The actual event dates are on the last weekend of November. The event is run on a Saturday and then again the next day. So many people signed up for the event that they had to run another one on a second day.
I was planning on doing the staff ride on the following weekend after the event but then I heard from my friend John that a few people were doing it on the Saturday before. I was going to do the event with them but found out they were leaving from a different location, then doing the course from there so they could finish at home.
All that said, I decided just to do it solo and self supported, the way I normally train on a long ride anyway. No big deal except that the weather took a really nasty turn with gale force winds the day before and who knows what it was going to be like on my ride.
I mentioned on social media that I was going to do it and asked if anyone wanted to join me. I did not get a response until the day before when a couple of real strong rider friends of mine chimed in and said they wanted to join in.
The plan was to start a little after 4am in the morning from the start location in Malibu.
Kevin Walsh and Brook Henderson joined me and we started around 4:20 am.
Kevin came all the way from the Palmdale area to join in on some suffering. Kevin is a veteran of the Furnace Creek 508 and a very strong rider.
Brook lives right near me and is the winner of this years HooDoo 300 race in Utah.
I really had my work cut out for me but who better to work together with on a windy day......and boy o boy....was it windy!!
The funny thing is this. Do you ever notice how the most beautiful days many times happen to be the most challenging? This was one of those days.
The reason for all the wind was due to storms just passing and in the area which made for a spectacular day!!
Up the Pacific Coast Highway we went out of Malibu with no wind at the start other than the nasty gusts coming out of the canyons from the north. It was in the low 50’s on the coast but whenever we were near a coastal canyon the wind caused the temp to drop. It stayed pretty cool all day.
We took it fairly easy up the coast to Point Mugu. After that we saw Linda and Foster on the tandem. They are the ones who started in Ventura doing the same course. Kevin and I turned around and backtracked about ½ mile to stop them and say hi. We talked for a few minutes and then went our separate ways.
We pushed back on course where Brook was waiting and rolled around the bend toward the Naval Weapons Center Point Mugu. This is were we really hit the wind. It was blowing out of the North-East about 25mph and gusting much higher. It was a cross wind as we cruised along the North side of the airfield so it was not too bad yet, but tough to stay in a pace line.
This would be a flat filled day for my two mates. This is where Kevin got the first one. He fixed it quickly and we were on our way.
|Kevin fixing the flat|
We made a left turn toward the West on Hueneme Road for a nice 5 mile tail wind section. It was nice. We made a right turn on Ventura Road in Port Hueneme for the first check point at the park.
Now came the hard part. We had to head North-East to Moorpark for about 21 miles of non-stop gusting head winds.
|Kevin grinding into the headwind and a beautiful sunrise|
|Heading up Santa Rosa Road|
We pushed on hard through Oxnard and Camarillo dirrectly into an angry wind. You know what I said before about some toughest days being the most beutiful? Well.....through this section....we had one awesome sunrise to take our minds off of our burning quads!!
We made our left turn on Moorpark Road and Tierra Rejada and into the second check point we went. We used the bathroom, refilled our water and were on our way for the first small climbs of the day.
This new course is a hybrid of the Grand Tour Double Century. The Grand Tour has a lowland course and a highland course. The Dead of Winter Double combines the best of both.
So far, we were on the lowland course. The Grand Tour lowland route is less miles to get to Ojai than the Highland route so we have to add some miles before Ojai since the high course is shorter after Ojai. (does that make sense or did I just confuse everyone?)
We made a little added miles jaunt into the orange groves above Moorpark before getting back on the Lowland Course to Ojai.
|Grimes Canyon Road: Check the flag. That is from the steady wind. It was just gusting much stronger.|
Kevin, Brook and I now zigzagged through the orange groves, horse ranches and chicken farms before a nice blast of a descent back down to Somis, Ca. where we jogged back on the traditional low course through northern Camarillo.
We rolled through the north hills of Camarillo on Crestview before rolling north and then west to Ventura and check point 3. This is where the wind let up some.
It was still hard for me to stay with these two beasts that were younger than me but I did it.
A nice tail wind down Telegraph Road to check point 3 and we filled our bottles again, stretched and were on our way.
It was spectacular rolling through the north hills of Ventura. From Foothill Road we could see the beautiful Channel Islands in the distance.
We made a right turn on Ventura Ave for about 13 miles of gradual climbing to the awesome town of Ojai and check point 4.
|Heading into Ojai|
Now came the fun part. “Casitas Pass”, traditionally on the Grand Tour Highland course, it is blazing hot since it is done at the end of June. So far on this day, the temps had been cool and mild.
We left the park, cruised through Miners Oaks on the outskirts of town where we stopped for some food and drink. This is where Brook got his first flat tire.
We were now refreshed and fueled up.
We flew up highway 150 around the North side of Lake Casitas before the road kicked up to the summit on the North West side.
|Climbing Casitas Pass. I got dropped not far ahead.|
|Kevin on the easy...lower section...of the pass|
Once we reached the steep section to the summit of the pass Brook just hammered to the top with Kevin slightly behind and me bringing up the rear not far behind. We stopped at the summit where a very interesting couple took a picture of us.
Down we went toward Carpentaria and our turn southbound to the finish.......but wait.....I always forget that one climb in the middle of the avocado trees that just kicks your butt!!
Well....that was not too bad and we made it to the coast and Hwy 101. We were now at check point 5, Rincon Point, with sixty miles to go.
Kevin, Brook and I rolled up on to Hwy 101 for a fast sprint in a dangerous construction zone. Cal Trans had not swept the bike lane in certain areas of the construction.
I was leading our pace line in this section and at the same time dodging gravel with semi trucks and cars whizzing by us from behind. I was really glad it was early and not dark.
|Heading into Ventura|
Once we got through that and exited the freeway at Sea Cliff it was a wonderful ride up the Rincon Parkway to Ventura, then Oxnard, Port Hueneme and the final check point.
|Crossing the bridge looking out at the Channel Islands. Just south of Ventura Harbor.|
We filled our bottles with water, took a little break, then headed out for the final 32 miles. It was still early and there was plenty of light. We were making good time and figured we could be back as soon as 5:30pm.....Nice!
As we were leaving check point 6, Brook got his second flat tire. He was not happy.
Tire fixed, we were on our way into another headwind as we headed North-East on Hueneme road.....arrggghhh!! I must have thanked the guys a dozen times for coming along on the ride. It was so nice to have someone working with you in the wind.
We were all getting tired as we rolled over the small hills along PCH at Leo Carillo, County Line and Zuma Beach areas. We crested the hill leaving Zuma Beach. When we were in the Point Dume area; Kevin got a flat with only 5 miles to go and he was not too happy. It was a small piece of wire and it took him a little while to get it out.
He fixed it and we were on our way with only 2 small hills to go to the finish.
We cruised down the hill into Coral Beach and saw Kermit, the ride organizer, sitting there waiting for us to come through to the finish with his dog Brutus. One more hill and we were finished.
We cruised into the finish about a minute after 6pm.
|Brutus guarding Kermit's car at the finish|
Start time: about 4:20 am
Finish time: 6 pm
Garmin GPS Data: Here
We had a great time on this staff ride. The wind was tough but we had all been through way worse.
On the following Saturday I worked the event as the daylight SAG driver (support vehicle).
I had a great time seeing friends and supporting them. The Adobo Velo Club was largely represented on this first day of the event. As a new member of the club, I loved being out there in support. Great job guys and gals!!!
Here are some pics I took of the Saturday event.
|Me with an awesome group of riders|
|Adobo Velo rolling up PCH|
|Teresa and Roland|
|Teresa and Roland cresting Casitas grade|