This was Phil’s Cookie Gran Fondo and I had decided to ride the 50-mile “Sugar Cookie” route. I was to meet
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Anthony Venida Robert Hess who was riding the family route which departed a little later.
Entrance between two hangers. Start/Finish is on the other side.
I didn’t see Anthony and let everyone roll through ahead of me before starting last. Once on course, I received a text from Anthony that he started with the “Chocolate Chip” route as some of his friends were riding the 80-mile route.
I rolled out, although I could not go fast, and the first seven miles were pancake flat. I was chatting with a rider wearing a Mont Ventoux jersey. Although much younger than me, I still had to secretly question his equipment when I saw it looked like his lowest gear was about a 17t cassette. I was running 32t.
“Are you OK?” – “Yes, just getting pictures of peppers”
The climb, which I remembered as a three-mile climb, had a much different profile than I remembered. The first 1/3 mile kicks up and then it appears to level off. It’s still a climb but much more gradual for the next two miles. And then, it whacks you in the face full force.
My friend, with the Ventoux jersey, sat on my wheel and I didn’t mind. As we got to the wall, there were people pushing their bikes. And they were all over the place. The road kicked up – more than 15% (and maybe 20%). I was counting but lost track of the walkers but was over 100.
He had passed me on the climb – until he had to walk too
Part of me wanted to join them. And I wondered what I would have done had this been a normal Sunday ride with nobody watching. But they were watching. And I kept climbing although it was a real effort.
West Protero Road in Lake Sherwood
When I reached the summit, I turned around to look for Mr. Ventoux. He was nowhere to be found. It would have taken a super-human effort to push his gear up that climb. I don’t know when he got off to walk.
FAll horse farms up here – Lake Sherwood
There was a second intermediate climb of two miles which was also considerable. The Fondo made no mention of it, maybe because it wasn’t a timed KOM. It was also on Pretero Road, two miles after the summit of the first climb. At the bottom of the second hill, I stopped and visited the VeloFix mechanic who was finishing up changing a tire for a woman. We mentioned the climb on Pretero Road and he said, “everybody is walking up that hill.”
Although there was a rest stop at the base of the last climb, I did not stop because it was a rest stop at the base of a climb. The time off the bike would cause lactic acid to build up and my climbing would be crap. More crap than usual, that is.
Mulholland Road – this is nice!
I continued past and started up the climb of Westlake Blvd. This one was tough with sections of the lower portion pushing 20% grade. About one mile up it gets easier – 10-12% grade.
Westlake is particularly steep at the bottom portion and very windy. As we would discover, owners of fast cars love driving this road on Sunday mornings. It was almost a constant din of revved engines and occasional squealed tires.
Pacific Coast Highway (PCH)
At the top, we transitioned onto Mulholland Highway for a trip to the ocean. The road was closed to vehicles as much reconstruction is going on due to fires one year ago. Not having a big ring available because my front derailleur had failed yesterday meant that I gave up some speed here although it wouldn’t hurt me much. That would come later.
This woman had a floor pump which I could use
My recollection of Mulholland before today was that it was downhill the entire way. That is not true. There are some uphill sections even while the road trends downhill. Once on Pacific Coast Highway, I was treated to a delight – a tail wind. It was here that I would really miss my big ring.
Lunch inside an airport hanger
I was quickly out pedaling my gears. Oh how I needed the big ring to take advantage of the wind. Instead, I was spinning and getting passed by others. And then I flatted. As it happened, I pulled over on the Pacific Coast Highway next to a woman who was running SAG for her family. She had a floor pump which made it easier to change. And asked for my used tube so her husband could repair it. Deal.
Barry Sherry, Phil Gaimon, Anthony Venida
Anthony texted me. Although he had finished 30 minutes (or more) earlier, he had come back to an intersection to ride in with me. Robert met us and we all enjoyed a delicious gourmet cycling lunch.
This is not just your typical cycling lunch. There were chefs from L.A. competing with their dishes. This is the best ever. Superb.
Robert Hess, Barry Sherry, Phil Gaimon, and Anthony Venida