Sunday, August 22, 2010

Cool Breeze Century Ride 2010

A recap of the Cool Breeze Century Ride up in Ventura, CA. Thanks to the Channel Islands Bike Club for putting on the event.

Friday Night:

As work was winding down Friday afternoon, I started to have some event jitters. Predictable. I always get them. Mostly, I fight an internal urge to just stay home and stick to my routine - running or biking my normal routes. But these jitters were centered around my recent crash, I think. I'd run all week. I avoided my bike. Hadn't ridden since Saturday's 40-miler.

So I decided best thing to do would be to head to the park after work for two sunset loops up and down the hill. The same loop I crashed on. Face the fear, and keep on going.

Once I got out and there going, I found my stride (or pedal... push... rotation... whatever), and 11 miles later I was ready to pack it up for Cool Breeze.

Saturday 4am:

Alarm Clock. Coffee. Toast. Gear. Drive the 101 for an hour.

Saturday 5:30am:

Checked in and met Chris in the parking lot. His team left from their hotel, but since he was on a tri bike (and too fast), he didn't ride with them. We checked in, drank coffee, waited for the start.

Imagine the peacefulness of a quiet parking lot at dawn. Now imagine the TECHNO MUSIC that he's blasting from his car. Can you see the grin in the car reflection?

At 6:35, we set off for "an easy 100" as was described to the twitter community. It's cold, maybe 60 degrees (cold for californians!). The sniffles set in for a couple of miles.

The Starting Line

Miles 1-30:

The course takes us north along a bike path and then spits you out on an extremely uncomfortable, unpaved piece of gravel known as the 101 highway.

It was like riding a jackhammer (that's what she said). So bumpy that I lost the barplug that got loose from my accident. Nevertheless, after 14 miles along the gorgeous, albeit marine-layered coast, we headed inland to smoother streets.

Map of the entire route - 102 miles through Carpenteria, Santa Barbara, Goleta, Summerland and Ventura

We were definitely pushing the pace for the first 30 miles of the ride. Averaging somewhere in the 18-19mph zone on the flats (of which there were many). We skipped the first stop at mile 14 and went right on grinding away.

At one point early on (mile 25?) a pace line past us in poor form. They swarmed. So Chris attacked. He hit the pedals and re-passed them at about 25 mph. And little, old me was left to ride behind their line for a while. Once I hit a wide stretch of road that was safe to pass, I played catch up to Johnny Rocket and caught back up with him a 5-10 minutes later. The nickname jackass may or may not have been uttered. Or yelled.

Miles 30-54:

The second rest stop was right after mile 34. And that's when the hills showed up.

Elevation Map. Notice the "bump". Also know as a "bitch"

The course was advertised as a 3800ft gain for the century, but my Garmin made the case for 5000ft total at the end of the day. I'm inclined to believe my watch, and my quads, may they rest in peace.

Mission Canyon

Lots of climbing through the middle section of this part of the course. It was then that I decided to play idiot biker and start snapping pictures on the move. My apologies for my negligence ... but you're welcome, for the shots.

The two major climbs we hit were close together. The first was through a field-like area. Reminded me of Idaho. It was three "turns" up. So you climb, then flatten out and turn and face another hill...and repeat once more.

The second section took us through a State Park area. From the top you could see down into the valleys and to the marine layer that still covered the ocean.

Top of Mission Canyon

The descend was pretty amazing. Switchbacks around tight corners and past beautiful houses. Not unlike Latigo Canyon in Malibu. Saw some big ass wild turkeys. I didn't take a picture because I was eating a Clif Bar. So here's a picture of a Clif Bar.


We came back down to sea level, and before we hit the lunch stop at mile 54, we rode the section that the race organizers described as "junk miles." Those flat, uninteresting miles that we needed to do to hit the 100 mark.

Fortunately, they were flat and deserted, so I took a couple photos.

Wide Bike Lanes!

Empty Streets



Chris over my shoulder

We got to the Goleta Rest Stop in 3hrs and 20mins. Although it was somewhere in the 10am hour, it was still time for lunch. And by lunch, I mean cookies and a PBJ sandwich for me. And by lunch, I mean this delicacy for Chris.

2 sandwiches, a cookie, brownies, tomatoes ... and olives

Though we had gone fast early, my legs were holding up nicely. Happy to report that Latigo and Griffith Park training had served me well. Most of the course was flat or downhill from here on out. Time to go back to Ventura.

Somewhere in that man there are olives and chocolate in very close quarters

Miles 45-85:

This is the fun part - through Hope Ranch and Santa Barbara. The course winds up through the archway-gated community of Hope Ranch. I think Oprah has a house here. It looked like a giant resort. Very beautiful, very un-LA.

Nice stretch of road inside the community

Pretty sights

Chris over my shoulder

From here, the course hooked up with Cabrillo Drive, which is a familiar stretch of road right along downtown Santa Barbara. Not only is it a busy and popular stretch of street, but it is also the Santa Barbara News-Press Half Marathon course which we've run and coached at.

From Cabrillo Drive, we hopped onto the bike path that runs past the Four Season.

To the right, ocean. To the left, swankiness

More clouds over the shoreline. It's about 11:30am by now

After another quick rest stop at mile 70ish (for phone calls and cantalope), we head to the final rest stop. Between miles 70 and 84, Chris found some "energy" and motivation to pass along messy pace line and jerk cyclist. He took off. Fast. Once I got around said paceline/jerk, I took off. This time he got farther away from me, and I chased for a good 8 miles.

I uttered another "jackass" to Chris, but upon hearing his reasoning for taking off, my wide eyes were settled. He passed the jerk to send a message. Message sent. We resumed our casual pace to the final rest stop, mile 90. The popsicles there were okay. Not great, but okay.

Miles 90-101.3:

The final, largest straight stretch of the course runs alongside the 101. With big trucks, speeding cars and all. Though there is a definite bike lane, breakdown lane, and cushion to move around a bit, it is still a bit unnerving to bike.

And our nerves were not without merit. Unfortunately we passed a very bad accident between two Cool Breeze riders (about 20mins ahead of us) and a semi truck. One of the big ones. Reports I've read say the truck inexplicibly (at time of reporting) veered into the bike lane. It did not make contact with the riders, but caused one rider to veer to her right and slam into her partner. They hit the guard rail. Broken bones and head injuries, but very, very thankfully no injuries. UPDATE: The Ventura County Star reports that the truck did make contact with one of the riders. Thankfully, they are both recovering and in good condition.

When we passed, I couldn't look directly at the scene. I know there were stretchers and people lying down, eyes closed. It was a huge bummer and pit in my stomach to end the ride that way.

Finish and Post-Ride Grub:

We crossed the line at 6hrs 10mins and 37sec, although it's an arbitrary time since it's not a race and we were not racing. Just out for that easy 100-miler.

Chris' family greeted us at the finish and snapped some pictures. I quickly found food and dove into my favorite salad.

I have a favorite salad, Cesaer, and I will eat it under any circumstance

All in all, a very fun day. Love the early start because it means I have the rest of the day to catch up with the real world. The course was a bit hilly in sections, but the views were worth the challenge - as they always are. I felt really prepared and never hit any low moments. I'm happy with a 16.4 average. Did it faster than last year, by 0.4mph, so that's a tiny victory. And that I am healthy and capable and got to spend the morning in good company will always be celebrated. Thanks for a great ride, Chris!

After downing the grub, I packed up the car and headed back to LA (traffic very easy despite the mid-afternoon rush).

Sunday Post-Race:

Sunday was a long day, including three workouts. 7.5 miles with the Team in Training group out in sunny Santa Monica. Coaching pace dictates that I go from a 9min/mile to a 19min/mile over the course of the workout. Was nice to shake the legs out. No ill effects from the ride.

After the Team workout, I headed to Griffith Park for a dusty, sand trail run in 94 degree heat. It's good for my soul, I tell myself. My throat begs to differ, and for water. Ran 9 miles at a 8:49/mile pace felt good for the first half and tough for the second. Sun+sand=tiredness. But I could have said "No, not today" and I didn't. I chose to face the workout. Got it done.

Jumped in the pool after the trail run. My rib, which bothered me only slightly during the ride and run today, spoke up loud and clear. Little yells from the ribcage during 1500-yard mini-workout. Resting it tomorrow.

A very productive, high-mileage weekend. And I leave you with a picture of the three-layered tan as proof:

Didn't Right Said Fred say 'I'm too sexy for my tan lines'? No? Oh.

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