Eroica California 2019 with the Old Velos

This year Eroica California, the vintage bike festival and ride,  was held in Cambria on California’s Central Coast.

Our friend John from Wales rode with us again this year, and we were joined on the ride by Nial, Alec and Bart of the Old Velos, Irish friends we met at Eroica Britannia in 2018. In the video you can see them wearing their classy “Toin le Gaoth” jerseys which means “Wind at your ass”, which is every cyclist’s dream.

There are some great pictures from Eroica California and an entertaining writeup on the OldVelos website. Someday we hope to visit Ireland and enjoy the OldVelos Vintage Classic ride and festival.

London Sightseer Audax

Our 2018 tour of the United Kingdom concluded with a week in London. Here we joined Audax UK riders on their biannual  London Sightseer 105k ride.

This fantastic ride, hosted by Bill Carnaby, winds all the way across London and back. It has a great mix of historic sights, city hustle-and-bustle, and quiet paths along the Thames.

We were fortunate to hook up with a great group of AudaxUK riders and had a wonderful day touring the city with them.

Eroica Britannia 2018

After touring the Outer Hebrides, Northern Scotland, the Orkney and Shetland islands with our Bromptons, Stacy & I joined our friend John Renowden in the Peak District for the 2018 Eroica Britannia festival. 

John’s family joined us at the Saturday festival, then Stacy, John & I rode the vintage bike ride on Sunday. It was everything you’d expect from a British ride: hills, a bit of rain, more hills, and a pint at the finish.

We had a great time, and made a short movie about the Sunday ride. Other than spelling Britannia wrong in the title (D’oh!) it turned out pretty good:


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!

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!

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!

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.

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

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


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)



2015 Joshua Tree to Las Vegas 300K brevet

“Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run, but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world.”

― Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Willie Hunt has an amazing talent for designing beautiful and audacious routes. This year he created a route from Joshua Tree to Las Vegas following (in reverse) the finish of the old Furnace Creek 508 course. Since the route traveled through such a desolate area, it required quite a bit of work on his part to make sure the riders were supplied and supported at the otherwise barren contrôles along the way. Other than scenery, there’s not much out there. Willie also arranged to shuttle the riders back to Joshua Tree after the ride.

Minutes before departure from Joshua Tree



Ride support: Willie and Judy


We left the town of Joshua Tree at 06:00 and rode quickly toward the rising sun and the town of 29 Palms, helped by a slight tailwind and a gentle descent.

From 29 Palms we climbed Amboy Road over Sheephole Summit and down towards the “town” of Amboy on old Route 66.

Our friend John from the San Francisco Randonneurs started feeling the effects of the rising temperatures and decided to abandon the ride and join the support crew. At this time of year I don’t think there’s any way to train for this kind of riding in Northern California.

Amboy Road from Sheephole Summit


From Kelso Depot the route diverged from the 508 course and headed northeast through the stunning and remote Mojave National Preserve.


I’ve noticed that every long ride seems to have a surreal experience or two. On this ride we passed a group of Japanese motorcycle riders on Harley Davidsons who were stopped to reconnoiter. Dressed in new leather motorcycle outfits, they were obviously on tour seeing the Western part of the U.S. The driver of their support truck stopped us and explained that they were looking for Route 66. Since we had just come from there, it was easy to point them in the right direction. They gave us a cheer and a round of applause as we pedaled North into the Mojave.

Joshua Tree forest on Morning Star Mine Road


This was the best part of the ride – quiet, remote and scenic. As we climbed the Joshua Trees started to reappear. Nearing Nevada, we could see a huge dust cloud created by an ORV race.

From near the state line, the course took the most direct course of riding on the I-15 itself, which wasn’t too bad as the shoulder was wide and in good condition. The only downsides to riding on the shoulder were the chunks of blown-out retread tires and the curiously large amount of gravel. Fortunately we had a slight headwind from the East that blew the dust from the ORV race away from us. At Jean Nevada the route took the frontage road, South Las Vegas Blvd, which was nice fast downhill all the way to the finish at the south end of town.

Made it to Vegas!


We were able to eat, shower and sleep before driving back to California the next day.

Ready for the shuttle back to California


Thanks to Willie for hosting this great ride, and to Judy and John for the support.