So Cal Beach Cities 400k

Saturday I rode the So Cal Beach Cities 400k Brevet. A 250 mile ride that starts up in Simi Valley and goes all the way down the coast to Solana Beach, near San Diego. It’s kinda hard to fathom the distance, so here’s a map to give you an idea.

This was going to be my longest ride to date. It’s a point to point ride, so it involves some planning to make it happen. I took the day off of work on Friday and drove my truck down to the Solana Beach Amtrak Station. Then I rode the train home, and later in the evening Serbrina drove me out to the motel in Simi Valley. I laid out my gear the night before and got some good sleep. I knew what I was getting myself into, but I guess the Salsa Casseroll didn’t. She was a little scared, and pee’d herself.

There were more rando riders at the start than I expected. I had a feeling that the longer the events, the less people, but I was wrong. I think there were about 25 riders at the start. Time for a quick pre-ride meeting where the potential road hazards (read Ryan’s report) were brought to our attention, and at 6 am we were off.

We took off as a group, and I pulled behind Jack and Kathy on their tandem and Jim who was following them. This is a good place to sit and cover some miles, so I knew I was off to a good start. However, it wasn’t long before I had a mechanical. My rear wheel tried to pull itself out of the drop outs. One of the drawbacks of my Casseroll frame is the slotted rear dropouts. If you put too much torque on the rear wheel (i.e. wrong gear at a stoplight) it will pull the wheel forward until the wheel is crooked. So I had to stop, loosen and adjust the wheel, and then re-torque the quick release. A very quick thing to fix, but in no time the pack was long gone. About 5 minutes into the ride and I’m already the Lantern Rouge. These are long rides though, and you can’t worry about those things too early on. So I just settled into my own pace and continued on. About 6 miles in I realized that I forgot to set the GPS to the 400k course. When I turned it on, it reset the mileage. Nuts! Now my mileage was off from the cue sheet. I’m horrible at math, and having to constantly adjust the offset was a pain. I think Garmin should include an adjustable trip odometer for just such an occasion. After a few more miles I began to catch up to the riders. Just as the sun starts to come out I even catch up to Jack and Kathy on a hill. I press on and make it to the first control just behind one of the faster groups.

At the first control I run into Jim and we ride off together. I met Jim on the SLO 300k where we rode with Jack and Kathy on the final leg. We rode together out to the coast and down to just north of Pt. Mugu. We found Jack and Kathy again and rode with them until Jim flatted near Channel Islands.

From about Point Magu to the end of Redondo Beach I rode solo. I stopped to have lunch somewhere near Dockweiler Beach, and had the worst turkey sandwich ever. It was so bad that I threw out the turkey. I wasn’t excited to ride the bike path, but it wasn’t as bad as I’d expected. It was also nice to have many bathrooms available, and I used a few of them. I was drinking straight water in one bottle and it was going through me like crazy.

At the end of Redondo I caught up to Matthew and Ron. It’s weird how you think you are alone out there, because you don’t see anyone, but the other riders are only seconds or minutes ahead of you or behind you. Some how it all lines up and you’re with a group. The three of us would ride the entire rest of the way, over 100 miles together. Jim would join us in Long Beach too. I know I’ve said it before, but riding with a group makes the time pass much faster than riding all that distance solo. I was grateful for the company and the conversation.

Random shots from the ride.

Here’s some of the highlights.

1) Just after sundown riding the Long Beach Bike Path. A train of four riders and all their lights blazing a path.

2) Meeting Matt and his friend (sorry, I didn’t get his name) in Long Beach. They were finishing up a 7 (or 6?) day tour down the coast from San Francisco. They rode with us all the way down to Newport Beach. Fully loaded mountain bikes keeping up our pace. These guys are tough. I’d seen them hours before somewhere north of Malibu and there they were again in LBC! Matt seemed interested in this brevet stuff, so hopefully we’ll see him out there soon. You listening Matt?

3) Seeing my sis! She was in town for a couple days and was driving through Rancho Palos Verdes and spotted me. She met us at one of the controls and hung out while we ate. It was a great surprise.

So how’d I do? I did great! I gave myself a goal of 20 hours to complete the brevet, with a plus or minus of 1-2 hours. I finished in 20 hours and 20 mins. Pretty damn close if you ask me. A couple less bathroom breaks, no mechanical, and quicker stops and I could’ve made the goal and possibly even done better. Overall though, I’m very happy with the result. I am still having some numbing issues in my hands, and the Selle An-Atomica seat is not working for me. I think I’ve given it a fair amount of time now, but it’s back to the drawing board. I got back to the truck about 3:30am, slept for 3 hours and then drove for 2 hours. By the time I got home I was beat!

Now it’s time to look forward to the next challenge, the 600k Brevet!

  • Great ride Errin, glad to see you at the beginning, and looking forward to seeing your Kogswell make its rando debut.

    I keep the QR on my Casseroll super tight in the rear ’cause otherwise the fat tires will end up rubbing the seat-stays when I put too much torque on the wheel when accelerating (which sounds like the same problem you describe).

  • Good work! Congratulations. Another awsome achievement. Must feel great.

  • Kathy T

    Great job, Errin! We wondered what happened to you and Jim at the curve in Channel Islands… One minute you were there, the next not…
    Sorry the seat isn’t working out for you… 🙁

    • Yeah, it was a bummer watching you guys ride away. I was hoping that I’d catch you down the road, but it wasn’t to be.

      I’ve got something else to try before I give up on the seat. I really want it to work. We’ll see.

  • rod

    Way to go Errin. A superman like effort. I can’t even wrap my head around 20 hours straight on a bike. Very cool you saw your sister. Great report.

  • Great Riding with you Saturday night through hunnington beach area. Such an Inspiration to be riding with your group. Glad you made it all the way to Solana Beach safely. Good luck on your future rides, maybe I’ll see ya at a 200K or 300K one of these days.

    • Great meeting you guys Matt. Hope to see you guys on a brevet soon.

  • You look like a badass seasoned Randonneur in that last picture. You need a shirt that reads “I eat 200k’s for breakfast”. Kick ass buddy. Glad you had a great time. Only 600k to go until you are a SR!

    • Yep, only 600k to go now. I think I’m ready. Next year you’ll be there too right? There are going to be many brevets next year to choose from.

  • Jon

    you are THE MAN! great job on the ride Errin, looks like your training is really paying off. i like how the Casseroll pee’d herself, haha.

  • Rad! In some ways the 600k will be easier than the 400k…
    Wish I was riding these! I guess I will be, next year.

  • Jim

    Congratulations Errin! A couple thoughts re: gloves and seats. I’d never had hand problems until Gold Rush, after which I had nerve problems in my left hand (no pincher strength and lack of control of pinky and ring finger). Got a pair of Performance Bike’s Century GEL gloves. Haven’t had a problem since incl. a couple 600K’s and a 1000K. I’m thinking it’s the Gel. Gel bar tape, possibly even double wrapped to spread the pressure over a greater area, probably couldn’t hurt either.

    As for seat issues, sometimes they’re just unavoidable and it’s a matter of minimizing them. Two thoughts here: For “normal” seats (i.e. not Selle An-atomica), there seem to be two types — those that you sit “over”, and those that you sit “on” (i.e. flatter ones). The “over” type can give you shall we say, soft tissue problems on a very long ride. The “on” types affect the sit bones more. I’ve always opted for the “on” type. Sometimes the sit bones get more bruised than other times. Getting out of the saddle frequently to promote blood flow and making sure your seat isn’t too high, helps. The seat I’ve found works well, and I’ve heard this from a few others, is the Selle Italia C2 Genuine Gel.

    Anyway that’s my unsolicited two cents. Hope it helps. Congratulations again, and good luck on the 600K!

    • Thanks Jim. Lots of good advice there. I will be double wrapping my bars, as that does seem to help. I’ve played with the tension on the seat, and it seems to be better. I’m going to give it a 3rd try!

  • Amazing accomplishment … congratulations! As always, I enjoyed the photos and writeup. Sounds like you’re in good shape for the 600k.