Saturday, April 27, 2013

Solana Beach 600km Brevet

Ride Report
April 2013

At the start line
Since the USNA Triathlon Team took over our home and neighborhood the weekend of the Tombstone 600, I needed to find another 600 to complete my 2013 SR Series. After a quick search of, I found the Solana Beach 600km, a lightly attended 600 that consists of three different 200k loops from the Solana Beach Holiday Inn.

Mike Sturgill and Brian McGuire from AZ
Deb was up for hanging out on the beach while I rode, so we booked a room at the Courtyard next door to the Holiday Inn. We left Tempe and made the easy drive to Solana Beach with plenty of time to get organized and have a nice pasta meal at the California Pizza Kitchen a short walk from our hotel.

The rider meeting was brief and 15 riders rolled out of the Holiday Inn at 0400. We headed north for a few hundred meters, turned right, and started climbing! Once the climbing started, the group slowly split apart as each rider found their own pace. With so many miles, so much climbing, and so few riders, this would a brevet enjoyed mostly alone!

Going up!
It was interesting rolling through Solana Beach as a 24-hour team relay running event was going on. We came upon a number of runners with flashing lights and reflective gear sharing the route! They looked like lost randonnuers searching for their bikes! 

When I reached the first control at the Stage Stop Market a few of the fast climbers were there and 
preparing to leave. One of the local San Diego guys commented that now the real climbing begins! Reloaded, I pulled out and dropped into my 'Granny Gear' and started the grind up to Mesa Grande!

Traffic was light and the temperatures were very conducive to steady climbing. As the elevation increased, so did the trees and lush green valleys.

I thought the climbing was done reaching Henshaw Lake (a shallow grassy lake that reminded me of Mormon Lake in Arizona). Passing the lake, the cue sheet indicated a right turn toward Mesa Grande Road. A very steep 4 mile climb led to the information control on Mesa Grande. The Mesa was a spectacular rolling farming area! Plus it was the high point on this loop, so there would be more descending than climbing on the way back to Solana Beach.

A short descent on a long climb!
As the elevations declined, so did the amount of greenery. Bombing down the Poway Scripps Parkway was a blast until reaching the edge of town and the start of the traffic lights.

With all the climbing, my overall average speed was very low. I was expecting it to climb rapidly on the way back to Solana Beach, but with all the traffic and stop lights, it was hard to get any real momentum.

Shady forest nearing Henshaw Lake
The route took the bike path along highway 56. Upon exiting the path, just before control #6 I came upon Brian McGuire at a stop light just before the AM/PM Market. We rolled in to pick up a receipt and I decided to reload my bottles. This control was only a few miles from the hotel and the end of the first loop, but I decided to do a full reload of my bottles. While we were selecting our drinks, one of the clerks commented to Brian and me, that bikers had nice legs. Then she went on to comment that my legs look kinda girlie! Great, as we left Brian was calling me Girlie-Man.

I rolled into the Holiday Inn, got my brevet card signed and rolled out while Brian and Mike Sturgill were reloading their bikes in the parking lot. I went to my room, put on fresh kit and reloaded my bike. I had expected to complete the first loop of 125 miles in about 8 hours. My Garmin computer indicated over 11,000 feet of climbing, that combined with all the city traffic, put me at 9.5 hours for the first loop!

Henshaw Lake
I rolled out for the second loop which retraced the route back UP the Poway Scripps Parkway. Temperatures were climbing and loop 2, while generally in the mountains south of the first loop, was similar to the first in that the high point of the loop was at about the halfway point.

Near the Control on Mesa Grande
I didn't see any riders until I was about 10 miles from the summit of the climb. The sun was finally starting to set and I saw Brian McGuire up the road. He spotted me and slowed down his pace so I could catch up. It was about 7:30 pm as we neared the summit. We stopped at the information control at the summit of the climb, turned on our lights, and put on layers and reflective gear. We ended riding all the way back to Solana Beach together, its always nice to have a partner on the road after the sun goes down!  As we rolled through the harbor area, my Garmin computer ran out of power (about 20 hours into the ride). At that point it indicated over 8000 feet of climbing on loop 2!

Arriving at Solana Beach, I had my brevet card signed at the Holiday Inn and returned to my room. It was about 1 am, so loop 2 was in the books at about 11.5 hours. I showered, ate some soup Deb procured for me earlier, reloaded the bike, and with a fresh kit, was out the door at 1:30 am. Loop 3 is an out and back along the Pacific Coast Highway to Newport Beach.

Poway Scripps Parkway
Descending on Loop 1
I had not felt felt any drowsiness so far, but stopped in Lucadia for a coffee heavy with sugar. That did the trick most of the way through Oceanside. Just outside of town the route joins the I-5 Interstate for 8 miles. I was starting to get tired and cold, so I stopped at a rest area for a 5 min break before continuing on. After a few more miles of late-night interstate riding, I was happy to be off the highway. Here the route joins a bike path through Camp Pendleton.The fog became quite heavy, and difficult to see to follow the route. The 'bike path' follows a wide road, then a long camping area. By the time I exited the camp and entered San Clemente it was just before 0500 and I was very sleepy.

I saw a Travelodge and decided to check in for a nap. The groggy clerk ( I am sure I woke him up!) gave me a nice discount (since I told him only needed the room for two hours!), I set the alarm for 2 hours, and crashed in the bed! I woke just before the alarm went off and rolled out at 0700. I felt refreshed and after a cup of coffee in the lobby I was back on the bike heading up the PCH!

The nap did the trick, I was able to develop good power and pick up my speed. Traffic was still light and I made reasonable time to the Circle K/Jack in the Box control in Newport.

As the morning wore on, traffic, heat, and a quatering headwind picked up. The PCH is no flat affair, but with my Garmin out of the game, I don't know what the climbing was for this loop. It felt like alot!

Along the PCH heading toward the finish!
There were many other riders on the route, but very few with over three hundred miles in their legs, so I didn't even bother to try and grab a train of riders going past. Rolling through Camp Pendleton in the daylight was very interesting. Rejoining the I-5 at midday on a Sunday, not so much!

Finally I was on the last climb into Solana Beach, and after the requisite stops, detours, and traffic, I rolled into the Holiday Inn  a few minutes after 2 pm with Deb there to cheer me on at the finish!

I signed my brevet cards, deposited them in randonneur room, and departed for the Courtyard. We had a late checkout, so I was able to shower, dress, load the truck, and head back into town for some dinner.

With Deb behind the wheel, and a full stomach, I was out like a light!

375 miles, 20,000+ ft of climbing, 34 hours, and the Super Randonneur Series for 2013 is in the books!