The 53rd annual Grand Tour Double Century hosted by the LA Wheelmen was held on June 25th, 2011. This was my fifth participation in this event and my second ride in the 200 mile version. They also do a 300 mile event which I have done before as well as a 400 mile event which I have not tried. Each of these events has a 24 hour time limit in which you must finish to receive credit for completion.

So far this season I’ve had the worst weather on almost every ride. Wind, rain and cold temps have been my constant companion at nearly every event and in every region, but the weather forecast for this years Grand Tour looked pretty good. Only time would tell if my riding partner Joe and I would have a good day!

Cruising up the PCH in the early morning.

Morning in Moorpark

I like the Grand Tour, the event is generally well supported, I know many of the local riders as well as the support staff and it is a good route. It’s almost like riding on my home turf. The morning temperature was about 60 degrees and there was absolutely no wind, almost perfect, it was kinda wierd!

We cruised through Port Hueneme, Camarillo and Moorpark on mostly lightly travelled tree lined roads. There were some larger groups of riders but we stayed mostly in a group of 4 or so. The larger groups can be disorganized and can get a little sketchy at times. We planned on having a good and safe ride by staying out of trouble on this day.

Lunch stop in Ojai

The sun finally came out as we were leaving Ventura and headed inland. This is also where we picked up a bit of a tailwind. The climb up to our lunch stop at Ojai was pretty gentle but with the clear sky, tailwinds and the gentle climb it did start to warm up some. The lunch stop in Ojai is a shady oasis with a variety of food and cold drinks. I usually linger here longer than I should but hey, it’s not a race, right?

After lunch we did have some headwinds to fight on our way back to Ventura and then again as we headed up the coast to the next rest stop at Rincon but it wasn’t awful and Joe and I worked together to deal with it. I always enjoy the rest stop at Rincon because they usually have a better variety of food, and after that it is pretty much a straight shot back to Malibu. To top it off this year it appeared that we would also have a tailwind home!

Point Mugu, a familiar sight to most riders on the coast

Cruising along the PCH on a sunny day with the wind at your back is a remarkable experience! It is not always like this but Hey, we’re here now and life is good! After all of the crappy weather I have ridden this year I deserve this.

Sun, surf and tailwinds on the PCH

The computer shows 22 mph on the flats on our way in but I was coasting. We were mostly rolling at 25 and loving it! Once you get closer to Malibu the terrain becomes rolling hills and your average can drop a bit but not today. We kept up a good pace on most of the hills and had a great last leg with one exception, the one where we almost died!

We were speeding along at 28 mph after dropping into the stretch along Zuma Beach. There was lots of tourist traffic so we were watching ahead closely. We were in the right traffic lane because of the many cars parked alongside the road in this section. I was the lead rider of our group and in my aero bars when I saw a car pull out ahead. It looked close but I thought it would accelerate away and we would be alright. Suddenly I realized that instead of driving off, the car simply stopped in the traffic lane! We were closing fast and had just enough time to brake and swerve. I went left and the others went right around the car. We survived unscathed but it was a VERY SCARY moment!

At the finish in Malibu

After our startling experience we sat back a little more and just cruised on in to the finish. Our total ride time for the 200 miles was 13 hours and 20 minutes with 11 hours and 16 minutes spent on the bike. It may not have been my fastest Grand Tour but it was certainly among my most enjoyable!

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