Lhasa Apso pays the Red-Eyed Vireo a visit

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A couple of days ago John “Lhasa Apso” Culligan stopped by my store to pay me a visit.  He was in Newport Beach visiting from Salinas.  We told war stories for a few minutes.  During our conversation he mentioned to me that he was returning the 508 one more time.  One of the things, that made an impact on me was when he expressed how deep in to his psyche the 508 had gotten. I went further by saying what I think he meant to say — the 508 has gotten in to our souls.

It was nice to see a Furnace Creek 508 veteran out of competition.  The 508 is a non-draft legal 508 mile non-stop long distance bicycle race.  Basically, it’s a 508 mile time-trial. It’s illegal to ride alongside a racer for more than just the time it takes to pass the racer. The evening before the event there are so many activities you can’t really connect.  After the race it’s difficult as well since we finish all through the night.   I believe now you can see how precious it is to spend time with a 508 solo racer.

Good luck Lhasa Apso at the 2012 Furnace Creek 508!


Just for fun John had this picture to share with me.  This was taken on Day 1 of the 2010 Furnace Creek 508.  It’s a great picture the photographed captured us both smiling.


The Furnace Creek 508 Solo…is not really solo

No solo rider is ever alone.  And while he pushes the pedals every last inch of the 509.6 miles he is never too far from his crew.  I owe my success to my crews.  I thought it would be fitting to recognize all my previous crews in a blog post.

2006 my rookie year Robin Barsantee, Shelley Brown and Ron “Leviathon” Smith

2007 Fixed Gear Brandy Deluca, Terry Zmral, Timmer Vadhiem

2008 – my personal best Ticia, Brandy Deluca and Jason Hock

2009 Brandy Deluca and the Stokes

2010 Steve Rachel and Jaime

2011- record setting sixth consecutive solo finish- Jim Kehr, Lida Letowt and Carlo Cuento

and one just for fun!

Encinitas Palomar Mountain Cole Grade 130 miler


Maximum time in aerobars

Minimum time off the bike

Sub 8 hour total time 130 miles

All three training goals were accomplished.


Felt F2 with Di2 53/39 Crankset 11-25 Cassette.

Profile Design Sonic CSX Aerobars


130 miles 10,000 feet of gain almost 4,900 kjs with Normalized Power of 208 watts or 3 w/kg for the 7.5 hours.

Start Encinitas

North on Pacific Coast Hwy

East on San Luis Rey Bike Path

Camino Del Rey, West Lilac, Lilac

UP Palomar Mountain South Grade

DOWN Palomar Mountain South Grade

UP Cole Grade Road

Lake Wholford, Valley Parkway, Del Dios Hwy, to PCH

PCH to finish in Encinitas


I only stopped twice on the full 130 miles.  The two stops were for water only– no solid foods, no nature breaks or anything else.  The difference between my rolling time and total time was only 12 minutes.  Below I have detailed my two stops which account for 4 minutes and 39 seconds the remaining 7 or so minutes were traffic controls.

My first stop (1 minute and 5 seconds) at Bates Nut Farm (mile 47).  I filled one bottle, topped off a half full bottle, downed a bottle refilled it and I was back on the bike.

My second stop (3 minutes 34 seconds) was at Mother’s, the restaurant at the top of Palomar Mountain (mile 67), refilled three bottles with Infinit Nutrition powder , downed a bottle refilled it,  said hello to a friend and then was back on the bike. I then rode the next 62 miles without stopping for fluids or anything else. For those that are wondering the mile marker at the top of Palomar Mountain’s South Grade is 47.8

Total bottle count 1.5 bottles to Bates Nut Farm mile 47.  I downed 1 bottle at Bates. Then 3 bottles on Palomar Mountain climb.  Down 1 bottle at the top.  Then 3 bottles to get home.  Total bottle count 9.5 24 oz bottles!

I had a good day on the bike.  My legs felt strong throughout most of the day.  I faded a little on Palomar Mountain but only near the top.  One reason might be that I didn’t stop at the store at the base of Palomar to refuel.  I had made my refueling stop 8 miles prior at Bates Nut Farm.  I rode hard from Bates through Rincon and attacked the climb just when the road kicks up by Harrah’s Casino (lowest elevation point of the climb).  Starting the climb in earnest from just past Harrah’s adds one more mile to the already long 11.6 mile climb.  This extra mile makes it a 12.7 mile climb 4200 feet of gain AND is in the steepest section (lower half) which can really put the hurt on you …but that’s why I’m out there right?

Garmin Player found here (click on the icon with four arrow next to the turtle and the rabbit slider for full screen view)

Screen shot from Training Peaks WKO 3.o from my 7900 Dura-Ace wireless SRM power meter

Notice the grey line (torque) in the above chart going way above the yellow line (power).  I was riding an 11-25 cassette today.  In this case the torque line is an indicator of  how steep Cole Grade is in certain sections.  Cole Grade was featured in the Tour of California on the final stage which also included Palomar Mountain.

Palomar Mountain is slotted in as 9th on John Summerson’s list of the California’s 10 toughest climbs.

All for now…please pass my blog on to your friends.

The Hand Up

I was reminded by the Furnace Creek 508 race director that your bottle Hand Ups must be executed perfectly to achieve success at the 508. I submit to you an exchange that was masterfully executed, and even more importantly, documented for posterity and educational purposes. The players are George “Red-Eyed Vireo” Vargas, the bottle hand upper Terry Zmrhal, the photographer Brandy Deluca. Taken at the 2007 Furnace Creek 508– Fixed Gear .

The Furnace Creek 508- One of the World’s Ten Toughest Races

In case you hadn’t seen this:

From the AdventureCORPS site:

“Furnace Creek 508 was recognized as one of the world’s ten toughest races by National Geographic Adventure Magazine this year. It’s sister event, also held in Death Valley and also hosted by AdventureCORPS, the Badwater Ultramarathon, was noted as THE toughest.” 

I thought it was really cool to have a third party confirm how tough the Furnace Creek 508 is in the vast world of  extreme sports.

Furnace Creek 508 Solo Finisher…again

The very first thing I would like to do is thank my crew; Brandy, Colin and Julie.  No Solo Finisher is ever …Solo! Thank you for sacrificing a long weekend of your personal lives to help me in pursuit of my FOURTH FURNACE CREEK 508 SOLO FINISH.  Thank you guys you kept my fed, hydrated, motivated and safe!

Next  I’d like to thank my friends who followed me on Facebook and my blog.  Your comments kept me motivated and laughing THANK YOU!  Brandy would like to post more but getting coverage is the only thing shutting her up 😉 JK…I love you babe!

Next I’d like to say except for my Fixed Gear run in 2007, this was my hardest earned finish out of four visits to the Furnace Creek 508.  The winds between Furnace Creek Time Station #3 (252.89) and Shoshone #4 (326.29) were brutal.  Keeping the bike upright was a significant challenge when I was going less than 4 mph because of the 35+ mph winds. I actually think the gusts were much higher than that my guess at least 50 mph.  Would I say that?  Well, I often stick my hand out of the window while driving around in town and the winds in Death Valley on Saturday night felt very similar to that.  Bet you were waiting for a much more technical answer huh? Huge props to Brandy, my crew chief who at 5:12 am (gotta look at the download what if it was 5:08 cool huh?) offered me a seat in the van to wait it out.
What’s the official word?  From the National Weather Service (it’s a dot.gov site) they say…

04 Oct 6:00 am    71    25    18    S    28    
04 Oct 5:00 am    72    28    19    SSW    27  
04 Oct 4:00 am    73    30    20    SSW    18  
04 Oct 3:00 am    76    31    19    SSW    15  
04 Oct 2:00 am    78    28    16    S    25    
04 Oct 1:00 am    79    27    15    SSE    23    
04 Oct 12:00 am    81    27    14    S    20    
03 Oct 11:00 pm    82    27    13    S    24    
03 Oct 10:00 pm    84    26    12    S    23    
03 Oct 9:00 pm    86    28    12    S    23  
03 Oct 8:00 pm    88    27    11    SSE    22  
03 Oct 7:00 pm    89    28    11    S    20   


And last but certainly not least the racers and crews you DNF’d this year’s event I wish to say if you gave it your all and you left it all “out there” then don’t worry too much about it.  It was really a tough year with the headwinds.   This event isn’t easy but when you add a little weather (high heat, high winds etc.) it makes it that much tougher.  Remember it’s called “the toughest 48 hours in sport”. 

By my calculation there were 59 Solo Starters two of them Fixed Gear.
There were 7 Solo women including one Fixed Gear.  There was only one solo woman finisher–  14% Finishing rate
There were 52 Solo men including one Fixed Gear.  There were only 28 solo men finishers–  53.8% Finishing rate

For the Solo field there were 29 Finishers out of 59– 49% Finishing Rate

Also interesting is that of the DNF’s in the Solo Field 20 (out of 30) were veterans of the Furnace Creek 508.

Just goes to show not only was it a tough year but there are no guarantees you’ll finish just because you’ve finished before.  Far too often I get comments from friends and customers who don’t know enough about Ultra cycling say things like “Oh you’ve done it before you’ll finish no problem.”  No, just ask those veterans  that DNF’d if they thought it was in the bag at the start line at 7am Saturday morning and then again in Death Valley during the windstorm.

Race report and pictures as soon as I can get my life squared away from this race.

All for now.