Archive for October, 2010

New Mexico Enchanted Circle Ride

| October 29, 2010 6:50 am

by Carol Borders

There is often a type of tour that is not written about – The organized let them take care of the details trip. In late September I was on such a ride with Bicycle Adventures. The trip took us from Santa Fe New Mexico to Taos. This was a fully supported inn to inn trip. No roughing it for me! These trips are like taking a lot of day rides in areas you may not have explored as yet. This trip was the nicest trip of the 16 I have taken to date.

We (15 riders 2 guides) met Sunday morning in Santa Fe and were taken to the town of Lamy to set our bicycles and ride back to Santa Fe. I rented a Marin hybrid bicycle for the week. It was by far the best rental bicycle I have had the pleasure of using. Our tour guides Nate and Dave did a great job of setting up our bicycles for comfort and needs of each participant.

On Monday we started the day with a hike thru the Bandelier National Monument Park. There are cliff dwellings in the park and you can get to them via 140 feet of ladder climbing. This is the way the Indians had to carry everything to their residence. After the hike we took a short ride to Chimayo.

On Tuesday morning we started with a demonstration of Indian blanket weaving at Ortega’s Weaving Shop. There they continue to dye their own wool and weave various items. Then we were on our way to Taos our home for the next three nights.

Wednesday was our rest day in Taos. We started the day with a raft trip down the Rio Grande River. Not being a seasoned rafter I was glad to hear the river was low and that it was probably rated only a class II. We had great guides on the river and some splashing of course from other rafters. We all made it safely to the finish of the trip. In the afternoon some of us took a bicycle ride, some took a hike on Diviserdero Trail and some relaxed. That evening we had a margarita party and played “Center, Left, Right”. If you have not played this game I can fill you in on the rules etc. It was great fun.

On Thursday we cycled part or all of the Enchanted Circle. The full ride was 85 miles. I did not do all of it! Once again the sag wagon was available for the pesky mountain passes.

On Friday we started the day with a visit to the Rio Grande Gorge then were sagged to the top of Taos ski area for an almost downhill ride to Millicent Rogers Museum for lunch. The one hill we rode was difficult at altitude to I walked up it. At the top of the hill I was suppose to make a left hand turn which I missed. Finally I realized I was off course. I stopped a fellow cyclist (not on our trip) to check my directions and was told he had seen my group in Arroyo Seco and if I stayed on this road I would see them. So off I went and sure enough I ended up in Arroyo Seco but no group of riders. I then made a right hand turn and found myself immediately out of town. I returned to Arroyo Seco to get correct directions from the locals. They told me the group was down in Arroyo Seco so I started off to find them. There was no one in Arroyo Seco so I set out for lunch where I found the rest of the group

After lunch we visited the Taos Pueblo. This pueblo is 1300 years old and the oldest, longest occupied personal dwelling in the country. Our Indian guide told us about the pueblo and Indian culture. Even though the pueblo is still occupied there is no electricity or indoor plumbing in the pueblo. Most of the residents also have homes outside of the pueblo.

After our visit our group split up as some of them were returning to Santa Fe and the rest to Albuquerque for our return home.

This was probably the best-organized trip I have ever had the pleasure of participating in. Our guides were so well tuned to what needed to be done they never lost a beat in keeping us on the road. The accommodations were the best. We ate at some great restaurants and lunches on the road were varied and plentiful.

Bicycle Adventures does trips on the west coast of the United States and Hawaii. I would highly recommend them.

Bucket List

| October 24, 2010 12:32 pm
Bucket List

by Marcia Morrison

In 2003, three avid cyclists, Paul Greene, Ray Low, and John Mazzella rode three double centuries to earn the Triple Crown Award. Ever since then I thought that someday I’d like to see if I could accomplish such a feat.  Comments I heard were: “Double centuries really aren’t that much fun.” (That one kept from trying sooner).”You’d better do it soon, because it doesn’t get any easier.” At that time I was meeting other challenges, so it was put off but still in the back of my mind.

The year of 2009 started out great, but took a turn for the worse.  Just four days after returning from the National Time Trials I was hit with a gut-wrenching stomach ache. I went to the emergency room 4 times, was misdiagnosed twice, hospitalized for 13 days, had 5 internal abscesses and almost every “itis” possible, lost 25 lbs., and had to wait 4 months for an operation to make sure all the inflammation was down.

Finally in November I started riding slowly on my own.  I gradually picked up my mileage and started following a century training program. There aren’t many centuries in the winter, so even though I wasn’t up to 25 miles I found myself signing up for the Solvang Double Century.  I followed a training program I found online and knew I had to follow it religiously.  On the long rides I plodded along at a snail-like pace.  I felt comfortable with that because the program said to ride the long rides slowly.  The shorter rides were to be ridden faster, but that didn’t happen.  I was still down 15 lbs., so I thought my hill climbing would be faster, but when you put a large pack on the back of your bike and fill it with V-8 juice, power bars, tools, etc. the weight loss advantage wasn’t that much.

With my tortoise pace I really wasn’t sure I’d make the 17 hour cut-off time.  I figured I would either just make it or miss it.  You can imagine my surprise when at the first rest stop my average speed was 3 mph faster than my training speed.  I guess the adrenaline kicked in.   I thought my average speed would drop, but it remained consistent throughout the ride.  I even had several hours to spare before the cut-off time and finished just before it got dark.  Life was good again!

Spring Solvang Double

  • Highlights-Foxen Canyon Rd. was the first big climb.  Had lush, green hills, wildflowers, little traffic, great weather, enjoyed the small towns of Morro Bay, San Luis Obispo, Pismo Beach, perfect weather.  Reststops were frequent with Subway sandwiches for lunch. Friendly riders througout the ride.  Tailwind for much of the finish.  Leapfroged with 2 guys and finished with them.
  • Lowlights-Rough roads, lost my taillight. A 1500 ft., 3 mile climb near the end of the ride with the descent having mega potholes and cracks.

Davis Double

  • Highlights-Temperature can be deadly, but wasn’t.  Reststops were frequent, great food.  Nice seeing vineyards, Lake Berryessa, Chiles and Pope Valley Rd. had rolling hills with little traffic.
  • Lowlights-Of course there were many friendly riders, but was it just my mood or were there too many rides with a sense of superiority?  Most of the roads had too much traffic with trailers, boats, etc.

Knoxville Double

The Fall Solvang Double was going to be my 3rd double, but I signed up late for the Knoxville Double just in case I couldn’t make it to Solvang or some disaster happened during that ride.  Originally, I was going to do this ride, but I didn’t like the Davis Double and the middle of this ride has a section of the Davis Double in reverse.  Anyway,  I’m not sure I want to start this challenge over again next year, so I wasn’t going to take any chances.  Training wise I wasn’t ready, but I adjusted my training schedule and thought of this as a training ride.

  • Highlights-Friendly riders, beautiful ride up Howell Mtn, can see a view of all the hot air balloons.  Howell turned into White Cottage Rd. and again continued for 4 miles, with a pretty descent into Pope Valley. Was complimented by a guy who told me I did a “hell” of a pull on Silverado Trail, thought for sure you’d pull off and tell us to go by.  Six guys were drafting behind me?!  Had the best volunteers, were plentiful and were always in sight and provided water stops between reststops.
  • Lowlights-Went to bed at 9:30 pm, arose at 1:30 am, left the house at 2:30 am, started riding at 4:30 am.
    Knoxville Rd. was a long climb in the heat.  Had a flat just before the summit of Knoxville Rd.  Climbing Loch Lomond Rd. after lunch in the heat was a challenge and 4 miles seemed like an eternity,  heard it was 106 degrees.  Could have BONKED, but took care of myself, stopped, rested, ate, and drank.

Fall Solvang Double

Instead of being my 3rd double it is now my 4th and a bonus ride.  I came down with a cold the week before and it would have been easy to skip it.  I had paid for it, had a reservation and since I liked the Spring Solvang Double  I decided to ride it.  Persistence has gotten me through many challenges, but it has also got me into trouble.

Everything was going great and was enjoying it as much as the spring double except the lush, green hills are now brown with no wildflowers.  The signup was small and I heard the 20 riders DNS.  The crowds were small at all the reststops.  At the reststop before lunch we were told that there was a traffic fatality and they would reroute us, but the volunteer had no other information.  I was 70 miles from that point with the next stop being lunch, so I figured the traffic accident would be cleared by the time I got there.  At the lunch stop there were 3 volunteers and only a handful of riders.  It would have been the perfect opportunity for them to tell us what was ahead of us.  I even complimented a volunteer on how well marked the course was and she assured me that would continue.  Off I went and finally when I got to the Pismo Beach area traffic was still backed up and I followed the yellow arrows onto 101.  Here’s where my nightmare began.  I thought I was on 101/1 and there were no arrows or direction as to when we got off, so I kept going and going.  Needless to say, my life was at risk riding on 101 with merging and exiting traffic.  Finally, I stopped under a sign and called the ride contact, and told him where I was.  He told me to keep going and enjoy the ride, so on I went for another few miles.  Then I saw another rider on the side of the road tallking to the ride contact.  We were on 101, not 1 and had to cross both the south and north bound lanes, another dangerous incident.  The contact told us to take an exit I saw going south, but unfortunately that exit didn’t exist going north, so we ended up at our original point onto 101.  Now we’re told to go down to the beach and walk a 1/4 mile until we hit Hwy. 1  We didn’t want to do that so we ended up doing what we should have done the 1st time.

We finally got the the turn on Costa Mesa Rd. which I had been looking for far too long.  The guy I was with said we’d probably not make the cut-off time of midnight, since we went approximately 24 extra miles and had wasted time trying to figure our way back on course.  I didn’t care if we got sagged in since I had already earned the Triple Crown Award, but the poor guy I was with had more at stake as this was to be his 3rd double.  I offered to ride with him and to give it a try, but he wasn’t up to it.

It was 8:00 pm when I got sagged in.  It felt good to take a shower and have a nice hot dinner with Al and missing the ride in a night time drizzle.

I am lucky I didn’t “kick the bucket” on this ride because another scary incident was on our return on 101 I hit a rumble strip and had trouble getting out of it and veered out onto the freeway.

  • Highlights-Lots of the same scenery on the spring double, but is significantly more challenging with more climbing.
  • Lowlights-Didn’t finish which is still bugging me.  Already mentioned my 101 adventure.  Not enough volunteers or direction.

Final thoughts

I don’t dare say this is my last double century, because I said that 18 times about running marathons.  My favorite double was the Spring Solvang Double Century.  Now, I can check the Triple Crown Award off my bucket list.


Finally Finished Four Hundred – Bass Lake QUAD

| 12:11 pm

By: Cristin Sohm (Pinkie)

I’ve had a burning desire to do a quadruple century ever since I completed the triple century at the Grand Tour in June. I tried for a quad at Knoxville 2 weeks ago, but it wasn’t my day. With 5 flat tires, temperatures in the triple digits, 21k feet of climbing, and rattle snakes freaking me out in the middle of the night, I abandoned with 300 miles.

So here we are two weeks later and my husband says I can go to one more cycling event. The wheels start turning “What if….”.  My daughter, Mellissa, plans the whole thing before I can even say I’m going to Bass Lake. We left about 8am on Friday morning. We arrived in Clovis and had a leisure lunch at Togos, changed into my cycling clothes and headed to the Veterans Hall. After lots of hugs and kisses of support from my daughter, I rolled at noon. Mellissa sometimes drove behind me and sometimes drove ahead to the next turn and waited for me. It was incredible to have her support.

We had made a goal of trying to keep me on the bike as much as humanly possible to save time. We had never tried handing me food or bottles while on the bike and we were excited and nervous to give it a try. At mile 11 I needed a nature break. We were already out in the secluded areas and I didn’t want to waste time. I pulled over on the side of the road and squatted to pee. I’ve never done that before. I was feeling pretty proud of myself and like a pro cyclist 😉

At mile 35, I had an average speed of 18.4 and was feeling great. We had decided to change the course, not taking me up the hills at Powerhouse so that I wouldn’t be descending steep grades in the middle of the night all alone. At mile 52 I was already descending the steep Maxson hill that had 14% grade of climbing. There were tons of tarantulas on the roads. Mellissa even stopped to take some photos of them. For some reason there weren’t nearly as many of them the next day, maybe they enjoyed having one cyclist on the road vs tons of cyclists.

At mile 70 we found more 14% grade climbing at Nicholas hill. I had been doing really well with eating and drinking which can be difficult for me on the long rides. I was not using my Sustained Energy bottles and instead trying to get food in me since the heat wasn’t nearly as bad as Knoxville. Mellissa was in charge of handing me bottles and food while I kept rolling. We actually got really good at it. At one point I told her she didn’t have to smash the bottle into my hand quite as hard and she laughed and said that she just holds the bottle out, but the force of me riding by and grabbing it was smashing it into my hand. Mental note, slow down a bit while grabbing bottles 😉 I kept my bento box empty and the food she gave me I put either in the bento box or into my back pockets on my jersey and ate while I kept riding.

My toes were hurting by this point. I think that was the only part of me that hadn’t fully healed from Knoxville. I’ve never had this happen before, but in Knoxville, all my toes went completely numb and stayed that way for a week after the event. I think it was from all the vibration of the rough roads on the pressure points of the bottom of my feet. At one point while I was riding, I had to unclip my shoe from my pedal and rest my foot on the top tube of my bicycle while pedaling with the other foot just to give my foot a rest from the pedal.

At mile 87 we were out of the hills and on our way back to Clovis to the start. I needed to register/check-in, so we worked that into the route. At mile 93 we were back at the start and I had only been off the bike for a maximum of 2 minutes for a nature break at mile 11. All the rest of time, I had stayed on the bike. I was really proud of that. We decided to stop and register at the Veterans Hall. I walked in and someone said “are you the one they call Pinkie?” and it turned out to be Steve from mutual cycling friends on Facebook and Alfie & Lisa who volunteered at Knoxville. Alfie had remembered that I tried for the quad at Knoxville, so they wished me good luck at trying again.

After registering, Mellissa and I stopped and ate the other half of our sandwich we had earlier from Togos and chatted about the day. We had a very nice break and I read all the text messages that my friends and family had been sending me to support my crazy goal. Burcu sent messages often saying “you will complete the quad this time. I know it” and Cindi wrote “call if you need to, otherwise just ride that pink beast like the wind!” Mom said “please be safe”. Hubby said “good luck” and Nick said “way to go Mom!” Other messages of support from David, Leo, Mike & John too. I knew people were praying for me.

I put on my jacket, knee warmers, arm warmers, and all my lights and I was ready to roll again. At mile 125 I had an average speed of 15.7. I told Mellissa that I was thankful the only wildlife was frogs, crickets, snakes and tarantulas compared to all the critters at Knoxville. Unfortunately I spoke too soon and had a couple of dogs think that I was their dinner as they chased me down the road.

At mile 150 I was tired, sore and getting cranky. I wanted to be done with the night riding. I really have never cared for that part when I’m alone. I don’t seem to mind it quite as much when there are other cyclists on the road, but when their snuggled up in bed and I’m stupid enough to be out on the road, it gets old! I kept plugging along knowing that if I could keep my average speed up, I would likely get a little time for a nap before the official start of the 2nd half.

At mile 170 we finally got to start the 30 mile trek back into the city of Clovis. I was keeping a good pace, hoping for a nap if we could finish before 4am.

At mile 187 Mellissa leaned out the window and said “13 miles left to go, you’re doing great and we’re almost there!!!” I unclipped, pulled my tired leg over the bike and said, “that’s it, I’m done”. Mellissa’s little face looked worried as she said “that was supposed to motivate you” and I said “I really appreciate it, but I know there is no way I can stay awake for another 13 miles”.  I was slurring my speech, freezing cold, and couldn’t even stand up without falling over. I was very literally about to fall asleep on my bike and I knew it. Mellissa knew me well enough to know that if I could have stayed awake the last 13 miles, I would have completed it then and there. It just wasn’t going to happen safely. Mellissa loaded up my bike and we started our way back to Clovis. I finished with an average speed of 15.8 and 11 hours 51 minutes moving time and just under 13 hours total time with the sandwich break and registering.

Along the drive, I called my ultra-distance cycling superstar friend, Cindi Staiger. I seemed to need approval for abandoning with only 13 miles left to go. Cindi agreed that it was the safe decision and boosted me up for what I had accomplished. Along the way, we found a stray dog with a collar that was lost. Mellissa being the ultimate animal rescuer that she is, insisted on stopping and coaxing the dog to her. I was beyond tired and not thinking clearly. The dog ended up jumping into the car with me and giving me kisses. Mellissa called the number on the dog’s collar and described to the lady where we were in the middle of the night and then we waited for the lady to come pick up her dog. Unfortunately this was eating away at the very limited amount of sleep time we had left, but it was the right thing to do.

When we got back to town, Mellissa took me somewhere to change my clothes. I can’t for the life of me remember where that was being as tired as I was, but I got out of my sweaty cycling clothes and into pajamas. Mellissa and I curled up in the car at about 1:45am and fell fast asleep.

At 3:30am my alarm went off for more cycling. I think that’s when I felt like the most stupid person in the world. Seriously, how insane in this! I wanted to just drive home and really had no desire to go and do it all again. My legs had tightened up during the 1 hour 45 minute nap and it was cold and dark and I didn’t want to do anymore. I went through the motions of getting ready in hopes that it would get better. Knowing that I would have the opportunity to ride with Patty & Clyde made it more appealing since I enjoy both of them very much and their very even style of cycling. I knew they would get me through it. I was in my pink pajamas camped outside the Veterans Hall. I grabbed my cycling clothes and toothbrush and headed inside the Veterans Hall. Amazingly I saw the same couple of people that I had seen the night before and they asked me how I did during the night. I told them that I only got in 187 miles, not the 200 I was hoping for. They seemed to think I’d be able to pull it off today. Why is it that others always have so much more faith in my ability than I do? I let it pump me up enough to at least get into my cycling clothes.

I was supposed to meet Patty & Clyde at 4:30 at the Veterans Hall, but I guess Clyde had two flat tires the night before and again this morning. Oh boy, that’s not a good sign! I tried to not let it worry me that it was a sign of what was to come. Clyde, Patty and her boyfriend, Richard, showed up just before 5am and checked in. Deborah & David Hoag were there too. I gave out a few tubes since they had so much trouble with flat tires that morning and I had extras in the car. Mellissa went to sleep and then enjoyed the day with her fiancé, Irik Edmonds, in Bass Lake where they will be getting married next summer. I thanked her for all her help the prior night and the group rolled at 5:08am for the 2nd half.

We missed at least one turn in the pitch dark morning. A SAG vehicle came up alongside us and told us we were going the wrong way. Somehow the group heard the SAG and I was up front and missed hearing it and they all turned around and I kept going an extra mile. Too tired to think clearly I guess. Thankfully they all waited for me as I figured out that there weren’t any lights behind me and turned around and prayed that I would find them again. Unfortunately this meant that our mileage was off from the route sheet the rest of the day, but it turned out that EVERYONE had missed turns and unmarked roads and difficulties with the route. While I’m sure it was frustrating for most, for me it just meant less mileage I would have to add on at the end of the ride! J

We were making good time as a group and it was really enjoyable to have extra cyclists out on the dark roads. At mile 70 (260 for me) at 10:12 am we started toward the hills. The beginning of the hills I had remembered from climbing them the night before. It was nice to be able to tell the group to gear down for the upcoming hill that it would hit 11% grade and then jump to 14% grade.  At some point I got a bad cramp in my right calf. I ate part of a banana and took some endurolytes and it worked itself out. Patty chatted cheerfully during most of the ride. I was very thankful for her chatting. The night before riding alone felt very lonely. I had been thankful to have Mellissa with me, but having a cyclist next to you chatting makes a big difference.

At 1:33pm we hit the lunch stop at mile 110 (300 for me). I waited for quite a while for Clyde to make sure he didn’t miss the turn, but it turned out that he had gotten a flat. Since I’m usually longer at the stops, I went and ate a sandwich and chatted with other riders. Scott Halverson, the coordinator for the Knoxville ride, was there along with some of the volunteers I had met at Knoxville. Lunch was great. I had a very simple sandwich, but everything tasted delicious. Clyde came in and worked on his bike a bit more and ate lunch. Patty & Richard decided to start up the hills so they could take their time and I did some texting and rested while waiting for Clyde. Cindi sent me a text saying “very proud of you for getting back out there to do the 2nd double today! What great will and determination, and independence” there was more, but it was cut off from the limited text characters. We left the lunch stop about 2:10pm.

The Bass Lake course is back-end loaded which means that the first 70 miles were completely flat, followed by miles 70-160 of LOTS of climbing and then rollers and flat into the finish. When we left the lunch stop there was a long descent and then a whole bunch of climbing. The climb up Powerhouse was especially difficult. The grade was manageable, but it was long and tiring. The temperature hit 91 degrees and I saw several people sag on this climb. When it got really difficult or I was showing signs of frustration, Clyde quoted scripture for me. Inspirational stories from the bible. It was exactly what I needed to get me through. While we were climbing, we saw David Hoag coming the opposite way in a strong descent. He is fast and strong and was on course to finish in probably 12-13 hours total time. Oh and by the way, he was on a fixed gear bike!

Toward the top of the climb, I got stung by a bee inside my jersey. We saw Joan Grant Deitchman coming the opposite way (descending) about that time. She was riding really strong, especially considering she just finished Furnace Creek 508 solo a couple weeks ago!

We hit the 4th rest stop at mile 131 (321 for me) at 4:46pm. We hit the 6th rest stop at mile 185 (375 for me) at 9:14pm. Everything was aching at that point, but it felt really good to be almost done. About this time I started seeing things. My eye contacts were dry and the right one was very cloudy causing starbursts and other weird sights. Several times it looked like the plants and trees on the right hand side of the road were crouching down and then would spring up and start spinning around. I thought maybe I was having hallucinations like Ken Emerson did on the Furnace Creek 508, but I knew it was just that faulty contact… or did I? At one point I was convinced there was a large paper bag on Clyde’s foot. I had to really convince myself that it wasn’t real!

We finished the 2nd half of the ride (203 miles) about 10:15pm with Clyde, Patty, Richard and myself. David Hoag was there too, already out of cycling clothes and looking very fresh. I think he finished about 4 hours earlier! He certainly didn’t look like he had just ridden 200 miles, let alone on a fixed gear bike! I ran into the Veterans Hall to check in really quickly and then I left to go finish up the last 11 miles that I would need to complete the quad. I hoped Clyde & Patty would still be there when I finished. We finished with an average speed of 13.8. Cycling time 14:47, total time 17:12.

I think I cried the entire last 11 miles. I was so excited to know that I was about to conquer my goal! I knew it was a waste of energy to be crying, but I couldn’t help myself. Mellissa was laughing at me in the car. Those last 11 miles went really fast. When I rode back into the Veterans Hall, Patty and Clyde hugged me and a bunch of people asked me if I finished my goal. It was very exciting! We sat together and ate some dinner and chatted about the day and the obstacles of the course.

We left about midnight for the long drive home. Mellissa had slept during the early morning and another nap during the day, but being up all night Friday night wiped her out. She ended up waking me up on the way home to get me to talk to her to keep her awake while driving us home. I don’t remember a single thing we talked about. I’m sure I slurred my way through it. I was so beyond tired. She was such a superstar in coaxing me to try again at Bass Lake. I couldn’t have done it without her.

The pains that I felt the next day after the 401 miles were pretty intense. My quads were extremely tight and sore, even to the touch. My knees ached, my shoulders and neck were on fire from holding my head up for 30 hours on the bike. My toes are completely numb. My quadriceps muscles were so sore that I couldn’t use them to lower my body onto the toilet. I had to hold one hand on the counter and one hand on the bathtub to lower my body onto the toilet. Ouch! Advil was my new best friend. I took a lot of Advil on Sunday and a pretty good amount on Monday. By Tuesday I thought I was completely better and I scrubbed my whole house, vacuumed, cleaned, you name it, it got done. I then went to Yoga & Pilates class and I thought my teacher had a personal vendetta out to torture me. Have you ever tried balancing Yoga poses without any feeling in your toes?! I still had a lot more healing to do!

I’m blessed that I’ve been able to do a lot of different rides in my training. I ride about 3 times a week with the weekday group. They ride about 25-35 miles in the morning and they go out really strong, but then they also enjoy the socialization and the coffee break in between. Then I also ride 1 day on the weekend with the Long Distance Training Ride (LDTR) folks. I call them the Weekend Warriors. They ride hard and fast and are way out of my league. Everyone fends for themselves on those rides and you’re lucky if they stop to eat. I’ve also been blessed to always find someone willing to ride with me on the doubles. These rides are out of my league too, but my one saving grace is that I’m good at saving energy and feeling strong at the end of the long ride. Now I’ve done two rides that I rode alone the night before the event to add mileage in hopes of completing my personal goal. It’s not social like the weekday rides, it’s not a grind yourself into the ground ride like the LDTR’s and it’s not even like the regular double because it’s lonely and scary. I couldn’t have done it without Mellissa, there’s no doubt about that. I’m glad it’s done though and the burning desire for a quad is gone. Goal accomplished and it feels good!

2010 Events

  • LiveStrong Challenge – 100 miles, raised $1,346.00 against the battle of Cancer
  • Davis Double – 200 miles
  • Grand Tour Triple – 300 miles
  • Knoxville – 300 miles
  • Bass Lake – 400 miles
  • California Triple Crown Winner

What an amazing year! Thanks to all my friends and family for your incredible support!!!

Bass Lake Quad

  • Miles: 401
  • Climb: 16,010 feet
  • Total moving time: 26:38
  • Total rest stop time: 3:25
  • Total sleep time: 1:45
  • Average speed 14.8
  • Max speed 40.1
  • Average heart rate 132
  • Max heart rate 164
  • Max temperature 91 degrees

Santa Cruz to Monterey

| October 5, 2010 8:20 pm

by Franz Kelsch, photos by Lane Parker

For the third time this year we joined a club ride, led by Lane Parker, that started in Santa Cruz and headed down to Monterey. Our last adventure was in July when we had a tire on our tandem fail. Unlike the prior two times we did this route, Anne wanted to ride her single bike. Since we bought her a new bike in February, we have not been using the tandem nearly as much. While we were in Utah, we didn’t even bring the tandem along. After returning to California, we did take the tandem out for one ride, but it seemed heavy and we were not use to the saddles. So we decided it would be best to ride what we are use to. This would therefore be Anne’s longest ride on a single bike.

Although it was now October, the weather was just as warm as in July. There was a large turnout, as in the prior two times, maybe about 20 riders.

The route started out along Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz, right next to the ocean.

There were a few modifications to the route but it basically was the same. We took the roads that kept us close to the ocean where we had a great view.

After leaving Santa Cruz and making our way through Capitola, we started to head a bit inland, taking us through farm land near Salinas. This is our least favorite part of the ride because of the winds and all the farm vehicles on the road which is a bit covered with smashed down blobs of dirt.

From there we went through the Elkhorn Slough Preserve. At Castroville, the “Artichoke Capital”, we had a brief ride on the freeway until we were able to get on a bike trail. From there it was mostly on bike trails for the remaining 15 miles to Monterey. Most of the bike trail was right along the ocean.

As we were riding along the bike trail it was still overcast and you could even see the fog rolling along. We had a headwind and that section seemed to go on forever. We had removed our arm warmers early in the ride but the temperature was now cool, but we decided to keep riding and not bother to stop to add more clothes. Just before we reached Fisherman’s Wharf the sky was clearing and it was now sunny. At Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey, we both enjoyed clam chowder in a bread bowl.

The route back was the same as we had just taken, until we got near Capitola, where we headed a bit more inland. In Santa Cruz we were suppose to take some bike trail, but we could not find it so we made our way back to Cliff Drive and then back to the car. We ended up with 108 miles and over 4,000 feet of climbing.

Southern Utah Tour

| 7:57 pm

by Byan Shaner

As I lay there on the gravel, the last few minutes gradually came back to me. I had turned my bike into a parking area to take a picture of this beautiful mountain at Capitol Reef. The gravel was much deeper than I had expected. Rather than just stopping, I had tried to turn around and had hit my head pretty hard when I went down; and that mountain wasn’t quite as beautiful when viewed from this strange angle.  Then I thought maybe it would be a good idea to get up and do an inventory of the damage. I knew my head hurt on the left side where my helmet hit the ground; also my left hip was complaining a bit, but there didn’t seem to be any blood. My arm seemed OK, so I guess my head and my hip took most of the force.  And most importantly, the bike was fine. I had just started the bonus ride by myself down into Capitol Reef and really wanted to see the rest.  How bad was my head?  I suppose there could be some internal damage, but there was not a soul in sight and it was several miles uphill back to the motel.  So I decided to continue on and see how I felt.  After a few miles, my headache was practically forgotten as more and more beautiful vistas opened up.  Two years of cycling without a fall and now I’d met the pavement twice in the last two weeks.  Let’s hope these things don’t come in threes.

The good news is that this fairly minor fall was the only one any of the eight of us had on Planet Ultra’s Southern Utah Tour.  In fact our group only had one flat tire the entire 500+ miles, and that was during the last twenty miles of the last day, and it happened to our co-leader Brian.

Sunset at Capitol Reef

Capitol Reef was absolutely spectacular but only the last 38 miles of an entire 99 mile 8000+’ day of beautiful sights.  This was the fourth day of our tour, and we had started in Escalante after recovering from a cold descent through the rain the previous day.  Some of us stopped at the Kiva Kafe for breakfast.  Besides great views, the Kiva Kafe has a small house on the edge of the canyon that you can rent:  worth looking into.  After breakfast we climbed up to the hogs back where you have great views in all directions.  Our other co-leader, Deb mentioned that this place can be a bit scary for the HooDoo 500 riders.  They get here in the dark and both sides of the road seem to fall away into nothingness (which they sort of do).  But for me, despite my carelessness at Capitol Reef, this fourth day was the peek experience of an entire week of beauty.

Lunch Stop on the way to Bryce

My first day from St. George to Carmel Junction could have been better.  I wasn’t paying attention to the verbal instructions about our lunch stop and went roaring by it by three miles.  I was a bit perturbed because the route sheet seemed to have the mileage wrong, but when I finally found the lunch stop, my roommate, John said “Don’t complain to Deb or she’ll charge you extra for your bonus miles”.  Although probably meant as a joke, that was great advice, and I didn’t complain.

I had visited Zion with my wife, Ellen, three years ago on a car trip, but seeing it again from a bike was great.  After Zion we met for smoothies (an experience to be repeated many times during the week) and loaded the van with bikes and riders so that we could continue our ride on the other side of the non bikable tunnel.  My garmin (which I left on the bike) kept careful track of our 19 miles in the van, and with all the traffic, our average speed stayed about the same as it had been up to Zion.  Once we found a safe place on the other side of the tunnel, Carmel Junction was only 20 more miles.  There was very little enthusiasm for getting back on our bikes, but I was feeling pretty good and wanted the full experience, so I said I’d ride the last part if anyone else wanted to.  And gradually, just about everyone got back on their bikes.  All was going well until we got about five miles from our destination, and all of a sudden I started to feel weak and incredibly hungry.  I stopped and ate the two bars I still had with me and downed some Endurolyte capsules, and after a few minutes I started to feel better.  My roomie, John, after hearing my story, said that I had “bonked”.  I’m just glad I still had food with me.  So the end of the first day showed 87 miles although 19 of those my bike was without benefit of a rider.  So the first day totals were 68 miles with 3768’ of climbing.

Day two (60 miles, 3700’) was designed to give us time in the afternoon to go hiking in Bryce.  The first 24 miles were uphill with a headwind, but the grade was not bad and I drafted behind Deb most of the way.  I offered to pull, but she didn’t want me to get worn out with five more days of riding ahead of us.  So I arrived at our lunch stop (see picture above) in good shape.  After lunch we hopped on a spectacular bike trail that took us within a few miles of Bryce.

On the way, I saw the place Ellen and I had stayed two years before, and feeling nostalgic I stopped to take a picture.  I remembered that the place had an excellent restaurant, and that’s where our group ended up eating that night.  I absolutely stuffed myself and enjoyed every bite; especially the homemade pie.  (Riding is all about the food, right?)

Bryce Canyon Pines Motel and Restaurant

But before dinner, I had time to take the shuttle to Sunset Point at Bryce and hike the Navajo Loop trail.  I got some great shots and felt very high which could have been due to endorphins or the fact that we were above 8000’ or both.

Navajo Loop Trail at Bryce Canyon

Day three started out with a bike tour of Bryce.  I went to every view point and took tons of pictures:  so many that I didn’t have time to make it all the way to the end of the road at Rainbow Point.

My old reliable Sequoia at Bryce Canyon

We were scheduled to head towards Escalante at noon, and by then clouds were gathering.  I had heard a lot about the wonderful 20 mile descent down into Escalante, but it was raining pretty hard by the time I got to that point, so my experience fell a bit short of wonderful.  In fact, it took half an hour in a hot shower to get some feeling back into my fingers and toes once we arrived.

The only thing I didn’t mention about day four from Escalante to Capitol Reef, was the rain that caught our faster riders (Brian, Deb and Brook) just after lunch, but was already past by the time the rest of us slowpokes showed up. Maybe there is a cycling godJ.

Day five to Panguitch was supposed to be 106 miles with only 3400’ of climbing.  But none of us made it that far.  The more experienced riders knew better, and the rest of us found out what it was like to fight the almost constant 30-40 mph headwind.  Only two of us were still riding after 25 miles, and I decided that I was going to quit when I got to mile 65 where the van was supposed to be.  I was just worn out and wanted to save something for Cedar Breaks the next day.  My rommie, John was driving the van and must have known what I was going through, because he stopped at mile 60 rather than 65.  It was like getting a wonderful Christmas present not having to ride that extra five windblown miles.  It was that bad.  However, Christine Nguyen, with whom I’d driven with to the tour, had only completed two centuries in her cycling career and wanted to do her third that day, and she fought the wind all the way to mile 98 (close enough).  We were all very impressed.

Day six to Cedar City started at 9:30am after a leisurely breakfast.  I was riding with Julie having a good talk when I finally realized at mile 20 that I wasn’t feeling very good.  I slowed down and took some Endurolytes.  Soon I felt better but the elevation was a challenge.  The total mileage was 57 with 5300’ elevation gain.  But it was the 10,500’ altitude at Cedar Breaks that was the issue, plus it was cold up there.  I used the hand dryer in the restroom (I had to press the button eight times) to get some feeling back in my fingers.  The descent down into Cedar City was just plain fun.  There wasn’t much traffic and the 5-6% grade was perfect.

Lynn, John, Julie and Christine at 10,500’

Cedar Breaks

The last day back to St. George was fast.  I felt great and there was only 2500’ of climbing over 85 miles.  We took our time going through Snow Canyon (where Brian had our only collective flat tire), and we found our way back to our starting point.  I’d completed just over 500 miles with 30,000 of climbing.  It’s true that Russ Stevens did virtually the same route when he completed the HooDoo 500 a week earlier in less than two days, but I got way more pictures 🙂 .