Tuesday, July 26, 2016

High Rouleurs Society

Well if you followed along online at last weekend you will have seen that I was bested by the heat and that I called it late morning on Sunday as I was going to time out. It seemed the better decision rather than spend the rest of the day grinding myself into the ground only to come up short. In the end I rode 195 miles and accumulated 22,253’ of gain. So that’s the short version. Read on if you would like the longer version.

As a reminder The High Rouleurs Society has two qualifying rides; The Limit 10,000m of gain in one nonstop ride as long or as short as you like and The Journey 10,000m of gain and a minimum of 400km. Why is everything in that newfangled metric system you ask? Well because these challenges were born out of Australia and they use the metric system. For those of you thinking in miles and feet it converts to 248 miles and 32,808’. My Everesting ride was 227 miles and 29,068’ so I had to ride an extra 21 miles and 3740’.

My goal was The Journey.

As you can read in my previous post I had mapped out two courses, one for each day over the weekend that would let me accumulate the necessary distance and elevation. The routes would also let me pick off the climbs for the Santa Monica Mountains Challenge.

Saturday; I was on the road by 6:21am. I started from home and rode out towards the Santa Monica Mountains where I would spend all day. The first 20 or so miles got me to the base of the first climb; Rockstore. I have ridden it many times before and it was an easy climb up. The morning had started pretty cool but it was warm enough for just a jersey and a base layer. I made my way up a nice empty road and I was at the top with 1:48 on the clock, 24 miles and 2300’ of gain. The challenge of The Journey is finding the balance between distance and elevation! I had a 21 mile ride to the base of Rockstore with a 900' gain followed by a 4 mile climb where I accumulated the rest!

First climb of the day; Rockstore in the bag!

It was a quick turnaround and descent back the way I came to meet up with Becca as I traversed to the southern side of the Santa Monica’s.


Heading out after the first Fuel Stop; Mulholland and Cornell

The next climb was 7 Minute Hill…it took me 11 minutes. I was always focused on keeping my effort in Zone 2 as I had to go all day. This was a loop and took me back to the base of the next Climb; Stunt. I have ridden up Stunt twice, once during The Mulholland Challenge in April and then just last weekend. Both times it was significantly cooler. The temperature was starting to climb and by the time I was at the top it was around 95f. That’s where it would stay for most of the day.  At the top I was treated to Becca in a bikini giving me her best cheer!  

There was a big fire in the Santa Clarita and the smoke was blowing across towards the ocean. I wasn’t impacting my breathing but there was definitely a smell in the air.

The next descent took me out to the coast. A twisty descent into the outskirts of Topanga and then down to the Pacific Crest Highway. I was much further south than I usually ride at this point and the increase in traffic was noticeable. There is a bike lane/shoulder but you’re riding with 2 lanes of traffic, sometimes 3 lanes and it’s moving pretty fast. I had a close shave with a bus that passed me and got a good suck into the vortex of wind it generated behind it.

Luckily I only needed to ride on PCH for a couple of miles and I took a right hand turn onto Las Flores. This was one of the last climbs I had never ridden up. In fact despite living in Los Angeles for over 13 years I have never even driven up it. I met Becca at the bottom and refilled my bottles and pockets of fuel and gave me a good smear of sunscreen. She mentioned that it was only a 3 mile climb but it was a pretty steep! Of everything I rode on Sunday this was by far the toughest climb. Looking at the data the grades pitched up to over 15% and it was actually a 5 mile climb by the time I got up to the top of Stunt again.


Feeling like complete shit…but still smiling!

I took a quick rest at the 3 mile mark when I actually had the worst of the climbing behind me. Another cyclist Paul stopped by for moral support! Becca was on full effect SAGing anyone who stopped near her and telling everyone what craziness I was up to! Seriously this woman…sorry world, you lose! On the second part of the climb I realized that we had misjudged a turn and I should be heading up and over Piuma whereas Becca had headed back up to the top of Stunt, I followed her up as it was only a couple of miles and gladly (kinda gladly) banked the extra elevation.

So at this point I realize that all these names are confusing so here is a map that might help



At the top of Stunt it was an about face and head back down the extra two miles and make my way out to the bottom of Piuma and back for a round trip of 16 miles. The climb back up took longer than anticipated.

Lots of views like this…all day!

Basically I was slowing down, even allowing for the actually turnaround when I scoffed a bar and stopping to take some photos the out and back took nearly two hours.

Piuma; you can see the road in the top left quarter and follow it to the valley floor in the bottom right! Down-Up-Down!

The best thing about being at the top. My very own shepakini! Becca was at Level 11 on her sherpaing!


She goes to 11!


Not quite that hot but over 100f for sure!

The next 10 miles were essentially downhill with a nominal amount of climbing. Back down Stunt, left onto Las Virgenes (Malibu Canyon) back to the coast, turn right for a couple of miles north and then the 9 mile climb up Latigo Canyon (Lat-ti-go not Laa-tee-go…or so I am told!). Becca noticed my front tire was low so we pumped it up some and pushed on.

Nothing new here, it’s a long slog but it’s manageable. I hardly ever ride with headphones, usually only on the dirt, but I dug mine out and plugged in a Tom Clancy audio book to take my mind off of the road. I have ridden up Latigo 6 times, the fastest in 59 minutes, the KOM held by Levi Liephiemer is 33 minutes, today it took 1:46! At the time I had no real idea of my speed with hindsight it’s amazing I didn’t fall over sideways I was going so slowly! I had also picked up a slow puncture in my front wheel, I stopped twice to inflate it but should have just switched out the tube. I used 4 C02 cartridges to get me to the top as well as my handpump, so that added to the overall time. The actual ride time was 1:19, so over 25 minutes futzing with a tire!


At the descent I met with Becca, she had ICEEs!. From here she had to go home to look after the dogs, my plan now was to bridge across to Mulholland, descend back to the coast, turnaround and then ride home. I refilled my bottles, grabbed a couple of bars and mounted my lights as I would be finishing up in the dark.


Raspberry or Cherry!

An uneventful ride I reached the coast with 120.9 miles and 13,461’ feet. It was this section of Mulholland I used for Everesting so I could almost ride it with my eyes closed! It was a guestimate that it would be around 25 miles and 3,500’ to get home.

Homeward Bound!

This would put me over the half way points on both distance and elevation. By the time I was halfway up Mulholland I had my lights turned on and at the top I was in the pitch black. One final stop with Becca at the top of Mulholland for a refill and I swapped out my front wheel for Becca’s who had her bike in the van. My mind was working that well and limping along seemed better than making a clean break?!?

I carefully made my way down Decker back into Westlake Village. This is pretty treacherous at best with a couple of nasty off camber turns that pitch down more than 10%.

At the bottom it was a well-worn route back home. Final tally for Day 1 147.6 miles, 16,325’ of gian in 13:05 moving time and 16:04 of total time. A long day at the office! It was past 10:00pm.

Food, change inner tube on front wheel, shower, bed! Of course my mind was racing and I finally turned the light out at past midnight with the alarm set for 3:00am

The discussion the night before had been along the lines of accumulating distance and time riding up and down grueling climbs would not cut it. The revised plan was to revert to an Everesting strategy of ascending and descending the same segment.  This made for easier sagging and should allow for controlled accumulations. For obvious reasons my Everesting Segment made perfect sense.

Shave, breakfast, load bike in van drive to mountains, ride bike! Becca would have a slower start to the day and join me later

I was wheels down by 5:40, parking the van midway presented me with the decision to ride up or down to start. I choose up figuring that it would warm me up…hmm yeah about that! I ground out half a mile or so and had to stop. My body was not happy! My mind wanted to play…kinda, my body was having none of it. I stuffed a caffeine Picky Bar in my mouth and pushed off.

Early mornig shadows are nice and long!

After the first ascent and descent Becca had made her way out and was riding with me, well actually she was riding away from me!

She finished her up/down and had packed up her bike when I pulled into the SAG stop. My front wheel was playing up again and I swapped my wheel as my tire had now developed a side bulge! Continental GPIIs destined for the trash! Give me back my Schwable Ones! One more climb and descent and I realized I was going run out of time. It was around 11:00am, I had covered just over 42 miles and gained 5200’ feet. I had over 60 miles and 12,000’ which would take 7 more round trips, there was 7.5 hours left on the clock and each trip was takin 90 minutes…a degree in math is not needed here! Oh and it was getting pretty hot too!


We agreed that it was a fruitless task, I said I would push on to roll the mileage up to 53 for the day giving me a round 200 for the weekend. I rode up Mulholland for another mile or so and turned around and headed back to the car. Other than round numbers there was nothing to be gained from grinding myself further into the road! I can live with unround numbers…no really I can! The irony here is that I ended up with exactly 225 miles for the week!

So that was that, we loaded the bike in the van and headed home!

There’s always stuff to be learned so here’s my thoughts!

  • The balance between miles and elevation is insanely tight. Finding a route that gives you both is really hard. I thought I had planned it out pretty well…apparently not!
  • Know your climbing ability; are you a 4% 5 mile grinder or a 10% 1 mile spinner? Pick the wrong one and you’re digging your own grave
  • Get ready for the go slow. I completely underestimated my speed to climb. Take your KOM time and add 20%, 30% even 50%! It’s going to happen!
  • Food and Fluid; eat and drink lots! You know this already but it always bears a reminder. Real food, due to the heat I was eating a lot of fruit, bars less so.
  • The biggest mistake I made was thinking I had the need for sleep. You have the option but do you take it? I can go 24 hours or more without sleep, not everyone can though. With hindsight there was a lot to be said for knowing I was riding home, especially when home was nearly 30 miles away. That said had I gotten closer and ridden a smaller hilly loop till sunrise I would have been in a better place for Day 2. Sunrise is always a natural pick-me-up. Three hours sleep and a 45 minute drive definitely less so.
  • Picking the hottest weekend of the year so far! The weather is always a crap shoot. Family commitments had the event land on this weekend…it is what it is!

I am sure there are a couple more, but these are the things that spring to mind

So that’s it, got any questions, just ask.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome write up and great visual support to the words. One day, I will find a hill to play on.


Thanks for reading this post and leaving a comment, if you are entering a contest, please ensure you put some sort of unique name down so I can get back to you. E-mail addresses are ONLY displayed to me, and never shared, sold, pilfered, or anything else unhappy.