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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Triathlon Packages now at Bike Religion

As many of you know I worked at Nytro Multisports in Encnitas for over five years.  I specialized in Triathlon Bike Fitting (F.I.S.T Certified) on the sales floor and worked the mail order phone sales department providing dream bikes for customers all over the world.  I thoroughly enjoyed the people I worked with/for and the customers and friends I made over the years. 

In November 2009,  I had the opportunity to become the store manager of Bike Religion in Newport Beach.  I jumped at the chance to be closer to home. I am now only 5.5 miles from home instead of 69 miles.  You can see my commuting exploits under the commuting and On My Commute labels.  Once again I'm surrounded by great people. And I'm slowly getting acquainted with the loyal (read regular) customers. 

One of my first goals as the store manager of Bike Religion in Newport Beach is to develop the triathlon market for Bike Religion.  I ask customers daily what products they would like to see in the store, who they ride with, and what clubs they belong to.  I also ask customers what is lacking in the "tri-shops" they've been doing business with in the past.  I have made many friends over the years in the triathlon community.  It's funny how when I think back to how our relationship started it's often been from them buying a bike from me.  So now years hence, these friends are outside/inside sales reps, national sales reps, VP of sales and marketing and business owners of key triathlon accessories, clothing and bike distributors.

Based on this grassroots marketing and surveying it occurred to me I would take all my years of Triathlon bike fitting, all my contacts,  the generous financial support of the amenable owners of Bike Religion and offer a triathlon package.   But instead of one Triathlon Package, as many stores have done in the past, we are offering two.

The centerpiece of the packages is the Felt TT/Tri bike which features a 76-78 degree seat-tube angle and aerodynamic tube shapes.  In a different post I will discuss the benefits of using tri-specific geometry instead of a road bike with aerobars. 


The B16 Triathlon Package

2010 2XU T:O Wetsuit
Shimano R540 SPD Pedals & Cleats
Shimano TR-31 Shoes
Uvex Xenova Helmet
Bike Religion Water Bottle & Cage

ONLY $1999.99

reg. $2530
The B14 Triathlon Package

2010 2XU T:O Wetsuit
Shimano R540 SPD Pedals & Cleats
Shimano TR-31 Shoes
Uvex Xenova Helmet
Bike Religion Water Bottle & Cage

ONLY $2499.99

reg. $3030.99

You can find out more information about these packages here or call me at 949-287-7299.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Blackstar/Motorway Loop on a MTB

Brandy and I went on a mountain bike ride yesterday in the Santa Ana Mountains.  I had a good time until I crashed and went boom--- twice.  Pics to follow but for now here is the ride from GPS. Basically a 27 mile ride with almost 4,600 feet of climbing.

Here is the player on Garmin Connect

Or here on Google Earth

Friday, December 18, 2009

Orange County Friday Ride

Beginning at Peet's Coffee in Corona del Mar at 635 am sharp. You will join local
racers and avid cyclists for a MEDIUM to HIGH INTENSITY PACED ride. Click here
for Tuesday Thursday Coffee Crew and Wednesday Ride.

View the player from a Garmin GPS Download. (you will notice a small box with
four arrows next to the turtle/rabbit slider-- click for full screen mode)

You may click on "View Path in Full" for full screen interactive mode. You may
have to temporarily allow pop-ups in your website security software. Click just
above elevation profile to access overhead map and then allow pop-ups. If the
interactive view below gives you trouble click here.

You can also view these and other rides on my website. 

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Wednesday Endurance/Tempo Ride

One of my favorite morning rides in Orange County is the "Wednesday Ride".  It begins at 6am at the intersection of Campus Drive and University Drive in the University of California Irvine (UCI) campus area.

Click here for a player of a Garmin GPS download. (you will notice a small box with four directional arrows next to the turtle/rabbit slider-- click for full screen mode)

Below is an interactive map of the Wednesday Ride. (you may click on "View Path in Full" for full screen)

You may also view this ride and other rides on my website

Coffee Crew Training Ride

People often ask me what rides I do.  Lately, I have been doing short early morning rides so that I can get to work by 10am.  One of the rides is called Coffee Crew in Irvine.  It meets at 615am at the corner of University and Campus Drive in the University of California Irvine (UCI). It is held every Tuesday and Thursday.

Here are a couple of links and overhead pictures for you.

Here is the player from a Garmin GPS download.  (you will notice a small box with four arrows next to the turtle/rabbit slider-- click for full screen mode)

Below is an interactive map of the Coffee Crew ride. (you may click on "View Path in Full" for full screen)

You may view this ride and other training rides on my website

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Mount Laguna Bicycle Classic Pre-Ride

Wow what a fantastic day Brandy and I had on yesterday's Mount Laguna Bicycle Classic Pre-Ride


From the AdventureCorps website:
The 2010 Mount Laguna Bicycle Classic is the newest AdventureCORPS cycling event, featuring 103 miles with 10,000 feet of climbing and three different ascents of San Diego County's Mount Laguna! We'll climb San Diego's highest point via Sunrise Hwy from the north, via the fabled and car-free Kitchen Creek from the south-east, and via the little-known and truly epic Pine Creek drainage from the west. There are just three stop signs and NO traffic lights on this incredible route which starts and finishes in Pine Valley, CA!

This is a tough climbing century-- the way they all should be.  The weather in the mountains, in November, takes special planning.  We were blessed with fantastic weather.  We had clear skies, and barely any wind.  Sure it was cold (low of 35F at the start) but it was to be expected.  We dressed in many layers consisting primarily of  wool and then synthetics for our wind shells. The weather in April will be warmer than what we had to contend with yesterday but you should plan accordingly -- it is the mountains after all. 

 Here is a link to yesterday's weather in Pine Valley.

 Pine Valley County Park is located at 3736 feet elevation.   

Click here for Pine Valley weather from the National Weather Service

Fifteen riders began at 630am and one later on.   We had riders of different levels but there seemed be quite a few Furnace Creek 508 veterans.  A ride like this gives us an opportunity to get to know each other since the 508 is essentially a 500 mile time trial -- drafting or riding alongside another racer is prohibited.  We also had a special guest the godfather of Ultra Cycling John Marino.  Complete list below:

Jack Blackbird Bochsler
John Byrne (mtn biker who arrived late)
Brian Emperor Moth Davidson (Team Swarm!)
Brandy DeLuca (Team Sho-Air)
Joe Gargoyle Garza
Francis Picachu Ignacio (Adobo Velo)
Elizabeth Jefferson (AdventureCORPS Rough Riders)
Chris Kostman (AdventureCORPS Rough Riders)
Jack Jaxartasaurus Lindquist (Team Swarm!)
John Marino
Scott Palka
Matt Desert Locust Ruscigno (Team Swarm!)
Dustin Sharp
Greg Great Dane Sherman
George Red-Eyed Vireo Vargas (Team Sho- Air)
Roy Wallack

The first loop from the AdventureCorps website:

Loop One is a clockwise route from Pine Valley to Guatay, north on 79, around Lake Cuyamaca, and south on Sunrise Hwy over Mt. Laguna. (It does not quite return to Pine Valley.) Distance: 43.4 miles; Elevation Gain: 3770 feet.

A short descent from the Pine Valley start, a short climb to Guatay and then another quick descent.  We then climbed for next 30 miles.  Lots of up and down as we gradually made the ascent from 3600 feet to 6000 feet.  The views were spectacular throughout the ride.  In particular, I've always enjoyed going around Lake Cuyamaca and seeing the meadow off to the right with the mountains as a backdrop.  Race Director Chris Kostman promises an even better view in the spring with flowers in the meadow. 

Basic data--
Checkpoint #1  approx 17 miles and 1940 feet of climbing
Checkpoint #2  approx 16 miles from CP#1 to CP #2 and another 1770 feet of gain (34 miles 3710 of gain)

A note of caution-- the road to Lake Cuyamaca is narrow.  It does widen later but there is a short stretch where you must stay as far to the right as possible.  We had little traffic, considering it was before 7am. Riders should expect a few kickers here and there that ramp up over 8% just to keep things interesting. There was also a few switchbacks as well.  There was also a few switchbacks as well.  The Race Director knowingly made this the first loop anticipating higher traffic in the spring.  The ascent on Mount Laguna from the north heading south is my favorite and most scenic way to climb up and over the Mount Laguna summit of 6000 feet on Sunrise Hwy. The traffic is significantly less from this direction than coming from the south where there is freeway access (Interstate 8).

Here are a great couple of shots taken of us going around the lake.


Next we had a long descent down Sunrise Hwy towards Old Hwy 80.  The descent on Sunrise Hwy is long because you never really get up to high speeds and it requires a little work to keep the speed above 30 mph.  I have been climbing so much in the San Gabriel Mountains that I had forgotten that the San Diego mountains have cattle guards.  Here's a tip for you-- most of the cattle guards have a straight strip welded perpendicular to the others.  When I cross cattle guards I line myself up on that strip which is just wide enough for a bike tire.  In addition, I have a very loose grip on the handlebars.  The combination of those two things makes for almost no shock at all as I cross cattle guards.  You will master this technique as you descend Sunrise Hwy on three separate occasions. 

We continued to descend past the right turn for Pine Valley across I-8 and onto Old Hwy 80.  The shoulder on Old Hwy 80 is a little tore up so be careful.  You can easily attain 40mph on some of these sections.  We passed a Border Patrol checkpoint along the way-- wave as you go by it must be boring work. 

TIP:  If you need something from your car this would be the time to detour from the route and get it.  It will be a couple of hours before you return.

Loop Two, depicted in the following three images, is a counter-clockwise route from Sunrise Hwy east on Old Hwy 80, north on Kitchen Creek (which is closed to cars for 3.7 miles in the middle), north on Sunrise Hwy to the Mt. Laguna summit, then south on Sunrise Hwy and back to Pine Valley. Distance: 33.6 miles; Elevation Gain: 3300 feet.

At the base of Kitchen Creek we were treated to an awesome SAG stop by Adobo Velo.  These guys do it right!  Ricky and Mandy had been roving SAG during the day.  At the base of Kitchen Creek, they set-up a table with water, Hammer products and even hand sanitizer.  Also on the menu: figs, nacho chips, bananas, PB & J and so on.  THANK YOU ADOBO VELO!! 

If you don't know the Kitchen Creek climb it's a remote climb with a closed gated section to motor vehicles.  It is a great climb with a few steep rollers before reaching the heart of it.  

Here is a shot of me teasing Brandy that I could push her if she wanted.  No actually I'm just giving her props for doing well.

We climbed and climbed until we made the junction with Sunrise Hwy.  A right turn and we finished the climb up to the Visitor's Center again.  We reached the Visitor's Center at 1250.

Kitchen Creek is by far one of my favorite climbs in all San Diego County.  I love the closed gated section.  It makes it so much safer and peaceful.  If you haven't been on this climb before then just being able to discover this climb might make the event worth it for you.  As mentioned before this is a remote climb and usually there isn't any where to get provisions.    So having the support and knowing other riders will be coming your way will put you at ease when doing this climb during the event.  I noticed on the event website that the Race Director recommends you bring flat repair AND a complete tire.  It is great advice to heed.

Second summit on Mount Laguna approx 65 miles and 7200 feet of gain.

We descended Sunrise Hwy back to Pine Valley and restocked before beginning the third and final loop.  I can't believe out of all the times I rode to and from Pine Valley that had I never made the turn onto Pine Creek Rd.  The third loop is the shortest but the toughest of the three.  I like the fact that it comes last in the event as a way to really test your resolve! 

Loop Three, depicted in the following three images, is a clockwise route from Pine Valley, west on Old Hwy 80, then up the one-of-a-kind Pine Creek Road (as featured in the event logo) all the way to Sunrise Hwy, then south over Mt. Laguna and back to Pine Valley. Distance: 25.7 miles; Elevation Gain: 2820 feet (2000 feet of which is gained in the 10.2 miles on Pine Creek Road).

Notice the sharp ramp up beginning on Mile 4.  There are significant pitches of over 18%.  Be assured this will be the climb that separates the "pretenders from the contenders" as they say.  I would strongly suggest compact gearing. 

What is COMPACT GEARING you ask?  Cranksets typically come in "standard" set up of 53/39.  In other words, your big chainring is 53 teeth and your inner or small chainring is 39 teeth.  A compact crankset has typically a 50/34 for chainrings.  It allows for easier climbing in your 34 front chainring and whatever large cog you can muster for the back.  Don't be ashamed to use a triple chainring on this course either.  By the way, the term compact does not have any relation with crank arm length just the chainrings.

Brandy and I had to really work on keeping the pedals turning.  I had a standard 53/39 and 12/27 cassette.  I consider myself a good steep grade climber.  By that I mean, that when the road really pitches up I can ascend them better than the next guy or gal.  On long climbs of 6% grades I don't fair as well.  Brandy had a compact crankset and a 12/27 cassette.  She really suffered on the Pine Creek Rd. 

Let's set aside the difficulty of the climb for a moment and focus on why we climb mountains.  The views from Pine Creek Rd. are simply amazing.  It's so incredible to see nature's beauty.  It was on this climb that I spent a few minutes talking to John Marino.  It was an honor just to be in his presence.  I related to him that I was born and raised in New Jersey.  I was a city kid.  And even though I have lived in Southern California for 10 plus years nature still amazes me. 

As a group we stopped several times on the climb to take pictures and regroup.  We also took time to enjoy the scenery.  I'm always in race mode and never "take time to smell the flowers" as they say.  But being with a good group of friends made me realize that it was a unique opportunity to take advantage of.

Except for a few cars the road was ours.  The climbing is slow because of  the steep grades (expect 4-5mph) but that's a good thing-- it gives you more time and opportunity to enjoy the solitude and the scenery.  Just look at the photo below -- just awesome.

Climbing one of the steep grades on Pine Creek Rd.

Brandy didn't really need the push I just wanted to "help her" ;)

Nearing the summit and getting into the tree line.

A note of caution-- after all the steep stuff you have a couple or more really steep dips.  The road is single lane-- make sure you are looking up ahead as you drop in and out of these dips.   You may surprise a motorist not expecting a cyclist to be on Pine Creek Rd.  The Race Director will provide Caution Bicycle Event signs that will alert drivers to expect cyclists on the road.  But who knows the motorist might be in awe with the scenery as well ;)  There is also sand on some of the corners.  So be careful. 

Once we made the junction with Sunrise Hwy we climbed up to the Visitor's Center one last time.  It was 9 hours and 25 minutes into the event almost 4pm. 

Mileage 92.25 miles with 11,100 feet of gain

The only thing left was the third and final descent on Sunrise Hwy to Pine Valley.  We arrived at Pine Valley, the start/finish point, at 4:20pm.  Just shy of 10 hours on a hard climbing century with plenty of regrouping and picture taking.  The event will have a 12 hour limit.  It is more than doable!!

Once at the finish Adobo Velo pulled out all the stops.  They had set up a HOT MEAL!  Can you believe that?  There was Chicken Adobo and a Vegetarian Stew complete with bread and all the other things we had during the day.  It was a cold descent from the summit of Mount Laguna but the hot food at the finish helped me forget about my discomfort.  Thank you again Adobo Velo.   

Additonal graphs from my friend's Garmin.  It calculated 11,700 feet of gain. 

Here's the great thing about this ride if you are unsure whether you can complete the whole century you can pre-ride portions of it.  Your strategy may be to work on your endurance by doing the different loops on different days.  All the graphs and maps of the route are available online for you to plan your ride.  Try one loop or two and maybe the whole enchilada before April 17th.  I would strongly suggest doing a pre-ride of Loop 3 so Pine Creek doesn't catch you by surprise.  Your gearing selection will greatly improve your success on the most difficult climb of this event. 

The Mount Laguna Bicycle Classic is going to be a great addition to the century options already offered in San Diego.  It will appeal more to the rider looking for a challenge and likes to climb.  One other great thing about this ride is that the traffic is significantly lower than any of the organized centuries or doubles I have done in Southern California.

It will be a timed a event but not a race.  If you belong to a club AdventureCorps will recognize the top three co-ed members of your club with the best times.  It is a fantastic event with little known and scarcely traveled roads.  There is a rider limit of ONLY 300!  Sign up today!

Here is a slideshow with music from AdventureCorps

Slideshow of the entire route

Extensive route maps and elevation profiles

Thursday, November 12, 2009

On my Commute today... wool!

I get a lot of grief from my co-workers because I go against the grain in most things.  I work in a high end bike shop.  We have the latest and greatest of everything.  Now don't get me wrong I embrace technology.  But sometimes WOOL AND STEEL can't be beat.  So "On my Commute today"  I wore Wool socks from ASSOS, Wool shorts from WOOLISTIC (which are freakin' fantastic!), Wool arm and knee warmers from DEFEET.  Wool short sleeve jersey from BROOKS, and a WOOL cycling cap from CASTELLI (which now my kids want one).  I rode my STEEL FIXED GEAR made by Waterford under the Milwaukee Bicycle Co. badge. 

I also get grief for my DETOUR BAG and my reflective vest from NATHAN SPORTS.  But I don't care.  As you can see I have a change of clothes, my lunch (mmmm Penne and chicken) cell phone, flat repair, spare batteries for my tail light, cleat covers for walking at the train station and I still have plenty of room left over for my arm and leg warmers when it warms up.  Get a Detour Bag so much less cumbersome than a backpack or courier bag for just a few items.  And why have something on your body causing discomfort when you can put it on your bike and let the bike "carry" it for you?

As the Florida freeway signs used to say "Arrive Alive".  My modification to that is I'd rather arrive alive and ride again tomorrow.  Don't let peer pressure keep you from being safe and visible to cars.  Wear reflective gear and put lights on your bike-- yes even your "race bike".  Oh yeah you might not look "cool" to your friends but you'll be alive to come home to your family.  Now what's more important?  Go against the grain every now and then---be yourself!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Mount Laguna Bicycle Classic

The Mount Laguna Bicycle Classic, a new ride offered by AdventureCorps, is coming to the tranquil little town of Pine Valley.  On April 17, 2010 AdventureCorps will provide a new cycling challenge for 300 riders.   The stats for the ride are 103 miles and 10,000 feet of elevation gain.  Registration opened earlier this week but you need to hurry 300 spots will go fast. 

I will be doing a pre-ride of the course next Saturday November 14th.  I will have a full report upon completion of the ride.  I'm really looking forward to climbing Pine Creek Road. I've climbed Mount Laguna and many of the roads in the surrounding area many times but somehow I haven't climbed Pine Creek Rd. 

If you are up to the challenge sign up for the Mount Laguna Bicycle Classic registration has been open since Novemeber 2nd.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Where have I been for the last couple of years?  Have I been living under a rock?  Why didn't I know what Sharrows were until just yesterday?  I've seen the chevron looking markings on the road in one section of my commute but until yesterday I had no idea what they meant.  I'm a dunce!  In my defense, the markings I have seen in Oceanside haven't been there for two years but at least 6 months!

So what are Sharrows?  Below is an image of one.  What are they used for?  Here are some examples.

The stated purposes of the shared-lane markings used in California were to:

  • Assist bicyclists with lateral positioning in a shared lane with on-street parallel parking in order to reduce the chance of a bicyclist’s impacting the open door of a parked vehicle;

  • Assist bicyclists with lateral positioning in lanes that are too narrow for a motor vehicle and a bicycle to travel side by side within the same traffic lane;

  • Alert road users of the lateral location bicyclists are likely to occupy within the traveled way;

  • Encourage safe passing of bicyclists by motorists; and

  • Reduce the incidence of wrong-way bicycling.

So this morning "On my Commute"  I decided to pay more attention to them as to where exactly they were located, and record a little video.  Interesting commute-- It appears I'm not alone at not knowing what the chevron markings mean.  Cars honked and made nasty gestures as they passed me.  All the while I was just below the posted speed limit of 25mph going about 23mph.  Two miles/hr would be imperceptible to a motorist driving behind me at above the speed limit.

Look at this short video where I am traveling 25 mph in a 25 mph zone and the car behind me is going 34 mph (notice the flashing speed limit sign).  He then passes me and makes angry gestures pointing to the yeild to him and to get over to the right of the lane.  Oh by the way, I was loving my Fixed Gear bike this morning until this butthead.

(cue Mission Impossible theme) Your mission, shall you choose to accept it is to tell just one motorist (coworker, friend, relative) what Sharrow markings mean.  Do it as an "Oh by the way, did you know...?" Don't bother doing it on the road -- you'll never get through to them!  I have completed my Mission -- you do the same.

The video below features Tony Cruz, professional bike racer, talking about Sharrows in Long Beach!

More on Long Beach Sharrows

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Ride and Run

After my 25 mile recovery ride on my Fixed Gear I went for a run.  1.5 hours nice easy pace.  It turned out to be 9 miles.  I'll need to adjust my heart rate in the "sport specific zones". As I view this graph it shows I was in "hard intensity" zone.  I didn't feel that at all.  I don't have much faith in Heart Rate training anyway since I use a power meter on the bike.  I will adjust my max Heart Rate so that my perceived effort coincides with what the software thinks is a hard effort.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Fixed Gear Century ...sorta and new shoes

Brandy and I went out early this morning with the intentions of riding a century (100miles or 160km).  The plan was to leave in the wee morning hours and have our century done by 11am.  All went to plan except the route was a little short six miles.  Well we both thought the extra six miles wouldn't add any real benefit to our fitness so we called it at 94 miles.  By the way, this was the longest ride for Brandy since April.  I'm proud of her for getting it done.  She didn't look too bad when it was over either.

The Detour bag was packed to the hilt once the weather warmed up a little. These bags are awesome.  If you are a brevet rider or on a credit card tour you NEED to pick up a Detour bag.  The bag below is the Hightail ULP.

Here's a short video (90 secs) you must watch until the end.

The weather this morning was just perfect.  I wore my Skins compression long sleeve garment, a short sleeve jersey, arm warmers and knee warmers.  I believe it was in the low 50's.  It felt brisk at first but about 10 minutes later I thought it was perfect.  The route was coastal without any significant climbs.  We rode at endurance pace and restrained from chasing rabbits. 

On this 6 hour ride I rode a new pair of shoes.  Bont A-One Cycling Shoes.  They are fantastic!  I mean it.  They are the stiffest shoes I have ever owned.  And I'm not just talking about the soles everybody is doing that.   No!  They are stiff all the way up the front, sides and the heel cup.  Even with all that stiffness the shoe is remarkably comfortable.  And my lord are they light!

The toe box is plenty roomy for my feet.  But I think they would accomodate a slightly wider foot without having to buy a "wide" model.  They are heat molded custom shoes and you can mold them yourself at home.  Unlike the Shimano R310 that require all the Shimano doodads (oven, toe caps, bags and suction hoses etc) at an authorized dealer to get the shoe molded to your foot. 

I would strongly recommend the Bont A-One cycling shoe to someone looking for a very stiff shoe. 

Go here for the making of the shoes

More info on the Bont A-One cycling shoe

And finally as far as few I used Prolong Energy for the 6 hours I was on the bike.  I felt great the whole time and I didn't feel hungry.  Calorie expenditure is higher on the Fixed Gear because you can't coast which means you spin like crazy on the downhills.  I am doing a product evaluation on Prolong Energy.  Here is a product comparison including some of the iconic brand names of sports nutrition.  John Heiss tells me there is a new production run coming soon where the taste has been modified.  I'm really looking forward to evaluating that formula when it's available.

Monday, October 26, 2009

2009 Furnace Creek 508 Video

Sorry for the delay but it takes a long time to cull the over 800 pictures, and video footage, reducing down to just 10 minutes. I would make a terrible editor in Hollywood. Getting a movie under two hours would be quite a chore for me. There were so many great shots with lots of deep meaning for me. Thanks to my crew who took the time and effort to take such great shots and STILL found time to take care of me. Without their care I would not have finished.

Thank you crew, Brandy, Colin and Julie -- you guys got me through the 2009 Furnace Creek 508!!!


Friday, October 23, 2009

Baker Time Station to Twentynine Palms (382.6- 509.6) The Finish Line

Baker Time Station #5 to Kelso Time Station #6 (382.6 to 417.6)

Coming out of Baker there is a 21 mile climb that drags on and on. I had a slight tailwind and starting motoring up the climb. Along the way David Goggins came up alongside and we chatted briefly. I felt fine on this climb but slowed down as I neared the top. I remember it was cooler than previous years and that's fine by me. This is notoriously the hottest section of the course for me. I wouldn't want to make a habit of having 70 mph headwinds through Death Valley just to have cooler weather on this stage.  But it sure was nice for it to be cooler on the Kelbaker climb.

Kelso Time Station #6 to Almost Amboy #7 (417.6 to 451.3)

I don't remember much of this stage. But the long descent into Almost Amboy is so long it almost hurts to be in a crouch that long.

Almost Amboy Time Station #7 to Twentynine Palms-- Finish Line (451.3- 509.6)

This last section just wears on me. I think what makes the 508 so hard for me is going without sleep for that long. I almost always have good legs towards the end of the event. In a multi-day ultra like Race Across America (RAAM) you can nap a couple of hours in a 24 hour period. But at the 508 you ride straight through. I started this stage after being on the bike 37 hours already. I was done last year in 37 hours 34 minutes. It was quite daunting to realized that I still had about 5 hours to ride before finishing.

On the Sheephole Summit climb I just couldn't stay awake. My crew was worried that I would ride off into a ditch--maybe because I did -- once. They gave me several things to try and stimulate me but nothing worked-- long term anyway. I would have these bursts of energy and work hard to maintain that motivation but would falter a few minutes later. I tried sprinting up the climb and that worked for a little bit. I eventually crested the climb and began a much needed descent. The cold air woke me up.

After the Sheephole climb, next up was the 25 mile slog to the finish. It is a slow grind up a gradual incline all the way to the finish along with a little headwind -- you know just for fun. All I could do was count down the miles. Both my palms were killing me. Today is 10/22/09 and my right palm is still in pain. I commuted this morning and every pothole hurt the palm of my right hand.

Ahhh the finish was so sweet.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Another picture from 2009 Furnace Creek 508


Notice I'm still smiling.  Ha! Picture was sent to me by my friend Timmer. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Shoshone Time Station #4 to Baker Time Station #5 (Mile 326.4 - Mile 382.6)

Shoshone Time Station #4 to Baker Time Station #5 (Mile 326.4 - Mile 382.6)

I felt a huge relief as I rolled through the Shoshone Time Station. I felt as if the worst was over...and it was. Even though there were more winds in the latter stages, nothing was as bad as Death Valley. This next section looks so easy on the profile but yet every year it takes a lot more effort than it looks.

My crew vehicle needed a new tire since the space saver spare was limited to 50 mph. That would've made for a very long drive home from Twentynine Palms.  Not to mention that we would be getting into the finish in the wee hours of Monday morning.  In other words, nothing would be open at 1am to get a new tire when we arrived. 

The decision was made by Brandy, my crew chief, to roll on ahead and leave me unsupported. I like the comfort and security of having the support vehicle directly behind me through this section because the big rigs and pick-up trucks towing their "toy haulers" often buzz me way too close. My crew chief stocked me with food, No-Doz and flat repair and they went on to Baker. Good thing they left when they did since the tire shop was closing when they arrived.  The proprietor was gracious enough to stay open after-hours and sell my crew a new tire.

I was falling asleep on this section. We were about 28-30 hours into the race and only 350 miles. I was just slogging along. I know I lost a lot of time.  I even got off the bike because I was swerving so badly.  The winds impeded my progress.  The winds were probably only in the teens as far as wind speed.  I took three No- Doz in the 30ish mile section to Baker. I made it into the time station just as my crew was arriving from gassing up, buying food and cold medicine.

I forgot to mention that one of the side effects of the windstorm was my sinuses were so clogged I couldn't breathe.  I got some relief from a crew on this stretch I can't remember that crew name. I think they were a 4X team.  Brandy bought nasal spray and that really helped to clear up my sinuses.   

UPDATE  10/21/09 :  THE 4X TEAM NAME WAS TEAM CLOWNFISH.  Thank you very much for the looking after on the road.

Tom Parkes and Pitsnake

I arrived at the Baker Time Station #5 15:13 or 3:13pm Sunday or 32 hours and 13 minutes elapsed time. I always feel relieved getting into Baker. I feel I have the race in the bag. It's only another 125 miles to the finish.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Furnace Creek Time Station #3 to Shoshone Time Station #4 (Mile 252.8- Mile 326.4)

Furnace Creek Time Station #3 to Shoshone Time Station #4 (Mile 252.8- Mile 326.4)

What more can be said about this stage that hasn't been posted on blogs, race reports and weather reports? How about that I survived it? How about that I had many moments of "WTF?!?!?" Or how about that I just couldn't believe I was riding in it?

Here are just a couple of comments I've seen.

From Adam Bickett's Blog

"I was only averaging around 11 mph. Sand, dust, and rocks sprayed in the air. I tried to yell to my crew as they pulled alongside, probably about how ridiculous the conditions were, but realized neither of us would ever be able to hear each other. I shook a bottle, and got back a full bottle of Perp. We'd have to use gestures."

or Dan Crain's Blog-

"...the 50 miles between Furnace Creek and Ashford Mills was much worse this year than in 2004."

I left the Furnace Creek Time Station knowing that I would face headwinds as I went south through Death Valley but I had no idea how ridiculous they would be. The winds were blowing a steady 25-35 mph and gusting up to 70 mph. I can't express to you how humiliating it felt to be riding at 7-8 mph into those headwinds. I pushed the pedals hard and got nowhere. I eased up on the pedals and felt like I was going backwards. I couldn't get in my aero bars because I was being tossed around like laundry on a clothesline.

I would ride for 30 to 40 minutes and then pull over exhausted -- physically AND mentally. When the road would turn slightly and the headwinds became crosswinds it was extremely difficult to keep the bike upright. I would lean into the wind and when the wind would shift and I would go wildly across the road. I felt like I was in the start house of a Time Trial and balancing myself with the spotters' help and then they would let go of me as a sick joke.

This mental and physical torture went on for hours. It took me six hours to ride 30ish miles. Eventually, at 5:07 am, Brandy, my crew chief, pulled me off the bike and suggested that I take some time off the bike. The "plan" was to wait until daybreak to see if the weather would improve. Meanwhile, I would have time off the bike, rest my body and recharge my mental energy.  Remember, being in Death Valley our cell phones are more akin to paper weights than communication devices.  We had no way of reaching out to the "outsied world", the internet, to find out what the weather forecast might be for the next few hours.  Many riders took naps of at least a couple of hours.  I have trouble falling asleep when I first get off the bike.  By the time I get comfy so much time has gone by I can't take a nap then.  My crews, bless their hearts, have always found a way to fall asleep almost instantly when I've gotten off the bike.

Daybreak did bring slightly better conditions but only slightly. Or was it that I was refreshed from the hour off the bike? One thing I'd like to mention is the tenacity and will power Isabelle Drake, who was part of a 2X Sandhill Cranes, displayed while on the Furnace Creek to Shoshone leg. She battled through the night in short spurts like I did. We would leap-frog each other and give each other motivation to continue. One time when I pulled over exhausted she even said "Don't you stop (or quit) and leave me out here!" Isabelle you're an inspiration. I'm proud of you and glad to have witnessed your ride!

Based on my personal experience, the winds this year were the worst I have ever ridden in my four Furnace Creek 508s and at least five other Death Valley Double Centuries. I fought the winds as the sun came up and my only goal was getting to the base of the two exit climbs out of Death Valley, Jubilee Pass and Salsberry Pass. The first climb starts at mile 300 and climbs about 1000 feet in five miles to Jubilee (El 1285’). A one-mile descent leads to the next climb, about 2300 feet in 9.5 miles to Salsberry (El 3315’). Source

If you can believe it I was so happy to be climbing again. Well actually, I love to climb more than anything else. The climbs were uneventful just climb and climb some more. The best part of these two climbs was I was no longer riding into a headwind! LOL!

I rolled into Shoshone at 10:18 am Sunday morning. I'm almost embarrass to say that it took me 10 hours and 41 minutes for cover 75 miles but I'm proud to say that I continued on from Shoshone. By my count (17) SOLO riders, (4) 2x teams and (1) 4x team DNF'd before reaching Shoshone. But I was still standing and that has always been a great motivator to me.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Making Exercise Fun

I found this video on the Fluid page of Facebook.  I thought it made an important point.  Making exercise fun gets more people moving their bodies.  Obesity is a major medical problem in America.  Enjoy this video

Friday, October 16, 2009



My stomach issues were gone and now it was a race to get to the base of Towne Pass before needing lights. Last year I was pretty excited to have been within throwing distance of the right turn onto Hwy 190 before needing lights. The Towne Pass climb begins after a couple of miles of making that right turn. This year my pace was about the same. I was excited with the real possiblity that I might actually "see" the Towne Pass climb again in daylight.

I crested the Trona Bump (mile 14 of stage) and began my descent into Panamint Valley. I was feeling good. I love the twisty descent off the Trona Bump and I have yet to have a crew film me on that descent. But there's always next year right ? ;)   Tactically, the smart move is to feed your rider as they come through this chokepoint summit and then catch up with your rider on the open road. There is a lot of gradual descending into Panamint Valley. As a rider you can maintain a good average speed. So things were still looking good to make it to Towne Pass in the daylight.


However, Mr Murphy, of Murphy's law fame, had other ideas. My crew vehicle had a blow-out on the descent off the Trona Bump. Luckily it wasn't in the twisty part but it still must have been scary for them. So here I am down the road quite a bit looking behind me for my crew and I don't see them. Nevertheless, I kept the pace medium to high maximizing the terrain and the tailwind to my advantage. After some time another crew vehicle pulls alongside me and offers me a bottle. They tell me what has happened to my crew and give me a bottle to help sustain me until my crew is up and running.



My first concern was for their safety. But that helpful crew (I wish I knew who they were) allayed those fears. Now my next concern was the 6 o'clock hour was rapidly approaching. The 508 rules state in part.


A. While riding at night (defined as between 6:00PM Saturday and 7:00AM Sunday and between 6:00PM Sunday and 7:00AM Monday), each bicycle must be equipped with a legal front and rear lighting system and this system must be ON at all times.


Without my crew vehicle providing direct support with all associated safety equipment I would not be able to continue racing. I am now calculating how long it will take to switch bikes (for Towne Pass) and get the lighting set up WHEN my crew vehicle actually arrives. Tactically, the best move is to send the crew vehicle ahead, have them set up the vehicle and get your bike ready. Then you arrive, switch bikes and off you go in tandem with your crew vehicle.

As I'm doing my calculations, the race director pulls up alongside and asks me about my crew vehicle. I explain the situation and almost in synch we confirm to each other official race time and the importance of the 6 o'clock hour. I had already made the left turn onto Panamint Valley Rd which then leads to the right turn on Hwy 190. A few miles into Panamint Valley Rd it was 6pm and I pulled over. It pained me to see racers pass me as I was sitting on the side of the road healthy, willing and able to ride

Here are some photos from the 508 website copyright AdventureCORPS.



At approximately 6:25 pm my crew shows up. We do all the necessary things and we are off at 6:35pm. Why so long?  Well I was almost 30 miles down the road (unsupported) and even at 60 mph it would take the crew 30 minutes to get to me.  As I began my ascent on Towne Pass I looked back at the time off the bike as a blessing. I had time (almost 35 minutes) to rest and hydrate. So a blessing in disguise I'd say. You have to turn setbacks into positives or they mess with your head for the duration of the race.

I felt great on my climb up Towne Pass. I was passing solos and teams alike. I was climbing really well. I saw riders on the side of the road, riders walking and some just slogging along as I passed them. I kept saying to myself "the 35 minute rest--that's your secret weapon" "steady- don't blow up" and "don't get passed". Eventually the winds became stronger and stronger. The combination of the steep grades, 10%+, and the 30 mph winds began to wear on me.

Something I did differently this year was not stop at the summit for a picture and clothing change. My crew pulled up and asked what I wanted for the descent. I said, "Nothing I'll freeze the first 1,000 feet but we are not stopping". The temps weren't that bad on the descent. As I crested, I saw a few racers/crews pulled over. I thought "good I'll get a jump on them".

On the descent of Towne Pass we couldn't go any faster than 35 mph-- safely anyway . Our space saver spare was virtually flat. It was tough to do but I kept the speed at or about 35 mph. Seemed like an awful waste of a good 17 mile descent but SAFETY FIRST. As soon as we hit the desert floor OMG it seemed like it was 80+ degrees in Death Valley. Julie asked if I needed anything and I said "No nothing. But can you turn down the heat!" I might have said thermostat :). It really did feel that hot down there.

This next passage might sound gross to some of you but it is what it is. After hours and hours of sports drinks my mouth was feeling pasty. I asked for my toothbrush and toothpaste so I could brush my teeth. I usually do this in Baker Time Station #5 (MILE 382.6) when I change into a fresh kit for the last 120 miles. But I just couldn't wait. So brushed my teeth and felt so much better. And yes all while still being on the bike.

I started feeling stronger winds as I approached the right turn towards Furnace Creek. I couldn't believe how windy it was. We pulled into the Furnace Creek Time Station (MILE 252.9) at 23:37 or 11:37 pm or 16 hours and 37 minutes elapsed time. My goal was to be there before my 2008 PR of 15 hours and 28 minutes. So now I was 1 hour and 9 minutes off from my PR. Funny how all the little things add up. The 15 minutes on Stage 2, the 35 minutes on Stage 3 waiting for my crew vehicle. The wind notwithstanding I was doing ok.

At Furnace Creek Time Station I spent a few minutes chatting with Blackbird and eating a turkey sandwich. We talked about the wind conditions and the time splits of other racers. My crew meanwhile filled the space saver spare tire with air. The tire blowout, the flat spare and the damage to the rental vehicle concerned me way too much. I eventually was able to shut it out but I do remember ruminating over it far too much.

Anyway, I took on some supplements and got back on the road.