Thursday, October 29, 2009

Interesting Rando Blogs - Have a look!

It's a big randonneuring world. I have added a list ("Interesting Rando Blogs") to the right. ->

It's a sampling of entertaining / thought-provoking randonneuring-oriented blogs. Dive into the diversity in opinions, perspectives and rides! For starters:

  • The Daily Randonneur - Ed Felker (DC Randonneurs), with contributions from his tandem partner (and now wife) Mary Gersema.

  • Research Trailer Park - Mike Dayton (NC Bicycle Club, and RUSA VP) - "Life and Randonneuring in the Tarheel State" (This is a play on Research Triangle Park, a high-tech enclave in the Raleigh-Durham area.)

  • Alaska Randonneurs - Kevin Turinsky (Anchorage, AK RBA)

  • Mark's Rando Notes - Mark Thomas (Seattle International Randonneurs president, former RUSA president)
Have a favorite to suggest? Let me know!


Saturday, October 24, 2009

California 600K Ride Report

Irene Takahashi and I were lucky enough to be able to go to California and pre-ride the PCH Randonneurs 600K.

Part of our pre-ride responsibilities included reporting on the accuracy of the cue sheet and a supplying post-ride GPS file. Our pre-ride was two days before the official ride, so after we finished, we called the organizer with our updates and observations including information about road closures and needed cue sheet changes – both of which caused us to add an extra 12 miles in our route research, but all in the call of duty.

This ride started in Salinas, the self proclaimed lettuce capital of the world, traveled mostly along the famous California Highway 1 and ended 375 (plus those 12 extra) miles later in Oxnard, after more than 100 miles of lovely and hilly coastal riding. We had perfect weather too.

Here we are at the start.

The people running the hotel were a little annoyed that we wanted to check out at 3:30 am. No one wanted to get up that early, so Irene had to leave her luggage in our room. Jim Verheul, the PCH ride organizer, told me later that he was a little surprised to find Irene's suitcase in his room the night before he started his version of the ride.

The roads heading through the ocean

crossed miles of lettuce fields. Big dirt clods, that had dropped off the heavy farming equipment driving from the fields onto the highway, littered the road shoulder so we had to weave through them. In general, all was mostly quiet that morning except for the occasional truck that dusted our eyes with dirt as they passed.

We could hear the ocean before we finally saw it in the early morning light.


The consensus from all the GPS readings is that this route has about 18,000 feet of climbing. The vertical from the rolling hills along the coast sure added up fast!

There was a lot to look at, including some good surfing waves.

Sometime there were trees and we were riding on pine needs scattered across the roadway. Most of the time we were above the fog, other times next to it, and occasionally in it.

One of the controls was someone’s house. We showed up, unannounced, and our cards were graciously signed.

The route turned inland and we had amazing stars along the way. I rode for quite a ways in the starlight. We got to Buellton around 11:00 that night and we left at 4:45 a.m. the next morning.

We had great weather on the second day too. More great views and another perfect day.

Irene remembered a beach where there would be sea lions. I had my camera ready!

We had our last cool breeze as we rolled though Santa Barbara before heading inland up to Lake Casitas.

We had heard there was a nasty double climb to the lake on this the last day – away from the cool breezes on the coast and up into the heat. We bought drinks form a little hot dog stand before heading up the climb and the woman working there told us it would be 100 degrees. Once she put that idea in our heads, we were certain it was 110!

After that heat-induced mini suffer-fest, we rolled back down to the coats and the cooler air. The cue sheet had a STRAIGHT that should have been a LEFT – but after a while we figured that out and backtracked, making it to the hotel control point by 6:15 pm still before the sun set.

Congratulations to Irene on completing her first 600K and her first 200-300-400-600K series!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

2010 Brevets!

RUSA has approved the slate of US ACP events (and others submitted up to this point) for 2010. You can search for events for all US regions on the RUSA website and see our local schedule here. (Populaire offerings are tentative - they have not yet been submitted or approved.)
Here's some of what's in store:
  • Possible to earn two Super-Randonneur Awards in one season using our series! (This by adding one event to last year's line up.)
  • Two additional 200k's - one in July, one in October - making for six 200k's in all (not counting the Last Chance 200k). This is not foreseen as a regular feature, but something special for 2010. The new 200k's are to use different routes drawn from the Permanents, provisionally the Glen Haven Gallivant and James Canyon Jaunt.

Have some planning fun as you enjoy autumnal riding!


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Last Chance "Big Book" of Results Published!

Tim Feldman has compiled finisher results of all seven editions of the Last Chance 1200k, from 2001 through this year, into a single page: one table for 1200k and a second for 1000k finishers. This evokes the figurative "Grand Livre" (Big Book) into which Paris-Brest-Paris finishers are inscribed. Thanks, Tim!

Bill Olsen, Alain Abbate, and Viktoriya Shundrovskaya finish Last Chance 2009:
The next edition of the Colorado Last Chance 1200k is slated for 9/15/2010.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Squaw Pass Scramble - A Climber's Delight!

September 27 seemed like a fine early autumn day to try out Catherine Shenk's new "Squaw Pass Scramble" 200k Permanent.

Billed as a "climber's delight," it was fortunate there was dramatic scenery and bright fall colors to gaze upon during all that climbing! Here both aspen gold and snowcapped Front Range viewed from Omigod Road:

Irene Takahashi and Catherine were off on an even longer climbing-rich permanent - Catherine's Coffee Cup Classic 340k ... so I joined them at o-dark-quite-early for their start.
We climbed windswept Lookout Mountain in the dark, the lights of Golden twinkling below. Our routes parted at El Rancho, and the randonneurs headed out on their separate forays. First dawn light hits the golden aspen on the Squaw Pass Road:

Here's Squaw Pass Summit, still six miles from the high point of Hwy. 103, which tops out at 11,000 ft., above Echo Lake:

Plenty of panoramic views of fall foliage and distant peaks to enjoy:

... and a collage of aspen and first snow on the roadside:
The new Echo Mountain ski area offers a scenic prospect across Clear Creek Canyon:

... and as the road tops out, you can see Mt. Evans sliced by the now snow-encrusted Mt. Evans Road:
Descending to Echo Lake, I managed to brake for a serene view of Upper Bear Creek Valley (west of Evergreen):
The Echo Lake Store is just opening for the day - good thing, as it's a checkpoint. Just beyond, Echo Lake at 10,000 ft. has a great snowy backdrop. The nearby pines offer some shelter from the hefty winds that have "prolonged" my climb up the Squaw Pass Road.
Some of the best foliage of the route was on the descent to Idaho Springs. Very quiet at this time of morning, although there are already cyclists heading up from the valley.
A quick transit of Idaho Springs brings us to the second (or is it the third?) challenge of the Permanent: Omigod Road, offering seven miles of dirt, mainly climbing:
It is actually a well-engineered and well-maintained road, eminently rideable in dry conditions. The switchbacks and terrain-hugging curvature are poetic, as you look back to assess your efforts thus far:
It's definitely mining country: an old site graced by aspens at peak color:
At the summit, a reminder that, yes, "Rd 279" (Omigod) actually goes somewhere (in particular, where we are aiming for!):
Mining sites abound on the descent:
... forming a quiet backdoor gateway into Central City - no gambler traffic to be seen:After the plunge through Central City and Blackhawk, and the six mile climb back up, the sweeping Peak-to-Peak Highway has more good vistas to offer:
The stop at the Rollinsville Store checkpoint was affable - the store proprietor a mountain biker who appreciated that the route climbed Omigod Road ... and could understand why I was no longer exactly "fresh." At this point in the afternoon, the climb *up* to Coal Creek Canyon and the descent through along the wooded canyon is fairly quiet and rustic.

Then ... what a contrast, exiting the mouth of the canyon and those hours of wooded mountain travel, to find yourself suddenly on the vast and treeless windswept plains across Rocky Flats:
And yet, not without that final climb up Indiana Rd.

Mile for mile, one of the highest "quality" routes I've ridden. Climbs and great scenery succeed one another with very little interlude. And you can count on quiet, backroads conditions for much of the distance.

Do this one if you can before snows close in! Or plan to ramp up for a treat next spring.