Friday, May 30, 2008

Century rides getting attention in the New York Times

There's a May 2008 New York Times article on century rides in Northern California.

An excerpt... "Over the years the refreshments served by century ride organizers at rest stops have become a source of heated competition. Some rides are epicurean, some are organic, some offer complete feasts, and at the bottom of the heap are the rides that provide the meager PowerBar and Gatorade."

More excerpts... "You can take all day to ride a century, or you can ride it like a race. There is always a crowd that rides at “race pace,” and it’s fun to hop on the back of a pack of 10 or 15 riders that comes buzzing by at 20 miles an hour or more."

"As you get older, the hardest part of riding centuries is getting going again after standing around for 20 minutes."

There's also a May 2008 New York Times article on L'Etape ("The Stage"), an organized bike ride (open to the public but you have to pay) using a route on an actual stage of the Tour de France. Here's an excerpt: ... "the organizers of the Tour de France are kind enough to allow anyone with a bike to take a shot at riding the whole length of a single, mountain stage during each year’s Tour. This annual event is actually a timed race called "L'Etape", which sets 8,000 cyclists loose on one of the hardest segments of each year’s course, just a few days before the actual Tour de France."

And there's a Blog about the "legends of the Tourmalet". (12 miles, 7% - 9% gradients).

Here's an excerpt... " the man they call ‘the father of the mountains’ recconnoitred the Tourmalet by car (in 1910, almost a century ago). Halted by a snowbank at 6pm (and still 4 km below the peak), he told his driver to head back. Then, in his town shoes, he set off alone on foot, following the poles marking the road under the snow. Night fell. He slogged on to the gendarmerie in Barèges and, when he had recovered, telegraphed Desgrange (the Tour Director) in Paris: ‘Tourmalet crossed. Very good road. Perfectly practicable. "

"The first man across the col in 1910, Octave ‘Curly’ Lapize, walked part of the way. Half an hour behind him came Gustave Garrigou, (winner the following year), who didn’t dismount once."

Monday, May 19, 2008

Report-May 17 2008 Scouting Ride

Some people like to sit and admire a mountain. The crazy ones will climb it on a bicycle.

If you like to test your fitness, and have fun doing it, a g
reat route to do that
, because the roads are well paved, the scenery is spectacular, and the traffic is bare (except for the first 10 miles because there's a village there). It's the same route as the Heartbreak Hundred ride (the one operated by PlanetUltra on May 24th 2008). There's a lot of climbing (8,500 feet), but also a lot of straight flat roads in between the hills. Even a crummy rider like me finished this ride today, May 17th. And how crummy am I? Well, I was 7th from LAST place among the 427 finishers at the May 3rd Breathless Agony two weeks ago.

May 17th, Frazier Park: The day started interestingly. No one knew him, this guy who parked his pickup truck next to us in the empty parking lot. He had nice expensive bike in the back of his truck. He seemed fit and ready for a long ride. "Where's the registration table for the Heartbreak Ride? " he asked. He thought we were riding the Heartbreak Hundred. "But that's NEXT week", we told him. "You're a week too early." His expression was a mixture of confusion and dejection. He told us he had driven from Simi Valley. So, to salvage his day, we invited him to join us. His name was Nick. He was a nice guy, a friendly sort.

So we were 6 riders in total: Francis Ignacio, Pete Primavera, William Aligue, Allan Messara, myself..., and our new friend Nick. At the very last moment Ricky Herrerra volunteered to SAG for us (thankfully), otherwise we would run out of water in this heat. He would drive my CRV. Allan and William graciously chipped in for gas. Nick donated his 3 gallons of water to add to our 3 gallons (we consumed all of it, by the way). Francis had brought sandwiches and gatorade. Ricky had a big cooler of ice and water. I brought groceries (sodas, V8, crackers, gatorade, M&Ms, bananas, etc.) We had everything. So off we went, with Ricky following us in the SAG car. It was like an expedition. Sounds like fun? It was a blast.

Right away, the first 20 miles is a gentle climb into the forest of Mount Pinos. (Better to have most of the climbing done in the beginning, than in the end.) No cactus or desert plants in these hills. Only pine forests. The air is cool. Elevation: 6,000 feet. You might spot some coyotes. They are afraid of humans, but not cyclists. (Just joking, they're afraid of us too.)

(I "borrowed" these photos from

The 5/31/08 TDF will have a water-refill table at mile 12, and a fully-stocked reststop at Mile 20.

The next 25-mile stretch has lots of rollers at the beginning, but then it's mostly downhill into the other side of Mount Pinos. On the way down into the valley, you will notice the pine forest has thinned out, but the view is still spectacular.

Los Padres Nat'l Forest.

The vegetation is dry, a reminder that California could not have become an agricultural powerhouse on native weather alone: Water had to be diverted from Nevada and Colorado using man-made aqueducts.

At Mile # 41 you hang a LEFT on Hwy 166 , then after 4.5 miles hang another LEFT onto Hwy 33. It's Mile # 46. You have conquered half the distance and 5,500 feet of climbing (roughly equivalent to going up GMR twice). Somehow you are still fresh. It's not yet noon.

Hwy 33 is long and dry

At the start of Hwy 33 (Mile # 46), make sure your water bottles are full, and hydrate well on this stretch.

Highway 33 (Ventucopa)

The highway goes for 21 miles straight and flat, with some rollers at the end. The black asphalt is new. The environment is dry. There are orchards and farms (thanks to drip-irrigation).

Lunch is at Mile # 67, the junction of Hwy 33 and Lockwood Valley Rd.

Mile 67 (Junction Hwy 33 & Lockwood Valley Rd)

You're now covered 2/3d's the distance. What follows is Heartbreak. The peak is 10 miles away. It starts gently, then becomes difficult near the peak. This is where Pete, William, and Nick had their "competition" going. The young guy won, but the old stalwarts were not far behind.

Heartbreak starts gently

There's even water run-offs in the month of May

View from Heartbreak

Mile # 77
is the peak.
Then it's 5 miles of rollers, then finally, RELIEF at Mile # 82. After that you are "basically" home free, downhilling.

So, to recap: You just need to haul your sorry little ass to Mile # 77 (top of Heartbreak), then drag it across some rollers to Mile # 82. After that it's all downhill except for a 4-mile gentle climb at Mile 88.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Scouting Ride for TdF Frazier Park

It's free. It's fun. It's tough. It's fully SAG'd. (Did I say it's free?). It's back.

The latest edition of the Tour de Francis will be at Frazier Park (a new route) on May 31. The clubs that battled for supremacy last December are back to reprise their friendly rivalry: SFVBC (San Fernando) , MMCC (the orange boys of Mira Mesa) , and of course AdoboVelo. Of course there are other clubs represented.

The scenery is simply spectacular:
Photo credit: I "stole" these beautiful photos from Bernd Strahle's cycling blog La Vuelta

Below is a photo "heartbreak" hill. (That's Bernd Strahle climbing the hill). It's on Mile 80.

This is a new route for AdoboVelos (but it's familiar to anyone who has ridden PlanetUltra's "Heartbreak One-Hundred").

On May 17th, we'll do a "scouting" ride of the exact route, self-supported (no SAG support car) with tour director Francis Ignacio and other riders (Allan Messara, William Aligue, Ricky Herrera, myself). We'll give you a report after the ride. By the way, PlanetUltra will hold its Heartbreak Hundred on May 24th! So it will be a "busy" route in the next 3 weeks.

Cycling routes can be categorized into 3 types: "out-and-then-back" or "roundtrip" (where the trip back to the starting line is a re-tracing of the trip out), "loop" (where you do not go over the same roads on the return trip back to the starting line; You cannot U-Turn to shorten the ride), and "A-to-B" (where the Finish line is a different city from the Starting line, just like a Stage in Tour de France).

This new route is a loop. That means if there's no SAG cars and you get tired, you cannot just make a U-turn to shorten the ride. You have to complete the ride.

It is 100 miles long, with 8,500 feet of total climbing. In comparison, here's how it stacks up with other TdF's and popular AdoboVelo routes. It's easier than Castaic TdF, a little tougher than the Big Bear TdF.

Castaic TdF , 100 miles, 9,500 feet total climbing
Big Bear TdF, 76 miles, 6,500 feet total climbing
Balcom Cyn TdF, 80 miles, 1,000 feet total climbing
Dana Pointe, 80 miles, flat + rollers
East Fork, 80 miles, flat + rollers
Mt Baldy, 60 miles, 5,500 feet total climbing
Mt Wilson/Upper Tujunga, 60 Miles, 6,000 feet total climbing
Breathless Agony, 112 miles, 12,000 feet total climbing

We'll give you a scouting report when we're done.

“Some people like to climb a mountain. Others like to sit down and look at it.”