I’d like to thank the Ride Director for the OC Gran Fondo, Cameron Jackson, for a wonderful experience as the VIP of the event. I was treated with VIP parking, a VIP lounge with breakfast and guests before the event, rolling to the head of the massive group (nearly 1,000), and a shout-out before the starting gun. All the while, I thought what’s all this fuss about? But as I reflected for a few minutes just before the start this recognition isn’t unearned or unwarranted. It is nine years of suffering on the bike and consistently finishing or winning some of the hardest events race director’s evil and twisted minds have ever conceived.
I rode my Pinarello tandem, Penelope, with Lori. I liked the route. The OC Gran Fondo took me on streets I hadn’t been on before and that’s hard to do for a guy who often rides centuries for training. The route made good use of the few hills Orange County has to offer i.e. Cannon, Saddleback Ranch and Santiago Canyon in both directions.
We rolled out with a police escort for a few miles. When the motorman pulled off the pace picked up steadily and continued to increase on the Santa Ana River Trail. By MIle 20 the lead group had thinned out to fewer than 10 riders. And by the time we hit Cannon we were fewer than five. Cannon (Mile 33) is one steep bugger. It’s not a long climb but as a tandem we were at a disadvantage climbing the 10% grade. I let the group go and was more than ok with not chasing them down.
Over the next 40 miles we rode conservatively because of the heat and the climbing. We blew through the first few SAG stops. Our first stop was Mile 82. I think Lori and I could have done the whole century unsupported with the water and food we had with us from the start. I had 1000 calories with me in liquid, gel and semi-solid forms.
The course was well marked. Unfortunately, there were few “Hooligans” on the course that moved signs and even removed signs off the course. It was in the last few miles that these shenanigans were taking place. We lost about 15 minutes trying to figure out where we were and how to get back on course. But all’s well that ends well. We finished in about 5 1/2 hours (7am start) and proceeded to enjoy a great recovery pasta meal! I’d like to quote my friend, Richard’s Facebook comment on my finishing photo “a century before lunch is pretty good going”. Indeed!
One last note if you took a picture with me either before or after the event please send me an email with the photo so I can post it on this blog report.
Thank you OC Gran Fondo for a great day on the bike.
FURNACE CREEK 508
Ok so what’s next for George “Red-Eyed Vireo” Vargas? My seventh consecutive Furnace Creek 508 solo is next weekend. The race begins in the Santa Clarita/Valencia area on Saturday October 6th and continues non-stop until all 508 miles and 35,000 feet of climbing are completed. Please follow my blog and Facebook to stay abreast of my progress. Don’t expect much since I have not been able to train as I used to in years past. The Furnace Creek 508 website will also be a great source on tracking me and the other racers.
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George “Red-Eyed Vireo” Vargas with Lori Hoechlin
George “Red-Eyed Vireo” Vargas with Jennifer Koles and Carol Barger
I’m seriously considering the Bianchi Oltre as my next bike!!
Bianchi Oltre as a complete build