October 2015 CyclingSavvy Irvine Recap

We had another great experience this past weekend teaching CyclingSavvy in Irvine with an outstanding group of students. Everyone came with a willingness to learn new techniques and problem-solving strategies and were willing to try them out on the road.  It really made our job as instructors easy. Every student came with a unique cycling history, some were new to road and club cycling, some were returning to cycling like we were several years ago, another was one of Jax Bicycles phenomenal staff members, others were bike commuters, and still others were cyclotourists. It was a wonderful mix.

With Cycling Savvy’s instructor ratio of five students to one instructor, and class sizes limited to ten per cohort, we have the time for personal attention, and the ability to teach complex traffic scenarios during class in a supportive environment.

Thanks to Lee Stebbins for volunteering to help out on Saturday as he gets ready to add Cycling Savvy Instructor to his list of cycling education credentials and to Jax Bicycles for graciously allowing us to use their Irvine shop for the “Truth & Techniques of Traffic Cycling” presentation.

Since we were in France this summer to ride the 100 Cols Tour and Paris-Brest-Paris, this was our first CyclingSavvy class since June and it filled quickly.

Fellow CyclingSavvy instructor Pete van Nuys, Executive Director of the Orange County Bicycle Coalition, and Greg will be leading the November CyclingSavvy class on November 12th (Truth & Techniques classroom portion) and November 14th (Train Your Bike! and Tour of Irvine, skills and road portion). Sign up for this class on the CyclingSavvy site.

If you would like to be notified about upcoming classes you can sign up for notifications in your area on the CyclingSavvy site.

Cycling Savvy Irvine Class, October 2015

We took some photos during the class, but not as many as we would have liked. You can view the entire set here.

Yes, you really can lean your bike hard in a high-speed turn, just don’t forget to keep the inside pedal up.

Brigette executes a flawless high-speed turn.

Danielle – emergency braking like a boss.

Mark carving a series of smooth, fast turns

Brigette negotiates a tricky section of roadway with ease and confidence.

Matthew O’Neill memorial 200k, September 5, 2015

We had a great turnout for our 200K covering some of Matthew’s favorite local riding. Everyone wore their Matthew bracelets or t-shirts!

It was a fast start with the entire group staying together until the breakfast stop at the Somis Market. A big thank you to PCH Randos for picking up the breakfast tab for all riders!

Foster gives the pre-ride briefing

Most of the group stayed together almost to the turnaround in Santa Barbara, then lunch spread us out.

Shai and Eric rocked the course and arrived first, immediately followed by Jim Harris and Jonathan Grayson riding his beautiful orange velomobile.

We had two brand new randonneurs riding with us today, Pete Johnston and Morgan Todd and they really enjoyed their first 200K!

Jonathan demonstrateshow he single-handedly loads his beautiful new velomobile

A big thanks to Foster for organizing the ride, and to Linda and Larry Bott for opening their home to host the ride with a fully stocked BBQ at the finish!

Greg and Eric hanging out after the ride

Cycling Savvy in Irvine, June 19th & 20th

Greg Kline and Pete van Nuys

Greg Kline and Pete van Nuys

This Friday evening and Saturday I’ll be teaching a CyclingSavvy course in Irvine with Pete van Nuys, executive director of the Orange County Bicycle Coalition.

Register Here

This will be the first of our CyclingSavvy courses in Irvine and features a new route with new challenges and features. Unlike Santa Ana and Orange where we held our earlier classes, Irvine has an extensive network of bike lanes.

Continue reading “Cycling Savvy in Irvine, June 19th & 20th”

2015 Eastern Sierra Double Century

Last weekend we rode the Eastern Sierra Double Century with friends from Orange County.

It’s one of our favorite rides.

The scenery was spectacular as always. I tried to capture some of the beauty, but there’s really no way to capture the feeling of the vast expansive landscapes.

The weather was moderate – not too cold in the morning or too hot in the afternoon.

We did get the expected headwind from Benton back to Bishop though…

Eroica California 2015

The 2015 Eroica California, the first ever held in the United States, was a great success and we had a wonderful time attending. The Eroica is a vintage bike festival and ride that celebrates the beauty and history of the golden age of racing bicycles and the virtues of challenging oneself with long and difficult rides. There were three route options, 41 miles, 65 miles and 123 miles. The 123 mile long route sounded like the most fun and challenging, so that’s what we chose:

Long Route: 123 miles

Ascent: 9700 ft
Unpaved Road: 36 miles
Start times: 5:00am – 6:30am
This is the true Eroica route. After the rest stop at Halter Ranch the long route begins its journey to the Pacific Ocean.
Fortunately, there is one major obstacle in the way, Cypress Mountain. This mountainous area is the home to the ghost town of Klau and several long abandoned mercury mines. If you look closely you will see an old, rotary furnace near the start of the next dirt section.
Cypress Mountain Rd (CMR) is a challenging, stair stepping, gravel road that will have participants longing for the summit. One section of this climb approaches a 20% grade near the top. At the top you will be awarded with a fantastic view before you take on the steep and technical descent into Cambria. There you will find another well deserved rest stop in the middle of this charming town near mile 78.
Riders now have a brief respite along Highway 1 (one of the most beautiful Highways in the USA). Take in the view of the Pacific shoreline and hope for a tail wind. If you look to the south you will see Morro Rock in the distance. Your next stop is the Beach/Surf  town of Cayucos and the rest stop is located by the historic pier at mile 91.
Fuel up at this rest stop because you still have one more obstacle, the 7 mile climb on the gravel road of Santa Rita Creek in your future. This climb is a little easier than CMR and you will notice a change to the scenery near the summit.  The last rest stop will be near mile 110 and it will offer the basic needs for the riders (water and small snacks) followed by the return to Paso Robles. The route from this rest stop will look familiar.
Be sure to follow the markers or risk the chance of going the wrong way on Kiler Canyon. At this point you would not want to climb that again! If all goes well you will arrive back in Paso Robles before dark and enjoy the accomplishment of being one of the true Eroica (Heroic) riders.

Stacy and I started a bit later than the majority of the long-riders and as a result of our relaxed pace ended up riding much of the ride alone or with a handful of other riders. It didn’t matter, the course was spectacular and the ride was one of the best we have ever done.

The route selection was superb, the roads were quiet and scenic, the gravel and dirt portions were challenging but do-able, and the route-sheet and signage made it easy to follow the route.

Stacy and Giancarlo Brocci

The first two cyclists we met in Paso Robles were Giancarlo Brocci, the founder of Eroica, and Michele Pescini, the Mayor of Gaiole. What a treat!

Classic racing bikes and gear

Lonnie Wolff rode in from Utah on his dad’s old motorcycle with sidecar. Definitely the most stylish arrival!

Wine tasting with randonneuring friends Jenny and Jason in Paso Robles

Can’t wait until next year!

2015 Orange Triple Loop 400K/600K

Once again we got to ride Terry Hutt’s Orange Triple Loop, which he runs as a 400K or a 600K.

Stacy, Michael, Phil and Jonathan at the start

Since we only needed one more ride to complete our Super Randonneur series and qualify for Paris-Brest-Paris, we rode the 400K option which only does the first two loops.

The ride makes extensive use of the great Class 1 bike paths that run along the (seasonal) rivers of Orange and Los Angeles counties. The flat terrain and absence of traffic signals allow riders to make good time in an urban area that would otherwise be very slow.

We had a special treat this year as we started the ride under a total lunar eclipse.

The route followed familiar trails and roads and was wonderfully uneventful. No flats or mechanical problems of any kind – just a pleasant cruise with old and new randonneuring friends. Highlights were stopping for pizza in Beaumont and the great food and company at the control hosted by Ruth and Kevin.

We met Luciano and Iria, two fast riders who were waiting for assistance at the Beaumont control. According to the rules of randonnuering personal support is only allowed at official checkpoints. Luciano had a broken steering tube which would have ended his ride if friends had not driven up from Long Beach with a replacement bike for him.

They both joined our small group (Michael, James, Keith, Stacy and me) for the ride down San Timoteo Canyon and back to the control in Orange.

Thanks to Terry for organizing and hosting this popular brevet. Congratulations to Pete Eade who after several unsuccesful attempts, finished his first 600K at the age of 73. Bravo Pete “Super Randonneur” Eade, and bravo Nick Maytas for riding with and encouraging Pete.

Several other riders have written reports about their experiences on this ride:

2015 Borrego Springs 600K Brevet

“I’ll never do another Willie ride”
-Michael Bratkowski

Borrego_600K_Map

Willie Hunt designed and hosted this audacious 600K (377mile) ride that made a huge loop from the coast, along the Santa Ana River, up San Timoteo Canyon and through San Gorgonio Pass between Mount San Jacinto and Mount San Gorgonio descending to Palm Springs and down along the Salton Sea before turning eastward to the overnight control in Borrego Springs. From Borrego the route climbed Montezuma’s Grade (aka RAAM’s glass elevator) then gradually descended to Oceanside and back up the coast to the start.

Actually, it didn’t look too bad on paper. “Only” 17,000 of climbing spread out over 600K, with the biggest chunk on the morning of the second day when it should be cool and we’d be fresh after some sleep.

Michael Bratkowski did the pre-ride solo a week earlier and encountered unseasonably high temperatures and brutal headwinds all the way from the 86 turnoff (near Salton Sea, mile 211) to Borrego Springs, prompting his (only half-serious) vow to never ride one of Willie’s routes again.

Michael is a tough, experienced randonneur with rides like the 2014 VanIsle 1200K, the cold and rainy 2013 Gold Rush Randonnee 1200K and Willie’s infamous Vegas-to-LA 600K under his belt. If Michael says it’s hard ride, it must really have been hard. After a few hours rest in Borrego he was ready to continue. Unfortunately the second day was hot and difficult as well and he ended up finishing the ride, but with only 10 minutes to spare.

We were hoping for better luck, but as it turned out, the conditions were pretty much the same on the day of the official ride. Record high temperatures for that date in Riverside, Palm Springs, and other cities on our route. We even got the same headwinds into Borrego.

Getting ready to go, Willie’s garage

The ride started off cool and pleasant from Willie’s house in Foothill ranch. We were glad of the warmth our reflective vests provided on the downhill course to Newport Beach, through the fog we encountered in Irvine.

First Control – C’est Si Bon Bakery

Despite taking it easy, we reached the first control shortly after it opened. A quick snack and we navigated through the road construction in Newport Beach to the Santa Ana River Trail which took us to San Bernardino. Except for a short section through Norco the SART is a paved car-free multi-use trail that follows the Santa Ana River from the beach to the San Bernardino Mountains.

We rode with old rando friends Foster Nagaoka and Linda Bott and new rando friend Doug Church who was riding his first 600K, and completing his first Super-Randonneur series.

Congratulations Doug!

We also rode for a while with ultra-cycling legend John Marino, founder of and competitor in the Race Across America.  You can see the video of the first RAAM, back when it was called the “Great American Bicycle Race” on YouTube. It’s a great account of the first bicycle race across the United States between John Marino, Lon Haldeman, Michael Shermer and John Howard – complete with the original commercials.

This year John, like us, is riding a series of brevets to qualify for Paris-Brest-Paris. John was planning to ride on an all-liquid diet for the ride, but we wanted real food so he rode ahead as the rest of us stopped for lunch.

By the time we started climbing San Timoteo canyon it was starting to get hot. Foster noticed that when reached mile 100, the thermometer on his Garmin showed 100 degrees Fahrenheit. By mile 101, it was reading 101 and by mile 102 it was reading 102. Fortunately the trend stopped there.

Foster repairing a flat while Doug and Linda enjoy the shade

Between Banning and Cabazon the I-10 is the only route, so we rode the freeway shoulder. We exited the freeway for a while where there were frontage roads, then got back on until we reached the 111 which took us to (and through) Palm Springs.

Hwy 111 through Palm Springs. Not wide enough to safely share side-by-side with a passenger car, much less a truck or bus, this is one of the roads on this 600K where taking control of the lane was required.

The trip through Palm Springs was pleasant, and the slight downhill and light tailwind made the riding easy. It was late in the afternoon and we were getting hungry, so we started to keep an eye out for a place to eat. Fast food and convenience stores are de rigueur on randonneuring rides, but since good restaurants were available we thought we could do better. Eventually we decided on the Eureka! restaurant in Indian Wells. Stacy got fish tacos and I got a watermelon salad with arugula and kale.  Real food has an amazing restorative effect, and taking a break from riding helped too.

Riding through La Quinta as the sun sets

Heading south after dinner we entered the agricultural area of Mecca and Thermal. The sun set and we rode south along the eastern shore of the Salton sea. It finally cooled off, with the temperatures dropping to the 70s, a real pleasure.

As we neared the turnoff Hwy 78 that would take us to Borrego Springs we could feel the wind increasing. Unfortunately it was a headwind that made the next 30+ miles slow going. Riding slowly, we did see more wildlife than we might have otherwise even though it was dark. A coyote ran across the road behind us. Tiny pale scorpions ran around crazily as we approached, dazzled by our lights. Sidewinders, about a foot long, lay coiled on the roadway soaking up it’s warmth.

Eventually we got to Borrego for a much appreciated rest. It was already warm and starting to get hot when we started off again a few hours later. The climb up Montezuma’s was beautiful as always, and it was great to speed down the other side once we reached Ranchita. Met up with Foster and Linda again at the biker-bar near Lake Henshaw. Rode at a moderate pace, enjoying the downhill sections and taking it easy on the uphills. We probably were a little too relaxed at it became clear we’d need to speed up to reach the Oceanside control before it closed.

By that time it was cooler, and stepping up the pace felt good. Made the control in time, then cruised up familiar roads to the finish at Willie’s.

Eric Maddison, Doug Church, Foster Nagaoka, Linda Bott and Greg & Stacy Kline at the ride finish (Willie’s house)