2011 San Diego 200km Brevet

BIKE: Sasha, Cervelo Soloist SL with Dura Ace Di2, SRM 7900 Wireless Power Meter and Power Control 7.  53/39 crankset and 11-28 cassette, Fizik Versus Arione Saddle

CLOTHING: Skins C400 Compression Long Sleeve Jersey and bib shorts, Swiftwick Merino 4″ socks

NUTRITION:  Infinit Nutrition customizable formulas.

1700 Calories consumed avg of 246 cal/hr

1180 Sodium avg 171 mg/hr

800 Potassium avg 116 mg/hr

426 g Carbs avg 62 g/hr

RESULT: I finished at 1:52 PM.  Total Time 6 hours 52 minutes.  I was second only to Jerry and Bal who came in together.  Five minutes faster than last year.  I find that remarkable because last year I rode with two other riders (Drew Peterson and Dave Elsberry) for the majority of the event and this year I rode alone from MILE 48 to MILE 120.


Red-Eyed Vireo and AdventureCORPS Race Director Chris Kostman


Training Peaks Wko 3.0 Entire Workout 206 watts Normalized Power 3.00 w/kg

Training Peaks Wko 3.0 Best 60 Minutes 223 watts or 3.25 w/kg

Training Peaks Wko 3.0 Start in La Jolla to Control #1 San Elijo Rd  217 watts or 3.16 w/kg

The San Diego 200km is one of my favorite routes in San Diego.  It has some rolling terrain, good medium length climbs (3-5 miles) and some flat terrain to get that big ring rolling.  The brevet begins in La Jolla at Doyle Community Park and heads Northeast.  I believe there were 60 riders at the start.  It was a nice size field but being a Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP) year I expected a much larger group.  The pace was slow from the start which was fine by me.  I needed time to warm-up.  Rock Rabbit was on a tandem and I thought it would be good to catch up with him while sucking his wheel on the downhills.  Jerry Cook was the early rabbit and was fortunate to make it through a couple of lights were the main field had to stop.  It’s nice to have that early rabbit because then you have someone to chase throughout the day- if they last.

As we neared Del Dios Hwy in Rancho Santa Fe I thought we were bunching up too  much and we were  flaring out onto the road.  The roads in Rancho Santa Fe are very narrow and the fog line disappears often with chunks of road missing into the dirt.  It’s interesting to me that with all the wealth in that town the roads are in such a state of disrepair.  I knew the road would steepen sharply just before the right turn onto Del Dios Hwy.  We were about 45 minutes into the event and my legs were plenty warmed up.  I looked over at Bal and said “Right, well let’s get this party started shall we?” I surged and Bal followed.  We turned onto Del Dios Hwy and he took lead.  As we climbed Del Dios we had gone clear of the field but it was evident that Bal was much stronger than me.  This was my first time riding with Bal.  He started to gap me and of course mentally that slowed me down even more.  At one point he was at least 1/4 mile up the road.  I felt like I was going backwards so I looked back and saw a small group coming.  Bal was up the road, a group was closing on me and I was suffering so I sat up.

The group that caught be was Collin, Marty and his friend.  Bal was definitely the strongest climber of our group. Just before the group caught me he made a U-turn so that I could get back on his wheel– very classy move!  We worked together until the base of the San Elijo Climb (MILE 32.5).  I asked the control volunteer what was the time gap to Jerry- it was four minutes.


Training Peaks Wko 3.0 Control #1 San Elijo Rd  to Control @2 AM/PM Deer Springs 216 watts or 3.15 w/kg

I was the first to roll in, fill up and roll out.  I wasn’t trying to “attack” I just knew Bal could catch me at will and he did.  He reached the top first and waited for me and then we descended “together”.  At the base of San Elijo, on the San Marcos side, Bal and I were caught by Marty and his friend because of all the traffic signals.  Next up was the gradual climb up to Deer Springs Rd and the 15 freeway.  The four of us rotated a little and again Bal was able to pull away from us.  We got to AM/PM control and there was Jerry.  He had gone into the AM/PM to get a receipt thinking it was an unmanned control.  So now the early rabbit had been caught and there was five of us rolling from Deer Springs (MILE 42)

Training Peaks Wko 3.0 Control #2 AM/PM to Rainbow 211 watts or 3.08 w/kg

The five of us, Jerry, Bal, Marty, his friend and I, rolled from the AM/PM together.  I knew there was a pretty fast descent coming up and I positioned myself behind Jerry.  He was the heaviest rider, biggest rider and with his full-on TT bike set-up was arguably going to be the fastest descender.  I also thought he would try to do more than just descend.  Well I called that right because he surged really hard and then got into his aerobars.  I was fortunate to anticipate his move and tucked in nicely in his draft.  All was fine on the descent and on the first part of Old Castle Road.  And then again I felt like I was going backwards again.  Where were my climbing legs today?  I had to let Bal and Jerry go because I couldn’t keep their pace.

We were now at MILE 48 and I was dropped.  I rode the rest of the event alone.  I never saw Jerry or Bal again.  My legs felt really heavy and it was evident I had not done the winter base miles I usually do before the 200km.  I climbed Old Castle Rd, Couser Canyon and Rice Canyon at my pace.  I was loosing time to the “Jerry and Bal show”.  I figured those two were the perfect compliment to each other.  Bal, the better climber, would make Jerry work harder on the climbs.  Jerry, the powerful diesel, would provide a good draft for Bal (135lbs) I reached Rainbow and felt completely spent but relieved that the hard climbing was over.

Training Peaks Wko 3.0 Control # 3 Rainbow to La Jolla  192 watts or 2.80 w/kg



While at the Rainbow control I saw my old friend Pete Penseyres.  I was so out of it that I didn’t capture the moment with a picture.  Tom and Tina Reynolds were manning that control.  Tom had snapped a picture of me just moments before I saw Pete.  I was trying to catch Bal and Jerry and that was exhausting me.  According to Tom the time gap was now six minutes.  I was pleased with that because I expected the time gap to be much more than only six minutes.  I left Rainbow at 11am.  The rest of the event is mainly downhill as you can see from the graph above but always with a little headwind.  I made my way from Rainbow to Oceanside and was feeling ok– considering.

Now the part of the ride I dislike, Pacific Coast Hwy on a Saturday midday.  It was a very nice day I would say high 70’s.   There were lots of people enjoying the beautiful day and that makes for sketchy fast riding on the coast.  I made it through without incident – meaning no close calls on that 20 mile stretch.  But the lights and congestion were annoying.  However, EVERYBODY has to deal with it so it all evens out in the end.  I climbed Torrey Pines feeling ok but fatigued of course.  I finished at 1:52 PM.  Total Time 6 hours 52 minutes.  I was second only to Jerry and Bal.  Five minutes faster than last year.  I find that remarkable because last year I rode with two other riders for the majority of the event and this year I rode alone from MILE 48 to MILE 120.


Post event with my son


Furnace Creek 508 2009

T- 17 days until Furnace Creek 508 2009. I go into this event burnt-out from a full year of ultra racing. My season began with the San Diego 200km Brevet back in Jan 3rd and will end with FC508 on Oct 3rd, a full 10 months! Follow labels such as Race Reports, races, Brevets, or training, mountains, high intensity to read up all the races and training leading up to the Furnace Creek 508, my goal event of the year.

On my website, http://www.epictrain.com/follow the link “Race Reports”. There you will find 2006, 2007 and 2008 Furnace Creek 508 Race Reports. Or you could “skip the book and see the movie” here in my video gallery.

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San Diego 600km Brevet Report

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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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


San Diego Brevet Series 600km (375 miles)

Today is Wednesday the usual start day for my 3-day block of commuting/training. But I am changing up my routine. In the past, I have suffered from sleep deprivation on 600km events. Subsequently, my pace slows down during the event when I’m falling asleep. Yes, I said falling asleep and yes, on the bike. I consider it one of my biggest weaknesses in my pursuit of becoming a better Ultra Cyclist. Don’t forget these events are overnighters for the average cyclist. My best has been in the 33 hour range. As you can see that is an 11.36 Mph Avg speed. If I can just stay awake and keep the wheels rolling I might break 30 hours.

I climb…ok, I ride the flats… ok (drafting helps lol!) and I spend very little time off the bike. But the one thing that slows me down in longer events is fighting the Sandman. In 2005, I did the San Diego 600km I was about 160 miles into the event and I had to pull over. I was so tired and sleepy. Would you believe it was the middle of the afternoon? Also in 2005, two weeks later I did the San Luis Obispo 600km and also suffered from sleep deprivation issues early in the afternoon.

In both cases above I worked all week (who doesn’t?) and had real early starts to my day on the Thursday and Friday mornings leading into the event on Saturday. I have vowed to get at least 7 hours of sleep over the next couple of days. I rarely get more than 6 hours. To keep the legs loose I will try and ride the trainer (hate the trainer) or go for a short ride after work BUT NO commuting on the bike. When I commute I’m up by 4am and I think I can squeeze out 1-2 more hours of sleep and wake up at 530am or 6am. I’ll ride the rails instead of clogging the freeways with my car!

San Diego 400km Brevet


Brandy and I pre-rode the San Diego 400km Brevet. The event was 240 miles with 13,500 feet of climbing. A lot of the climbing was doable but the steeper grades really hurt us on the tandem. Our total time was 23 hours 52 mins. By contrast, I did a variant of this course solo last year at 20 hours. This is really an EPIC route. The San Diego mountains and high desert remoteness really test your physical strength and mental resolve.

Historically speaking, the 400km is my toughest event. I think it is because I want to do the event straight through without any significant stops. I have always tried to do this event without a full meal stop and without resting at any control. That strategy has worked, albeit painfully, with one exception. In 2004, my second year of Ultras, I DNF’d a 400km and that has stayed with me. It is the only brevet I have ever DNF’d in my seven years of doing Ultras.

Our day began early, REALLY early. We were up at 1:30am. We left at 2:40am from Huntington Beach to the start in Carlsbad.

Mile 0- Start Control–We rolled at 4:30am. My goal was to do the most remote portion of the route in daylight hence the very early start time. The first loop was 14 miles in Rancho Santa Fe connecting back to the coast on Lomas Santa Fe and then north on the Pacific Coast Hwy. We stopped for a double espresso at Starbucks on Grand Ave and PCH in Carlsbad about 24 miles into the ride and then continued on to the San Luis Rey bike path.

At mile 46– we began the climb up Olive Hill Rd. The word “hill” in its name should have given me the first clue. I couldn’t remember ever being on this road. It was a good little warm up for what came next.

At mile 54– De Luz Rd is one of my favorite roads in San Diego. It begins with a good 1.5 miles of 8-10% grades. You continue climbing on De Luz Murrieta Rd and Rancho California Rd before descending into Temecula. Lots of good climbing. I had been concerned about the water crossings (very slippery) on De Luz Murrieta Rd but they were fine. We walked the bike across just in case.



At mile 77.5– Temecula Control –We got our “proof of passage” and continued on in search of food. We eat at Wendy’s about one mile up the road on Jefferson Ave. I had a double stacker. Brandy had a grilled chicken wrap and we shared a baked potato. As we were leaving I gave the wheels a spin and checked the brakes. It’s a silly little habit I have. That’s when I noticed Pia had a broken spoke on the rear wheel. It’s funny how lately I’ve been packing things that I normally don’t take with me on a ride and then end up needing it. Maybe I shouldn’t bring them in the first place LOL!. This time I brought a Leatherman tool and sure enough I used the pliers to unscrew the nipple on the broken spoke and remove the spoke. The wheel has 32 spokes. The wheel was only slightly out-of-true with one missing spoke. Pia has disc brakes so even though the wheel was out-of-true we didn’t have any issues with braking like you would with rim brakes.

Mile 108–Hemet Control— The terrain was slightly uphill with no major climbs from Temecula to Hemet. On our way into Hemet someone attempted to hit us with a snowball or something similar. They were on the other side of the road traveling in the opposite direction and somehow we were bothering them. I guess as cyclists in these rural areas we are considered “game” and people love to throw things at us. I was so glad that we were on a tandem. I would be worried sick if Brandy was doing this event on her own. Even though it was only 30 miles after eating in Temecula we were hungry again. We stopped at Sonic’s. We had a couple of burgers some fries and a couple of Diet Cokes. We left Sonics and rode to the designated control, Denny’s, and then headed out of town on Stetson and State Street. The girls there were on roller skates as they serve you at your table or car. I got a kick out of that.


Mile 115– Sage Rd. The next 50 miles were the toughest part of the ride for Brandy and I (52 miles with almost 5000 feet) . Sage Rd is a climb that undulates as it climbs in elevation. Every now and then there were steep grades that caused us to grind up in our “granny-granny” (smallest chain ring and 28T cog). On one of those steep grades we dropped our chain and it got jammed in between the frame and the smallest chain ring.

Here we are on a blind corner, steep grade and no shoulder whatsoever trying to dislodge the chain. I felt exposed to the traffic. Many of the vehicles on this road are diesel pick-up trucks towing trailers along with the compulsory wide-ass side mirrors. When I mean there was no shoulder I MEAN NO SHOULDER. Like many roads in these rural areas there was the lane for vehicles, a curb, about 1′ foot wide dirt and then as a bonus this section had a 20 foot drop. The drop was convenient for the repair since it put the crankset at eye-level without me bending down LOL! While we were working on the jammed chain two MTB’ers traveling in the opposite direction pulled over. I thought it was very nice of them to stop. I believe one of them said their name was Dave Barrett. He offered me help but I had the chain jam under control. When I was done we walked back to his car and cleaned off my hands with some paper towels and water. Thank you Dave!


Mile 126– Wilson Valley Rd. Was very difficult for us. We were getting tired of the up and down terrain and the steep grades. At one point we came around a corner and I saw the “corkscrew” up ahead and actually exclaimed aloud “OH MY GOD!” I don’t usually do that. Heck I’m the guy that loves climbing. But I was hurting. I was really looking forward to the fast descent on Hwy 371 into Aguanga and get some reprieve from the climbing.

Mile 136- Aguanga Control We got some fluids and “proof of passage”. The next 35 miles were on Hwy 79. Nightfall was rapidly approaching and it was starting to get cold. We were only 140+ miles into this brevet, we were way “out there”– oh yeah it’s going to be a long night.


Mile 145- Dodge Valley Oasis- a restaurant owned and operated by Sadie, a sweet and energetic gal. She hustled to get us served quickly and back on the road. We were in serious need of food and a respite from the elements. We had a real meal; Tortellini, Ravioli, salads and coffee. We were stopped for about an hour. We felt very well taken care of by Sadie THANK YOU!

Leaving the warmth and security of the DVO was difficult. It was now 7:30 at night and very cold. Some of the patrons were talking about snow. You are mid way up a climb when you exit DVO so you got get back on task right away. We continued the climb up to Sunshine Summit. We did some descending and climbing through Warner Springs and Santa Ysabel. On the last pitch outside of Santa Ysabel my back was hurting so much I asked Brandy if we could pull over so we could “take 5”.


Mile 171.1– Getting to Santa Ysabel was a major milestone for me. Santa Ysabel meant the end of the climbing, end of the higher elevation, the end of the cold (or so I thought) and the feeling that every mile from that point forward was bringing us closer to home. Looking at the elevation graph you can see there was a lot of descending from Santa Ysabel to Ramona and more descending into Rancho Bernardo. We descended Hwy 78 and Old Julian Hwy to Ramona.

Mile 186- Ramona Control- I got a danish and a hostess fruit pie. Brandy got brownie and a coffee. She was falling asleep. I had not experienced any sleep deprivation.

Mile 189– Highland Valley Rd was a fun descent at night. It was the first time I had ever been on that road in the dark. It’s a great stair-step climb going from Rancho Bernardo to Ramona and a very fast descent going back to Rancho Bernardo.

Mile 202– Pomerado Rd. We stopped to “regroup”. I changed to a fresh NiteRider Moab battery.

Mile 207.5– Camino Del Norte- We missed this turn because none of the lighted signs said “Camino Del Norte” like our route sheet. No… they said Twin Peaks. We were on a slight downhill and blew past the turn and continued downhill. Eventually, we pulled over consulted our google maps on our cell phone and realized we had passed Camino Del Norte and “climbed” back to the turn.

Mile 218– We were really tired. We were supposed get on the 56 Bike Path “at the SW corner of intersection”. We stood there trying to figure out what would be SW. It was late and cold and we just wanted clear cut directions. DON’T ENTER THE BIKE PATH ON THE GAS STATION SIDE ENTER THE BIKE PATH ACROSS THE STREET. THE ENTRANCE TO THE BIKE PATH WILL BE ON YOUR RIGHT AS YOU GO UNDER THE 56 FREEWAY.

Mile 223– We were tired, cold and irritable. The bike path was flooded so we had to take the detour. Once again the directions on the route sheet frustrated us. WHEN YOU CROSS THE STREET GO LEFT ON THE BIKE PATH.

It was really cold. I couldn’t believe how cold it was on the 56 bike path. Is this San Diego? I know it’s February but come on. We finally figured it out but wasted at least 20 mins and we were furious. Now that I’m nice and warm and sitting here with a full belly I think about how brain dead we were. It was 245 am!

Mile 225- Carmel Valley Control– Obtained our “proof of passage” while I ate yet another cheese danish. Brandy didn’t get anything she just picked from my danish

Mile 240- Finish Control– We arrived at 4:24 am. Almost 24 hours from the start.

I’m almost embarrassed to tell people who are not Randos that it took us that long to ride 240 miles. But it is what it is. Randos know the difficulty of these epic rides. The climbs hurt us and steeper climbs hurt us even more. Even though we can descend faster than solo bikes we just don’t make up the time we lost climbing at 4-5 miles an hour. Subsequently, the longer you are on the course, the more stops you will take, the longer the stops get, and the more tired you get and the slower you get.

I still need to put together a slide show. The 600km Brevet is on April 4. That gives us a little more time to get in shape. We will have a little more daylight and it should be a little warmer. We are visiting some of the same climbs. We should be a little stronger by then.


It’s done. It was tough more info to follow.

San Diego 300km Brevet…

Photo taken by Mike Berry


First allow me to thank you my sponsors Woolistic for their excellent wool, Detours Bag for the Hightail bag AWESOME!, Nathan Sports for all their reflective gear, hydration and fueling accesories, NiteRider for their Moab lighting system and Showers Pass for their AWESOME lightweight Protech jacket.

Alarm goes off at 3:30am. Wait a minute this isn’t normal. Do I really want to get up at 3:30am? Do I really want to go on a 180 mile 13,000 feet of climbing on a tandem? Urrg!

That’s how my day, OUR day began. Brandy and I were all snuggled-up in our warm bed when that alarm went off. Even though I haven’t asked her I’m sure the same thoughts went through her pretty little head—it’s too early, it’s too cold it’s too far of a ride etc…We have an hour to get dressed, load up the truck, make bottles, check weather again (something we neglected to do on the 200km or we would have put fenders on the tandem) and get on the road. Ok just one more “snooze”.

4:30am — First order of business FUEL! The truck needed fuel and the Captain and Stoker needed fuel as well. What’s open at 4:30am? Jack in the Box. I had a sausage and egg biscuit — not bad. Brandy had a breakfast burrito and then we shared a croissant with egg or something in it and two large coffees. At that time of the morning I just didn’t care how it tasted.

Now the average American shouldn’t have that much calorie and fat laden food. But then again Brandy and I are not average and we are about to endeavor on a 300km event with a lot of climbing. The average American won’t burn half the calories we will today.

Two hours later we arrived at the ride start in Chula Vista. I felt rushed and I hoped I wasn’t forgetting anything. We took care of the administrative matters and lined up with at least 25 other riders. I was surprised to see so many riders on a 300km in January. The weather couldn’t be more perfect– clear skies and high 40’s F at the start. Before we rolled Brandy began medicating for a sore knee and her cold symptoms– something she would have to do regularly throughout the day.

We roll out of the Von’s parking lot as Tail End Charlie, was it an omen? The first two blocks was up a slight grade (1-2%) and we begin to pass riders. I felt a duty, a responsibility, as the only tandem, that we should lead out the ride through Otay Lakes Rd until the first climb–Honey Springs Rd a 6.5% 7 mile climb. But on the first little dip I tried working the Rear Der down the cassette and got NOTHING. We pulled over and I began the usual troubleshooting. I thought I fixed it so we rolled off. The pack is long gone by now. Once on the road I realized it’s still not fixed and we pulled over again.

This time I take a little more time to troubleshoot. I find the culprit. The cable housing under the bike (under the Captain’s Bottom Bracket) is seized around the rear der cable. I break it free and try to reposition the cable and housing in the cable stops but the plastic inner sleeve has separated from the cable housing. I then remembered that I was carrying a Swiss Army knife.. My friend from Switzerland (no– really!) gave to me as a present–thank you Lukas. I typically don’t bring a knife on my rides, but this morning as I was taking the trash out I passed by my car and remembered I had a knife in my trunk I’ve never used it but said “Hmmm…maybe I should take a knife”. I cut the sleeve and reinstalled the cable.

Notice the Nathan reflective gear on our ankles and helmets.

Why was the cable seized up? It had rained on us on the 200km. I had washed the bike and lubed the chains (talkin’ about a tandem here–folks there are TWO of them) but apparently I need to lube the cables as well after rainy and muddy rides.

We are now more than 45 minutes behind the last rider. It is only 1.5 miles into the brevet. Mentally, I’m going through the scenarios of how late tonight we will finsh. Also my goal was to get to the base of Hwy 67 (about 60 miles with about 4,500 ft) before it got too hot. It is a long slog of a climb from Lakeside to Ramona and then to Santa Ysabel. It is 30 miles of up and up with rollers ( see graph above) but basically it climbs up to 3,000 feet from below 500ft. I even considered calling it a day since the day was not off to a good start.

On Dehesa Rd, we run into our friend Pete Masiel. We stopped and took pictures since we were so behind the pack what was the point on killing ourselves (another 10 minutes).

We reach the first control and take some electrolytes. As I’m getting our brevet cards signed I see Brandy taking another dose of Ibuprofen and some cold medicine. It took us 5 hours to do 55 miles and 4700 feet. It was a short stop probably less than 10 minutes.

About 1.5 miles into the climb up Hwy 67— POP!! We get FLAT #1. It was a buttonhead screw sitting on it’s buttonhead. I didn’t see it until I was right on top of it. I missed it with the front wheel but the rear tire wasn’t so lucky. Of course, the flat happens on a narrow shoulder.  We pick up Pia and get on the other side of the guard rail. I removed the tire and noticed it had a small cut. I install a tire boot and we get back on the road. We are on mile 66 and 4900 feet of gain.

We climb into Ramona and while cruising down Dye Rd I ask Brandy if the rear tire looks flat or feels flat to her. Sure enough the rear tire was flat again. FLAT #2. I change the flat and as I’m putting the wheel back in I inadvertently knock one of the disc brake pads out of the rear brake caliper. I didn’t know what it was at the time. But as I finished with the installation of the rear wheel– it just didn’t feel right. That’s when I noticed that one of the pads was missing. I found it laying on the ground. I tried to reinstall it but I later found out that I bent the spring as I was putting it back.

. You can load an awful lot of stuff for brevet riding in this bag.

I had only brought two tubes and two CO2’s with us. I don’t usually flat. But I have to adopt the mindset that we are now a 280lb tandem team. As such, we won’t roll over the stuff I normally do when I ride solo at 155lbs.

We get back on the road but the rear disc brakes are rubbing. I was also worried because we were out of spare tubes and CO2. I decided we need to regroup play it smart and get some repair work done on the tandem and buy more flat repair stuff. We go off-course to find Kirk’s Bike Shop in Ramona. To most people, Randos look like people from another planet. We have, what seems to them, far too much gear on us and on our bike. Our bikes aren’t sleek racing machines nor are they loaded down touring bikes. We are “tweeners” not racers not tourers but who are are we really?  Some of us race the brevets and some just want to finish we’re an odd lot.

We walk into Kirk’s with our tandem, a Pinarello tandem, and no one has ever seen one before. I think that’s kind of cool. I ask for the mechanic and a gentlemen tells me, “He’ll be with you soon he’s selling a couple of bikes.” My frustration is evident but I try to play it cool. Kirk, the proprietor, is selling two beach cruisers.

We have to kill some time until our number is called so we walk across the street to a liquor store to get something cold to drink. While there we take pictures with a girl selling some alcohol something or other and head back to the bike shop.

When we return to the shop, Kirk is putting our beast of a bike in his repair stand — with the help of three other people. Along with the “brake job”, I also lament to him that the rear derailleur shifting has been off all day. It’s at least 3:45pm (Total Brevet time 8 hr 45 mins) and we have only done 80 miles. We were at Kirk’s at least 45 mins. I bought his last three (3) threaded CO2’s. I also bought three tubes just in case . While there we get a call from Mike Berry, the RBA.  And then he actually paid us a personal visit. Isn’t that something?

We leave the bike shop and about a mile later POP! FLAT # 3. Can this really be happening to us? I change the flat and get back on the road.

I love Old Julian Hwy and it was great to show Brandy the great backcountry of San Diego County. We arrive at Santa Ysabel and there’s Mike B, Tom and Tina Reynolds and Tom Parkes. The only good thing about being Tail End Charlie is you get to finish off Tina’s homemade soup and bread. I think it took us 10 hours to get to Control #2 at mile 96. It was starting to get cold and the sun was setting fast. We put on all our cold weather and Nathan Reflective gear that had been stuffed all day in the Detours High Tail. One of the last pictures we took was at 5:46pm. I think we left within 5 minutes of that picture.

Don’t we look smashing? Thanks to Nathan Sports for the reflective gear. You might have noticed our ankle bands and of course their reflective vests. Thank you Nathan.

The route has a lot of descending ALL the way back to Lakeside. It was nice to get the big gears rolling again. It was also important to get out of elevation and the cold. It was warmer in Lakeside plus we were no longer creating our own wind chill factor speeding down Hwy 67 at 50mph.

Once in Lakeside we climbed up to Alpine. The climb on Japatul Rd was weighing heavy on my mind. I knew it was the hardest and steepest climbing of the day. It was on the back end of the course and our largest cog was only a 28T rear cog.

On the climb to Alpine I couldn’t believe my eyes– there were blinkies up ahead. After 14 hours of riding– off-the-back mind you — I am finally seeing the tailights of other riders. As we pass Mark S. we say a few words to him and another rider and we press on to Carl’s Jr., our next Control. On the crest of the climb I see Milly Valdez and Alonso Gomez heading out to Japatul Valley Rd. At Carl’s Jr. we at least two other riders there. We grab a couple of burgers, our valuable receipt and head out.

I felt bad for rushing Brandy out of the Carls Jr. control. I had a couple of reasons. I know how comfy a warm place can be after being on the bike for that many hours. But I strongly believe taking off the chill is all you need– don’t wait until you get warm. The second reason was I know the Japatul Valley Rd climb. I lived in Santee and I would torture myself on that road a couple of times a week. The climb has a good number of steep grades and rollers the give you false hope as you drop only to pitch up again– steeply. In addition, since it was after 9pm I knew it was only going to get colder. Luckily, on this brevet route we wouldn’t be doing the entire Japatul Valley Rd climb. We turned off of Japatul only about 6 miles into it. After our Lyons Valley turn off there is still about 7 more miles of steep undulating terrain climbing all the way to the I-8 freeway.

I was surprised at how well we did on the steep rollers. We have an 11-28 SRAM Cassette and it seems to be working out for us. I was even more surprised when we came up on Alonso Gomez. I was sorry to hear that he DNF’d so close to the finish. Had I known he was that close to the edge I would have stopped, talked to him and motivated him to go on. We passed him just as we were nearing the right turn onto Lyons Valley only 27 miles from the finish.

The descent on Lyons Valley was Brandy’s favorite part of the ride she told me later. I wish we could have done that in daylight. It is one of my favorite roads out there. I later found out that Milly Valdez was on the side of the road and was impressed with our descending speed in the dark of night. It is very invigorating to descend on the tandem at 50+ mph into the darkness. The NiteRider Moab is your friend on dark nights. The amount of light the Moab puts out and the beam pattern is incredible. I feel very safe descending at high speeds in the dark with the NiteRider Moab.

Once we got under 25 miles I was doing the countdown of miles. I was also trying to calculate our finishing time based on pace, miles and terrain. Once we crested the little bumb of Honey Springs Rd I knew the last 15 miles were going to be easy going and mostly Big Ring Time! Otay Lakes Rd was really cold especially as we were going around the lake and it was the first time I had to put on my Showers Pass Pro Tech jacket. I love this jacket it so thin, easy to pack and so warm when you need it. It was nearing Midnight and I was glad I had another layer to put on.

It was foggy as we came in to the finish. The fog made for a very fitting conclusion to our epic ride. Three flats, Rear Der issues, and Rear Disc brake issues and a lot of mental anguish being off the back for 14 hours of the 17 hours and 20 minutes but it was done and in the books.

Getting flats were a huge delay because the flat repair was buried in the Detours bag. You would think we would learn our lesson after the first flat but how many flats do you think you will get in a day. By the second flat I thought we were done flatting. During the 300km this is what we had stuffed in the DETOURS High Tail bag– two Showers Pass Pro Tech jackets, two reflective vests, two sets of wool knee warmers, , 1 set of wool arm warmers, two sets of wool gloves, three tubes three CO2’s, a boot, a multitool, Swiss Army knife, cold medication, wallet, keys, cell phone, zip ties, black electrical tape and cold hard cash.

This is the longest ride to date for Brandy and I on the tandem. I honestly didn’t believe riding a tandem could be so much fun. Brandy is so awesome as a stoker. Our teamwork is improving every ride in particular on our climbing out of the saddle. Riding the tandem is a lot more difficult on the climbs… well actually in every aspect except the descents. We joked and laughed for hours. We even role played as two characters to pass the time. I really enjoyed the 300kms, the 17+ hours, the mechanicals, and the laughs with my girl.

Thanks to Mike Berry and all the volunteers who put on this great brevet series. We’ll see you at the 400km.


San Diego 200km Brevet



A huge thanks to my sponsors.

Sportquest for their Carbo1200 and CarboPro, Motor Tabs for their electrolyte tablets, Woolistic for their high quality Merino wool and Niterider for their lighting.

Well the 200km is in the bag. Brandy and I rode the tandem on a rainy and chilly 122 miles with about 7,000 feet of climbing. Only one flat and no major issues. I did notice I took in more calories than I ever have doing a 200km. I believe that is attributed to the cold weather and the extra calories the body needs to maintain the body core temperature.

I couldn’t wait to get a nice hot meal and change into my Skins recovery tights.

The 200km marked the 6th ride on the tandem and our longest. We are considering doing the 300km on the tandem.

Huge thanks to Mike Berry the RBA and the rest of the volunteers that made this a great Brevet!