Catalina Island Gran Fondo 2015

Discussion in 'Ride Reports' started by Faust29, May 17, 2015.



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  1. Faust29

    Faust29 iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Rancho Santa Margarita
    Name:
    Stef
    Current Bike:
    3 SC is now 2 SC.
    Oh... Where to start? :)

    I had all of my gear loaded and packed the night before, so all I had to do in the morning was have my espressos, and make my oatmeal. I'm a creature of habit... What can I say? This actually made the morning a lot less stressful than trying to get everything together last minute.
    IMG_4388.jpg


    The Catalina Express was scheduled to leave Dana Point at 7:45, so I was in the line and ready to board at 7:00... First one there! On the way over, there were only 5 bikes on board. I'm guessing that most people choose to stay at least one night. The ride back home had probably 25 bikes on board.
    IMG_4389.jpg


    I've been to Catalina several times, and the ride over varies depending on the ocean. Because of the recent storm, the water was a lot choppier than usual, and the captain warned us before we ever pulled out that it was going to be rough, and the ride was going to take almost an hour and a half! I grew up on water, and I love the motion of the boat. Some of my fellow passengers, however, spent a good deal of the trip puking. :sick::sick::sick: The deckhands walked up and down the aisles passing out barf bags the entire trip. I ate my oatmeal, and watched the dolphins out the window. One lady asked me how I could eat with the boat flopping all over the place. I don't think she liked my "I'm hungry" answer. :whistling:

    I was a little worried about time, as the ride took longer than expected, but the registration table was pretty empty. I filled out the waiver, and received my number plate in a few minutes... The plate was actually heavy plastic, and had all of my personal info on the back. If I ever get the garage clean enough to hang the number plates, it's a keeper...

    IMG_4392.jpg



    The ride rolled out from the old Casino just after 10:00, and headed up the pavement out of town. The "Stage Coach" climb is a little over 3 miles long, and gains about 1500 feet. I started at the back of the pack and managed to pass probably 100 riders on the way up. Normally, I hate to climb that much on cold legs, but the adrenaline gave me a little extra boost, and the climb was actually not bad. What I didn't expect was a lot of island natives riding everything from "Next" bikes to beach cruisers. I'm guessing they were not doing the 50. :eek: When we reached the first gate that marks the end of the allowed tourist area, I looked down at my Garmin. 700 feet gained... Good. Temp 57 degrees... Good. Distance... 21.76 miles. WTF? My Edge 510 decided that I had travelled 21.76 miles in the first 1/2 hour or so, and it kept pausing and resuming on its own while I was moving. I'm convinced that it's possessed by demons. I rebooted it, but I also turned Strava on on the phone. If you look at my Strava for the race, it is missing the first 1.5 miles or so. Grrrr... The first aid station (and also the last) was at the top of the Stage Coach climb. I don't like to stop so soon into a ride, so I didn't even pull in, and started along the ridge towards the airport.

    IMG_4394.jpg

    There was an "aid station" at the airport, but the people working there were not given the memo, and had no supplies! As I skipped the first aid station, I was running low on water at this point. I bought two bottles of water from the cafeteria... That was a bummer, but I'm glad I packed a few bucks in my jersey. Our only single track of the day was immediately after leaving the airport. We were allowed on the Trans Catalina Trail for maybe 2 miles. This was actually a fun little diversion- nothing technical, but it was true single-track with a lot of short ups and downs, and a couple off camber sections. Then it was back onto the "highway" for the descent into Little Harbor. The descent was several miles long, and a lot rockier than most of the day. Most of the people I saw chose to walk the downhills, but it looked like they were having a harder time on foot. I have some video of this section I need to get out of the GoPro.

    IMG_4395.jpg

    I've been to Catalina, but have never been to the Two Harbors side... Absolutely incredible. I believe we were at about mile 22 at this point, and the worst climb of the day was just out of the town.

    IMG_4398.jpg


    I've been practicing on Dreaded, which hits 24% at the bottom, and I've recently done the Oso trail which hits 24% in three different spots over two miles. They don't compare to a true 25% grade. Not even close... Looking at the Strava, I made it through about 2 miles of grades that hit over 20%. I was in the granny or 2nd gear the entire time- standing on the pedals, out over the handlebars. I honestly thought I was doing great, and then I had one of those "Oh Sh!t" moments when I saw the final climb to the radio tower. Loose, rocky, and steeper than anything I have been practicing on. Strava says it hit 27%. When I talked to the paramedic at the top, he said only 4 people had cleared it, and most of the leaders had chosen to run up it. :gag: I did see someone clear it in front of me, and I thought he was an animal! When I passed him later at mile 40, he looked half dead. I'll remember that next year, if I get the urge to play hero on that climb. ;)

    I took this picture on the way out of Two Harbors. I thought I was holding the camera level...

    IMG_4399.jpg

    Thankfully, it's mostly downhill back to the Little Harbor aid station... Followed by a nice long climb back out. Fortunately, the view is worth it...

    IMG_4420.jpg

    I had just caught two other riders when we stumbled on this guy. They were going to stop and take selfies, but the Bison started snorting, and kicking his back hoof. Fortunately, I was faster than the other two guys... :thumbsup:

    IMG_4423.jpg

    After our not so friendly bison encounter, it's several miles of gradual climbing back to the last aid station of the day at the top of the Stagecoach climb. I should have stopped here in the morning. Tom was making Greek yogurt smoothies fresh out of the blender! And, the view was ok.

    IMG_4424.jpg

    From the last aid station to the finish is a lot of ridge top riding... up and down. I felt really good, and managed to pass a few people on the ups. The Island Conservancy had deemed part of the ridge too wet and muddy to include in the course this year, so we were diverted to town through the Memorial Gardens. The memorial had agreed to let us through, but only if we walked the bikes the 200 yards or so through the grounds.

    IMG_4430.jpg

    After the memorial, it was just an easy jaunt through town to the finish at Descanso Beach. I rolled in a few minutes after 4:00, so I was on the road for a little over 6 hours. Strava says that my moving time was 5:07, which is missing the first 20-30 minutes. Looking at other Strava entries for the day, it seems that the total was about 49 miles and 8,000 feet. The organizers said that the shortened course was 51 miles, but I think that's a little exaggeration.

    IMG_4436.jpg
     
  2. Runs with Scissors

    Runs with Scissors iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    West Anaheim
    Name:
    Mark Whitaker
    Current Bike:
    2015 Giant XTC Advanced 1 29er
    Sounds like a fun ride. 8 Herz units of climbing makes for a good day, too.
     
    Danmtchl and Mikie like this.
  3. Faust29

    Faust29 iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Rancho Santa Margarita
    Name:
    Stef
    Current Bike:
    3 SC is now 2 SC.
    It was a really fun day... Not quite as brutal as I thought. The low temps probably helped with that.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
    Danmtchl and Mikie like this.
  4. Mikie

    Mikie Admin/iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Lebec, California
    Name:
    Mikie Watson
    Current Bike:
    Santa Cruz Hightower/Yeti 5C
    I've seen way too many ride reports as awesome as this to not get this on the "To Do" list. This one puts it over the top and now it's on the "I Gotta Do This List". Great read and pics!
     
    Danmtchl likes this.
  5. Cougar

    Cougar Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Washington City, UT (near St. George)
    Name:
    Craig
    Current Bike:
    '14 Turner Burner
    This looked like something I wanted to do... and after seeing these pictures I need to make a priority for next year.

    BTW: you need a new Garmin, that thing is possessed.
     
    Danmtchl and Mikie like this.
  6. Faust29

    Faust29 iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Rancho Santa Margarita
    Name:
    Stef
    Current Bike:
    3 SC is now 2 SC.
    Unless something else pops up, I will definitely go back. The island spirit is pretty neat... You never know what you're going to see. It was also prom night for the island kids, and it seems like the whole community takes part to make it special. The kids "paraded" through the main tourist area like they were on a fashion runway, with all of us tourists clapping. I talked to one of the local deputies, who seemed to know all the kids by name- in a good way. He said they were loading all the kids on the tour busses and taking them for a catered dinner on one of the island's remote and secluded beaches.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
    Danmtchl, Mikie and Cyclotourist like this.
  7. CarlS

    CarlS Member

    Location:
    Temecula, CA
    Name:
    Carl
    Current Bike:
    Walmart $50 special
    X2... I have been wanted to do this ride for a while now. Hopefully next year looks like a great ride for a light carbon hardtail xc

    Sucks the garmin didn't work and what the hell with the aid stations? what good is an aid station if there is no water or nutrition ? :roll:
     
    Danmtchl likes this.
  8. Faust29

    Faust29 iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Rancho Santa Margarita
    Name:
    Stef
    Current Bike:
    3 SC is now 2 SC.
    Looking back at the info, the aid station at the airport is listed as "self serve". I'll remember that for next year. In all fairness, the "real" aid stations were pretty well stocked... The fresh smoothies at the first/last station were a really nice touch, and all of the stations had PB&J, oranges, watermelon, pretzels, granola bars, peanuts, bananas, cookies, crackers, gatorade, water, etc... It was a pretty nice assortment.

    A carbon hardtail is perfect for this ride, and a cross bike might be even better for the majority of the ride... There are a couple sketchy sections, but not enough to make a FS bike a must.
     
    Danmtchl and Mikie like this.
  9. Sprockethead

    Sprockethead Newbie with Hope!

    Name:
    Andy C
    Fantastic job on completing it. I did the first 2 Fondo's at Catalina. The first stop in the morning had Mike's Subs, obviously too early to eat so we'd pack the sandwiches in our packs till we got to the airport and eat it there. Something for next year.
     
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  10. dckubler

    dckubler Newbie

    Name:
    Doug
    I rode this in 2013. Missing singletrack is a mixed blessing. After the steep climb out of Two Harbors we hit rugged steep singletrack with sharp rocks and cactus. In fact the segment is labeled "Catalina Gnarnia". There were a few crashes, one rider took a helicopter ride to a mainland hospital.
     
  11. Faust29

    Faust29 iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Rancho Santa Margarita
    Name:
    Stef
    Current Bike:
    3 SC is now 2 SC.
    When I did this in 2015, the only single track was the short section immediately after the airport. In 2016, however, they added back in the crazy section after the climb out of Two Harbors. The trail follows the edge of the cliff for some time and then turns back inland for the descent into Little Harbor. That was extra chunky, and the exposure was crazy in parts. 1,000 feet above the beach, and only a couple feet from the edge.
     
    Danmtchl, Cyclotourist and Mikie like this.
  12. SnakeCharmer

    SnakeCharmer iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Crescenta Valley
    Name:
    Mike, aka "Ssnake"
    Current Bike:
    Vassago/Trek
    Picture Slot flashback.

    @Faust29, I too should consider doing this ride. I just have one question for you about the adventure:

    What's up with the pink collared shirt??? :eek:
     
    Danmtchl and Faust29 like this.
  13. Faust29

    Faust29 iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Rancho Santa Margarita
    Name:
    Stef
    Current Bike:
    3 SC is now 2 SC.
    It made you miss the gears on the old Salsa! :p

    I did this again on the SS in 2016... They haven’t had it since.
     
    Danmtchl likes this.
  14. SnakeCharmer

    SnakeCharmer iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Crescenta Valley
    Name:
    Mike, aka "Ssnake"
    Current Bike:
    Vassago/Trek
    Actually, I didn't miss the geared bike thing. That was a few years ago and you've advanced since, which is awesome. I have to say that your Salsa was a fine looking rig, too. :cool:

    I recall you saying that you had a Salsa (I think it was a Mariachi?) the same color as my Timberjack when I first unveiled it. I had never seen one in that color until now. What happened to your Salsa?

    And, back to the original question, what's up with that collared shirt?! :laugh:
     
    Danmtchl and Faust29 like this.
  15. levity

    levity Member

    Location:
    elsewhere
    Name:
    gone
    2012 Flashback!

    I think 2012 was the first Catalina Gran Fondo. Everyone was excited to get to take their bikes over and see what it was like, especially a few areas that had been protected and off-limits. We opted for the shorter middle island route (~40 miles, ~5800’ climbing) to avoid an early start and so could we could just mosey along and enjoy the scenery and great smoothies at the aid stations!

    It was nice and sunny starting out from Avalon

    Avalon.jpg


    Clouds and fog appeared on the west side which helped keep it cool. Here’s a view over Little Harbor looking west.

    Catalina.jpg
     
  16. Faust29

    Faust29 iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Rancho Santa Margarita
    Name:
    Stef
    Current Bike:
    3 SC is now 2 SC.
    I have three of those shirts in reserve- ready to go again! :p I think they are more of a salmon color than a pink... :whistling:
     
  17. Faust29

    Faust29 iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Rancho Santa Margarita
    Name:
    Stef
    Current Bike:
    3 SC is now 2 SC.
    Awesome... :thumbsup:

    The smoothies were certainly memorable. I passed on the way out, but enjoyed them at the last aid station before riding the ridge and dropping into town.

    This is one ride I really miss, and hope it comes back...
     
    Danmtchl and Cyclotourist like this.
  18. SnakeCharmer

    SnakeCharmer iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Crescenta Valley
    Name:
    Mike, aka "Ssnake"
    Current Bike:
    Vassago/Trek
    Oh, salmon. :eek::D
     
    Danmtchl, Faust29 and Cyclotourist like this.
  19. Cyclotourist

    Cyclotourist iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Redlands
    Name:
    David
    Current Bike:
    Tallboy Upgrade
    Why did they stop running it? Seemed a pretty popular ride.
     
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  20. Faust29

    Faust29 iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Rancho Santa Margarita
    Name:
    Stef
    Current Bike:
    3 SC is now 2 SC.
    And that was a 2015 el Mariachi... the frame cracked, and Salsa had none to give. They “generously” offered to pay me for the frame, and they wanted me to buy a Cutthroat frame at an extra $500 out of pocket. I took the $475 payment and bought the aluminum Highball.

    In comparison, when the Highball broke and SC had none, they upgraded me to carbon at no extra cost...
     
    Danmtchl likes this.
  21. Faust29

    Faust29 iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Rancho Santa Margarita
    Name:
    Stef
    Current Bike:
    3 SC is now 2 SC.

    Not sure...
     
    Danmtchl likes this.
  22. SnakeCharmer

    SnakeCharmer iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Crescenta Valley
    Name:
    Mike, aka "Ssnake"
    Current Bike:
    Vassago/Trek
    Well find out why, will ya?! We want to know. :D
     
    Danmtchl likes this.
  23. Mikie

    Mikie Admin/iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Lebec, California
    Name:
    Mikie Watson
    Current Bike:
    Santa Cruz Hightower/Yeti 5C
    Picture Slot Machine...
    Great Ride Report! Who wears the color Salmon? o_O:rolleyes:
    img_4395-jpg.jpg
     
    UPSed, Old&InTheWay, Faust29 and 2 others like this.
  24. Cornholio

    Cornholio iMTB Rockstah

    Location:
    *
    Name:
    *
    Haters gonna hate!

    D4BBFE19-AAAB-4FB1-9030-7B4B491A360D.png
     
    Mikie, UPSed, Old&InTheWay and 2 others like this.
  25. Faust29

    Faust29 iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Rancho Santa Margarita
    Name:
    Stef
    Current Bike:
    3 SC is now 2 SC.
    One word: Spandex. :whistling:
     
    Mikie, Cornholio, UPSed and 1 other person like this.
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