2011 Mount Laguna Bicycle Classic Report

I know I know it’s long overdue. I have been working so much and still trying to train that my blogging has really fallen off. I apologize to you, my readers, for not providing more prompt reports of my “suffering and getting it done” adventures.

So here is the quick down and dirty on the Mount Laguna Bicycle Classic. I finished with a time of 6:54 which was good for 19th overall.  I’m actually shocked because with my time being 40 minutes slower than last year I thought I would have been mid-pack.  This year there were 133 finishers of the three loop course.  Interestingly enough, my 6:14 time (11th) from last year would have put me at almost the exact same place this year.  I would have been 10th this year.  If you’ve been reading my blog you might remember a post I made about my goal being sub 6 hours.  Well my work schedule changed and with it my training plan.  I had Friday off before the event and so I rode a century with 5,000 feet of climbing.  More on that later….

Over the years, I have come to the realization that I am a much better Double Century rider.  I fair better on the Double Century circuit than I do in the climbing century realm.  I love to climb but I know placing high is not in the cards for me in shorter events.  The benevolence of my sponsor allows me to participate in these climbing centuries.  I ride hard, follow good wheels and hope for the best.

Here is a quote from Event Promoter, Chris Kostman of AdventureCORPS:

“We had 200 participants (31 female and 169 male, from age 26, Jeremey Stromsoe, to age 76, Skip Nevell). Nine riders completed the 45-mile route, 56 riders completed the 75-mile route, and 133 riders completed the full 101-mile route. Just two DNF’d.”


George “Red-Eyed Vireo” Vargas places 19th overall at the Mount Laguna Bicycle Classic (6:54:50)



Before I move into the meat and potatoes of my report I would like to thank the staff and volunteers of the Mount Laguna Bicycle Classic.  AdventureCORPS, puts on very organized and well supported events.  Chris Kostman provides the structure and framework necessary so that his volunteers can provide exceptional support during the event.  All you have to do is make sure your bike is in top running condition, make sure you’re fit, because his events are challenging, and then just show up and RIDE YOUR BIKE!  AdventureCORPS takes care of the rest!!  I strongly recommend AdventureCORPS events!

BIKE –Sasha Cervelo Soloist SL or SLC- SL.  SRM 7900 wireless crankset power meter with PowerControl 7 head unit.  Crankset 53/39 and 11/28 cassette.  Dura-Ace C24 wheels, Shimano Electronic Dura-Ace Di2, Zipp ZedTECH 2 wheels weight of the bike was 15 lbs

CLOTHING– Simple Green cycling kit, LAS helmet, base layer, Defeet wool Kneekers, Defeet wool gloves, Simple Green Arm Warmers, Swiftwick Merino Wool Socks,  Oakley Jawbones, Shimano R315 cycling shoes with Sidas insoles provided by Fizik.

NUTRITION -Loop 1 INFINIT NUTRITION Loop 2–  Infinit Nutrition and Hammer Nutrition Loop 3– Hammer Nutrition.  Hammer Nutrition was provided by AdventureCORPS and makes refueling much faster than packing more Infinit Nutrition in baggies.


I mentioned earlier in this post that I’ve been working a lot.  My available ride time has been impacted significantly this year.  Hence, my training plan has shifted significantly as well.  I now only ride 2-3 hours at much higher intensity during the week.  On my days off I try to get one sub 6 hour century and then follow it up with another hard ride of equal or slightly shorter distance.

What follows is not training advice for those looking to compete and finish high in the standings at a climbing century at the end of the week.  My goals are much different than most of the riders that participated in the MLBC.  I wanted to show up tried to the Mount Laguna Bicycle Classic (MLBC).  Why would I do that?  Because the only event I really want to do well in is the Furnace Creek 508 in October.  The Furnace Creek 508 is a 508 mile non-stop event with 35,000 feet of climbing.  So at strategic times of the year I ride two hard centuries back to back to see how my fitness is coming along.  I know I’m ready for the Furnace Creek 508 when I can do back to back centuries at high intensity.  If I could ever score three straight days off of work I would do three hard centuries.  These hard days prepare me physically and mentally for the ardor of the 508.  Here is what I did on the week leading up to the Mount Laguna Bicycle Classic.

Monday is “always” a rest day

Tuesday – 2:40 part of the ride solo then met up with group on the hardest part of their ride then solo again. Cadence drills over 100 rpm and high wattage

Wednesday– 2:10 solo ride 10 minute intervals at 3 w/kg, 3.5 w/kg, 4 w/kg then a 60 minute Perceived Effort interval (blind no power meter feedback)

Thursday– Hill work on Newport Coast. Warm-Up then Sprints and Surges to reach Newport Coast Drive then 4 repeats outlined below:

1.  2 minutes at 3.5 w/kg then 3 minutes at 4 w/kg then 4.5 w/kg then the last-minute at 5 w/kg.

2.  8 minutes at 4 w/kg

3.  Freeride- sprinting out of saddle when I recovered (blind no power meter feedback) 

4.  An excerpt from my training log-- "Pelican Hill sprints and surges on inclines. I felt gassed, couldn't go that hard.  But I was surprised when I made the junction to
 Newport Coast because I thought I had so much more to climb."

Friday– a sub 6 hour 106 mile 5,000 feet “century”  — The Canyons Loop  – Newport Beach South on PCH to Dana Point, East on Del Obispo, CLIMB Antonio Parkway, CLIMB Live Oak Canyon, CLIMB Santiago Canyon, CLIMB Silverado Canyon, back to the coast.  Then from Newport Beach to Seal Beach with 10 minute intervals at 3.5 w/kg and then a 20 minute 3.5 w/kg interval on the return to Newport Beach.  Needless to say by Saturday I was tired.  But I planned that way.

The Canyons Loop Century done on Friday the day before Mount Laguna Bicycle Classic

George “Red-Eyed Vireo” Vargas at the start of the Mount Laguna Bicycle Classic
My friend and Epic Training athlete Carlo 

Map of the Mount Laguna Bicycle Classic 



I lined up just before 6am.  I found a few familiar faces, Dave Elsberry, Steve Boniface, Jerry Cook and I caught a glimpse of Ton Van Delan.  As we rolled out I was at the tail-end of the first wave of 50 riders.  Down we went on the first descent and it was time to close the gap on the first riders.  We rode hard the first few miles.  I could feel how tired my legs were from the previous week of training.  That first little climb to Gutay really hurts when you’re not warmed up.  Steve, Dave’s trusty lieutenant, set the early hard pace.  A few miles down the road I had to let him go.  I settled into my own groove with another Steve.  We chatted a bit but he started to have troubles and so I rode on.  I would ride alone from before the first summit of Mount Laguna to the finish.  Many times I second guessed my decision of the training plan I had followed the previous week.  I was tired and I lacked the snap in my legs.  Getting up at 3am to drive down to Pine Valley from Orange County didn’t help my recovery either.  I kept my mind occupied envisioning a great showing at the Furnace Creek 508 in October.  I told myself that the 508 is all that matters and that made getting dropped that much easier to handle.

I arrived at the first summit of Mount Laguna at 2:20.  It was approximately 8:20 am.  I noticed that the 22.5 mile marker was near the aid station.  That little detail became vitally important in the latter stages of the event.

Start to summit of Mount Laguna on Loop 1

3,400 feet of gain in 34 miles

Decent of Loop 1 and Climb of Loop 2

I descended alone from the summit of Mount Laguna. I stayed alone until just before the Kitchen Creek gated section where I was passed by one rider.   The approach to the Kitchen Creek gated area is tougher in my opinion than the gated area.  You can tell by looking at the graph below that CADENCE (green) and POWER (yellow) decline as my TORQUE (grey) increases.  This is a visual representation of a steep grade.  Most people think their POWER goes up on steep grades and that’s true to a certain extent.  But TORQUE really goes up on steeper grades.  TORQUE puts a lot of twisting forces onto your frame but doesn’t propel you forward as well as POWER does.

Once into the gated area I started to feel much better. The grade wasn’t as steep and I found my climbing groove again.  I passed Dave Elsberry on this climb and didn’t see him again until the finish.  I was passed by a couple of riders near the junction to the main road near the summit of Mount Laguna.

Kitchen Creek climb in its entirety from the lowest point on Old Hwy 80 to the summit at Mount Laguna

3,000 feet of gain in 15 miles

Descent of Loop 2

The second descent off of Mount Laguna was very welcomed indeed.  I was getting fatigued and I needed a few minutes of recovery.  The temperature was rising.  As I began the descent I wondered  how hot the Pine Creek climb was going to be.  But as soon as those thoughts came I had to push them aside so that I could concentrate on the descent. I had to hydrate and refuel! I told myself now is the time to get some fluids and calories in me.  It’s really hard to refuel on the 15% grades that Pine Creek so graciously presents to you as a challenge.

Loop 3 Pine Creek

I was in and out of Pine Valley in less than 30 seconds.  Thanks to the support of the Adobo Velo crew!!  My legs were really tired by the time I hit Pine Creek Road.  Oh my god does that road suck the life out of you.  I was riding a 53/39 crankset and an 11-28.  I didn’t walk and I suffered because of it.  Many times I thought, “You’re barely going 4 mph, surely you can walk faster than that!”  But I stayed focused because I didn’t want that stigma that comes from walking on a climb.  And really isn’t that just silly?  There were plenty of times I was on 20% grades out of the saddle just  to turn over so I could stay upright for one more revolution.  Last year I rode a compact crankset with a 50/34 and an 11-25 cassette.  But this year I was riding my standard chain ring 53/39 SRM 7900 Dura-Ace wireless crankset.  I rarely ever need a compact and had I not done a century the day before I would not have suffered as much as I did.  One pedal stroke after another until I finally hit the main road.  I hit the main road and noticed the mile marker was 27.5.  Do you remember earlier I said that knowing the location of the aid station at mile marker 22.5 would be valuable?  I later heard from many riders that the final section of climbing to the final aid station was hard on them mentally.  I knew exactly where I was and how many miles were left until the last descent into Pine Valley.  It pays to pay attention to your surroundings.

Notice from Mile 4 to mile 6.5 how much time is spent going between grades 10% – 20%!!

Training Peaks WKO Pine Creek Climb

The Final Descent into Pine Valley

Final thoughts

Do I regret not going after the sub 6 hour goal I had establish a few weeks before the event? NO! Do I feel I shouldn’t have ridden a century with 5,000 feet of climbing and hard intervals the day before the Mount Laguna Bicycle Classic? NO! Am I happy with my final results? YES! Did I suffer?  YES!  Did I get it done? YES!  What would I change if I had a chance to do it over again?  NOTHING! OK so there you have it George “Red-Eyed Vireo” completes the Mount Laguna Bicycle Classic.

11 thoughts on “2011 Mount Laguna Bicycle Classic Report

  1. Congratulations George! This sounds like a great event, one that I’m going to have to put on next season’s calendar for sure. Your race reports are really helpful, especially since I’ve made the decision to not race in the local RR’s or crits anymore, and just target big climbing events, in particular the Everest Challenge for the first time. I’ve learned what it is I do well over the last five years of racing, and fortunately it’s also what I enjoy the most…Climbing!!! Any advice you have on prep for the EC would be appreciated! Hope all is well. Matt

    • Matt,

      Thank you for you comment. You and I both know that what we excel at. You know that you may do 100 crits and nothing will happen to you. But we built a bike for a guy on Friday and then he raced at the Dana Point race on Sunday and broke his frame in 4 pieces and he’s in a body cast with a broken back. Nah criterium racing doesn’t appeal to me one bit. Stay tuned, I will preview every climb in the Everest Challenge as it draws near. Additionally, I have always had this crazy idea to do all 6 climbs in one day. We’ll see if this is the year.


  2. George, this is the first time I have noticed you nominate for the 508 in 2011.

    Are you planning on a ride report for the 508 in 2010?

    I have really enjoyed them from previous years.



    • Graham,

      Thank you so much for your comment. I haven’t made much mention of the 508 until now. I have been having a pretty good season and my training is going well. My wattage numbers look really good for this time of the year. I didn’t write a race report for the 2010 508 because I was so exhausted afterwards and then right back into 60 hour work weeks. I apologize that I haven’t gotten done since. I really should because it would be good to reflect on it years hence.

      Thank you again for following my adventures,

  3. Nice ride report George. It was a great day out there. Pine Creek was very tough, much much tougher then the “other” Pine Creek. I must say this ride will be on my calendar for years to come. Loved the lack of traffic and scenery.

  4. another great piece. it would be great if you can include more detail about the nutrition aspect. what does it take to keep you fueled. By the way, the Nathan synergy pack is awesome. I invested in one after reading your DV piece. I use it for trail running.

    • Marco,

      Thank you for reading my blog and taking the time to post a comment. I will include more nutrition information on future posts. As far as MLBC my own Infinit Nutrition for the first part of the race and then switched to Hammer Nutrition. By the way, I don’t need much fluids or nutrition. Over the years I have been able to run on less and less.


  5. George, I think you are the very nice guy who helped my husband with his flat as he came into Pine Valley before his climb on Pine Creek. He was near the cutoff and very stressed that he wouldn’t make it because of his flat. You very kindly, and incredibly quickly- I might add, changed his flat and had him out of there in a jiffy.

    Thank you so much for helping my husband complete his goal of doing all three loops. ( I did two.)

    • Rebecca,

      Thank you for reading my blog and taking the time to make a comment. I appreciate the kind words as well. I’m glad your husband accomplished his goal. You should be proud of him that last loop is very challenging. Great job doing two loops. Next year it’s your turn to complete all three!

      Feel free to subscribe to my blog and pass it along to your friends!

      george “Red-Eyed Vireo” Vargas

  6. Pingback: 2011 Breathless Agony Ride Report « George's Epic Adventures

  7. Pingback: AdventureCorps Event Schedule for 2012 | George's Epic Adventures

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