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LA Wheelmen Grand Tour 2014

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The Grand Tour was my first (official) double century in 2011, so I do like this ride.  The other 3 years we had ridden the lowland route (same approximate distance but it has 5000+ feet of climbing) because we had new doubles riders and the lowland route is a great one for that.  This year the only 2 newbies we had seemed to be up to the highland route, soooo, we decided to try that one.

It was a 20 minute drive from the hotel to the start of the Grand Tour (near Pepperdine Univ and the Pacific Coast Hwy) so we decided to leave the hotel at 4 am.  Usually you could find a parking spot relatively easy at that time, but not this year.   We lucked out and found a place, then went up to get "scanned out" and get together.  There were 14 of us Bulls who were starting together, with a target of leaving at 5 am, which we made.  4 others (stronger than me at least) were starting later.  It was dark when we left, but all of us had good lights.  We start out with 6 or 7 hills (depending on how you decide to count them).  It was a bit cool, with the temps in the lower 60's.


About 25 miles in the sun broke thru the marine layer, just as we neared Pt Mugu NAS.  That was about the time I started my GoPro.  I had only 2 rides around the block to practice with it, so I had no idea how it would work out. 
We rolled along pretty good into the first rest stop in Port Huememe 35 miles into the ride ( which would also be the last sag stop). After that the highland and lowland routes split.  3 riders continued on the lowland, and 11 of us turned to the highland route.   A few miles after the hardest climb of the day (for the highland route) started, Potrero Rd.   The climb was about 7 miles long, and in 2 sections.  The first section had a couple of places where the grade was over 15%, as did the second section. About the last half mile before the top I had to stop twice.  I didnt walk, and starting again was a pain, but I did stop.  They had another sag stop shortly after the climb.  After that the route went around Lake Sherwood,  then toward Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley.  The route was generally downhill, but there were hills to climb.  At 79 miles we started another 4 mile climb that had some parts where the grade was close to 10% again. 
Being inland, the temperature was warmer and it was more humid than we were used to.  AT 97 miles we stated an 8 mile climb that would end up eventually in a park in Ojai where lunch was, about 114 miles into the ride.
At lunch I felt ok, but I felt more tired than I wanted to be with the aspect of 2 big climbs and 83 miles left.  After lunch we rode around Lake Casitas, which had 2 climbs, the first of which was the worst.  The steepest part was only 2 miles, but I swear it felt like 4.  It was warm and humid and I was sweating so much there was not a dry stitch on me.  During that climb my right hamstring started to cramp, and I had to walk a few yards.  Close to the top John was standing on the side of the road cooling down a bit, so I decided to join him.  Bruce came by, then a few others of the group.  John left, and just as Bruce and I were ready to start a sag van stopped, and he had ice water!  We stayed longer to drink a couple of bottles, and waved Kim and Chris to ride up to us, which they eventually did.  Bruce and I left (Kim, and to an extent Chris were struggling a bit).  We were not far from the next sag, which was Rincon Pt, on the coast near Carpentaria.  I was looking forward to a cold coke and a cup of noodles, only to find out they had ran out of soda. 
We refueled  and left.  The route at this point was near the coast so we go a not cooling breeze, of not exactly a tailwind.  They did change the route so that we didnt have to ride on the shoulder of the 101.  We were rolling along at an 18 mph clip to the last sag, back in the same park in Port Hueneme. They had chicken soup and sodas there, as well as cookies and fruit. 
By the time we left I was feeling better, stronger.  We rolled again at about 18 mph, then at Pt Mugu got back on the PCH.  Sadly my GoPro didnt record the sunset view of the Pacific Ocean waves coming into the shore.... next year.  We rode the last 15 miles or so in the dark, then pulled into the start/finish with come cheers from the family who also made the trip. 

The highland route was more scenic, but definitely more challenging.  I want to ride the Grand Tour again next year as that will make 5 in a row. 


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  • 2 weeks later...

I finally stopped in to read this. Dang! Well, it's good to know if you're doing a double century you need to start before dawn and end up finishing after dark, I always figure everyone is tons faster than me, so it's good to know that even at a good clip it takes a while. And what a heart breaker that the one SAG stop was out of Coke. I know how much that hurts when you're tired and really looking forward to that little something. Ends up being a big something! 


Congrats on another amazing ride!

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I haven't even ridden a double century this year in terms of total miles.... to be honest I can't imagine myself ever being in good enough shape to do this.  I'm in awe.

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