Saturday, April 18, 2015

2015 Mulholland Double Century (Staff Ride)

Double number 130 was a challenging one. The Mulholland Double is one of the toughest, especially on a tandem.

We all got together for the staff ride at Nicole Honda's house in Agoura Hills a short distance from the regular ride start and right on the course. We all met at 4 am for a 4:30 am start time. We got out about 4:40 am.
The bike is ready to roll

Part One:    Mile 0 to mile marker 43....Peter Strauss Ranch

The first part of the event is an easy roll to the coast with a few rollers. I was on the tandem this year again with Teresa Beck. We wanted a re-do of last years ride where we had the rear wheel explode on Deer Creek descent.
Along with us we had Terri Boykins, Julie Stokes, John Clare, Jeff Dewey and Rob Kelly. Julies husband Colin Stokes was on his own training ride and was riding with us at certain points in the ride.
Lit up pretty well while rolling up Malibu Canyon                                                   Photo by John Clare

We negotiated the first few hills out of town for a nice stroll through Malibu Canyon to the coast. It was cold. 32 degrees in this little micro-climate until we reached the ocean air where it went up into the 50’s on the coast. I think the cold got to me a little bit because my face went numb and I began to talk with a Scottish accent. I said "I cant feel my face" in the strange accent not knowing where it came from and that was all it took for Tiger to start laughing uncontrollably. We had a total laugh-fest all the way to the coast.

 We rolled up PCH south bound to Topanga Canyon and had a nice cool climb to Old Topanga before joining Mulholland Hwy for a long trek to the coast again.

It was beautiful on this spring day. There were yellow wild flowers everywhere and perfect temps for climbing. We climbed away from Malibu Canyon once again west bound for a couple easy climbs before passing Malibu Lake and rolling to the first check point at Peter Strauss Ranch. There is a lot of history at this ranch.
Climbing on Mulholland in Calabasas                                                         Photo by John Clare

Yellow everywhere

Part Two:    Mile 43 Peter Strauss to Neptune’s Net and Yerba Buena Road. Mile 61.2

Now it was time to get serious about the climbing. First major climb of the day......Rock Store. The Rock Store climb is famous among cyclists, motor cyclists and race car aficionados. It snakes up from the famous “Rock Store” restaurant and store to a beautiful summit we like to call The Crows Nest.

I have to mention that we already had a problem with the tandem from the last ride we had to deal with on this one. The front derailleur would not go into the big chain ring at any cost and I didn't have the time or money to get it fixed in time. I took it to the shop and they could only get me the granny gear and the middle ring. Luckily, this event was mostly climbing but it was a real pain having to coast on all the gradual descents because I had no high gears. It really slowed us down on the flat parts of the course and in the tail winds. We were “spun-out” at 26 mph in the middle gear.

This year it seemed tougher climbing up Rock Store. Last year we were both in better shape at this point in the season I think. It still did not seem too tough though and we made it over the top fine. One more little climb was negotiated past Malibu Wines  and we started the mostly downhill 10 mile descent to the coast at Leo Carrillo State Beach.

We first rolled past the camel farm. Here are a few pics of the camels I took on other rides.

The descent was really nice and smooth but again I had to coast the whole thing.

We rolled for a stop along the coast at the Neptune’s Net Restaurant for a water stop and break before the real climbing began.

Part Three:      Mile 64.3 to lunch at mile 102.

Yerba Buena, Cotharin and to the bottom of the infamous Deer Creek Road were up next.

This was one of the longest and toughest climb sections. We put the bike in an easy low gear and just spun our legs on Yerba Buena. This climb averages I think about 7% but there are sections that are around 10% I think. It is a long slog to our turn on Cotharin.

About half way up and after all our strong climbers had left us up ahead, something freaky happened again. (What is with the tandem jinx on this ride?)

We were climbing in our lowest gear and.......BAM......the chain snapped!!!

I thought our day was done just like I did last year after the tire melt down.

The chain didn't break; it came apart at the connection link. I think something got in the chain and was stuck there because we found a piece of greasy fabric behind us that was wadded up real tight. Just a tiny piece but I think it somehow was in the link and pried the link enough that it spread it to release it from the pin. That is how we found the link. Pried open and the pin still in the other link......strange!!

A car came along and asked if we were OK and we asked him to go up ahead and tell one of our friends what happened. Our friend John came down the hill about the time another rider came up the hill that happened to have a chain tool. (I forgot to put mine in the proper seat bag from my other bike so I didn't have mine.)

Long story short......John helped me get the link back together and it worked fine.

We were there about 30 minutes I think messing around with the situation. We were now paranoid on the climb to come and did not want to get out of the saddle until we had a few climbs on the chain. I was worried that it was a bad link.

Next climb......Cotharin.....argghhh....this is one of the toughest on the ride. 10-15% steady for quite a while. We just stayed seated on the whole thing and didn't push it. It was tough.
It is one of the most beautiful climbs though. I still can’t believe how wonderful riding in the Santa Monica Mountains is. So close to such urban sprawl and we can ride in this.

John Clare climbing Cotharin Road

Jeff Dewey climbing Cotharin Road

We rolled over Cotharin road very slow with Jeff and John until we reached Pacific View road for some small descents and rolling climbs before the summit of Deer Creek.

Deer Creek Road is where I had the near disaster last year and really messed up my rim.

Here is the picture of the rim from last year before we started filing it down so the tire could be re-mounted.
Yikes....Last years mangled rim.

This time we had a blast descending this road with the disc brakes.

We had a few really good rides prior to this event to test them out first. We did the ski lift climb and descent on Mount Baldy, Mount Palomar, Potrero Road descent and many other technical others.

Deer Creek averages 11% with the lower section about 17% going into a nasty, off camber, hairpin turn towards the bottom. I have friends who de-laminated their carbon wheels on this descent. There were many wheel failures on aluminum wheels too; All due to overheating the brakes. I have a friend who broke her shoulder when she crashed on that hair pin.
It is a devilish descent!!

Diving down Deer Creek
17% and diving into this turn......yikes!!!

Here is a video of our entire descent. It looks like we were really going fast but I was actually braking the entire time.

We now had a nice relaxing roll up the coast past Point Mugu Air Station and then inland to our next climb up Potrero Road.

Potrero is one of the toughest on the tandem. I find it the toughest of all but it is short. We rolled up at 3-5mph on the steepest, about 20%, part toward the top. It was a grunt!!

Then we had a little rest as we descended into Newbury Park before climbing the upper section which was only around 8-10%.

We descended with John into the beautiful community of Hidden Valley before rolling through Thousand Oaks and to lunch at Nicole’s house.

John Clare climbing the upper section of Potrero Road into Hidden Valley
Nicole made us some soup and it was really good. We took about a 30-40 minute break before heading back out for the second portion of the ride.

Part 4: Mile 102 to mile 125 in Camarillo

We rolled up Kanan Road through Agoura, Oak Park and Thousand Oaks before a gradual climb on Moorpark Road to Norwegian Grade.

Down the grade we went.

Last year we made up a lot of time on this section to the coast. Moorpark Road descends gradually through Santa Rosa Valley all the way to Camarillo and then we take flat roads with a slight descent to the coast.
This year we were much slower since we did not have the high gears plus we had a pretty good head wind heading to the coast as soon as we turned west. We pulled the group and just went at an easy pace along this section and also got help from the beast himself, Colin Stokes, who was now riding with us until the end on his little 250+ mile training ride. (Colin is training for the "No Country for Old Men", 1,000 mile ultra race in Texas in a few months. He also did the Mulholland Challenge King of the Mountains event on event day a week after our staff ride. He finished the event with a top ten finish out of about 500

Part 5: Camarillo to the top of Decker Canyon. Mile 125 to mile 153.5
Heading up Lewis Road toward Point Mugu

Heading up Lewis Road toward Point Mugu

We had a great tail wind along PCH after we made it through the head winds getting to the coast. We now had our friend Ken Mathis crewing for us until the end and we stopped for some sodas and other refreshments at Point Mugu.

With a tailwind at our backs but not helping us much we followed everyone down the coast, south-bound past all the state beaches and over all the little “kicker” climbs at Ventura County line and Leo Carrillo State Beach.

Now came a real beast. With approximately 150 miles in our legs, we had to climb Decker Canyon. this was a tough one on my heavy tandem!! It is 17% for the first 9/10ths of a mile and then 8-12% percent up to the fire station where the check point was. This section was a 3.6 mile climb that just seems to take forever.

We geared down early and watched our friends rolling up the hill much easier. We saw Ken sitting in the road on part of the steeper lower section taking pictures of us.

He got this great shot of us as we rolled by just suffering.
Decker....the lower steep section.                                                              Photo by Ken Mathis

There we are on Decker                                                                                                                          Photo by Teresa Beck
Grunting up Decker                                                                                                                            Photo by Ken Mathis

We were about halfway up and we saw Colin descending. He was going to do another repeat of the climb!! Beast! We were going so slow that he caught us a little before the fire station.....amazing.
Colin Stokes climbing Decker Canyon
Rolling into the fire station
Left to right: Julie and Colin Stokes, Terri Boykins

We relaxed for a little bit and fueled up at the fire station. We also put our cold weather clothes on since the temperature was dropping rapidly. It gets real cold in the canyons when the sun goes down.

We re-grouped and descended upper Encinal Canyon before our next climb. We now had to climb out of Upper Encinal which is not bad on a normal day but with over 150 miles in your legs, it is a slow go but not too steep; About 9% at most.

Coming full circle now, we were back on Mulholland for a long time again. We descended the Rock Store snake back to Peter Strauss Ranch again but did not stop.

Part 6:    Mile 161 to 180. Peter Strauss to Stunt Road summit. 

It does not seem like much. Just 19 miles to the next check point but this section is arguably the toughest on the event.

We rolled past the ranch at a good clip before climbing past Malibu Lake to Cornell Road. Rolling climbs were on the menu now until we hit the really nice descent back down to Malibu Canyon.

From Malibu Canyon Road we now started climbing again. We reached the overlook and stopped for a re-fueling break with Ken. We then continued for some more short climbs before descending Cold Canyon Road, (and there is a reason it has that name!)

It was cold as going through Cold Canyon as usual.

We turned on to Piuma Road now for the next really major climb, Piuma.

Piuma is about a 5 mile climb which takes you from Cold Canyon to the top of Piuma Ridge overlooking Malibu and the Pacific Ocean. We had an amazing full moon the entire time, right in front of us as we made the turn on the upper section. This is one of my favorite climbs on my early morning training rides. The sunrises are spectacular.

We rolled over the top and down to our turn at mile 178 on Schueren Road. It is about a 2 mile climb to the summit of Stunt Road on Shueren.

Part 7: Stunt summit to the finish.

We made a short stop at the summit but did not want to stop long. The 4 mile descent of Stunt is really cold and I usually get the shivers on this descent because you are so wet and tired you just get cold so much easier.

We turned on Mulholland once again and dropped down to Malibu Canyon for the return to Agoura Hills. A few more short hills and we were back at Nicole’s place for a late dinner around 11pm;  AND SHE HAD LASGNE WAITING FOR US FOR DINNER!!!

Here is the long compilation video of our adventure:

Thanks go out to Nicole Honda for letting us use her place for a start and finish location and supplying us with lunch and dinner. You’re the best Nicole.

Thanks to Ken Mathis for giving us SAG support for the second half of the ride. Its always great having you out there Ken!

Thanks to my stoker Teresa Beck for her perseverance and a comical and fun ride once again. (We are a couple of clowns on these rides as many of our friends can attest. Don’t know if we were drugged up on natural endorphins or we are just normally like that.)

Thanks once again to Planet Ultra for putting on this great event. We had a great time staffing our check point at Peter Strauss Ranch on event day and watching many of our friends tackle the 120 mile Challenge and the double century option. Congrats to everyone!!! Weather conditions couldn’t have been better.

The link to the Garmin Data is here:

Here is the link to all the pictures:

Here is all our data:

Moving Time:
Elapsed Time:

Avg Speed:
12.3 mph
Avg Moving Speed:
12.4 mph
Max Speed:
47.3 mph

Elevation Gain:
17,457 ft
Elevation Loss:
17,448 ft
Min Elevation:
12 ft
Max Elevation:
2,363 ft
Heart Rate
Avg HR:
142 bpm
Max HR:
206 bpm
% of Max

Avg Temperature:
64.3 °F
Min Temperature:
32.0 °F
Max Temperature:
116.6 °F

No comments:

Post a Comment