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Back to Riding Double Centuries after a year Off.

Old 03-01-17, 10:01 PM
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Back to Riding Double Centuries after a year Off.

Camino Real Double Century 2017


It’s certainly been awhile since I posted a double century report in the 55+ bikeforums.net, yet having completed the Camino Real Double Century Saturday (and taking a day off the bike today) I thought it might be fun to share the adventure with all of you. I’m giving my typing fingers some exercise while my legs enjoy a recovery day!

Taking a Year Off
Bit of history here; just kind of FYI, to note that I used to be an active double century rider, having completed 75 California doubles since beginning in 2003 and fitting eight different doubles into 2015. I was feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the riding, traveling and organizing (not to mention all the associated costs) so I decided to take a year off doubles in 2016. Worked out well, and I did survive but as 2017 approached I started to get the double century bug again.

Trying to Get Into Shape
I tried to get into shape by riding four centuries (one out to 140 miles) in January of 2017, then I signed up for the Camino Real double which was on February 18th. Unfortunately, I came down with the horrible cold/flue thing that’s been going around the week before and had to miss the whole thing. Quite a disappointment that was! Fortunately I found out about staff ride that was to be the following weekend and, even though I didn’t work the double and was therefore not really “qualified” I emailed the organizer and got permission to join the staff ride. There were to be two other riders, thankfully my friends Dee Mann and Steve Meichtry. Dee’s husband Rob was going to drive SAG for us, so it all looked well set up and scheduled for 4:30 AM departure from the traditional Camino Real start location in Irvine.

Logistics
I had booked a room at the start motel (La Quinta) so got everything loaded into my car and drove directly down to Irvine from Los Angeles after work on Friday. There was lots of Friday traffic on the 405 freeway but I made it eventually, grabbed a quick dinner and got all my clothing, etc. ready for the early start.

Still Nervous After All These Years
I know that after 75 doubles I shouldn’t be nervous before the start but having taken a year off, plus having continued pain in my lower back, it was questionable in my mind whether I’d finish this . . . or not. I did manage to get about five hours of sleep, so after foam rolling my back one final time and consuming a light breakfast I was on my bike and ready to go at 4:25 AM.

How Cold Was It?
And yikes, it was kind of cold at that time! I know, yes, this is Southern California and we don’t have to suffer through the truly cold temperatures of cyclists in the North and East, but still, for us, 42 Deg.F. was a bit chilly. I had a long-sleeve base-layer under my jersey, bib-shorts and leg warmers, a nice high-vis jacket, wool socks and shoe covers, wool head cap and full-finger gloves so I thought I was prepared. I took some ibuprofen and applied some Ben-Gay to my lower back and yes; ready to go!

Cleared for Takeoff.
Steve and Dee were there on time and we were able to take off on time (remembering to start our Garmins) riding the excellent bike lanes of Irvine California and feeling good to be (finally!) starting a double again. The first miles were easy, not much auto traffic to deal with, then some decent climbs to get our legs working, up over Newport Coast, down to Pacific Coast Highway (que sounds of waves crashing on the beaches) to a left onto Laguna Canyon at mile 22. This was our first big surprise as we were greeted with a cold headwind out of the North and temperatures in the low 30’s (I show 30 exactly on my Garmin).

Colder Through Laguna Canyon
We thought we were prepared but not for this much cold! As we turned onto El Toro and climbed Aliso Creek the sky had begun to lighten and when the sun peaked out we were able to return to somewhat comfortable temperatures (low to mid 40’s again). The next several miles were fine, a bit more inland riding then back on PCH, still an excellent bike lane, some climbs but overall no problems.

First Checkpoint
We stopped at the bottom of the Cove descent (mile 38, where there is usually a Camino Real checkpoint) to munch some JPF (jersey pocket food), use the restroom and (for me), a couple more ibuprofen and another dab of Ben-Gay to my lower back. Yes, I was feeling some pain but what I’ve noticed about ibuprofen is that it dulls the pain dramatically but does not eliminate it. Okay, fine with me.

Surprise Guests
More coastal riding then, cycling by all the sailboats in the Marina in Dana Point, out along the protected (with K-Rails) bike path along PCH, through San Clemente on the specified bike route (I usually go right through downtown) and out to the entrance of the coastal bike path at the south end of San Clemente, at mile 44. Dee stopped to make a phone call. Steve and I didn’t know why but it soon became apparent that Dee had invited some friends to join us along the way. This was the rendezvous point! We were soon joined by Tony, Margaret, Daniel and Ellen.

We Get Domestiques?
“Okay,” I thought, “This is cool but I wasn’t really expecting to have so much company on the Southern half of this ride!” We all knew each other from previous rides (or doubles) so no introductions were necessary. “Quite funny,” I thought, “amazing that Dee would do this and get so many takers!” Our little group of three was now seven and both Tony and Daniel were more than willing to block the wind for us, i.e. be our “domestiques.”

SAG is Where?
There was much conversation once we all got together and formed a very organized double pace line down the coast path, through San Onofre campground (lots of surfers through here) along to where the path ends at Las Pulgas. This was supposed to be our rendezvous point for meeting our SAG . . . but he wasn’t there. Rob had encountered some unexpectedly dense traffic (this is SoCal after all) so Dee told him to meet us at a Rest Stop along the freeway (plan B) about two miles further. After much waiting at the Rest Stop (no Rob) further calls revealed that he’d missed the exit for the Rest Stop, so plan C was to meet him in Oceanside at the Chevron station.

Food, Drinks, Restroom
Thankfully, after seven miles of riding on the 5 Freeway shoulder (quite legal) we did meet finally meet Rob at the Chevron station in Northern Oceanside, mile 67. There was much conversation here as well, filling of water bottles, munching on some wonderful cookies Dee had baked, rest room stop, etc. and way too long of a stop in my opinion, but eventually yes, we were on the road again. It was a short mile after the station when we turned onto the (very protected) San Luis Rey Bike Trail, which we would ride end to end.

Fixed Gear Again Tony!
Tony was taking some massive pulls here, cruising his fixed gear with massive strength at just over 20 mph as we followed in a long pace line. Dee eventually protested and Tony backed it off to 18 mph, but into the slight headwind, this was definitely fast enough. At the termination of that Trail (mile 74) we were joined by more of Dee’s invited friends; Ana, her boyfriend Robert and our friend Bob Whittier. Again, Dee obviously knew but it was a total surprise to Steve and me. Keeping track here, our seven had now become ten. Here I had envisioned just the three of us all day, whereas now we had a good sized peloton! I guess you just never know. And yes, there were more similar surprises in store.

Have Fun Storming the Castle!
Exiting the bike trail we were back on a two lane road with several sections of not very good pavement and what seemed like an inordinate amount of impatient motorists . . . and an occasional impatient cyclist. One cyclist (on a Tri-Bike) came by us so quickly that Ellen (sarcastically) yelled after him “Have fun storming the castle!” Which I recognized as a quote from the movie Princess Bride. I thought it was great fun and just another example of “you just never know!” Eventually we turned onto the shoulder of highway 76, then quickly dropped down on onto The Old River Road which was much less busy, slightly better surface and bordered by lovely green countryside, courtesy of our recent rains.

SoCal has Turned Green!
Margaret and I were both amazed and impressed with what a little rain can do to otherwise brown and tan vistas. Rain is good. Eventually we reached the climb on old Hwy 395 and from there a short descent and a right turn into lunch at a campground in Bonsol, CA at mile 87.

Irish, Is It?
Rob was already set up there, dressed as a leprechaun for some reason, with burritos for everyone (again, made by Dee) as well as chips, Cokes, more cookies and a properly jovial sense of humor. Lots of photos and foolishness at lunchtime, but with that many crazy cyclists in one place, you kind of expect it! I had a fun discussion with Ellen about The Princess Bride (she did a wonderful impression of Miracle Max) and I received a positively therapeutic back massage from Ana. Amazing what a wonderful masseuse can do and 1. I had no idea Ana had this amazing ability and 2. I didn’t ask for a massage, she could just see that I needed it so came over to me and started in! Yes, I was very grateful.

Climb and Descend Time
Back on the bike, the first thing that greets the riders after lunch is a massive climb. Not super steep but with bits in the 9 and 10% range with a duration of at least a couple of miles. The peloton spread apart here but a nice re-group at the summit got everyone back together again. Rolling hills for the next several miles, more lovely green countryside, relatively easy climbs and fast twisty descents so for sure the most fun part of the double for me. All this comes to an end with a right turn onto old Highway 395 (mile 95) which drops the riders into a long and relatively steep descent. There was a lot of gusty side-wind through here making me regret using my aero Reynolds wheels. It sure kept me alert at 35 plus mph and the bike jumping from side to side! Yes, I could have slowed down but I was also watching the rest of the riders pull away from me and I certainly couldn’t have that! So yes, it was twitchy on that bit, but just on the good side of dangerous . . . at least I tell myself.

Retched Reeche
Thankfully that all bottoms out and a climb begins, a couple of miles at least, which led us to the much feared Reeche Road (mile 100). This climb is just short of double digits (8 and 9%) but seems to last an eternity and after a short descent climbs again. There was more traffic then I remember from previous Reeche rides and no shoulder of course, but thankfully most of the motorists gave us adequate (if not generous) room on the road. From Reeche there was more climbing to Old Stagecoach Road then finally a long descent after a left turn onto Mission. This was a very busy road too but thankfully Mission has a good sized shoulder so we were able to hammer down in relative safety.

Back to the Bike Trail
At the base of Mission (mile 110) we turned right onto the very busy (but nicely shouldered) Hwy 76 which we took all the way back to College and re-entered the San Luis Rey bike path after a short SAG and restroom stop at the beginning of the trail. I took another two ibuprofen and applied more Ben-Gay as well. Still feeling a bit of lower back pain but thankfully not intense. Bob, Ana and Robert said good-bye here, but not before an impromptu birthday celebration (and song!) for Ellen and Tony’s birthdays.

Pace Lining
On the way back to Oceanside it was another long pace line, but very well done by all riders so very safe. It’s so great to be riding with experienced and intelligent riders! The route had us turning off the bike trail before the end and back onto the wide shoulder of Hwy 76, then back on PCH and from there to the Northbound ramp for the 5 freeway. This side seemed to be freer of debris so with strong riders at the front we kept up a solid 20 mph.

Fresh Legs from Curtis!
At the end of the exit ramp is Las Pulgas and this time Rob was waiting for us. I consumed another Coke and several cookies plus a Hammer Gel that had been lounging in my jersey pocket. There to meet us at Los Pulgas was another friend/rider, in the strong and healthy (and rather large) person of Curtis. Curtis is 27, very strong and so large he’s called The Locomotive. And friends, he was. Once we got rolling again Curtis and Tony went to the front of a double pace line and hauled us into a commanding confrontation with the North headwind. Once, Steve went to the front to help pull and was reprimanded by Tony: “Get to the back and draft; you’ll need your energy tonight!”

Plus Linda Adams
As we exited the San Onofre campground we saw my friend Linda Adams riding down to meet us. She had said she might do this earlier in the week but she didn’t sound sure enough for me to count on it. Yet, there she was, so she quickly made a U-turn and joined our group. Cloud cover had moved in by this time (about 4:30 PM) as we exited the bike path and we said good-byes to Tony, Margaret, Ellen and Daniel. I was feeling a bit depressed seeing the end of daylight moving in and knowing we still had about 60 miles to ride (mile 143).

Minus Linda Adams
Now it was Linda and Curtis in addition to Steve, Dee and myself but then that came apart when we stopped at a park in San Juan Capistrano . . . and Linda didn’t stop. I yelled at her as loud as I could be she didn’t hear me. The rest of us gathered around the SAG car (a Camry Hybrid for those curious) getting more to eat, filling water bottles and adding a bit of clothing as the temperatures were back down into the low 50’s by this time. I put my warm cap and gloves back on but left the jacket off knowing we had a long climb (Antonio Parkway) ahead of us. I also took two more Ibuprofen and applied Ben-Gay because, well, it seemed to be working earlier in the ride so why stop now?

Back Into the Darkness
We had a tricky left turn to make from Ortega Highway onto Antonio but fortunately the traffic gods were smiling on us and there was a large enough break in (rather heavy) traffic to allow us to get through. It was full-on dark now, headlight on, rear lights (one steady, one flashing) on and hoping to be as reflective as possible. Big picture, though, Antonio has a nice bike lane the whole way and while there was a lot of traffic, we didn’t have a single incident with the motorists.

Ten Miles Mostly Up
It was just a matter of grinding through the climb. Antonio is ten miles long (Ortega to Santa Margarita) with a steep couple of miles right after Ortega and two short descents along the way. After that first bit it slackens out to 2-3% grade so really, not bad at all. It’s just long. And there are a lot of traffic lights. With 140+ miles on my legs I was feeling a bit fatigued as well. As if that weren’t enough, I was already dreading the Very Steep Live Oak climb that I knew awaited us after we’d conquered Antonio.

Another SAG Stop
And so it came to pass, with a little gallows humor spiced with a dash of Grim Determination we eventually reached the summit of Antonio to find the SAG car waiting for us in the parking lot of the local Jack In the Box. I ate another burrito and some tortilla chips, drank yet another Coke (this one room temperature since I really didn’t want anything cold at this point) ate a couple more cookies and put on my jacket. I tried to get my psyche up for Live Oak. It’s a steep climb that just gets steeper as it goes. It’s a narrow road with far too much traffic and of course no shoulder. But it’s part of the course so what are you going to do? Oh, this was at mile 166.

Live Oak Climb
The first part is actually a twisty descent with four switchbacks which drops you onto the floor of Trabuco Canyon. Then it’s mostly flat for a mile or two before the first hints of the climb start. Switch down a gear, ride another half mile, switch down another gear, repeat. I was riding with Steve and Curtis was back with Dee. At some point about of the way up (pretty darn steep!) I went to switch down a gear and found I didn’t have any left. Stupidly I thought “There must be one more left!” I pressed the shifter extra-hard and heard the heart-breaking sound of the chain going over low gear (32t) and into the spokes. I clipped out and stopped. I didn’t know how bad it was but luckily, not too bad. I shifted 2 gears higher (lower numerically), rotated the pedals and mercifully the chain popped back onto the cassette. Then I shifted one gear lower, rotated the crank arms again and heard the reassuring sound of the chain snapping into place on the 28t cassette cog.

Summiting Live Oak
Next challenge: Getting back on the bike and getting it moving on a very steep bit of roadway (while in my 28t . . . I think). “I can do this!” I told myself. Actually I was about 50/50 but I had to give it a try. Luckily (again) I got going and got my right pedal/cleat clipped in too. Now I just had to suffer through the next half mile or so to the summit. Which I did. There was a long descent on the other side and that was fun, even if I was over-riding my lights by quite a bit.

Santiago Canyon
The SAG car was waiting for us at the next intersection, parked at Cook’s Corner a (Motor-Cycle) biker bar. I had time to text my wife “@ cooks corner” while waiting for Dee and Curtis to descend Live Oak. Once Dee and Curtis rejoined we took off on Santiago Canyon, a local cycling route we all know well, 12 miles long with about 2,000 feet of elevation loss from this side. I don’t often ride it in the dark, other than Camino Real Double nights. Yes, there are three small climbs from this side too but after what we’d been through, these were pretty much peanuts.

Easy From Here!
Santiago to Jamboree (mile 184) which is mostly a descent, Jamboree to Portola (very minor climbs and slight descents), then a right onto Sand Canyon and a very gentle descent into the finish (mile 196.3) just before 9:30 PM. The way the rules are written, anything over 190 miles qualifies as a double. Sometimes I just ride around the area to get a full 200 on my Garmin but this was not one of those times.

In the End
Overall a fun and adequately challenging ride and a good welcome back after a year away from the California doubles scene. Thanks to Dee’s husband Rob for the excellent SAG work and thanks to Dee for the excellent cookies and burritos.

Epilogue
Post Ride: I got a text from Linda “Where are you?” I text back “@ La Quinta.” She texts: “Me too. Want to have breakfast at Denny’s?” I knew I had to have coffee before the hour plus drive home so I text back “Sure, see you there in a few minutes.” After breakfast I was able to drive home safely, listening to classical music that kept me awake and arriving home just before midnight. I really did manage to take a shower and get into bed without waking my wife! It had been a long day though. I slept until 7:00 AM, got up and ate another breakfast, then went back to bed until noon. Not feeling totally recovered, but close!

Strava Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/879926927

Any questions?

Rick / OCRR
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Old 03-01-17, 10:53 PM
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More power to 'ya.
Loved your reports in the past.
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Old 03-02-17, 04:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Rick@OCRR
Still Nervous After All These Years
I know that after 75 doubles I shouldn’t be nervous before the start but having taken a year off, plus having continued pain in my lower back, it was questionable in my mind whether I’d finish this . . . or not.
I know the feeling. After all the long rides I've done, you'd think I'd be relaxed about the rides I do. Nope. Major butterflies, dry mouth ...


Well done on the ride!
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Old 03-02-17, 09:01 AM
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Originally Posted by [B
Machka[/B];19412894]I know the feeling. After all the long rides I've done, you'd think I'd be relaxed about the rides I do. Nope. Major butterflies, dry mouth ...
Well done on the ride!

Hi Machka,


Good to hear it's not just me! My next double is Solvang Spring on March 18th and hopefully I'll be more relaxed and confident before that one. Planet Ultra | Cycling Events and Tours Solvang Double Century


I'm already paid and have my motel booked for Solvang so it should be a fun day on the bike !


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Old 03-02-17, 09:36 AM
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Great writing, as usual. Thanks.
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Old 03-02-17, 10:08 AM
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Wonderful ride log - superbly organized riders, and suprise additions when you need them. I've got two envious knees here.

Don't you just hate it when you think that you've another gear and end up in the spokes? It's really the only weakness in modern mechanical shift components, that you can't tell when you're at the bottom without taking a quick look, and that's not always safely done at night or when pushed to the limit. A simple "limit" detector light so one can see when there ain't no more on the low side. Tiny switch on the low limit stop should do it.
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Old 03-02-17, 10:22 AM
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Originally Posted by CrankyFranky
Wonderful ride log - superbly organized riders, and suprise additions when you need them. I've got two envious knees here.
Agreed. Having done only one DC (back in 1972), I am always impressed by the escapades of Rick et al., and I always enjoy reading his posts.

Originally Posted by CrankyFranky
Don't you just hate it when you think that you've another gear and end up in the spokes? It's really the only weakness in modern mechanical shift components, that you can't tell when you're at the bottom without taking a quick look, and that's not always safely done at night or when pushed to the limit. A simple "limit" detector light so one can see when there ain't no more on the low side. Tiny switch on the low limit stop should do it.
Another good argument for good ol' barcons, downtube levers, or thumbies -- you can always tell right where you are just from the feel of the gear change levers.
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Old 03-02-17, 10:32 AM
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Originally Posted by CrankyFranky
W
Don't you just hate it when you think that you've another gear and end up in the spokes? It's really the only weakness in modern mechanical shift components, that you can't tell when you're at the bottom
I have Chorus on one bike and you can easily feel when you're in the lowest gear because there is no resistance at the lever. Also, if your stop screw is adjusted correctly you won't end up in the spokes, normally.
On my Shimano bike the lever gets higher resistance in the lowest gear, (because the cable is at it's end of travel), but you can still try to force it against the limit.

I think the last time I shifted into the spokes was on my friction bar-end bike, likely because the aforementioned stop-screw was not adjusted correctly.
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Old 03-02-17, 11:27 AM
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Great write up, Rick! 30 degrees sounds flippin cold to me too.

Are you planning on doing the Inyo DC? I'm gonna be there, and try to tack on some skiing at the end of it.
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Old 03-02-17, 12:05 PM
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Originally Posted by big john
Also, if your stop screw is adjusted correctly you won't end up in the spokes, normally


You are correct John!


A few weeks ago I was working on that bike (KHS Team) and it wouldn't go into the 32t so I backed off the limit bolt half a turn. Still wouldn't go into the 32t so I re-tightened the shift cable and then, yes, it went into the 32 just fine!


But . . . did I go back and adjust the stop bolt in again? Obviously not!


So I have no one to blame but myself . . . Luckily the result was not tragic but you know . . . I still have to adjust that stop bolt in half a turn one of these days!


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Old 03-02-17, 12:27 PM
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Good adventure shared with friends. Fortunately, I'm way too old to for that kind of adventure.
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Old 03-03-17, 12:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Biker395
Great write up, Rick! 30 degrees sounds flippin cold to me too.
Are you planning on doing the Inyo DC? I'm gonna be there, and try to tack on some skiing at the end of it.
That's still a maybe Victor. I need to phone Peg Miller and get her input, so I'm not saying yes, but I'm not saying no.

Will advise.

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Old 03-03-17, 05:52 AM
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Hey, I enjoyed reading that. Do another.
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Old 03-03-17, 12:45 PM
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Good job! Thanks for sharing. Impressive.
I hope to do some metric centuries this year.........................
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Old 03-03-17, 05:23 PM
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First Time I have seen one of your reports of the rides you complete, very impressed with the detail. Thanks
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Old 03-03-17, 06:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Rick@OCRR
That's still a maybe Victor. I need to phone Peg Miller and get her input, so I'm not saying yes, but I'm not saying no.

Will advise.

Rick / OCRR
OK ... before 3/5 there is a discounted entry.

Hope the winds behave this year.
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Old 03-03-17, 09:20 PM
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Incredibly gallant ride, Rick. Very inspiring. Thank you for bringing us along with you in the writing up!
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Old 03-05-17, 01:06 PM
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Originally Posted by JanMM
Good job! Thanks for sharing. Impressive.
I hope to do some metric centuries this year.........................
A Metric is a good place to start. As you build a good mileage base you can work up to a full century, then a double Metric and eventually you'll be ready for a full double-century!

As you build your endurance base you'll find that as long as you stay hydrated and well fed your legs will keep going, no problem.

You can do it!

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Old 03-05-17, 06:16 PM
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Great post! I haven't attempted a double since I failed the DMD. I keep telling myself I need to try another, but I feel a bit less strong every year, even though I still put in 7000 miles a year, it's mostly daily commuting, and even that's getting slower. I must need a new bike....
Anyway, congrats! Well done, and a good report (as always)
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Old 03-06-17, 11:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Biker395
OK ... before 3/5 there is a discounted entry.
Hope the winds behave this year.
Hi Vic, Had a long conversation with Peg Miller about Southern Inyo and the Final Answer is no. She's doing it but only because she's on the hunt for her California Triple Crown Hall of Fame (50 or more doubles) jersey.

Yes, I'm half way to my 100 but since there's no jersey for that . . . and after the weather conditions from last year, I'm going to pass on this one!

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