Adventure Corps 300 km Brevet

March 17th 2001

by Peter Pop

Comments by Charlie Griffice

Chris Kostman of Furnace Creek 508 fame, offers a brevet series in So Cal. Since I live in Malibu, the 300km brevet of Westwood to Ojai with the canyons in between, seemed just the ticket for me. I should be home in time for dinner. Yeah right! Twenty four riders had signed up and we are off at 6am. Whoops! Should not have put  the wheel with the old (worn) cassette on my bike with the new chain. I can't believe this, my chain is skipping on most of the gears I will be using. It is making an unbelievable racket. How stupid can I be, but at least they will hear me coming. The tandem captained by Dan Crain  flats a few miles into the ride and on we go. The first climb of the ride will be Topanga Canyon, which is actually quite steep near the top. It usually is a pretty hairy climb, the traffic being in a hurry to get home and with a shoulder not deserving of the name littered with road debris and overhanging weeds. This early in the morning, the climb is nice. Because of the darn chain skipping I can't keep up with my cycling buddies, Charlie Griffice and Dick Dickinson. My " groin muscles" are going to need some physical therapy after this. I am about to push those damn gears from here to hell and back. After some choice comments like: "maybe you should warm up the chain"," need some adjustment?", etc. we get to Mulholland, which greets us with a short but wicked climb ( we will do this again on the return ). Chuck Bramwell is riding in his new Triple Crown jersey, "logoed" to the max. There is no hill Chuck can't climb with a smile. I also noticed Chuck's shirt because I was wearing one just like it. We should form a team. I am a big TRIPLE CROWN fan and respect everything Chuck has done. I also know of his FC508, PBP, PacTour feats, etc. and was therefore thinking that maybe I should ease up because my heart rate was WAY TOO HIGH and Chuck always catches me at the end of these killer rides because he paces himself so well. I didn't slow up and DID pay for my folly later. After a few "speed bumps" we are ready for the next climb: the Rock Store switchbacks. Fortunately it is still too early for the shrieking "rice cookers" and the roaring "hogs"( Japanese motorcycles and Harleys respectively for the uninitiated ). In no time we reach the "summit" and cruise to the third obstacle: Little Sycamore Canyon and Yerba Buena. This is one of the most scenic Malibu climbs, offering magnificent views of the Pacific Ocean to the left and Bony Ridge to the front. Descending Yerba Buena, a few riders taste pavement. This canyon is tricky with negative camber turns covered with just the right amount of gravel. Making the right turn to Cotharin the climbing starts in earnest. During this climb I finally have the opportunity to ride with Chris, a first after many years. After the steep descent on Deer Creek, we make the turn to PCH. Just riding on my own, I loose sight of Chris and Mike pretty quickly. Reaching Ventura the directions get tricky. I turn left to San Buenaventura State Beach ( big wooden sign ). Apparently there was an even bigger wooden sign further up, because I  immediately get lost ( like many others behind me ). I meet Steve Pack, that morning's leader, doing circles in the parking lot, trying to find the Control stop. He is absolutely fuming, reminding me of my earlier, more competitive days. Suggesting we get on with the ride, we manage to note the control stop. This stop was nicely hidden from view to the side of the restrooms. Afterwards we get lost numerous times between the beach and Ojai, adding in my case another 5 miles. In my experience bike paths and competitive rides just don't go together.. Finally " Friends" Juice Bar, owned by fellow ultracyclist Premananda Childs. "Give me the largest shake you have, Prem". I had the identical Smoothie that Peter had. I've found that, if I just copy what Peter does it usually works.  Right on, Charlie!!, ed.

The next climbs are quite pleasant, the first one out of Ojai, the second one Grimes Canyon with never ending orchards in-between. I decided to let Peter and Terri and Steve go on Grimes and knew I would never see them again. I just wanted to finish. If I had a cell phone I would have called my wife to come and take me home. I hooked up with Dick Dickinson and we both spent MUCH time complaining about  things both seen and unseen. Dick climbed Box Canyon faster than I and was forced to wait at the top of the hill. (He does that a lot.) We climbed Stunt at sunset and IT WAS BEAUTIFUL. We found the house near the top of Saddle Peak and started eating. It was pitch dark at this point and Dick started getting cold. He WAS SHORT ON CALORIES. We waited there quite a while and Dick laid down and started feeling really bad. The folks at the house were nice and gave him a blanket to warm up. I decided to start without him as I was beginning to worry about the cold descent on Tuna Rd myself. I did shiver a little on the way down and Dick followed shortly thereafter. Steve is still determined to win this thing but unfortunately he appears thwarted by getting lost and finally by an absolute requirement to get some real nutrition. We finally part company in Moorpark. Terri Gooch, a very strong young female rider from New York, saves me from making a route mistake which probably would have put a prohibitive number of extra miles and climbing to my ride. Next time I fix the route sheet to the bike. Riding with Terri is an humiliating experience. While I can hardly carry on a conversation, she appears none the worse for all her effort. At my age I need some bionics! Getting to the 145 mile Control we meet back up with Dick Dickinson, who is finally getting tired. About time!! I purposely do not follow Terri out, that would be too much work for this weary rider. Until I reach the climbs to Santa Susana Pass and Box Canyon, I couldn't figure out how Chris got to his projection of 13000 feet of climbing. Up to this point we had  climbed just over 8000 feet and Stunt Road, near the end of the ride, climbs only 1300 ft. I was to find out in a hurry by standing near the summit of Santa Susana Pass, eyeing the Rt. hand turn to Box Canyon. You just know that it is going to be a killer hill! We are now well over 10000ft! Back to Mulholland Hwy and there is that damn climb again! I can now kiss goodbye descending Tuna Canyon ( 15% grade with steep turns, gravel, etc.) in day light. Climbing  Stunt Road is not too bad. It is part of my summer commute and I always enjoy this climb. Especially during sunset or sunrise the scenery is spectacular. Too bad, I missed the Control point. God only knows where it was, I did not see any signs. "Wait, there is a red flashing light". No that's Terri with a busted tire. Fixed it with a dollar bill. Scott Scheff shows up in the van and even Chris had decided to ride back up: "to help the damsel in distress". This is as good an opportunity as any  to put on all my warm clothes. At least I have not been carrying that damn back pack for nothing, I even carried a full large tube of Chamois Butt'r  and enough food for a picnic. We are now told that  the road is blocked by a tree but cyclists can pass by. The real question is: will they allow us? Malibu Public Works is notoriously liability conscious and might be very hard-assed about this. It would be a long, long way back up on this 15 % grade. Down we go, VERY SLOWLY. It turns out Terri's light is hardly bright enough to read by let alone to allow for a safe descent ( now there is an oxymoron for you). Chris mangles his wheel, so by default I am now in SECOND PLACE. Just have to make it past that tree though. That tree is HUGE. There is a crew of twenty just starting to cut this giant up. There is a five foot space to go underneath and after some smooth talking they allow me through. Yippee! After playing Russian roulette with the St. Patrick's Day traffic, while crossing PCH, I am now on the home stretch. I commute on PCH all the time , but this time the traffic is incredible. Chris may want to rethink this part of the course for next year. Writing this I hope that everyone got back safely. Riding the final miles on San Vicente Blvd.,  I meet up with first place rider Mike. He got hopelessly lost trying to find San Vicente Blvd., which is not as easy as it sounds in the dark when you do not live in West LA. Race to the finish? Forget it , I am toast. I cruise in at 7:47 pm. Mike at 7:45 pm. Scott is not there yet. Immediately order a coffee Frappachino, what bliss! After a short while Chris and Terri show up, and finally Scott. What a ride! I only hope the others were allowed to continue on as well.

Thanks Chris for a ride well organized and thanks Scott for your support. Chris said at the end of this ride that it was an "epic". I agree. Chris had great help at time stations, houses, stores, etc. etc. The ride was also a real test of "route sheet reading ability" which I need much practice at. I registered 13330' of climbing on my CATEYE. THANKS for the ADVENTURE Chris.

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BTW all riders,  please send me your story or comments for inclusion on this page.

More Stories:

Ron Way

Terry Hutt



By Ron Way  (or is it Wrong Way, ed.)

 I had a lot of the same problems staying on course as others. My first episode was missing the left off Ocean onto Entrada (which was not on the sheet) and ended up in a neighborhood way up above PCH. Never did find the control in Ojai. Also, it was getting dark when I was at the top of Box Canyon so I took a good look at my route sheet and noted that Valley Circle became Mullholland. I thought, no problem, I know where Stunt Rd is off Mullholland. Well, wrong, there I was at Topanga. Too much info on the route sheet that gets co-mingled with the real lefts and rights. Never did find the tunnel either, but I found three guy's standing in the doorway of a Pub, having highballs, telling me how to get to San Vicente. Oh, I forgot to mention that at Mullholland and Topanga I decided that I would be missing the last control and  came in over Topanga. I had a ball though, even with the problems. Still had more miles than the route sheet and came in at 9pm.That's better than I did before on such a hilly event . Ron "worm" Way


By Terry Hutt

How pleasant to read that others, too, found this ride a challenge. Being distinctly overweight and underfit, I had assumed I would be the 'Lantern Rouge' of this ride. While I was struggling up Grimes Canyon and Box Canyon (to name but two of the killer hills on this ride), I naturally assumed the likes of Peter Pop and Chris Kostman had soared effortlessly up them hours, perhaps days earlier.

I had also assumed, having read Chris' description of the ride -- "13,000' ", "for those who love to climb" --, that I would hate every moment. Actually, quite the reverse. The earlier climbs up Topanga and Cotharin were tough but very enjoyable. The fabulous view of the Pacific was well worth the effort and the descent was great fun.

After a nice flat ride up PCH to the Buenaventura beach control, we kept going north and hit a fun bike path up to Ojai. This is one to remember (if I can ever find it again). Chris wanted us exit the bike path prematurely because it is washed out but the guy I was riding with (sorry - I never did get your name) figured it was rideable -- it was, barely -- so we rode it to the end. Finding the control in Ojai was tricky because the street numbers on Matilija St start high at the top, drop low in the middle, then go high again at the bottom. There must be a North Matilija and a South Matilija or something. Anyhow, I asked some locals who pointed me in the correct direction. You should never be afraid to ask directions from locals, they'll be about 50% correct.

After Ojai we started climbing again. I noticed the route slip contained lots of words like 'summit', 'canyon', and 'mountain' in close proximity. I was hoping the 'Summit Cafe' was named after the owner and not its location. No such luck. Grimes canyon was the first climb that really had me wondering if I'd make the 2:00am deadline. Yeah, that was fun!

Fortunately, there was a respite from the climbing around Moorpark and a control at the home of Adrienne. I don't know if she remembers me -- I'm the guy who fell asleep on her lawn. It's a good thing it was dark or her neighbors would probably have called the police. I know I would have.

What can I say about Santa Susana Pass and Box Canyon except that Santa Susana was hard until I turned onto Box Canyon and then I realized Santa Susana had actually been quite easy. I kept staring to the right to checkout the incredible view down below. It's a good thing there weren't many cars because I was all over the road.

More climbing up Stunt Rd. This is the kicker, the realization that Chris is evil. We have a 1,500' climb at mile 170. Why am I whining, let's be honest -- I actually enjoyed it. Sure it was a grind and I thought I would break my chain even in my 30x25, but the view!

I glimpsed at my route sheet and read that the control was at the top of Saddlepeak road. I crested the top (don't you love the feel of your handlebars dropping away at the top of a steep climb?) but didn't see the white van that had signified the majority of the prior controls. As I started down the hill a young boy called from the left "Hey, mister bike rider, you can stop here if you want." I just figured he was messing around so I kept going down the hill looking for the van. About a mile down I stopped and read my route slip more carefully. The control was at a house... on the left... near the summit. I climbed back up the hill looking for the house. Sure enough, it was the one with the boy. "Are you the guy who just went down the hill?" he asked. "Yes, " I said, sheepishly "I should read my route slip more carefully in future, shouldn't I?" Anyhow, the kids there got a great kick out of signing my brevet card.

I was looking forward to the descent down to PCH. By my reckoning we would drop 2,500' in less than 7 miles. Sounds like fun. Wrong! Tuna Canyon is freakin' steep, twisty, and dark! I had to stop half way down to let my rims cool and my hands relax. I passed several riders on the way down and waited for them at the bottom for several minutes but they never showed up. I was a bit worried about them to be honest but figured there was no way I was going back up to check on them. They showed up at the end a few minutes after me. I think Tuna Canyon was more scary than descending Townes Pass into Death Valley at 58mph in the dark with my wife right behind me in my truck saying "It's OK honey, your life insurance is all paid up."

Only nine miles left, mostly flat. Then my lights began to die. I use a Cateye 2.4 watt with lithium batteries because they last for ever. Well almost. No problem, I also carry a 10w spot with a Nickel Metal Hydride battery which will also fit the external power adapter for the Cateye so I plugged the NMH battery into the Cateye. The manufacturer says you should remove the batteries before using an external power source, but I'm tired and they're probably just being old women, right? Wrong. After five minutes I happen to touch the Cateye. It's bloody hot! I turn it off and pull out the old lithium batteries. They're too hot to hold. I burn my thumb getting them out. They must have really been sucking the juice out of the NMH battery. Well you learn something everyday. I got back before the NMH battery died but it was starting to fade.

Despite the fact the it may sound as if I didn't entirely hate the climbing, I don't want Chris to think the 400k should have 18,000' of climbing. About 300' sounds perfect to me. And Barclay, when they replace the dollar bill with a coin, the price of your tire boots is going to go up five fold.

Can't wait for the 400k.

Terry Hutt


 Copied from Adventure Corps

300KM entrants (26 starters, 24 finishers)

Anny Beck 16:04 tandem with Dan Crain

Chuck Bramwell 15:01

Victoria Briggs DNF

Barclay Brown 17:45

Deborah Caplan 17:47

Susan Cooper 14:13 tandem with Scott English

Dan Crain 16:04 tandem with Anny Beck

Richard Dickinson 15:36

Scott English 14:13 tandem with Susan Cooper

Terri Gooch 13:48

Charles Griffice 14:47

Terry Hutt 17:35

Chris Kostman 13:46

Ed Kristensen 17:59

Dwayne Matheny DNF

Cavett Mike Miller 13:46

Steve Pack 15:38

Peter Pop 13:42

Buster Schaffer 14:15

Ronald Simental 17:59

Perry Smith 17:44

Timothy Sullivan 14:52

Ron Way 14:58 ??

Rowena Wildin 15:44

Ray Williams 14:53

Patrick Wright 14:14















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