Sunday, July 20, 2014

7-12-2014: Los Angeles Wheelmen Grand Tour Quad



After working the LAW Grand Tour again this year it was time for the yearly workers ride. (Staff ride)

I had been talking with my friend John Clare, who is also an avid tandem rider, about doing a ride together with him on his tandem sometime. I had never worked on a tandem as a stoker, (rear seat), before, so I thought it would be fun.

We decided to do the staff ride but do the Quad course instead of the double century. This would be John’s first time completing that distance.

I was in.

John and I had ridden alongside each other on our tandems on the double century circuit a few times in the last few years. Since both of us are signed up to do the Hoodoo 500 at the end of August, we figured it would be great training.

I needed to get out on a ride with him though to see what the fit on his bike was going to feel like.

We decided to do Karen’s 4th of July climb-fest up to Mount Baldy on July 4th on his tandem.
We figured, what better to get me settled on his bike than a ride with mucho climbing and descending. Whoooyaaa!!!
It went well and we did really well together right off the bat which does not happen all that often. Probably because we both have so much tandem experience.

The hardest part for me was giving up control plus, due to my equilibrium issues I felt a little strange. It was really weird but I trust John because he has so much experience.

We needed a crew for our Quad event to give us support so we put the word out for some help. Our friends Colin and Julie Stokes chimed in right away and would be our crew for the first 300 miles.
John’s wife Melinda was going to drive the support vehicle for the final 100 miles.

We all got together the night before for dinner at my place. My better half, Ginny cooked Indonesian food for all of us which was a perfect pre-ride meal. John loved the Indonesian Sambal (hot sauce) so much, he piled it on his dinner!!
Gado Gado (Jasmine rice, veggies, eggs and peanut sauce) yum!




We met at Pepperdine University for the start of the staff ride at 4am for a 4:30 planned roll-out.

We all started at about 4:45 for the roll up the coast out of Malibu, Ca.
John's Calfee carbon fiber tandem

Fellow Adobo Velo Club members who did the staff ride.

The regular staff ride Grand Tour course is a combination of the highland and the lowland courses of the actual event. It is basically the same course as the Dead of Winter Double Century. Everyone was doing that course except us.

We had our own support and were doing the Quad Century course which goes from the start to the Oxnard area then north to Moorpark before heading back down to Ventura. We then do an out and back course to Ojai and back to Ventura before heading all the way up the coast to Gaviota. From there we make the long jaunt down south along the coast to the start in Malibu to finish off a triple century.
After reaching the start-finish we have to go back out for another loop to Ventura and back. 


Course map

Elevation profile


Century One: Malibu to Ojai, about 104 miles
A whole bunch of guys rode with us from the start and stayed with us until the second check point where we stopped for the first time to use the bathroom.

We flew along the coast until we reached the flat coastal plain. We did not stop since we were on a time schedule and had our own crew.


Flying through Naval Air Station Point Mugu with a train in tow!
From experience I knew that it is very difficult to finish a quad in the allotted 24 hour time limit with all the stop signs and stop lights on the course. You just can’t make social stops. Only necessary stops.


Our freight train in tow

Even with a couple stops in the first 60 miles we did it in 3 hours. We were on schedule. 
I told John that we had to stay way ahead of the 16.66 Mph average speed necessary to do it in 24 hours. The last century is extremely difficult to accomplish at a fast speed. We had to stay ahead of the game because you have twice the chance of something going wrong with two people on one bike. You both have to stay synced mentally and physically not to mention that tandem bikes can be a mechanical nightmare sometimes.

We got to Moorpark so fast that all the guys who drafted us were way ahead of the check point opening time so they had to wait for food and water to catch up to them. We had our own crew and were heading off on an entirely different course so they would not have any support and would be on their own if they continued on.
John and I flew down to Ventura and up to Ojai with our friend Brook Henderson who wanted to stay with us and do the triple century.
 We had quite a few people ask us if they could tag along with us since we were doing the quad but I told them that they would be without support if something happened in their case because we could not stop if we were to make this in 24 hours. We were on a tight schedule and we needed our crew to be with us also.  Most decided not to risk having to do the ride self-supported but Brook understood and said he would try it anyway.
 What a stud he was too. Brook won the Hoodoo 300 last year and is an amazing young rider. He was sticking to us like glue.
 We got to Ojai before 10am, the earliest I can remember getting to the regular lunch stop in a long time.

We stopped to use the bathroom and make some adjustments on my saddle then headed out.

Part 2: Ojai to Rincon Point. Total mileage 140 miles.

We were flying and feeling great after the first 104 miles. The temperature was not too bad considering how it can be in Ojai this time of year.

We flew back down to Ventura despite a strong head wind coming up the canyon to Ojai. A slight headwind greated us as we headed up the coast toward Santa Barbara. John and I just kept a nice steady pace up the coast to Rincon Point. We were both having a little bit of "hot foot" from pushing the big gears but all in all felt really good.

Northward up the coast we went. It was great being along the coast! I love the ocean smells and the smells of the camp fires at the beach.

One of highlights now of the ride from Mussel Shoals to Carpenteria is the new bike path they are building on that stretch. For years we had to ride on the freeway on this stretch. Northbound was never too bad but on the southbound side it was all out dangerous.
This year the north and southbound riders have the protection of a K-rail separating the cars from riders and a bike path. The riders use the northbound path both ways while they are building the one on the other side. The southbound one looks like it is going to be really nice with a decorative fence.

We made it to Rincon Point very fast with Brook still in tow. Again....what a stud!

We took a short break at the normal check point location in Carpenteria. We each had a Pepsi. Ohh....that was good.

Onward to Santa Barbara

Part 3: Carpenteria to Gaviota, the turn around. Mile 140-187

John, Brook and I rolled on northward through the communities of Carpenteria, Summerland and Montecito before getting to beautiful Santa Barbara.
Our friend, Kevin Walsh, who was staying with family in town, came out to ride with us for a while.

We made a wrong turn at the top of Ortega Hill in Summerland and headed up the hill into the highlands of Montecito. (My mistake as the navigator)

When I realized my mistake, Kevin and Brook were hammering up the hill way ahead of us just cresting one of the hills. We stopped and both yelled at the top of our lungs but they did not hear us and we saw them go over the hill way ahead.
Our crew was not with us at this time and still back behind us somewhere. We didnt have the option to send them up the road for them. We had to head back to the course so we could make sure we were on course or our crew would be seaching for us plus we were on a very tight schedule. We figured that Brook had a route slip and would soon realize our mistake and follow behind us. We soft pedaled through Santa Barbara and were worried that we had lost our crew because we did not see them anywhere. We sent a text to Kevin to tell him our location and he said that they were way behind us. They did not have a route slip!

It turned out that the crew was stuck in traffic going through Santa Barbara. I was worried and text-ed Julie from the rear of the bike. One of the perks of riding on the back of a tandem!
They did not come up to us on course until we were in Hope Ranch just outside Goleta. We had just gone dry on water. We were glad that we were carrying two bottles each!

They did not see Brook and Kevin. We were all getting worried about them because they should have caught us real quickly. We figured  those guys can maintain a tandem pace all by themselves. Those two guys working together could catch us no-problem!  We figured they must have gotten lost.

This was exactly one of the situations we were worried about. We had no idea where Kevin and Brook were and could not wait for them. We had to stay on our schedule.

Hope Ranch is one of the most beautiful places. The estates and landscaping in there was just awesome!
Video of us heading through hope ranch.


We made the turn on to Hollister and headed into Goleta.

One of the problems with this course is the number of traffic lights. I have mentioned it many times. You lose so mush time just stopping at lights through Ventura, Santa Barbara and Goleta in both directions. It is a miracle to be able to do this event in 24 hours, especially on a tandem which takes so much more time to get back up to speed. I can only imagine what we could do a quad on a course like Death Valley or somewhere like that!
John got a little taste of my anger with lights captaining a tandem on the 2 previous quads. It takes a lot out of you!!

We did not have too bad of a head wind when we got on Hwy 101 out of Goleta. The route north has more hills than the south bound side though. I think because it is cut more into the hillside and the south bound side is closer to the coast. Our hot foot situation was getting worse in this section. We had to coast a couple times and take our feet out of the peddles to shake them out.

We rolled into the turn around a little before 3pm still on a good schedule. We were greeted by Colin and Julie and some of Julie's Peanut butter, Nutella, maple syrup and bacon sandwiches. Ohhhhh.....those were good.

A smorgasbord at Gaviota

Southbound we go
Part 4: Gaviota and southbound to Malibu. Mile 187-299


Home stretch....almost!

Onward and southbound we went. As we were leaving, Brook exited the off-ramp.
We headed on to the PCH with a pretty good tail wind now. We just took it easy and soft-pedaled again hoping Brook would catch us quickly.
We got back to Goleta amazingly fast. The route south on this section seemed much easier. We exited at Hollister and there was our friend Kevin waiting along the road for us. He rode back through Goleta with us.

Kevin riding with us through Goleta
 Our crew told us that Brook was a couple of miles back still. They gave him some supplies and we were all hoping that he would chase back on his own soon.

We made it back into Santa Barbara fairly quickly and said good bye to Kevin when we passed through Summerland again.
We were still rolling nicely down the coast to Ventura with a nice tail wind. When we were cruising through town and making a right turn, we saw Kermit and a whole bunch of the double century riders at the pizza place. Kermit yelled out "PIZZA" and we almost stopped. Then we decided we could not stop. We did not have time. It was right about this point that Brook caught up with us.

We now flew south through Ventura, Oxnard, Channel Islands and Port Hueneme before hitting the coast again at Point Mugu where we made a pit stop. Brook slowed way down before we got there. We think that he maybe had a low tire because we could still see him riding behind us but very slow.

Here we come in the distance

Getting one of Julie's awesome sandwiches

Heading out for Malibu

 We made it over the final rollers along the coast into Malibu felling pretty good. I was starting to get some saddle sores though. I was worried about this, having never ridden on the back of a tandem more the 60 miles. It was starting to be a problem and I had 100 miles to go. We flew up the last few climbs out of Zuma Beach and Coral Beach.

Beautiful PCH

 We made it to Pepperdine finishing the triple century at 9:01pm in a time of 16:23. Not too shabby considering all the stop lights and stops. The hard part now was getting back on the bike.
Colin and Julie handed over the crewing duties now to Johns wife Melinda and her co-pilot.

Some friends came out to see us go out on the final loop. We really appreciated that!!

We changed clothes into different jerseys. It was really humid and damp all day and we were drenched. It was not too cold out but very damp.

Part 5: Final loop.  299-390 miles

Northward we rolled again with both of us mentioning, "seems like we were just here"!
We decided that we were  pretty much ahead of the game so we did not push too hard, (not that we could). We saw a whole bunch of double century riders coming in along the coast on their way back to Malibu. We flashed our lights and waved.

In the morning we saw an amazing full moon set into the ocean. Now we had a huge moon rising behind us. It was awe inspiring!!!


The final loop is very easy with the exception of the hills along the coast. The hard part is the amount of miles already in the legs and body, especially on a tandem.  We were very tired but felt pretty good. When we got to the turn at Point Mugu Naval Air Station we turned north now instead of riding past the missile park on the way out. From there we went a few extra miles toward Camarillo and then turned west and headed into Port Hueneme for the usual check point at the park. We looped back out to Ventura Harbor before heading north again and looping back to Port Hueneme and the Air Base Missle Park. It was a lonely loop out in the fields in the middle of the night.

In this flat section we just kept a nice steady pace and enjoyed the amazing smell of the strawberry fields.


Riding through the farmland with the smell of strawberries so strong you could taste it!



We rolled past the point feeling pretty good but really slowing down drastically or it seemed we were. The cruise to the Ventura County line went quickly and it was so nice riding along the coast with a follow vehicle and no cars at all.
The hill at county line beach was not too bad but I think we did it about 2 mph slower than finishing the triple. 
After we summited that little bump we just coasted the descents and climbed easily on the final climbs. It was tough but we got it done.
We rolled into the finish at Pepperdine University with a overall finish time of 23:01 hours.

Here is a short compilation video I made from the pictures and videos taken by our crews. Thanks guys!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oByT79LXwfk

Thanks go out to our 300 mile crew, Colin and Julie Stokes. You guys were just amazing out there and kept us supplied just perfectly. Thanks for the great photos and videos.
Thanks to Melinda Clare and her co-pilot for the nighttime support. Your support was awesome and thanks for the photos and videos.  
Finally...thanks John for the great captain skills and affording me the opportunity to do another quad on a tandem. There are not too many people I would trust, being such a control freak myself. It was great comfort knowing you have so much driving experience.

 Congratulations of completing your first Quad!!

Here is my Garmin data on the ride:  http://connect.garmin.com/activity/545787516

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