lynn Katano who was doing the lowland double on tandem. She took these great pictures of Cherisse, Nicky and I.
Vince and I coming into lunch with Cherisse
My two babies.....thanks Lynn for these great pics!!
 We sat down for a sandwich, a soda, fruit, etc, etc and had a great lunch. We stayed at least 30 minutes to fuel up for the push over Casitas Pass.

Cherisse and Nicky rode in the car and took pics along the way as we made our way out of Ojai and up to Hwy 150 for our jaunt over the pass to Carpenteria. It was nice going over the pass but kind of hot in places.

Following are few pics of all of us going around Lake Casitas.

Hey Vince....what are you doing back there? are supposed to be pedaling!

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 Now we got the real reward. A blazing descent to the coast with 10 degree cool temps. Nice!!! I took it way easy on all the downhill sections with curves this day because I was somewhat skittish after it being so long. I was also trying some new tires so I did not know what to expect out of them either. More braking than usual for me.
 We rolled into the Rincon Point check point a little after 3pm and we all were feeling great. I think we kept a good but not too hard of pace all day to this point. Now it is all flat to the next check point in Port Hueneme.
Getting ready to leave Rincon for Port Hueneme
 We hopped on to Hwy 101 for a short while along the coast before getting off in Sea Cliff for a nice flat ride along Rincon Parkway to Ventura . This was really enjoyable riding together and talking as a group we had a great time knowing that we were on the home stretch. The following video is courtesy of my friend Ron Ng

Cherisse flying down the coast

Nicky riding up in front of the pack

Kevin with Julie and Jeff in tow

Chatting with Kevin along the way

The train rolling though Faria State Beach

 After pulling off into Ventura we cruised up through Ventura, Oxnard, Channel Islands before hitting the final Check Point in Port Hueneme. Mile marker 163. Only a little over 30 miles to go.
Ron and I at the final stop
Off we went for the final push down the coast to Malibu. It was great rolling down PCH. One of my favorite places to ride. We had a nice tail wind the whole way back with cool temps. Just beautiful.

The train keeps growing

My Babes along PCH

Point Mugu
 Right past Point Mugu at the State Park I got a flat. As a group it was to be only the second flat. Not bad. Just not the thing you want in the home stretch. With help we got it changed real quick, (little over 5 minutes), and were on our way.
Just about done fixing the rear flat.

 We made our way past Sicamore Cove, County Line, Zuma Beach before hitting quite a bit of traffic between there and the finish. No cares at this point because we were almost done. We pulled into the finish a little before 8pm with plenty of light left. Just as we were coming up the hill in the parking lot we went over a speed bump and I almost tossed Vince when my pedal or bottom bracket hit the bump. Scared the hell out of me. If we did crash, at least it was at the finish.
Coming up the finish hill into the parking lot. Ron filming with his helmet cam to my left

  Here is another great video taken by Ron of the finish.
When we pulled up to the finish, my wife and kids were there along with my sister Denise, her Fiance John, sister in law Mardjie, my cousin Trisha and her husband Eric. They were holding a big sign and balloons. What an epic day. We went in to check in then came back out and talked for a while before I had to go in and get some food.

 Under 15 hours for a leisurely climbing double century was nice.
 Saddle time: 12:33
 Elevation gain: 8,600 ft

Thanks to all the volunteers and the staff at "The Grand Tour" for the awesome support.
 Thanks to everyone who helped with pictures. Ron, Ken,  Julie, Lynn, Vince, Cherisse, Nicole, Ginny and Mardjie. I think Julie had my camera half the time while in the train. Great shots!
 Thanks John Long for your thoughtfulness at Peach Hill Park

You can see all the pictures at:

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