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Jim's Blog

21 Posts

In the past month I finished the Tour of Two Forests double century in a little over 15:30 and then finished the Grand Tour Highland double century in 13:36 this past weekend.  This completes my requirements for the California Triple Crown (at least three double centuries) and the Super Randonneur series of 200k, 300k, 400k, and 600k brevets.  This was really my goal for last year but I am very pleased now to have it done and still uninjured!  I chose to make the rides challenging and had to work through some issues with asthma that caused me to fail in my first 400k attempt and the Camino Real double century, both of which I abandoned with untreated asthma.  Now that the weather is warmer and my asthma is more under control I seem to be picking up momentum, as my DC finishing times seem to indicate.  I was pleased with both DC rides, the ToTF and GT-H, and finished both under my goal (16 hrs for the ToTF and 15 hrs for the GT-H).

 

I will have to find ways to keep my conditioning through the summer months since I don't have a DC scheduled until the Solvang Autumn Double in October.  I have a couple of centuries in July and September and would like to rando down to a Velo Retro event in August.  Maybe I can do an "unofficial" Heartbreak DC in the meantime, since I could not ride it this year due to attending Danny's graduation from CSUMB.  Last year I did a tour along the coast during the summer and have had thoughts of riding up to Sequoia National Park in the future.

 

But right now my goals accomplished in the first half of 2011 just make me want to do a double. 

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Wildflower

Posted by cobrapatrol May 2, 2011

In the past I have ridden with the SLOBC on their Wildflower Century.  This year I rode the Lompoc Wildflower 600k brevet, which started in Lompoc and required 10 hours of riding and 8,000 ft of climbing to get to a section where we joined the SLOBC riders for a time.  Then we moved on, with many miles to go, through Paso Robles, Cambria, SLO, Santa Maria, Lompoc, and a loop through south Cabrillo Hwy, Nojoqui Falls, Solvang, Los Olivos (the ToC time trial route), Buellton, and back to Lompoc.  My time was 38:21.

 

This was my first 600k brevet and over the past year I have realized that I could accomplish it and work through the setbacks in getting here.  For example, I had a cold on Wednesday and Thursday, and started the ride Friday night at 9:00 PM with the outlook of strong headwinds most of the night and into Saturday.  I was not disappointed.  But the great thing is that I kept going, found more reserves of strength than I knew existed, and finished strong.

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Jim Swarzman, Jim #1

Posted by cobrapatrol Apr 19, 2011

I write this post with great sadness because my friend Jim Swarzman is dead.  He was killed by a hit and run driver during the night of April 10th while riding the O.C 600k, near Encinitas, San Diego county.  I know very little of the circumstances of the accident except that his fiance Nicole and fellow rider Chris Hanson were with him at the time and, of course, they were all fully reflectorized and lighted, brevet style.  But I want to say more about Jim than the accident that took his life.

 

I had only known Jim and Nicole from this past year of riding with the PCH Randos.  Our friendship got off to a rough start.  I had reported on the PCH Randos group web site about my injuries following my fall in December 2009 and that I greatly regretted missing the first brevets of the new year, and I signed the post simply "Jim."  Well, I received an email from Jim Swarzman tersely instructed me that I should not use "Jim" in my messages because he had received calls and messages of concern for his injuries.  I thought "humph", and began referring to myself as "Jim #3", since there were actually two other Jims that were active on the PCHRandos site.  At that time I had not met Jim S. but I did later in the year because Jim and Nicole organized a 200k brevet that I rode.  Jim immediately spotted that I was riding a vintage bike, my 78 Trek TX700, and ask me about it with all of his well-known enthusiasm. I introduced myself as "Jim #3" and reminded him about the email he had sent me, which set him off laughing and joking about who Jim #1 and #2 would be.

 

Jim also talked about his interest in setting up a series of "mixed-terrain" brevets which also interested me.  We began communicating by email and on the PCHRandos site. Jim launched his first "mixed-terrain brevet" with a strenuous ride up Gibraltar Rd and El Camino Cielo, both east and west (dirt), in Santa Barbara.  I started the ride with Jim and Nicole, and Bruno, and we all had a great time making the climb up into the beautiful La Cumbre peak.  Jim took lots of pictures which are posted on his Facebook account.  Nicole and I chose to ride back to S.B. via Old San Marcos Rd while Jim and Bruno continued on West El Camino Cielo.  I got to know Nicole a little better as we rode back to our starting point.  More rides followed, and on each ride I took a different vintage bike and each time Jim S. would notice and comment.  There was never enough time to talk but we made the best of the time we had.  We also made more plans for mixed terrain rides, including mapping out a ride in the Antelope Valley, which I would help scout out.  The future looked very promising.  The engagement, the house, the upcoming trip to France for PBP.

 

It makes me want to cry.

 

Jim #3

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Dreamboat Annie was always one of my favorite riding songs.  And 2011 has started out well for Danny and me.  On new years day we rode with the PCH Randos on the 200k brevet from Moorpark to Carpinteria.  I rode my 70 Gitane SC. Yes, the same one I crashed a year ago. And Danny rode the 07 Masi which I have pretty much given to him now that he is a serious rider.  So we did the 200k together and it was a beautiful day along the coast.  We saw a nice Ferrari (Lusso maybe?) in Carpinteria at lunch.  By the end of the day Danny had agreed to join RUSA so I sent in his application the next week and his first brevet will count.

 

We rode together several times through his holiday time off from school and we also rode with his girl friend riding her vintage Terry.  Last weekend we rode the Bouquet-San Fransquito loop.  Although Danny pulled about a 100 yd lead on me at the top of Godde I actually did my personal best time on the climb, riding the Roubaix.  So definitely a win-win for both of us.  By the time we got to the S-F climb I was keeping pace and pulled in on Danny at the top just by pacing myself a little bit.  He is not used to 18 miles of steady climbing.

 

This past weekend I rode the PCH Rando 300k on the Roubaix  The course extends the 200k up to Santa Barbara along Foothill Rd / Hwy 192 and then adds on a side trip down towards Malibu before turning back and heading up to the Moorpark finish.  My time was 14:34 with over 8,000 ft climbing so I was pleased with that.  I need to keep a pace to finish 200 miles in 15 hours, though, if I want to qualify for the ToTF later this year.  It seems like I still need to improve.

 

In two weeks it will be the El Camino DC.

 

http://ridewithgps.com/trips/166427/full.gif

http://ridewithgps.com/photos/snapshots/trip-histogram-166427.jpg

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Summing up the year

Posted by cobrapatrol Dec 15, 2010

Recently , I rode a 200k Dart that started in my town and finished in Chattsworth. I rode my 84 Sequoia.  The ride was great and my team and I thorouly enjoyed the time together.  The Dart was a memorial to Dan Crain, who died this year after a stellar career as a ultra cyclist.  I wish I had known him personally but I can pay my respects in an way we both would find appropriate - riding.  After the finish of the dart I rode from Chattsworth up to Sylmar to catch the Metrolink back home.  The ride took me past the same hospital I stayed in almost a year ago.  Besides looking completely different fron the outside (that's a good thing and I hope to keep it that way) it reminded me of how the year has progressed since that fractured beginning.

 

I love riding my bikes, now more than ever.  I have found ways this year to expand my scope of riding and revisit some of those things I thought my abilities may never allow me to do again.  I did not achieve my goal of California Triple Crown or Super Randonneur like I had hoped but given the extent of my injuries and the circumstances limiting the opportunities to "build-up" later in the year I am very happy with the outcome.  I might also say that I am pleased that my son Danny is now consistently stronger and faster than me when we ride together.  When we topped the climb before I fell on the descent last December we crested the summit together.  For me that was symbolic.  I have given him my 07 Vincere to ride full time now and I know he will continue to gain prowess with it.

 

But to sum up my year, achieving my first double centuries and 400k brevets gives me more confidence for 2011 to add a triple century to my goals.  I am considering a 508 team entry as a possibility also.  But I still need to earn the SR and the TC first.  Then. we'll see.

 

Happy Holidays

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Masi vs Masi Part 2

Posted by cobrapatrol Sep 21, 2010

I have both rides into the training software now so that I can overlay the traces of each ride.  Unfortunately, it won't let me paste the image into this post.  So I will have to make do with this terrain profile map.  http://ridewithgps.com/photos/snapshots/trip-histogram-107023.jpg  In the comparison it is easy to see that all the time difference between the two rides, 2:10:31 for the 74 Masi GC and 2:07:49 for the 07 Masi Vincere, happened in the easy roller climb between the first peak and the second peak.  This was the area most exposed to a headwind but also the undulating terrain makes frequent shifts significant.  I think this was the only weak spot for the 74 Masi.

 

07 Vincere Premio

 

I bought this Masi new when I decided to dedicate more time to bicycling.  My 75 Eisentraut was having equipment issues and I just wanted a reliable and sporty bike to train on.  The Vincere caught my eye at the local bike shop.  All up weight wise the two bikes compared 196 lb vs 191 lb for me holding the 74 vs 07 Masi, each with the same water bottle and tire bag.  The weight advantage of the aluminum 07 Masi can be felt after longer mileages with alot of climbing but otherwise it is not terribly significant.  Especially since I spend most of my time with extra water, food, lights, generator hub, maps and route sheets that may add an additional 5-7 lbs or more.

 

So the Vincere is aluminum, 7005 T6 aero tubing, with carbon forks, which is fine for performance.  It is stiff.  Let me say that another way.  It is punishing on the kind of California roads I ride.  On rides longer that 100 miles it gets at you.  For instance, there is the descent from Zaca Mesa (Foxen Cyn Rd) on the Solvang Spring Century, it will beat you up.  But on a climb it is good and handles nice with a little more wander than the 74 GC.   It also is more secure on the downhills, with true tracking and brakes.  On my ride the rear brake was giving me some uncharacteristic squeeking which turned out to be a polluted brake pad.  The shifting, Shimano Ultegra STI, is usually crisp and reliable, but today it was not selecting cleanly.  A little tension adjustment and it is back to its usual effortless shifting.  The one thing that detracts from the gearing is the 50-39 chainwheels with the 25-11 cassette gives me the 39-21 gear for climbing, which is slightly lower that the 42-21 gear I was using on the 74 GC.  It was noticeable on the first climb, where I felt I had less momentum, but after that it was not significant.  Since all the climbing times in the comparison were very equal I would say that the offsetting 5 lb weight advantage was given back by the slightly short 39-21 gear.

 

The Easton bars are 44 cm wide and more modern anatomical bend with flatter ramps and those really big brake hoods/knobs.  I still find the old Cinelli CdM bars and Campy hoods better for climbing but the modern set-up has the edge for slipstreaming into the wind.  On the first downhill, turning from a cross wind into a head wind on the descent, the Vincere reacted to the wind buffet more than the 74 GC.  Probably due to the wider aero cross-section frame tubes, deeper section Shimano rims and blade spokes.  But it was an advantage into the wind. 

 

So that sums up the ride comparison.  I really enjoy the sensory inputs of the 74 CG, it's smoothness and ride quality.  It would be even greater with the original Champiano del Mondo Seta tubbies!  The 07 Vincere is an effective axe.  It is quicker and in some cases more efficient.  But the ride quality limits its usefulness now that I am doing longer rides.  I guess that's why I bought the Roubaix SL2.  More comparisons to come.

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Masi vs Masi

Posted by cobrapatrol Sep 19, 2010

One of the nice things about having a collection of toys is getting to make up games with them.  I have two very nice Masi bicycles.  A 2007 Vincere Premio and a 1974 Carlsbad Gran Criterium.  These bikes are both good representatives of their era of technology, steel vs aluminum, and both draw interest and comments on rides.  I have ridden the Vincere on the Heartbreak Hundred and the Grand Tour Double, and the Gran Criterium on the Wildflower Century and will be riding it this weekend on the Lighthouse Century while Danny rides the Vincere.  Although I could say alot of subjective things about each bike and its performance I would like to do a back-to-back comparison of them over the same course while measuring the elapsed time through sections.  I did this today and yesterday, a week after finishing the Beach Cities 400k, because I had the opportunity, the weather was perfect, and my fitness level would allow for consistent results.  So here is the deal.

 

The Course

 

The course starts from my house and immediately climbs 850 ft in the first 3.6 miles, descends and then starts 7.0 miles of rolling ascent that gains 440 ft elevation before a short descent and a climb of 280ft in 0.8 miles.  A fast descent and a climb of 450 ft in 2.5 miles followed by a descent and gradual climb of 600 ft in 3.2 miles.  Again descending and rejoining the first hill, now ascending the back side 300 ft in 1.0 miles before the fast and bumpy descent back to my house.  The total distance is 32.1 miles with 3220 ft climbing.  The road is all secondary two-lane asphalt.  The surface is generally bumpy. The course is located here http://ridewithgps.com/trips/107022

 

Both days I got and early start ~7:00 AM with temperatures in the mid 50's and a light breeze that primarily affects only the 7 mile rolling ascent (mile 4.8 to mile 11.6), the rest either protected by deep canyons or by cross component.

 

The 74 Carlsbad Gran Criterium

 

Much has already been written about the Masi Gran Criterium.  If you want specific information look here: http://www.bikelist.org/  and on Bob Hovey's site: http://bhovey.com/masi

My bike is an early 74, Carlsbad-built, S/N MC98, and has the twin plate fork crown.  It is beautiful, original, and is very much a favorite of mine.  I ride it now with clincher wheels (Rigida with Dura Ace EX hubs) and have retired the Martano rims although they are in great shape.  I use a 25-13 Uniglide six-speed rear cassette with the original 53-42 Nuovo Record crank set.  Even the Cinelli Unicanitor saddle is original.

 

After last week's 400k I was feeling very fit and ready for action.  The Unicanitor felt very good after the 250 miles on a Selle Italia SLR.  I was immediately aware of the vintage Cinelli CdM bars and small Campy brake hoods.  The bars curve steeply so there are no "ramps" at the bar tops.  The most usual position is with thumbs hooked over the brake hoods, not resting on the bars.  This was all more logical on the first climb, where the brake hoods and bar curve make sense for climbing both in and out of the saddle.  I generally use my 42-21 gear for these climbs and I was not disappointed, with a time of 22:09 at the top of the first climb.  The GC handles climbs without any front wheel wandering and with a responsive spring that always asks for more.  It is a joy to ride up hill, especially out of the saddle.  I am limited by my Diadora cleats, though, and ancient Binda Extra straps.  Cinching down the toe straps at the beginning of each climb reminds me that the times have changed.  The 7.0 mile rolling ascent presents me with a headwind and I ride tucked down on the drops.  The thing about the rollers is that alot of shifting is needed for maximum efficiency in speed/cadence and constantly reaching for the downtube shifters and trimming each shift is incentive not the change gears as often as needed.    But the ride over the sometimes choppy road surface is quite good, even compared to my composite Roubaix SL2.  When combining efficiency and ride, steel is real.

 

Each climb presents me with another reason to love the GC for this kind of fast road ride.  The handling is always precise, never nervous.  Except.  On fast downhills, the the GC can give a hint of head shake at speeds over 40 MPH.  I am wary of that after my crash on the Gitane Super Corsa, so I keep the speeds in check.  Not hard with the wonderful feel of the Campy NR long-reach (I mean it, these are the no kidding first issue long reach levers) modulate my speed with no drama.  I do have Mathauser pads on them.

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All these days are good

Posted by cobrapatrol Sep 17, 2010

I returned from my tour pleased that things had gone along well, although I modified my route and did not ride the loop through Naciamento Lake, instead just heading over Hwy 46 to Paso Robles.  Still, a nice ride and it allowed me to stop in at a rather nice bike shop, Best Bike Zone, where they admired my beautiful vintage touring bike and  tightened my bottom bracket.  It had come loose along the way.  I was also able to stop at Firestone Brewery for a well-earned ale.  The final leg, from Simi Valley to home I rode over Grimes Cyn (Hwy 23) to Fillmore.  That was a beautiful climb in the fog, busting out in the clear near the top, sighting down the sinuious descent and plunging back into the fog!  I rode through Santa Clarita and chose to return up Sierra Hwy in the 100+ heat.  By the time I got home I felt I was right tuned up.

 

After several small rides I decided on a 100 miler to ride the week prior to the Beach Cities 400k.  I had replaced the Toupe saddle on the Roubaix with a Selle Italia SLR and wanted to make sure that it was good for the 400k.  My ride was designed to trace the route of the Butterfield Overland Mail stage route that winds along the Sierra Pelona hills through San Fancisquito Cyn Rd, Elizabeth Lake, Lake Hughes, Three Points, and Pine Canyon before joining the Ridge Route and crossing by Quail Lake and Gormon Post Rd, Frasier Mtn Park, and Lebec.  I had chosen the monument to Don Pedro Fages expedition of 1772 where he named "La Canada de las Uvas" or Grapevine Canyon, near the future site of Ft Tejon. At this point I turned around and started back the way I had come.  I met up with a touring rider out of Salt Lake who had ridden from Salt Lake City, north to Glacier Natl Park, over to the coast and down the coast as far as Ojai before turning up Hwy 33 and Lockwood Valley to end up in Frasier Mtn Park.  He was now heading back to Hwy 395 up to Bishop and across on Hwy 6 back home.  He was not used to the heat quite yet but looked to be a strong and well prepared rider.  I rode with him along Hwy 138 for a few miles and parted before heading home on Lancaster Rd.  The heat was tough on me also and I had to stop twice for some shade and to cool my feet.  I actually stopped less than three miles from home in the shade of a tree and took a 20 minute siesta before making that last climb to home.  The SLR worked OK but was not perfect.

 

So this all led up to last weekend and the PCHRandos Beach Cities 400k.  Starting from the Simi Amtrak station we rode in the dark and fog up Grimes and Balcom Cyn and over to Fillmore then turned back towards Ventura.  I met up with Errin at the Fillmore stop and we rode together until the Pt Magu NAS.  We had also picked up Jack and Kathy on their tandem along the way and rode with them until I flatted my rear tire.  Errin stayed with me and we soon got back under way.  We also met Matthew and rode as a threesome until the NAS, where I slipped off the front and rode solo into Malibu.  Matthew passed me while I had a snack stop, but no Errin?  I restarted and soon was joined by Terry.  We found the beach bike path and rode through Santa Monica, Venice, and Marina Del Rey, collecting two other riders along the way. We also collected a speedy roller blader who drafted us for quite some time.  I felt that our pace was quicker than I wanted so I slipped off the back and then caught the roller blader.  I asked him how far he skates, from Redondo Beach to Santa Monica and back, pretty impressive!  I continued on solo along to Rancho Palos Verdes where I stopped for lunch.  Several other riders were leaving as I arrived and also another rider walked by while I was eating at Subway but I did not meet him.

 

Back on the road through San Pedro, Wilmington and into Long Beach, I could see some riders approaching from behind so I slacked my pace and we joined just as we approached the Long Beach Convention Center.  It was Errin, Matthew, and Ron.  We navigated along the bike path and took a quick rest stop.  I was starting to feel my stomach problems coming on and I debated whether to let these guys get on without me but I stuck with them until we were back on PCH heading south through Seal Beach.  It was dusk in Long Beach and now fully dark and I was glad for the help navigating but my stomach was giving me trouble.  We met two touring riders on mountain bikes who that been to San Francisco and were returning home.  They rode as fast as us and kept with us for quite a way but I was not doing well and told the group that I was dropping back and not to worry.  I waited until I was by myself and stopped to dry heave.  Again, four dry heaves and my stomach was much better.  I quickened my pace and soon found the group at a rest stop.  We said good byes to the two young tourists, who were only a few miles from home.  Biking like this was great and I was very glad to have cought back up with this group.

 

The rest of the ride was a blur of headlights.  Riding at night felt very good and the air was still quite comfortable with my sweater on.  I was very glad that Matthew and Ron both knew the route because otherwise I would have been stopping many times along the way to consult the GPS and route sheet.  For some strange reason the GPS had stopped gimung me any turn notices at all and was dark most of the time.  Maybe it has a power-save mode.  As it was it shut off about 5 or 6 miles from the end of the ride at Solana Beach but by then we were just following El Camino Real or Old Hwy 1 or PCH - it's all the same road!  We arrived st Solana Beach just after 2:00 AM for a total elapsed time of 20 hrs 14 mins.  We met Joanie and turned in our brevet cards and Ron and Matthew instantly flopped out on a bed.  Errin and I said good bye until next time and I left to find a place to wait for the few hours until the train arrived at 6:45 to take me back to Simi.  Foutunately ther was room on the coach for a "fourth bike" among a group of indifferent "Tri-guys" who appeared to be out for a training ride or century, and I got on.  I also had met Shai and Bruno while waiting for the train.  We all got on just fine.  I was sorry to hear that other riders were not as lucky.

 

I had felt very good during the ride, my stomach not withstanding, and my pace was still good at the end.  I think I could easily have continued to 300 miles since the overall climbing was only about 8,000 ft.  So I am encouraged to continue and also to be ready for the upcoming Solvang Autumn Double.

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On Tour

Posted by cobrapatrol Aug 8, 2010

Since there is a break in the organized rides and I found the time to take off from work I am taking a hastily planned tour.  I will ride my Centurion Pro Tour 15 complete with front and rear bags.  I will travel to Santa Maria, 160 miles, then up the coast over See canyon to San Simion.  Up to the Nacimiento Rd and back down to Pase Robles alonfg the route of the Central Coast Double.  From Paso Robles down to SLO and then by train to Moorpark.  Then home over the Casitas-Lake Hughes Rd.  A little over 500 miles in all.

 

By the way, I bought another bike.  This one is the all-out assault weapon.  A Specialized Roubaix SL-2 S-Works.  I will ride it in the upcoming Solvang DC and PCH Rando 400k Brevet.  Yes, non retro!

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Mid Year Update

Posted by cobrapatrol Jul 13, 2010

Wow, the time has really gone by!  I have been keeping up with my bike miles and finally completed both a 300k brevet and a double century.  I attempted the Davis Double, riding my vintage Trek TX700 kitted out with front and rear bags, but I encountered severe stomach pain after the lunch stop and abandoned at the Resurrection rest stop after 136 miles and 8,000 ft of climbing.  It was a beautiful day and I have no excuse for not going the distance and I was very disappointed not to finish.  I will go back.

 

For consolation I rode my Masi Vincere on the Heartbreak Hundred century and felt very good and finished in just under 8 hours.  I began to realize that I may not be in good enough shape to ride the heavier vintage bikes on the longer rides.  Maybe I just have to do what it takes to complete the bigger rides.  My next organized ride was the PCH Rando's SLO 300k brevet, which this year was made into a loop south from SLO along the PCH through Los Alamos, over Drum Cyn and then to Lompoc, Solvang, Foxen Cyn, Bull Cyn, Nipomo, Arroyo Grande, Corbutt Cyn, Orcutt Rd, and SLO along Foothill and Los Osos Rd.  A fantastic day riding with groups of great people and I finished in 14 hr 45 min.  This was a very encouraging ride for me and my longest distance.  I am glad that I chose to ride the Vincere again.

 

Next on the list was the LAW Grand Tour Double Century, again on the Vincere.  I chose to ride the Lowland double to ensure the greatest chance of success.  It was another beautiful day starting from Malibu and riding up the coast in the fog.  Inland through Moorpark and lunch in Ojai before returning to the coast for the short interval up to Rincon.  At the rest stop there I encountered a group of riders who were heading up the coast for the triple century option.  These guys were mondo and I had to admire their drive where all I could think about was heading back down the coast.  In a strange way they were an inspiration to me and I hope that I can join them in the future.  My stomach was starting to complain during the return down the coast through the Port Hueneme rest stop.  I met one of the riders, Errin, from the SLO 300k and rode with him for some miles before my stomach just couldn't take any more.  I excused myself and told Errin to go on while I slowed my pace but that was just an excuse to get some privacy to puke.  And I did.  I dry heaved four times, never brought up anything, but felt so much better that I rode on feeling able to complete the last 35 miles.  Had I known it would help so much I would have done this before.  But the reality is that I need to learn more about balancing my carbs intake with some protein.  The last miles back from Pt Dume to Pepperdine were beautiful in a perfect evening with beautiful skies and the views along the PCH are unforgettable.  I made it back in 14 hrs 49 min, so overall a very good day for my first double century finish.

 

Next weekend I am going to ride the Windmill Century, back again into my Santa Maria stomping grounds.  In the fall I plan to ride the Solvang Double and the PCH Rando 400k to San Diego.  The lesson to this point is do anything to finish.

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Sea Otter Classic Gran Fondo

Posted by cobrapatrol Apr 30, 2010

Danny and I rode the Sea Otter Classic Long Gran Fondo - 95 miles along the Salinas river and through Carmel Valley.  We had initial problems with flats that put us at the back of the field and we cruised along having great fun talking to other riders and catching each SAG stop just before closing.  Danny has improved greatly and is quite strong on the climbs (riding my Masi Vincere).  We formed a pace line of about twenty riders at one time - with me at the point and Danny right behind.  After about 5 miles pulling I peeled off and Danny took the point.  I cruised at the back for a while and then sprinted back up to the front to tell Danny that he didn't have to pull those riders forever.  Danny had never ridden a pace line before and I don't think he realized that he had such a solid pack of riders behind him.  Anyway, after a splendid time at speed Danny got a flat (two for him, one for me) and we again became tail-enders.

 

The organization of the Gran Fondo was generally good although they were out of Clif bars at the first two stops and out of water at the top of the big climb.  At the end of the ride, after the stiff climb up Laureles Grade and the even stiffer climb up the Laguna Seca entry road, we finished together at a time just over 9 hrs.  The ride was supposed to furnish "pampering" for the riders at the end in the form of valet bike parking, shower, massage, Sierra Nevada beer garden, and pasta dinner and raffel.  When we arrived, at about 4:30 PM, the valet bike parking was turning away the arriving riders because they had no more claim tickets!  There was pleanty of room for the bikes but somehow they decided that if the bikes couldn't be "valet parked" then no bikes could be parked at all!  That was ridiculous!  There were no massage or shower spaces but the beer flowed just fine.  And the pasta dinner was quite welcome and the raffel was enjoyable, so overall I'd say that it was not the worst organized event - just not the best.  They did apologize for running out of water - but really, that was inexcusible.

 

So for me it is onward to the Davis Double.

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PCH Rando's Anacapa 200k

Posted by cobrapatrol Mar 21, 2010

Having missed the actual brevet, Jan 2nd, due to my injuries, I had decided to ride solo to see how I could do with the longer mileage.  Based on my ride last weekend in Solvang I thought I'd go with the momentum and rode the 200k yesterday.  It was a beautiful day with very little wind and moderate temperatures.  The initial 30 miles through the canyons from Moorpark to Ventura were very enjoyable, as was the trip past the beautiful San Buenaventura city hall.

 

My GPS had initially been bleeping at me while riding in the pre-dawn and I could not see why.  I was afraid that it was a "low battery" warning but after I could see it I decided that it was just a bunch of messages to "Go Straight."  Annoying.  I sure wish there was a backlight that would come on when a message was on the display! I will definetly need a helmet mounted headlight for serious night time navigating.

 

I began the climb up the bike path towards Casitas Lake.  Again, the GPS was lost because it was programmed with a database that did not include bike paths.  I stopped twice to ask directions and refer to my written brevet route sheet.  I stopped with a group of "mature riders" (my age mostly) to say hello and get off my sweater before the Casitas Pass climb but nobody even wanted to say hello, they were all too busy talking to each other.  I have the impression that along popular biking areas like this that people just don't waste time with other people, there's just too many.  Depressing but I still say hello or wave at almost all passing bicyclists.

 

After making the turn-around in Carpenteria I sped down the coast highway, averaging 18-20 MPH.  Generally the GPS was very helpful keeping me on track.  Back in Ventura the track doubles over at Olive street and I missed the turn but got back on track immediately. Also missed the turn at Rincon Rde but realized it immediately because my GPS gave me a warning. It became foggy down towards Oxnard and I put my sweater back on for the ride to Pt Magu through the strawberry fields.  I stopped at the Pt Magu NAS "missile museum" for a quick look and then turned inland for the final leg back.  One more GPS route problem at the transition to Lewis Rd that showed that I should be on the wrong side of the river there.  Then through Camarillo, right by my sister's house, and up Santa Rosa to Moorpark.  It got hotter inland and that required one more shift of my sweater for the climb.  My total time was 9:11, not too bad.

 

I guess I am back on track for where I wanted to be at the beginning of the year, about 3 1/2 months to recover.  Not too bad considering.

And Thanks to the PCH Randonneurs.  I only wish that I had been able to join you for this ride back in January!

 

Jim

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Just back from the Solvang Century.  This course is a classic, very challenging in the early season with lots of climbing.  This year, with the El Nino rains, was glorious with a backdrop of verdent hills and blue skies.  Along the vinyard row on Foxen Canyon Rd there were two painted happy face road art signs.stating: "Happy Vines"  and "Happy Cows", pointing to the roadside vinyard and pastures.  I enjoyed the climbs along Zaca Mesa and Ballard Cyn.

 

I've got to say that the sag stops were well supported with pleanty of water and busy volunteers to offer help.  I applaud the organization to have well prepared sag stops, at well placed intervals.  I was puzzeled that there was not a lunch stop, though.  The day was sunny and cool but the wind was up immediately and I was looking for drafting partners as early as Santa Rosa Rd.  The wind chewed away on everyone.  Many that I talked with on course were disenheartened.  As a Santa Maria native I was at least prepared to endure the onslaught but it does wear away at you. Finally, the wind was at my back for most of the later segment through the canyon climbs.

 

Less ideal were the road conditions in many sections.  The Foxen Cyn Rd descent from Zaca Mesa was brutal. The broken surface vibrated my bike so bad that I feared for my GPS computer and the health of my bike.  I was quite as shaking for a long distance.  It seems to me that with the amount of money being made along that row of vinyard tasting rooms that there could be some immediate improvement made.  The road has been resurfaced just across the way in Tepusquet Cyn Rd which makes that ride just a wonderland.  Which reminds me.

 

The part of the course I could live without is the busy traffic along Hwy 1 by the Vandenberg front gate and that long fast descent into the valley that bypasses the more peaceful San Antonio Rd.  I would much prefer to climb Harris Grade and take San Antonio Rd to Casmalia and round to pick up Black Rd into Santa Maria.  I would love to turn it into a 200k brevet by continuing through Santa Maria to Bull Cyn Rd and Hwy 166 to Tepusquet Rd back to the original course at Foxen Cyn.  More like 6,000  ft climbing.

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Progress is good

Posted by cobrapatrol Mar 6, 2010

I have picked up the pace somewhat on distance.  In the past two weekends I have ridden two 60mi loops, both with about 5,000 feet of climbing.  I feel at least somewhat prepared for the Solvang Century next Saturday.  I am still having trouble dealing with fast downhills, even on my most trusted bikes.  I never imagined I could loose so much considering how mondo I used to be, but there it is.  It will come back, at least to the point where I don't feel the need to brake at 40 MPH!

 

I am still searching for a "full boat" touring bike.  I had a 1986 Voyageur lined up but couldn't get to it due to bad weather.  I really want a bike circa 1983-1984.  It is fun to be looking.

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Feels Good Again

Posted by cobrapatrol Feb 5, 2010

After the 6 weeks of recouperation, some spinning on the indoor trainer, and a small ride with my wife last week and one commute to work I went out today on one of my regular training routes, 30 miles and 2,000 ft of climbing.  I was suprised at how well I felt!  I hope that this keeps up as I start to do more miles.  I am encouraged that I will be ready to get back to the 100 mile marks and start working up from there. 

 

I am looking for a vintage long haul touring bike, like a Trek 720 or Specialized Expedition, Miyata 1000, or Schwinn Voyageur SP.  I want to do some touring vacations and head out cross country.  That's something I have always had on my list.  First got to tour France, with Ann, though!  If she likes that maybe some other european tours?

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