I’ve been planning on attempting a Brevet since November of last year. My friend Bruce has some weird fascination with the French and their cycling events, and he’s drawn me into this world. I even went so far as to sign up for the first event of the season in January, the 200K, but I chickened out. No easier way to say it, I was just too nervous. So I sat on the couch all day, thinking of the ride I could be doing. Well, after that I decided to rethink my training and start working towards completing a Century first. Up until that point the longest ride I’d completed was only 65 miles, when Bruce and I rode the Solvang Prelude.
I was working my way up with my miles, both through commuting and longer rides on the weekend. Then, about a week ago, there was some discussion on the PCH Rando email list about the upcoming 300K, and for some reason I started thinking about riding it. It didn’t take long for the members of the list to start encouraging me and soon after I signed up for the event. What the hell was I thinking? 300K? 188miles? I’d only ever ridden a 1/3 of that distance. I must be crazy.
Well, not only was I crazy, but Bruce decided to do it too. We spent the work week watching the weather reports and wondering just what we’d gotten ourselves into. This must’ve been the slowest week ever, as we discussed gear choices, rain gear and fueling ourselves. I wanted to ride the Casseroll, because of the lighter weight, but with rain in the forecast I wanted fenders. So I tried to install the fenders on Thursday night, and that didn’t go so well. I knew the LHT would be the bike I’d have to ride. I thought the bike would be comfortable, but heavy. I’ve got most of my miles logged on the LHT so I thought everything would be dialed in. Not exactly.
Bruce cheated and took Friday off from work. So he was able to spend the day getting his gear ready. I had to work and as luck would have it I was caught late at work. So I got home late and set about getting my gear ready. I didn’t get to bed until about 11pm, and the alarm was set for 4am. Oh well.
Up bright and early for the drive out to Moorpark for the start. I got my brevet card, route slip and got the LHT was ready to go. I wish I had taken more pictures, but I was so nervous I forgot. Something to work on next time.
We stopped for a rest once on Foothill and then followed this rider on his Saluki(sp?). It was a beautiful bike. I wish I’d gotten more pics of it. I had many chances as we stayed pretty close throughout the day.
It wasn’t long before I started to feel like I wasn’t comfortable. I felt stretched out on the LHT and in time my neck started giving me pain. There was nothing I could do, but keep moving my hands around on the bars. I tried not to hold any position for too long.
After the first control we started the climb up Casitas Pass. I didn’t think the climb was that tough. I just shifted into the triple and kept the bike going forward. No other choice really. I got to the top of one of the first pass and wanted to get a picture looking down on the lake. As I slowed though my leg cramped up really bad. So I got moving again and the cramps subsided for a little while. Another missed photo op, but I knew I just had to keep my legs going. The second pass came and went and next thing I knew I was on my way to Santa Barbara. At the bottom of the pass Dion rode by and after some time I managed to catch up to him. We rode up Toro Canyon and then all along ridge together and then got some food at the second control in Santa Barbara.
From here we rode south, and it wasn’t long before my legs started to get tired. I could no longer keep up with Dion and so it wasn’t long before I was on my own. I just rode at my own pace and somewhere along Carpenteria I accomplished my first goal. 100 miles!
After the section on the 101 was when I really started to struggle. I considered calling my wife and asking her to pick me up in Ventura. I planned on skipping the leg down to Malibu and just heading back to Moorpark. I just felt myself going slower and slower not sure that I was going to make it. I managed to make it to Ventura and somehow I just kept pedalin’.
I made it to the control in Port Hueneme at Mile 127 and found some other riders at the Wendy’s. I stopped in and ordered some much needed food. A burger, fries and some water. After looking at the soda that the other riders were drinking though, I had to get myself a root beer. It’s strange how you get some weird cravings when you’re out there. I made sure to get my receipt and in a classic rookie move, I threw it away! So I had to buy something else before I could leave. I ended up buying a water, but since I had already filled up my water bottles I just threw it in my trunk. So I ended up carrying the extra water all the way down to Malibu.
As I was getting ready to leave I felt a cool breeze starting. Since my next leg was going to be heading down PCH to Malibu, I thought I should put on some cold weather gear. However, it wasn’t long before I realized that I was too warm. I stopped by the side of the road to shed some layers and while I was stopped I snapped a couple of pics. I got back on the bike and continued down the road. Not 5 minutes later I saw the unmistakeable flash of police lights. Oh man, am I really getting pulled over? Yep, I really am. Turns out you aren’t supposed to take pictures near a Naval Base. They don’t like that very much, and my creepy beard probably didn’t help much either. The officer was very nice and let me go after I showed him my pictures. He complimented me on my reflective gear and thought I was a little crazy when I told him what we were out there doing.
The turn south to Malibu was coming up and I was feeling good, so I just kept it going. This stretch of the ride was long and slow. I was all alone, riding in the dark with the moon peeking out from the clouds. I was doing the math in my head and figured that I would take me about 4 hours for this leg. The mind games were probably the hardest part of the whole event. When I would think about just how much longer it was going to take to finish, it was really easy to lose motivation. It was hard to keep those thoughts at bay. Riding alone, there was no one to keep me company, so those thoughts would be with me the rest of the night.
I made it to the final control, and had some candy and soda. I didn’t stay too long and got back on the road. I only had 37 miles to go from here, or just under 4 more hours. I saw a few riders heading south as I pedaled north up PCH and I thought I saw Bruce! I thought we were further apart, but I estimated him to be only about 20-30 mins behind me at that point. I was happy to see that and I think it motivated me a little.
The rest of the ride was pretty uneventful. There was a scary moment when I could hear some rocks falling along PCH, but I couldn’t see anything. That was kinda intense. I made it back to Las Posas and headed into Camarillo and then the final push up to Moorpark. This was a long gradual climb, that none of the riders seemed to enjoy, but we all made it through. I finally pulled into the finish at Greg and Lisa’s house at 12:06 am. 17hours and 42mins after I’d started. They were very kind and had food, drinks and most importantly heat for the riders. It was all much appreciated. It wasn’t long before Bruce arrived and we chatted for a little bit, comparing stories.
Overall it was a great adventure. I did it faster than I thought I would. Actually, I wasn’t even sure that I’d be able to finish, but I did! I have some bike fit issues to work out on the bike. My left pinkie on my hand went numb, and I had some neck pain from about the 100 mile mark. I’m thinking that I’d like to try another event, but I’ll have to address my fit issues before I can consider that. I better get on that right away, the next one is already coming up!
Here’s the GPS track from the ride. Click the link to open it in another window. It’s easier to read that way.