Ventura California, Saturday January 10, 2009. This was the first event of the season for me and I don’t have a lot of miles on my legs. I finished 2008 with only a couple of rides since October so I knew it was going to be a rough day. This seemed to be confirmed by the weather forecast which indicated there would be “red flag warnings” along the coast all day. The Santa Ana winds would be blowing viciously, but hey I’ve had worse, right? That would prove to be my mantra for the day, or something similar.

Joe and Craig from Cedar City accompanied me on the trip. They are not really brevet riders but I guess they thought I needed looking after. After the disastrous season I had last year they may not have been that wrong. Well, 50 or so riders started out at 6:30 and the predicted winds had arrived. It was a quartering headwind blowing at 20 or 30 mph as we headed east. While in town we got a little relief from the wind due to the buildings and vegetation but once we got out in the open there was nowhere to hide. Gusts were occasionally higher and they rocked our group when they hit. We had 35 miles of this to look forward to! The quartering wind took its toll and riders kept dropping off the back of our group. We were down to about 8 or 10 riders when I had to stop and remove some clothing. Losing our group was not that much of a loss since there was nowhere to hide from the wind anyway! We all made our clothing adjustments and the 3 of us regrouped into an echelon each taking pulls and resting alternately. We were actually pretty efficient this way and soon we started catching the riders ahead of us. They were each riding alone now and as 3 working together we were much faster. Pretty soon we caught them all and our group reformed somewhat.

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We were headed to our first control in Malibu at Starbucks. You know you are getting close to Malibu when you hit the rollers. They are not steep but some are long and with the headwind it broke up our crew again. We rolled into the control in groups of two’s and three’s after about 2 hours of headwinds. After getting fed, watered and stamped we departed the control heading westward now and hoping the winds would be a little kinder to us on our way back. Well it wasn’t perfect but we had a good ride back. Mostly a quartering tailwind but on some sections we could cruise at 25 mph or so. This made the return to Ventura pretty enjoyable and pretty swift. It had started to warm up some as well and we were now riding in shorts and shorts sleeves. So far this could have been a lot worse.

We arrived at the control in Ventura where Greg and Lisa had provided a wonderful lunch with wraps reminiscent of the ones Susan makes at the Arizona brevets. We enjoyed the hospitality and were tempted to linger but soon we decide that we should be off. The winds here are funny. We started again heading westward, but now the wind was in our face although not nearly as strong. It was a nice cruise along the coast to Montecito and the next control. Just before the control we started seeing the first riders returning so we knew we were close. It was another friendly location and it was also tempting to stay and enjoy the day but we reminded ourselves that we still had 27 miles to go and we set out once again.

The last leg of the ride was very enjoyable and we had a tailwind again allowing us to cruise easily at 22 mph or so. The Pacific Ocean was just to our right and view was spectacular. The winds had cleared the air and it looked as though you could just reach out and touch the Channel Islands. We came straight into Ventura on Main Street and finished in Mission Park. We had been out for about 9 ½ hours overall and on the bike for 7 ½ hours.

Thanks to Greg and Lisa Jones (co-RBA’s?) and all of the other volunteers who made this a great ride. Also, some thanks to those above who may have had some influence on the weather and kept this from being as bad as it could have been! I found out later that maximum wind gusts of 62 mph had been recorded in the area on this day.

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