2014 Oceanside Double Century

Elevation profile


The Inaugural Oceanside Double Century

I love doing an inaugural event. Especially the tough ones. You never know whether the event is going to be around for long so you have to do it while you have a chance.

The Oceanside Double is basically the same course as the Borrego Double Century. The difference being that the ride starts in Oceanside instead of Borrego Springs. Oceanside is usually the lunch stop on the Borrego event. We ride from Oceanside to Borrego Springs via Julian and Banner Grade. Then we return to Oceanside. We have to climb the infamous 12 mile, Montezuma Grade and Cole Grade, on the return as well as many shorter climbs.
The nice thing is the location of the start and finish. Although, Borrego is one of my favorite double centuries, it is nice to have a start-finish that is closer to home.

I was not originally planning to do the double but at the last minute I was in to do it on the tandem with good friend and team-mate Teresa (Tiger) Beck.
This was the first event I have done on the tandem with Teresa since our disastrous Mulholland Double Century back in the spring. We finished that one but due to mechanical problems and it wasn’t pretty. We had 5 hours off the bike and still managed to finish within the cut-off time. (See the blog on that one for the whole story. It was not fun!)

The forecast for event day was for a storm to move in and out quickly so I was hoping we would dodge a bullet and have the rain go through overnight the night before.

I roomed with my friend John and we set up our alarms to arise around 3:30am for the 4:30am start.
We awoke to a torrential downpour and gale type winds. Yikes!!!
I looked at the radar on the weather app from my phone and saw that the front would be passing by 5am. John and I, plus a few other friends decided to start around 6am after everyone else.

The rain stopped a little after 5am and we were good to go. The wind was howling out of the west though and the winds in Borrego Springs were forecast to be gusting up to 70mph, not boding well for our trip to lunch there in Borrego and we were worried about headwinds on our westerly ride back to Oceanside.

Part One:  Oceanside to check point one, Sunset bike park. Mile 35

6:09am and we rolled south down PCH for Carlsbad and Solana Beach before our turn inland. We had a blazing hard tailwind while heading down the coast.

Our group contained Teresa and I on the tandem, our friend Rick on his “Tern”, folding bike, my Race across the West team-mate John, our RAW crew chief Tony, (doing the event on his fixed gear bike….wow),  and our RAW navigator Margaret. We also had a new rider along with our group, Pat, who was doing her 3rd double century for her Triple Crown.
Getting ready to start
There was debris everywhere, mostly from palm trees and we were dodging stuff right and left on this section.
John got a palm frond stuck in his bike. Could have been disastrous.
The roads were really wet as we made our turn inland. The sunrise was beautiful!!
Here is a video Teresa took of our roll down the coast.
Now the climbing started. There is a considerable amount of climbing involved in getting to Borrego Springs plus a hair raising awesome descent.
We turned and headed east bound in Solana Beach on Lomas Santa Fe Drive. We went through Rancho Santa Fe as we rolled and climbed toward Lake Hodges at sunrise. It was really nice through this area. I had never been on these roads before and really enjoyed it.

Photo by John Clare

Blazing the course to the east with Tony on his fixed gear in our draft.                                                 Photo by Ken Mathis

Photo by Ken Mathis

Photo by Teresa Beck

Photo by Teresa Beck

Lake Hodges......Photo by Teresa Beck
Passing Lake Hodges we pretty much stayed together until the first check point (the hippie stop), just past Hwy 15. Teresa and I missed the turn and had to go up to the next light to make a U-turn then back to the stop. (We missed a few turns while leading the group on this first leg. The problem with going fast on descents on the tandem on a new course.)

Hippie chick and her bug

John with the hippies

Part 2:  Check point one to Inija Park, Santa Ysabel. Mile marker 66.5

From check point one we made our way past the San Diego Wild Animal Park and rolled through some beautiful orchards before starting our first long climb of the day to Ramona.
This was a really nice climb but a little narrow in a few places with some crazy drivers passing on blind curves. Teresa, Pat and I had left the check point a little before the rest of our group. We just hammered up this climb and it almost seemed effortless.
We reached the top just about the same time as my friend Rick on his folding “Tern”. That was an amazing bike and it performed very well. He passed us effortlessly.
Rick on that awesome folding bike......I want one!
 Rick is a multi-Hoodoo 500 Voyager finisher. I want to see him do it on this bike!!

We descended into Ramona where we caught up to a bunch of the early starters. They had stopped for coffee. They joined us for the next section. Ramona to Santa Ysabel.

Ramona to Santa Ysabel encompasses a long climb of about 12 miles on Old Julien Hwy and CA-78 E.
I had a great time on this long climb meeting some new friends from the San Diego area. Teresa knew some of them already. She knows everyone!!

We had a nice little descent into Santa Ysabel before the climb to the famous little town of Julien. Check point 2 was at a park a little way up the road.

We started the climb to Julien. The temperature was starting to get cold and was in the 50’s but very damp after the storms that have been around all morning.

We were about half way up to the check point on a gradual climb out of Santa Ysabel when I heard a large crack!! Glass and a broken mirror went flying past us on the tandem as a large pick- up truck flew by very close. We had a nice wide shoulder on the side of the road and were totally out of the traffic lane but this guy in the truck hit my new friend Dzung in the shoulder with his truck mirror and never stopped. Dzung never fell off his bike it happened so fast. He is one tough-guy. That hardly even  phased him!! 

Teresa was immediately on her cell phone calling 911 and reported a hit and run to the CHP. Only minutes after we reached Check point 2, the CHP showed up.
They took the report and immediately put an APB out on the truck with the broken mirror on all roads east of Santa Ysabel. Pretty quick action. I hope they catch that idiot.
Dzung giving the CHP the report. They got there really fast thanks to Teresa!

At the check point we enjoyed some of the famous Julien Apple Pie! I had two pieces.

Yum......Famous Julien Dutch apple pie.....my second piece!
 We stayed way too long and got cold.

Here is a short video of this last section to Santa Ysabel. I had just finished this little video and was going to film the little climb up to the check point at the park. If only I had done that!! I would have got the dirt bag's license number on video!!! Oh well. :

Part 3:  Santa Ysabel to Borrego Springs. Mile marker 103

Onward to Julien:

We continued climbing to Julien on a beautiful road. Actually all the roads on this entire event were nice. No bumpy roads on the entire thing. Amazing!
 The climb was not too steep but it was getting pretty cold and got into the 40’s on the way up. The sky, thus far, on the ride was just spectacular. I love riding after a storm. A few rain drops along the way so far and some wet roads but no downpours so far.

We rolled pretty quickly through the bustling little western town. It was really crowded with tourists. We kept our eyes peeled for that truck with the broken mirror!

Now comes the part of the ride I was really waiting for. The 18 mile descent of Banner Grade to Yaqui Pass.
The last time I did Borrego Double was on my tandem with my bro-in-law Vince and we did not get to do Banner Grade. There was a wild fire during the ride in that area which forced us to return a different way which bypassed the grade. We did get to descend Montezuma Grade, the “Glass Elevator”, at night in freezing cold 30+ degree wind chill, horrific winds though…….that was fun!!....NOT!

We cruised through Julien and started the Banner descent. We rolled through about ½ of the technical upper section before getting stuck behind traffic. A box truck was inching down the hill with cyclists, motorcyclists and other vehicles braking behind him. He wouldn’t even use the turn-outs. It sucked!!!

Banner grade descends from Julien to our turn at Yaqui Pass. It is a blazing descent for a tandem since it straightens out after the upper section then goes through an awesome lower canyon that is really fast and not technical.
The descent is about 18 miles long…..wow!!!

After it straightened out a bit, the traffic disappeared. I braked a lot since the roads were a little damp still and I did not want to overcook a turn on a wet corner with sand. The new disc brakes performed effortlessly!
We caught up to our friends and rolled along side for just a second to make sure I got some video of Tony, on his fixie, spinning his pedals at what must have been close to 180rpm!!
Now we really let the bike roll on the descent. John heard us coming and jumped out of the saddle, sprinting, to get in our slip stream.

Big John, a very experienced tandem rider himself and one of Teresa’s captains on many double centuries, is one of the few people I know that can stay with a tandem on a descent like this. He is a big guy and really knows when and how to make the move into the slip stream. You can see his move in the descent video. John stayed with us all the way to Borrego Springs!!

Here is the video of that section. What a gas that was!!


Banner grade.    Photo by John Clare
Flying down the lower canyon on Banner Grade.....Photo by John Clare
 We made the turn at Yaqui Pass road for a beautiful little climb before another blazing fast descent into the Borrego area. This climb seemed so easy to Tiger and I and we just talked with John the whole way up. It was getting warm now and was in the 70’s.

Climbing Yaqui Pass......Teresa getting ready to do her nails I think.  She's always messing around back there. Texting, nails, hair, make-up.....but most of all encouraging people. What a great ambassador to the sport I say!          Photo by John Clare
 We let John go and we stopped so I could take my rain jacket off. I was cooking at this point.
Jacket off and we were ready to roll when I had what I will can a Tourette’s syndrome moment….LOL.
Teresa got back on the bike and brought the pedal back up so I could clip-in.
When I brought my left leg up to the pedal my left ham string muscle cramped big-time and all sorts of expletives came out of my mount instantly as I forcibly straightened my leg out while, at the time, trying  not to fall over and dump us both on the road. (
For those who dont know about tandem riding, she was already clipped into her pedals in the back and I was balancing both of us.)
Teresa started laughing uncontrollably, having never heard something like that come out of my mouth before. I think she laughed about 1/3 of the way down the Yaqui Pass descent!!
(You can hear her in the video)

Yaqui Pass descent into Borrego Springs:
We caught up to John shortly as we cruised, close to 50mph, with a nasty little cross wind coming out of the North-west. We made the turn toward Borrego and into that wind.
On the outskirts of Borrego Springs

Check out the dust in the distance. Boy did we have a head wind going into lunch.    Photo by John Clare
 It was a grunt to do the final miles to lunch in that wind and I was glad we were on a tandem. We had all the amazing iron sculptures to look at out in the desert along the way. Really cool.
No these are not real wild horses

We rolled into lunch a little after 1pm and took a long rest.
Adobo Velo meet-up at lunch.

Part 4: Borrego Springs to Ranchita Store. Mile 117

We rolled out of Borrego feeling really tight after the long stop. We pushed into a strong head wind before making our turn on Montezuma Road at the outskirts of town. Now it was 12 miles of up on one of the most amazing climbs in the state of California, Montezuma Grade.

This grade is also known as “The Glass Elevator” on The Race acrossAmerica and The Race across the West. On those two races the grade is descended as the race goes east bound across the country. RAAM to the east coast and RAW to Durango Colorado.
My friend John Clare, climbing it with us on this day, my team-mate on Raw, was the lucky one who got to do the glass elevator on our 4 person team last summer at the start of the 878 mile race to Durango.
Montezuma grade and Borrego below.....Photo by Ken Mathis
This grade was tough on the tandem and to make it worse as we approached the summit the wind got stronger and colder. We were watching lighter and bigger single bike riders get blown off the road. We had a disadvantage being so heavy and climbing on the tandem. The one advantage we had was that in the wind we are heavy and don’t get blown around as much. This allowed us to catch a few people on the climb. I put the bike in the lowest gear and Teresa and I just paced ourselves. This allowed us to have something left at the top where the wind was really howling and gusting hard. It was in the mid 70’s at the bottom and 40 degrees at the top. Who knows what the wind chill was.

Tony climbing Montezuma on his fixed gear bike......Wow!!  What a beast!      Photo by Ken Mathis

Borrego.....Photo by Ken Mathis

Climbing out of Borrego Springs on Montezuma......Photo by John Clare
John and Pat climbing strong......photo by Teresa Beck
Up...up we go......Photo by Teresa Beck

Photo my Ken Mathis

2/3rds of the way up......Photo by Ken Mathis

Getting close......Photo by Teresa Beck

The beautiful view took our minds off of it and it was great to see my Inyo Ultra 466 Crew Chief, Ken Mathis out there taking care of everyone. ( Actually my whole crew were on the ride. Teresa, Teri Boykins and Ken, all took such good care of me.)
  Ken, we are all so blessed to have you and all the volunteers out there taking care of us all on these ultra-events.

The clouds looked pretty ominous to the west though.  I was hoping we could get back to Oceanside without a cold rain.

We stopped about a mile from the summit, got water and put our warmest clothes on for the assault on the summit and the long descent to follow.

All our warm stuff on and heading to the top with Shangrila, John and Pat.           Photo by Ken Mathis
We were so cold that we decided not to stop at the next check point in Ranchita and just roll down the hill toward Lake Henshaw. Everyone that was with us as we summited, stopped at the check point.

Here is the video Teresa took of our climb up Montezuma grade:

Here is the video Ken Mathis took of us at the summit of Montazuma:

I had to add these pics. This kind of sums it up at the summit of Montezuma in Ranchita.

Ranchita Yeti resting his arms on Margret's shoulders with John and Tony

Part 5:  Ranchita to Lake Henshaw checkpoint. Mile 135

It was only about 18 miles to the next stop, and mostly downhill to rolling terrain. Tandem country!!
We were freezing but we just hammered down the road to our next turns on San Felipe road and Hwy 79. The sun was still up but starting to set behind the ominous clouds to the west. Still looked good for no rain though but I was worried about the clouds backing up against the coastal mountains which can tend to wring out every last bit of moisture at the end of a storm. We would soon see because we were soon to roll around the foot of the largest mountain in the area, Mount Palomar.
Heading to Lake Henshaw......Photo by Teresa Beck

Nice clouds.....Photo by Teresa Beck


Lake Henshaw
Teresa with Grace and Joe in the rear heading into the check point.

We rolled into Lake Henshaw Store with two of our fellow Adobo Velo members, Grace and Joe, in tow.

I put the final part of my cold weather gear, my shoe covers, on. We had some soup, stayed a little too long and were on our way.

Part 6: Lake Henshaw to the Pauma Valley and Cole Grade road. Mile 153.5
It was now almost dark so I turned on the lights as we left. It was cold and damp but still lots of breaks in the clouds so it did not look like rain.
There is a really nice descent leaving Lake Henshaw as we start the trek around the foot of Mount Palomar. I got the chills right out of the box and was shaking like crazy. I put the bike in a big gear and just hammered hard to try and get my engine warmed up again. It worked and we flew down that descent. On the Race across the West, I had this leg of the race but going in the opposite direction. I knew there was some climbing ahead around the foot of Palomar.
We got through this section really fast and still could see some light on the horizon after sunset but the clouds were making it real dark.
As soon as we got to the summit of the final climb before descending into the Pauma Valley……boom…..it started to absolutely pour rain…and I mean hard rain. We had to descend this awesome section in a pouring rain on a road that had no reflective dots on it what so ever. It was absolutely terrifying. Maybe one of the scariest moments on an event I can remember. I was so glad I had disc brakes!!
We just crawled down that descent since I could hardly see the road. We had a large line of cars behind us that couldn’t pass either. It was scary but not as scary as what was to come.
We had no pictures of the final miles because we had this to deal with on and off.    Picture by John Clare
We got to the bottom and had about 3 miles of Indian Casino traffic in the pouring rain with no shoulder on the road. This was even scarier. I was so glad we were lit up brightly with lights and reflectors.

We made a quick stop at the next check point.  We stayed only long enough to drink a cup of hot soup.

Part 7: Cole Grade to the final check point on Hwy 76. Mile 178

The rain stopped for our climb up Cole Grade. This was a tough climb. About 7 miles. We had readings of 12% at the bottom section of the grade for about 1/3 of a mile and then it went to between 6-10% or so.
We smelled the barn at this point so we felt really good and again just paced ourselves. We had a good group of our Adobo Velo buds with us at this point. Dante, Grace and Joe were with us as we rolled though the foothills on the way back to Oceanside. It was wet with just a slight rain through the hills to the next check point. I was really familiar with these roads now having done many of them on the Camino Real Double and Borrego Double. We pulled in very cold and damp but feeling good. My friend Eric immediately gave us some french fries.......awesome!
I saw a familiar bike there. A beautiful Specialized Roubaix. My fellow Hoodoo 500 finisher, Steven Burns was there.

Part 8: The final miles
As soon as we were ready to leave the check point the skies opened up again. Steven, Pat and our small Adobo Velo crew rolled with us. It was pouring. The rest of the ride was very easy so I did not care. It was a little warmer near the coast and we were covered up real well.
Down Hwy 76 we went in the pouring rain. We had a pretty good train of riders behind us.
We turned on College Ave and entered the bike path for the final 7 miles into Oceanside.
Whew…that was one of the toughest doubles I have done in quite some time and doing it tandem just made it tougher. Teresa and I both felt very accomplished.
We finished about 10:45pm with a finishing time well within the top one third.

We had a great, all be it very tough, day on the bike. A big "kudos" goes out to my very, very tough team-mate and tandem stoker, Teresa. She remained totally positive the entire day as things got tougher through the ride. Always a pleasure to have you on the back Tiger!!

Congratulations to all my friends who did and completed this very tough event. You all really showed what you are made of once again! To all my Adobo Velo brothers and sisters.....well done!!
Warriors-all, to say the least!

 A big big thanks to John Clare for giving me a place to sleep instead of camping in my van!  
This was John's 43rd consecutive double century and his 97th lifetime Triple Crown Double......absolutely amazing!!!
A little funny side story:
While John was rolling on the San Luis Rey bike path on the final 7 miles, he hit a skunk and it sprayed all over his bike and shoes. It didn't get him though which was very lucky for me since I was rooming with him! He had to lock his bike and shoes to the outside of Tony's car over night, it smelled so bad. When I left in the morning, I could still smell it in the parking lot.

Thank you John and Linda Hopkins for the awesome Italian dinner at your place the night before. That was GREAT!!

A big thank you to all the volunteers. Without all you guys and gals, these events could not happen. You all really stepped up on this particular one with all the adverse conditions. Without you being out there, many many of us may not have been able to finish.

Thanks last but not least to ride organizer Anny Beck. Anny your "All Day Ultra-Ordeals" are amazing. The support was great!!

Here is our ride data from my Garmin GPS:

Here are finish times for the event:


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