2023: Early Season Events


Cotharin Road.                                      Mulholland Double Century

This year was a really rainy year in California but we really lucked out as far as it effecting the events. It is funny that in the past few years when we were in severe drought, we had rain on many of the events early on in the season. 


I started off my season with the Camino Real Double Century.
I was staffing the ride as usual, being a SAG support driver this year so I could not do the event on event day. 
Like I do often, I did a staff ride.
I decided to do it the day before the event so I would not have to make two trips down to the Irvine area, one to ride and one to staff. 
My sister lives in San Juan Capistrano, just a few miles off the course, so I stayed at her place at the country club. It was really nice.
I started Friday morning at about 4:30 am and rode up to the course which was just about 3 miles up the hill from her place. 
Once on course, I rode through Rancho Santa Margarita, Live Oak Canyon, and Santiago Canyon before hitting the city and the Irvine area. 
It was cold cold cold. In the '30s till just after sunrise.
I was doing the event fully self-supported and again carrying everything I needed for 200 miles. I would have to replenish water and some food along the course in places.
My friend Ken met me just under 90 miles into the course and he rode about 140 miles of the course with me. It was really nice to have Ken along. Ken was my crew chief on my very first, long, ultra race. The Inyo Ultra 466.


Once I got to the coast, I met Ken in Dana Point at Doheny Beach. We then rolled up through San Clemente and San Onofre, before hitting Oceanside. From there we headed inland to a loop around the Bonsall area.
It was a beautiful area, especially since we have had some early rains. 
We headed up the San Luis Rey River bike path for about 7 miles before heading up into the Bonsall area for the lunch stop. We had a short stop and then headed up the hill on Old Castle Road, along part of the RAAM course.

 It was a pretty long climb but nice. It would turn out to be the hottest climb of the day but we got through it. 
From there we hit Lilac Road for a beautiful return to the area of the river bike trail and Oceanside. 

Ken climbs Old Castle Road, on the Race Across America route and heads toward Lilac Road, a spectacular area.

We stopped a "Triple Crown Drive".

Ken hammering in the area

Yours truly climbing Lilac Road

Ken on Lilac Road in the hills above Oceanside

The sun was setting as we arrived back in Oceanside. Rolling down the bike path.

From Oceanside, it was then a pretty fast trek back to San Onofre. 
We rolled back through the very long and large campground in San Onofre before returning to San Clemente. 
When we got there we had a great surprise. Our friends Teresa and Jim were there at the end of the bike trail to meet us as we entered San Clemente. What a wonderful surprise that really perked up some cold guys. 

Jim is the event director and founder of the Beach City Double Century. 

Teresa, better known as Tiger, is my long-time friend and tandem stoker, was also on my crew for The Inyo Ultra 466, and was our crew chief for our 2-person 60+, record-setting race at the Hoodoo 500 in 2016 when I raced with Victor Cooper. 

Our friends Teresa and Jim surprised us when we arrived back in San Clemente.

Now we had some good climbing to get back to my start in San Juan. 
The course goes on some new roads up in the hills that are steady climbs with very few descents until the very end.
It was then that we had a great, but very cold descent back to Ortega Hwy for our turn back to Ken's car. 
I dropped him off at his car and rolled back to my sister's place, finishing a little before 9 pm. 
A great ride which I really enjoyed. The latest course was a lot more to my liking compared to the past course. I had a lot of fun. 

Note: I did the course but I started at a remote location other than the actual event start and rode to the course and the event start. The actual start hotel was near the Irvine area. The map above is showing the actual event start location. My ride distance reflects my added miles riding to the course. 

My ride stats:

  • 200.64 mi
  • 14:17:27
    Moving Time
  • 10,310 ft

Mulholland Challenge Double Century

This map includes my ride to the event starting from home. 

Next up at the beginning of April, I did the Mulholland Challenge Double Century. 

I did this one also as a staff ride the day before the actual event. 
I started from home and rode the 8 miles to the start at 1am. 
There is a method to my madness though. I think I saw one car, once I got into the hills and started all the climbs off of Mulholland Hwy. 

It was cool and beautiful all morning and stayed cool all day. It was wonderful but a little lonely for the first 100 miles.
My friends Memo and Peggy were also doing the staff ride but they started from the host hotel about 45 minutes after I passed at 1:40. I just knew that they would catch me after a short time since they are both much better climbers and younger than me.  
It was wonderful as I headed back in the direction of the West San Fernando Valley, where I live, on Mulholland Highway. From the Calabasas area, I climbed back into the Santa Monica Mountains on Topanga Canyon and Old Topanga Canyon before descending back to Mulholland.
It was then up Stunt Road, up the South side of Piuma Road before the long descent down Piuma Road to Cold Canyon. 
This was the coldest part of the whole ride in the mid-'40s. 
It was then back to Mulholland and a ride back to the start hotel to finish the first leg. Mile marker 57 for me. 
I still did not see my friends as I left for Agoura Hills and Mulholland once again.
The next long climb was The Rock Store Snake, a very popular and gorgeous climb.
I climbed this as the sun was coming up. My favorite time to climb it. Just spectacular always. 

From the summit of The Rock Store Snake.

From the summit of The Rock Store Snake.

The next major climbs were Little Sycamore and Yerba Buena Roads. 
Yerba Buena leads back down to the coast at the Ventura County Line. Instead of doing this, after a long descent and a stop at Circle X Ranch, we turn right on Cotharin Road for a nasty climb up to Pacific View. 
Major views of the Pacific on this section as we traverse Pacific View and descend Deer Creek road. 

Deer Creek is the steepest road in Malibu.

This climb averages 11.4%. The steepest quarter mile of this climb is 13.7% and the steepest continuous mile is 13.2%. 1.7 miles of the climb is at or above 10% grade. The gradient on this climb is broken down as follows: 0.6 miles (26%) at 5-10% grade; 1.7 miles (73.8%) at 10-15% grade;

 It's tough and I was glad that we descend this beast. The descent is one of the most dangerous in the Santa Monica Mountains and many people have had bad mishaps on it including myself on the tandem a few years back. You can read about that here.

From Yerba Buena Road. Looking at the Channel Islands in the distance.

Circle X Ranch on Yerba Buena

The beautiful, but very steep,  Cotharin Road. Pacific View is just around the corner

It is a white-knuckle ride down the Deer Creek Descent. A diving descent with an average gradient of over 11%, and it's not a short descent either!!
I made a quick left turn on Pacific Coast Hwy heading south for the next climb into the Santa Monica's, Decker Canyon, the toughest climb of the whole event. 

Still no sign of my friends and at mile 94 as I started to climb the lower 18% section of Decker.

The first switch-back on Decker Canyon. A really tough slog getting here. That long straight section heading uphill is 12% for a long time.... ugh!!!

I was wondering where they were at this point. The only thing I could think of is that they must have made more stops than me along the way. 
Decker was brutal but I made it to the fire station for a water re-supply and break.
Now back over to Mulholland, a descent down The Snake, a few short climbs, and then a long descent down to Las Virgenes and the hotel. 
I was at about 112 miles at this point into the ride and I stopped and texted Memo to see where they were. He got right back to me and said they were about a mile out from the hotel. They rolled in not long after and we took about a 30-minute lunch break.
Now came the final loop.

After leaving the hotel, we made a short ride paralleling the 101 freeway, into Westlake Village before the start of the final tough climb of the day, Westlake Blvd. 
Westlake Blvd. is the north side of the Decker Canyon climb. It's tough when done after lunch and in the warm part of the day. 
Before even starting the climb, I was feeling the onset of cramps. I think I ate a little too much and got behind on my fluids. 
I started to cramp just before the really tough 17% section. 
I told my friends to go ahead and just wait for me at the coast. After this summit, it is a very long descent of Encinal Canyon Road. I am a fast descender so I figured I could make up some time heading down. 
Well...I made it up the first 14% kicker before the really steep part, then as soon as I got to the really bad spot, I had to get off the bike and walk. I developed both, inner thigh cramps and hamstring cramps.
I actually walked up almost as fast as my normal speed riding. 
I tried to get back on after the really steep part to no avail. I was on again off again walking for about half a mile. I then started to recover after drinking down my two bottles of electrolyte drink. I got back on and finish off the 7-9% last 2 miles to the summit. 
Feeling really good now to have that over with, I bombed down Encinal Canyon into a nasty crossing headwind making some good time. My legs felt much better but I did not want to push that hard yet. 
When I reached PCH, my friends were there waiting. They had been waiting around 10 minutes so it was not too much of a wait for them.
We then worked together in a small pace-line, fighting a nasty headwind all the way to Point Mugu Naval Air Station before heading back inland where we would have a tailwind.
We stopped to take a break at the missile park and then headed out. My legs were now feeling great with no signs of cramping. 

Memo and Peggy heading north on PCH.

Ahh...at the missile park for a break. 

We made one last stop after we headed inland for water and food re-supply. 
We then headed for some more climbing into the citrus and avocado fields above Somis and Moorpark.
The second part of this event only has a little over 6,000 feet of elevation gain. The first 100 miles have almost 13,000 feet but this last amount of climbing just seems tough with tired legs.

Peggy and I head through the avocado trees in Somis, Ca

We got through it and after rolling through Moorpark, Thousand Oaks, and Agoura Hills, we made it back to the hotel around 10pm. 
An epic day on the bike. 
I said goodbye to Peggy and Memo, ate a snack, and then rode my final 8 miles over the hill to home.

My ride stats: A real tough one!!

  • 215.12 mi
  • 18:39:56
    Moving Time
  • 18,981 ft

I missed one of my favorite rides this year, the Solvang Double Century.

 Instead, I went to Solvang the week before and I staffed the Solvang Century which was also being put on by Planet Ultra. 

I decided to add in the Hemet Double Century since I skipped the Solvang Double.

I did this the following weekend after the Mulholland Double. I was planning on just taking it easy on this one anyway so I just sucked it up. It's not like I haven't done this back-to-back weekend thing before. Just not since I turned 70. With only 1/3 of the climbing of Mulholland, it was a piece of cake right?

The Hemet Double is comprised of two loops. A flatter first loop that rolls westbound through the Riverside and Corona area before heading back via Temescal Canyon, past the Lake Elsinore area, and through the Menifee area. 

The second loop normally goes south eastbound up Sage Canyon and down to the Temecula area before heading around Lake Elsinore with a return toward Menifee for the final stop. Then we retrace the final part of the first loop route back to Hemet. The second loop had more climbing than the first but has fewer lights and traffic on much of it. 

This year, there was a change. Due to the storms this year, there was some road damage on the second loop so they opted to cut out the second loop and do the first loop twice. This had less climbing but added a few miles to the course. It also took us through the traffic zones in the cities with more stoplights, twice.  

Like with Mulholland, I did a staff ride the day before the actual event. I did it fully self-supported by myself. 

I started at 4:30 am and had a pretty damp and drizzly ride until sunup. I then headed into the Moreno Valley and the Riverside area. Then it was into the traffic zone. 

I had a hard time with this one!!

Just too much traffic and traffic lights in the middle section of each loop. After starting at 4:30 am, I hit the Riverside and Corona areas on the first loop at rush hour. I think I hit every traffic light.

On the second loop, I hit the afternoon rush hour traffic in the same areas! 

To say the least...I did not like this one. The weather conditions were good but just not enjoyable. 

I didn't even take any pictures!!!

I finished the ride around 9 pm for a good night's sleep.

The following day I helped set up the lunch room at the hotel before heading out to drive the course in reverse acting as a SAG driver to help anyone in trouble. 

It was then to my afternoon rest stop at Toms Farm in Temescal Canyon. 

Had a great time supporting my peeps before heading home in the early evening. 

All in all, it was a great training weekend and I had another double in the books. 

  • 216.64 mi
  • 14:05:19
    Moving Time
  • 6,109 ft

Hanging with friends at a rest stop, while out driving the course

Toms Farm Rest Stop


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