More Quality Time on Highway One, Malibu Grand Tour

24 June 2006

Thou art to continue

Measure for Measure, II, i, 181

The alarm went off at 1:45am. Presumably the other alarm had gone off at 1:40am and I had slept through it. I set two the afternoon before just in case this happened and then tried to go to sleep before dark. I had to be at Kathy’s at 2:30, dressed, fed, packed and ready to go down to Malibu. We’d loaded the bikes the day before.

Six weeks before the Boston marathon my knee went pop and I couldn’t run it. For once the weather there was perfect, it would have been a great run. My doctor finally got around to scheduling my surgery — and chose the day I would have flown out, so I could not even visit my friends.
I got depressed.
Then the surgery happened and it didn’t seem to amount to much. I walked out of the recovery room with essentially no pain.
But the next day my knee started sloshing. No one had warned me of that, it frightened me. And it hurt to move.
I got depressed.
A week later I was much better, and was told I could start riding my bike. Not just could, but should. Ten miles a day. Then a few days later my PT suggested a 40 mile ride.
The thought of running worried me. Would my knee go “pop” again? Would the other knee? What was wrong with me that caused me to torque my menisci?
The physician’s assistant assured me that tearing one meniscus did not increase the probability of tearing the other. Statistically. But surely those statistics were based on tennis players and basketballers, people who tend to tear their menisci, rather than runners, who don’t often. And so are those statistics applicable to me?
Who knows. Everyone is a special case. The only way to find out for sure is to try, and that seems a bit risky.
I ask my PT about what I can do to correct my imbalances (not now, not yet, but when I’m more fully recovered from the surgery). He agrees it’s too early to try anything.
My friend Kathy has started doing 200 mile bike rides (in a day). Perhaps I should go in for that? Presumably it will be less stressful on the knee, and since it’s my current therapy it might even help me to recover. Or that’s my rationale.
I mention this to the PT, half expecting him to demur at the idea. Instead he tells me I should start riding 50 miles a day to train (that’s about twice what I do on a normal day).
There are two rides (or tours as they seem to be called) coming up “locally” one at the end of May in Davis (which seems too soon after surgery, and anyway I’m leaving for France the next day), and one at the end of June in Malibu. That sounds doable.
These are not races. I don’t even know if they are timed (though I do intend to keep track). Kathy says she doesn’t ride in a pack, so they don’t have the aspect of bike racing that I dislike (fear).
I don’t ride particularly rapidly. I figure it will probably take me about 16 hours of riding time (maybe less, but 16 sounds conservative. Of course there will be stops for food and other functions so elapsed time will be longer.
Ah… it’s the weekend closest to the solstice. The longest day, good thought. Riders to start between 4:30 and 6:30 am. I’d best start as early as possible. Lights are required. Yes, even at the solstice there aren’t 16+ hours of daylight in southern California. Sunrise: 5:45, Sunset: 8:15, day length: 14:30.
So in the four weeks before I leave for France I manage to put in approximately 300 mile weeks — not quite the 350 my PT asked for, but close. Never done four of those back to back before. I average about 12 mph, but that’s mostly because of city driving, on longer rides without stop lights I can average 15+. I don’t think I can keep that pace up for 200, but I manage it for 32 (then a few hours rest while I measure water quality) and then for 32 back. Not the same as 64, but not bad.
Let’s see 200/15= 13 hours. So even if I go unexpectedly fast this will still be a very long day.

One day I rode out to El Capitan State Beach, sat at a picnic table and looked out at the sea, and ate my lunch.
A (coastal scrub-)Jay landed about 2 feet away. I’ve never seen a scrub-jay that close, and it was beautiful. It cocked its head and looked at me. I very slowly moved my hand out to it hoping it might hop onto a finger. It didn’t. Then it flew off.
And landed on my shoulder. I turned and looked at it. It looked at me. It walked around my neck to the other shoulder.
I tore off a small bit of my lunch and put it on the table in front of me. The jay flew down, grabbed it in its beak and flew off a few feet. It came back for another crumb, and this time flew over to my bike, perched on my tire, held the crumb in its two feet and pecked at it with the beak. I was a little worried that it might pop the tire, but it did not.
I gave it some more crumbs and it really flew off.

Then I go biking though the farms of the French countryside with my parents. The Charente, in the land around Cognac, between Angoulême and Sainte. I assume I’ll just do even more riding now that I have no distractions. But I’ve forgotten just how heavy and clunky our rental bikes always are. And it rains almost every day. And the countryside can be beautiful so I tend to stop and look at it, at the wild flowers, at the wheat fields, at the vineyards, the swans, the occasional chateau, the odd Roman ruin. If I averaged 40 miles a day I was lucky and 50 was probably my maximum. Oh well. The prehistoric cave paintings we stumbled on were worth the trip.
In France I tell my family about the tour. My mother says “I guess you are less likely to hurt yourself on a bike than running.” This seems unlikely to me. My aunts say “That sounds strenuous, so you shouldn’t do it.”
Nothing like a little encouragement from the family.
When I come back there are three and a bit weeks to go. I get Kathy to ride with me to Ventura one morning. She starts out far too fast… only it isn’t too fast, I can keep this pace. We average 16.5mph down to Ventura (32 miles). I guess I have never before pushed myself on a bike. Interesting. Perhaps I didn’t know how before.
The following Wednesday I do a 66mile loop down to Ventura, around Lake Casitas, through the mountains between Ojai and SB and back to SB. I get down to Ventura at an average pace of 17.9mph. Wow. I slow down on the hills, of course, but I still average 16.2 for the entire loop.
I’ve been considering buying a new bike, and considering getting clip-in pedals (I’ve been riding in toe-cages for the last 20 years). The week before this I bought bike shoes and used them in spinning classes. Clipping in seemed a bit difficult, but clipping out was easy — and clipping out is what worries me; I need to be able to stop after all. So, confident of my new found skill, I go off to buy a new bike.
On my first test drive, at the first intersection about 20 yards from Fastrack (the bike store), I come to a stop and slowly fall over into a puddle.
And my feet won’t come out even now I’m on the ground.
So much for my confidence. After this I’m more careful, clipping out almost as soon as I clip in when I go round the block. No more mishaps. I buy the bike, and I ride it home safely and upright.
The next day is to be my last long training ride, two weeks before the tour. I’ve decided to do the standard 66 mile loop around the lake and then ride out to Refugio (about 30 miles in the other direction), getting about 120miles in. Nothing like 200 of course, but probably more than I’ve done in a day before.
I take the new bike.
I only fall over twice.
There’s a coyote standing on the horse trail right next to the bike path about 30 feet from a house. He just watches me. There’s a Jay in the bushes screaming alarm calls at him. He isn’t bothered by that either. I’m surprised by his boldness… but then I think “How could I hurt him? I can’t even stop the bike without falling off. He’s perfectly safe.”
I get down to Ventura at 18.3mph. I get around the lake at 17.5mph. I do the first 100miles at 17.2mph. I complete the 126 mile trip at 17mph.
My legs don’t seem to get tired, but I’m learning that I really need to eat. The reason I slowed down at the end was that I hit the wall. I hadn’t taken in enough calories and suddenly I was going 11mph. I stopped (without falling) and had lunch. I felt better after that, but it takes time to digest, and I was an hour or so before I got back up to speed.

The Malibu Grand Tour is the oldest double century in the US, and it has several options in addition to the double. You can choose to ride 200km, 200, 300 or 400 miles. You can also choose a mountainous or a flatter route. I had no interest in doing 200km=125miles, I’ve done that, no particular challenge there. But being a bit nervous about 200miles I opt for the easier route.
A map.
Because they have 300 and 400 mile option, some of the aid stations remain open until 3 or 4am the next morning. Some of these stations are in a nice building with comfy chairs and amenities, but others are just a corner by the side of the road. These are all manned by volunteers (most of whom have done their own bicycle ultras). These guys are dedicated.

Most of June has been foggy and cool, but the day after I did my 126 mile ride it turned sunny and hot. Very hot. Not what we want for an endurance event. The next week the fog rolled in again, and we were much relieved, but the Friday before the event the weather for the next day was predicted to change yet again, with temperatures above 100.

I drove to Kathy’s. She had told me I could tell her condo because all the lights would be on, and no one else would be getting up at that hour. 🙂 we had both forgotten that to much of the world 2:30am is late rather than early, and the complex was ablaze with lights — people partying on Friday night.
We got down to Malibu around 4 (check-in started at 3:30) and there were already bikes heading down the road as we turned off Hwy 1 to drive up the last half mile to the start. I remind myself it isn’t a race, no reason they can’t start early.
We pick up our packets, and get scanned in. We don’t realize it, but this is our official start time. Then we go back to the car, pull the bikes out, put them together, figure out what we’re going to take with us (I’m taking lots of gel-packs, recovery-drink powder, electrolytes, three water bottles, spare tubes, pump, sun-screen, etc.), figure out what to wear. I take a wind breaker. It’s pleasantly cool, and blessedly foggy. Of course it’s 4 in the morning.
I discover that my rear light isn’t working. That’s a shock. I can’t ride without a rear light.. Thank god for Kathy, she has a spare light. It’s designed to be a front light, is blue and is a bit too bright, but it’ll do, it’ll do. Whew!
In our check-in packets is a double-sided, double-column page of directions. I don’t quite grasp what this entails yet. When I run a race, the course is always clearly marked, there’s never any doubt where we go. And there’s always someone just in sight whom I can follow (I’m never first). Besides it’s pretty clear what we are going to do now — we go up Hwy 1 for 25miles and then find the rest stop at Port Hueneme. So I just glance at it and store it in my fanny pack.
We go back to the start, almost ready to go now. Kathy was given the wrong directions so she nips in to get the right set. As she comes out there is a group of a dozen or so bikes counting down. It’s just 4:30. And they’re off. And then we’re off! I click my stop watch (the one on my watch) to mark our start — who cares about the official time.
There is a distinction between the stopwatch on my wristwatch and the one on the bike. The wristwatch measures elapsed time. The bike stopwatch measures biking time. We stop for all kinds of reasons: At stop lights, to eat, to read directions when we get lost… so these two numbers will be quite different. Both interest me.
It’s rather pretty as we start. Pitch black of course (moon almost new, enough overcast that the stars aren’t visible), but there is a line of bikes going down the hill with their rear lights twinkling. Like Christmas lights.
I quickly discover that the route isn’t as simple as I thought. We don’t go onto Hwy 1 in the obvious way, we spend some time on the surface streets of Malibu. There’s no indication as to where we should turn either (this turns out to be wrong– there are orange arrows painted on the road at most of the turns, they are invisible at 4:30 though, and even when I look for them I sometimes fail to find them, or I (color-blind I) follow a green arrow from a race last month). However that’s ok because we’re in a pack of riders and the guys in front know where they are going.
We’re in a pack of riders. One of my fears. If I make a mistake — I crash into someone. If someone else makes a mistake — I crash into them. My feet are locked in my pedals and I won’t be able to get them free if I need to stop suddenly.
The people behind me are complaining about my rear light. It’s too bright, and it isn’t red.
We come to an intersection and I realize my speedometer isn’t working. Did I put the wheel on wrong? I pull over, and stop (without falling!). No it’s just that the sensor got knocked too far from the wheel, I correct it and everything is working now. (but I’ve missed the first half mile or so).
We go again. There’s no traffic in Malibu at 4:30.
By the time we’re on Hwy 1 we’re stretched out into a line rather than all bunched up. That’s a little better, but still everything is too close. If I drop back far enough to feel safe someone from behind just slots into the space. So I have to drop back even further. And it’s dark. I can’t see the road particularly well. Someone passes me and complains about my light as she does so:
“That light is really annoying”
Tant pis.
We’re going more slowly than I would like, I think. But I look down and see we’re going about 16.5mph. To think that a month ago that would have seemed really fast. Or perhaps I’m drafting and I’m just not used to it.
Around 5:30 I start to be able to see things. There’s a guy beside me and he has a little clip on his break cables which clamps his directions where he can see them.
Me: “That’s a great idea!”
Him: “Hunh?”
Me: “That clip for holding directions.”
Him: “Wxxfl”
This is a rather beautiful bit of coastline all craggy with the surf crashing against the rocks. We’re on the inland side of the highway so don’t get to see the ocean as well as I’d like. Oh well, it will be better in the evening on the way back.
We leave Hwy 1 when it turns into freeway. And the route is again more complex than I had thought. We’ve got another 10 miles before the first rest station. But the guy up front knows where he’s going so we can just follow along.
Kathy tells me she’s just seen a kestrel, indeed has seen several. I’m all excited, I’m no good at identifying small hawks, and ask her to point it out the next time she sees one. Kathy laughs. A kestrel is a kind of bike, and points to a bike in front. It does, indeed, say kestrel on it.
The first rest stop is a bit of a disappointment. There isn’t much to eat. But I fill up my water bottles, drop off my light, give them my number (so they know I got this far), remove my wind breaker, use the restroom … and then discover that there is fruit outside. That’s better. I try to memorize the directions to the next rest stop, but they don’t stick in my mind well. I have a gel pack and we’re ready to go again.
Kathy and I are in a slightly different group this time, some of the same people, but some new faces too. Most are doing the highland route and they branch off from us soon after the first stop. After this there are just us and Bret. So we get to know Bret. Bret is 28 has done many double centuries and triathlons and is considering trying to go out for the Race Across America next year. He’s planning to do the 300mile route (to qualify for RAM you need to do 400+miles in 24 hours — that’s about 17.7mph for 24 hours — I can’t hold that pace for 4 hours). So this is training for qualifying for RAM.
Bret is a strong cyclist (as he’d have to be) and takes the lead. He also can read the directions on the fly.
I’m at the back again. Kathy is very interested in Bret’s plans to do RAM and so they keep together talking. We continue to do 16+mph. Sometimes I feel guilty about being at the back and pull out in the lead, but my attempt to memorize directions didn’t work and at a major intersection I have to fall back and let Bret take over again.
Bret finds out that this is my first double century and asks if I’d like some advice. I say sure. “Always eat more than you think you need to, and eat before you feel hungry.” I’d sort of gotten that idea from my own 126 mile ride, though I had not expressed it so coherently. Sounds reasonable. “Don’t spend too long at the rest stations.” Dave (the owner of my bike store) said the same thing: “If you spend 10 minutes at each station you’ll add about an hour to your 12hour day of biking. You’ll regret not being home earlier.” That, too, sounds like good advice. Though the idea of biking 200miles in a 12 hours seems unlikely.
We get to the next rest stop in Morepark, I’ve never been here before. Morepark is inland and the sun has shaken off the clouds and is shining. We sail down a nice shady street before turning into the park with our stop. The highland route has joined us again, briefly, but there aren’t many people at the rest stop. The restrooms have just been opened, which is rather comforting for us, a little disquieting, no doubt, for those before us. But then there probably aren’t that many. We’re going fairly fast and on the easy route and we started on time.
They have peanut butter + jelly sandwiches here. And fruit. And recovery drink (the real stuff, not Gatorade). So I eat, use the rest rooms, give my number, drink my recovery drink, fill my water bottles, rearrange my fanny pack so that the gel packs are on top, try to memorize the route, and we’re off again.
Once more it’s the three of us, and almost immediately we are back in the fog and overcast. Which is nice. We’ve turned and are heading toward the coast to Ventura. Bret and Kathy are going more slowly now than I’d like (about 13mph), so I pull out in front to encourage them to go faster. But this only has the effect of having me go faster while they don’t. Not what I was intending.
Later Kathy tells me this was because I did it wrong. I needed to slot myself in right in front of them, while my natural tendency is to give people lots of space when I pass them — less chance of crashing into them that way. I was just too far ahead for them to be able to draft off me.
As we approach Ventura, I’m going down a road at about 20mph when someone passes me. This surprises me — 20mph seems very fast to me. Another group of Grand Tourists has caught up with us, or with me, rather, they’ve already passed Bret and Kathy. So now I try to hang with these people. And then Bret catches up and takes the lead as we go up the hill into the park in Ventura with the next rest stop.
Give number, eat, drink, recovery drink, fill water bottles, use rest-room, try to memorize directions. And we’re off. Pretty much the same group we came in with. Brett and Kathy hang back again, and I let them and go ahead with the group who caught us. We’ll meet up in Ojai where we have lunch.
There’s a bike path that follows the Ventura river all the way up to Ojai, and I’d just assumed we’d take it. That’s the way I always go. But we don’t. I actually did a pretty good job of learning the directions this time, and I know where I’m going for once.
I’m with two guys now who are going at a reasonable clip. And then the chain comes off on one guy’s bike so he and his friend stop. I push on. After a bit Kathy catches up with me. Bret has tired and is nowhere to be seen, Kathy says he says he didn’t get enough sleep last night. We keep going up Ventura Rd and then onto Hwy 33 (much too busy for my taste), and finally off on Creek Road which goes in to Ojai the back way. This is the area in which I do water testing, and I’m checking, as I go, whether the streams we test are still running (some dry in the summer). But they all still have water. At one of our sampling sites, I see a black tailed deer and a fawn stepping daintily out of the woods and then running back in as I whiz past.
A swallow comes flying by and then hangs in the air about 6 feet in front of me for a few seconds before he flits off.
Kathy has told me she can’t keep up with me. But she seems perfectly capable of catching up with me. Maybe she’s better at sprinting than I?
We get into Ojai together and have lunch. And recovery drink. And water. And give our numbers, use the rest rooms, and memorize the directions to the next rest stop. This is an area I know pretty well — not the little back streets of Ojai — but once we get out of the city the route back down to Ventura, so I feel I’m actually memorizing them.
It is hot in Ojai. 83 in the shade. Kathy has a thermometer on her bike computer which reads 96 at one point.
Bret has caught up again. He doesn’t seem to eat much and is ready do go when we are.
As is a tandem bike. Kathy thinks we should draft behind the tandem. But they take off far too fast. Bret manages to catch up with them, but Kathy and I don’t … until they make a wrong turn and backtrack. Then we all slot in behind them. Or Bret and Kathy do. I’m no good at it. Probably I want to hang back too far and am not really drafting. Or something. They go at about 30mph, and I fall further and further behind.
Eventually Kathy sees that I’m a couple of hundred yards back and she drops back too. I feel badly about this — if she can draft with them she should, I’ll manage. And then I wonder: How can she hang with someone going 30mph when she was complaining about me going 20mph before lunch?
Ojai is about 300ft elevation and Ventura is sea-level, so we’re going downhill now and 20mph seems comfortable to us both.
We get to Ventura, and I had thought the next rest area was the little park at the beach on the SB side of Ventura. But it isn’t. The park is merely drawn in a similar typographic style, I’m not sure why. So we press on up the coast toward the Rincon (just outside of Carpenteria).
The wind is against us now, and we slow down considerably. The wind always comes from Pt. Conception and blows down the coast, but today it seems particularly vigorous. We complain bitterly about it and drop down to 11mph for a bit.
At least we are back in overcast again. With the wind it’s even chilly.
And we see Bret again. He couldn’t keep up with the tandem either, though he did last longer than we did. But it seems he can’t keep up with us now. And we leave him behind.
We push on up the coast. We both know this bit really well; it’s one of our standard routes. I get hungry halfway to the Rincon and stop to eat a gel-pack, while Kathy stops to massage her feet — hers get cramped and hot on long bike rides.
Something has shaken loose on my bike. There’s a little jingle as the bike moves. Eventually I track it down to a small chrome dome that seems to have popped off the front wheel. It’s between the front fork and the wheel on the axle but has some room in which to slide along the axle… and jingle.
I don’t think it’s functional. I hope not.
We get on the freeway here; we’ve got about 3 miles of freeway riding to do (there is a bikepath on the freeway).
At the Rincon there is no rest stop either. We look at the directions. Oh. The place they call the Rincon is not the actual Rincon, but is the next freeway exit. Sigh. We get back on the freeway and go to the next exit.
Give our numbers, eat. I don’t want to eat now, the thought of food makes me nauseous, but I eat anyway. Drink recovery drink, fill water bottles.
I ask if someone can look at my bike. No one there is a bike mechanic, but they agree with me that my jingle probably isn’t significant. There is a bike store about a mile from here in downtown Carpenteria, of course, but… I decide I don’t need it.
Now we turn back to Malibu. The people at the rest stop tell us we are now going home, but home is in Santa Barbara — 15miles in the opposite direction.
Bret has once again caught up and is ready to go when we are (does he not eat? or does he eat really fast?). He has decided not to do the 300 mile loop but will just do the 200 miler that we are doing.
The wind is with us now, and we are going downhill as we head back onto the freeway. Bret just takes off. I’m going about 26, and Kathy’s right behind me, but in 5 minutes he’s a quarter of a mile in front. And there he stays for about a mile, and then slowly we catch up, and pass. We slow a bit (19) to let him draft if he wants, but he can’t keep that pace either.
Off the freeway now. At the state park at the end of this bit of Hwy 1 we see two guys who’ve been drafting off us for a bit head off in the wrong direction. We shout at them (this is still a route we know well). And on into Ventura.
I need to stop to look at the directions now, and then on. The two guys have caught up again. They are the two I was following just before Ojai, the ones who had to fix the chain. After about 5 more miles one of them offers to go in front. This is welcome. I’ve been leading since before Ojai, for the last 60 miles or so. Kathy has offered before, but always says she will slow down, and I’d rather not do that. So I let him, and he leads for the next 5 miles or so.
I apologize for the jingle my wheel makes, and he says I really need to get my pedal clips checked. My feet keep slipping out inappropriately. I explain that I’m new to clip-in pedals and I clip out if there is even a slight chance that I’ll need to stop and put my foot down. He agrees that this is a good idea for a beginner, and asks if I’ve fallen. “Four times in the first three days, but not since.”
At the next stoplight. I put my foot on the ground and then slowly fall onto the other side.
So much for hubris.
The final rest stop is the first rest stop. I really don’t want to eat, but I have some fruit, recovery drink fill my water bottles … oh yes, and pick up the lights that I left here this morning. I shan’t need them. It’s about 4:30pm now and there are only 35miles to go, but I need to get them home… Give numbers, restroom, etc.
The two guys who’ve been with us on the last leg took off before we did (and we don’t catch them up again). But someone else leaves when we do.
The directions say: “Take J street to Hueneme and turn left”, there are orange arrows at the first big intersection on J pointing left, and we follow them. And then realize this is not Hueneme, it’s Pleasant Valley. This is the route we took this morning on the way to Morepark. We don’t want to do the tour all over again.
We go back to J, go to the next big street, and it is Hueneme. A relief.
And head down it. I’m tired now. I tell Kathy I’m going to slow. That’s fine with her. Except we aren’t going particularly slowly and after a bit we both speed up back to 18mph or so.
And then we’re on Hwy 1 again. Only another 24 miles or so.
It’s daylight now, and we’re on the ocean side of the route; we have an actual view. Occasionally we get splashed by spray as the waves crash below us. Pelicans fly past. Dive. Rock on the waves like small boats at anchor.
Two guys come zooming up from behind us, pull in in front of us. And slow down. This is frustrating. I don’t like it when someone passes me and then slows down and goes more slowly than I was going. Then there’s a downhill bit and they take off again. Ah, I think, that’s ok then. But there’s another uphill bit and I’m right behind them once again. Kathy and I are both stronger hill climbers than most people. This keeps going on. At one point they are going particularly slowly (13mph) and Kathy says, “OK, pass them if you must”. And it seems I must. I take off.
I’m getting into Malibu now, and the gentle hills earlier on Hwy 1 are becoming steeper and longer. I’m trying to keep a good pace, but it’s getting harder.
I’m amazed at how different it feels biking than running. When I’m running my legs fill with lactic acid, but here there is very little sensation of tiredness in the legs. Oh, on a very steep hill my quads will burn, but most of the time there’s nothing. Does that mean I’m capable of going even faster on the bike than I’m now going? Of course in any endurance event you want to work below the lactate threshold, but in a marathon it still builds up. On the other hand my lungs are feeling … raw. I’m coughing a lot and an attempt to take a deep breath results in a coughing fit. This is more noticeable when stopped than it is when riding. It reminds me of the way my lungs felt after running a 5 minute mile in high school.
I guess in biking the tiredness is more general, while in marathoning it is more specific?
At the bottom of a hill I am shaken out of my reverie by Kathy saying “I’ve spent the last 20 miles trying to catch up, and now I’m about to lose you again”. And we head up the hill, and I guess I do lose her for a bit.
The hills are so high here. I don’t remember these on the way out. Have I gone too far? No, I’m at 198 miles so there’s still a way to go. I guess it was just dark.
It’s hard to keep pushing myself.
But I do.
This stretch of Hwy 1 is unpleasant. There’s too much traffic. People park on the shoulders so there’s no good bike path. People walk between the cars and the traffic so there’s even less of a bike path. People open car doors. Cars pull out in front of you, or stop in front of you.
As I reach the top of each hill I hope it is the last. But it isn’t. And it isn’t. And it isn’t. And then, at last it is.
And I can see the place where we need to turn up. I’m stuck at a stop light. It’s a long light. Various people I’ve passed catch up with me. We’re off. I have to make a left turn now, but the traffic is so heavy I’m not sure I can cut over into the left hand lane. Ah… the light behind changes again, and there’s space, so I cut across. There’s no one in the left turn lane but me. It’s a trip light, and it’s not going to trip for me. I wait for a car to pull up. A bicyclist does instead. And another. And here’s Kathy! She did catch up! Good for her. And finally there’s a car behind us, and eventually we get a green arrow and head up the final hill.

Elapsed time 13:34 hours, Biking time 11:40hours, Average speed 17.3mph (27.8kph), Max speed 35.7mph, total mileage: 204miles, elevation gain ~6000ft. It’s a little after 6pm.
(This year 233 people finished the 200 miler, 28 the 300 and 2 the 400. And 92 finished the 200 km.)

Dave (at the bike store) had a better idea how long it would take me than I did. And Kathy finished with me — so in spite of all her claims not to be able to keep up, she did.
Kathy and I hug.
We get off the bikes, park them, take off our shoes (they don’t want bike shoes on the inside floors) and go inside. Our final check in. According to their count we took 14:01 hours. Next time I’ll know better than to check in before I’m ready to leave.
I’m coughing.
I drink some water. Kathy eats a bit of chicken. We sit outside for a bit and chat with some of the other finishers. Kathy has more energy than I. She chats. I sit. And drink my water. And cough.
We had talked about having a meal at a restaurant, but I find the thought of food disgusting at the moment. Kathy’s a bit better off but she’s more interested in a shower and bed at home than food.
We head back up the coast on Hwy 1. Our final time today. Basically we are retracing the route we biked (no diversions to Morepark and Ojai though). The sun is finally breaking through the clouds here on the coast. We keep seeing cyclists biking down Hwy 1, and we wonder which will make it back before dark. Sunset is 8:15, civil twilight ends at 8:45. We look for Bret, but don’t see him. We wonder why we never saw the sag wagon after the first stage. We see one poor guy sitting by his bike with his head in his hands.
Kathy stops at a convenience store so I can get some ice for my knee. A good idea. My knee feels fine, but it doesn’t hurt to be careful. My cough has vanished as I’ve rested.
For someone who woke up before 2am, I don’t feel at all sleepy when I get home. I still don’t feel hungry either, but the next morning I’m starved. My knee came through just fine.
The next day I check in with Dave at Fastrack: the jingle isn’t significant, and he fixes it with a couple of hammer blows. So the bike is fine too.

I think I want to do another one. Or try for 300 miles next year?
But today, I don’t need to do anything. And that’s a welcome change.


One Response to “More Quality Time on Highway One, Malibu Grand Tour”

  1. Over the hills and far away… « George’s Meanderings Says:

    […] the race to look at the course and mark out the 1/4 and 1/2 mile points. I inveigled my friend Kathy into joining me on a bike ride to go over the course. It was cold and overcast in SB. We drove out […]

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