Tuesday, May 21, 2013

2013 Heartbreak Century.......and then some!

Well.....I had planned to do The Heartbreak Double Century but it was not in the cards this year.
The Grand Fire which started near the Frazier Park area caused problems with the course from Palmdale to Gorman so the event was cancelled at the last minute.

The other part of the Planet Ultra event, The Heartbreak Century, was still on since the fire did not affect that part of the course. I let them know that I was going to still do at least the century event.

Well....at the last minute... I decided to add a little training in to try and get close to at least a 200 mile event.

I have been know to do this kind of thing from time to time but usually from home and almost always in the spur of the moment.

Whats a little lost sleep anyhow. I will need some sleep deprivation training for the upcoming  
InyoUltra 466 race in August right?

I went to bed at 8pm for a restless slumber. I set my alarm for one am and had no problem getting up. A couple cups of coffee, some breakfast and I was on my way to the ride start in Lebec, Ca.

I arrived a little after 3am to a very windy early morning with the temperature in the 40's.
My spur of the moment plan was to get out early for about 50 miles prior to the start of the Heartbreak Century, do the century ride, relax at the BBQ after, then go out for another 50 miles making my ride around 200 miles in total. I would be fully loaded and self supported for these two jaunts by myself and then fully supported on the century ride.
Being so arid in the mountains I started with a full 70oz. Camelbak, one bottle with fuel and the other with more water.
I left at 3:30 am.
Up I went on the 6+ mile climb up to Frazier Park and beyond before the turn to Lockwood Valley. That long straight climb into a headwind really takes its tole and I was going to do it three times this day! Going through my head all day was....pace...pace...pace and it again paid off.

I got to the turn feeling great. On the way I noticed there were fire fighter staging areas all over with trucks parked everywhere.
As I got on to Lockwood Valley road it really started to get cold and the temp got down to about 32 degrees. I was so amazed by the star lit sky out there that I hardly noticed. I saw only one car....that's one...out there all the way to Heartbreak Hill. I went over Owls Barn summit back tracking the century and double century course and then bombed down to the valley in the dark before going up the Lockwood climb summit and diving down to the east side of the Heartbreak Hill area.
I was going to climb up to the Heartbreak check point area but decided to turn around at 21 or so miles since the rider check in for the century was moved up to an earlier time. I wanted to get back by 6:30 to check in for the event itself.
Now I made the return trip over these last two climbs for the first of 3 times on this day and it was spectacular.
Dawn and sunrise......my favorite time to ride!!
Dawn on Lockwood Valley road heading back to Frazier Park

Sunrise descending off Owls Barn Summit
I got to the Frazier Park road and turned right. That 6 mile climb from earlier in the morning now becomes a 40-50mph bike descent down to Lebec and Interstate 5 where the start is.
As I was approaching the turn I was passed by a large mass of fire fighting trucks. No doubt, the night crews heading to the staging areas. As I pass the staging areas on the descent there were new trucks heading out for the next shift I am guessing.
I got to the Heartbreak Century start at 6:30 for check in and checked in for the event. Then I took a short break before starting.
The event start and finish
 Off I went and up the hill once again.

 I never get used to this climb. I have done it many many times over the years on the Heartbreak Double Century and The Five Counties Century. The long, straight climbs always get to me.
Everyone left in a staggered start method because we had a sensor chip on our bikes to register when we left the start. Very easy to be timed for the event. I started by myself but was soon joined by some friends. The real fast young riders just went flying by because they were all racing for the coveted "King of the Mountains". We passed the fire staging areas.
One of the large fire staging areas
All day, there was no sign of a fire in the area. The wind was blowing everything to the south and east.

I saw my good friend Chuck on this climb. He was feeling real good and strong. The temperatures were perfect  It can be really hot on this climb as the sun comes up but today it was perfect.
Hi Chuck

Lou Ann riding strong all day
 As we reached the area where I made my turn in the early morning, this time we stayed straight for a long climb to Pine Mountain Club.

I always run into people I know on these rides. We are actually a pretty small community of riders who do the ultra events. It is really a wonderful family of friends!
We had a nice descent before climbing up to the club and Apache Saddle for the first check point.

Pine Mountain Club
Check point one
Apache Saddle with the road dropping down way in the distance
Pine Mountain Club was having a big parade on this morning so we were all trying to get through before 10am when they were going to close the road.

I filled up with water, talked with friends and started the extremely long descent down to Hwy 166.
We turn west on the Hwy and have a great tail wind instead of a head wind for a change. Delightful!!

Looking back at the saddle on the way down was spectacular. It is hard to believe we were on that road way in the distance.
West I went on Hwy 166 then I turned south on Hwy 33 toward Ojai. We were now in the Cuyama Valley. The second check point at the Pistachio company was coming up. With a crossing tail wind I got there pretty quick.
After this stop I just started to really pace myself knowing that Lockwood Valley road and Heartbreak Hill were coming up. The ride up Lockwood Valley road is the hardest part of Heartbreak. It is continuous and usually hot with a tail wind that isnt enough to cool you off. It gets steeper and steeper until you reach Heartbreak. It really slows you down for the assault on the hill.
I rode some of it with my friends Suzy and Rory, both triathletes. Suzy is a 15 time finisher of the Ultraman World Championships Hawaii. That's a double Iron-man folks. And she has done more than any woman I think. Awesome!

Rory and Suzy

Starting up Lockwood Valley road

Up the long haul we went to the check point on Heartbreak. It was much cooler than usual and it made for a much nicer ride. I just kept on focusing on saving myself because I was doing this ride not to set any records but just to put in the miles at an easy pace. I did, after all, plan to do another 50 miles after everyone else finished.
Looking down on Lockwood Valley Road and the lower third of Heartbreak.

I reached the check point feeling pretty good. I saw my friends Tony and Terri who were volunteering. I talked for a while, had a cold coke and hit the road for the final two summits of the Heartbreak Century. Lockwood Summit and Owls Barn Summit. Neither of them too bad but.....oh wait......I am going to come back out and do them again.....oh no!!
I felt really good, surprisingly, going over these last two summits. The only down side was that we had a strong head wind going through the Lockwood Valley towards Owls Barn. Once we made the turn toward Frazier Park it was clear sailing and flying down the hill.
I finished the Century a little after 3pm, checked in, and had a nice BBQ.

At around 4pm I changed my jersey, put on a wool base layer and headed back up the hill for a third time. This time I just put it in my low gears and spun my way up the hill. It was hot with the sun in my face. When I made the turn again on Lockwood Valley, I had a tail wind this time going out. It was nice. I was hoping that it would die by sunset so I would not have to finish again with a head wind.
When I got to the bottom of the east side of Heartbreak I started to run out of water. I was all by my lonesome out there in the elements with no one else around so I decided to turn back on my last out-n-back at 24 miles.
I did have a headwind going back to Frazier Park but it was not too bad.

I ended up with a total of about 194 miles and 17,000 feet of elevation gain.

Time on the bike: About 13 hours 38 minutes

Part One Data
Part Two Data

Steve's STRAVA profile  for ride and training history.

All the pictures can be viewed HERE

Final words: This ride, I think was a great trainer for my Inyo Ultra 466 Race. The continuous training and steady paced climbing will work wonders on those climbs up near the Eastern Sierra's.

I just wish I had someone to join me in my morning and evening fun!!

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