Sunset 300

10 Aug

Until now, every brevet or permanent I’ve ridden has been a loop. Last Saturday I rode an out-and-back 300K from Old Town San Diego up to Sunset Beach and back. If you think seeing the same scenery twice is a bit dull, well you wouldn’t necessarily be wrong – on the other hand there are some advantages to a route like this: in particular a reduced risk of getting lost on the way back (of course I managed to throw in a couple bonus miles anyway).

The weather was fantastic – cool but not cold with a light marine layer hanging around for most of the day – this in the first week of August no less! Perfect for hammering without overheating. Carlton from Arizona had signed up, but didn’t show up at the start – I ended up following the wheel of another strong Arizona randonneur, Mike Sturgill (wearing his Boston-Montreal-Boston jersey – a very cool design) along with Jim Verheul on his ‘bent. After the descent down Torrey Pines, we chatted a bit pushing hard past the stench of the lagoons (sewage?) on through the still sleepy beach-towns. Our early start (4AM) and our high pace meant that we made it to Oceanside before day-break.

Next we entered the I-5, riding along the wide shoulder skirting the guard gates at the Camp Pendleton entrance. When we reached the bike path it was fairly rough, but the main concern was evading the dozens of cotton-tails darting in and out of the bushes, often running right alongside our feet or wheels. The cement looked like an abandoned air-strip, and after a long false flat we reached San Onofre – the campground is essentially a parking lot stretched out for miles, the ocean obscured by a short berm running the length of the campground, with lots of RVs and tents dotting the base of the small hill. Not much to look at through this stretch, except for some very fit surfers and joggers I suppose…

Heading into Orange County traffic picked up a bit, but there seemed to be more cyclists on the road than cars. We alternately blasted by swarms of team-kit wearing weekend-warriors, and once or twice were nearly sucked into the wake of a group of very fast riders (though I didn’t latch on, since doing so would violate the rules of randonneuring – you can only draft riders that are officially riding the brevet with you – though I doubt I could have kept up anyway!).

Before I knew it we were through Dana Point, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, and rolled into the mid-way-point control in Sunset Beach. The highlight of this leg was the estuary at Bolsa Chica – with thousands of cranes drowning out the traffic! I paused at a 7-11 to eat another one of my onigiri, washed down with a smoothie, chocolate milk, and apple juice. After grabbing another chocolate milk for the road I raced back up to Mike who had went on ahead (Jim picked up the pace even more so). I mostly clung to his rear wheel on the flats, but would pass him on the climbs – we often split up to avoid the worst of the traffic and eventually he dropped back, caught out by a series of rollers and/or red lights. He passed me at a control in San Clemente, and I didn’t see him again until the end, as I got myself a little lost on the way back to Camp Pendleton. The ride back to the start was basically a busier slightly more painful version of the first 93 miles (it was especially painful to pass up stopping in to Pizza Port San Clemente – considering how good their beer selection is). It wasn’t exactly lonely though, as I once in a while I would exchange waves with some of the more leisurely riders still on their way up the coast as I rushed back down towards San Diego.

Nearing the end, my knee started to burn from cranking up the hills, but I pushed on even harder, figuring I was close to the 12 hour mark (I didn’t want to look at the time yet though). I pulled into the start/finish and was surprised to discover I had finished in just 11 hrs and 12 minutes! Pretty good considering I didn’t sleep the night before, arriving in San Diego on the train at 1AM. The pre-ride carbo-loading at Santana’s (a burrito with fries in it? – surprisingly good actually) and the conversation with John Mestemacher (who rode to the start from the O.C.!) put me in the right mood for a fast ride I guess…

Sad to say I only took one photo, and it didn’t come out – so you’ll have to make due with a map for now (or go watch Jim Verheul’s VIDEO he made from the ride):

(click to enlarge)


4 Responses to “Sunset 300”

  1. Mannuel August 11, 2010 at 3:13 PM #

    That’s an epic ride if I’ve ever seen one. Have you ever thought or have you done a San Fran to LA ride? I’ve been wanting to do it figure you might also be interested.

    • cyclingasmetaphor August 11, 2010 at 8:04 PM #

      I think you could do SF to LA in two days on a bike (I think it is about 500 miles) – although it would be more fun to do at a leisurely pace on tour…I haven’t ridden that far yet, but by next year I should be up for it!

  2. Keith August 15, 2010 at 12:00 PM #

    That route looks amazing. I recently did Greg’s Old Town to Carlsbad 100k while in the area. Somehow, I need to find the time to do this one next time I’m out that way.

    • cyclingasmetaphor August 15, 2010 at 12:38 PM #

      Hi Keith – this is set up as a permanent I believe, so you could pretty much ride it whenever you are down this way (assuming you have a day to spare). If you post about it on the SD Randos google group ahead of time I’m sure you’d have some company if you wanted it as well.

      With few controls and only about 5,000 feet of climbing it makes for a fast 300K except for the traffic through Laguna Beach…

      I’d love to ride some of the NC routes someday (though maybe not in this heat/humidity 🙂

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