I had forgotten all about Chris Kostman's 400 Km Brevet, until a
few days ago, when an Email from Charlie Griffice piqued my interest. A ride
with the difficulty factor of three Los Angeles Crest centuries in a row? Now
that's a challenge. The old Ridge Route on a road bike? Who ever had heard of
such a thing. My partner and fellow cyclist Russ Dickerson told me flat out, you
have to be crazy to do that. He should know, having ridden this Route many times
on a mountain bike. " Who does that Chris Kostman think he is, the cyclists
version of the Grim Reaper ?" This and some other choice observations
were offered by my wife on hearing about my sudden determination to do this
ride. Cumulative elevation gain of over 19000 feet in 250 miles? Sounds
like a choice RAAM training ride to me. Have to get my suspension bike ready and
slap on some really strong tires, though. I chose Continental Ultra GatorSkins.
Got to the start at Magic Mountain at 5:15am ready for a 6am
start. " Peter, you are just in time to start with us." Chris, Paul
Biron and Mike Miller, all fast guys, are ready to put the hurt on me. Groan. We
are off at 5:49. After some flat miles, we begin the climb along the Ridge
Route, the original old road to Bakersfield. Presently non maintained.
Absolutely fabulous road, with views of the Interstate 5 in the distance.
Absolute tranquility, no traffic. Being a graduate of Panamint Valley Road, many
times over, this road isn't half bad. Sure there are potholes, stretches of tire
sucking loose dirt, rocks, deep grooves. Sure we all aim for that same patch of
smooth asphalt only wide enough for one tire. But somehow it does not register.
This ride deserves to be ridden by roadies. Chris is even thinking about a road race
here. That might be taking things too far. We catch up to some of the other
riders: the "Twin Team": Angelica and Barbara ( ultra women to the
core ), Charlie Griffice, tandem with Dan Crain and Annie Beck and others.
Gradually Paul, Mike and I pull away on the climbs towards and around Lake
Castaic and then it's back to the start. Ready for the second loop. According to
Chris, this one is easier than the first, I beg to differ. This will turn out to
be quite a challenge for everyone, in fact in the end less than 9 riders have
not DNFed. First one to go is our fearless leader himself, his stomach succumbs
to the pressure. The second loop climbs to Los Angeles Crest Hwy, has a control
stop at the turnoff to Mt Wilson and continues along Upper Big Tujunga to the
5000 ft Summit. Climbing with a steady pace, Mike Miller beats the dust, he
seems bothered by the heat. Chris sags him to the Summit. Several times I can
see the road in the distance, way up high, a daunting sight indeed.
control I overdo it with Snapple, Soda, V8 and various bars, all this in less
than 10 minutes. Stupid!! I am paying the price to the summit, being all
bloated, etc. You all know the feeling. Over the top, Paul and I are ready for
the famous downhill. Unfortunately we are plagued again by headwinds. There goes
our 6 pm finish. On Soledad canyon I can not stay with Paul, have to slow
down. Time for the stomach to recover. Near the end I catch up and we finish
7:45 pm. My enthusiasm for the third loop, has tapered quite a bit. Maybe Charlie
was right after all about the difficulty of this ride. Chris would like at least
a few people to finish this epic ride. At this time no one has passed the
control point at Mt Wilson turnoff, but for me and Paul. Chris is getting
worried. To make matters worse Charlie crashed near the turnoff. He ran into a
deer on the descent. The deer is fine but Charlie is not. He was med-evacuated
by helicopter to Huntington Memorial in Pasadena. Rumors abound. Is he okay? I
decide I better see how my cycling buddy and crew member of various races is
doing and take off for Pasadena. Get there at the same time as his wife Linda
and son Andrew. He's OK , but is he scraped up! Road rash galore. After awhile
Charlie is discharged from the ER and he is talking about The Central
Coast Double! That's dedication to the California Triple Crown! His bike is a
write off , the frame torn apart. He seems most upset however about his precious
Furnace Creek 508 Jersey, torn apart and cut to pieces." Oh well just go
again this year Charlie!"
I drive back to Valencia. Have to get one more finish for the
Adventure Corps brevet series. Back on the road around 11:30pm. By this time, there
are obviously several riders in front of me. Just before I leave Perry Smith and
Terry Hutt ride up, but they are not ready to leave yet. The conditions could
not be better, nearly full moon, allowing the climb of Bouquet Canyon without
lights. This is just as well since my AAA batteries are dying. Those Catlights
are not up to the task. I usually use Turbocat lights, but the rechargeable
batteries are quite heavy and bulky. I love climbing at night , but hate the
flats and descents without a support vehicle lighting up the road. The cold air
and the peculiar smell of the night, bring back vivid memories from RAAM 1996
and 1997. Bouquet Canyon is ideal for night riding. Wide road with only a few
steep turns. No problems even with the Cinco the Mayo occasional drunk. Pass Dan
Crain and Annie Beck, also climbing without lights. I would like to stay with
them, but they are a little bit too slow. Finally the control in the small town
of Leona Valley. At the control I nearly catch up with another rider, but I have
to fix my light for the descent of San Francisquito Canyon. Fortunately I have
ridden this canyon numerous times and know its descent well. Of course there is
headwind. Especially this canyon is lit up with moonlight making it great for
night riding. All good things come to an end however and before I know it I am
back at the hotel at 3:30 am. One of the riders just came in before me. Paul
Biron finished at 0:16 am. "Great ride Paul, strong to the very end."
Paul Biron is getting ready for the 508.
Chris, this was truly an adventure. Your gamble on the Ridge
Route paid off. This ride will offer a challenge to anyone, including of course
to Mr. AdventureCorps himself. 19590 feet of climbing in 250 miles.
Fortunately Charlie Griffice is already planning his next ride.
Chris how about a new 508 jersey for the old Gastropod?
By Charlie Griffice
Yesterday I rode
Chris Kostman's 400 kilometer (250 mile) southern California bicycle ride.
For the part of the ride that I was able to complete, it was spectacular.
It was held in the mountains north of LA with a carefully planned and
pre-driven/pre-ridden three-loop course centered around Valencia.
I won't go into great details except to say that the Ridge Route loop
(first one) has scenery comparable (but far more "remote") as many of
the smaller mountains (in Double Century land) in California and the second loop went up to the pine trees in
the San Gabriel National Forest with scenery comparable to any of the more
difficult Doubles like Central Coast, Devil Mountain, Eastern Sierra and the
Terrible Two. Many ultra distance
bicycle riders don't realize that Chris is the (very young) "father"
of many of the best ultra-distance rides in the U. S. including the Race Across
America, the Race Across America Team event and The Furnace Creek 508. He's been very successfully competing, directing, and
imagining ultras since high school. He's
trying to take this long-standing knowledge and start new bicycling events in
the true sense of the meaning of the word ADVENTURE.
His website is www.adventurecorps.com.
Go there if you haven't already. If
you're interested in adventure in other things like scuba, mountain biking,
running, etc., go there as well or talk to Chris directly -- his website doesn't
do justice to his knowledge and dedication -- and I'm not saying that lightly.
Well, yesterday I rode with some of the cyclists in southern California
in what was an almost "Devil Mountain Difficult" 400 kilometer ride.
Lots of climbing, but great support as described above.
It was very doable by even mediocre riders like myself.
However, it was also a challenge for even those riders like Peter Pop of
RAAM fame. Peter is training for
his third RAAM and he looked as good as ever yesterday. He had stopped training for a year or so and lost ground, but
his recent mega-mileage effort seems to somehow be working again.
One would think he's over-training and therefore loosing speed, but I
didnít see much evidence of that yesterday.
His incredible steadiness no matter what the distance was again dominant.
I also rode with Dan Crain and Anny Beck who were riding the 400K on a
tandem. They have a chance of
winning the California Triple Crown stage race and are a pair of super climbers.
There were other noted riders like the Twin team as well.
Yesterday, in the San Gabriel Mountains on the second of Chris's three
loops, at about the 5000 ft level on Upper Big Tujunga Highway, I hit a deer
with my bicycle. It was on one of the better downhills of the ride and
I was disappointed that I couldn't continue as this was a
"just-try-to-finish-and-see-great-sites" adventure for me.
When I hit the deer I was going approximately 40 mph on a fairly straight
section (near the sights of many past mountain bike adventures
(Strawberry loop, Mt. Wilson Toll Rd, Gabralino trail, Rim trail,
trans-San Gabriel traverse, etc.) and this deer jumped out to the left and I
thought-- "what now". Well
I must have hit him pretty hard as it broke the front tube from my Klein frame.
I must have flipped over the front with first contact to the road being
to my back and hips. Two mountain bikers were driving by and they stopped and
helped me. I was a little dazed but
had full memory of hitting the deer and was thinking that nobody was going to
believe this. Sure enough, these guys weren't so sure about the deer story.
One was a UCLA student and he didn't want me moving and sent his buddy
after an EMT. I'm a veteran crash
test dummy with more than 5 broken helmets to my credit and thought this one was
not so bad, so tried a bit of refusing treatment, but soon an EMT showed up while I
was still laying in the road. He checked me out and
told me to just stay there until more EMT's got there and, like the mountain biker, politely ignored my comments
about how I was all right and ready to finish the ride after hitting a deer.
A little difficult considering the broken bicycle frame. I must have looked worse than I felt as knees, elbows and
back were pretty much covered with road rash. Goodbye Kucharik
bike shorts and Kucharik Furnace Creek 508 shirt.
He cut the shirt off my back much to my dismay.
About 4 or 5 National Forest EMT's showed up and put me on a board with
neck brace and strapped me down. I
then heard this helicopter landing somewhere (I think on the mountain road, but not sure) and
these guys put me on it. Even
though I've had a crash from which I woke up in the hospital, this helicopter
thing was new. They flew me to
Pasadena's Huntington hospital (where my granddaughter was born) and people were
very nice, but none of them had heard of hitting a deer on a bicycle. Finally a CHP (officer Kloss) showed up and wrote my story up
and HE WILL GIVE ME HIS REPORT. HE
HAD VERIFIED THAT THERE WERE DEER TRACKS near my crash. Peter Pop was in the hospital waiting room with my wife (he
went back and did the third loop AFTER coming to see how I was !!)
Anyway, there you have it, one more adventure to add to the list of