It was a dark and stormy night………. Actually it was a dark and stormy morning at the Best Western hotel in Ventura, the start location for the PCH 300 km Brevet on February 7. Some 32 riders ignored the grim weather forecast for the day and lined up for the start. Observing the equipment and gear that different riders were sporting it appeared that many were either optimistic about the weather, or being from So Cal probably didn’t have much foul weather gear to wear. Myself, being experienced in bad weather events (lucky me), I had plenty of gear to choose from. I was fendered, bootied, helmet covered and otherwise protected from the impending weather.

The event started out with a mild pace as riders were getting settled in for a wet day.  Navigation was also easy for quite a while as this was familiar terrain for the local riders and someone always knew the way.  Later, after the second control as riders were more spread out you had to check your cue sheet a bit more often.  After the control at Lake Casitas we had a bit of climbing up to Casitas Pass but it was not too bad. The rain continued on and off all morning but as we descended to the third control in Montecito it really started to pick up again. In that stretch I encountered some unique conditions, something I had not really experienced before.  It was raining hard and water was sheeting on the ground as well as pooling in low spots.  There were so many pools that oncoming traffic frequently splashed us with their spray.  They were not aiming for us but it was unavoidable. We had water from above, water shooting at us from the side and water spraying up at us from our own tires. There was nowhere to hide and all you could do was to steel yourself for the onslaught.  Even though I was well prepared I became thoroughly soaked and just resigned myself to that fact. My wool clothing served me well however and I stayed warm in spite of the wetness.  I would just like to say that coffee and pastries are great brevet food on a wet day, perhaps contrary to conventional wisdom.

PCH300ka1[1]

Richard and I at lunch, Shoreline Park, Santa Barbara

Past Santa Barbara the rain tapered and I began to air-dry, eventually removing my raingear altogether. That would prove to be the last of the rain for the day but later on cold would prove to be the problem. At the El Capitan control I enjoyed the hospitality of the event staff and after a brief stay I departed with fellow Utahn Richard for our return.  The route allowed us to stop in at our hotel to change clothes, and some dry gear was a nice change.

Port Hueneme was our next control and we made just a brief stop there. We hooked up here with Jim, a local rider who would accompany us for much of the rest of the route. I had been riding with my lights on for most of the day for visibility reasons but now darkness descended and that lighting became mandatory. This was a new lighting system for me, a combination of a SON 20 R dyno-hub powering an Edelux led headlight. The system proved to be a flamethrower at night and I was very pleased with it. Even at the slower speeds while climbing up Grimes Canyon Road it was great and on the descent its illumination was equal to that of a motor vehicle. It was perfect for the very twisty (and debris strewn) descent in the dark. We had another control in Santa Paula before the final run in on Telephone Rd. As we neared Ventura there were dozens of traffic lights and we hit more than a few of them but the road surface was good and we had a good run in.

Overall Richard and I were the 5th and 6th riders in and finished in 16 hours and 14 minutes with an on bike time of 13 hours 18 minutes.  With 9 required controls and an urban route having many traffic lights this is not one of the fastest 300k’s I have done but it is a good route. I hope to ride in this area again on the Fleche in April. That’s assuming that I can put together a team by then!

Advertisements