Koi seem to be my brevet 'spirit animal'
I rode the “Rollers to Bonsall
” 200K brevet with the San Diego Randonneurs
last Saturday. Rachel and I came in to town the evening before and feasted on quite a few properly grilled carne asada tacos at La Fachada
. Well sated, we arrived back at the motel so I would be able to get a decent rest, but around 9:30PM I realized that despite all my careful preparation, I had forgotten both my jersey and bib shorts at home. The latter especially are something I consider a necessity for long rides as I find it impossible to ride in regular street clothes for more than 20 or 30 miles without suffering terrible chafing. For me, donning the lycra isn’t about looking cool or being more aerodynamic, it is all about comfort. So we frantically searched for and then raced over to a sporting goods store, arriving just 5 minutes before they closed. I had to buy some cycling shorts that were slightly too big for me, and a shirt (they didn’t have jerseys) that was slightly too small, but at least I would be able to ride the next day. With all this last minute stress I kept waking up throughout the night and hardly slept at all. Oh well.
Around 20 riders showed up for the departure which was great, although I think the larger numbers made it difficult to get everyone registered in time (we rolled out a good 15 minutes late). I noticed quite a few bloggers in attendance (Errin, Esteban, Jerry, Mark…), so read their ride reports if you want to experience Rashomon-like coverage of the event.
I had planned to find someone fast and local to follow, so I could focus more on riding than on navigating (there were quite a few twists and turns on the route, and I’m not familiar with the San Diego area). I ended up tailing Eric Anderson (a recumbent rider I knew from the SLO 300K), but after some long steep slopes I left him behind and found myself alone in the suburbs. I knew Jerry was ahead of me, but he was quite a bit faster so I never did catch up to him.
With caution and a little luck I managed to make it to the next two controls (manned by friendly volunteers who had plenty of fruit and other goodies available) without missing a turn. Passing through well manicured ranch lands between San Diego into Carlsbad, I found myself drafting a manure truck for a few miles. Quite a contrast to the posh surroundings, this was sort of a mixed blessing as the reduced wind resistance enabled me to coast most of the time, but the aromatics and particles making their way back to me left something to be desired.
The stretch into Escondido was rather unattractive so I was pleasantly surprised to find myself in a quiet wooded area just a few miles outside of town up on Jesmond Dene Rd:
My legs started to rebel around this point, as I was maintaining a brisk pace, pushing myself to work harder up the myriad long inclines. I got some respite coasting down Old Hwy 395, a 5 or 6 mile descent before turning off towards Bonsall. This was the northern terminus of the ride, and I had made it 71 miles in about 4.5 hours – so far so good. I downed some chocolate milk, rested for a few minutes, and then got back on the saddle. Eric pulled in just as I was leaving, but I didn’t wait up for him as I figured he would catch up with me later.
There was a lot of construction on the highway, so the route lead us over an abandoned bridge and through an unmarked path before spitting back out to civilization. As I turned towards the coast, the headwinds increased making the 7 mile stretch along the bike path into Oceanside a chore. I paused for 10 minutes or so to help a roadie fix a flat tire so by the time I had popped open a big can of coconut juice at the next control, Eric pulled in. We rode together along the coast, passing by outdoor concerts, beach parties, and through resort towns before picking up speed along the 101/Coast Hwy. Eric passed me, zipping down the descents, and when I thought I could catch up to him going up a long hill, I found myself dragging terribly.
Soon I realized my rear tire had flatted, so I pulled off to fix it. After struggling for 15 minutes to get a new tube on, I nervously pulled back out on to the road – as I couldn’t find the cause of the flat (usually a goathead or piece of metal embedded in the tire tread). Another group of randonneurs passed by me and I wasn’t able to catch up to them either as by now one of my legs was in quite a bit of pain. The beach was gorgeous along this stretch, but I didn’t take any photos as I just wanted to finish. Going up the final steep climb to Torrey Pines I chatted with a local cyclist briefly to take my mind off my knee, which swollen and strained was making me wince with every pedal stroke.
Passing by Sea World and Fiesta Island seemed to take forever as traffic was jammed in every direction due to the Over-The-Line tournament. With something between a smile and a grimace I limped back to the finish, happy that I had not gotten lost and that I had still achieved a personal record [~8.5 hours] for a 200K brevet despite some (minor) physical and mechanical difficulties.
After a much needed shower (I’m not sure how, but I was covered in so much grime by the end of this ride, people were asking if I had crashed), Rachel and I went out to celebrate, walking around a couple neighborhoods we hadn’t seen before on previous visits to San Diego, making stops at Velo Cult, Hamilton’s, Toronado, and The Linkery (where we enjoyed house-made goat head-cheese among other things).
The next day we spent some time hanging out in Balboa Park (where we went to the model railroad museum among other places) before returning to L.A. A great trip – and with the Summer heat finally coming on, I’m looking forward to a 300K in August and a 400K in September that both hug the coastline for pretty much the entire ride…