Welcome and thank you for reading my blog.
First allow me to thank my sponsors, NiteRider, Motor Tabs, Skins, Speedfil hydration system and Nathan. I wore the Skins Bib Longs cycling specific compression tights with chamois for the duration of the 372 miles and I can honestly say they made a difference. I know my legs felt better than they would have without them.
THE SHORT OF IT
I completed the San Diego 600km Brevet in 27:20. Beating my goal of 30 hours by 2 hours 40 mins. I rode with two strong riders, MICHAEL STURGILL and JOSH TALLEY. We helped each other through our lulls and kept each other safe through the night and throughout the 373 mile course. I owe my success at the 600km to their company, their tireless efforts to keep the pace high, our unified and singular focus of “Git ‘er Done!” and our synergy–thanks guys!!
The event had 17,740 feet (5400 meters) of climbing, (data from Polar 625x your climbing data may vary) covered four counties, San Diego, Riverside, Orange and Los Angeles. The course was a good sampling of typical Southern California terrain. It included plenty of hills, mountains, rollers, spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, rural communities, flats and even urban areas that slowed us down significantly. The three of us were the lead riders from the start and finished with a four hour time gap over the next group of riders.
For the Power Mongrels I burned close to 11,000 kjs avg 130 watts. As you can see I kept the wattage down as this was an Ultra and conservation of energy is the name of the game.
THE LONG OF IT
I was anxious to get started on the 600km because my last two attempts at that distance had been really tough. My biggest challenge is sleep deprivation. I usually have decent legs and the distance is not a concern. Another reason I was anxious was that Brandy and I had done the first part of the series on a tandem. We had done the 200km (125 miles), 300km (187 miles), 400km (252 miles) and I wanted to see where I was as far as my fitness. Trans Iowa is on May 2nd and I haven’t much time left to get ready for this 320 miles non-stop off road race.
Many of you might recall that I fractured my thumb on Oct 30th. I missed my winter base building phase. I typically build my mileage in November and December to prepare for the early season brevets. This year I jumped right into the January 3rd 200km brevet with almost no base.
This was the first time I used Twitter during an event. I thought it was fun and luckily I had coverage at the controls. People often ask me how I am able to recollect so much detail of the ride. Well it’s really quite simple. As I prepare my reports, I use the time stamps on the pictures and the mileage on the route sheets to keep me on track with my story telling. For the 600km I didn’t bring a camera so the Twitter log and my route sheets will suffice.
A good group of riders were present at the start. There was a 200km available in conjunction with the 600km. There were familiar faces along with some fresh faces. I struggled trying to figure out who was going long. I got to the the line just minutes before we were launched.
THE FIRST LOOP OCEANSIDE TO TEMECULA 78 MILES WITH 4800 FEET
Our first loop would take us from Oceanside to Temecula through one of my favorite roads to climb, De Luz and De Luz Murietta. We would then go through Rainbow, Fallbrook and return to Oceanside. As soon as we rolled off I noticed I was not getting a speed indication. Although, I was very familiar with the route and needing exact mileage wasn’t necessary to follow the route sheet I like seeing the mileage accumulate and it motivates me. I pulled over and fussed with it until I got it working.
By the time I got my speed indication working everyone and I mean everyone was up the “road” — we were on the San Luis Rey Bike path or Oceanside bike path as most people call it. I had to chase pretty hard to catch the lead riders. But every group I caught was not the lead group and I had to bridge again. Finally, on Sleeping Indian (a very steep hill over 15% in parts) I saw the lead rider and focused on catching him. Along the way I passed Josh and we said our hellos. I didn’t recognize him at first because I had only met him once in 2007 at the Eastern Sierra Double Century just two weeks before I did Race Across America on a two person team. I was intent on catching the lead rider who turned out to be Michael Sturgill.
As soon as I bridged up to him I asked him his name and introduced myself so he would know I was on his wheel. Soon after I noticed Josh had bridge up as well. It was around mile 12 and the three of us stayed together for the duration of the event. We arrived at the Fallbrook control at 8:16 am 20.5 miles and 1610 feet of climbing.
from my Twitter:
Fallbrook control 20.5 miles
8:16 AM Apr 4th
The climbing from Fallbrook to Temecula is some of the best in San Diego county. We climbed and rolled up and down culminating on Rancho California Road with a great view of Temecula. Old Town Temecula was abuzz with people enjoying their morning. We weaved through the traffic and hit the control. I had a King Size Snickers bar yummy!
from my Twitter:
Temecula control 46. 3 miles 3920 feet of gain
10:01 AM Apr 4th from txt
From Temecula we worked our way back to Oceanside through Live Oak Canyon, Green Canyon, Mission and the San Luis Rey Bike path. It was evident to Josh and I that Michael was very strong on the flats. On the bike path Michael would crank it up to 23-24 mph and all we could do was hang on. While you might say that riding and drafting other riders saves energy– and it does– staying on Mike’s wheel was really a huge expense of energy. It was not the pace I would have gone and it hurt. MOre pain than you need only 70 miles into a 373 mile event.We arrived at Oceanside at 11:46 with 78 miles and 4820 feet of gain with a Total Time of 4:45. I had a personal goal of 5 hours so we were 15 mins ahead of my schedule.
from my Twitter:
Oceanside control 77.93 miles 4820 feet of gain 4:45 tptal time
11:46 AM Apr 4th from txt
Once back at Oceanside we had to get our night gear i.e lights, reflective gear and cold weather gear. It must seem odd to other riders that it is only 12pm and we have all this stuff with us. I had a little anxiety hoping I would remember to take everything I needed for the next 154 mile loop. Not only can you be disqualified for not having lights or reflective gear–IT’S JUST NOT SAFE! So I grabbed my Nathan Reflective vest, my Nathan Acid Reflux, and my Nathan bands. For lighting I used the NiteRider MiNewt X2 and two batteries. Not nearly as much light as the NiteRider Moab but I was hoping to hang on to Josh and Michael. About 17 mins after arriving at Oceanside we rolled out.
from my Twitter:
Rolling from Oceanside
12:03 PM Apr 4th from txt
SECOND LOOP OCEANSIDE TO ALPINE AND BACK TO OCEANSIDE 154 MILES 9180 FEET
The next loop took us from Oceanside down the coast through Carlsbad, Leucadia, Encinitas, Del Mar, La Jolla, Pacific Beach, Old Town, Downtown San Diego, National City and Chula Vista. LOTS OF TRAFFIC LIGHTS AND STOPS. Not my favorite part of the ride. We continued a southeastern route heading away from commerce, traffic and population. We had another control at South Western College. Where I gladly ate a turkey sandwich from 7-11. It had been 10 hours since my last solid meal.
from my Twitter:
Chula vista control mile 130 7100 feet of climbing- lights through PCH and downtown San Diego slowed us down Big thank you to Motor Tabs!!
3:31 PM Apr 4th from txt
Eating 7-11 turkey sandwich first solid food since Brandy’s awesome pancakes and eggs at 500 am
3:35 PM Apr 4th from txt
The next section has some good hard climbs and they were packed in a short area. We would do 6,000 feet of climbing in the next 60 miles. We climbed Honey Springs Rd, Lyons Valley and rolled through Japathul Valley Rd. I remembered how I felt on my last San Diego 600km and I was feeling so much better. I was tired and low on energy but at least I was not sleepy nor did I have the hot-foot issues I had in 2005. We continued on and reached the Alpine control at 6:52pm 168 miles 11,000 feet of climbing in a Total Time of 11:50.
from my Twitter:
Alpine control mile 168 11,000 ft of climbing 11:50 total time not feeling great
6:52 PM Apr 4th from txt
I was starving and feeling really bad by the time we got to Carls Jr. in Alpine, the control. I chose a Chicken Bacon sandwich and went to town on it. About half-way through it I got really naseous and thought I wasn’t going to hold it down. I couldn’t figure out what was going on. Michael said maybe I was really close to bonking and that is why I felt so bad even though I was putting much needed food in me. We ate as fast we could and I called Brandy. I hadn’t talked to her the whole event. It felt weird because this was the first Ultra event of 2009 that Brandy wasn’t on the back of the tandem. We talked as the food settled and then it was time to suit up. The stop was much longer than I wanted but I was glad we were all on the same page and wanted a hot meal.
from my Twitter:
#16 at Carl’s Jr hit the spot Chicken Bacon and real Coke yeah!
7:10 PM Apr 4th from txt
I knew we still had more climbing to do but I felt good again after the meal and some rest off the bike. We then descended from Alpine and climbed up to Crest and then descended down to Lakeside only to climb again. We climbed Hwy 67 to Scripps Poway Pkwy (approx 8 miles) and then descended into Poway. That was the last of the long climbs. But plenty of rollers for the rest of the event. It was at this point that Mike said “No good descent goes unpunished in San Diego”. Man is that appropriate. We just finish a descent and then bam another climb. We made it to the Poway Control at 9:30pm. 199 miles and 13,080 feet of gain. a 14:30 double century. We does it take so long to do brevets? Could it be the lack of support? Duh!
from my Twitter:
Poway control mile 199 13080 ft of gain total time 14:30
9:30 PM Apr 4th from txt
At the Poway control I had a Tuna Sandwich and a Classic Coke. I looked at the faces of my two comrades and they looked like I felt. Leaving the control I had the shivers pretty bad. I donned my Hi-Vis shell and we headed towards the coast via the 56 Bike Path. Once on the Pacific Coast Hwy it was due North towards Oceanside.
from my Twitter:
Oceanside control 233 miles 13980 feet 17:04 total time burrito time!
12:04 AM Apr 5th from txt
We arrived in Oceanside and I was starving AGAIN. Mike went to his room at the host hotel and Josh and I got a burrito. There was a gathering of young men in front of the taco shop. One said “I didn’t think cyclist ate burritos…only healthy food” I replied well “That’s BS because when we’re hungry we ate anything!” and we all had a good laugh at that. Little did I know I would be burping that burrito for the next 4 hours.
THIRD LOOP OCEANSIDE BELLFLOWER OCEANSIDE 140 MILES 3760 FEET OF GAIN
The next leg is always the toughest for me. It is a “straight shot” North and it was already Midnight. Now were headed to Long Beach along the coast. Sleep deprivation and fatigue took hold. Mike shared with me that on his “long” brevets — um wasn’t this a long one? He struggles between the hours of 2am – 5am and typically plans his naps at that time. I struggle during that same exact time frame.
As we headed North on the Hwy 5 we left San Diego County and continued towards Orange County. We went through the rollers of San Clemente , Dana Point, Laguna Beach and Corona Del Mar. The road flattened out as we entered Huntington Beach. It was there that Brandy came out to PCH and gave a me kiss and continued north. A few miles north after seeing Brandy, which always makes me feel better, I got a flat. It was the only mechanical for the three of us in 372 miles not bad I think. I had put fresh rubber on the bike and that usually prevents me from flatting on a long event. The puncture was caused by a wire strand so small so thin it would have been impossible to avoid…oh well.
We continued North and crossed into Los Angeles County. We entered the San Gabriel River Trail on our way to the Bellflower Control on Artesia. I was getting dropped by Mike and Josh mainly because I was falling asleep. I would wake up just inches from the rocks that line the bike path. I kept thinking I just have to get to the Bellflower Control and get some caffeine. After multiple close calls I dismounted and started doing jumping jacks, slapping my face, stretches and even push-ups to wake-up.
As I’m stopped on the side of the bike path looking all silly I see two headlights coming back to me and one coming from the direction I had been traveling. Mike and Josh had doubled back because they thought they missed a turn. The other rider must have been commuting. Imagine if you will almost 300 miles into the event about 22:30 hours and in complete darkness on a bike path. The three of us huddled around a route sheet questioning our mileage on our computers and comparing it with the mileage on the route sheet. The three of us asking each other “Did you see the Y they are talking about here?” I was of no help since the last 3-4 miles I was riding basically asleep. It’s at these times that you don’t want to ride not one mile in the wrong direction NOT ONE! I made the decision that we should keep going and we should see the Y. Would you believe that when Mike and Josh had gone ahead of me earlier had been less than 100 yards from the bridge but they just didn’t see it.
When people ask me what is so alluring about Ultras it’s times like the one I just described. Yeah the miles are tough and the terrain as well but it’s those decisions you have to make while in a fog that challenges me. It reminds me of my time in the Marine Corps, 12 years by the way, where I had to make life and death decisions in that “fog of war” as we called it. It seems silly now in the comfort of your office or home as you read this, but when you’re out there– sleep deprived, in a huge calorie deficit with aches and pains in many parts of your body I ASSURE YOU IT ISN’T TRIVIAL AT THAT MOMENT IN TIME!
from my Twitter:
Bellflower control mile 302 23:00 total time 15, 780 feet of gain lots of sleep deprivation problems hoping when the sun comes up I will …
6:01 AM Apr 5th from txt
At the Bellflower Control I had a very dry and hard to eat Pita and ham sandwich another Classic Coke and then we were off. Daylight was my savior. I felt good again and I was awake. Problem was I was just tired and was having trouble staying on Mike and Josh’s wheel. I got dropped twice and twice I bridged. At which time I made it clear to the boys that I just didn’t have it in me to chase one more time. I got to the front and set pace– a lot slower than they were going but I had to hold on just 40 more miles. As we neared the last 10 miles I got my 20th wind and pulled on the 5 freeway. I was just acting like a horse going back to the stables.
We got in just as Mike Berry was heading out to “intercept” us. I was more than spent. But thanks to Mike and Josh I was done and not still out there. And then the best part– Brandy came down to meet me and have Sunday Brunch LOL! She then followed me home and talked to me on the phone to keep me awake.
There you have it — a successful goal beating 600km brevet!
Done 372 miles 17,740 feet 27:20 total time! Stick a fork in me I’m done! 10:24 AM Apr 5th from txt
JOSH AND I AT THE FINISH!