On September 22, 2018 George Vargas and Lori Hoechlin completed the inaugural running of the Beach Cities Double Century with 9,900 feet, in a total time of 12:56 on the tandem. For those of you that keep track of ride time only, 11:39. We had a mechanical and flat-free day! This was George Vargas’s 51st and Lori Hoechlin’s 36th Double Century and our 4th of the 2018 season. The two biggest hurdles of the day were TRAFFIC LIGHTS and a never-subsiding HEADWINDS.
Before getting into the ride report I would like to thank Jim Cook for taking the time and immense effort to create a new double century right here in Southern California. Next, I would like to thank all the volunteers for being out on the course all day ensuring we were well supported. Thank you!
I had my reservations about doing this double century. At first I thought there are going to be a lot of traffic lights. When we checked in at the finish Kermit even said, “How did you like Tour de Lights?” LOL! As Lori and I discussed whether we were going to do it, I told her I just needed to prepare myself mentally that we are going to be stopping a lot on this double. You see you have to think of the tandem as that big semi you see on the road. In the city, they are slow lumbering beasts that clutter the road and are almost always in your way. But on the highway, they are a picture of beauty with all their lights, fairings and effortless speed based on their momentum. Yeah we are something like that 🙂
I then thought I might as well do the double since it is a local event and I would like to give a local guy, Jim Cook, a shot at succeeding. Furthermore, the event would benefit many worthy causes addressed by from the event website – “FINDcures a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit charity that supports research for Alzheimer’s Disease, Autism, Concussion, Epilepsy, Major Depression Disorder, MS/ALS, Parkinson’s Disease and Stroke, and provides transitional support services for individuals impacted by any of the above neurological diseases. NdZONE will donate at least 5% of all Beach City’s proceeds to FINDcures.”
DESCRIPTION OF THE ROUTE
From the Beach Cities DC website:
“The Beach City event starts and finishes in Irvine, California. Irvine offers a system of bicycle lanes and trails to encourage the use of bikes as a means of transportation. It has 44.5 miles of off-road bicycle trails and 282 miles of on-road bicycle lanes. The City of Irvine is one of the most bicycle friendly and safest communities in America”
Sounds great! Sign me up! The reality is that you can’t do a DC exclusively in Irvine. Well you could I guess by doing laps … something I abhor. It is the very reason I have never signed up for any 24 hour races. They are usually held on looped courses. The largest loop in the daylight hours with a shorter loop usually after sunset. Although if you follow my blog you will know that I have no problem Everesting. When Everesting you do repeats up and down the same hill until you reach 29,029 or 8,848 meters on one ride. So you would think I would be able to tolerate a looped 24 hour course but you would be wrong.
I digress, back to the event. The route turned out to be a great route not what I expected so I was pleasantly surprised. It was billed as quite the scenic tour see below:
Corona Del Mar
Legendary course highlights:
Surf City, U.S.A.
1984 Olympic Cycling Road Race Course
Florence Joyner Olympiad Park
Ole Hanson Beach Club
San Clemente Casino
Western White House
Saturday morning we launched out at 6:07am. Yes that’s an odd start time – we were late for the 6:00 start — oops! MY BAD! It was still dark but luckily Lori could read the cue sheet just fine under the street lamps of the main roads. Additionally, because she resides in Orange County we stayed on course without incident or wrong turns until sunrise. Lori and I had discussed the advantages/disadvantages of the different start times. The organizer gave the riders the option to start between 4:30-6:00 am Here is my opinion regarding the advantages and disadvantages of the different start times.
Early start leads to an early finish – in the fall and winter months daylight hours are shorter. Mentally, I like finishing a double before sunset.
Lighter traffic – Saturday morning at 430 you should have much lighter traffic I mean who else is crazy enough to be up that early although you would be surprised.
Major thoroughfares are green-lit — major streets are green, green, green while the feeder streets which have less traffic will most likely be red.
More hours/miles ridden and climbs completed before the heat of the day sets in!
Headlight use in the morning eats into the total burn time available for your headlight. If you have flats or mechanicals during the day and your progress is delayed then you may run out of burn time on the tail end of the ride.
Night navigation – reading the cue sheet and reading street signs pre-dawn, let’s face it night time, can be especially tricky. Missing a turn can add unnecessary miles and added stress and frustration to your already long day.
Usually a daylight start – easy navigation and great visibility for you and your visibility to motorists.
Warmer start – it’s usually coolest/coldest just before dawn. The later the start the warmer the start and the less clothing you will need at the start and quite possibly a short time and then have to schlep it around for the next 12 hours or longer.
Chasing down the early starters – it is motivating for me to know there are other riders ahead on the course. I like the feeling of chasing them down throughout the day.
After a long work week and long travel to an event sleeping-in 1.5 hours more hours feels amazing!
If you have any flats/mechanicals you could easily go into the night and have to finish in the dark.
In the end we chose a late start 6am of the 4:30-6am window- to minimize night time navigation and feeling confident we would move briskly through the course and finish before dark. We just barely made it in before dark.
I lived in Orange County for several years logically you would think I would remember the sequence in which the major intersections come at you and when to anticipate a left hand turn but I really don’t remember much. Whenever I had free time I would leave town and ride either in the San Gabriel Mountains, Eastern Sierras or the mountains of San Diego. It can’t be overstated enough how important it is to not miss a turn during a double century! This DC had 2 pages front AND back of directions! Thank you Lori for your excellent navigation!
The weather was a pleasant 63 degrees F on a late September morning. We felt a slight breeze as we were climbing through the first real climb of the day, Santiago Canyon. Little did I know that slight breeze would strengthen and become our nemesis the for the remainder of the day.
We rolled up and down through many hills in south Orange County and eventually we made our way to aid station #2 in San Clemente. What happened to the first aid station? We bypassed it since we didn’t need anything within the first 25 miles. Immediately following aid station #2 was the toughest hill of the day for us – Avenida Salvador! It had ramps over 12-15% and it is a bear on a tandem.
Up down up down more hills and familiar roads as we were doing large loops back to earlier aid stations. I’m sure that made it easier for the event organizer to provide support for us. All was going fine until I started having twinges in my legs that eventually became cramps. I rarely cramp. Lori says never say never. I was just about to type I “never cramp”. I was so surprised and wondered what the heck was going on! I started taking sodium supplements at each aid station and taking extra capsules with me. Throughout the day I was fighting off cramps in my legs. It was actually quite annoying. My nutrition was the same as always — concentrated bottles of Spiz Nutrition . Lori and I ride 90% liquid nutrition for our doubles with Spiz being our primary fuel. It is an amazing product that provides the calories, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals, electrolytes and amino acids for you to sustain hard efforts for hours on end.
The on and off cramping was nothing compared to the headwinds we experienced all day. Anytime we turned West or North the winds were unrelenting. On Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) there were times that we were barely going 15 mph on flat sections. Let me tell you that’s disheartening as a tandem lol! We pushed through it and finally made our turnaround in Long Beach immediately across the harbor from the Queen Mary. I had told Lori on the way up that I had never been to the Queen Mary. She was surprised probably just as much as I was lol!
Once we made the turn for home we were treated to a wonderful tailwind from Long Beach back to Newport Beach, approximately 20 miles. We turned inland and headed for Irvine. Funny how so often we are racing the sun to finish our doubles in fall and winter doubles. Sunset for Saturday was 6:48pm. We pulled into the Hotel Irvine just a couple of minutes after 7pm. Sub 13 hours was the goal and we were right on target! At first it was a conservative goal with hopes of beating it but with all the winds during the day and the cramping it ended up being a struggle just to make the sub 13 hour goal.
Thank you to Lori for being so steady on the bike with power and grace. I’m sorry for rushing you through lunch! She gets all the photo credits too lol!
What’s next for me/us? Lori and I will be doing the Knoxville Double Century (200 miler with 12,000 feet) on September 29th. If all goes well it will be our 5th Double Century of the season. On Sunday morning there will be an awards breakfast where I will be inducted into the California Triple Crown Hall of Fame for having completed 50 Double Centuries. Stay tuned…
You can follow me on Strava here