Sunday, August 9, 2015

Summer Training

After doing some spectacular altitude training in early May in the Big Bear Lakes area and the most spectacular double century of the season, The Eastern Sierra Double, at the end of May, I figured it was time to start ramping up the training a bit for the challenges at hand at the end of the summer.

Again this year I am going to take on the Hoodoo 500 Ultra Marathon race in Southern Utah. I was also asked by my friend John to join a 4-man team for the Silver State 508 in Nevada.
I am really excited about both. I have never done “The 508” and I have wanted to do it solo for many years.
This year on the Hoodoo 500 I will be doing it in the “Voyager Division”.

Last year I had a support crew for the standard division of the race. I had my crew chief Victor Cooper who had experience crewing and also had experience having done the course in the event. I had my youngest daughter Nicole taking care of my nutrition and hydration and my oldest daughter Cherisse who is a certified Athletic Trainer, taking care of me physically. I did much better on my first attempt than I anticipated ,(thanks to all of them), finishing in just under 43 hours despite a bad foot nerve problem that developed which caused me to lose considerable time on the climbs.

Voyager division requires you to race the course “self-supported”.  It’s up to the rider to calculate and take care of nutrition, hydration and navigation himself with no help other than drop bags with supplies which are dropped off by the ride organizers at designated locations along the course.

Following the Eastern Sierra double I took a few days off the bike. Next up in a week was The Tour of Two Forests Double Century.

TOTF as it’s called is one of my favorites! The ride starts in Santa Clarita, Ca. not too far from Newhall Pass along Interstate 5.
I again, as I did a few years ago, did the ride from home and carried all my gear and food with me. I figured it would be great training for the Voyager division race since this is basically what I will have to contend with.

I left home early enough to meet everyone for the start of the ride. I had a great ride with friends. We had perfect weather conditions with not too much heat. We had monsoon thunderstorms form on the mountains and give us a nice shower at one point with hail.
It was just great, but tough as usual, with great friends. The climb out of Ojai on Hwy 33 is spectacular and one of my favorites. It’s very long though and would be categorized very high in a pro cycling race I guess.
Tour of Two Forests course
Looking down Wheeler Grade toward Ojai and Ventura

Heading up Lockwood Valley Road toward Heartbreak Hill grade

Here is a little video of the event: 

The following week I took it easy leading up to another tough ride that would take about as long as a flat double century.
My friend Ken organized an event to climb to the summit of Sherman Pass in the Southern Sierras from Hwy 395 close to the Ridgecrest/China Lake area. This is a tough climb of about 57 miles and is part of the old Sherman Pass Challenge and The Inyo Ultra Sherman Pass Super Century.

Sherman Pass is about 9,300 feet in elevation and would be great altitude training once again.

We started the ride around 4am from along the 395 for the very long climb up 9 mile canyon. It was very warm even at that early hour. It would get cooler and cooler as we ascended into the Sierras and Kennedy Meadows where the morning temp was in the mid 40’s as the sun came up.

There was not a cloud in the sky in the morning after some nasty thunder storms in the past few days in the area.
As we slowly climbed to the summit, the clouds began to build into spectacular formations. I sensed we would not be able to linger too long at the summit.
It was spectacular up there and you could see the back side of Olancha Peak and Mount Whitney from there.
As soon as we started the descent, the thunder, lightning and rain started leaving us with a beautiful but challenging ride back to the start. The wind blowing out of the mountains from the storms was really nasty as we started our descent down 9 mile canyon to the finish.
All in all it again was a spectacular ride with wonderful friends again.

Climbing 9 mile canyon looking east

Kennedy Meadows

Here are a couple video compilations of the ride. The first one is of the climb up and the second of part of the descent:

The next couple of weeks I spent just doing maintenance miles and at the end of June I staffed the Potrero Rest stop on The LA Wheelmen Grand Tour. It was great fun giving back to the sport as usual.
The crew at the Portrero check point

The beginning of July brought some more Voyager training. Due to family commitments I would not be able to do the Grand Tour Staff Ride on the 11th so I opted to do it myself on the 4th of July weekend.

My plan was to again do the Quad Century like last year.
 This time I was going to do it self-supported from home and ride home afterwards. It would be about 436 miles unsupported and carrying everything I needed along for the ride.

I had the bike all set up in the configuration that I wanted for Hoodoo Voyager.

Ready to roll.....12am.

I left at 12am from my place in the valley with a larger pack on the back of the bike, a spare tire, pump, tubes and all the gear I may need. I carried a 100 oz camel-back pack on my back with all the layers of clothes I might need in that back pack.
I rode over Topanga Canyon with very little traffic to PCH to the ride start location in Malibu. It was then up the coast for the Lowland Course to Port Hueneme, Moopark, Ventura, Ojai and then back down to the coast before cruising up through Santa Barbara to Gaviota before turning around for Malibu.

I was spinning a much lower gear to see if that would improve the foot nerve problem I had been having and it did seem to help because it was manageable.

It was very foggy going up the coast from Malibu but not too cold.....just very damp. I had to take my glasses off because everything was dripping.
I cruised through the first check point in Port Hueneme very early and made my way up Pleasant Valley Road through Camarillo and into Moorpark on Santa Rosa Road.
It was just getting light when I went past check point 2 in Moorpark before heading down Hwy 118 to Somis.
From Somis I headed over to Las Posas Road and Crestview in Camarillo once again before heading to Ventura.
The traffic was not bad at all on this Friday before Independence Day.

Still foggy in Ventura, I turned up the hill toward Ojai. It started to clear up and was really nice up there. They were preparing for the big Independence Day parade and everyone had their spots all staked out along the main street. I stopped for a little while and ate some food before heading out and back to Ventura.
From Ventura I had a little head wind all the way up the coast to Santa Barbara and Gaviota. The weather cleared up by the time I reach Carpentaria.
 I reached Gaviota along the bluffs of Hwy 101 a little bit before 2pm. I sat down for about 20 minutes again and ate.

Now it was a long slog back to Malibu along the coast. I had a fair tail wind now and made it quite quickly to Santa Barbara. The traffic was starting to get kind of bad and I was glad to get through there quickly!! It seemed that all of So Cal was heading to Santa Barbara from the South. The freeway and the surface roads were gridlocked heading north from Ventura. I was thinking that this would be a good time to take Amtrak there.

I hit the fog again when I hit Ventura and the temp dropped to the low 60’s. I was so drenched with sweat in this humid weather that I was getting cold. I put my light rain jacket on which helped. Everyone along the beach had shorts and t-shirts on, or less, and they didn't look cold in that wind. Maybe I was not eating enough and my energy was low. I felt good though.

There was very little traffic in Ventura for a Friday evening. ( I think everyone was in Santa Barbara)

I decided to stop and get a burger in Port Hueneme.
 I wasn’t hungry but I new I needed some fat because I was getting cold. I wolfed down a burger, fries and a shake and I was not even full after. As soon as I was done and I moved, I got the chills and started shaking. (I have had that happen before even when it is not too cold but just a little chilly and with my body wet and sweaty. I think it has something to do with all the blood going to digest the food while the engine is not running. As soon I start riding again it goes away and I am hot.)

Now I had a fantastic tail wind heading back to Point Mugu on PCH. The sun was now down and it was again foggy and cool. I kept thinking that when I reached Malibu, I would be turning around for one more 100 mile loop to Ventura and back to complete the Quad. The traffic along PCH with everyone getting off for the holiday was getting nuts also. I decided when I reached the outskirts of Malibu that I would just ride home and be safe. It was getting too crazy out there. I didn’t want to fight the wind and the crazy drunk people.

I was rolling up the hill out of Zuma Beach with only a few miles to go to Malibu when the wind stopped and the traffic started getting much better. I guess everyone had left town by then.
I started toying with the idea of again going out and finishing the Quad when “CLANG”....I broke a rear spoke. I guess that made the decision for me. I tied off the spoke. The wheel stayed true and did not rub on the brakes at all when I opened them up a little. I would just head home.

I got to Pepperdine University and headed up the hill on Malibu Canyon Road back toward my turn on Mulholland Hwy. The traffic was not bad. I turned on Mulholland and had a gorgeous full moon spin with not traffic. It was about 10:30 pm and I was about 12 miles from home when I hit a rock on a climb. It was so humid out that my glasses started fogging up and I did not even see it. I was going about 8 mph.
I didn't even think anything of it but when I reached the summit I noticed the tell-tale feeling of a rear flat time........CRAP!! Not what I really wanted to do at mile 325 into a ride in the middle of the night but that is what I have to be prepared for on the race.......Right?
I fixed it and rolled home a little before midnight feeling pretty good.

My main goal was to self support myself and to work on the sleep deprivation part of this type event.
I was successful with both. I took a small nap on Thursday afternoon and that was it!!
I started my ride Friday morning at 12am and 24hrs later I was still feeling mentally fantastic. I never got mentally tired or sleepy on the ride. I think I have the Hammer Nutrition “Anti Fatigue Caps” and “Endurance Amino Caps” to thank for this. I had no caffeine the entire ride other that a cup of coffee before I left on Friday morning.
As an after thought, I think that it was better to make the ride shorter. I did not really need those extra miles and would need a while to recover from this anyway. I accomplished everything I set out to do.

Now I started to dial back my training and just keep up the maintenance miles.

I did a couple more climb-fests on Angeles Crest highway.

On July 18th I rode from home to Angeles Crest for a ride to Dawson Saddle and back. Nature had a different plan. Due to El Nino, we had the remnants of a tropical storm come in. It was beautiful and humid on my way to the start but it started raining and thundering before we got to our first rest stop.
A few of us continued up to the foot of Mount Wilson before we decided to return. On the way down there was a all our thunder/lightning deluge that flooded the descent with hail and torrential rain.
I ended up with a 100 mile ride with not too much climbing instead of a 160 mile ride.

A couple weeks later they did a re-do of the ride and we had perfect conditions.

My friend and ultra tandem stoker Teresa and I decided to do it from my place on the tandem. Perfect training for Hoodoo. Teresa was training for the Silver State 508 in September so we both would be getting some great training.

We left around 5am for the ride to La Canada and Hwy 2, Angeles Crest Hwy. We rode to Islip Saddle and back to my place. A ride of 154 miles with about 13,000 feet of elevation gain.

Here is a little video compilation of that ride:

Time to really start taking it more easy and tapering for the race in about 3 weeks as I finish this blog report.

Wish me luck!!

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