Ride Report: Mount Baldy

Sunday, May 31th marked one of the last big days I had left to be able to train for the upcoming Ironman Boise 70.3. After that weekend I would begin to taper my training, allowing my body to repair itself and be at full strength for the big race on June 12.

In order to get in some good hard miles at the peak of our training, my wife, Elise and I decided to head out to Clairemont, CA and the foothills of Mount Baldy and the San Gabriel mountains. Having just finished watching the biggest names in cycling tackle the mountain stages of the Giro d’Italia and the Amgen Tour of California, we were stoked to test our legs on the steepest climbs we could find close to home.

We began our ride on Baseline Road, made a left onto Mills Road, and then within just a few minutes we turned onto Mount Baldy Road, which quickly climbed over 3,000 feet in less than ten miles. The road is a bit sketchy on a Saturday as there are plenty of trucks, sports cars, and motorcycles driving up the mountain. Regardless of the crowd, the climb was beautiful with a few sections so steep, I wondered if I would have an easy enough gear to make it up.

Once we made it into Mt. Baldy Village, we stopped for lunch at the Mt. Baldy Lodge. The restaurant was filled with bikers of twovarieties, the leather wearing kind, and the spandex wearing kind, the two of which coexisted surprisingly well. After sharing a burger, we rode back through the town and did a short climb to the top of Glendora Ridge Road.

Once at the top of Glendora Ridge Road, we began a long gradual descent on the winding mountain road, which saw no cars and maybe only 3 motorcycles. Descending those kinds of turns overlooking some very steep drops into the canyon below was reminiscent of what the pro tour cyclists descend at frightening speeds in the Grand Tours.

About 15 miles down the road, we encountered an unprepared young cyclist who had gotten a flat and had no spare tubes or air. Lucky for him, we had extras and were able to fix his flat and send him on his way. Were it not for us, he would have had one long walk home.

The road occasionally had some more small climbs and we eventually ended up at a fork where Glendora Ridge Road met Glendora Mountain Road (or GMR as the local cyclists call it). We decided to make our ride a longer one so we turned right and took the long route. This meant more winding, fast descents that took us to East Fork road and down along a river and eventually dumped us out next to the San Gabriel Reservoir.

We crossed the San Gabriel Reservoir and turned onto Highway 39, riding along the lake and out of the canyon until we ended up back in the foothills in the city of Azusa. Once in Azusa, we took city streets until we were back at the car in Clairemont.

According to my GPS, we logged 56 miles and over 5,600 feet of climbing, not a bad day of climbing for staying within a 30 minutes drive of our Orange County home.

If you are interested in trying this route out for yourself, you can check out a similar route that I found on Geoladders.com, although I would consider altering the route and staying off of Mt. Baldy Road, there are just too many cars going up and down when there is a virtually empty Glendora Ridge Road going up the other side.

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Headed to the GYM

I am not sure how it happened, but the strat-planning group is headed to the gym. As a group. All at the same time. Reward or punishment? That all depends on who you ask in the group.

Let’s back up a minute and all get on the same page. Caryn W got a two month membership to Equinox and during a recent trip thought how great it would be for everyone to get to try out the fancy new gym in the South Bay so she asked and they agreed to let our team come in for a morning and do whatever we would like (how nice of them btw). I for one can’t wait. I intend to try some new classes including getting my yoga on and finishing with a nice steam. Rumor has it that Evan plans to order a smoothie from the juice bar and park himself in front of the largest TV in the place. We shall see about that – if we tag team him, I think we can get him in a class or two ; )

So stay tuned as everyone in the group shares their day at the gym and once the reports have been logged we will truly know the answer to reward or punishment.

2010 Over The Hump Mountain Bike Race Series: Race 1

Taking place at Irvine Lake, the Over The Hump mountain bike race series kicked off its second season last Tuesday night with a great race that featured current and former Saatchi LA athletes, Mark Turner, Skyler Wallace, and Don Longfellow.

The series continues next week (6/1) at Irvine Lake for race two of the 12 race series. Stay tuned.

Race Report: 2010 OC Duathlon

This past weekend, I participated in the OC Duathlon, the Southwest Regional Duathlon Championship. After racing triathlons for five years I had yet to participate in a duathlon, at least not any official ones (I’ve been in several races where the organizers were forced to cancel the swim and replace it with a short run) and I felt like a duathlon this week would be a good addition to my triathlon training.

If you aren’t familiar with the duathlon, it is a sport that includes run portion, a cycling portion, followed by another running portion. “Biathlon” probably would be a more appropriate name but those damned arm-bearing cross-country skiers coined the term long before the duathlon came to be.

The OC Duathlon race begins in Mission Viejo, CA, completes a 5k run, transitions to a 38k bike on the historic course that was used in the 1984 Olympic cycling race, and finishes off with a second 5k run.

In spite of having an annoying cold/cough all week, I decided to do this race anyways. I was still coughing and my lungs probably weren’t in the best shape for this race but besides that, I was feeling good as the 7:00 a.m. start time drew near. The race had one mass start so I positioned myself just behind the front row of cross-country specialists and lightning fast tri/du guys. Among that group was former U.S. Olympian triathlete and Nova Masters swim coach, Julie Swail Ertel.

The start gun blasted and I started off at a manageable pace, avoiding the temptation to stay up front with faster runners and risk using up all my legs too early. The run was an out and back which gradually descended to the turn around which made for fast times on the way down but a somewhat tiring gradual climb on the way back. I completed the first run in 21:24 (about a 6:50/mile pace), moved quickly through transition, and was then on the bike, headed up the first climb.

About three miles into the race I learned something valuable that I couldn’t have learned in a triathlon. I got out of the saddle on a climb to pass someone and felt some fatigue in my hamstrings. In my opinion, this abnormal fatigue was a direct result of a hard run right before I got on the bike.  Typically I spend more time out of the saddle on climbs than I probably should and this was obvious and scientific proof that my running legs are directly affected by this activity. In the future, especially in triathlon, I will stay seated more often while on the bike so I can have more strength left in my legs for the run. Apparently diverse experience can teach you a thing or two about triathlon.

I didn’t feel perfect on the bike but at about mile 10, I hit my rhythm and began to feel pretty strong. I came in off the bike, had another fast transition back into my runners, and hit the road.

I felt good on run number two but was nervous that it was an illusion because the first 1.5 miles were downhill; I’d know how fatigued I really was when I made the turn around. I made the turn around and still felt pretty good. I crossed the finish line with a total time of 1:50:14 and the 6th place spot in my age group.

Overall it was a very fun day. Nobody got hurt, I was satisfied with my performance, and my wife Elise also had a good race, finishing 5th in her age group with a time of 02:06:55.

Upcoming races in the next month include the Over The Hump mountain bike race series (6/1, 6/8) and Ironman Boise 70.3 (6/12). Stay tuned for upcoming race reports.

Eating and Exercise – Do they really go together?

As it turns out I like food. A lot. The great thing is that I do in fact like healthy items and when I do indulge I try my best to make my ice cream organic and my bread sprouted grain and my coffee fair trade (wait, coffee is not an indulgence, what was I thinking).

My big conundrum is that I strive to lose those last few pounds – while they may not be visible in my work attire they definitely appear at the beach and yes I realize how vain that sounds – I can’t help it. That all being said I go through phases of being great about going to the gym and often I will go twice a day and get in cardio and weights and when I do this I fee AMAZING. I sleep better, I am more focused at work, everything is better. What happens though is that I become ravenously hungry – we’re talking I could eat an 11 egg omelet (egg whites of course) with a half loaf of bread of toast and a bowl of oats for good measure. Conversely I can control the diet when I am not exercising but the weight never changes.

I guess I could try that thing that is called moderation, but I am not very good at that. Advice is always welcome of course.