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Planet Ultra’s Camino Real Double Century

A double century is something that has been on my list since I was introduced to them in late 2021, and Robert has been trying to recruit me into doing one ever since. I passed on a DC in 2022 in order to focus on my first Pacific Coast Tour attempt. Then my injury during that attempt set me back as I was off the bike for six weeks and once those six weeks were up I set my sights on getting back into shape and another go at the Pacific Coast.

After returning from my successful Pacific Coast Tour last year I realized I wasn’t in the same shape I was in when I’d left. You would think, naturally, that riding every day for days on end would result in an increase in fitness. Unfortunately, all my rides during that time were at a comfortable Zone 1 pace to ensure I could ride the following day. On an extended tour like that you can’t just smash it every day. You’ll burn yourself out and then have to take several days off to recover. Going easy essentially reset my fitness for a second year in a row.

It took a couple months for me to feel I was back to the level I was before I left. Once I was there I started cranking out centuries pretty regularly. It started with nearly every Saturday group ride turning into a century with the extra miles I would add on. Then when I could I’d put two centuries within days of one another. This has continued into the start of this year with January being especially heavy with a total of seven centuries and right now I’m on a streak of 15 weekends with a century logged, albeit one of those was 98.5. When Robert started asking around and getting people’s interest in doing a DC in SoCal of course I was interested and felt it was finally time.

A week before Camino Real, our group started to check in on the weather and it wasn’t looking promising. The forecast was calling for anywhere between 45-65% chance of rain for the entire day. This got the group talking and there was serious talk of canceling the trip and doing a double in and around Clark County instead. I even went so far as to draw up a proposed route, presented it to Robert and the gang, and it seemed that nearly everyone who was planning on doing Camino Real was on board with doing our local alternative if need be. We had a few discussions about the weather throughout the weekend and finally decided that we would wait until Thursday afternoon to make a final call. This would give those who had already made hotel reservations plenty of time to cancel without penalty.

As the week wore on I kept obsessively checking in on the weather report, and the chances of rain were all over the place. Thankfully as we got closer and closer to the day things took a swing in the right direction. The percentages continued to go down eventually settling around 10% with light fog/mist in the morning giving way to only partly cloudy skies the rest of the day. With the, relatively, great news it was a green light for the event.

The weeks leading up to the ride I’d bought a new 12sp cassette and had it mounted to my touring wheelset to use during the event. I also had been riding them during that time to make sure they were up for the task. I could have stayed with my deep Bontrager carbon wheels, but I wanted something that wouldn’t catch so much wind and leave me feeling like I was being blown around. Also having 32s mounted made for a smoother ride.

I took Friday off in order to get all my things put together for the trip down to Lake Forest. I started the day with my usual breakfast at Scrambled. That was followed with a solid couple hours of bike cleaning and prep work combined with packing and loading up gear. Going through the motions I was especially paranoid that I’d end up forgetting something. I did end up packing more than enough kit to support two rides in the event I wanted to head to my in-laws’ place in Rancho Cucamonga and extend my SoCal weekend. This actually worked out great because I was able to ride with the perfect combination of gear for the day. Just enough to be warm once you started riding while getting cold after 10-15 minutes of being stopped.

The drive down to Lake Forest went without issue. I did get a slightly later start than I’d hoped, but I wanted to be thorough. Would be pointless to go all that way and have forgotten something. Traffic wasn’t too terrible and I got to the hotel before the worst of rush hour got started.

When I arrived most of the group: Kant, Jennifer, Joy, Sommai, Ferdie; were already there. Robert was staying with family and we wouldn’t see him until Saturday. Dave was riding down with Tony who’d agreed to do SAG for our group. All in all we had a total of eight riders and one SAG for this little adventure.

Friday night after everyone arrived we went over to the Spectrum Center for a group dinner. We made the quick drive down to the Spectrum Center and chowed down on some California Pizza Kitchen. I skipped the pizza (gasp) and went with salmon instead which was amazing. After dinner we returned to the hotel to get ourselves checked in for the morning ride and hang out for a little while longer. The group decided that we would roll out at 5:00 a.m. With that in mind we all went our ways and crashed out.

Unfortunately, I slept like crap that night. I think most cyclists can relate to getting a case of the nerves just before a big ride or event, and that night was no exception for me. I woke up several times throughout the night and had difficulty going back to sleep. I’d been smart and not had any caffeine late in the afternoon, but my brain just didn’t want to cooperate.

Waking up Saturday morning early, Kant and I, having shared a room, started to get ready. Things worked out pretty well between the two of us. I’m one of those types who likes to wake up, get some food, and then kit up whereas Kant likes to kit up first and then have breakfast. So while Kant was getting ready I started into the jar of overnight oats that I’d made Friday afternoon and brought down with me. I’ve been eating these at the start of every century for months now, and they haven’t let me down yet. As the saying goes, “Nothing new on race day”. Or in our case, “Nothing new on a big ride day.” I’ve learned that lesson the hard way in the past and was hoping to not repeat it on this day.

Hanging around outside the hotel there were a few riders who started while we waited for our group to coalesce. We even picked up a couple riders who wanted to roll out with us at least at the start. One of those riders, Roy, would stick with our group for a majority of the ride only bailing out when he had to quit due to a broken rear derailleur cable. The guy was a total machine riding, I think, an extra 50 miles AFTER that cable broke. I seriously think if we’d found a way to get him into a taller gear he would have finished it out.

Our group got underway with a decent descent which, in the cool damp morning air, was chilly to say the least. As we rode I picked up a decent amount of mist on my glasses making it difficult to see, and the glare for any lights made it even worse. At some point I just bit the bullet, pulled them off, and hung them from my jersey. I could either risk my eyes to an errant piece of debris, or risk my life, or someone else’s, because I couldn’t see where I was going. I chose the former.

The first 30 miles went pretty quickly. The ride through Shady Canyon along the trail was pretty cool. I would love to go back and do it again during the day in order to take in the scenery. After Shady Canyon was a quick climb and descent along Newport Coast Dr to the coast. We hugged the coast riding the famous Pacific Coast Highway before riding up Laguna Canyon. After a few climbs we made our first SAG stop at mile 30 and regrouped.

While on PCH, Kant and Dave asked me if any of it looked familiar. Honestly at first it was hard to recall this section of road from my tour, but as we climbed up to Laguna Beach I looked over and spotted a very distinct house that has an amazing ocean view. At that point it clicked and I remembered having come through having remembered seeing that house before. It was cool and kinda emotional if I’m being honest. A flood of nostalgia of an amazing trip.

After our first stop we continued south and back towards the coast. As we started our way through Dana Point along the harbor I recognized the area immediately. I’d stayed at one of the harbor hotels twice during my trip. Once on the southbound leg while serving as my break before the push to San Diego, and the second time on the northbound leg before heading to my in-laws’ place the following day. It was kinda fun to point out, “Hey I stayed there! I ate dinner there. Etc. etc.”

Once through Dana Point, we continued south along the bike path which parallels PCH. It was at this point that our group started getting split into “A Group” and “B Group”. Dave, Joy, Kant, and I all drifted toward the front and the remainder of the group fell back but remained together. As the four of us rode along a strong group of four riders passed us up. Not one to pass up a free wheel Dave put in an effort and got our group of four onto the back of this group. This group of eight would ride all the way into San Clemente.

When we came into San Clemente I hollered out that we weren’t with the other group and needed to go a different direction. This caused some minor confusion especially when we would learn a short time later that the four we were tailing were also doing the DC. The organizers had made a big impression that you weren’t to deviate from the course or risk being disqualified. So I was being especially diligent to ensure we stayed on course to the letter. Interestingly both of our groups ended up back together less than a block later. We kinda all stitched back together to start through the hills of San Clemente having ourselves a good old time. Unfortunately, Kant received a phone call that Robert and the others had made a wrong turn somewhere and were completely off course. Well pulled to a stop and did our best to walk him through getting back on track and decided we’d wait until they got caught back up. About 30 minutes later we finally saw their bright Adobo Velo kit come over the hill and we were all back on our way.

After San Clemente came my favorite section of the ride, in both directions. Riding along the Pacific Coast Bikeway and Old Pacific Highway is just such a treat. There are very few cars and once you enter San Onofre State Beach you’re pretty much in the clear when it comes to traffic. By this point I’d fallen back with the B Group mainly to make sure they stayed on track and didn’t miss a turn again. As we approached the interstate underpass I started worrying about the conditions. We’d heard that this small stretch was notorious for flooding and being socked in with deep thick mud. We were pleasantly surprised to find the path clear and let out hollers of joy as we passed underneath the interstate.

Pulling the group along the trail it didn’t take long before we made it to Las Pulgas Rd. Crossing back under the freeway we made the left to ride up the ramp and onto Interstate 5. This was quite the new experience for nearly everyone in the group. I believe only three of us: Dave, Robert and I; had ridden on this section of freeway before. I wasn’t overly concerned having only done it last summer, but Dave and Robert were much more cautious than I. Dave, Jennifer, Joy, and Kant all got out in front of our group, but we were all within easy eye shot of one another. We approached the Aliso Creek Rest Area and dutifully pulled off like we should. Unfortunately, the group of four ahead of us made the mistake of not passing through the rest area. When we caught up with them at the on ramp we let them in on their mistake. Worried they’d be DQd they rode back through the rest area to ensure their GPS track showed they passed through it. After they finished we jumped back on the interstate to make our way into Oceanside.

During our second SAG stop in Oceanside we called an audible to cancel another SAG stop scheduled for the same location because the lunch was only five miles away. So coming back to Oceanside we’d stop for lunch and then five miles later have a SAG stop? No thanks. After our break we continued south for a short bit before working our way back north to pick up a trail which would take us inland to the east.

The San Luis Ray Bike Path was a pretty cool little trail. My favorite section by far is where it passes under Interstate 5. Rolling under the bridges for the interstate and old coast highway was a real treat. I was looking around wide eyed like a kid and couldn’t shut up about how cool it was.

The route continued east along the path before eventually rejoining the roadway. We continued east to make a rather large loop around Mount Ararat. Once again our A Group had pulled out ahead of the B riders and around mile 87 stopped for another SAG stop. This stop was the last real civilization before we rode back into town for the lunch stop. It was also one of the best places to stop before the next significant climb.

As we rolled out it didn’t take long before the mountain goats pulled out and left this tubby guy in the dirt. There was no way I was going to keep up with the lightweights on the climbs. Absolutely no big deal and I don’t mind riding alone. Some time after making the turn onto Lilac I hear someone calling out my name and I look behind to see Jennifer coming up. I guess she’d pulled away from the B group and then her Garmin started acting wonky with the navigation instructions. I let up a bit to let her catch up and the two of us hung together all the way back to Mance Buchanon Park and the lunch stop.

After a relaxing lunch we set off to get this thing wrapped up. We doubled back on the route from the lunch stop all the way back to San Clemente. Thankfully this time we all made the pass through the rest area without incident. And, with some encouragement from Joy, I managed to stay with the lightweights on some of the short punchy climbs and all the way into San Clemente for our next to last SAG stop.

At some point as we were riding through San Onofre State Beach another rider on a huge mountain bike passed us by. We had made a stop for a couple pictures and to toss some trash as the guy went by. I joked with Joy to go catch him and off she went leaving me in the dust. A short time later Dave caught up (he was the trash tosser) and picked up Kant and I and started motoring to catch Joy. Not happy with only catching up to Joy, Dave set off to pull our group up to and past the MTBer. This dude was moving at a decent clip and easily had 2″ or larger width tires on his ride. A short time after passing the guy up, Dave fell back and I’m not sure how but we got distracted and the MTBer went back by! This time I pulled up on his wheel and our now group of five rolled on his wheel all the way until the El Camino Real intersection with Old Pacific Highway. The MTBer went to the left side of the road to catch the trail while we continued on the right as per the DC route instructions. We certainly weren’t going to get DQd at mile 137. Ultimately he did pull away because I didn’t have the legs to keep up going up the hill and not on his wheel. We did see him continue on and then make a right onto Trestles Beach Trail. I think we were all kinda bummed that we didn’t catch him a second time, but then again we’re doing a DC not our typical weekend group ride.

Beyond the San Clemente SAG stop most of the climbing took place. In the 50 miles left to cover we tackled nearly 4,000 feet of elevation. At first I was falling behind, but after passing Kant my legs came back to life on a few of the descents and I could just see Joy and Dave up ahead. I swung a decent momentum run down one descent and up the other side to bring me closer. Finally I was able to fly past on the next descent right at an intersection which light had just cycled to green. Seeing an opportunity to hitch a ride off the back of a pickup with a decent trailer I really pushed it to jump into their draft. Unfortunately Shadow had other plans and I dropped my chain twice in a matter of seconds. Dave saw the first drop which I was able to recover from, but he missed the second drop which I also recovered from. Both drops were ‘outer’ drops which made recovery pretty simple. Unfortunately, it was enough to allow the truck to get away without me in tow. I was consolidated by the fact that when Dave came up he seemed pretty impressed by the speed I’d been carrying and my ability to recover from the chain drop.

A short time later Kant caught up to us and we all stayed together, for the most part, until the end. Unfortunately, it was somewhere along Antonio Pkwy or Trabuco Canyon Rd that Joy’s headlight gave up on her. It got kinda sketchy along some of the descents and when we stopped at the intersection of Live Oak Canyon and Santiago Canyon roads we had a huddle to talk about it. During the discussion we seriously considered calling up Tony to have him bring us a spare headlight to give to Joy for the remainder of the ride. I offered the solution of setting a ride order to put Joy in the middle of the group and we’d just be more conservative on the descent speeds so we wouldn’t get so spread out. A little more back and forth and we choose to continue as is until we met up with Tony at the next SAG stop.

The next 12 miles were a good time despite being in the dark of night. A short climb gave way to a nice steady descent that was very manageable for our group. We kept up a good pace, but not so fast that we needed to spread out. Somewhere along this strip my headlight also went out. Thankfully I still had my front flasher and I just kicked it to full on to get me to the SAG stop. As we passed by Irvine Lake, Dave commented on how eerie it looked with fog coming up off it. He also came up alongside me to take the lead and give me a rest, but I told him to hang out until after we passed a road hazard that had been pointed out by the organizers. Once we cleared it I waved Dave through, but he was only in front for maybe two miles before we came into our final SAG stop.

Leaving our final SAG stop after a 20 minute break we were all freezing. As we started off Dave took the lead, but ended up leaving us in the dirt while putting in a huge effort to warm himself up. The rest of us also fell behind because we caught a couple lights as well. I also put in a few hard grindy efforts to get my body temperature back up and stop the shivering. The three of us joked that Dave was mad as us and that was why he took off, but I mentioned that he was probably just as cold as we were and was just trying to warm up. When we did catch up to Dave he did confirm that he was doing his best to get warmed up. Overall, it all worked out and before long the descent was over and we made our way back to the hotel which served as the start/finish line.

Once back at the hotel the four of us got started straight away on getting cleaned up while waiting on the rest of the group to make it in. We also agreed that we would all gather up in Kant and I’s room once we were ready.

Kant and I had a few minutes before jumping into the shower to chat about how the day had gone. We both agreed that the weather had been nearly perfect and would have been perfect had the temperatures been a little warmer. Our gear selection had worked out great. We both felt good, and, surprisingly, I felt amazing for having done 200 miles. I seriously felt I could have gone out and done another 50. I also shared that my only regret was not having done a double century sooner.

During the last SAG stop, Tony had done some research on local pubs and found a promising joint for us to head over to. Once everyone was back at the hotel we started discussing heading over to this pub for a celebratory beer and dinner. Thankfully, someone, I think Tony, thought it would be a good idea to call over and ensure the kitchen would still be open so late. Unfortunately, their kitchen closed in five minutes at 10:00 p.m. We decided to order in some pizza instead and really that ended up being the better call. It allowed everyone to get showered, into more comfortable clothes, and just really relax and unwind before crashing out. All in all we hung out chit chatting late. Dave was last to leave at around midnight.

Before everyone left we’d agreed on heading over to a local breakfast joint at 7:45 a.m. in hopes of beating any crowds. As I fell to sleep at midnight I was looking forward to the rest and the idea of sleeping in, relatively speaking. Of course my brain and body had other plans and I was wide awake at 6:00 a.m. well before my planned 6:30 alarm. I quietly went through and cleaned up around the room and packed up my stuff so once Kant woke up I could start loading the truck.

Right around 7:45 we all made our way to the front and were milling about chit chatting waiting for everyone to show up. Kant and I were already loaded up and ready to roll. Tony and Dave weren’t far behind. The ladies showed up a short while later and started getting their stuff loaded. While they were doing that Kant and I decided to head over to the breakfast joint to secure us a table for our large group.

Kant and I arrived and I was disappointed to find that the restaurant I had picked out did counter ordering. You know, you go to a counter, order, and then they bring it out to you. It really wasn’t that big a deal, but this style of restaurant certainly isn’t my preference. Kant and I both ordered and made our way outside to the large table the staff had put together for us.

While we sat waiting we received word from Jennifer and the others that her car battery had died and needed a jump. Thankfully, Tony and the rest of the gang were able to get her car jump started. They showed up a few minutes later, but by that time Kant and I had already taken a pretty decent chunk out of our breakfasts.

We had a great time hanging out and enjoying breakfast before we went our separate ways. Kant and Ferdie would be heading to spend some time with family before going home while Jennifer, Joy, Sommai, Dave, Tony, and I would all head back to Vegas. However, before we all left we ended up spending about a half hour fiddling with Jennifer’s car radio. The dead battery had caused it to lock up for security reasons and she didn’t know the code. After much fiddling and web searching we bypassed the code check, but also retrieved the code from the manufacturer’s website. Ultimately, if they made another stop and it asked for the code again she was ready.

And that just about wraps things up for my first adventure into riding a double century. As I mentioned earlier, I’m seriously surprised at how good I felt at the end of the day. I had it in my mind that I’d get back to the hotel absolutely toasted. I attribute it to keeping up on the nutrition at each stop while also keeping the pace reasonable. Honestly, I’ve felt more used up after some weekend century rides than I did after this double.

I’ll say I’ve definitely been bitten by the DC bug. I’m already plotting and scheming on the next one while making plans for the rest of the year. At this point I’m very seriously considering at the very least trying for the California Triple Crown. Depending on how things go I may also stretch to finish the California Triple Crown Stage Race, become a member of the California Gold Triple Crown Thousand Mile Club, and earn the Adobo Velo California Triple Crown endurance kit. Very excited to see where things take me for the remainder of the year.

New bike fund: $52.61 (+$0.25)
💪 134.42 new miles
🏘 Completed 75% of Doheny State Beach
🏘 Completed 25% of Shady Canyon
— From
1437 vehicles @ 7.5 per mile, 2 per minute, Speeds: 44.8 mph (avg), 98.8 mph (max) — by
Cloudy-Partly cloudy, 53°F-53°F, Feels like 55°F-54°F, Humidity 97%-86%, Wind ENE 1mph-SSW 2mph — by
myWindsock Report —
Weather Impact: 4.2%
Headwind: 54% @ 1.3-9.3mph
Longest Headwind: 01h 37m 55s
Air Speed: 16.7mph
Temp: 53.8-61.5°F
Precip: 0% @ 0 Inch/hr
— END —

Total distance: 192.78 mi
Max elevation: 1440 ft
Min elevation: -23 ft
Total climbing: 10845 ft
Total descent: -10872 ft
Total time: 15:15:44
Published inCyclingDouble CenturyEvents

One Comment

  1. […] 13Total Distance: 874.84 MilesTotal Ride Time: 51:02:33 (H:M:S)Longest Ride: 192.31 – Planet Ultra’s Camino Real Double CenturyCalories Burned: 40,472Total Elevation Gain: 36,765 ftAverage Speed: 17.1 MPHAverage Heart Rate: 135 […]

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