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!

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