"It's a bit much this ride following last weeks Devil
Mountain Double Century!"
Well Dave, I can't agree with you more. As anyone can tell you ,
"Big Chain Ring" Dave Evans is tough. When Dave considers a ride
" a bit too much", it must be a CRIPPLER indeed. And so it was. Twelve
Canyons, 19000 ft of climbing in 250 miles!!
Last year I rode the inaugural
ride. Three loops, the first one the most scenic and the second one the
toughest. The first loop starts at Magic Mountain, meanders through some canyons for the
required miles and then follows the old Ridge Route to climb to about 4000ft.
This road is not "county maintained". The road is very rough but
scenic. Towards the end the climbing gets quite steep, but not more than 8-10
%. After a few more short climbs and a long descent there is one last climb
looking out over Lake Castaic and then it is downhill back to the start. The
second loop climbs to Mt. Gleason via Big Tujunga and Mt. Wilson. Back via Upper
Big Tujunga and Solidad Canyon. Third loop climbs Bouquet Canyon. After the
summit, it descends through Leona Valley. It climbs back to the summit of San
Francisquito Canyon and to its descent back to Magic Mountain.
This year I
started out with Eric Ostendorff ( 2nd place 2001 Furnace Creek 508 ) and Steve
Pack. Both fast riders. After a late start we blow by the rest of the field and
drop them like a bucket of lead. Steve is like a man on a mission, but if we
pace I will be the one not finishing. "Slow down!". Chris Kostman, leading
the field, grabs his portable phone, probable to call Deborah Caplan, his better
half in Planet Ultra, to get moving. On the pace we are going, we
will outride the support. Some other riders, including Mike Miller (another Twelve Canyons veteran),
join in and then take off. Since I have no
desire to stay with the lead group, Steve and I are dropped pretty quickly. Was
the road this bad, last year? During last years ride, Chris had a
running commentary how great this road really was. His brain washing must have
worked, I did not feel a bump ( riding a Softride last year may have
something to do with it too ).Recommend some strong tires, though. For this ride I
used new Continental UltraGator Duraskin tires.
Finally the welcome
sight of the rest stop. Deborah has put out great snacks. One of the riders
inadvertently makes a victory
roll with his bike while turning on a little dirt bump. Fortunately both rider and bike
seemed OK. The next few climbs, before and after Three Points, are "delightful".
Amazingly we catch a glimpse of Charles Massieon descending the opposite way. The
world is small indeed. I only met this strong climber during this years 508
training camp. The guy dropped me on the final climb to Whitney Portals. The
last climb gives us a chance "to clear the lungs" and "run
up" the old heart rate" and then back to the hotel, where we take it easy for awhile. Paul Biron "volunteered" to man
this stop. Good to see him again. Paul and I rode the second loop together last
time, finishing it hours before anyone else. I waste quite a bit of time to dump the contents of my large back pack
in my jersey pockets and to figure what to leave behind. No chain tool. Only one
spare tire. Surely I am not going to need arm warmers etc.??? I am just fed up to carry this big, heavy, pack.
Ken Marsh and Merrick Cohn join Eric, Steve and I for the second
loop. This is a beast! We "gas up" at the 7-Eleven, just before to
turnoff to the Big Tujunga climb. I treat myself to a Baskin Robbins milkshake (
small ), fill the water bottles and up we go. After a while Merrick drops back. One of the descents is followed by
a bridge which climbs up more then any other bridge I have encountered. Damn!! I can't
shift to the small chain ring of my triple. I need it!!!! Godverdomme (I swear
in Dutch ), the chain gets stuck and I nearly fall over. STUPID!!! I have been
only riding for umpteen miles. I am so mad I can throw the bike over the bridge.
Finally get it all straightened out. The damn bridge is so steep and I am so
tired, I have to turn "down bridge " to get going again. Unbelievable!
Steve is lamenting: " I have no power " Yeah right, he is like the
Energy Bunny. He keeps on keeping on. We can now see Mt Wilson Observatory way
in the distance and way up in the sky. Did I mention the climbing is beautiful?
Hardly any traffic. This is quite different from the more popular climb to Mt
Wilson from La Canada Flintridge. After more climbing we are nearly to the rest stop,
at least we think we are. Just a lot more switch backs and there we are. Chris is waiting for us
to sign us in. " Ice cubes, please."
Maybe next year I will do
him the "favor" of volunteering for this rest stop, so Mr.
AdventureCorps himself can do all three loops. This year I know not to stuff myself. Steve looks like death worn over. " I have no power!!!"
Onwards to the last climb: the dreaded climb to Mt Gleason. This climb carries a
big PUNCH. One can see where the summit is, but you never seem to get there.
Fortunately it has cooled down quite it bit. I am sure to suffer on the descent,
but at least for now it's OK. I know Chris must be somewhat disappointed with
the turn out of about 40 riders ( which is a lot more than last year ) but with
the lack of volunteers/sag vehicles it is just as well. This is a remote
area. One would hate to be stranded here at night without adequate warm
clothing. The next 40 miles or so are the real challenge. Yes, it is downhill
but you wouldn't know it for the headwind. Last year it was still light when Paul
and I rode in at 7:45, now it is getting dark. The traffic on Solidad Canyon
near Magic Mountain, is horrific. The usual mix of impolite and impatient motorists.
Somehow we survive and we "feel our way" the last mile along the road
construction on Magic Mountain Parkway. Just before 9 pm, we are back at the
hotel. I can't wait to get in my car and go to Starbucks for a Frappuccino.
Deborah is nice enough to offer the use of the shower so I can get all the road grime from my legs
on my leg warmers. Now that's what I call SUPPORT. We are to be
"ready" to roll out at 9:15 .
Mike Miller apparently decided not to do the 3rd loop (saddle
sore?). That leaves Sam Beal in front of us. Sam will race this years RAAM in a
two man team, and appears to be ready for it. He was considering to add extra
miles to this ride. I bet you anything he won't tonight. Those miles reside in the never never land of the back to back Terrible
Two Quad and the Furnace Creek 508 out and back. While waiting for Charlie
Griffice to join us, Dave Evans rides in. Ready with the quote: "It's a bit
too much after the Devil Mountain, don't you think Peter?". " You bet,
Dave " Dave is a VERY tough 60+ rider, who I met years ago riding Deer
Creek Rd. A real gut buster of a climb from Pacific Coast Hwy near the
Venture/LA County line.
We start out at 10:30 pm, feeling quite refreshed. Especially
Steve appears revitalized. Last year I had tendon problems at my right ankle,
which caused me to ride easy most of the way. Reading over the stats from last
years ride, it shows you how important it is not to stop. Last year
I left at 11:30 pm and rode in at 3:30 am. I remember taking it slowly, but steady.
This year we will finish at 3:03 am. My Ciclo Sports computer gives a riding time of
4:04. A full 30 minutes were taken by messing around with lights, peeing, eating
etc. The last loop was somewhat of a let down. This time no full moon. With the
lights, noise etc. of the group the night riding is less pristine, but time flies
by. Steve is like born again. Steve's "wheel barrow" displays will be
etched into my mind forever. Steve is a concrete contractor and as such has the
opportunity to "train" while pushing up wheel barrows with concrete
and the like. His
demonstration of how this motion is similar to climbing and especially
sprinting away is very convincing. Needless to say, he spends a lot of time way
out in front. Dave Jones is the volunteer at the Leona Valley checkpoint. We
fill up with "soup and noodles". Apparently Sam Beal has not checked
in and we speculate he turned right instead of left at the T crossing with
Elizabeth Lake Rd. That should put him in Palmdale by now! We lost Charlie on
the climb and on we go. The turn back to San Francisquito Canyon is quite tricky.
It is a more than 120 degree turn, very easy to miss in the dark. Better gear
down for the last climb! Up and over the summit to the fast descent to the stop sign at
Spunky Canyon and then to the more gradual descent the rest of the way. Before I realize
it we are back at the hotel. Wake up Chris! 3:03 in the morning, another
mile stone for this rider. Sam Beal apparently missed a turn, thereby cutting
the ride short. Must have taken Spunky Canyon rather than continue on towards
the summit of Bouquet Canyon. So after all of this, the long rest stops,
etc we finish first.
Time on bike
Thanks Chris for organizing this brevet ride. I know you
probably will receive some criticism concerning the difficulty of this ride as
part of a brevet series. As far as I am concerned, I am glad that there is someone like you
giving us the opportunity to test ourselves and go the EXTRA mile(s). I would
encourage you to continue to seek out challenging roads and to organize similar
Thanks Eric and Steve for hanging in there with the old Penguin.
Till the next one!
Comments by Charlie " Deer Slayer" Griffice, taking
revenge on last years ride:
Just got into work. I finished about 4:10am. Chris was awake, but Deb had gone to bed.
Really struggled with
sleepiness on the last uphill. Bouquet Canyon in the dark is really a LONG
CLIMB. There was no way I was going to stay with you,
Eric, Steve and Ken. I had motivation problems (and genetically inferior legs).
I wanted to stop at one of the 100 campgrounds along the way
and go to sleep. It was a beautiful evening, (actually early morning) but
I NEEDED FLATTER terrain. The running water in the creek and the blazing
campfires with young people beside them near the top totally got me out
of the mood to ride my bike anymore.
I measured over 20,000' on my altimeter for the ride. My
exertion level was low as I just didn't work that hard on
the third loop. But overall, I agree that this ride is
second only to the FC508 (or maybe the Grand Tour QUAD) in difficulty.
I was BY FAR the heaviest (in pounds) rider out there. I think they
should weigh everyone at the start of these rides and give us 10 minutes
per pound handicap to even things out. I stopped LOTS of times on Lake
Elizabeth to pee and just wake up. I'm not sure how to take naps. Every
time I stopped I would wake up. I was thinking it would be nice to sit
down on Elizabeth Lake Rd and snooze beside one of those white fences, but
it was too cold. The downhill on San Francisquito sure woke me up. It had
to be in the low 40's or upper 30's. Dave Jones was the
guy at the last rest stop (I know him from work and I'm trying
to get his email address). Later in the early morning hours, Dave closed
his rest stop and followed me in his truck on the last part of San Francisquito
Canyon and thru Valencia. It was flat there and I felt like I was finishing the
508 (my ego was out of control there as it is now and, some would
say, is always). HOWEVER, almost fell asleep twice on way home driving
the van. Knocked my right side mirror off on the freeway and scared the daylights
out of me. I'm really going to have to watch that on future trips.
Caffeine didn't seem to be working. I had one coke and one cappuccino.
I stopped the van after the first sleepy time noticing I was
sleepy and weaving (a truck honked at me), but once I stopped I was wide awake
again. The second time could have been disaster. The adrenalin was pumping
and I will be buying a new right side mirror for my Vanogan. I ended
up at home at 7:30am or thereabouts. Slept 2 hrs and then 10 hours last
night. See you at Central Coast.
Photos by Chris Kostman
Ultra slide show and results