03 November 2013 ~ 0 Comments

Gold Rush 1200km Grand Randonnée

Here’s my pix from the 2013 running of the Gold Rush Grand Randonnée, held in northern California and sponsored by the Davis Bike Club. This was my second time riding this out and back event and, as expected, the support was phenomenal. The first 48 hours were unseasonably cold with plenty or rain, so I didn’t take many photos during that period of time.

This event started on a Monday evening at 6:00 p.m. After the first 90 miles of flat terrain, the route begins to climb and then finally it descends into the first checkpoint. As I was descending in the dark (I was alone at that point, having been dropped my others) it was blowing rain from my left side (is “blizzard” a word that can be used for a rainfall?). My visibility was horrible as my glasses were totally dripping wet. While making this gradual descent I heard a clang, as I hit some sorta of metal debris. I was traveling perhaps 25 MPH and I immediately flatted. I pulled over onto the gravel or muddy shoulder and proceeded to replace my tube. Shortly, the SAG vehicle caught up to me and assisted with a floor pump — BLESS HIS HEART! A few miles later I arrived at the Oroville checkpoint at about 1 or 2 in the morning, as I recall. After a terrific midnight snack I continued on in the darkness.

I arrived at the next staffed checkpoint in Taylorsville just time for a killer sit-down breakfast…somewhere around 8 a.m. The rain was letting up a little. From there I made my way over the Janesville Road grade (approx. 15%) and down to Susanville. At this checkpoint I met Buzz Scher (from Anchorage AK) and he was looking for some riders to hang with, as the next portion of the ride would be in the dark. He and I join forces and ended up riding most of the balance of the event together. Despite being similar ages, he was stronger than I, especially on the climbs. Ten days prior to starting this event I did a fast 140-mile charity ride in Utah — I wonder if that didn’t allow me enough taper. I typically allow a full two weeks of taper from my last long (100 mile or so) event before doing 1200 km events. We arrived at the Adin checkpoint, after more than 24 hours or continuous riding and finally got a sleep stop and a shower.

After 4 or 5 hours of sleep, we heading out the following morning with a good tail wind heading into Davis Creek. I noticed other riders returning from this turn around point at mile 387, battling the 10-15 MPH headwind, but riding solo. That was crazy. Upon arriving at this checkpoint, I waited a while until several riders arrived and organized a paceline of about 5 riders for return trip into the wind. We picked up one other on the way too. Working together made the job much easier. We pushed all the back to Susanville arriving just after dark for another overnight stop.

The following morning we left at dawn, tackling the steep climb over Janesville. Buzz easily out-climbed me through this section and I later rejoined him. Unlike in 2009, at least I was able to peddle this whole climb, as I had a lower gearing compared to last time (this year my compact double had a 50/33 in front and 12/30 in the rear). At this point of the event, my butt was killing me. This was my first ride over 400km with this titanium frame. This frame just seemed to transmit more vibrations than my carbon-fiber frame (read more about this issue here). I eventually made it back to Oroville before dark and regrouped with Buzz and others (after getting another flat on my front tire again…I later discovered a small gash in my tire, most likely from my day one flat and then booted it). Four of us left Oroville as a group, working together for the last 100 miles on this flat terrain in the dark. Unlike in 2009, the bugs in the Sacramento Valley were vicious this year and consequently we tried to keep our time off the bike short. We arrived at the finish in the middle of night, with a time of 79 hours. I really only took two sleep stops, unlike most 1200s, where I typically took three overnight sleep stops, hence a better-than-average time.

Many thanks to Dan Shadoan (RBA) and the Davis Bike Club for sponsoring this event. The volunteers were most helpful and this year especially, the meals were incredible.

To view many photos shot by volunteer Deb Ford, go to this page (link of pix of the actual ride only — she has links of the pre and post ride things activities too).

Equipment Footnotes: On nearly every long event, I am usually testing something new, for possible inclusion on my site eoGEAR.

Socks — With the forecast of heavy rain for the first 48 hours, I decided to start out wearing a thin (2mm) pair of neoprene socks, instead of using a neoprene or other type of bootie. The booties always seem to eventually soak through and my wool (combined with some synthetics) socks soak through as well. I found that my feet stayed warm, despite continuous driving rain for hours on end and the temps in the lower 50s (possibly upper 40s). The only thing I didn’t like was the squishy feeling when I put power into my downstroke.

Gloves — Finding a warm, waterproof yet compact glove for cycling has always been a challenge. Earlier this summer I started using the types of  gloves. One was the Seirus Xtreme All Weather Glove. It has a thin neoprene exterior with a light bemberg or flannel-like (but synthetic, not cotton) lining. This glove worked very well during this heavy rain and provided good dexterity for shifting and pushing the buttons on my GPS and cyclocomputer.
The other glove I have been testing and functions great in rain or cold rides is the Outdoor Designs Summitlite. It is especially good for tall, long-armed folks like me as it has a long gauntlet. It is about half the weight of the Seirus.
The only thing I dislike on both of these gloves is that the liner pulls out when you had gets slightly sweaty and is hard to reinsert. The key is to squeeze on the finger tips when removing them.

Bike Frames — As stated earlier, this was my longest ride to date with a Ti frame. More on that here.

Saddles — Earlier this summer, I have been testing the Rivet saddle line with my Ti frame. It didn’t appear to be quite as comfortable as my Gilles Berthoud Aravis, so I chose to use the GB on this event (but that have been my Ti frame as the problem, not the design of the Rivet). Oddly, after two seasons,  I started developing some chafing on the inside of my thighs with the Aravis. I consequently made a compression strap, similar to those I make and sell for the Selle Anatomica saddles and the problems was solved.




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