It's been awhile since I've entertained (?) the 50+ forum with a double century report, and in fact I've only ridden two doubles this year, the reduction an attempt to get my cycling addiction under control.
This one is a very old double, more than 50 years old now (so appropriate on this forum!) and is presented by the Los Angeles Wheelmen with the start in Malibu, CA (pretty much on the coast) and the 1/2 way point 98 mi. for Lowland Riders, 116 miles for we highland riders) in Ojai, CA. Lots of options on this ride, really, with a double metric the shortest and a quad-century (yes, 400 miles in one day) the longest. The double centuries are right in the middle, with a lowland route (5,000 feet of climbing) or a highland route option (over 8,000 feet of climbing). Most riders ride the doubles, about 800 riders total.
Grand Tour 2012 Lou Ann Montalvo.jpg
Our little band of OC Rebels started at 5:07 AM, still quite dark, heading North up Pacific Coast Highway (known locally simply as PCH) in the predawn darkness with v.few cars and the sound of waves crashing onto the beaches off to our left. David was pulling strong on the front as Lou Ann and I wheel-sucked our way up the coast. We passed Stefan stopped on the side of the road, but he indicated that he was okay, and we should go on . . . which we did. At the first checkpoint at mile 35 (everyone give the nice lady with the clipboard your numbers!) I took the lights off, took my jacket and knee warmers off and stuffed them into a paper bag with my name magic-markered on to it. Not sure if Lou and David dropped anything off.
Stephan at the first checkpoint of his first double.jpg
Stephan got there before we left, we so took off as a group of 4 now, Stefan being from Bulgaria and on his first double century. He wasn't confident about being able to follow the route sheet, so we said, "Stick with us then, no worries!" Stefan came to the U.S. in '98 but only recently got into cycling and was riding a heavy bike with platform pedals; great for his running shoes! Still, he was young and quite strong, so was able to keep up well, and even lead us up some of the early climbs.
David and Stefan heading towarad Potrero.jpg
The first big climb of the day is Potrero, really three good sized climbs, with extended 11-12% sections on the first part and a leg-numbing 18-19% as part of the middle section. Stefan was the first to the summit of the (most difficult) 2nd climb, followed by me, David and Lou Ann. The 2nd checkpoint was in the middle of the final Potrero climb, at mile 52.3. From here it's a journey through Westlake Village, Moor Park and Simi Valley (very residential but with excellent bike lanes) to the Park for checkpoint 3 at mile 79.8.
This stop was very cheery with a huge sign for Lynn Katano's 100th CA double century (the first woman to reach that mark) and happy volunteers including the Bartoli Family, with Clem checking numbers while Nina and Renee helped with the food. Karin Huber was once again in charge of the Hammer Nutrition products here, so we had a fine time talking and visiting with our friends. Photo of Karin on duty!
Kerin Huber a the 3rd Checkpoint.jpg
Heading out of this checkpoint it was shortly onto one of the long climbs of the day, i.e. Grimes Canyon. Described on the route sheet as 2.4 miles of moderate climbing, it felt longer and steeper to me, but not too bad overall and I was the first of our group to summit. Lovely twisting descent off Grimes too, which dropped us into the orange groves (miles and miles of oranges!) and a glimpse of what SoCal used to be like. The next section was mostly head-windy, so we hooked up with a passing paceline possessing three powerful "locomotive" cyclists, hammering into the fierce wind, and not allowing any of us to take a pull, lest thier speed be diminished (well, that's okay with me!).
Even so they had just about burned us off the back before reaching the town of Santa Paula and thereby earning a rest at the local market (a bottle of Gatorade and a Coke for me) as our cyclists rehydrated in anticipation of the Dennison Grade, noted on the route sheet as "8 miles, Long but Moderate." They forgot to add: "Under a hot sun with almost no shade!" Still, I was feeling spunky, so hammered up this climb, happy to find our friend Anny Beck parked at the summit with lots of water in coolers in her van. Nice visit with Anny as fist David and Stefan, then Lou Ann crested the summit.
The descent into Ojai was held up a bit by automobiles, since bicycles really can descend faster than the normal family sedan, but other than that, lovely descent . . .almost missed our turn at the bottom, but saw it just in time, leading us in short order to our lunch rest stop at mile 116. Turns out my wife Jackie was working the lunch stop, being in charge of handing out sodas along with our friend Chris Hedberg. The day was heating up a bit, but really not too bad. Lots of good food and more visiting with friends including Chuck Bramwell, Dennis Miller and Steve (who I always see on these rides) as well as other friendly riders around the lunch table.
Jackie and Chris at lunch soda stop.jpg
Post lunch it was the usual confusing route out of Ojai, but we followed enough cyclists who knew where they were going that we didn't have to look at our route sheets much. Out of Ojai and on to Casidis Pass, around beautiful Lake Casidis, three climbs really, the third being the most brutal, followed by a long lovely descent, which in turn is followed by another climb. This last is the final really brutal climb of this double. thought there are some annoying climbs near the finish. After all this up and down excitement I rolled into the Rincon checkpoint at mile 138 to find that there actualy were some donuts left. I had my one donut of the year (always at the checkpoint), this year's a chocolate topped yeast donut with a cream filling of some sort.
I shared it with my friend Linda Adams (started earlier than we did, but I saw her leaving checkpoints as we were arriving) and washed it down with a Mountain Dew whilst awaiting the arrival of Stefan, David and Lou Ann. From here is was mostly downhill with a tail wind (a few exceptions of course) as we rode back down Hwy 101 (fast auto traffic very close!) at 20+ mph bike speed, keeping our four person paceline, whlle adding Bill, a cyclist from Heraldsburg, CA, who happened to be going our speed. Somewhere near the end of this bit, as I was leading the pace-line, some kind of mechanical occured (never found out what) such that Lou Ann and I were the only ones left as we entered Ventura.
Rather than wail, we decided to "mosey" on slowly, such that we could still keep moving, but also allow David, Bill and Stefan times to catch up. And catch up they did, just before we were nearing our final checkpoint at Port Heuneme (coincidentally, also our first checkpoint, long ago . . . this morning). I grabbed my bag and refitted my lights, put my arm and knee warmers back on, as the day was nearing it's end (about 6:00Pm here) at mile 164. As we sat around the table eating and drinking, Lou Ann advised David that she really did prefer the "mosey" speed she and I were keeping whilst waiting for them to catch up, as David does prefer a rather faster relative speed. No problem for Lou Ann keeping up in the morning, but getting to be much more difficult by evening.
By the Navy base on the way back.jpg
That said, we nonetheless took off as a group, but then part of David's tail-light fell off crossing a rough level-crossing for the rail road, and he and Lou stopped to retrieve it as Stefan and I continued. Eventually they caught up, but then the dynamic changed as David and Bill hammered off ino the distance around the Navy base at Point Mugu. Stefan, first happy to mosey with Lou Ann and me, must have gotten fed up with the slower pace since he sped up and eventually bridged up to David and Bill.
Lou Ann almost home.jpg
With the sun threatening to sink into the Pacific, and once again with the sound (and now the sight, on our right) of waves crashing into the coastal beaches, we turned on our lights and rode the final hills, with the worst one up from Zuma Beach, eventually finishing right as dusk was overtaken by darkness.
Rick at finish of Grand Tour 2012.jpg
All kinds of fun, a full day on the bikes, and the first double for Stefan. Thanks to the LA Wheelmen and all their fine volunteers for taking such good care of us all day.
50+ Note: Lou Ann is 50+ as is Bill. David and I are both 60+. Not sure how old Stefan is, but certainly not 50 yet!
Also, Dante, who posts here, rode this Grand Tour as his 50th California Double which makes him a member of the California Triple Crown Hall of fame! Congratulations Dante!
Rick / OCRR