Saturday, March 03, 2012

Laguna's Seven Sisters

The Seven Sisters (I prefer not to use the "B" word) are steep hill climbs on the north and south side of the Laguna Hills. Most do the ride in a clockwise fashion starting from the north side in Laguna Niguel/Aliso Viejo. I have done the ride from the Laguna Beach side in a counter-clockwise fashion and you do the steeper hill climbs first, but you are making a lot of left turns.
There are several parking areas along Laguna Canyon Road north of the 73. This one is about 0.2 miles north of Hwy 73 on the east side of Laguna Canyon Road.
The first three climbs are in Aliso Viejo. Take Aliso Creek Road eastbound, right on Aliso Viejo Parkway, right on Alsio Creek Road, right on Alicia Parkway, and right on Highlands Avenue for the first hill climb. Note that Highlands connects to Pacific Island Drive in case your don't want to back track to Alicia Parkway. The Alisos and Alicias get awfully confusing.
Highlands Avenue is the baby sister, easiest of all the climbs.
Pacific Island off of Alicia Parkway is another "warm-up" climb. Take it easy, pace yourself. Save your legs for the real hard stuff.
From the south side Pacific Island Drive off of Crown Valley Parkway is slightly longer and just as steep as its twin sister. Three down and the toughest are yet to come. Get the lactic acid out of your legs as you go down Crown Valley to PCH. Three miles north awaits sister number four.
Gamin showing a 15% grade through most of the Pacific Islands climb.
These two Laguna sisters are the steepest of the 7 climbs.
The steepest climb of all the sisters. A 20% climb from the start and no flat section to recover for almost 3 miles. Driveways may be the only bailouts on this climb.
This climb begins with a warning! Take it seriously. It's difficult to clip out when your leg is in a full cramp, going 4 MPH at 45 Cadence up a 20% hill and your heart is pounding at 165 beats per minute and your front tire is lifting off the pavement.
Enjoy the views on the downhill if you dare.
Short but steep. Take Bluebird Canyon Drive from PCH up a gradual grade to a 22% quick right turn to Summit Drive. Unless you have legs of steel, this climb requires a 34-28 compact crank or a 30-25 triple crank. It seems to go on and on at 15-20%.
Take it easy on the downhill. I wouldn't recommend freewheeling it. There are stop signs and motorcycle patrolmen lurking in these hills.
The final two sisters seem like the longest climbs so pace yourself. No more 20% grades but there are a few 18%er's to deal with even though your legs are in total rebellion.
From PCH take Thalia St. up to Temple Hills Dr. Although measuring 2.6 miles, this climb is not as difficult because there are areas of 7-9% grade where you can "take it easy".
On the downhill, there is a sharp right turn toward the end of Temple Hill. Don't worry, there are guardrails to prevent you from free falling in case you over-cook the turn.
Enjoying the view is a good excuse to stop. Preventing a total leg cramp is also a good excuse to stop. Falling off my bike and sliding down an 18% grade is also a good excuse to stop.
Given its length and overall pitch, Park is probably the toughest climb especially if saved for last. This is where mental fortitude must take control when everything else in your body says "no-way!"
Park Ave is the widest road in the Laguna Hills climbs with a 16-18% grade and a couple of switchbacks through a small canyon.
After all that climbing make sure you stop, get your heart rate down, and enjoy the view! Congratulations, you have climbed 5,800 feet in 40 miles.
My Polar data showing a recent Seven Sisters ride. I started in Long Beach, 27 miles to Laguna to begin the climbs. The last climb was Newport Coast on my way to meet Donna at Fashion Island.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Chain Maintenance - KMC X10SL DLC Red/Black

As part of chain maintenance (cleaning and lubing) chain length should be measured. In a typical road chain the links are half an inch apart, so 24 links should measure 12 inches. Here my chain has "stretched" to 12 1/8 inches which is about a 1% stretch.
There are many types of chain checkers. This is a good detailed article about chain wear and chain measuring tools. I use a Park CC-2 chain checker tool. As they wear, chains don't really stretch, but the pins and bearings wear, causing the taut chain to elongate. A worn chain will not match the pitch of the sprockets and can cause skipping, decreased transmission efficiency, and sprocket teeth wear.
The CC-2 has two pins that fit between links of a chain. The top wing is pressed until the pins are tight and the amount of chain wear is read in the top window.
Top view of the CC-2 shows that my old chain has worn over 1%. Park recommends replacing a 10 speed chain at .75% wear.
The new KMC chain comes in a jewelry box. Like a diamond necklace does. . . it costs almost as much.
Not sure if I should wear it around my neck or use it on my bike. KMC chains feature hollow pins and links making it the "Super Lightest" in the world, an "X-bridge" outer plate for quick and quiet shifting, a Titanium Nitride coating for durability. This red/black chain also has a DLC - diamond like coating which makes it even more wear resistant. I am not sure if you can get more catch phrases and acronyms to describe a chain as KMC does. Does anyone know what KMC stands for?
Laying out the new and old chains. Same number of links, but the old chain is longer. I've logged over 6,200 miles on the old chain without any problems.
Once the new chain is measured side-by-side to the old chain, a chain break tool is used to remove the pin at the appropriate link.
After routing the new chain through the sprockets and gears, the free ends are joined by the "Missing Link".
Red and Black links complement the graphics on my BMC. Who says only "fixies" can be stylish?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Tour de Palm Springs 2011

The Tour De Palm Springs is always a good century to start the season with. The course is mildly challenging, the scenery is great, the weather is usually cooperative, and the support is enthusiastic. It is also a good first century because there is very little hill climbing and most of is is at the start of the ride. I have reviewed this ride on previous posts 2007 and 2009. This year's ride was done with a couple of friends: Speedster Bryan G.
And Juan "Kiki" Armstrong
Even San Diego Chargers QB, Phil Rivers, decided to use this ride to get into football shape. Must have been a long off season. He even wore his football helmet.
Bryan taking a "natural break" in the middle of nature. Watch out for snakes!
This is not the start, but the first rest stop at the top of Indian Avenue. Cyclists clogged the street, drink bottles were being hurled into the crowd, no where to go. The climb up to this point was very slow not due to difficulty, but congestion.
Polar data for the ride: Heart Rate-121, Speed-13.9, Power 110. Total time: 8 hrs, 39 min. Total Ride Time: 7 hrs, 29 min.
Congratulations, Juan. His first century and still able to smile at the finish.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Davis Double Century - Two Down, One To Go

Davis likes to call itself the most bicycle friendly town in the world. True to form, the support for this ride is exceptional and you feel right at home with your two-wheeler there. The Double Century heads west toward Napa Valley, north along it's eastern ridges toward Clear Lake, and back to Davis via Cache Creek.
The ride starts off flat leaving Davis, but once out of Winters, the climbs begin, endlessly for about 100 miles. You definitely need to train not just for milage but for climbs. The good news is once you hit mile 136, it's mostly downhill to flat. Riding at 4 a.m. in pitch-darkness, this is all you see. Luckily the turns were marked with blinking road hazard lights. My 400 lumen MityCross is enough candlepower to keep me out of trouble. I also have a helmet mounted light to read my cue sheet. The first hill climb at mile 40, up Cardiac Hill to the Monticello Dam with views of Putah Creek below.The warmth of the rising sun, breaking up the morning fog was a welcomed sight.This is going to be a good year for the wildflowers. The scenery is one of the reasons this is one of the most popular double centuries. There were about 600 riders this year. After cycling for 100 miles we got rewarded by the Cobb Mountain climb - 10 miles, 1,920 feet, 10-11% grade in the hot sun. The Davis Double is NOT a flat ride. The roads are also very rough for the whole ride!The last 10 mile climb up a double peaked Resurrection Hill.This was the reward for 136 miles of riding and 8,660 feet of climbing- a breathtaking 40 mile descent along the Cache River. The haze of the afternoon sky and the glow of the setting sun reminded me I had only a few more hours of daylight. The last 30 miles were flat, the winds were mostly agreeable, and I took advantage of a long train of riders behind an energetic tandem. I easily made it before dark. Total time was 16 hours, 20 minutes. Ride time was 14 hours, 44 minutes. There were very few traffic signals so most of the 2 hours 30 minutes stop time were at the 9 rest stops (average 18 minutes per stop). Turkey sandwich at mile 117, cup-noodles at mile 162, and boiled red potatoes at mile 181 was much appreciated. (Missed the chili and grilled cheese at the last rest stop.) Broke my speed record: Max speed 46.9 MPH down Pope Valley Road, average speed for ride was 13.5 MPH. Coasting time was only 19% of the ride. On the Hemet Double my coasting time was 26% -much more work on this double. Energy used: 10,000 kcal. Temperature ranged from 48 to 93F