Tuesday, December 8, 2015

2015 Dead of Winter Double Century



 I decided to do The Dead of Winter Double Century this year on the tandem for the first time. It was no easy task for my ultra-event stoker Teresa and I.

Teresa (better known as Tiger due to her no-quit, go-getter attitude), was hit by a car back in October. She dislocated her shoulder, had road rash and some head injuries but no concussion.
After a little while she got the doctors OK to ride on the back of a tandem but could not ride a single bike due to the shoulder injury.
She did her first ride with me in early November which meant that we really had our work cut out to get her back in ultra -shape in a very short time for the ride at the end of the month. We only rode on weekends since we both work and she lives in the south bay.
All the training rides were tough. The first one had about 11,000 feet of elevation gain but we got through it.
We did rides which encompassed about 24,700 feet of elevation gain leading up to the event. There was some tough training going on there on the tandem!!!
After all this, Tiger was still not sure she could do it but I kept reassuring her. She is “Tiger” after all!!


This year again, I decided to do it as a pre-ride to check the course for The LA Wheelmen.

I put a message out on social media to see if anyone wanted to join us for the pre-ride.
4 people chimed in.
My good friend John Clare who is dealing with a knee issue wanted to do it to check out the knee.
His wife Melinda offered to support us for the day. You are awesome and thanks Melinda!

Our friends Shai Shprung, Nicolette van Sluis and Daniel Tran also joined in the fun.
Shai did it on his fixed gear bike, Nicky was doing this as her Triple Crown ride and this was Daniels first double century.

CONGRATULATIONS Nicky and Daniel!!!

We rolled out of Malibu a little after 5am on the 28th of November, Thanksgiving weekend.

The temps were in the upper 30’s and no wind when I left my house. They were in the low 50’s in Malibu with a cold north wind blowing. I do better in cold weather but it is a little tough on the tandem because you need to carry so much more gear when it is cold. I was carrying my heavy back pack that I used on Hoodoo so I could dump my shoe covers, jacket and other cold gear in it. I used the large bag on the back of the bike for food and Teresa’s stuff. I carried 70 oz. of water in my pack as well as a 16 oz. bottle of Scratch on the bike. Teresa had two large bottles and no camel-bac due to her shoulder.
Rolling toward Point Mugu                                                                                                        Photo by Teresa Beck

It was a beautiful but chilly ride north on the coast hwy. We hit the sunrise at just the right time along the coast in southern Ventura County. It was spectacular and we all stopped to take pics.
Rolling near Point Mugu State Park                                                       Photo by Melinda Clare

With John following us down the hill to Ventura County Line                      Photo by Nicolette van Sluis

Rolling toward the moon and Sycamore State Beach                                                         Photo by Teresa Beck

Sunrise over Santa Monica Bay with the Palos Verdes Peninsula to the right

When we reached Point Mugu and made the turn near the base it got really chilly and was in the 40’s.

We rolled by the Missile Park with a cross wind. That is when the sag vehicle with Melinda at the helm caught up to us. She was snapping pics and taking videos right from the start. Her vehicle was dressed up like a reindeer with antlers and a red nose.
Melinda...... our support for most of the day.

One of the best places for photo ops                                                                                                              Photo by Teresa Beck





We had a nice tailwind as we turned on Hueneme Road and headed west. We flew into the first check-point. We made a stop at Jack in the Box for some breakfast. Teresa fed her captain as usual and got me a breakfast burrito with bacon, sausage and cheese. Ohhh…….was that good on a cold morning!! Thanks Tiger.

After taking way too long, we rolled out for the road north.

We now had a gradual climb to Moopark which meant that we would be climbing into a chilly headwind all the way. Once we got out into the fields on Pleasant Valley Road, I really started to drag. I still had my jacket on and I think that, even though I felt comfortable as far as the cold, I couldn’t breathe well and was overheating. As soon as I took my jacket off I started feeling much better. I wore my “Showers Pass” body mapped, wool base layer all day and it was great. Never got chilled and never too warm.
There we are.....Teresa snapping away from the back of the bike

Still bundled up .....the sun overheating me and slowing us down.

We had this to deal with from Port Hueneme to Moopark and beyond until we turned westbound.

John stayed with us up through Santa Rosa road while the others climbed up ahead. We rolled into Peach Hill Park for Check Point 2 and it was just the 3 of us. The others had missed the turn and rolled up shortly after we got there. We again took a long stop before heading out for the first long climbs of the day.

Now we got to climb up into the orange and avocado groves up in the Moorpark area. It is a spectacular place to ride and we had done it just the week prior with Victor Cooper on a training ride.

I ride in this area all the time and I love it. We rolled over the first climb on Grimes Canyon then over the hill by the chicken farm. John Teresa and I were slower on the climb than the others plus Johns knee wasn’t doing too good. We told them we would catch them on the descent.

Rolling through the Grimes Canyon area                                                                                              Photo by Daniel Tran

Cruising up Grimes Canyon with Nicolette, Daniel and John                                                Selfie by photographer Teresa Beck

John descending with us                                                                    Photo by Teresa Beck



We flew down the first descent with a strong tail wind with the diesel on our tail. John is one of the few people I know who can stay with a tandem on a descent. In today’s case though we had a tail wind which does not really help a tandem but can really blow a single bike rider down the hill. This made it harder for us to catch the others. We didn’t catch them until we reached the next hill.

Now we climbed up Balcom canyon (the lower part….not the infamous steep part on the south or north side) and dropped down onto Bradley road which took us back to Hwy 118 in Somis.

Now we really flew down into Camarillo to Las Posas road before meandering over a big hill to Central Ave and our trek to Ventura.
We really thought that there would be a head wind on Central but to our surprise it turned into more of a tail wind. It was kind of a strange occurrence from what I was used to in the area. The wind seemed to be coming more out of the south-west.

We rolled into the lunch stop at Juanamaria Park a little after lunchtime. We then rolled over to the Subway sandwich shop for a nice long lunch.
Eating lunch at Subway                                                                                                                      Photo by Daniel Tran


As I was getting the bike ready to continue I noticed a very large cut in my front tire. I was so lucky that I was running “Thorn-resist” Tubes in my tires or else I probably would have had a blow-out. I did not want to take a chance on doing any more descents on that tire. For the first time in a long time, I had forgot my spare tire.
John decided, for good reason, to call it a day at this point. His knee was really swollen and he didn’t want to cause any permanent damage.
Melinda and John offered to go to a bike shop while we rode on and pick up a new tire for us. I would just take it easy on the roll up the hill to Ojai. There were no fast descents to speak of on the way so we were good to go.

On we went through Ventura. Boy it was a beautiful day with amazing views of the Channel Islands as we rolled across Foothill Road in Ventura.
Channel Islands from Foothill Road, Ventura.

We cruised at a nice easy pace up Hwy 33 to Ojai. John and Melinda came up behind us as we reached Creek Road and we told them we would make the tire change at the park in Ojai.
There was quite a bit of traffic heading up to Ojai on Thanksgiving weekend. There must have been some sort of event going on because there was much more traffic than on the actual event day.

It was nice to finally get off the main road and on to Creek Road. This road was really nice with all the majestic oak trees. It is a climb but not really tough. This road can be really tough on The Grand Tour while rolling toward lunch in Ojai. It can easily be 100 degrees in June on this road when the Grand Tour is held. On this day it was perfect. In the upper 50’s.






We stopped at the park in Ojai and John helped me change the tire. It went pretty quick and we were on our way toward Lake Casitas.

There go our 3 climbers. We wouldn't see them until we reached the coast

Rolling toward Lake Casitas on Hwy 150                                                                                   Photo by Teresa Beck

Lake Casitas is almost empty

We made it to the climb really fast. The road from Ojai to Hwy 150 is really fast. Then the first part of Hwy 150 is pretty flat until you start a gradual rise toward the lake. We made it pretty fast on this section as the sun was starting to set in front of us. It was beautiful
The amazing thing about this section was the level of the water in Lake Casitas. The lake looked almost empty. I have never seen it this low before!! I sure hope we get a lot of rain in these next few years.

After cruising down to about lake level we made a sweeping left turn near the ranger station before starting the actual climb over Casitas Pass.

One thing I have not mentioned thus far. Did I mention what a pain tandems are? :

We started this ride needing a new drive chain and middle chain ring on the tandem. It has been challenging these last few years getting this older tandem dialed in properly. Last year we had a problem with the front derailleur and on all the events we were mostly without the big chain-ring which was a real pain because we could not roll as fast as possible on descents or on the flat road. This problem we finally figured out and a larger length front derailleur did the trick after trying many things. The mechanic didn’t know if it would work because he had no way to test the tandem under the stress of two riders. It shifted perfect with the old derailleur but would not shift under pressure at all. We haven’t missed a shift since we made the latest change.
The year before it was a brake problem which forced me to convert the bike to disk brakes.
Now the problem was the chain slipping in the middle chain-ring since it would not mesh with the chain well. (we had the chain slip a number of times while standing out of the saddle in the middle chain ring so we were forced to climb the rollers in the big ring when we wanted to get out of the saddle or go into the granny gear on steeper hills that we were normally able to do in the middle ring when standing. We had a nice smooth drive-train with no slippage in the large and smallest rings.)
It’s not fun to have the chain slip out of gear when standing under pressure!!!


We cruised easy in the granny gear up the final kick-up to the summit of the pass. We saw John and Melinda up there waiting for us. They were taking pictures and videos of us coming up.
Here are the videos they took of us at the summits:

Video 1

Video 2 

I took it easy on the descent since I had a new tire on the front which was a brand I was not familiar with. It was a slick tire too with no tread so I wanted to make sure it held the road good.

We made it down to Rincon Point very fast after the curvy part of the road.

Our friend Ken Mathis who had just recently moved to Michigan but who was home for the holiday offered to support us on the latter part of the ride. What a guy!! He did a very tough ride in the morning and early afternoon, then drove all the way up to the Carpintaria area to bring us hot soup and fluids.

We all hooked up with Ken just south of Rincon near the Sea Cliff area on old Hwy One.

We stopped and all gave him a big hug and thanks and then we filled up on fluid and wolfed down some really good chicken soup.

This would be the last time we would see Nicky, Shai and Danial. They wanted to just go at their own pace and we said to just go ahead. We were slowing down quite a bit. We were both tired but feeling pretty good. The temps were really starting to drop and we needed to stop for more breaks along the way.
Driving a tandem bike just really takes a lot more upper body work. I was really beat. The legs felt great but overall I was really getting fatigued. We were really doing well but just could not push a really fast big gear ratio any more so we were just spinning more.

We rolled really pretty fast down Harbor Blvd. through Ventura, Channel Islands and Port Hueneme before we saw Ken again.

He got this great shot of us before heading home.
Photo by Ken Mathis, the gentle white giant. Can you tell its cold out?

 We stopped at the last check point location, gave Kermit from the LA Wheelmen a call then headed out for the final 35 miles.

Now we had a cold head wind the whole way north on Hueneme Road to Naval Air Road.

South on Naval Air Road we went with a cross wind as we passed the missile park once more as we had in the morning. As soon as we got on the coast and to Point Mugu rock, we encountered a crossing head wind which we would have for quite a while intermittently the whole way back to Malibu.
The one really great thing was that there was no traffic on PCH at this time of night like in the summer.

It was a beautiful cruise back to Malibu.  The final hills seemed tougher than in the past but we made it. (In fact this final stretch seemed harder than finishing any of the 3 Quads I did on the tandem)

 We stopped about 3 times and then in the final 5 miles or so we saw Kermit pull up alongside us. He offered to get us some coffee but we said we just wanted to get her done with. Thanks Kermit!!!

We rolled back to Malibu about 30 minutes behind our friends and Kermit was waiting there for us to greet us. He lives in Malibu. It was about 10:30. Our plan was to finish about 8pm but you just never know what a double century is going to throw your way.

Every double is a tough double. Even the ones that are supposed to be easy on paper. Sometimes on the easier ones you just don’t have what it takes to do it fast.

To give an example. We did the Heartbreak Double Century this year during the heart of the season which had almost 18,000 feet of elevation gain only one hour slower on the tandem than we did on Dead of Winter with only 8,500 feet of gain. We stopped just as much on Heartbreak.
You would think that we would just smash DOW since it looks so easy……NOT…..it just doesn’t work that way.

Here is the compilation video of our ride:




Here are the stats on our ride:

Course and elevation profile

  • 200.7mi
    Distance
  •  
  • 14:36:59
     Moving Time
  •  
  • 8,504ft
     Elevation gain           
  • 107W
    Estimated Avg Power
  •  
  • 5,641kJ
    Energy Output
AvgMax
Speed13.7mi/h41.2mi/h
Elapsed Time17:24:52

 The following week Daniel, Nicky, Shai, John, Teresa and I staffed the lunch stop at the official Saturday event. We had a great time supporting the ride and seeing our friends who were doing it.

Her are the pictures from our ride and event day from our lunch stop.

The ride:
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10154470379054546.1073741943.585209545&type=1&l=9f383fb491

Our lunch stop on event day:
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10154485196119546.1073741945.585209545&type=1&l=7a3fdec2bc






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