Sometimes the lessons fall from the sky: the Corona 300k

I just wrote about the role of brevets for training last week and about my training philosophy last month before I rode from SLO to LA in one day. And this recent brevet, the Corona 300k, taught me a few more lessons!

This ride was one of those times where if I wasn’t signed up there’s no way I would have ridden. Mike Sz and I drove down to SD Fri afternoon to my friends Stu and Liz’s house in Ocean Beach. I love this neighborhood! People’s Co-op, Liticker’s Liquor vegan burritos (for real!), the beach, hippies….so fun to hang out there. Except when it’s pouring rain. And windy. And cold. We went to sleep with the wind blowing and the rain pounding on the windows not feeling excited about riding 187 miles on Saturday.

Liz and Stu's new dog, Reba. She eats couches like I eat burritos.

At 445am we woke up and looked at each other all, ‘I won’t go if you call it, but no way am I going to be the one to call it.’ So we stubbornly got ready. I mapped coffee on the way to the start, but the exit ramp was closed. Good thing too because we barely were ready in time for the group start. But we were. Stoked. Rolling out with about 20 cyclists ready for a full day of cycling.

Then Mike flats. Damn! We’re chillin, but hustlin, if that’s possible. Pick up another guy, ride that part of the freeway you ride out of Oceanside, then the awesome, mud-filled tunnel under said freeway and the cruise through the beach parks.  Two other guys we picked up talked incessantly about finances which was driving Mike wild.

First control: bagels and coffee. We set a time limit for hanging out, but that includes serious amounts of coffee and bagels cause we’ve been without either and awake for over 4 hours. So far the weather is chilly and overcast, but no rain.  We’re chatting with some kids about what we’re up to when I notice the van parked in front of the bagel shack is giving out orange juice and gels. Whaaaa? Sweet. Oh wait, they are not for us. Apparently Mr Finances has personal sag. I know this goes against the ‘self-supported’ philosophy of randonneuring, but I thought it was also disallowed. Turns out that I am wrong and Ye Olden Rules for Randonneuring allow personal support at controls. Huh.

From here, the route rolls up the coast to Newport Beach we’re we jump on the Santa Ana River Trail. It’s starting to rain hard enough to require my rain jacket and I’m putting it on while riding when I hear, ‘yo is that Matt Ruscigno?’ It’s my friend Robbie Miranda! He’s a recent roadie and Wolf Pack Hustle rider, but is better known as the legendary BMX racer:

He’s riding with his wife, who is pulling their child in a trailer. So awesome. When I explain what I’m up to he says he wants to come along. Seriously, was about to ride the rest of the 120 miles with us on a whim. I wasn’t surprised at all.  He decided he couldn’t do it and we said our good-byes.  Not long after that we rode near Sheep Hills, the also legendary BMX trails I dreamed about when I was a kid (though when I first got there in 1996 I was extremely disappointed because they were not nearly as good as my local trails, NAM or Posh).

I’ve ridden the Santa Ana river trail before, but, only once, on the first day of my two month bike tour from California to Belize, have I ridden it in its entirety. The rain came and went and as we winded through the mountain pass along the river our alertness was more similar to mountain climbing than cycling. We ate a quick, late lunch in Corona where we continued south, with the mountains to our right. We were racing the mountain storms! Would they reach us before it got dark?

Probably the best, varied, vegan calories per dollar you can put together inside a 7-11.

Rain is tricky. If it’s not too cold, it’s not that big of a deal. But it hit us right as the sun went down, the temperature dropped to about 40 and we were heading into the mountains.  What was it that I said about mountaineering? I was wearing my fancy new Mountain Hardware Goretex jacket that felt like it was overkill- until it was cold and pouring. And hailing.  Wearing it was a wise decision. Leaving behind my waterproof pants and gloves? Not one.  Though my core was dry so I stayed warm. Mike on the other hand did not have a jacket that held up as well and he was suffering. In Escondido, the control was at a fast food joint and here the riders who had been out in front of us were holed up. Nearly the rest of the ride came in behind us.

I wish I had photos from the ride, but I don't so here are more of the dogs.

It looked rough. One guy was sitting, slowly eating chili and was not only wearing his helmet, but his headlamp was still on. Mike could barely function.  I mean here we are: 170 miles in, with the last 20 or so being done in cold, hard rain. We were on about 4 hours sleep. We took off our wet socks and squeezed the water out. Mike stared into space.  I got us coffee and we joked with the others about how it was surprisingly bad (sarcasm still works with exhaustion). We definitely all felt the camaraderie that randonneuring is about. Well, with everyone except Mr Personal Sag who changed into dry clothing in the restroom.

The last 15 miles included a serious canyon descent. The danger is increased by not only the rain, but the debris that the rain pushes into the road. Our fatigue slows reaction time. Then Mike flatted again.  Is shiveringly a word? We shiveringly repaired it in record time. In the last few miles the rain actually let up a bit and we laughed about the 15 hours we had spent riding.

Back at the amtrak station we signed in with the volunteer, ate some apples and suddenly, when it came to putting on dry clothes, we had plenty of energy.  We drove back to Ocean Beach and I’ll give you one guess what we had for dinner.

Out riding around the next day I spotted this gem:

I wonder if this person is against East Hollywood too? Or is my neighborhood safe from the wrath?

Anyone riding the Orange County 400k this weekend?


Filed under brevet

7 responses to “Sometimes the lessons fall from the sky: the Corona 300k

  1. Wayne J

    Thanks for the report. I had the same initial reaction to the support vehicle (what, no snack for me?!) but to each his own. The weather was nuts. Even though I was among the last to finish, there was plenty of time in the bank, so the last part of the ride was slow, safe and cold.

  2. MikeF

    Hey Matt,

    Good meeting you and Mike on the ride! I kept rolling when you guys stopped to talk to your friend, you must have passed me when I stopped for lunch. Man, that stretch between Temecula and Escondido was rough…


  3. Great report Matt. Sounds like it was quite an adventure. I hope to join you one of these days as it sounds like our pace is pretty similar.

  4. Seriously, what is it about apples that makes them so damn good after hard efforts? Nothing ever tasted so good! (Apart from coffee and bagels, of course.)

    I enjoyed reading this. Like you say, I love the ethos and camaraderie of ultra events. Mt Personal Sag notwithstanding.

  5. XgoodlifeX

    yeah, Sheep Hills was overrated but one of the only places in So Cal that did not get torn down everyother month. It’s a bummer when you put in a ton of work just to show up and see your trials bulldozed. Hidden Valley is still there (behind Mothers in HB) and still better then SH.

  6. XgoodlifeX

    Oh NO! after my post I went to youtube to find a video of Hidden Valley Here is a good one:
    Someone comented three weeks ago that it is gone! I’m gonna have to check this weekend.

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