Thursday, July 27, 2017

2017 LA Wheelmen Grand Tour

It was an interesting Grand Tour this year.

 I was going to staff my usual rest stop on the highland course up on Potrero Road near the summit of the epic climb that everyone loves to hate.
 I was then going to do the event as usual on a staff ride either solo or with the staff on the actual staff ride day.

The Grand Tour was my very first double century. This was all back in the day before The California Triple Crown was created. I found it fitting back a few years ago that I use this event to ride my 100th Triple Crown double century. It was only right that I use this event for my 150th Triple Crown. The Grand Tour is, after all, so close to home.

Like I said above, I was planning on riding it on the staff ride as usual and staffing the event. It was not really a big deal to me. Just another event.....but my friends had another take on it.

I have such amazing friends!! I cant stress enough how special all my cycling friends are to me. They are the best!!

They would have nothing to do with me riding it on a staff ride. I got a sense that they were upset with me for even thinking that. I should celebrate the day and do it with all my friends.

Well that is what was decided.

On this years Camino Real Double Century staff ride, my friend Dee asked me if she and some of my friends could organize an event for the Grand Tour ride. I told her sure and had no idea what it would become.
I am a really easy going guy and dont like a lot of attention.

Well that is what I got on event day and I have to say that I was quite overwhelmed!

The ride

This year things changed a little for the event. The ride start was moved from the school in Malibu to another school further north in Malibu near Zuma Beach. At the last minute the LA Wheelmen were told that they could not use the new venue. The ride was about to be cancelled all together when they came up with another plan.

The Grand Tour event usually has a number of different ride options. A metric century, a lowland double century, a highland double century, lowland and highland triple century and also a quad century option which can be done either lowland or highland. Whichever event  you choose, you have 24 hours to finish.

With all the changes the organizers were forced to offer only one option for the ride this year. A hybrid double century which has the best of the lowland and highland. It was very similar to the event they do in the winter called The Dead of Winter Double Century.

We started from the Starbucks in Malibu at about 5:15 am. The temperatures were perfect in the morning. It was cool but not cold and it was a little overcast with some high clouds. Perfect conditions.

I was again doing this double on my tandem with my good friend Teresa (Tiger) Beck on the back. We started with a large group of friends but knew we would get strung out after a while because everyone does these events at their own pace.

We are we go! The Tiger-cat on the back is getting excited!

I just took it easy from the start. (When I take it easy.....Teresa just gets a better workout right? She has to work harder.)
We had to climb the hill going up toward Pepperdine University right at the start and I was not even warmed up. I was totally in oxygen debt when I got to the top of the hill but then started getting my second wind. ( I have to I get seems to be getting harder to get warmed up and into a good breathing rhythm.)

Map of the course
Elevation profile

Part one: Malibu to Port Hueneme.                                       Mile 0-35.1

The first stage of the ride was from Malibu to Port Hueneme. We made it there pretty fast. It was a beautiful, fast, cruise along the coast but we still just took it easy.
 I can remember, in years past, doing this section on the tandem with my brother in law Vince and averaging over 21 mph to the first check point. 
At my age, those days are long gone.

It was great as usual cruising up PCH as the sun comes up. I love the beach in the early morning. The smell of the ocean really brings back memories of my many years surfing these breaks along the shores of Malibu.
Heading north on PCH

Two tandems rolling along side. Great shot by Dee from the back of Johns steed.

Dee's shot again from the back of the tandem

 We had a re-grouping of sorts at this first stop and then rolled on to the next. The weather was really shaping up to be nice all day. It can usually get so hot this time of year very early in the day.

Part two: Port Hueneme to Moopark.                                      Mile 35.1-59.3

From there we rolled up Pleasant Valley Road to the Santa Rosa Valley and into Moorpark for check point 2 at Peach Hill Park.
It was a really nice ride up the and out of the valley with no wind We had high clouds so we didn't have the usual rising sun blinding us on this north-eastbound section of the ride.

At check point 2 my friend John Long had put up a sign he made for me commemorating my 150th double. It was a party of picture taking at this stop and this is where I was talked into wearing a tutu by Teresa. She also put some decorations on my helmet. I just went along with the fun but I was a little overwhelmed by all the love.
I just wanted to stay and talk to everyone but we had to get rolling or we were never going to finish the ride. 
Let the fun begin!! That is John Long with the clown nose and big hat.
Thanks John and all the staff at Peach Hill for making my ride so memorable!!

Part three: Moorpark to Ventura and lunch.                           Mile 59.3-97.6

The next section of the ride was to bring us to the lunch stop at just under 100 miles. We had some climbing in the hills above Moorpark to do first before dropping down to the flats of the coastal valley for lunch.
We rolled down Hwy 118 and made a right turn on Grimes Canyon Road for a beautiful climb through the orange and avocado groves. This section encompasses three little climbs. One up Grimes Canyon to Broadway and then into Stockton Road for a climb. Then there was a great descent before the turn on Balcom Canyon for another short climb.
At this intersection we stopped at the water stop which was manned by our Adobo Velo buds Jerold and Celine. Adobo Velo was everywhere on this ride. I am so blessed to be involved with this club.

We rolled up Balcom and then had a great descent down Bradley Road back to Hwy 118. We now just flew through Somis and Camarillo before hitting Central Ave near the Camarillo airport. We kept a steady pace now all the way to the lunch stop.
We rolled into the lunch stop in Ventura at about 12:15.
Like my tutu?? Thanks Teresa and Shelby.

There was a party going on right here!!

First thing I noticed were my two daughters in their cycling kits. They had come out to do the middle portion of the ride with us. They would ride to Ojai with us and do Casitas Pass before returning to Ventura which is about 65 miles.
My crew from the 2014 Hoodoo 500.
Victor Cooper my amazing crew chief (plus Mountain Dew connoisseur) and my two awesome daughters Cherisse and Nicole.

Did I say that I was a little overwhelmed on this day. Look what my friends did for me. A big sign at the last stop and now this one with all the events listed. I could never thank anyone enough. Its just too much. 

2016 Hoodoo 500, 60+ , 2 -man division, "Troubled Utes" and our awesome crew Teresa and Daniel.  Teresa was also on my crew at the Inyo Ultra 466 along with friends Ken Mathis and Terri Boykins. Terri was here but Ken could not make it in from Michigan. Missed ya buddy!!
Victor was also on my Silver State 508 crew along with Tony Musorafite and Ellen Kirk. We rode with Tony most of the day but Ellen was in France. She actually called and texted me from France to congratulate me. Ellen was my crew chief at the 508.
Thanks Ellen!!!!!!!

My good friend and one of my awesome sponsors Quynh. As everyone can of the nicest, generous and funniest guys out there on the ultra circuit. 

Then I saw so many of my friends there. Some who I started with and some who started earlier who were waiting. It was a big party of picture taking and fun. (Did I say I was a little overwhelmed?)

I think we stayed at the lunch stop for over an hour. This would definitely not be one of our fastest rides....LOL.

Part 4: Lunch to Ojai                                                                   Mile 97.6-119

Now we were leaving the cool coastal area and climbing inland for a little heat. This section is traditionally the hottest on this event. The climb to Ojai on Creek Road is not steep but usually in the 100's. This year it was warm but not too bad. We were really lucky to have some high cloud cover.
We made it to Ojai pretty fast and joined another party rest stop at the park, this one manned by our club, Adobo Velo. It was another long stop and we had a great time talking to friends.
My friend Deo at the Ojai stop

Part 5: Ojai to Carpenteria                                                            Mile 119-140

This 21 mile section is the most scenic of the ride and encompasses a great climb and a blazing descent for the tandem bike.
We rolled out of Ojai then hit Hwy 150 for Lake Casitas Pass. This section was great. We had a gradual climb to the fire station with a couple slight descents then we started the assault on the summit. This is a pretty easy section with the only hard part being the final couple of miles to the summit. It is usually quite hot there which is what makes it difficult.
We rolled to the summit and stopped for a minute for some pictures and to take a breather before the descent to the beach.

The top of Casitas Pass

Climbing Casitas Pass (middle kicker on the descent), with my daughter Nicole Meichtry in tow
Cherisse Meichtry climbing the center kicker in Casitas Pass

The ballerina on the back of my bike is always full of smiles and having fun! (But there is a real ballerina riding behind us which many of my friends do not know)
Summit of the lower kicker before the final descent to the coast

This is a nice descent. It can be cold in the winter after getting all sweaty but this time of year, it is like turning on the air conditioning on a blazing hot day. WHAT RELIEF!!
There is a small climb in the middle of the descent to the coast and then its really fast from there with a little bump just before the coast.
We cranked this section and just sprinted up the little kicker before the coast. We were both now getting our second winds believe it or not.
We rolled into Rincon Point for another party. (Boy....if there had been alcohol involved, I would have been in big trouble!!!)

We waited here for a bunch or our group to come together after negotiating the climb over the pass before we continued for the home stretch.

Part 6: Carpenteria to Port Hueneme                                                      Mile 140-167.7

We got on the freeway for about a half mile and then exited for the new bike path along the 101 Freeway. This path is right on the coast above the water. It is really a nice one and has wonderful views. The path starts right at my old surfing spot, Rincon Point, and ends right about the Sea Cliff area.

 You then have a beautiful smooth ride on old PCH (Rincon Parkway) all the way to Ventura. It is a great section and very fast with a usual tailwind. I think the Tutu that Teresa was wearing was acting as a sail.

We made a quick stop at Tony's Pizza which was right at our turn in Ventura. A bunch of our friends were having a slice there. We wanted to keep going so we did not stay too long. We told them that we would just take it easy and they would catch up.
We rolled through Ventura and into Channel Islands picking up a train of people who sat in our draft before reaching Port Hueneme and the final check point. The sun was getting low and it was cooling off quite a bit. I put my vest and arm warmers on so I wouldn't get cold at the stop.
My friends Chris and Saralie were staffing this stop. I had not seen them for ages. It was great to see them.

Part 7: The final miles                                                                                  Mile 167.7-201

A little over 30 miles to go of rolling hills along the coast is what we now had ahead for the finish. This section is really nice but sometimes just seems to take forever. It was getting dark and very damp out. There is usually a lot of beach traffic as people are going home from a day at the coast.

We took it easy and all went at our own pace.

Rolling toward Point Mugu
Our finish group at NAS Point Mugu

The final few hills along the way are a little tough but it was nice and cool and they were not a problem. We just put the bike in a low gear and did a little spinning.
The first little hill is the one at Ventura County line which takes us to Leo Carillo State Beach where we start another little kicker and a few rollers.
Finally we descended to Zuma Beach. We then had a tough little hill before Paradise Cove and the final hill to the finish.

We rolled to the finish in a group of 4 tandems as well as some other friends. John and Dee on one tandem. Roehl and his daughter on a another from the Fresno area along with some friends of theirs on a tandem. Roehl was doing his 100th double century. Congrats Roehl!!

We rolled into the finish around 10 pm and there were still quite a few people there. The first person I saw was my wife Ginny. So happy to see her there. It was quite a surprise. Melinda Clare had food for us at the finish with some amazing soup. Thanks so much!!
Here we come

Roehl is excited about his 100th double. Congrats Buddy!! I look a little dumbfounded. 

My better half and I at the finish

Tony, Rick and I. This was Rick's 164th double century. WOW!!

John and I. We did the quad century on his tandem back in 2014. What an epic ride that was.

John and Melinda. What great friends!
Celebrating with Ginny and the girls at the finish

A big thanks goes out to Kermit, Ira and the whole staff at the Grand Tour for putting on such a great event despite all the problems this year. It was a day I will always remember.

Thanks to John and Melinda Clare, Dee and Robert Mann  and all my other friends who made this day so special and for everything you did to help put this whole event together and for supporting me for so many years. Your friendship is truly treasured.

Thanks to my club Adobo Velo for all the support on this day and on all the other events. I dont think there is any other club that is so supportive on the double century circuit.  Such and amazing group of compassionate and caring people!!!

I have to thank my amazing long distance tandem stoker and friend Teresa for sticking with me through some very tough events over the past few years and being so trusting of your captain. Thanks for all the help on this event and others.

And of course my amazing wife Ginny and daughters Cherisse and Nicole. How lucky am I to have them!! All of them love to ride bikes and support what I do even though I spend some long hours sometimes out training.

 Time                        13:00:41                                                      
Speed15.4mi/hMax 43.2mi/h
Elapsed Time17:08:31              

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