Everesting Twin Oaks – “South Village to School Entrance”


On November 10, 2018 George Vargas Everested Twin Oaks Valley Road in San Marcos, Ca.  More specifically he Everested an existing segment named “South Village to School Entrance”.  The effort took a total time of 14:06 for 132.6 miles (213.3 km) 29,088 feet (8866 m).  If you track ride time it was 13:09.  Regarding total time this was his third  fastest Everest at 14:06.  His fastest Everest was #4 Everest13:30 total time. His second fastest Everest was #2 Everest 14:05 total time. He had a flat and mechanical free day! This ride marks his seventh completed Everest Challenge. You can follow him on Strava here.

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PREPARATION 

This is a local hill where I have done many repeats over the last 4 years.  I am very familiar with this hill.  The grade is consistent 9-11% once you ride through the “shallow” run in of about 7% in the first 50-75 meters.  I had dreamed of Everesting this hill for the past two years but I just hadn’t summoned the courage to get it done.  The crazy thing is that I have done much steeper hills in the past.  For example, Everesting the top 1/2 mile of Double Peak (Everesting #2) which averages 11% but actually has two distinct ramps of 15-19% with a relief in the middle of that lowers the average grade down to 11% .  I had also Everested Coronado Hills (Everesting #4) which averaged 15%!  At the time I Everested Coronado Hills it was the shortest distance Everest in North and South America at only 77.8 miles (125.2 km) for 29,203 ft (8901 m).

So then why the trepidation on this climb?  There were a few glaring concerns allow me to list them.

  1.  SAFETY – When doing a recce of your climb one of the first things you need to consider is “Will this be a safe place to Everest? Ok it seems safe during the day but what about at night?” This climb has a lot of traffic flow during the day.  The bike lane is narrow.  At night the traffic is much lighter compared to the day but it’s not like it drops to zero.  There are only two lamp posts on the climb, at the bottom and at the top.  At night you are trusting your rear red blinky to provide an invisible force field around you as you climb at 6-8 mph while the traffic in the lane next to you is doing 50-60 mph.
  2. HEAT – During the day this climb can be very hot. During the summer when you have the most daylight it can be over 95F.  There is a slight tailwind every afternoon.  The trifecta now exists the tailwind, the ambient heat and the heat coming off the tarmac.
  3. GRADE – I climbed steeper grades on my previous Everests but for some reason this one I respected, admittedly probably too much, because of the all the times I have done this climb at full gas while chasing or being chased during a group ride.  During the group rides I would make the selection of the lead group and then suffer my way up trying to stay on the wheels of stronger riders until I would POP! That mental trauma of all the times I had suffered at full gas, all the times I POPPED, all those times were in my mind thinking that I had to climb it at least 75 times, albeit at a much lower intensity.

 

I wish to give some props to the smart people who created the logic behind Everesting Calculator which can be found here.  Take a look at my total time in the screenshot provided above of 14:06 the calculator predicted 14:04!  Unbelievable how close the calculator was to reality.  This is one of those situations when I believe I did better than the calculations.

  1.  The actual distance ended up being 132. 6 miles vs 126 miles for the calculator
  2.  The gain I was getting each ascent was more like 370 ish ft not 387 ft
  3.  The actual repeats were 76 vs 75 predicted
  4.  Using 185w avg in the calculator I ended up with an actual 175 np
  5.  The actual kj were 7,116 calculator predicted 6,959 kj again very close

In summary, I rode further, climbed more and still made the time cutoff!  

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GEARING —

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I chose to ride a 53/39 and an 11-28 cassette.  It was also my first Everest using AbsoluteBlack oval chainrings.  There are quite a few studies out there to the effectiveness of oval chainrings.  But here is what AbsoluteBlack states from their study “Up to 9% increase of Force effectiveness, up to 7% less oxygen consumption, up to 15% less Ventilation (breathing) and up to 10% heart rate decrease when using oval chainrings versus round. What does that mean? In short, it means that you will consume less energy at the same power output using Oval chainrings so you can ride for longer and/or faster.”  I have been riding really strong so who knows if they are helping or not but all I know is I’m kicking ass lately! 

As I mentioned earlier I have done many repeats on this hill in the past.  My current total is 519 subtract the 76 from my Everest it leaves you with 443 previous efforts.  I knew that the 11-28 cassette would be fine as I am not a spinner.  I also didn’t want to change out my crankset as I prefer to ride/climb with my 53/39 chainring setup for most of my climbing and everyday riding.  Having said all of that, my spare set of wheels had an 11-34 cassette installed on them.  Just in case everything went wrong I had a large cassette for the 10% grade. 

 

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ORGANIZATION

I decided after my last Everest that I would be better organized for all subsequent attempts.  As a former mechanical engineer, I believe in continuous process improvement.  If you standardize a process the end result is predictable and expected.  Then you take the process and seek ways to continue to improve it.  In the case of Everesting, you need to establish what supplies, clothing, nutrition and equipment you will need for each attempt.  Now that you have “your must haves” you should have them organized perfectly.  Once you are fatigued you may not be thinking clearly and not be able to find what you are looking for or you might doubt you even packed it.  

To wrap up my preparation I had intimate familiarity with the climb – to include day and night riding on it.  I had consulted the Everesting Calculator for a prediction prior to riding it and used it as a pacing tool while I was on my Everest.   I was much better organized this time by treating it like one of my long endurance events. 

See video below on how I set up my van for my Everesting attempt. 

 

 

THE RIDE

I got a late start but I wasn’t frazzled by that at all.  I like to sleep in until my body wakes up naturally.  I don’t use an alarm as part of my normal life.  On race days I use alarms as a back up but I am usually up before the alarm goes off.   I’m an odd duck… I like to take a shower, have a cup or two of coffee relaxing before heading out for my Everest.  Notice I did not mention having breakfast as part of my morning or pre-race routine.  I don’t eat breakfast before centuries, double centuries or even my 500 mile ultras so why would I have breakfast before an Everest attempt?  There are several reasons why having breakfast before an event is a poor decision.  First and foremost you don’t want an insulin spike which takes hours to settle back down.  Secondly, who likes to climb a hill/mountain on a full stomach? Not this guy! Once on the bike slowly begin fueling and continue through the ride/event/race or Everesting attempt.

The sun was up but most of the climb was still shaded by the higher hills surrounding my segment.  It was in the mid 40’s at the start.  The first few descents were quite chilly for this soft Southern California rider 🙂 You have to consider wind chill factor with 45-50 mph descents.  

Right from the start I could tell I was on a good day!  My legs felt great and I had to temper my enthusiasm so as not to go out too hard on my first few repeats and pay for it later.  I like to divide my ride into three distinct blocks of time/effort.

A Block – Early morning and early part of the ride.  Fresh legs cool temperatures… it’s time to make hay! The A Block sets the tone for the rest of the ride for me.  I like to set a good pace for which the rest of the ride is measured against.  I have done enough endurance events (centuries, double centuries, 500 mile ultras) to know exactly how hard I can push without wrecking myself and not being able to finish strong.

B Block – Slow down as the heat of the day comes on strong.  Keep a steady pace reduce stop time stay on the bike but keep the pace steady.  

C Block – Late afternoon and early evening.  In many cases you have a lot more stopped time for gear and nutrition and riding slower because of reduced visibility think increased safety considerations.

D Block- If we ever get to D Block things have not gone very well and we are into extra innings!  This block would be the very definition of pain cave.  Doubts and concerns about finishing go through my mind.  Something either physically, mentally or equipment-wise has gone awry.  This block is situation critical!

I have to remind people I am not a natural athlete and these things don’t come easy to me.  I suffer and I suffer a lot.  What I believe I am properly equipped with is a powerful mental edge over other athletes.  I say this to my friends and the athletes I coach… “most people don’t like to suffer” I also think about one of my sports heroes Steve Prefontaine — “It’s not who’s the best – it’s who can take the most pain.”

I digress D Block … I have been in D Block at two previous Everest attempts.  I had to do a lot of negotiating with my mind to make my body get back on the bike.  I experienced the dreaded time in D Block during my very first Everesting — Palomar Mountain South Grade – a monster of a climb nearly 12 miles with 4,200 feet on each ascent.  It is an ICONIC climb known the world over so it of course had to be my first Everest. It was the 25th of July 2015 and over 100F climbing the bottom 5.5 miles of this climb.  The second time was on my #5 Everesting September 2018, when it was also very hot with a tailwind.  On Everest #1 I spent over 4 hours off the bike trying to manage my overheated brain and body by pulling over and taking advantage of shade when I could find it.  On Everesting #5 There wasn’t any shade to be had anywhere on the climb so I just had to take the pace down several notches just enough to keep moving but nothing else.  I had to wait for the sun set before I could climb at my true potential.  On Everesting #5 I spent over 4.5 hours off the bike again dealing with overheating and dehydration.

BREAKDOWN OF EACH OF THE BLOCKS

Below is my A Block – My Normalized Power (NP) was 189 watts or 2.93 w/kg which is the very top of my endurance range of 140w-189w. That is a fairly fast start but I felt great so I went with it.  Additionally, it is important to reiterate that the climb is mostly double digit grades which demands a moderate to high power output just to climb it.  Usually during my A Block there are wheels to chase or pace yourself with or against since that is primetime for “normal” people to be riding.  It was during the A Block when an Instagram follower, Jason, came out to do a few repeats with me.  I was so happy to have someone endure a little suffering with me.  We chatted a bit which was nice since I had been talking to myself for a couple of hours before Jason showed up.  My apologies sir if our paces were not compatible at that time of the day but my legs were fresh and the weather was still cool so I pressed on.  Thank you so much for coming out Jason! 

 

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It might be a good time to say that I do my Everests alone… mostly.  I don’t advertise when I am going to do them or where I’m going to be.  I also don’t invite other riders because I don’t want any uncomfortable moments between us if they or I am feeling better that day and the other rider is suffering.  Worst case scenario I won’t pace myself to the slower rider and I don’t ever expect another rider to slow down for me.  Hence, I do my Everesting alone.  But there’s more, I like the pain and suffering (refer above that I am not a natural athlete) that comes from the physical and mental challenge of completing an Everest.  I like what I think about during an Everest and I like how I transcend I like the way like a caterpillar I come through as a butterfly on the other end.  

Just for fun the largest butterfly in the world is the female of the Alexandra Birdwing reaching wingspans slightly in excess of 25 cm (9.8 inches).[2] This birdwing is restricted to the forests of the Oro Province in eastern Papua New Guinea.

 

I am proud of the discipline I exhibited by only having 8 minutes of stopped time in the first 4.5 hours.  My first stop for additional nutrition was 3:51 into my ride.  As mentioned earlier it is important to make as much time before the heat of the day takes hold.

 

 

My B Block

NP was 175 watts well within my endurance zone of 140w-189w or 2.71 w/kg . The weather never got hot.  The forecast was for 76F.  It was comfortable and pleasant.  I reduced the intensity of my pace so as to conserve energy for later in the effort.  Additionally, I reduced the pace so as to preclude having to stop more often for nutrition.  It is amazing how a short stop to refill your bottles can turn into much longer than you think. In your mind you think you have only been stopped for a 2-3 minutes and when you remount your bike it’s been nearly 8-10 minutes.  

 

It was during B Block when my friend Michelle came out to join me.  It was an awesome surprise!  She has been dealing with a few chronic injuries and is recovering/rehabbing from them.  This is not exactly the climb you would want to do while you are rebuilding your strength but there she was putting in the work! 

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B Block

 

 

My C Block

NP was 155 watts well within my endurance zone of 140w-189w or 2.4 w/kg. The weather never got hot.  The forecast was for 76F.  It was comfortable and pleasant.  I reduced the intensity of my pace so as to conserve energy for later in the effort.  Additionally, I reduced the pace so as not have to stop  as often.  The transition to night mode still took too long but I just can’t see how to reduce the time.  

  1.  This time I had all light mounts on the bike all I had to do was clip in the lights
  2. This time I had everything organized in drawers
  3. This time I prepared two bottles so that I would make one less stop than I did last time.
  4. This time like last time I had to remove my top clothing to don a wool base layer which I prefer to put directly to my skin. 
  5.  This time I actually put on a second base layer that has a wind shell on the chest so that I would not have to stop in a couple of hours to don another wool base layer. I ended up being too warm for the next hour though.  
  6. This time the Mother Ship was not located at the U-turn at the top of the climb.  It was a block away up further on the climb and I had to ferry stuff down to the turnaround point and stash them behind bushes.  There was a little time wasted there BUT… I wanted to keep the elevation gain to stay pure – just the climb only.

 

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C Block

 

CONCLUSION 

People ask me often “What do you think about when you’re on the bike for so many hours?” Well it depends.  I can tell you that this time I thought about all my Marine brothers and sisters out there.  Some are currently stationed in hostile environments, combat environments and some are even stationed at cushy posts around the world and stateside.  I thought about how the US Marine Corps is so steeped in customs and traditions.  How every year, while I was on active duty, on November 10th the world seemed to stop so that we could observe the Marine Corps Birthday, either with a small formation out in the field or a large formation and a band main side with all the pomp and circumstance.  I also thought of all the veterans that have been committing suicide in alarming rates … on average 22 veterans commit suicide a day.  Most recently a Marine veteran opened fire in a nightclub and killed 12 people then turned the gun on himself and ended his life.  It’s deplorable!  But those families were in my thoughts as well.  

This will probably be my last Everest this year.  Everest #7 allow me the opportunity to close the gap to 1,000,000 feet of climbing for 2018.  The weather is also going to continue to get colder and wetter and daylight hours fewer and fewer.  I am happy with my performance on this Everest.  It was my second fasted Everest at 14:06 and my fastest at 13:30.  My time off the bike was excellent at under 1 hour – being self-SAGed.  As an avid climber Everesting offers the rider a unique opportunity to challenge oneself to an extreme. I fancy myself a climber, an extreme climber, not fast but just someone that likes to take on the challenge of Everesting and conquer it!  

 

 

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Oceanside Double Century Survival Guide


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Here are few pointers and REV Tips for success for those wishing to tackle the Oceanside Double Century on October 27, 2018.  The event is put on by my friend and awesome human being, Anny Beck of Mountain High Cycling.  The route covers many of the roads I use to train on a regular basis.  I have intimate knowledge of these roads and know just about every roller and pothole on this course.

A few other things I would like you to keep in mind as you ride the 194 miles and 15,700 ft of climbing.

Your number one priority should be to climb out of Borrego Springs on Montezuma Grade before 1pm. The winds can kick up something horrific and can make the 11 mile climb as much as 2 hours of grinding into the wind which is generally a downdraft from Ranchita (town at the top) but can also have no apparent wind direction except for keeping you from climbing up.  From time to time you might get a tailwind but it is short-lived.  Early starters should get down Banner Grade (descent from Julian) to Yaqui Pass and through Borrego Springs before the winds kick up too bad. The LEFT turn MILE 99 on to Borrego Springs Rd can be a freaking wind tunnel with winds as much as 20, 30, 40 mph. It will be a very stiff block headwind for only a handful of miles but it can be very humbling to be pushing your hardest into that wind and only going 8-10 mph on flat terrain.

Ok so what about before Borrego Springs which is nearly 100 miles into the ride? I suggest quick stops on the outbound portion of your event.  Remember it is key to climb out of Borrego Springs before 1pm (preferably earlier of course).   The first 19.8 miles are flat until the LEFT onto La Bajada then you will have steep rollers through Rancho Santa Fe. Rancho Santa Fe roads are some of the worst roads on this route even though it is the most expensive place to live in San Diego County and even nationally.  The roads are very narrow as well.  Be careful on Del Dios Hwy make sure you are very visible someone was hit during this event a year or two ago.

MILE 40 Hwy 78 you start a long gradual climb for the next 10 miles.  Some sections are really narrow – stay single file. Stay alert with your head on a swivel.  Personally, I never ride this road on my training rides.

Old Julian Hwy is one of my favorite roads in San Diego County MILE 51 ish to MILE 59 ish. Wynola at MILE 68.5 is another one of my favorite roads. Some of the best country riding on the route.

Don’t miss the RIGHT turn at MILE 71.8 onto Farmers Rd. (slight downhill) There has been sand and gravel on that hard right turn for months so be careful. Farmers Rd has about four kickers of double digit grades so be ready for them.

LONG descent from Julian to Yaqui Pass MILE 74 ish TO MILE 94 ish and the winds do all kinds of swirling on your descent. Yaqui Pass often has a tailwind climbing it. You also may also have a tailwind once you summit Yaqui Pass until the LEFT onto Borrego Springs Road (MILE 94 ish – 99 ish)

Montezuma Grade is tough at any time in a ride but especially so with 100 plus miles ad about 8,000 feet of climbing on your legs.  The forecast for Borrego Springs is a high of 95F.  But the heat coming off the pavement can raise the ambient temperature where you are riding by an additional 10F degrees.  Of course as our luck would have it we are riding on the hottest day of the week through Borrego Springs and Puama Valley with a cooling trend starting on Sunday.

Fear not though after slogging up Montezuma grade you are rewarded with A LOT of downhill from Ranchita MILE 117 – MILE 154.9 to Cole Grade. Cole Grade is a tough steep climb with sustained sections of double digits.  It is my preferred road to exit Puama Valley because the traffic is significantly less than Valley Center Road.  Cole Grade has a few rollers but it is generally downhill until Miller Rd.  Miller is generally downhill until Valley Center Rd.  Miller is a RIGHT turn after the big downhill and uphill through the traffic light (you’ll know it when you see it and you will laugh at my description) don’t miss the turn RIGHT MILE 161 Miller Road is safer than staying on Cole Grade to Valley Center.

MILE 167.3 RIGHT to stay on Lilac is easy to miss. Lots of rolling terrain with a lot of generally downhill sections following poppers.  The hard part of the double is all behind you now.  You are literally going downhill for the next 20 ish miles and onto the bike path.  If it is mid to late afternoon you will have a block headwind again.  But if you are on the bike path after sunset it is easy cruising into the finish.  It is advisable that you have paired up with at least one other rider for the last 8 miles on the bike path to Oceanside so you can share the workload.

I wish everyone good luck and tailwinds!

If you haven’t already download the Epic Weather Ride App here.  It based on your start time and averages speed it will give you a forecast for the entire route.  As you know you can’t rely on the weather forecast for the start/finish town since you are doing a Big Ass Loop of 200 miles 🙂 Download it and use it — it is REV RECOMMENDED!

Solvang Autumn Double Century


On October 20, 2018 George Vargas and Lori Hoechlin completed the Solvang Autumn Double Century, put on by Planet Ultra  , on the tandem with 11,900 feet in a total time of 11:41 and for those keeping track of ride time only it was 11:13.  It was George Vargas’s 53rd Double Century and Lori Hoechlin’s 38th Double Century.  It was our 6th Double Century of the 2018 season, all 6 on the tandem.  We were fortunate and had a mechanical and flat-free day — sort of.  The biggest obstacles of our epic adventure were the pothole-ridden roads and early morning cold and afternoon heat. We had ONE goal a sub 12 hour finish – mission accomplished!

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I would like to thank Deb Bowling and Planet Ultra for putting on an excellent event.  The looped course coming back to the hotel at 50 ish, 100 ish miles and eventually at the finish was very helpful for riders using their vehicle as an additional SAG.  On the course, the SAG stops were well placed and well stocked, the course was well marked and Roving SAG was seen multiple times during the day.  The volunteers were plentiful and awesome!  Please always thank the volunteers at your events.  For those I didn’t thank on the course, because we didn’t stop at your aid station, I appreciate you being out there as well.  Honestly, I don’t think it could have been any better run!  If you wish to do an intermediate-level double century this one should definitely be at the top of your list.  Thank you Deb!

Next, I would like to thank my stoker, Lori, who was a steady and powerful force on the back of the tandem during the entire day.  She had a few cramps on Drum Canyon coming from Hwy 246 but she toughed it out.

I would like to thank our two riding mates for nearly the entire Double, Brook Henderson and TJ Knight.  They are two very strong riders and veterans of the double century community.  Lori and I are usually in no man’s land either off the front or just off the shirt tails of the lead pack. Riders come and go wanting to draft the tandem.  Some of them shoot up the hills or mountains and then there are others that can’t sustain the pace.  Either way, Lori and I end up riding alone for 10-12 hours on these doubles.  It was very nice to ride with the lead pack for the first 70 ish miles, of which Brook and TJ were an important component of and contributed equally to ensure a good steady pace. But it was even nicer to ride the rest of the course with Brook and TJ!  Thank you gentlemen!

The two toughest parts of the day for us were Drum Canyon and Foxen Canyon.  After finishing the first 100 mile loop we came upon Drum Canyon from Hwy 246.  The steep ramps over 12% were very difficult on the tandem.  Lori started to cramp which made it very difficult to keep the tandem balanced and propel the bike forward and up the canyon with one hampered rider and massive loss of power that Lori provides.  When she would stand out of pure necessity to keep her legs from locking up it made the bike unstable and hard to control at below 4 mph.  Normally, getting up on the tandem is a coordinated and timed effort.  Fortunately, I would respond quickly enough to keep us from toppling over.  Just at our worse possible moment Ronald Iseri, Roving SAG, came by us.  He had stopped to take pictures of us but we definitely needed to pull over right then and there.  After a cold Pepsi and a Mountain Dew and some water top offs we were back on the road and finished the climb in much better spirits.

Foxen Canyon was a LONG steady and gradual climb of single digits.  It was just enough of a grade where we could not ride it in the big ring (55T) so we were in our middle ring (39T) for the majority of the 10 or 15 miles from mile 160 ish to 170 ish.  Drum Canyon was tough on us physically.  Foxen Canyon was tough on us mentally because it was never-ending and it never seemed like you were climbing.

Special thanks to Robert and Dee Mann.  They have installed themselves recently as fixtures at these double centuries. They are selfless and seemingly always volunteering. Dee thank you so much for the homemade cookies at the lunch stop and mile 180 ish.  The hug after Drum Canyon at lunch recharged me emotionally THANK YOU!

Now a quick explanation on the “sort of” comment in the introduction regarding being flat-free.  Coming out of the lunch stop (mile 118) we got a puncture on the front tire.  We were running tubeless and I felt the sealant spraying out of the left sidewall onto my left leg.  I was concerned for two reasons.  One being a sidewall puncture sometimes they don’t seal in time before all the sealant sprays out and two the front tire was inflated to 100 psi and higher pressures also prevents punctures from sealing.  Typically one of the benefits of riding tubeless is riding lower tire pressures.  On a tandem we are nearly 300 lbs (wet weight).  Tires feel squishy unless they are at least 95% of max pressure indicated on the sidewall.  On my solo bike I am between 80-85 psi on a 25mm tire on a 26mm external width rim.  Fortunately, the tire sealed.  When we got to the finish we checked the pressure of the front tire and it only had 40 psi in it.  Maybe that is why Foxen Canyon (160 ish to 170 ish) felt like such a long slog lol!! But seriously, another benefit of riding tubeless is one of safety.  The tire bead is less likely to unseat when you ride lower tire pressure … say for example you have a puncture on a descent or at a high rate of speed you should be able to slow the bike down to a safe and manageable speed before the tire completely deflates and the bead unseats from the rim.

Lastly because the event was chip-timed we had results within 24 hours!  I think Double Century riders are willing to pay a little extra for chip timing in their entry fee.  I don’t know how the math works out but I appreciate prompt posting of results.  Once again thank you Planet Ultra for chip timing and timely posting of the results!

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At the finish with L-R, Lori, Brook, George, TJ

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At the start I noticed this rider’s number “the 508” came to mind 🙂 (10x finisher)

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Daytime running lights front and rear for safety

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The early morning train – started as 11 bikes, then 9 bikes, then 7 bikes, then 6 bikes, eventually it was 3 bikes Brook, TJ and us.

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The early day shadow selfie

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The late day shadow selfie we finished just before complete darkness

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Alexis, Brook, George and Lori came across the line all together the delta in our time is based on the when we crossed the chip timing machine at the start in single file so as to ensure everyone would register on the machine.

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And now a rant – it really bugs me when people post their Strava rides, events and/races on social media using their ride time as opposed to their total time. Why is this a pet peeve of mine? Well let me give you an example. Let’s say you are doing a Double Century and you roll out at 5am and finish at 10pm. Let’s also say that you stopped at each aid station refilled your bottles took potty breaks and socialized with the volunteers. Additionally, you stopped at the lunch stop and had a great little meal. Then you download your ride and your ride time was 14 hours. Why would you post your Strava ride on social media as 14 hours when it actually took you 17 hours?! When the results are posted your time will be 17 hours. The only time that counts is TOTAL TIME from when you cross the start line until you cross the finish line. Where and when did this Mickey Mouse shit start where people post their ride time? You’re fooling yourself that it takes you 14 hours to complete a Double Century. Then you sit back and accept all the accolades from your friends on how wonderfully you did at your DC finishing it in 14 hours. No!! It took you 17 hours and that is what you should post. Rant over

What’s next for the George “Red Eyed Vireo” Vargas and Lori Hoechlin — aka Hutton’s Vireo (when on the tandem)?  I will be doing the Oceanside Double Century on October 27, 2018  on my solo bike.  Lori will be racing a hill climb up Gibraltar Rd in Santa Barbara.  You can follow me on Strava here  Please SUBSCRIBE to the blog and please post comments.  I read them all and make every effort to respond to you.  Until the next epic adventure … I’ll see you on the road!

Everesting San Elijo Road


On October 6, 2018 George Vargas Everested San Elijo Road in San Marcos, CA . He climbed 29,301 feet in 175 miles 1.6 miles 606 feet of gain 7.2% grade. He had one rear flat and no mechanicals.  He felt great on the bike all day long on his way to completing his 6th Everest.  Everesting is when you take one hill/mountain and do consecutive repeats until you attain 29,029 feet or 8,848 meters the height of Mt Everest. Follow me on Strava here follow me on youtube here older content on youtube here

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WEATHER

The weather in the morning was cloudy, foggy, drizzling and even raining at times.  Rain is rare in San Diego but I was more than happy to have rain.  The cloud cover kept the sun away for several hours.  It was a welcomed change from my last Everest attempt on September 8th.  It was in the high 90’s that day and a tailwind which is usually welcomed cooked me while climbing.  I was roasting and dripping sweat in buckets!  It was hellish for about 10 hours until the sun finally set.  But the weather on this Everest was, dare I say, enjoyable.  I was happy with the cool weather and enjoyed the rain showers throughout the morning.  The afternoon was overcast and the evening was fairly warm for October. I am sure the cloud cover trapped in the heat of the day and it made for a pleasant evening.

PACING

I climbed at Endurance Zone all day. I felt great from beginning to end.  Endurance Zone for me is 140-189 watts or 2.17 w/kg to 2.93 w/kg.  I know what you are thinking wow those are some low wattage numbers and you would be correct.  But this is an endurance challenge not a race.  You can ride at any pace you want as long as you complete your Everest.  I find that riding at Endurance zone works best for me. Even riding at Tempo range you might dig a deep a hole too deep that you won’t be able to get out of later in the day/night.  I think my pacing was perfect for my fitness leveland my overall capability as a cyclist. Some further analysis follows below.

I took my total time (18 hours) and divided it by 3 equal parts (6 hours).  Then I looked at my Normalized Power (NP) and compared it for the three equal segments.  For a refresher on NP click here.  Basically NP is a calculation “takes into account the variance between a steady workout and a fluctuating workout.  In a highly variable ride the NP will be much higher than your Average Power.”  Let’s keep it simple for the purposes of Everesting.  You want to maintain your NP within your Endurance zone.  One test I used was to just breathe through my nose.  If I could climb and breathe through my nose I knew I was still in Endurance Zone.  This tactic works well for recovery rides too.  Sure enough I would look down and my heart rate would be between 135-140 bpm.  I conserved energy and maintained a consistent pace all day.  To wit, for the last 12 hours my NP for 2/3 and 3/3  deviated by only 2 watts at 154 w (2.4 w/kg) and 152 w (2.37 w/kg) respectively.   My first 6 hours I purposely was riding a little harder.  The weather was cloudy, foggy, misting and raining so I was trying to ride fairly fast to take advantage of the cool conditions 174 NP or 2.72 w/kg.  My tactics worked very well I climbed an extra 1,100 feet in the first 6 hours compared to the last 2 – 6 hour blocks.  1,100 feet may not sound like much but it is 2 complete laps which were about 22-25 minutes each lap.

 

I have also included my Heart Rate zones if that is more friendly to you than power data.

 

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RANDOM THOUGHTS

Did any of you watch the old Batman series on TV with Adam West? Maybe I’m dating myself a little here but…you can catch reruns on some stations that play 60’s shows  I believe TV Land is one of them.  In those old shows, Batman and Robin would be climbing a rope up the side of the building and some of the Hollywood celebrities of the day would make cameo appearances and pop their heads out the window and start talking to them.  It’s funny that I thought of my interactions with other riders in that way.  I spoke with only three riders that day: Will Barnes, Steve Fellows and Evan.  Yep 18 hours only 3 riders.  Why?  Because most riders seemed to be in too much of a hurry to chat with me 🙂   I past a few riders but they didn’t seem to want to talk. I wonder if maybe they were in their own pain cave.  In case you need a little reminder of how hokey the Batman show was I have included a video from youtube below.  Strange things come to my mind when I’m on the bike 12 plus hours. Funny thing Robin mentions Mt Everest in this video compilation!

 

What was my conversation like with the three riders mentioned above?  Will Barnes is training for a ride in the Palomar Mountain area I think he said Gran Fondo.   Steve Fellows, he was a former Cat 3 racer who was always in the winning break but couldn’t close the deal when it came time for the sprint at LOTOJA.  I eventually want to do LOTOJA.  Evan, a full size guy, was doing one of my typical hill repeats ride “up and over”. He said he needed to lose some weight.   We talked about Intermittent Fasting as strategy.

HOW LONG IS AN EVEREST?

I’d like to give you some idea of how long it takes to do an Everest.  Here are a couple of examples:

I saw people gathering at this house mid-afternoon.  On each repeat I would see this progression before my eyes almost like time-lapse photography shows you rose blooming.  I then saw them partying on the patio. The sun set and they were still partying.  In the evening, I saw them watching the Mcgregor Khabib fight and cheering. Cheering loudly I might add.  I caught glimpses of the fight as it was projected on the wall nearly life-sized. More cheering and then some jeering.  I then saw them enjoying their post-fight party.  Each repeat I had a different vignette into their lives.  Eventually, I saw the people leave and the lights go out and go quiet.  Their action-packed, fun-filled and alcohol supplemented day with family and friends was done and dusted with everyone under their doona … and I was still climbing.

I saw a wedding party taking pictures in the park around the water fountain in the light of day.  I then saw them convene at the local watering hole for a wedding reception. Between my repeats I saw people coming and going, dancing and cheering, laughing and hugging.  More pictures and more hugs and more toasts. The shiny disco mirrored ball shining it’s random beams of light across the dance floor and out onto the sidewalk where I would ride through them.  I felt part of the party for those few seconds I passed the watering hole.  I wondered what it would feel like to be off the bike and dancing under the lights … you know being normal on a Saturday night.  Then I saw the wedding party disperse.  Then the clean-up and eventually the watering hole closed… and I was still climbing.

And this song was stuck in my head

I saw the local coffee shop open, serve coffee and breakfast.  I saw it close. I saw it reopen for lunch.  I saw it close after lunch.   I then saw it convert from a local watering hole into a wedding reception hall. I saw it close for the last time … and I was still climbing.

The neighborhood security patrol began their rounds … and I was still climbing.

18 hours … it can also be your fasting window 🙂

These long epic days on the bike remind me of the time I was riding the Mulholland Double Century (200 miler with 17,000 feet) I was sitting at the side of the road just before the Decker climb. I was 150 miles into the event and I was just spent.  I was running in the top 5, riding alone and completely hammered.  I had to pull over and regroup with myself.  I sat down next to a fire hydrant and drank an entire bottle while watching the other riders catch and pass me.   I was no longer running in 5th, or 6th or even top 10.  I have seen and ridden by that same fire hydrant since then and I have reflected back on this day.

As I sipped on my bottle and nursed my energy back up, I allowed myself and my mind to disassociate with what I was doing and then connected to where I was physically at that very moment.  You might call it being present.  It was May.  It was Saturday. It was early afternoon. It was a beautiful sun-filled day with a clear sky.  I still remember it.  I could see people going about their day.  Surfboards and bikes, you know the beach cruiser types.  The type of bike you take to the beach and leave it there because you know no one will steal it.  It will be there when you return from surfing.  Couples walking hand and hand, carrying bags and towels and stuff heading down to the beach.  Will they be joining friends or having an intimate date alone but together.  Will they be staying until sunset? How romantic that would be?  As beach goers sunsets are eagerly anticipated and watched with awe.  As a cyclist, it means a completely different way of riding.  What did they do earlier in the day? Did they do anything?  Did they sleep in? What will the rest of the day bring for them?  I allowed myself the time to think of being someone else for a moment and doing something else … for a moment and then it was time to get back on the bike.  If I stay on task I might actually enjoy dinner tonight at a reasonable hour and maybe even at the same time as this couple.

So how long IS an Everest?  It is long enough for the average person to wakeup, have a full day of activities with family and friends, get a modest workout at the gym or outdoors, go home change get dressed go out to dinner, go to a movie, then go to a bar, close it down, drive home get in bed … and I would still be climbing.

ORGANIZATIONAL SKILLS

You would think after 10 Furnace Creek/Silver State 508’s and 50 plus Double Centuries that I would have the ability to pack all the requisite items for an endurance ride/race/event.  Once packed and accounted for it you would think I would possess the organizational skills to have everything in it’s place and a place for everything.  Well, you would be mistaken because I take too much for granted.  The thing is you need to be very well organized because as the hours pass and fatigue sets in. During your Everest when  you are looking for something you second-guess yourself whether you packed it or not.  Logic, reason and memory functions are compromised the longer you are out there.

Allow me to provide for you two examples of the stress I experienced looking for things.  The first was my knee warmers.  I was sure I had packed them but I couldn’t find them anywhere. I usually keep them in a cubby drawer thingy that I tote around with me to do my Everesting and the Furnace Creek/Silver State 508.  BUT… the weekend before I had taken them out to take to a Double Century up in Northern California (blog post in draft mode still) and I forgot to put them back in my cubby.  The second was my top tube bag.  I used it to hold my external battery pack to recharge my electronics i.e. Wahoo Bolt, Cell Phone, lights etc.  I searched and searched and in the dimly lit cabin of my minivan I couldn’t find it. Eventually I found it when I was looking for something else.  Isn’t that the way it usually works out?  These are minor and it could’ve been a lot worse.  But these two instances were huge time killers and time off the bike is time you don’t get back and it extends how long you will be out there.

I have already thought of how I will organize my night gear for my next Everest.  Things like my top tube bag but also my reflective clothing, lighted vest and additional lights.  I wasted a lot of time converting my bike to night mode.  Next time I will already have my second taillight mounted on the bike but just not turn it on until after dark.  The handlebar clip that holds my headlight, should have been on the handlebar as well.  I mount my headlight under the handlebar so that the light doesn’t bother me.  When I climb my hands are very close to the stem and the light on top of the bar would get in the way and cramp my style lol!  But on the day of the Everest at the very least the clamp wouldn’t bother me as much and it’s a necessary evil anyway.

Would you believe that for me one of the biggest stressors during an Everest is keeping all my shit charged?  It’s obvious to have your lights charged and to have backup spares as well.  GPS units also need to be charged during an Everest – yes units.  You should always have a spare GPS unit as well. If one craps out during your ride or one doesn’t upload properly you should have a spare GPS unit.  In addition, I document with photos and videos during the event as a back up to the back up!

SETBACKS

I had a couple of setbacks that also wasted time.  A flat tire on the bike and a dead battery.  I had a rear puncture.  It’s so strange because at that time I had gone over that same stretch of road for approximately 6 hours.  I flatted about .2 of a mile from the end of the climb so I just rode it to top to the van which I affectionately refer to as the Mother Ship vice SAG wagon.

The second setback was a dead battery on the aforementioned Mother Ship. A huge shout-out to my friend Paul Sims who came out and gave me a jump.  When my tandem partner Lori, Everested the same hill last year her car battery died also.  The battery being dead is a misnomer since the interior lights work but you don’t have enough cranking power to turn the engine over and start it.  We didn’t notice until she was done and we were leaving but luckily I was there to give her a jumpstart.  Here I was trying to be proactive and start my vehicle so as to prevent draining the battery but little did I know it was already too late.  Fortunately, it was still early in the evening 745 pm. Thank you Paul!!

EVEREST TIP Two helpful hints when using your vehicle as your SAG:

  1.  Turn off all interior lights
  2.  Have a friend on standby not just for the jump but for supplies since you can’t leave your Everest location – food, ice, spares for your spare, clothing etc

 

NUTRITION

For me this is the easiest piece of the “how to complete a successful Everest puzzle” I use a product called Spiz.  Hour after hour I am completely fueled with all the macro nutrients and tons of other good stuff.  I can “pre-make” my bottles by placing the powder in the bottles without water.  This small step saves time.  Sure you end up with a lot more dirty bottles to clean after the event.  I then add water when I am ready to use it.  I am usually one bottle ahead in the cooler.  Each serving has 20g of protein so I don’t mix until I need it or at least not more than couple of hours before I need it. A 4 scoop serving is 517 calories.  With Spiz you get your macro nutrients and everything you need to sustain your energy through your event and beyond.  What do I mean by beyond?  Because I am fully fueled during my, in this case, 18 hours of Everesting, my recovery was so much faster.  You can purchase Spiz here.  Please take a look at the nutrition panels for Spiz.  You may contact me directly if you have questions. revcycling@gmail.com

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By the way, I bring other things with me but I don’t rely on them for any appreciable amount of calories or fuel for my ride.  They are things that are treats and provide a cleansing of the palette.  For example, I had the following items with me:

Peanut Butter filled pretzels (I love pretzels and I love peanut butter I had some of these)

Ms Vickie’s Salt and Vinegar potato chips (never opened the bag)

Black Pepper Triscuit (never opened the box)

Bananas (I had 2)

Grapes (a few handfuls)

Energy Bars (I had 3 – 140 calories each)

Energy chews (I didn’t have any)

Coca Cola – (I had 3 – my first one at the half way point 15k feet into it)

WEIGHT LOSS

I have been experimenting with Intermittent Fasting or IF to lose those last 5 stubborn pounds.  I wonder if doing the Everest in my Endurance Zone I was using more fat stores than glycogen and/or the carbs I was consuming as I was riding.  I never felt like I was fading never felt extreme fatigue.  This was the most gentle grade of all my Everests.  It is my longest Everest at 175 miles.  The climb was only 7-8% most of the way with a flat spot at the top.  1.8 mile climb with .2 of a mile at the top that was flat with a median in the middle that prevented me for making the u-turn sooner. 1.6 miles 606 feet of gain 7.2% grade

Besides being in fat burning zone, maybe, the real benefit has been losing those stubborn pounds, the last 5 pounds you just can’t get rid of. Enter Evan, late in the day I got the opportunity to ride with him as he was returning home.  We had a chat about weight loss and the subject of IF.  I told him that for many years I was 155 and no matter how many miles I rode I would always gravitate to 155 lbs.  FYI- When I first started cycling I was 190 lbs.  Then last year my focus was to get down to 150 pounds.  Now this was the new normal and no matter how many miles I rode or calorie watching I did I would gravitate back to 150.  So this year I thought I would shoot for 145 pounds.  Success!! I can proudly say I am a member of the sub 145 pound riders club if there is one.  I think IF helped because I just found a reason to restrict calories with a plan and goal in mind.  I IF about 3 times a week.  I eat regularly on weekends beginning on Friday if I am racing that weekend.  I eat regularly on Friday pre-race, Saturday race day, and Sunday and Monday on my recovery days.  However, regularly now means almost a complete elimination of carbs from my diet. I don’t buy rice, potatoes, pasta, bread and so on for the home.  If I am out and it’s a race weekend then I indulge otherwise I abstain.

If you are considering an Everest I strongly suggest you give yourself the best opportunity to succeed and lose those pounds you have been thinking about losing.  You will thank yourself as you are 15,000 -20,000 feet into your Everest.

Here is a video compilation of each time I stopped and documented the ride for Instagram (IG) and Facebook.  IG has 1 minute video limitation so that was just perfect to get the pertinent information out to social media.  It also makes the compilation short and concise.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. Please subscribe if you haven’t already. Please leave a comment so I know that you are reading and enjoying or not enjoying my blog.  Either way I would like to know so that I can find new and interesting ways to entertain you.  If you have suggestions of something I should blog about feel free to leave a comment.  Please refer your favorite cycling buddy to my blog.  Follow me on Strava there are a few more epic adventures coming up this year.

 

Here are my other Everests:

 

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Recovery Ride musings


Today while I was on my recovery ride I had a few thoughts that came to mind and I thought I would share them with you.

I felt remarkably well considering I just did an Everest on Saturday (2 days ago).  The ride I was on I usually do a few surges and a sprint here and there.  But today was all about taking care of my body and doing what I was supposed to do… an active recovery ride.  I did a pretty good job at it as I kept my heart rate down as well as my power.  I let the group ride ahead and I met them at each regroup.  No fragile ego today I just put on my recovery mindset.

You can see from the graphs below how I kept my power and heart rate low during the ride.  I rode 58% of the ride below 139 watts and 49% of the time in a heart zone of 120-145  bpm.  Very comfortable and able to hold a conversation without heavy breathing.

 

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And now onto my musings —

The first thought — was using the analogy of a quiet unassuming fellow in a bar getting harassed by some inebriated bullies.  The quiet fellow is just minding is own business having his Long Island Ice Tea – that should tell you right there he’s a little different.  When is the last time you had a Long Island Ice Tea?  Better yet when was the last time you had two Long Island Ice Teas?  Yep! You can’t remember because those things are heavyweight drinks and they will put you down if you are not careful.  They have several liqueurs in them and very little mixer.  Back to the quiet and unassuming fellow he tells the bullies he doesn’t want any trouble and that he’ll buy them all a drink if they will just go away.  What we don’t know about the quiet unassuming fellow is that he’s some super killer Ninja dude with all these secret ways to kill you with one punch and he can wipe the floor with these guys.  So the analogy is the bullies are the peloton, the quiet unassuming guy is you on a recovery ride.  You know you can kick ass and be riding hard with the big guns today BUT you need to do the right thing and let them ride and you need to ignore the taunts in the form of surges from the group.  The fellow buying the drinks to the bullies that’s you letting the big guns win the sprint today because you don’t challenge it.

So next time your are on an active recovery ride be the Ninja dude/chic and use the discipline to keep your efforts in check even though you know you feel good and could kick some serious arse!

 

The other thought was in reference to my latest Everest.  I have always wanted to do an Everest REV Style where you attain 29,029 feet or 8,848 meters without doing a single repeat.  Living in San Diego County there are plenty of climbs to make that work.  So when I got back to the shop I created the REV Epic Everest Ride.

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It combines the iconic climbs of San Diego into one ride.  It is 276 miles and 30,000 feet of climbing.  I went over the 29,029 in case Ride With GPS overinflated the elevation and we would end up short.  Starting from my shop in San Marcos the climbs are as follows:

San Elijo Rd

Old Castle

Palomar South Grade

Mesa Grande

Climb to Julian

Mount Laguna

Cuyamaca Peak

North Peak

Montezuma Grade

Palomar East Grade

Cole Grade

Double Peak aka Mt Vargas

This would be one monster ride and so epic I don’t even know if I can get anyone crazy enough to ride it with me.  Here is the ride link on Ride With GPS website.  PLEASE DO NOT DOWNLOAD TO YOUR GPS DEVICE it has not been scrubbed to ensure every turn is correct or that every road is bike friendly.  Two climbs in particular I have not ridden myself — yet.  They are Cuyamaca Peak and North Peak.  I plan on doing a recce of those two climbs soon.  Too many activities planned these next few weekends.

 

Thank you for reading my blog.  If you haven’t already please subscribe.  Please share this blog with your best cycling friend.  I have several posts in draft mode that I am chipping away at releasing so stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

 

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!

PRE-EVENT

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.”

DESCRIPTION OF THE ROUTE

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
Irvine
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

EVENT DAY

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 DEPARTURES

Advantage

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.

Advantage

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.

Advantage

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

Disadvantage

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.

Disadvantage

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.

LATE DEPARTURE

Advantage

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

Advantage

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.

Advantage

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.

Advantage

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

Disadvantage

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.

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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

Owens Valley Epic Climbs


The daydreaming continues…

Today is Thursday and now instead of counting down the days I am counting down the hours until I am free from responsibility and on my bike.  This is will be a short post because I have a lot to do before I can get out of Dodge.  One of the routes I have done in the Eastern Sierras, on more than one occasion, is riding three very difficult climbs in one day.  They are very different from each other but they share one thing in common … they are Epic!  See the graph below 105 mile 18,000 feet of climbing now that’s EPIC! Will I do this route while I’m there?  If I don’t do this route I will definitely knock down 2 out of the 3 climbs.

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The three climbs on this ride are Onion Valley, Horseshoe Meadows and Whitney Portal, in that order.  I mentioned previously that these climbs were very different from each other and I will expound on that now.  Onion Valley has a very consistent grade, albeit steep, but consistent.  Horseshoe Meadows undulates and ramps up and down.  It also has very long stretches of road as far as the eye can see.  The “switchbacks” on this climb are miles apart and amazing to admire from a distance.  Finally, Whitney Portal is dwarfed by the giant Horseshoe Meadows but the grades are brutally steep in some sections and this is very difficult climb.

ONION VALLEY RD

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HORSESHOE MEADOWS

 

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WHITNEY PORTAL

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Below I have provide a screen shot from the PJAMM Cycling website.  Please visit it and contribute to it by doing some of the rides and providing feedback or doing a ride report.  Some of us are visual learners some of us like lists.  As a male I like images but as a Virgo I like lists.  Which one are you? The 10 toughest climbs in California.  You will notice the ride above bags the toughest climb in California along with the 2nd and 5th toughest climb in California.  FYI, the 3rd and 4th toughest climbs are also in the same geographical area. White Mountain is within riding distance of the three climbs of this ride.  Owens Vally has the goods! Sherman Pass West is “around the horn” as I call it.

 

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Well there you have it a possible route for this weekend.  Tune in for more of my misadventures — subscribing to the blog is the easiest way to follow me.  Thank you for taking the time to follow my blog please share it with your best friend.  See you on the road.