Last January I was introduced to the great cycling in the Santa Monica Mountains by friend and athlete, Revere Greist. The riding there is absolutely incredible, with coastal views, great canyon climbing, and some excellent weather, especially when compared to January in Wisconsin. Revere and I had a great time riding, and he enjoyed being able to show me around a place he lived and rode for 3+ years. It was later in 2015 that we decided to head back again to break up the winter routine and enjoy the LA sun once again. This time I would be going for 2 weeks, the first 9 days solo, and meeting Revere and the rest of the Great Dane Velo Club P12 team for the final 5 days. Here is a little recap with photos of the trip:
My arrival at LAX was wet. The previous day LA had experienced some long overdue rain, only maybe a little too much this time. Some flooding closed certain parts of the highway and threatened my riding in the early part of the trip. Fortunately for me, the rain slowed after the first day and the weather was manageable. With my carry on and my bike bag I called an Uber and made my way to my AirBnb, which was the cheapest AirBnb you will ever find in Brentwood, CA… a 1979 RV parked one block from where OJ Simpson “didn’t” kill Nicole Brown Simpson. Very classy.
Yeah, this thing was awesome mainly because of how bad it was. The slant made it impossible to stand in with cycling shoes. Peeing in the bathroom required aiming far right and letting gravity do the work. Sleeping was always a decision of whether to elevate my legs or my head, as well as trying my best to convince myself that a plywood mattress is good for my back. It became clear that this RV was strictly for sleeping. The rest of the trip would be spent either training or working in a cafe.
After settling into the RV, building my bike, and learning my surroundings, I was in full training mode. Because cooking in the RV was nearly impossible I was going to need to find a way to eat, and eat a lot, on a budget. That isn’t easy in LA. I was able to find an IHOP a mile away that became my morning hang out for the next 8 days. For $6.99 I was able to get 2 eggs, 2 bacon, hash browns, and all you can eat pancakes. Such a deal. Especially compared to the closer cafe that was $15 for 2 pancakes and $6 for a latte. Every morning I woke up, rolled out of the RV, made my way to IHOP, sat in the same booth, and ate as many pancakes as I could to fuel the day. By day 3 they knew my name. Potential sponsor?
After my IHOP breaky it was back to the RV to jump on the bike. I ended up doing a lot of riding, especially for this time of year. It was hard not to ride that much when you know back home its 50 degrees colder and the trainer is calling your name. I was fairly smart about how much intensity I would do each day in order to not overtrain and get sick or injured. It can be easy to over do it and end up sick halfway through the trip. Also, I wasn’t just riding. I did a fair amount of trail running no San Vicente Blvd and swam every evening. The PALI pool in Pacific Palisades was my end of the day routine because I needed to keep up the swim volume AND the RV shower was not an enjoyable experience… so I finished with a swim every day. Oh and now I know why some people shave in the pool locker room… Maybe they live in an RV too.
My home each night. Awesome to be swimming outdoors in January.
The coast after a nice mid January ride. So great to soak up some sun.
The Trek Emonda SLR did the job on some big days of climbing. 8ooo feet of elevation on this sunny day.
Post ride coastal bike shot on a cloudy day. Always taking some time to look around and take it all in.
Without getting into the gritty day to day details, that’s about it for the first 9 days. I woke up, ate pancakes, rode my bike, ate more, ran on San Vicente Blvd, ate Whole Foods hot bar, swam at PALI, ate Chipotle, and fell asleep around 8-9pm on a plywood bed in an old RV. It was awesome. Training was going very well and I was able to maintain a pretty high volume, especially on the bike. Then, the GDVC guys arrived. Ready to go!
One of the best parts about being out here again was that I could compare fitness from this January to last January. It was very motivating to see PR’s across the board on every climb I had done in 2015. Including an 8min PR up Full Latigo Canyon Climb, going 38:11 on day 10 of the trip, and my 3rd time up Latigo that week. That was one of the highlights for me. On a coaching note, PBC athlete Revere Greist came out flying on day 1 with a great climb up Latigo in 36:45. That’s 20th on the Strava leaderboard… out of like 6000… without a pull or a group… behind the likes of Levi Leipheimer and many other pros. Sorry, but this was a proud coach moment for me. Any local Strava users know how strong Revere is. He practically owns this area in terms of KOMs and he is still getting better at age 42. Revere has been an athlete I’ve worked with for just over a year and it’s been great to see the gains and the way his cycling continues to evolve. He’s a great example of what hard work, dedication to the plan, and strong coach-athlete communication will do for your fitness and reaching goals.
Unfortunately on day 2 of the camp Revere had a low speed slip on a slippery descent during a large group ride and left some skin on the road. After lightly tweaking his hip flexor and some road rash he still was able to stay with us and ride strong the rest of the camp. John K in the background proving that when the sun’s out, the tongue’s out.
The rest of the lads, John, Julian, and Dave all rode really well. We all took turns throwing punches up climbs as one by one we all dropped off, in different orders each time, really going at each other to ride hard to each summit. “Young Julian” really gave Revere and I a taste of punishment on the Fernwood to Saddle Peak climb, forcing us to ride upwards of 360w for 15mins or so (on day 4 tired legs!). Thank God we called a truce before the false flats!
Here’s a shot up the backside of Stundt as we rode through a foggy mist up in the clouds, about 10mins after Young Julian had me keeled over my handlebars gasping for air.
By day 5 (my day 14), we had enough of the punishment and road pretty easy-moderate up the PCH to Big Rock. Revere survived the crash, John was fighting a cold, Dave was heading home, Young Julian handled the verbal punishment that comes with being the baby of the group, and I was pretty toast. 75 fairly flat miles doing some pace line work was exactly what I needed. We ran into Caitlyn Jenner at Starbucks in Trancas (what an athletic specimen), that’s my 1 celebrity sighting. After the coffee break we had a serious conversation about a 25 mile Uber ride home. Instead we just relaxed for an hour or so and soft pedaled back. Good decision.
Trek Emonda SLR DA9000 Di2 Bontrager Aeolus 5 D3 TLR. Seriously, if you want an awesome ride, check out Trek Bicycle Store of Madison now.
Our group met up with another couple Madison area cyclist, Narayan Mahon and Rod Duncan, who were out there for their 2nd January trip to LA. Revere cooked a nice dinner, we had some laughs, and talked about our riding. Good times!
And that about does it. I caught a flight back to MSN after 14 days, 720 bike miles, 55,000 feet of elevation, 67 miles of running, 36,000yd swimming, 20+ pancakes, some good friends, great memories, and an awesome start to 2016.
Thanks for reading. Happy training!
Cycling and Triathlon Coach, Madison, WI