This was my second year doing this ride. Substantial improvement over last year. Dropped about 40min off last year's overall time (http://app.strava.com/rides/424729). I guess training works? More to follow in the ride report...
A couple of weeks ago, we picked up a new stroller for the little buddy. We were looking to replace our current jogging stroller, which was an old steel sled with wheels. After looking at a few different ones, we selected the B.O.B. Ironman in Livestrong yellow, of course... Pretty light at 23lbs, and has a solid feeling aluminum frame. It is a bit narrower than a regular BOB, which makes it nice when passing runners going the other way. I was impressed with the way it tracked, even when on a bumpy dirt trail. As expected, running into the wind was no picnic, but wasn't as bad as it could have been thanks to the relief vent between the seat and canopy. Little buddy seemed like he enjoyed the ride!
Yesterday, I participated in the Tour de Cure Century in Long Beach. This is the second year I have done it, having done the 60 mile version last year. I really enjoy this ride because it raises money for a great cause, and the route circumnavigates my hometown. To attract more riders this year, they added a 100 mile option. Funny that more miles would lead to more riders! The route was the same as last year, plus a 40 mile jaunt down to the Huntington Beach Pier and back. I signed up along with my riding buddies, Jeff and Oscar. The weather was forecast to be clear and about 85°F. Perfect.
I woke up at 4:30 to begin my pre-ride routine. Went with my Cat 6 Racing Squad kit this year. Grape nuts with a banana, and a double espresso (Peet's French Roast, of course). The morning of a long ride is NOT the time to experiment with new breakfast foods - trust me on that one. Gathered up my gear and headed out to pick up Oscar on the way. The sun was just rising as we arrived at the Queen Mary and checked in. Snapped a photo of it:
We met up with Jeff and made our way over to the start queue. We were all pretty excited to get under way. Some dude sang a really nice rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, and then it was time to go.
Oscar and Jeff, ready to go.
The countdown rolled to zero, and we were off! There was a group of guys from Canyon Velo leading the pack, so we fell in behind them and made the warm-up tour down Shoreline drive and on to Ocean Ave. Once on the harbor bridges, the pace accelerated, and the lead group quickly dropped the rest of the field. We held tight with them, and went up and over the bridges.
The Bridges... Or, The Part Where I Almost Eat Pavement.
We had a motorcycle escort, which was cool except for the part where he almost killed me. I'll explain... The bridges, which were closed to cars for our event, have metal expansion grates every 30ft. or so to allow for expansion and contraction of the bridge. The grates would swallow a skinny bike tire whole, so they have to put thin plywood covered by a thin carpet over the grate on one of the two lanes in order for us to ride over them. No big deal - did it last year. You can roll right over them at high speed, with little more than a small bump and a thwack thwack noise. I crested the first bridge and accelerated down the backside, reaching about 40 mph, happily thwack thwacking my way over the grates. Cue Mr. Motorcycle... Dude comes flying by me at about 60 and changes lanes into the grate covered lane right in front of me. All the turbulence and mass from his 600lb Goldwing sent the carpet flying and turned it into a crumpled mass just past the plywood. I had a few seconds to react and grabbed a two handfuls of brake. Quickly realizing that I had nowhere near enough time to stop before the carpet mass, I opted to bunny hop over and hope for the best. I jumped for all I was worth and cleared the heap. Just as I was thinking "Hey, I made it!", I looked ahead and saw that I was going to have to do it all over again. And again. Finally, moto boy got the clue, and moved back into the other lane. Crisis averted, but damn, that could have been bad!
Oscar on the Vincent Thomas bridge with LA Harbor in the background.
Jeff - always setting the pace and holding his line!
Anchovy St. Hill
We made our way through San Pedro and onto the Anchovy St. hill climb. The climb isn't long, but it's steep! 213 ft in 1/2 mile. It's a 15% grade most of the way. I lost touch with the Canyon Velo group on this climb, but ended up catching them again about 3 miles down the road at PV Dr. North. Somewhere along the way down PV Dr. North, we dropped Oscar. I heard him say something about his legs burning, and when I looked back again, he was gone. We wouldn't see him again until the Terranea rest stop. I must admit, my own legs were burning, but I fought on (a dumb move that caused me to struggle later in the ride). Those Canyon Velo guys were fast! Jeff and I led the pack into the rest stop at Terranea with a well timed sprint from Golden Cove. I was excited to see my entire family waiting for me there! I chatted with them for a bit while scarfing a PB&J sandwich, made by one of the awesome volunteers from PV Bike Center. Oscar caught up to us here, and we all continued on.
PV East and down to Long Beach
While not the steepest climb of the ride, PV Dr. East is probably the longest continuous grade. It is 1.9mi at an average grade of 5.1%. I took it easy on this climb, knowing I still had 60 miles left to ride. Made it to the top in 12:48. From there, it's all downhill back to Long Beach, with a fast spin along Paseo Del Mar in San Pedro. The section through Wilmington is pretty boring, but it's the only way back! This year, there was some road construction in that area, and we got a bit mixed up on where we were supposed to go. I ended up leading the pack we were in to Anaheim St., and proceeded towards Long Beach. From mile 50 until shortly after our rest stop at Mile 60, I was feeling pretty beat. Fortunately, I started feeling better after having some food. Wahoo's was staffing the Mile 60 stop and handing out chicken roll-ups - Yum! Oscar and I cruised along together for awhile, feeling about the same. Captain America (Jeff) took off and we lost sight of him.
Westminster and Huntington Beach
The next section of the ride took us through Seal Beach, and on to Westminster Bl., which cuts through the Naval base. It was a long, hot, windy and miserable section, with a crappy bike lane and cars flying by at 65+. Certainly NOT my favorite part of the ride. Oscar and I did a good job of taking turns drafting, and by the time we reached the intersection at Bolsa Chica, we had caught up to Captain America. There was another rest stop shortly after we rolled into Huntington. I chowed down another delicious PB&J, which was quickly becoming my comfort food of choice on this ride. They also had a novelty called ICE! It is amazing how much more refreshing your sports drink is when it's cold. After this stop, I really began to get my second wind and feel better.
The Home Stretch, a.k.a. The part where I lose my wedding ring
Somewhere between that last rest stop, and rejoining PCH at the coast, I lost my wedding ring. It's always been kind of a loose fit, but even more so lately - I'm 192lbs now, was about 215 when I got it. The funny thing is, during that crappy section on Westminster, I remember feeling it moving around and thinking to myself "I probably shouldn't wear this when I ride". A few miles later, I remember hearing a twang of something hitting my wheel, but dismissing it as a rock. Of course, I have no idea where that was. I was bummed. I really liked that ring! Time to go ring shopping I guess. Back to the ride... As we rolled down Main St, and turned onto PCH, I was feeling great, and led the charge for awhile. Along PCH, and down onto the Bolsa Chica Flats I led, my legs feeling strong. Oscar and I accelerated away from the group, with the exception of a skinny little asian guy who stayed with us. So, it was me, Oscar and then the skinny guy - riding the flats at about 24mph. I decided to take a rest, and let someone else pull for awhile, so I peeled off and dropped back, figuring to tuck in behind the skinny guy. He motioned to me to jump back in the middle behind Oscar and said "I make a horrible draft, you're better off behind him (Oscar)". I could see he was right, so I tucked in behind Oscar. And so it went for the remaining 25 miles - Oscar and I pulling, with the skinny dude riding the draft. And get this - At the end of the ride, in the last 100 yards, skinny dude pulls out of the draft and charges ahead to the finish! We though that was pretty funny!
Overall, a great ride and I look forward to doing it again. This was probably the least amount of training I have done for a century, and it definitely made a difference. I think I will train a little harder next year! Stay tuned for the Napa ride on May 21st!