Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Los Angeles Wheelmen Quad 2012....400 miles....24 hours.

For my 108th Triple Crown Double I decided to do it twice. Crazy huh?

We left the Valley at about 2:15 am for Malibu and the start location near Pepperdine University. We were doing the ride this year a week earlier than the actual event, as a staff ride. We were staffing one of the rest stops on event day. I guess you could call this a recon of the entire lowland course.

The temperature was perfect for our scheduled 3am start. In the low 60’s and overcast. Just a slight wind out of the west.
We left into the darkness a little after 3 am on the famous Pacific Coast Highway.
Ready to roll....photos courtesy of Cherisse Sherman
Off we go!!

Segment One:   Malibu to Ojai.    

I really love riding early like this. Once you get past the lack of sleep and getting out of bed at an un-godly time it really is wonderful. All by yourself with no traffic. Just you, the road and the elements of nature.

We cruised through Malibu on the few rolling hills leading to Zuma Beach and Leo Carrillo State Beach where many of the old beach blanket and surf movies were filmed in the 60’s. I have surfed there many times. It was really peaceful. All we could hear is the sound of the crashing waves and periodic hoots and hollers from our support crew.

 My oldest daughter Cherisse was our crew chief and my sister in law, Vince’s significant other, Mardjie, was helping Cherisse. Cherisse’s husband Chris joined us for the final 100 miles and was great to have along to keep the girls safe.
The girls were handling our nutrition amongst other things.. We didn’t want to get behind on the fuel issue. That can get real nasty when that happens.

For our main food source we each concocted a 3 hour bottle of “Hammer Nutrition Perpetuem”. For my body weight it was a four scoop bottle giving me about 540 calories in a shake like consistency. Vince had a 3 scoop bottle for the 3 hours since he is lighter than me. (Orange-Vanilla Flavor)
We supplemented that with occasional gel blocks and some sandwiches. They did an awesome job.
Cherisse kept track of our time on the bike and when we should be finishing the bottle and switching to the next one. The fueling plan worked out great and there were only a couple of times where we got a little stomach upset and that is because we took on too much too soon.

Our goal for the ride was just pace ourselves.

We did “The Quad” back in 1993 near the beginning of “The California Triple Crown” and at that time our goal was to do all the Triple Crown events and then cap the year off with The Grand Tour Quad. Wow....the Triple Crown has really grown with many more rides now.
We pushed pretty hard and did great that year.
Vince and I back in 1993 flying past Camarillo Airport.

This year we wanted to just keep a good even pace throughout the ride. We were not going to try and hammer it and over cook ourselves. I will, as I write this, be 60 in about a week and Vince is in his mid 50’s although he looks like he is 30.
Now....back to the actual ride.

Once we got past the Ventura County Line we just put it in cruise mode, I got into my aero bars and it was off to Point Mugu. Still in the darkness and with an average speed close to 20mph we flew past the Pacific Missile Test Center and into Port Hueneme.

Past check point #1 we went and through town as fast as we could. Next stop....Check point 2 in Moorpark.

Flying up Pleasant Valley road after leaving town we headed into the next section of urban sprawl which was Camarillo. We whizzed passed Camarillo Airport and headed up Santa Rosa road for a nice gradual climb up through the Santa Rosa Valley into Moorpark. It was on this road at about mile marker 50 that we made our first stop to use the facilities......a nice big tree....near Maravilla Gardens where Cherisse got married.
Stopping for our first fuel exchange in Moorpark on Moorpark Road.

Into Moorpark we went. We stopped for our first food bottle replacement at Moorpark Road. We reached check point #2 at around 60 miles a little after 6am. A left turn on Hwy 118 and before we knew it we were flying through the strawberry fields into Somis for a left turn back to Camarillo again.

We meandered a little bit through the North part of Camarillo.

Vince and I felt a little squeamish as we rode by the site of his terrible crash on their tandem on the Grand Tour Double Century years back in 2001. This was the last time they had done it until Vince did it with me last year. They got a front flat tire at over 40 mph on the descent near the country club then hit some slimy moss in the gutter which made the front wheel turn 90 degrees pitching Mardjie over Vince before he went down himself. She was unconscious for awhile and had a broken collar bone, chipped elbow plus facial and head injuries. Vince had some of the worst road rash I had ever seen. (I was riding just ahead of them)


 After leaving Camarillo we made a quick ride through the old part of Ventura before starting the climb up into Ojai. This is a nice, gradual climb and on a normal year would be getting real hot at this point. We were lucky this year. The clouds cleared but it was nice and cool.
Heading up Creek Road into Ojai

video


We reached Ojai, mile marker 107, at about 8:45am and just flew through there fast. Good thing we had a cell phone operator in the rear seat. We went through there so fast that they didn’t catch up to us until we were already on our way down the hill back to Ventura. They had stopped to put together our next meal and were catching up.
We stopped for a few minutes to pick up our next bottles then dropped down to the coast.
Heading back to Ventura on Casitas Vista Road
 Segment 2: Ojai to Gaviota through Ventura, Carpinteria, Santa Barbara and Goleta
I like to break a long event or training ride up into segments in my head so that it does not become monotonous which can be so unnerving. This way you can just focus on each segment so you don’t think about how many miles you have to go. On this day I was focusing on about 100 mile segments, plus or minus a few miles. One segment done and in the bag and off to start over on the next.


Heading up Rincon Parkway

Now we were on the Rincon Parkway. This was the old Hwy before the freeway was put in. It is a great road with allot of campers and the smells of campfires along the way. At one point we have to get up onto Hwy 101 for a few miles to Rincon point in Carpentaria. This is one of my favorite sections when there is not much wind but also when there is wind.
Let me explain: When we have a head wind here, we usually have a blazing tail wind the whole way back to Malibu on the return trip. If there is no head wind it is just a nice cruise both ways.

On this day we only had a very slight headwind which didn’t really slow us down much on the tandem.
We cruised into Carpentaria feeling great at mile 139.
Pulling into Carpinteria

Now for my least favorite part of the ride when you’re trying to get somewhere fast on a bike. Santa Barbara and Goleta on the way out.... and the return.
We kept a real modest pace and were ahead of schedule until we hit Santa Barbara, a town I really love, but so does everyone else because there was so much traffic, people doing crazy things while running, riding bikes...etc., that it just killed us.
We had to stop at about every traffic signal on the coastal part of town. We didn’t get any relief until we finally made the climb up to Hope Ranch which is always really beautiful and nice.
Riding on Hollister in Goleta was even worse. IT TOOK US FOREVER TO GET THROUGH THERE!!
I....for some unknown reason... started to develop turrets syndrome here as my daughter can attest.

Finally......we made it to Hwy 101 for a beautiful 18 mile cruise to Gaviota. Nice wide shoulder...not much traffic and only an occasional semi truck to give us a little drafting help.
Gaviota here we come!!
Beautiful


We made it to the Gaviota turn around at around 190 miles in 10 hrs 50 minutes. We were still doing real well on our schedule considering all the lights. After all the stops we had I could only imagine what our time would be if we were out in the country just riding with no stop signs or lights. That would have been sweet.



Segment 3:   Gaviota to Malibu

Southbound....at last!!

We only had a mild tail wind on the return to Goleta so we did not have much help on the tandem which is much heavier.
We had a little easier time with the lights going back through Goleta and Santa Barbara but it still really took a lot out of our time. Back 20 years ago there were some lights on Hollister but they were just 2-way signals and stop signs. Now there was a light at every cross street and they were all 3-ways with arrows so the waits were horrendously long.

From this point we retraced our course all the way to Ventura then headed straight down the coast all the way back to Malibu to finish the first 300 miles. The clouds had cleared and it was a beautiful spin back down the coast.  It took us a little over 6 hours to get back down the coast including all the light and food stops along the way in those 110 miles.
Stopping for a sandwich on Rincon Parkway on the return



Heading past Mugu Rock


Flying!!!







Heading out of Point Mugu State Park






Point Mugu in the distance

 We made Malibu a little before 8:30 pm, just less than 17.5 hours. Faster than Vince and I did the Borrego Double Century a couple of weeks before. 300 miles in less time than a mountainous 200 miler. (again I was thinking about what could have been had we not been forced to stop so much at traffic signals)

Don’t get me wrong. I love this ride. The urban sprawl just gets to me.

Final Segment: 100 mile Ventura area loop and back to Malibu

Now....one of the toughest things about “The Quad”.

You are at the finish....you are very tired....and you have to go out and ride another “100” miles out and back. You can’t stop too long, if at all, or you won’t get back out there.

I did another quad attempt a few years back on my single bike and actually finished the 300 before dark. My back was really sore for the last 20 miles so I decided to just stick with the triple century. I really regretted it because after a little while rest and driving home, I was really feeling quite good still. I easily could have done it if I had just stretched a little and took a short break. I had plenty of time.



Off we went on the final part. The first part of this was the toughest for me. It seemed like every mansion along PCH was having a huge party because there was so much traffic heading back northbound.
In 4 or 5 locations along the highway until we got close to Ventura county line there were cars parked everywhere with valet parking attendants all over. It was dangerous!!
I was so tired and the lights were getting to me. I had to be very careful and slow way down. There was no shoulder in many places due to all the cars parked. At one point near Paridise Cove, I had to negotiate around some cars on a hilly section when my chain came off while I was in the middle of the busy lane. You never saw a tandem team go into action jumping off a bike and getting out of the road so fast in your life!!!
We saw a tow truck up ahead with flashing lights. In the lights we saw the silhouettes of two people running toward us in the darkness. It was our crew. Just as they got to us, Vince got the chain back on.....Wheeww!!
Now we had to wait for a break in traffic to get back on because there was no room to spare.
We did it and were on our way.

It was real nice once we got past Zuma Beach and Leo Carrillo again. No more traffic. It seems everyone was in Malibu for the evening.
As we headed back through Point Mugu State Park and Mugu Rock, we were a little bit slower than when we started in the morning. I guess that is understandable.
We circled around to Port Hueneme Check point again where we got another bottle and I had an awesome turkey, ham and cheese sandwich that Mardjie made. Yum....hit the spot. I could hardly stomach the very dense liquid fuel at this point. I just took very small sips now at smaller intervals.

From Port Hueneme we headed out for a loop around the strawberry fields of Ventura area. Channel Islands Blvd. to Harbor Blvd., Olivas park Drive, Victoria Ave, North on Gonzales road, (hit almost every light through Oxnard here), southwest on Rice taking us back into Port Hueneme on Pleasant Valley. All the time you could taste the strawberries in the air.

Now back at the same check point for the fourth time it was a mere 35 or so miles to the finish....wooohoooo!!

Now in the wee hours of the morning, the traffic was nil and it was glorious.

We rolled into NAS Point Mugu one more time. We rolled past the missile park and the crew stopped to make one of their many Facebook posts. We told them we would need water when we got to PCH again in a few miles.

Where were they? What had happened to them?
We were almost to the Mugu Rock when they finally came up behind us.
Get this.....the Base cameras must have seen them sitting there and thought they looked suspicious. Because the Military Police pulled up asking questions and searched the vehicle wondering what they were doing out there in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night. Cherisse explained about our event and that they were our support crew. Then they saw all the bike wheels and gear in the back...haha....and actually made a couple jokes about the whole thing.

We got our water and the crew headed up the road for another leap-frog.

Then it happened again.




We were approaching Deer Creek and I was talking to Vince and suggesting maybe that we take a detour and go up Deer Creek for a little more masochistic mirth when we saw bright headlights on our side of the road ahead. At first we thought it was an ambulance coming our way but as we got closer we could see that it was a Sheriff car and it was parked on our side of the road facing Cherisse in the van.
Again it was the same thing. He was already parked there, and when they pulled over and stopped, he came over to ask if everything was ok and questioned them about being parked at that beach at around 2am.
As soon as Cherisse explained, we flew by them at about 20mph, and no more questions asked. Cherisse said he was pretty interested and impressed by what we were doing and asked a lot of questions. I  wonder if he thought we were nuts as we made a hoot and holler while passing!! We smelled the barn big time. Only a few more climbs.

The next hills are not bad on a single bike but on a tandem at the end of 400 miles they felt like mountains. We went over the one at Ventura County Line beach with no problem. Then the hill at Leo Carrillo was something else. My front derailleur cable got gummed up somehow and I could not get it to shift into the middle chain ring. We climbed that hill like we were on a fixed gear in our 54-34....easy....yeah right!
We climbed the next few small hills that way then we stopped just before dropping into Zuma Beach and checked it out. Looks like the liquid fuel had just gummed up the cable where it came from the bottom of the bike frame up into the derailleur below the bottle cage. Fixed and we were on our way.

We grunted up the next hill up on to Point Dume then blazed down the hill for the great momentum push to get over the hill at Latigo Canyon. When I down shifted into the middle chain ring, the chain came off again in full flight and we almost went down halfway up the climb. We flew off the bike again and fixed it. Now we had to grunt up the rest of the way but we were almost home. One more hill!

Down into Coral Beach we went and sprinted up the final hill to Pepperdine University.
Arrival at last

Wheww......we did it!

We finished almost exactly at 3am. Don’t know how we did it but it all worked out. Even with all the lights, stops and bike problems.
I also found out when I got home that I had a broken spoke on the rear wheel and it was rubbing on the brake so bad I could hardly move the wheel. Checked it in Port Hueneme and it was fine so it must have happened in the final miles.

Thanks to our fantastic crew, Cherisse, Mardjie and Chris on the final 100 as security chief. Without there help, we would not have succeeded.
Left to right.....Mardjie and Cherisse
Thanks must be given to the Los Angeles Wheelmen, especially Kermit and Pam for allowing us to do this "Recon staff ride" in the week prior to the actual event. We did find a few things that will make a difference on the ride such as a road that is going to be closed on that weekend. (We saw a sign warning traffic of the closure). Told them about it and they are checking.

All the pictures can be viewed at:  http://stephenpaul.shutterfly.com/cycling

The map of the course can be viewed at:   http://ridewithgps.com/routes/1336778
Ride results from actual event day and our results from the LA Wheelmen Page.  http://www.lawheelmen.org/gtfinish12byroute.htm
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