Views of Anacapa 200K

11 Jan

Being somewhat new to cycling I wasn’t aware that traditionally New Year’s Day is not a day of rest, but rather a day of toil (and camaraderie). My buddies (some quite hung-over) tried to goad me into joining them on the 40th annual Mt. Wilson climb or the 10th+ annual PCH Ride or the Rose Parade Ride – all venerable traditions that draw between dozens and several hundred participants. I opted to start the decade off with the PCH Randonneurs, and begin whittling away at my Super-Randonneur series (200K+300K+400K+600K) at once.

I rode over to meet my buddy Marcus to hitch a ride with him to Moorpark – he was feeling a bit green, less from a late night and more from an excess of jalapeño poppers (not my first choice for carb-loading). We stopped by our RBA’s place, parking the car and unloading our bikes. We exchanged some friendly words (and some antacid) with the Twitchells who were mounting their tandem (which they put over 5,000 miles on last year) across the street from us. We headed down to the strip-mall parking lot meeting spot, forking over cash and waivers for brevet cards and coffee. I stopped into Vons and ate a doughnut and downed a bunch of carrot juice.

The turn-out was decent (25 – 30 riders I think), several of whom I didn’t recognize from last year’s Summer/Fall series. One of cycling’s most boisterous (and quietly accomplished) personalities was in attendance, David Nakai – whose banter (and heavily decorated bicycle) had everyone giggling. A few instructions regarding an info control and a “secret” control and we were off.

Jim Swarzman went flying off the front of the pack on his old Fuji time-trial bike, and a handful of riders chased after him. Out of breath and spinning rapidly to warm up, we caught up with him at a light. Marcus said, “Jim…just because you’re on a time trial bike doesn’t mean you’re in a time trial.” He zoomed off again complaining of the cold. I stayed on Jim’s wheel, thankful for the protective draught (I’d not brought my gloves, and it was 32F) as I clenched my numb hands. Shai was with us for a while, but disappeared on the first steady grade (he was on a fixed gear). Passing through the citrus groves, the roads were virtually empty, the sound of propellers (warming the air around the crops) was the only thing disturbing the calm.

Besides Jim, another accomplished cyclist, Jeff Dewey was soon up with our miniature break-away as well. In between mashing sessions he regaled us with tales of Paris-Brest-Paris in 1995, crazy DIY repairs he’d made to his (really cool custom) bicycle, etc. The three of us mostly stuck together, occasionally being passed by Greg Jones (our RBA) in his pick-up truck  as he drove ahead to take our photo, set up signs, and prepare controls.

We passed through Ventura, checking out the impressive city hall building briefly (too briefly to photograph, you’ll notice) before reaching the [Casitas?] Bike Path. This part of the ride was one of my favorites as it had a post-apocalyptic feel to it – we passed by enormous active oil derricks, but also huge rusting hulks of gas/oil storage buildings (some covered with evil looking graffiti), the ground nearby covered with vile muck or submerged in viscous panes of contaminated water. Abandoned vehicles and structures flanked us on both sides, rotted out to an impressive degree. We traded half-serious jokes about Superfund sites and holding our breath.  I kept expecting a zombie to leap from around every corner, and certainly some of the joggers we encountered did seem to be stumbling forward in a trance.

Once through this miasmic tunnel we began our gradual climb up to the [O…? Store] control where we paused for bathroom breaks, chocolate milk, water, granola bars, bananas, etc. The beer selection was surprisingly varied for a small outpost far from the city but I decided against cracking open a cold one in preparation for the ascent of Casitas Pass.

More and more cyclists appeared, from at least two large clubs, though nearly all of them had started from the other side of the hill. My haphazard attempts at photographing the lake resulted in frustration so I picked up the pace instead. Both Jim and Jeff are very nimble guys (Super Featherweight I think) – I was afraid of getting dropped for the day on the climb, so I pulled ahead here, hoping to catch them on the downhill. I thought they were right on my wheel, but when I finally peeked behind me there was no one there. It turns out they were chuckling at me for rushing ahead seeing how Casitas Pass has a dip in the middle, followed by a second climb before you are truly over the hill…something they let me learn on my own.

As I neared Carpinteria, things began to look familiar as I’d been on the same road at various times in the past. As I was leaving the control, Jim and Jeff were just getting in, separated by a minute or so. We wouldn’t see one another again until the end.

The route from this point was familiar as it was basically the same thing I did on the Malibu Coastal Cruise. Consequently I didn’t really scrutinize my route sheet until I was at the next control in Port Hueneme where I realized the route sheet I had printed had cut off well before the end (oops!). After re-fueling, I soft-pedaled a bit, expecting Jim to catch up any moment; actually, he had passed me while I was dawdling at the control (Jeff meanwhile was taking an extended lunch break).

I waited for a bit at the Naval Air station at Las Posas and PCH (the latter was closed which should have clued me in) and then called Greg and Lisa (RBA and wife) for summarized directions to their place (the finish).

I’d been dodging construction/road repair and facing a mild but persistent headwind (going the opposite direction than what is normal for the coast) up until this point, so it was nice to turn in-land and feel a boost from the tail-winds enable me to shift to my 50×12 and churn after my sub-8 hour goal. As I made my way up the final extended climb back towards Moorpark, a very polite woman with a British accent and a clipboard rolled down her window and asked my name and if I wanted something to drink. I wasn’t aware that anyone had volunteered to offer support on the brevet (and I couldn’t see Pete, the driver, who I would have recognized) – so I quickly (if not suspiciously) said no thanks and prepared for the final push.

I pulled into Greg and Lisa’s place after 7 hrs and 43 min – amused to see Jim lounging around like he’d been there for hours (well, he had been there for at least 30 minutes). I enjoyed a couple root beers, a wonderful bowl of soup, dark chocolate bars, and home-made pizza (honestly, their wood burning oven was the primary inducement for me doing this ride!) while congratulating the other riders as they trickled in over the next couple of hours. We chatted about how to improve the club, our plans for the coming year, ogling a couple custom bikes (one making its brevet debut I believe – again, I should have taken photos!), and enjoying the cozy outdoor fire

For the visual among you I can only apologize and direct you towards Dana’s post (which features some video footage), and a link to the map/elevation profile/etc.

Advertisements

One Response to “Views of Anacapa 200K”

  1. Fatmex January 11, 2011 at 12:17 PM #

    Excellent report. I expect pics next time out 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: