Monday, July 8, 2013

The Los Angeles Wheelmen Grand Tour Triple Century ( Staff Ride)



7-6-2013


As training continues for the Inyo Ultra 466,  once again this year I volunteered to work the Portrero Road Rest Stop on the Grand Tour. I had a great time serving up the goodies to the faithful ultra distance riders on event day.

I opted to do the first of two scheduled staff rides for the staffers who worked the event.

There were about 9 of us doing the staff ride. Last year, I did the Quad Century on the tandem bike with my brother in law Vince. We were the only ones doing The Triple Century this year.

The logistics of running this staff ride with so few riders when there are so many different courses on the original event is very difficult. They wanted us to all do the same course which was fine with us.
The double century riders did a hybrid course which combines the lowland double century course with the highland course then we peeled off to do the triple century out and back to Gaviota by ourselves fully self supported......so we thought!

We all met up around 4am at Pepperdine University in Malibu. Ride start was scheduled at 4:30am.

Vince and I looking a little tired and we have not even started yet
Vince and I got a little late start at around 4:40am.

Our plan was just to take it relatively easy on the ride since we were going 300 miles. I also was having trouble with the rear wheel on the tandem. I have been breaking or loosening spokes on the rim on almost every ride. I just had the wheel trued and tensioned but still broke a spoke a couple of days before the event on our shake down ride. I fixed it and trued it myself and had no trouble on the event. (Only because we spun easy on all the climbs and did not jump out of the saddle much. We did not push hard).

It was a beautiful cool morning along the coast as we rolled through Malibu and into Ventura County to our first rest stop in Port Hueneme. 
Pulling into Port Hueneme

Ken and the ultra sag vehicle
Along for the ride were my friends Chris Hanson who I had not seen since crewing with him on The Furnace Creek 508 last October, Anny Beck, Jerry Brown, Brian Sittinger and Gary Murphy. There were a few more who I did not know.
About half of us stayed together for the first 110 miles or so.

Jerry on the left and Chris
We all made real good time to the second check point in Moorpark. It was then a “tandem train” with Jerry, Chris and Anny along for the ride to the Ventura check point.

Jerry and Anny on our wheel
It was along this stretch that Jerry, an avid tandem owner himself, notices the problem with my rear wheel. The wheel was true from side to side but it was out of round. It was actually kind of oval if you can believe that......and we could feel it on the fast sections of the ride. Who knows how much that has been slowing us down. An out of round wheel....yuck!!
It never did go out of true as we were very careful on the ride not to really crank on the frame too much.

Kermit had some great sandwiches made to order waiting for us after our little climb to Ojai. I love Ojai!! What a beautiful place.
We did not stay too long and were off.

Now is where the hybrid course came in.

Normally on the lowland double century course, you will head back down to Ventura and then back up the coast to Carpentaria for the double century turn around. On the staff ride we took the highland double course over Casitas Pass into Carpentaria.

We were riding with Anny, Brian, Chris and Jerry when, out of nowhere comes Rick Jacobson. He was doing a training ride from West LA and just happened to run into us. I rode the whole Sherman Pass Super Century with Rick in June. He is in training for “The Hoodoo 500” Bike race. This is one that I hope to do soon also.

Rick and Anny behind us on Casitas Pass
It was still fairly cool when we started up the pass but it got into the 90’s on the road for a little bit toward the summit. Climbing much slower and taking it easy on the tandem, this is where we last saw our friends who were doing the double. 
Jerry, Anny and Brian behind us


Here we are on the steep part of the pass

Up we go

We were getting hot
Up we went to the summit where we were rewarded with some cold water compliments of  SAG man extraordinaire, Ken Mathis. Kens the man!!

It was nice and cool on the descent to Carpentaria. We turned right on highway 192 toward Santa Barbara. This road takes you on the East side of Carpentaria. We then headed up from there into Summerland, (Ortega Hill), Montecito and Santa Barbara before heading further up the coast to Gaviota.
The ride through the Santa Barbara area was very crowded and stressful. As usual, many traffic lights with many tourists. It was nice this year once we got out of Santa Barbara proper and climbed into Hope Ranch.
Once we got on Hollister Road going through Goleta we had a pretty good head wind. We got lucky with most of the traffic lights on the way out this year though.
Past the airport we went, and then it was on to Highway 101. Rolling hills with headwinds on this stretch as usual.....priceless. It seemed to take forever.
We made the turn around at Gaviota at about 5:30 pm.

It was then that I got a call from Ken, (SAG driver extraordinaire). He said when he finished taking care of one of the slow riders on the double century, he was going to double back and support our finish of the 300.
Ken is going to be my crew chief on the Inyo Ultra 466 along with my friend Victor Cooper and one other yet to be determined. I will be very well taken care of!!
We left Gaviota feeling really good about Ken being out there. We flew down the coast to Goleta in about half the time it took us to get up there on the 101. We again were pretty lucky with the lights going back to some respect.
Ken called us when we were just entering Santa Barbara. We planned to meet in Summerland.
Vince and I were both feeling real strong as far as our condition was concerned on the ride. We were having allot of pain problems from spinning more and staying planted in the saddle. We needed to take more breaks at this point. We were not out to set any kind of record any way so who cares.....right?
We met with Ken for a few minutes. It was getting cool and it had been so humid all day that I was just drenched with sweat. I put on my knee warmers; vest and arm warmers at this point just to keep from getting a chill.
Off we went past the polo fields and up to Rincon Point where the double century riders had headed home hours before.
We now had to ride on the freeway for a few miles in the dark. This was not fun. The freeway at that point is undergoing some improvements and it was pretty scary at times.

We made it though safely and exited at Sea Cliff. We rolled up Rincon Parkway past all the campers and the smells of the camp fires. It was great.
Before we hit the little bike path which gets us back to Ventura, Ken went up ahead to get us a craving.....what a man.....In and Out Burgers. We met him across the street in a McDonald’s parking lot at 10:30 pm for some “animal style” burgers. WOW....that was good. Something other than cycling food!!
Ken had chairs set out for us too.....wow!

We look like a couple of "space cases"! We looked happier after the burgers!!

It wasn’t until we were there making all kinds of noise and ready to leave, that we notice there were a whole bunch of people sleeping in a truck right next to us in the parking lot and an RV across the way with people living in it. A real run down one at that.

I wonder what they were thinking. 10:30 at night.....nice Toyota Prius pulls up....big man opens rear hatch.....puts out two chairs....all this under a huge street light....sets up dinner of In N out burgers.....tandem bike rolls up with two hooting and hollering crazy people on it...plop down in chairs....loudly engulf burgers, fries and a drink....make phone calls to wives....get back on bike and disappear. They must have thought they were dreaming.

Off we went and we made it pretty fast to the Port Hueneme check point. We stopped only for a second to get a little water and then headed out.
We zoomed by NAS Point Mugu once again and hit PCH for the final stretch. Ken went up ahead to check on the final guy doing the double century. He had still not finished and we were catching him. Ken had been in touch with him after the other sag drivers were done and was keeping tabs on him in case he had a problem. We were almost to Zuma beach when Ken came and checked on us. He then headed to follow the other guy to the finish. We would call him if we had a mechanical problem.
It was the home stretch. The final little climbs were ahead. Ventura County line, Leo Carrillo, Zuma Beach, just before Latigo Canyon and the final little bump to the finish in Malibu. These climbs are easy on a single bike, but finishing a Quad or Triple Century on a tandem, they seem much tougher. It’s all about just down shifting and pacing the way up.
We finished just a little after the final double century rider.

Here is the map of the course on Strava
The mileage is off as I forgot to turn on the Garmin at one point. It should be closer two 295 miles

Thanks must go out to Kermit, Ken and the other sag drivers who I do not know. You guys made it possible for us to have a great time.


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