Tour de Francis Ride Report


First off I would like to thank the Adobo Velo gang, and in particular Francis Ignacio, for inviting me to the Tour de Francis Summer Edition- Frazier Park. As usual, they put on a great event and I had a great time participating. Thank you Adobo Velo.

SUMMARY

100  miles approximately 9,000 feet of climbing

Long sustained climbs

Beautiful scenery

Very low traffic

Cities visited – Lebec, Frazier Park, and Ventucopa

Counties visited— Kern County, San Luis Obispo County, Santa Barbara County, and Ventura County

Climbs– Lebec to Frazier Park, Mount Pinos and Apache Saddle. Lockwood Valley to Heartbreak Hill then back down to Lebec

Video may found here

THE WEAPON

Felicia, my Felt F2 with Di2, got the nod.  After 2,500 miles on the first charge of the battery I decided to charge the battery the night before the event.  In that 2,500 miles I had never missed a shift, I had never dropped the chain and I never experienced chain rub from cross-chaining.  For wheels I used my Zipp ZEDTech 2’s with ceramic bearings.  Now that I finally have a wireless SRM I can use them.  They had been collecting dust, figuratively speaking of course. They worked beautifully.  They are light (1060 grams confirmed) aerodynamic and stiff on the steep grades.  Drive train was 53/39 crankset and 11-28 cassette.

THE RIDE

The first climb from Lebec to Frazier Park is about 12 miles of slightly undulating terrain.  It isn’t steep in any section that I remember.  The only difficult part is that it comes after a .25 mile warm-up 😉 which isn’t really a warm-up.  As soon as you leave the parking lot of the Best Rest Inn you begin climbing!  I felt good on the climb so I set a medium pace for myself.  I thought for sure there would be other riders coming up on my wheel but no one followed.  The climb is about 2,000 feet of gain in 12 miles– your data may vary. Summit first climb 1:00:00 total time about 7:20am.

The second notable climb was a little over 3.5 miles and gained about 1,000 feet.  I was still feeling good and worked hard to keep my tempo up.  I do remember a few steep pitches and I was glad to have the 28T cog on my 11-28 cassette.  I am working the 39T chainring and the 28T cog so that I don’t have to switch to a compact crankset (I could only afford one SRM 😉  for the FURNACE CREEK 508. Summit second climb 1:35 Total Time about 7:55am.

Next up is the long grind up to Heartbreak Hill.  As I was descending and heading towards the lunch stop I remembered the last time I rode this course.  I was doing the double century and Brandy was doing the century.  I had completely over-heated and was in really bad shape.  So bad in fact that on the last few miles to the lunch stop I was trying to stay on Brandy’s wheel and she was dropping me.  She was giving me the countdown of miles to go just as I had done many times in the past for her.  But on that day I just couldn’t stay on her wheel.

When we arrived at the lunch stop I dunked my head in the spigot of cool water and drank a Coke and got back on the road without eating lunch (rarely do I eat lunch in a 200 miler).  I recovered really well as the day went on.  Incredibly, even with the heat meltdown, I finished 5th that year with a time of 13:28! Race Report can be found here.

Today was different!  Today I was feeling great! I was only doing a 100 miles.  I also hadn’t been riding with faster guys that would have worked me over before reaching this section.  The weather was cooler, albeit a little windier.  I was moving through the course quickly.  The goal was to begin the Heartbreak Hill climb or Lockwood Valley, before 10am.  I was only five minutes behind this goal.  What was my reason for the haste?  I know how hot it can be in those lower elevations (2,500 feet).  It’s important to get through the hottest part of the course before the heat kicks up.  The next concern was the afternoon winds.  As the afternoon wears on, the winds can get really strong. Those were my two primary concerns for maintaining a fast tempo through the valley and the whole day for that matter.

No matter what the temperatures though, Heartbreak Hill will always take a lot out of your legs.  The 39T chainring and 28T cog were perfect for the last couple of kickers.  It was hot (95F) even at elevation (5,000 feet) but it was tolerable.  Summit Heartbreak Hill 4:31 Total Time or 10:53 am.

The big rollers you see in the graph above are always the toughest portion of the course for me.  The winds are stronger and the grades are steeper.  You roll up and down through beautiful wooded and shaded areas and eventually end up in wide open spaces where the wind can really put a wrench into your plans for a fast finish.

I was going as hard as I could because I was looking at a sub 6 hour finishing time on this course.  I had never done just the century.  I didn’t have a personal best time to shoot for.  But I thought sub 6 hours would be a good goal, especially with all the climbing and all the solo riding I had been doing. Summit last roller and begin descent 5:25 Total Time 11:45 am.

Looking at 2009 Heartbreak Hundred results I would have slotted in Top 20 with my 5:49 finishing time.  Considering I rode solo the whole day with no one to pace off of I am quite pleased with the result.  I’m quite sure many of the riders in the top 20 were in  pacelines throughout the day.  Not too mention chasing other riders on the course always makes me work harder and produce better results.

All in all I had a great day on the bike.  I actually enjoyed the scenery much more than I ever have on my double centuries on that course.  The weather was not a factor in my estimation.  Sure there was heat and some winds but hey you can’t ride 100 miles and expect the wind to be at your back the whole time…right? Total time 5:50:39 with only 3:16 off the bike all day.

Yesterday’s fast tempo century gives me hope since my last 155 mile ride to Palomar Mountain wasn’t promising.  I need to do something a little longer this week to see how my fitness is progressing.  All for now and thank you for reading my blog.  If you care to make a comment please do.  I love interacting with my readers.  Your questions are welcomed as well.

And then there is the food at the finish.  These guys ride to eat 🙂  I thoroughly enjoyed the Chicken Adobo and rice.  My son loved the Chicken Enpanadas!  Thank you Adobo Velo for feeding us so well!!!

Tour de Francis


Next up for the Red Eyed Vireo is the Tour de Frances.  It is put on by the Adobo Velo club.  The series of rides is named after its most benevolent club member, Frances Ignacio.  I am very excited to finally participate in one of his events.  I have always had a schedule conflict and this weekend is no different but a little easier to resolve than others.  The event is closed for registration and there are no day of event registrations.  It is this Saturday July 31.  I believe the stats for the ride are 100 miles with 9,000 feet of gain.

I have attached a slideshow of the route preview.  Enjoy the beautiful sights but here a few of my favorites.  I don’t have photo credits but they are from the Adobo Velo site I hope that will suffice.

Ok all for now check back for a ride report.

Newport Beach to Encinitas – via Mount Palomar


Yep you read that right.  I went from Newport Beach to Encinitas …the long way.  I made a left turn at Oceanside and headed East.  I climbed Palomar Mountain in triple digit heat again and it totally sapped me… again.  I climbed Palomar Mountain less than a week ago on Saturday July 17th.

SUMMARY

155 miles 9,000 feet of gain.

Lot of heat again — triple digits climbing Palomar Mountain

My first 80 miles were great! The weather was cool and overcast.  I drank only two bottles of Infinit Nutrition. I averaged almost 20 mph from Newport Beach to Bates Nut Farm in Valley Center.  I like the route I chose.  It was mainly coast and flat so I could work on my aero position on the aerobars I had installed on my road bike.  Yikes! Aerobars on a road bike?  Yep …get over it :p  So here I was at my first stop of the day.  I had been rolling for 4 hours 14 minutes (my download told me that) and this was the first time I had dismounted.  AND that’s when I realized it was freakin’ hot out there lol!

I filled my bottles and rolled on to face my nemesis, Palomar Mountain.  A few turns, a downhill, and there I was at the foot of one of California’s 10 toughest climbs— Palomar Mountain 12 miles and 4300 feet of gain.   I began the climb in the 100F+ heat and within just a few minutes I felt my pace was slowing. I have climbed Palomar Mountain many times but I never had close to a century (100 miles)  on my legs before reaching the base like I did on Friday.  Had I made a mistake?  Is it still too early in my training for a century before Palomar?  And if I’m suffering now how will finish this 12 mile climb and the 50 miles back to the coast in Encinitas?

After the first 5 miles I pulled over totally overheated and totally spent.  I took five minutes in the shade and finish my first bottle.  I had three – two on the bike and one in my jersey pocket.  I rolled even though I wasn’t feeling any better…got to stay moving.

As I began the second half of the mountain I just couldn’t pedal on.  I pulled over and took 20 minutes in the shade. I looked at my SRM and it said it was 102F.   I still had about 5 miles to go on the 12 mile climb.  Now you must know something about me and climbing…I love to climb, which is to say I love to suffer.  But when I climb I hold myself to one and only objective…DON’T GET OFF THE BIKE!  So for me to have pulled over twice on a climb I have climbed probably 100 times is a grave situation.  I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me.  I didn’t feel under-fueled.  I did feel dehydrated but that shouldn’t affect my legs that much. I had to be economic with my fluids to finish the climb but I needed to take more fluids in NOW!

You might ask yourself …why is he doing this to himself?  Right?  In case you don’t follow my blog regularly, I am training for the Furnace Creek 508. It is a 508 mile non-stop bicycle race through the Mojave and Death Valley deserts with 35,000 feet of climbing over 10 mountain passes.  It is my fifth year returning to this extreme race.  It is my goal race every year and if I don’t suffer now I will really suffer in October.

Well 20 minutes off the bike was the key and I got back on and finished the climb feeling better but still feeling terrible.  As I think back I hadn’t stopped for my first 80 miles at which time I was stopped fewer than five minutes.  I then stopped for five more minutes after the first 5 miles of the climb.  So basically in over 90 miles I had been off the bike only 10 minutes…in this heat.  OK now it’s starting to make sense.  Funny how things are clearer when you’re at home rested and comfortable in your favorite chair and not dehydrated and smoked on the side of the road.

Even though I wanted to hang out in the cooler temperatures (low 90’s) above 5000 feet I knew I just had to get down off the mountain. I then descended as quickly as possible. I love the 12 mile free-fall from over 5,000 feet elevation to 800 feet.  I love descending at speed.  It’s a blast taking hairpin turns at twice the posted speed limit.  One of the things I also love is there are a few right handers that I am leaning so far over as I cut the apex of the turn that the I feel the long blades of something brush my face at 40 mph.

I had a lot more hot climbing still to do.  But the great thing about coming back from Palomar Mountain to the coast is that little by little it  gets cooler. It’s also into a headwind so that helps in one respect but hurts in another…pushing into a headwind sucks actually.   I eventually started to feel better… just better.  I wanted to ride back up to Newport Beach which would have made a 200 miler but the damage had already been done on Palomar Mountain.  I was very dehydrated and just needed to pull the plug on this ride.

GOALS

OK so Saturday July 17th I climbed Palomar Mountain on a 127 mile 10,000 feet of climbing day—  Start/Finish Encinitas

Friday July 23rd I climbed Palomar Mountain (90 miles in) on a 155 mile 10,000 feet climbing day Start Newport Beach Finish Encinitas

The goal is to climb Palomar Mountain (90 miles in) on a 210 mile 13,000 feet of climbing day Start and Finish in Newport Beach.  Mid August

Next goal is to climb Palomar Mountain (90 miles in) go down the other side and climb Mesa Grande, go towards Santa Ysabel and then work my way back to the coast and North as part of a 290 mile 17,00 feet of climbing. Start Finish Newport Beach end of August.

All for now…thank you for reading my blog please pass it on to your best friend.

The 10 Toughest Climbs in California – Continued


First post THE 10 TOUGHEST CLIMBS IN CALIFORNIA

Let’s begin by reviewing the list provided by John Sommerson,  The complete guide to climbing (by bike) in California. John’s list was very interesting to me and I found it at just the right time.  I was in a funk and hadn’t been riding.  I had lost all motivation to go out and really train (read suffer).  I thank John for his work on the California edition and his other books for inspiring me to get back out there and do what I love best about riding a bike — CLIMBING!  Since my last post, two weeks ago about the 10 Toughest Climbs in California, I have been in contact with John.  I asked him initially for clarification on start and finish of the climbs and then for advice.  John has been very patient with me and gracious with his time.  Thank you John — we’ll see you on the road.  Here is the list:

Most Difficult Climbs:

1) Onion Valley —               DONE 6/10/10 !!
2) Horseshoe Meadows — DONE 6/10/10!!
3) White Mountain—          DONE as part of Everest Challenge Stage Race
4) Sherman Pass DONE 6/24/10!!
5) Whitney Portal —          DONE 6/10/10!!
6) Mount Baldy–               DONE- too many times to mention
7) Shirley Meadows– DONE 6/24/10!!
8) South Lake—                  DONE as part of Everest Challenge Stage Race
9) Mount Palomar—           DONE 6/06/10!!
10) Mosquito Flat—           DONE as part of Everest Challenge Stage Race

Greatest Elevation Gained:

1) Horseshoe Meadows – 6,234 feet– DONE 6/10/10 !!
2) White Mountain – 6,204 feet
3) 190 – 6,199 feet
4) J21/245/180 – 5,750 feet
5) Mosquito Flat – 5,548 feet
6) Dantes View – 5,475 feet
7) South Lake – 5,445 feet
8) Sherman Pass – 5,316 feet– DONE 6/24/10!!
9) Emigrant Pass – 5,309 feet
10) Onion Valley – 5,169 feet DONE 6/10/10!!

Highest Elevation Attained:

1) Mosquito Flat – 10,220 feet
2) White Mountain – 10,152 feet
3) Horseshoe Meadows – 10,034 feet DONE 6/10/10!!
4) Tioga Pass – 9,945 feet
5) South Lake – 9,852 feet
6) Sonora Pass – 9,624 feet
7) Kaiser Pass – 9,184 feet
8) Onion Valley – 9,163 feet — DONE 6/10/10!!
9) Lake Sabrina – 9,141 feet
10) Sherman Pass – 9,126 feet– DONE 6/24/10!!

Today I climbed Shirley Meadows and Sherman Pass Road.  I have now completed the Top 10 list. The challenge of completing the list kept me motivated during the weeks in between my trips.  I planned, that is to say I daydreamed, and counted down the days until the next time I could escape to the mountains.  I now need to find another challenge.  In the meantime, let’s get on with today’s ride.

Garmin Connect Download

Ride with GPS Download

SHIRLEY MEADOWS

The scenic beauty of today’s ride was incredible.  I parked at a convenience store in Wofford Heights.  I asked the store employee if it was ok for me to leave my car there while I went for a bike ride and he mumbled what I think was “sure”.  Little did he know my bike rides are centuries with 11,400 feet of gain. I was less than one block away from the start of the Shirley Meadows climb.  It was very convenient in one respect but then I didn’t get a decent warm-up.  As soon as you make the turn onto Hwy 155 BAM! you are greeted with a double-digit pitch that shocks your legs — even if you had a proper warm-up.

The climb is nothing but one steep ramp after another.  This isn’t the type of climb where you sit down and settle-in to the climb.   This is a stand and grind, sit and recover …rinse and repeat type of climb.  I’m not kidding this is one steep climb but not all at once or in any semblance of a consistent grade like Onion Valley.  I had to take a picture of one of the caution signs when I descending– 11% for 5 miles–no wonder I was suffering so bad.  I would like to consider it a stair-step climb but that doesn’t describe it well enough either because there are only a couple of reliefs.  The climb is only 10 miles but it takes your legs and trashes them in just that short of a distance.

My Felt F2 with Di2 was plenty stiff on the steep grades and the Di2 shifted FLAWLESSLY!!

What are the redeemable qualities for all this pain and suffering?  The views! The views are spectacular.  The road is in pretty good shape.  So you can relax and look around when you’re not gripping your drop bars and pulling on them for dear life to turn the pedals over One.More.Time.  I was riding my 2010 Felt F2 with Di2 with a 53/39 crankset and a 12/27 cassette because John had given me a heads-up about the steep grades on this climb.  The 11/23 cassette I rode in the first edition of the 10 toughest climbs in California would have been a mistake today.  The sharp hairpin turns lead you from one picturesque wooded area to another.  And while the scenery is great on the way up, the descent is nothing short of breathtaking.  It is straight out of a European tourist magazine.  You descend with Lake Isabella down below and mountains and more mountains over-laying over each other as a backdrop.  I imagined this is what it must look like when descending into Lake Como in Switzerland.  My words just can’t do it justice– simply perfect postcard material at every turn!

Shirley Meadows Summit

Taken with my Blackberry phone–Like a bonehead I forgot my camera battery at home my Blackberry just didn’t capture it as I saw it live!

I refueled at my car and then started the 24ish miles to Sherman Pass Road.  I didn’t realize what a slog it would be.  There are pesky little rollers while you keep a 1-2% grade for 24 miles into a light headwind.  But once again you are rewarded with spectacular views.  You ride along the Kern river.  The water is rushing and you see it crashing and splashing on the rocks.  Then you look up and see cabins on the hillsides way off in the distance.  I tried to imagine how beautiful this place would look like with snow.  The views are postcard material yet again.

The Slog from Wofford Heights to Sherman Pass–1,500 feet of gain at .09% grade – in 24 miles

I was worried that I wasn’t going to have enough fluids for the 24 mile stretch AND the 15 mile Sherman Pass climb.  But 19.5 miles from Wofford Heights there was a small store in Fairview with a spigot outside.  I topped off and shortly thereafter I made the right turn onto Sherman Pass Road. Notice the climbing that begins at mile 20 and continues until you summit Sherman Pass Road at mile 60!!

SHERMAN PASS ROAD

I didn’t find the climb difficult.  The grades were consistent and the views were excellent.  It was just LOONG!  15 plus miles.  Funny story– about 1 mile into the climb I see a lot of cow patties.  I said to myself where would the cows come from and why would they be hanging out on THIS road.  About a mile later I see about 20 cows and calves grazing on the side of the road.  When they spotted me they were startled but stayed put.  As I got closer they started running up the mountain first at light trot then a full-on gallop.  I kept thinking where the heck are they going?  I didn’t see any place they could call home.  But then, seemingly out of nowhere, there is a very narrow road and a gate.  It was pretty comical seeing all the cows fighting to get through the gate.

The climb took me to 9200 feet and a clearing with an incredible vista.  It was well worth all my effort.  I didn’t like the descent only because the road was tore up in many places, there were sand patches and loose rock everywhere.

Sherman Pass Road- Obviously there weren’t 50% grades ignore the glitches

Sherman Pass Summit

The return leg back to Wofford Heights was really tough.  Even though I was generally going downhill I was riding into a headwind.  Yep pedaling downhill to maintain 15 mph.  How do you like that?  I eventually made it back but I was so frustrated. I had climbed that same section of road into a headwind and now I was descending it into a headwind.

11k of climbing in just 58 miles

In the very near future I will post my opinion about each of the 10 climbs on this list.  But for now I would like to say that today’s ride was the most scenic.  When taking into consideration its the sheer beauty, its leg sapping climbs and the scarcity of cars and people on the road, I say the Shirley Meadows and Sherman Pass century I did today wins hands down!

2010 Breathless Agony Ride Report


On Saturday May 1, I completed the Breathless Agony Century.  It is without a doubt a “climbing century”.  I wouldn’t recommend it as a first timer’s century.  The time cut-offs are listed below:

To complete the 3 or 4 Pass Options, you must begin the climb to Angelus Oaks from the Mill Creek Ranger Station Food Stop by 10:30 A.M.

The Angelus Oaks Rest Stop closes at 1:00 P.M. and you must leave there before 1:00 P.M. in order to complete 4 Passes of this ride.

The Onyx Summit Rest Stop closes at 3:30 P.M. and you must arrive there before 3:30 P.M. in order to complete 4 Passes of this ride.

Source: Breathless Agony website

In my opinion, the ideal rider is someone who has been riding for sometime and loves to climb!  The stats are 114 miles with 12,000 feet of climbing.  However, the timed portion of the event, is 11,000 feet of climbing in the first 75 miles!

I’ve done this event several times and have had mixed results.  I have provided the results and the links to the event website below.

2004 Time of 6:50 45th place

2006 Time of 5:58 34th Place

2007 Time of 5:40 21st Place — Personal Record

2008 Time of 6:09 66th Place

2010 Time of 5:59 68th Place

SUMMARY

Today’s ride was very tough.  I have been in a funk lately and haven’t been training.  The last time I rode my bike was April 17, two weeks ago, for the Mount Laguna Bicycle Classic (MLBC).   My race report is here.  Prior to MLBC I had also been off the bike for at least two weeks.  By the way, I would consider MLBC a climbing century as well.  It is a century with 10,000 feet of climbing. With all this time off the bike my result today of 6 hours, probably isn’t that bad but I am really hard on myself.

I had many “WTF moments” during the ride particularly at times when I was barely pushing the pedals and merely producing 150 watts.  I also battled with the same cramping issues I had at the MLBC.  But I have decided it is just from poor fitness or better yet NO fitness.  In the last 45 days I have done less than 10 rides.  That would be one ride every 5 days.  But that’s how funny averages and math can be because I was off the bike much more than 5 days at a time.  Back on April 3-4 weekend I rode Saturday and Sunday doing the Hell’s Gate Hundred and Towne Pass century plus. But then  I didn’t ride for two weeks until the April 17th.  You can’t expect to do well at a climbing century if you are not fit.  I got ‘er done but it wasn’t pretty.

Clothing— Bike Religion kit, short sleeve base layer, Furnace Creek 508 vest, Wool gloves, Wool knee warmers,

Bike — Rebecca– Cervelo R3 SL, Compact Crank 50/34 and 11/23 Cassette, Power Tap Ant + and a Garmin 310XT.

Weight— 144lbs

As you can see from the map above Breathless Agony starts and finishes in Redlands. The call-outs are:

1. Mile 17.8 – left turn onto Jack Rabbit Trail

2.  Mile 22.0- right onto Highway 60

3.  Mile 26.6- Beaumont Ave checkpoint

4. Mile 43.6- Mill Creek Ranger Station

6. Mile 54.6- Angelus Oaks

7.  Mile 74.2 Onyx Summit

There are three options for the ride.  You can do two passes, three passes or the whole enchilada of four passes.  I have always done the four pass option.

Power Chart for Timed Portion Only
Data for Timed Portion 

The graph above is from Training Peaks 3.0.  It shows only the timed portion of the event.

Orange– Elevation Profile

Yellow– Power

Blue– Speed

Green– Cadence

I rolled at 7am with the Santiago Cycling club.  It was a massive group of at least 30 riders.  It was nice to ride out with a big group and benefit from the draft for the first few miles.  New for this year, or least since the last time I rode the event in 2008, is a checkpoint at mile 12.  The checkpoint was a surprise to me (no I don’t read the route sheet on this event 😉 .  As I was coming up on it I saw a large crowd of cyclists huddled around someone and my first thought it was– CRASH!

Redlands to Jack Rabbit Trail

Data from Redlands to Jack rabbit Trail

Data above is from the start in Redlands to the left turn onto Jack Rabbit Trail — Pass 1.  We were moving at a good pace with an average speed of 19.3 mph and my normalized power was 209 watts (3.2 w/kg). I got dropped on the first little climb but I knew that wasn’t my pace anyway.

Jack Rabbit Trail

Data for Jack Rabbit Trail Climb

The climb on Jack Rabbit Trail is always sketchy. But I found the trail to be in really bad shape on Saturday.  It seemed to me that the potholes and ruts were bigger. The sand and gravel patches were bigger.  The road was so bad in some areas that they were barricaded to ensure riders wouldn’t fall in what appeared to be sink holes.  It’s hard to maintain and even and steady effort through this climb.  I faded a little and let riders pass me that I thought on any other day I would be passing them.  My average speed for the Jack Rabbit Trail climb was 10.2 mph and my normalized power was 207 (3.2 w/kg). So far so good not a stellar performance but not THAT bad.

Oak Glen Climb

Oak Glen Climb Data

I consider the hardest climb of the four passes to be the Oak Glen Climb.  The other climbs are longer but the pitches are not as steep so they are easier to climb.  I made my up the climb thinking to myself “Man I really should be training more often”.  By the time I passed Chuck Bramwell’s water and photo taking spot I was really in the hurt locker.  I couldn’t produce any power and was just limping along.  I crested and began the high-speed descent down towards Mill Creek Ranger Station.  My average speed for the Oak Glen climb was 8.3 mph and my normalized power was 182 watts (2.78 w/kg).

Angelus Oaks Climb

Angelus Oaks Climb Data

After a quick stop at Mill Creek Ranger Station it was now time for the 30 miles of climbing that take you to Onyx Summit.  The next section is an 11 mile climb.  The hard part in my opinion is the section of road called Damnation Alley.  The weather was mild on Saturday.  On a hot day that the “Alley” can roast you since there is no shade to be found.  What I find tough about this section of road is that you can’t tell you are climbing but sure enough your legs struggle to keep the speed up.  I was really dragging and just turning the pedals over.  It wasn’t until I reached the Forest Falls turn off where I came into a spurt of energy.  I was able to maintain that momentum until Angelus Oaks.  My average speed to Angelus Oaks was 8.3 mph and my Normalized Power was 180 watts (2.75 w/kg)

Onyx Summit Climb

Data for Onyx Summit Climb

The last climb isn’t that hard but you are fatigued and so it feels harder than it really is.  Additionally, you are at altitude from 6,000 feet to 8,443 at Onyx Summit.  Leaving Angelus Oaks the road has a lot of rollers and you get a chance to recover from your 11 mile climb.  It is a 19 mile stretch from Angelus Oaks to Onyx Summit but it’s not until the last 10 miles that you reach a sustained climbing section.

I was struggling with cramps and just overall fatigue.  I was counting down the miles and half miles too.  I passed the 7,000 elevation sign and remembered the last time I was on the mountain.  Brandy and I had done a training ride to Big Bear City.  She was on her multi-speed and I was on my Fixed Gear with a 49 x 18 gear.
I remember climbing ahead of her and taking pictures of the elevation signs and my bike parked in front of them.   I was really suffering and my pace was slowing dramatically.  I then see the 8,000 foot elevation sign.  I think ok 443 more feet of gain and this freaking thing is done.  Back home there is a hill called Newport Coast and it is 450 feet of gain in 1.5 miles.  Thank goodness because I wouldn’t want to go another mile more.

When I reached the summit, I got my picture taken, grabbed my “medal”, grabbed some strawberries, a banana, chips, water and I was headed down the mountain immediately.   I don’t like hanging out on the top of the mountain because the descent just gets colder and colder the longer you stay up there.  Besides there is much better food available at the finish.

So there you have it my Breathless Agony report.  I didn’t experience being “breathless” because I couldn’t ride hard enough.  I was fatigued, cramped and just plain out of shape for a climbing century.

This painful event served as a wake-up call.  No matter the funk or personal strifes going on in my life I NEED TO RIDE BY BIKE.  My bike has always been my way of keeping myself sane and physically fit.

What’s next for the Red Eyed Vireo?  I don’t really know because I am required to work the weekends I don’t have my son.  So unless I start racing on the weekends I have my son I may not have races to report about here on my blog.  The Furnace Creek 508 looms over me as it is May now and I have only five months to get ready for it.  I won’t have the benefit of doing events at race pace.  Training alone just doesn’t replicate the demands of racing.  But you know, things have a way of sorting themselves out over time.

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UPDATE: 2011 BREATHLESS AGONY RACE REPORT

Hell’s Gate Hundred- Done!


Wow what an awesome ride.  The Hell’s Gate Hundred exceeded my expectations!  100 miles with 8.500 feet of climbing!  Artist Drive was a pleasant surprise.  I didn’t know that loop existed and it was very cool.  The Hell’s Gate climb that went on and on to Daylight Pass– 16 miles about 4500 feet of gain– niiice!!

I’m very happy with my performance.  I had a couple of issues early on but then had a great ride afterwards.

 I’ll post more later but I just wanted to drop a quick post.

What’s next for the Red Eyed Vireo?


I’m trying to decide if I should do the Hell’s Gate Hundred ,an event put on by AdventureCorps, on April 3.  I love doing their events because:

1. they are in Death Valley and
2. they are professionally run from the race director to the volunteers.

What’s holding me back?  Well I’m already doing the Mount Laguna Bicycle Classic on April 17th (my pre-ride here) and I’m supposed to work weekends- or at least one of the two days.

Here is the graph looks challenging and fast.  I’m 100% in but what will work say?  Stay tuned….