Heartbreak Double Century
An out-of-left field sufferfest for me; a strong finish for Lisa. Despite great preparation for this ride, great double century rides prior to this, my body wasn't willing this time. Mostly, I succumbed to sudden fatigue accompanied by frightful episodes of asthma that I can't say I've ever experienced before, much less on the bike.

I took a SAG express from mile 70 to mile 150, a period during which I turned to SAG advisor as the support skill of the driver who transported me -- and the greater SAG dis-organization of this event -- was pretty fucked up. This event -- more than any in the past staged by Planet Ultra -- has demonstrated gross cheapness and profiteering that really impacts the quality of basic support an event producer should give to its participants. It was shameful, and many of even the calmest people I know who regularly participate in endurance events sounded off.

Mainly because of inadequate rider transport, I decided to ride wait at mile 150 mark for Lisa's arrival and ride the finishing 50 miles with her. Thankfully, I was rested and mostly recovered from my breathing issues earlier in the day. Getting back on the bike at least allowed me to blow off some steam.

The ride started and ended in the exploding suburbia-polis of Palmdale, CA wandered up ot the summit of the Grapevine summit via Elizabeth Lake and the most remote (and to me the best part of the entire ride) ramble through Pine Canyon. Upon reaching Gorman and Lebec, the route makes a big counter-clockwise loop around the Chumash Wilderness range, punctuated by waypoints such as the Apache Saddle of the Pine Mountain range, the tiny remote settlement of Ventucopa and the climb up "Heartbreak Hill" -- basically Lockwood Valley Road, 15 miles due North of Ojai. A very arid region.

Planet Ultra likes to brag that "There is essentially no traffic and the route explores an area that most of the participants will never otherwise visit. There is less than one "junk mile" on the entire course." Puhhhllleeeeez! Cut the bullshit and face it: you simply can't escape busy car, camper and crotch-rocket traffic anywhere in SoCal anymore, even if you're riding in territories perfect for filming an episode of the X-Files.

There were no real steep climbs here, but there were a notable number of long, steady grades. And on this particular occasion, a LOT of heat. Which made the fact that Planet Ultra was too cheap to buy any ice for the lunch stop AND have no water stop at a critical/warmest point of the ride (Heartbreak hill turn) simply inexcusable (note/reminder: Planet Ultra collects a steep $80 participant fee).

Sadly, my lasting memory of this ride will be marked by how I waited more than an hour for a SAG vehicle when I no longer had the strength to keep going -- and still not be able to get a ride. I forced myself to keep climbing -- already dehydrated from the long wait -- to get to the next rest stop, where the SAG vehicle was parked. The SAG driver, though well-natured, was simply too dumb and inexperienced to be assigned his responsibility. And while in his passenger seat, I quickly learned he was merely interested in supporting his pals (who were riding the Heartbreak CENTURY) rather than really help all the other riders. I had to practically bark orders at him to stop and assist riders stopped on the side of the road because they ran out of water. Worse yet, this fucker didn't know how to drive in close proximity to cyclists and frequently crossed the double yellow at slow speed on blind corners where he already knew there were a LOT of speeding motorcyclists.

Never again, this one. And were it not for the Solvang and Eastern Sierra rides, I'd be resolved to say "Never again, Planet Ultra" altogether.

Distance: 122 miles (of 200) | Elevation gain: about 7,600' | Ride time: 9h50m
Info: planetultra.com
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