OC Gran Fondo – Come Ride with George “Red-Eyed Vireo” Vargas

It is with surprise and great humility that I accept the offer to ride the 2012 OC Gran Fondo as their special guest.  I feel honored and hope I am up to the task.

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On September 29, 2012 the event will feature several options.  The shortest distance offered will be 11 miles which is great activity for families.  Other distances offered will be 29, 64, and for those that really want to be challenged the OC Gran Fondo offers a 101 mile route.   The event is in it’s third year and has grown considerably in popularity.  The organizer is expecting close to 1,000 riders this year.  I will be riding the century as my last long training ride before the 2012 Furnace Creek 508.   I hope to see you out there having a great time!

See below for important event information and click here to register!

We have not raised the price for the 101 and 64 mile rides and we have lowered the price for the 11 and 30 mile rides!  However register before September 1st because the price goes up after that.  Remember, if you want to guarantee your jersey size for the ride, please register by August 17th.

Before September 1st                                               After September 1st

VIP – $199                                                                          $249

101 – $99                                                                             $110

64 –   $99                                                                             $110

30 –   $25                                                                              $30

11 –   $20                                                                              $20

I would like to hear from you!  Feel free to post comments or questions on my blog and I will get back to you.  Come ride with George “Red-Eyed Vireo” Vargas.  Please support this local event right here in Orange County!!


2011 Lake Henshaw Climbing Camp

I spent Thursday and Friday nights at the Lake Henshaw Resort.  I like using Lake Henshaw as home base for my climbing camps.  Now that I live in Orange County I miss the climbing in East San Diego County.  I rode four hours on Thursday with Palomar Mountain South Grade as the featured climb.   On Friday, I started from Lake Henshaw and climbed Mesa Grande to Santa Ysabel, Wynola Road to Julian, Banner Grade to Yaqui Pass to Borrego Springs and then the monster climb of Montezuma Grade to Ranchita, and then rode to Warrner Springs and climbed a “secret” road to Indian Flats.

The climb out of Borrego Springs (lowest point on the elevation chart) was at 109 degrees Fahrenheit.

Starting and finishing at Lake Henshaw

Elevation profile

Entire training ride graph from Training Peaks download from SRM

Mesa Grande Climb from Lake Henshaw off Hwy 76

Yaqui Pass off of Banner Grade towards Borrego Springs

Montezuma Grade from Borrego Springs to Ranchita

“Secret” road off of Hwy 79 near Warner Springs – Indian Flats

Please click image above for slideshow.

Angeles Crest Highway Reopens – Angeles Crest Hwy from La Canada to Dawson Saddle (12,400 feet of climbing)

A four-hour training ride turned into a seven hour climbfest d’oh!  Angeles Crest Hwy from La Canada (1300 Elev) to Dawson Saddle (7901 Elev) Lots of climbing, lots of heat with few options for rehydrating on the road.  I will put together a more detailed route sheet but here is the down and dirty.  From La Canada I climbed on the Angeles Crest Hwy about 14 miles to Red Box.  I refilled my water bottle and then proceeded to climb up Mt Wilson, a five-mile climb.  I descended back to Red Box and refilled my bottle then climbed approximately 14 miles to Newcomb’s Ranch and refilled my bottle there.  I then climbed from Newcomb’s Ranch to Dawson Saddle through Cloud Burst Summit (7018 Elev) and back down to Newcomb’s Ranch.    I refilled at Newcomb’s and then descended back to La Canada.  About 100 miles 12,400 feet of climbing most of it on the way up with annoying rollers on the way down.

The Angeles Crest Highway is a two-lane (one lane of travel in each direction) segment of California State Route 2 in the United States. The road is 66 miles (106 km) in length, with its western terminus at the intersection at Foothill Boulevard in La Cañada Flintridge and its eastern terminus at State Route 138 northeast of Wrightwood. The majority of the route passes through the mountainous terrain located north of the Los Angeles basin. Its alignment passes through the Angeles National Forest in the San Gabriel Mountains. Segments of the road reach altitudes above 7,000 feet (2,100 m), with a summit of 7,903 feet (2,409 m) at the Dawson Saddle, which makes this road one of the highest in Southern California.

You can read more about the Angeles Crest Hwy here

4,000 elevation at mile marker 36.25.

Approximately 12 miles into the 45 mile climb to Dawson Saddle

Above and below– The intersection of Mount Wilson/Red Box Rd and Angeles Crest Hwy.

Approximately 14 miles into the 45 mile climb to Dawson Saddle

Cultural Center at Red Box

Work crews on Angeles Crest Hwy.  Above is somewhere between Red Box and Newcomb’s Ranch

5,000 elevation sign

Approximately 20 miles into the 45 mile climb to Dawson Saddle

The distances above are from Newcomb’s Ranch

The base of the climb is mile marker 24 ish Dawson Saddle is approximately mile marker 69.50.

This is a 45 mile climb, albeit not all in one shot but you don’t ever get more than a mile or two of reliefs along the way.

Day Two- 6.5 hour Training Ride Today in the Rain!

Today it rained on me for 5 plus hours of the ride.  Quick Stats 6:25 pedal time, 112 miles, 4100 kjs, 5,000 feet of gain, Normalized Power 202 or 3.0 w/kg and 17.4 Avg moving speed.  And this is the day after a 6 hour training ride the day before of over 100 miles.  The rest of the data is displayed below. Now let’s talk about clothing.  I knew it was going to rain today so I made sure I wore wool from head to toe! See below for my clothing choices.   Why so many hours/miles?  I have a Double Century in Death Valley on Feb 26 and wanted to see where I was in my fitness.  I will make another blog post on the Death Valley Double Century in the next couple of days.

UPDATE 02/22/11– Death Valley Double pre ride info.

Rain for the previous 24 hours

I find it amazing the disparity between ride time and total time.  I only stopped twice on today’s ride.  Both stops were to refill my water bottles at a fast food joint with soda fountains in the dining area.  I was in and out in less than two minutes.  The rest of the stopped time is traffic controls! I really thought my ride time and total time would be much closer to each other.

What are the graphs above?  Well I wanted to set the Garmin 310XT to Auto Lap every hour.  Unfortunately you can only Auto Lap by Distance or Location.  So I said well I want to do 17 mph average speed on the training ride and set it for distance but I would rather do it by time.  Yes I could always hit the lap button but why not use technology right?

In Corona looking up to the mountain range I need to pass through.

For my clothing I wore wool items from  Woolistic I wore a long sleeve thin wool base layer 100% Merino wool, Cinzano Long Sleeve Jersey 100% Merino wool, and wool cycling shorts.  From Swiftwick I wore the Merino 7″ sock.  When riding in rainy conditions PLEASE wear wool.  Your synthetics will make you even more miserable than you have to be.  While I was wet, thoroughly wet, I was never cold.  I felt the elements but I didn’t feel the constant overheating and chilling that happens when I wear synthetics in particular on climbs and descents.  Take it from someone that spends a lot of time on the road in all weather conditions get yourself some wool and ignore the naysayers that think you’re not cool because you aren’t wearing the latest and greatest technologically wonderful whizz bang new fabric that “…waterproof and breathes….” nonsense!  The Woolistic stuff is the best on the market– go get some!


And now for something completely off topic.  Can you imagine telling your friends at a dinner party who you work for?

Boxing Day Century Ride

I followed up my traditional Christmas Day Century with another century today.  I felt pretty good most of the day.  I went north today towards Los Angeles.  I didn’t know where I was going but I just wanted to venture out in a different direction.  I didn’t care for all the traffic and signals.  On my return leg I found the bike path in Marina del Rey, along the water’s edge that was MUCH better.

I made a rookie mistake today.  I went out riding deep section wheels without having a tube with a long enough valve stem.  I flatted in Culver City which was 50 miles into my ride which was an out and back– essentially I was 50 miles from home.  Luckily, a very nice man by the name of Ruben gave me a lift to a bike shop nearby. I purchased two tubes and was on my way.  My rookie mistake cost  me an hour off the bike 😦  All’s well that end’s well- I got my century in afterall.

Sasha- Cervelo Soloist SL with SRM 7900 wireless crankset power meter with Power Control 7, Shimano Dura Ace 7850 C50 wheels, Shimano 7900 Di2 electronic shifting, Fizik Arione Saddle Versus, Fizik microtex bar tape, Pro Vibe stem, Serfas True 250 lumen headlight

You can read more about Boxing Day here.

Christmas Day Century

For years now I have been riding a century on Christmas Day.  The weather in Southern California can be a little iffy during December.  I have ridden these centuries in short sleeves and shorts.  But then there have been years where it has rained or it’s been bitterly cold.  This year it rained for six days straight.  I really can’t remember a time when it rained that many days in a row.  And the rain wasn’t the usual sprinkle that we get here.  No it was heavy downpours day after day.

Below are some images of Laguna Beach which was one of the hardest hit coastal cities.  I expect that business will rebound quickly.  It’s never a good time to lose your home to a natural disaster but I feel much more sorrow to see these images during the Christmas holidays.

Fortunately, there was a two day break in the weather — Christmas Eve and today Christmas day.  I worked Christmas Eve but I had today off.  So here is my ride for today.

My Christmas Century Ride tradition continues for one more year!

Back to Back Centuries in San Diego

On Saturday I went out really early with the hopes of riding Mount Palomar.  I was going to climb South Grade (steeper side), descend East Grade and climb East Grade then go home. It should have been a 130 mile day with about 12,000 feet of climbing in the middle section.  About 16 miles into my ride, on Del Dios Hwy, I just didn’t have the legs.  I turned around and went back to the coast.  I figured since it was still early I could catch the Swami’s ride and then go long (Lake Wholford and Valley Center) with them.

It was great to see the old gang again.  I was a Swami for almost four years.  I had a bagel and cream cheese and two cups of coffee while visiting with old friends.  I felt so much better.  We rolled out about 8:10 am.  I felt fine throughout the ride and was surprised that I was well positioned for the sprint.  I of course don’t have a sprint but I was well positioned.

One of the things I dislike about the world famous Swami’s ride is the LONG regrouping at “the church”.  We were stopped 11 minutes! Ridiculous!  We had only ridden 55 minutes.  I don’t get it.

After the Swami’s ride I did a few hill repeats in San Elijo and a few laps on PCH that added up to a century.  I had a good day on the bike even though I felt sluggish in the beginning.


My training goal for today was to ride a coastal century in under six hours.  I set my Garmin Virtual Partner to 16.66 mph.  The virtual partner tells you how many miles and how much time you are ahead or behind your goal pace.  I also used my Power Tap power meter to pace myself towards my goal.

I rode a 5:18 total time century. I was amazed with my time because of all the stops signs and traffic lights (Leucadia Blvd – has to be the longest light in the county urg!).  I never got off the bike.  Moving time was 5:11 or 5:13, depending which online GPS service you download your data too, Garmin Connect or RidewithGPS.com.

My route was simple.  I rode to the Oceanside Marina then south to Torrey Pines then north to Oceanside Marina then south to Torrey Pines then north to the finish at the Lumberyard in Encinitas.  Why would I do such a monotonous route?  I prefer to do big-ass loops for my centuries but today I wanted rabbits up ahead to chase down.  It was a great little game to play to keep the pace high.

Ride with GPS download

Garmin Connect download

On the way north for my second trip to Oceanside Marina, I hooked up with a triathlete named Scott Federoff.  We kept each other honest.  Our paces seemed compatible.  I believe we pushed each other just enough to make the training ride worth it.  He needed three (3) hours and I needed six (6) hours or a little less. I hope we ride together again some time soon.  It was a pleasure riding with someone who fit my definition of the perfect riding partner see this post.

Thank you to INFINIT NUTRITION for keeping me fueled. I had two “doubled-up” bottles and that’s it.  Doubled-up means I put twice the serving size in my bottle.  I had twice the calories but only half the fluids.  The temperature was cool for the first three hours of the ride so I was able to conserve my fluids (fuel).  When I was done I was a little dehydrated but my goal was to do the complete 100 miles without stopping and keeping the intensity high.  INFINIT NUTRITION did the job of keeping me fueled.  Please give them a try and customize your own formulas for your needs.  When you decide to try Infinit use “vireo” as your discount code and receive 10% off of your order.

Thank you for reading my blog– pass it on to your BEST friend.

Sunday Lake Elsinore out and back- 160 miles- 257 kms

I debated whether I should ride yesterday morning.  I haven’t been sleeping well lately and it’s hard to get up early in the morning and go for a ride– especially a long ride.  Because of some personal issues my motivation is way down and I’m not as enthused about riding my bike.
I left the house later than usual when I am doing a century plus route.  It was past 8am. I was just cruising along on the Coast Hwy, southbound, when two riders came up alongside me at a light.  We rode hard from Jamboree to Laguna Beach –trading pulls and working the rollers.  It felt good to be pushed.  In Laguna Beach they invited me to join them and their group.  It appears they were meeting at Top of the World and doing the steep hills of Laguna Beach.  I declined because I was running a standard chain-ring set-up of 53/39 and an 11/23 cassette.
If you are not familiar with the hills in Laguna Beach they are very steep.  Many are over 12-15% and go on for about a mile sometimes more.  I ended up doing the hills anyway– alone. As I said before, I wasn’t motivated so going on a century was not appealing.  I figured I’d do a couple of hills get some elevation gain– quickly and then go home.  I also thought that the steep hills would get me physically and mentally prepared for the last climb in the Mount Laguna Bicycle Classic on April 17 blog post here.  Pine Creek Road has extended sections over 12% and peaks out somewhere in the range of 18% grade.
I began my hill repeats by going up Cress which connects to Summit Dr.  Then I descended Park Ave and climbed that twice.  It’s funny to see the pick-up trucks shuttling the downhill mountain bike guys/gals up so they can descend.  I kept seeing the same trucks with bikes on the way up and then no bikes on the way down.  Isn’t climbing half the fun?  I then found another hill not as steep called Temple Hills which you can begin climbing from PCH at Thalia.  I climbed that hill twice as well.  I did the climbs mostly seated just working on my pedaling technique and working on leg strength.  Let me tell you a 39/23 is NOT the friendliest gear to climb Park.  Ideally, you shouldn’t attempt these hills with anything less than a 12-27 cassette.  I would go one step further and suggest a compact crank.  Temple Hills is more manageable.  It’s still tough but the key was slow, methodical pedaling to work on proper technique.
Detail of Laguna hills:

Duration:  2:22:08
Work:      1186 kJ
TSS:      122.9 (intensity factor 0.72)
Norm Power:202
VI:        1.45
Pw:HR:      n/a
Pa:HR:      n/a
Distance:  21.807 mi
Elevation Gain:    3946 ft
Elevation Loss:  3949 ft
Grade:    -0.0 %  (-3 ft)
                        Min..Max   Avg
Power:      0……566………139watts
Heart Rate:  n/a….n/a…..n/abpm
Cadence:    30….191…50rpm
Speed:      0……47.8..9.3mph
Pace        1:15…0:00…6:29min/mi
Altitude:    68….1006623ft
Crank Torque:0……925…242lb-in
After doing those five hills my legs were shot and I was hungry.  I didn’t eat breakfast before I left the house.  So I stopped for lunch and sat at Main Beach in Laguna.  I watched people playing volleyball and wondered if they come here every Sunday like I ride my bike every Sunday?  Is this their sport, their passion?  I watched families walking leisurely with their dogs and watched couples walking while holding hands.  It was romantic and relaxing but at the same time I had to squash my feelings before they took me over.
I then realized it was a Sunday– and it was my first day off in 7 days and I should stop feeling sorry for myself and do something with the day.  So I decided I would go to Lake Elsinore.  I should point something out.  It was way too late in the day to take on this type of  “Adventure”.  It would involve at least 4 hours, 52 miles 4,000 feet of climbing just to go Lake Elsinore and back — that’s not counting getting to the foot of the climb and then getting back to Huntington Beach after descending back into Orange County.  It was well after 1:30 pm.
I went up and over Ortega Hwy to Lake Elsinore and then climbed back.  I think I actually found a climb here in Orange County that replicates the Kel-Baker climb of the Furnace Creek 508.  The Kel-Baker climb is a relentlessly long 21 mile climb that doesn’t gain much altitude but wears you down nonetheless. It may be because it comes after the Baker Time Station #5 after 380 miles into the race.  I personally don’t think t’s position within the race is the only thing that makes it a long grind of a climb.  The whole time I was climbing up Ortega Hwy I thought “man this feels awfully reminiscent to the Kel-Baker climb.”  Let’s see if you can pick out any similarities
Stage Six: Baker to Kelso, 34.90 miles. Elevation Gain: 2920′.
Leaving Baker, you climb a gradual but relentless 2500 feet in 20 miles  (2.3 %)  (Mountain Section Eight). It may be heating up, so drink plenty. A long descent leads to Kelso at mile 418.

Ortega Hwy climb data from Training Peaks
Distance:  20.778 mi
        Elevation Gain:    2484 ft
         Grade:    2.2 %  (2465 ft)
The climb from Lake Elsinore on Ortega Hwy is a nice climb.  You can actually see the elevation you have gain because the road has many turns that double back on themselves and you can look down.  The climb is 4.8 miles and gains 1300 feet with an average grade of 5.3% –with dips.  Up and over Ortega Hwy and then up Antonio Pkwy continuing on to Live Oak and Santiago Canyon.  It was getting dark and I was racing the sunset.  I didn’t make it.  It was 845 by the time I got to a restaurant to eat and past 9pm before I got home.
My not so motivated start and short ride turned into 160 mile ride 13 plus hours on the bike.  My legs were wrecked. I was famished and really cold.  I was under dressed and cold and I was calorie deprived.   I didn’t take any nutrition stuff with me since it was only supposed to be a 2 hour ride.  The calorie deprivation made me feel colder than I normally would.  The last 2 hours of my ride were in the dark with no lights, no reflective gear and dark clothing.  I know not very smart eh?    But it’s done now and I am stronger physically and mentally for it.
Entire workout (134 watts):
Duration:  11:34:15 (13:09:27)– you can see what lack of motivation looks like in the time off the bike
Work:      5562 kJ
TSS:       503.3 (intensity factor 0.661)
Norm Power:185
VI:…..        1.39
Pw:HR:      n/a
Pa:HR:      n/a
Distance:.  158.129 mi
Elevation Gain:    10579 ft
Elevation Loss:  10485 ft
Grade:    0.0 %  (103 ft)
Power:……..       0…….743…….134watts
Heart Rate:  91……154……133bpm
Cadence:    30……225……..75rpm
Speed:      0……50.9……13.7mph
Pace ………       1:11…..0:00…..4:23min/mi
Altitude: ………..-18…..2672…..839ft
Crank Torque:…….0….1210……163lb-in
Just for kicks on the last 9 miles of my 160 miler I was putting surges over 600 watts topping out at 743 watts which incidentally  was the highest for the day but came at mile 150.  

Sunday Century with friends

I had intentions of riding Palomar Mountain on my only day off.  I had worked six days this week and wanted something other than riding the local roads.  But after I sent out an email about my intentions some riders reported that there was ice on the upper slopes of Mount Palomar.  So instead I met with Dave Elsberry and we did a century at a good fast pace in Orange County. 
Our century had lots of rolling terrain and some good climbs I hadn’t ridden before.  We had a good ratio for the first 40 miles– 40 miles 4,000 feet of gain. At some point the climbing was less per mile but the intensity made up for it.  I think we are pretty evenly paced and make good riding partners.  I faded on the last 10 miles but I think I just didn’t fuel properly.  I guess I thought “what’s the big deal? It’s just a century.”  I also flatted twice one rear caused by debris in the bike lane and the other a front flat while descending Sliverado Canyon.

Power Numbers

Entire workout (156 watts):
Duration: 6:12:36
Work: 3491 kJ
TSS: 418.4 (intensity factor 0.823)
Norm Power: 206  (3 w/kg for 6 hours)
VI: 1.32
Pw:HR: 10.26%
Pa:HR: -7.75%
Distance: 101.18 mi
Min Max Avg
Power: 0 980 156 watts
Heart Rate: 7 191 157 bpm
Cadence: 30 212 84 rpm
Speed: 2.2 40.7 16.7 mph
Pace 1:28 26:49 3:36 min/mi
Crank Torque: 0 1007 162 lb-in

Training Peaks 3.0 screen shot from my Power Tap Download
I avgd 3.6 w/kg in my first hour because I was riding with a former pro Sean Nealy