April 12, 2014

 

Isabelle and Rick near Rest Stop #2

Isabelle and Rick near Rest Stop #2

Although I have ridden this event one time before in 2002 the route has changed since then and it was almost a new event for me. This course is somewhat unique for a double century in that it is comprised of two 100 mile loops, both converging back at the start finish. This provides a unique opportunity to go a little lighter and have the ability to drop or pick up unneeded gear at the middle of the ride.

A dubious start

To get to this event in time for my planned 5:00 am start I was up and driving very early. I planned to find a McD’s on the way and grab something quick to eat. Well, I could find nothing along the way except a poorly stocked mini-mart and the best I could do was a chocolate milk for breakfast. This might not turn out very well for me!

Riding with a good group early on

I started off alone just after 5:00 am but soon found myself in the company of a couple of good riders, Isabelle and Rick. I had ridden with Isabelle most recently at Solvang for part of the ride. I do enjoy riding with a small group of friends the most, and we stayed together to the first rest at about mile 35.

Big groups start to form

After scenic Victoria Drive in Riverside the ride through Corona was less than spectacular. The traffic controls seemed to gather riders into quite large groups and after the Tom’s Farm rest stop the groups were quite large. I suddenly found myself pulling 40 or more riders into Lake Elsinore!

The winds pick up

All morning the winds had been quite light but on our return to Hemet on the first loop the winds began to pick up. Luckily, on the return we were on a downwind leg and it was easy cruising into lunch at mile 107. We would worry about any headwinds later!

Climbing begins

After lunch I departed for the second loop with Foster and Linda on their tandem. We were joined for a time by Chuck Bramwell, the Triple Crown Guy before he rode on ahead. I expected that we would be heading back into a building headwind after lunch; how pleased I was to find that instead of headwinds we would have our biggest and steepest climbs of the day! Ascending to our high point of the ride at 2600 feet with grades up to 10 percent.

When a good ride goes bad

After the climbing we had some serious headwinds to deal with on our way in to the next rest outside Temecula. I hooked up with some other riders to work with for this tough section. About 5 miles after the stop we rolled up on an accident site on the course. It appeared that 4 or 5 riders had gone down hard after some kind of mishap in a large group. 2 riders were still on the ground when I arrived, Isabelle Drake and Chuck Bramwell (both of whom I had been riding with earlier) had been seriously injured in the mishap and were being loaded in an ambulance.

The walking wounded

I left this sad site on my own but soon came upon another rider named Randy. He had also gone down in the wreck and showed the evidence in torn clothing and scraped flesh. He gave his account of what happened as we rode along. He had my wheel for dozens of miles while he recovered from the experience. I was happy to help and he seemed to appreciate the gesture.

Not again

Randy and I were nearing the next rest in Lake Elsinore when we saw some flashing lights ahead. Another crash had occurred and several more riders had been injured, at least one seriously. I have not seen wreck like this very often at other events but they all seemed to be bike only incidents, caused by other riders.

Bringing it home

I rode the last 40 miles on my own in a mix of crosswinds and tailwinds. I was feeling pretty good and wanted to keep my own pace, but I was also a little nervous about riding with others at this point. There had been enough carnage on this ride during the day, I didn’t need to see anymore. I pulled in about an hour after dark with a total ride time of about 14 and a half hours

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