My fourth double of the year is the Grand Tour. This is one of my favorites (mostly for personal reasons, as a lot of my friends are riding this). Plus, as an added bonus, my friend Steve, is doing the 100th double century of his career … that’s 100! I couldn’t miss the opportunity to ride with him. Steve was riding his tandem with his brother-in-law, Vince, so this could become a family affair on this ride!
Ken and I started out a little earlier than everyone else (just because of my inane fear of being “slower” than others … I joke about this, but I genuinely believe I’m a slow doubles rider). It turns out we only started a few minutes before everyone else, and we traded leads before we got passed up by guess who … Steve. Woohoo, the party on wheels has started, and the train is rolling. By the time we rolled through Pt. Mugu, our group grew to 7.
I’ve done this ride twice before, so I know what to expect. There are three major climbing sections of the ride … Potrero, Dennison Grade, and Lake Casitas climbs.
Potrero is definitely the steepest, but for some reason, it’s my favorite of the three major climbs (okay, some people will wonder about my sanity at this point). The steep climbs on Potrero is similar to Redwood Gulch, my local hill (half hour away), so I’m kinda used to this type of climb. I felt pretty good and charged up. The fact that the sun wasn’t out, and it was pretty foggy, gave me some extra mojo in the legs.
After a short regroup at rest stop 2, our group grew in numbers to about 10. Along the way, we picked up Steve’s cousin, who rode with us for about 10 miles. This is just awesome.
At the third rest stop, there was a big celebration for Steve’s 100th double. John Long was working this rest top, and who was the main instigator. He made a sign, and I could tell Steve was touched by it. Sorry for the blurry picture (I had my friggin’ camera set to macro mode).
Ok, onwards we go, with the next climb up Grimes Canyon. At this point, the battery on my helmet cam gave him … damn, and we were about to descend Grimes, which has an awesome view (plus a pretty nice descent).
Along the route, Steve and Vince’s folks came along the route to greet us many times. This is great. What’s better is Steve’s daughters joined us for portions of the ride … now how cool is that?
This gave me a quick opportunity to change the battery on my helmet cam … this was a nice break before we head towards the next climb, Dennison Grade.
Dennison grade is not very steep, but is gradual, and it just seems to continue on forever. As usual, climbing Dennison, the sun is out. Now this is at approximately 100 miles in, so maybe that has a part of my difficulties on this climb.
As with every climb, there is a descent … and the descent from Dennison Park heading to lunch towards Ojai was nice. It had nice smooth pavement, and the switchbacks weren’t too sharp, so perfect conditions for brisk descent.
With the combination of this nice descent, and the lunch stop, it gave me enough of a rest stop recover enough to attack the next climb, down to Lake Casitas, then up and over to Rincon. I like this part of the ride (perhaps because I know it’s the last major climb of the day?).
By the time we got to Rincon, I couldn’t help but feel really good about the ride. We were making really good time, and it was around 3 pm at this time. I started to think that I’ll actually be able to finish this ride in daylight! Let’s see, 5 hours to go 60 miles … yea, that seems very doable.
After Rincon, we get into a paceline hugging the coastline. Not a bad way to travel, riding along PCH, with sunny blue skies on a fairly cool summer afternoon. And they wonder why I ride this? This is a stark contrast to the June gloom foggy conditions we had earlier, about 10 hours ago.
After a while though, I start losing touch with the pack, and I think the pace and the distance was starting to catch up with me. Luckily, the last rest stop is ahead.
We leave the last rest stop, at around 5:15 pm, so plenty of time to finish the ride in daylight. In the past, I wouldn’t leave this rest stop till almost sunset, so I’m feeling really happy about this.
We have about 38 miles to go, and things were going really well … until we see Steve and Vince with a flat. Damn, and we were doing so good here.
We did pretty good though … only 2 flats for the whole group, which hovered between 7-12 riders in the group.
Big congratulations to Steve for completing his 100th double. That’s quite an accomplishment. By comparison, this was only my 11th. Oh, and if you listen very carefully to the video, the speedbump hit the rear derailleur on the tandem. That’s what the whoa and subsequent laughter was. As my friend Vic says, “good to finish it off with a bang” … literally.
We rolled into the finish around 7:47 PM, 196 miles, 8602 feet of climbing, with a total elapsed time of 14:53:31. We still had plenty of daylight left in the day. For once, I was able to enjoy the BBQ meal at the end of the ride. That’s a first for me … I’ll make a bold statement here, saying this is the most enjoyable double century I have ever participated in … at least up to this point.