Beach Cities Double Century

On September 22, 2018 George Vargas and Lori Hoechlin completed the inaugural running of the Beach Cities Double Century with 9,900 feet, in a total time of 12:56 on the tandem.  For those of you that keep track of ride time only, 11:39. We had a mechanical and flat-free day!   This was George Vargas’s 51st and Lori Hoechlin’s 36th  Double Century and our 4th of the 2018 season.  The two biggest hurdles of the day were TRAFFIC LIGHTS and a never-subsiding HEADWINDS.

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Before getting into the ride report I would like to thank Jim Cook for taking the time and immense effort to create a new double century right here in Southern California.  Next, I would like to thank all the volunteers for being out on the course all day ensuring we were well supported.  Thank you!


I had my reservations about doing this double century.  At first I thought there are going to be a lot of traffic lights.  When we checked in at the finish Kermit even said, “How did you like Tour de Lights?” LOL! As Lori and I discussed whether we were going to do it, I told her I just needed to prepare myself mentally that we are going to be stopping a lot on this double.  You see you have to think of the tandem as that big semi you see on the road.  In the city, they are slow lumbering beasts that clutter the road and are almost always in your way.  But on the highway, they are a picture of beauty with all their lights, fairings and effortless speed based on their momentum.  Yeah we are something like that 🙂

I then thought I might as well do the double since it is a local event and I would like to give a local guy, Jim Cook, a shot at succeeding.  Furthermore, the event would benefit many worthy causes addressed by from the event website – “FINDcures a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit charity that supports research for Alzheimer’s Disease, Autism, Concussion, Epilepsy, Major Depression Disorder, MS/ALS, Parkinson’s Disease and Stroke, and provides transitional support services for individuals impacted by any of the above neurological diseases. NdZONE will donate at least 5% of all Beach City’s proceeds to FINDcures.”


From the Beach Cities DC website:

“The Beach City event starts and finishes in Irvine, California. Irvine offers a system of bicycle lanes and trails to encourage the use of bikes as a means of transportation. It has 44.5 miles of off-road bicycle trails and 282 miles of on-road bicycle lanes.  The City of Irvine is one of the most bicycle friendly and safest communities in America”

Sounds great! Sign me up! The reality is that you can’t do a DC exclusively in Irvine.  Well you could I guess by doing laps … something I abhor.  It is the very reason I have never signed up for any 24 hour races.  They are usually held on looped courses.  The largest loop in the daylight hours with a shorter loop usually after sunset.  Although if you follow my blog you will know that I have no problem Everesting.  When Everesting you do repeats up and down the same hill until you reach 29,029 or 8,848 meters on one ride. So you would think I would be able to tolerate a looped 24 hour course but you would be wrong.

I digress, back to the event.  The route turned out to be a great route not what I expected so I was pleasantly surprised. It was billed as quite the scenic tour see below:

Popular cities:

Laguna Beach
Corona Del Mar
Newport Beach
Huntington Beach
Sunset Beach
Seal Beach
Long Beach
Lake Forest
Mission Viejo
Dana Point
San Clemente
and more…

Legendary course highlights:

Surf City, U.S.A.
Queen Mary
1984 Olympic Cycling Road Race Course
Florence Joyner Olympiad Park
Ole Hanson Beach Club
San Clemente Casino
Western White House


Saturday morning we launched out at 6:07am.  Yes that’s an odd start time – we were late for the 6:00 start — oops!  MY BAD! It was still dark but luckily Lori could read the cue sheet just fine under the street lamps of the main roads.  Additionally, because she resides in Orange County we stayed on course without incident or wrong turns until sunrise.  Lori and I had discussed the advantages/disadvantages of the different start times.  The organizer gave the riders the option to start between 4:30-6:00 am   Here is my opinion regarding the advantages and disadvantages of the different start times.



Early start leads to an early finish – in the fall and winter months daylight hours are shorter.  Mentally, I like finishing a double before sunset.


Lighter traffic – Saturday morning at 430 you should have much lighter traffic I mean who else is crazy enough to be up that early although you would be surprised.

Major thoroughfares are green-lit — major streets are green, green, green while the feeder streets which have less traffic will most likely be red.


More hours/miles ridden and climbs completed before the heat of the day sets in!


Headlight use in the morning eats into the total burn time available for your headlight.  If you have flats or mechanicals during the day and your progress is delayed then you may run out of burn time on the tail end of the ride.


Night navigation – reading the cue sheet and reading street signs pre-dawn, let’s face it night time, can be especially tricky.  Missing a turn can add unnecessary miles and added stress and frustration to your already long day.



Usually a daylight start – easy navigation and great visibility for you and your visibility to motorists.


Warmer start – it’s usually coolest/coldest just before dawn.  The later the start the warmer the start and the less clothing you will need at the start and quite possibly a short time and then have to schlep it around for the next 12 hours or longer.


Chasing down the early starters – it is motivating for me to know there are other riders ahead on the course.  I like the feeling of chasing them down throughout the day.


After a long work week and long travel to an event sleeping-in 1.5 hours more hours feels amazing!


If you have any flats/mechanicals you could easily go into the night and have to finish in the dark.

In the end we chose a late start 6am of the 4:30-6am window- to minimize night time navigation and feeling confident we would move briskly through the course and finish before dark.  We just barely made it in before dark.

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Sunrise through Santiago Canyon – the first climb of the day.

I lived in Orange County for several years logically you would think I would remember the sequence in which the major intersections come at you and when to anticipate a left hand turn but I really don’t remember much.  Whenever I had free time I would leave town and ride either in the San Gabriel Mountains, Eastern Sierras or the mountains of San Diego.  It can’t be overstated enough how important it is to not miss a turn during a double century!  This DC had 2 pages front AND back of directions!  Thank you Lori for your excellent navigation!

The weather was a pleasant 63 degrees F on a late September morning.  We felt a slight breeze as we were climbing through the first real climb of the day, Santiago Canyon.  Little did I know that slight breeze would strengthen and become our nemesis the for the remainder of the day.

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The Shadow Selfie 🙂

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A walking/bike path summiting a steep climb just before descending to Rest Stop #2

We rolled up and down through many hills in south Orange County and eventually we made our way to aid station #2 in San Clemente.  What happened to the first aid station? We bypassed it since we didn’t need anything within the first 25 miles.  Immediately following aid station #2 was the toughest hill of the day for us – Avenida Salvador!  It had ramps over 12-15% and it is a bear on a tandem.

Up down up down more hills and familiar roads as we were doing large loops back to earlier aid stations.   I’m sure that made it easier for the event organizer to provide support for us.  All was going fine until I started having twinges in my legs that eventually became cramps.  I rarely cramp.  Lori says never say never.  I was just about to type I “never cramp”.  I was so surprised and wondered what the heck was going on! I started taking sodium supplements at each aid station and taking extra capsules with me.  Throughout the day I was fighting off cramps in my legs.  It was actually quite annoying.  My nutrition was the same as always — concentrated bottles of Spiz Nutrition . Lori and I ride 90% liquid nutrition for our doubles with Spiz being our primary fuel. It is an amazing product that provides the calories, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals, electrolytes and amino acids for you to sustain hard efforts for hours on end.

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Lunch stop – so many people were surprised we stopped. The truth is I had enough calories for 12 hours but the first 100 took us longer than I expected and started to think we were going to go way beyond the calories I had onboard so we picked up a few more calories and a Coke!

The on and off cramping was nothing compared to the headwinds we experienced all day.  Anytime we turned West or North the winds were unrelenting.  On Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) there were times that we were barely going 15 mph on flat sections.  Let me tell you that’s disheartening as a tandem lol!  We pushed through it and finally made our turnaround in Long Beach immediately across the harbor from the Queen Mary.  I had told Lori on the way up that I had never been to the Queen Mary.  She was surprised probably just as much as I was lol!

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Just 3.5 miles from the turnaround point TJ Knight and Brook Henderson took such great care of us!

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Once we made the turn for home we were treated to a wonderful tailwind from Long Beach back to Newport Beach, approximately 20 miles.  We turned inland and headed for Irvine.  Funny how so often we are racing the sun to finish our doubles in fall and winter doubles.  Sunset for Saturday was 6:48pm.  We pulled into the Hotel Irvine just a couple of minutes after 7pm.  Sub 13 hours was the goal and we were right on target! At first it was a conservative goal with hopes of beating it but with all the winds during the day and the cramping it ended up being a struggle just to make the sub 13 hour goal.


Finishing photo several minutes after finishing still a little daylight left 🙂 Thank you to Irwin Cycling for the 38mm Disc Brake wheels

Thank you to Lori for being so steady on the bike with power and grace.  I’m sorry for rushing you through lunch!  She gets all the photo credits too lol!

What’s next for me/us?  Lori and I will be doing the Knoxville Double Century (200 miler with 12,000 feet) on September 29th.  If all goes well it will be our 5th Double Century of the season.  On Sunday morning there will be an awards breakfast where I will be inducted into the California Triple Crown Hall of Fame for having completed 50 Double Centuries.  Stay tuned…

You can follow me on Strava here


#everesting #everestchallenge

Borrego Springs Century

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Lori and I did the  Borrego Springs Century on the tandem.  We made a couple of wrong turns and we had doubts and indecision a couple more times.  With the out and backs and U-turns I think this course could have been more visibly marked.

I apologize I couldn’t get my SPOT Transmitter up and running.  I think it needs fresh batteries.  That’s my fault for not planning ahead.  Most every thing I have has rechargeable batteries and the SPOT is something I have to keep premium Lithium batteries on hand.

Here are some of my graphs.  I hope people searching for information on this ride for next year stumble upon my blog.

This event provided Lori and I with a very good endurance training ride.  We left at 8:14 am which was 14 minutes after the start of the main pack and spent all day chasing.  It was fun doing my time splits at each U-turn.  By the second loop (last 30 miles) we caught the remnants of the lead group and finished with them.  Michael Connor was one of the two riders we finished with.  Michael recognized me and thanked me for my thorough blog.  Seems he has read my blog and done a few of my epic climbing rides of Hwy 395, namely Onion Valley Road and Whitney Portal.

There were only a few stops signs and no traffic lights that I remember.  Vehicular traffic was low as well.  We did the event non-stop and without refueling.  It’s a shame that we pay for the support on these century rides and don’t use it lol!  We were self-sufficient with six hours of fuel onboard and five water bottles on the “Treno Blu” – blue train in Italian.  Lori and I did the 99.68 miles in wait for it… 5:08!  I just can’t get away from that number!!

The volunteers were so very nice.  Thank you for the great event.  We’ll be back next year!

Lori Hoechlin + George “Red Eyed Vireo” Vargas at the finish of Borrego Springs Century

Stay tuned for more details…

Borrego Springs Century Tomorrow

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I will be doing the Borrego Springs Century tomorrow on my tandem with Lori Hoechlin.  I wish I could give you a preview of the route but the event is poorly documented.  The map for the first 68 miles is a blur and the second loop map isn’t any better.  I guess I will have to document the event better than the organizer right here on my blog.

I will have my SPOT Transmitter so you will be able to follow me along the route.

Stay tuned for more details…

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!

San Diego 200km Brevet tomorrow

Tomorrow, Saturday January 3, will be my first event of the year. Brandy and I will be doing the 200km on our tandem. Neither one of us put in the winter miles of base training this year. I had a fractured thumb and Brandy’s work schedule changed. We are going into the event just looking to enjoy the precious time we have to ride together without any expectations on time.

Tandem Ride

Brandy and I took the tandem out for a short ride. 34 miles and ~1900 feet of climbing . We did two repeats on a local 1.5 mile climb called Newport Coast Dr (1700 feet in 12 miles). We are new tandem riders and it was quite humbling to climb a 6% at about 8 mph. When I got home I realized that the 34 miles on the tandem felt harder than when I do the same route by myself. I found that interesting. Interesting because we plan on doing our first century on the bike the x-mas holiday and our first Ultra on January 3rd, the San Diego 200km Brevet. You can also find information on the event website here.