Jim's 2006 Solo Shadow Tour

» posted by jeknight2 on July 2, 2006 at 5:22 am

Jim's 2006 Solo Shadow Tour:

So there's this guy that wanted to ride the TDF, but couldn't quite get onto a team. You see, Jim Knight was 43 years old and stood 5' 8" and had ballooned up to about 215 lbs when he decided to ride the Shadow Tour in 2004. His goal was to replicate the total TDF distances and elevations, but on his home turf--the greater So. Cal. region--and do it in synch with the real deal in France the first three weeks of July. Of course, a genuine Shadow Tour rider does all this fun stuff sans the fancy support and speedy pelaton. And no silly drugs either, just CAC "Cheese Burger and Coke" and some V-8 and E-caps to keep from tipping over in the heat. Jim and Larry Gitman completed the inaugural 2004 Shadow Tour together. 2005 was an off year as Jim and Larry founded a bicycling events company named Shadow Tour. Now Jim's back with a solo effort in 2006--just a few friends joining in for a stage here and there. Longrider Larry Gitman will help out in four of the tough mountain stages. You're invited to check out Jim's daily log below; the data is downloaded from a Garmin 305 GPS Bike Computer.

Jim at the 2005 Furnace Creek 508 about to climb the 5,000 ft Townes Pass at night

Jim at the Idyllwild Summit in the 2006 Shadow Tour

Saturday, July 1st Prologue:

101.74 miles
6:38:22/15.3 avg mph
6,172 feet total acending elevation
136 avg heart rate, Weight 192 lbs                                                                                 

RSF/West Lilac/Coast/RSF.

Toasty day on the So Cal Coast! Thought I'd go a little longer than the official 7.1 km Prologue distance.

Sunday July 2nd Stage 1:

115.11 miles
8:18:38/13.9 avg mph
7,696 feet total acending elevation
121 avg heart rate, weight 192 lbs

RSF/Base of Palomar Mt/Lake Henshaw/Poway/RSF

Larry calls me the inventor of the Modern Pain Management Theory...after today, I better start over from scratch! The base of Palomar Mt has been taunting me for a dozen years. Sometimes I have small victories. I recall a 27 minute scamper a couple years ago, and sometimes--like today, the Mountain just spanks me--today's time was 48 minutes of raw grinding from which I never got my groove back and suffered from mile 52 onward. Back to the coast for a flatter 'recovery' ride tomorrow. Recovery is a relative term, because tomorrow is the second longest day in the tour! More Palomar Mt info: http://www.socalvelo.com/sub/palomar.html

Monday July 3rd Stage 2:

142.46 miles
8:59:38/15.8 avg mph
5,670 feet total acending elevation
107 avg heart rate, weight 188 lbs

RSF/Hwy 101/Dana Point/Hwy 101/RSF

A nice spin up the coast. Lots of 4th of July weekend tourists made the return very challenging. But it sure was nice to have a 143 mile recovery ride.

Tuesday July 4th Stage 3:

100.14 miles
6:47:17/14.8 avg mph
6,538 feet total acending elevation
105 avg heart rate, weight 190 lbs

RSF/Lilacs Hill/Couser Cyn/Fallbrook/L. Welk/Escondido/RSF

Steady riding on lower hills today. Building up for the major climbs in weeks 2 and 3.

Wednesday July 5th Stage 4:

120.16 miles
7:26:05/16.2 avg mph
4,528 feet total acending elevation
108 avg heart rate, weight 188 lbs

RSF/Coast/San Juan Cap/Coast/RSF

Easy spin up the coast. Weather is cooling off a little, about 82 to 85 F all day.

Thursday July 6th Stage 5:

102.42 miles
6:14:01/16.4 avg mph
5,551 feet total acending elevation
112 avg heart rate, weight 188 lbs

RSF/Bandy Cyn/Santaluz/Coast/Carlsbad/RSF

More low hill climbing.  Cool morning, muggy early afternoon.

Friday July 7th Stage 6:

117.31 miles
7:22:31/15.9 avg mph
8,014 feet total acending elevation
116 avg heart rate, weight 185 lbs

RSF/Ramona/Julian/Ramona/Highland Valley/RSF

Transitioned to some higher elevations.  Climbed from the coast to Julian (Elev 4,114 ft).  Climbed the five mile Ramona hill in 26:04 and the Julian hill from Santa Ysbel in 37:58.  Starting to feel positive training effects of riding into shape while on tour.  Those lower rollers don't seem to hurt as much as they did a couple weeks ago.  Temps were in the 90's--hot and sweaty on the way up then cooled and dried off on the descents.   E-caps, Gatorade, Hammer Gels, and V-8's continue to keep cramps at bay.

Saturday July 8th Stage 7:

51.25 miles
3:00:43/17.0 avg mph
1,862 feet total acending elevation
106 avg heart rate, weight 188 lbs


Higher tempo coast ride to simulate individual time trial.

Sunday July 9th Stage 8:

30.38 miles
1:37:44/18.7 avg mph
1,548 feet total acending elevation
121 avg heart rate, weight 188 lbs

RSF/San Dieguito/Santaluz/RSF

Another faster paced ride.  Preparing for higher heartrate mountain stages over the next 10 days. 

Monday July 10th Rest Day:

127.04 miles
7:45:44/16.4 avg mph
8,300 feet total acending elevation
124 avg heart rate, weight 186 lbs

RSF/Julian/Lake Cuyamaca/Gutay/Descanso Junction/Japatul Rd/Lyons Vly Rd/Honey Springs Rd/Otay Lakes Rd/Palm Av/Coronado/Ferry Landing

Long, hot, day in the saddle.  Worked hard on the last 5 miles of the Ramona hill in 23:19, then climbed from Santa Ysbel to Julian in 36 flat.  After getting to Julian at 4,100 ft, went up another 500+ to Cayamaca.  Lots of westerly winds on the return to the coast.  Finished at the Coronado Ferry Landing, had a late lunch, took the ferry back to the San Diego.

Tuesday July 11th Stage 9:

105.45 miles
6:05:46/17.3 avg mph
3,807 feet total acending elevation
107 avg heart rate, weight 186 lbs

RSF/Santa Luz/Del Mar/Coast/San Clemente/Coast/Leucadia

Nice spin on the coast.  A couple mechanical issues were fixed by Fred at Leucadia Cyclery.  Getting psyched for tomorrow's first climbing stage!

Wednesday July 12th Stage 10:

121.24 miles
8:07:05/14.9 avg mph
8,853 feet total acending elevation
122 avg heart rate, weight 180 lbs

RSF/Ramona/Old Julian Hwy/Julian/Santa Ysbel/Lake Henshaw/East Grade Palomar Mt/South Grade Palomar Mt/Rincon/Escondido/Del Dios/RSF

First day in the "mountains."  Went very well, despite bright sunshine from rolloff at 6:30am until completion (normally get SOME haze the first couple hours!).  Rode all the intermediate climbs at a strong tempo, but not full speed.  Met two very nice Stagecoach Century Vets having lunch at Lake Henshaw--Karla and Greg, I think.  They had just climbed the South Grade of Palomar Mountain (names could be wrong as cognitive recall is not at a high point this moment).  Temps hit the high 90's on top of the mountain and well over 100 in the Rincon Furnace Bowl.  Billy Bob the hotshot pickup truck driver almost took me out about 15 times along today's route.  My ribs still hurt from a t-boning I took on June 21st, so am riding with much heightened vigilance.  Looking forward to a 4 day point-to-point session starting next week.

Intermediate Climbs:

Ramona Hill (5 miles):  23:48 / Julian Hill (7 mi from Santa Ysbel):  36:20 / South Grade Palomar (11.4 mi):  1:07:03.

Thursday July 13th Stage 11:

100.32 miles
6:05:16/16.4 avg mph
4,832 feet total acending elevation
115 avg heart rate, weight 182 lbs

RSF/Coast/Lilacs/Fallbrook/Lawrence Welk/Escondido/Del Dios/RSF

Weather is starting to heat up inland.

Friday July 14th Stage 12:

200.78 miles
12:14:48/16.4 avg mph
9,000 Est. feet total acending elevation (Garmin shut down after 8 hrs)
111 avg heart rate, weight 178 lbs
Cumulative Distance:  1,535.80 miles

A.M. Phase:  90 miles: RSF/Santa Luz/Coast/RSF

P.M. Phase:  110 miles:  RSF/Ramona/Old Julian Hwy/Julian/Banner Grade/Scissors Crossing/S-2 Great Southern Overland Stagecoach Route of 1849/Ocotillo.

I though it was about time to shake things up on the Solo Shadow Tour...so today's ride will rank as one of my all-time Epic Rides.   One of those rides that's just so over-the-top difficult that the body either rises magnificently to the challange or crashes into oblivian.  Luckily, I landed on the happy side of those outcomes.  Started the day with a nice 90 mile coastie ride to get warmed up.  Then shut down for lunch, dip in the spa, telephone call for advice and motivation from Brother Larry, then mounted the bike at 2 P.M. for the real ride of the day--a huge climb up to Julian in the hottest part of the day, on one of the hottest days of this summer, 99F,  and a massive 48 mile desert crossing at night on the back side of our Wells Fargo Stagecoach Century Route.

There was also the Friday afternoon traffic flow heading in my direction of travel, which is definitely not recommended here in So. Cal.  After getting my legs under me after an hour or so, I was able to crank up the tough Ramona Hill in 23:56 and grind away to the top of the Old Julian Hwy.  Around 5:30 P.M. the furnace heat broke and as I climbed up the 7 mile Julian Hill the temps rapidly dropped and for the first time this summer, I recall seeing lots of 10's and 11's on my bike computer even on the steep grades.  The final time was 36:44.

I had dinner at Rongbranch, which was mile 142 of the day.  Then at 7:00 P.M. a  fast and fun descent into the desert as the sun set at my back.   Got a friend to follow me across the desert in an SUV providing light and lots of ice cold water, coke, gatorade, starbucks frappacino's, V-8's, and oraginia's.  It was a surreal experience to whiz through the darkened desert with tailwinds propelling me nearly effortlessly at 30 MPH for miles and miles, while temperatures rose from 101F at Scissors Crossing (the north end of S-2, elev. 2,400ft) to a high of 104F near the Carizzo Badlands (elev. 200 ft) and then finish at 100F in Ocotillo.   Despite all the environmental conditions of heat and altitude, and having riden effectively 15 centuries in a row, it was a wonderful day in the saddle and I will always remember waves of relief at seeing the distant lights of Ocotillo on the final few miles while listening to my ipod blasting out a live recording of Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven.


Jim at Box Canyon, mile 151                                              

Saturday July 15th Stage 13:

31.96 miles
1:55:16/16.6 avg mph
1,328 feet total acending elevation
98 avg heart rate, weight 181 lbs
Cumulative Distance:  1,567.76 miles

RSF/Santa Luz/RSF

An easy spin day after the monster ride yesterday.

Sunday July 16th Stage 14:

109.87 miles
6:46:59/16.1 avg mph
6,500 Estimated feet total acending elevation (Garmin stopped around 6 hrs)
117 avg heart rate, weight 185 lbs
Cumulative Distance:  1,677.63 miles

RSF/Escondido/Lake Wohlford/Rincon/Base of Palomar/Lake Henshaw/Santa Ysbel/Old Julian Hwy/Ramona/Highland Valley Rd/Via Rancho Pkwy/Del Dios/RSF

Today's ride started with some painful saddle sore issues, but turned out to be a very enjoyable ride.  Temps were in the low 90's with a thin cloud layer that was just enough to take the burn off.  Rode the infamous Base of Palomar Mountain again, and this time did much better than the 48 minute effort earlier in the tour.  I rode 33:41 and felt strong most of the way up.  Tomorrow is a rest day for the real TDF, but I'll spin 50-60 miles on the coast.  Then Tuesday through Friday, I will be on the road for some point-to-point monster mountain climbs.  Will update this Blog on Friday when I get back to San Diego.   

Plan for Road Trip Mountain Phases:

Tuesday, Jacumba/Pine Valley/Sunrise Hwy/Laguna Mt/Julian/Base of Palomar/Trading Post/Time Trial back up the Base of Palomar and up the South Grade to summit/spin down East Grade.  Est. 134 miles, 10,000 ft climbing

Wednesday:  Borrego Springs/Montezuma Grade/Warner Springs/Aguanga/371/74/Idyllwild.  Est .100 miles, 9,000 ft climbing

Thursday:  Idyllwild/Banner/Redlands (El 2,700 ft)/State Route 38 (40 mile climb to Onyx Summit, El 8,440 ft)/Big Bear Lake.   Est. 85 miles, 7,000 ft climbing

Friday:  Big Bear Lake/Redlands/Temecula.  Est. 80 miles, 2,000 ft climbing

Monday July 17th Rest Day:

50.62 miles
3:05:16/16.4 avg mph
1,994 feet total acending elevation
101 avg heart rate, weight 183 lbs
Cumulative Distance:  1,728.25 miles

RSF/Del Mar/Coast/Carlsbad/Coast/RSF

Cool down ride on the coast prior to the three day war in the mountains starting tomorrow.  Tomorrow's ride should be the most difficult single day ride I have ever done.  WIth a total of well over 10,000 feet of climbing in 134 miles, the ride starts out with a 13 mile climb from Jacumba to Crestline Summit, then staight up the Sunrise Hwy about 12 miles to the 6,000 ft summit of Laguna Mountain, then several hot grinder hills to the 110 mile point at the Trading Post.  From there, its time to lighten the bike and prepare for a final timed assault up the base of Palomar plus the entire South Grade to the Summit at 5,200 ft.  That's about 4,200 ft in 11.8 miles--which I still think is the hardest climb in California and at least as difficult as the L'Alpe D'Huez.  We'll just have to see how this comes out.  Will catch up with you on Friday!

Tuesday July 18th Stage 15:

116.53 miles
7:33:37/16.4 avg mph
10,054 feet total acending elevation
112 avg heart rate, weight 184 lbs
Cumulative Distance:  1,844.78 miles

Jacumba/Old Hwy 80/Sunrise Hwy/Laguna Mt/Julian/Santa Ysbel/Lake Henshaw/SR 76/Trading Post/Base of Palomar/South Grade/East Grade/Lake Henshaw

The first day in the mountains proved to be even harder than originally expected.  The first 13 mile climb on Old Highway 80 was a nice warm up. From there, I ascended the remaining 10 mile climb up Laguna Mountain with about 1/3 of a camelback of water and half a bottle of gatorade.  With some careful rationing, I was able to ride to the summit in 57:51.   Then a fast descent to Julian and lunch.  Then on to Lake Henshaw where the temperatures had climbed into the low 100's F.  Stayed on SR 76 all the way around to the Trading Post in Pauma, which turned out to be mile 91 on the day.   Then climbed up the base of Palomar and South Grade to the summit.  The climb up the base when very well, 30:51, nearly 3 minutes faster than just two days earlier!  The longer South Grade proved to be much harder with 20+ switchbacks and the hot early afternoon temps soaring.  I made it to the summit in a total time of 1:25:51.  With just over 10,000 feet of climbing on the day, I did a fast descent down the East Grade and called it a day.

Wednesday July 19th Stage 16:

100.79 miles
7:03:52/13.3 avg mph
8,746 feet total acending elevation
106 avg heart rate, weight 184 lbs
Cumulative Distance:  1,945.07 miles

Borrego Springs/Extra 9 miles vic Christmas Circle/Montezuma Grade/SR 2/SR 79/Warner Springs/Aguanga/SR 371/Anza/SR 74/Lake Hemet/SR 243/Idyllwild

Day 2 in the mountains was a stage of wide contrasts.  Riding near sea level in the very early morning and finishing nearly a mile above sea level in the late afternoon.  The day began at 5:55 A.M. after a relaxing overnight stay at the always classy La Casa Del Zorro Resort.  I made the decision to grab 9 extra miles down in the low desert (500 ft above sea level), in addition to the 8 miles to get to Christmas Circle, before my assault up the 10 mile Montezuma Grade.  This was not a wise choice.  As the sun rose above the mountains, I could feel the radiant heat build minute-by-minute.  Mother Nature doesn't hold back in the real desert and Borrego Springs is as real as it gets.  When I finally began the climb at 7:06 A.M. the temperature was around 104 F and on the rise fast.  I knew if I worked hard, I would soon be 1,000 then 2,000 feet above the desert floor and hoped to outrun the oppressive heat.  To my extreme good fortune, a few dispersed high clouds periodically shielded the direct rays of the sun as I climbed out of the valley.  This thin margin of relief allowed me to stay focused on the long grind.  As I went through 3,500 ft, I recall thinking I was over 3,000 feet above the desert floor and yet remained in imminent danger of heat exhaustion.  Then came 4,000 ft and, at last, 4,221 ft and the Montezuma Grade Summit was in sight.  Over the top and a fast descent for about 10 miles into a  cooler area near Warner Springs.  I realized I was dizzy and felt sick to my stomach.  I pulled over for a couple minutes, drank some coke, popped two e-caps and almost immediately began feeling better.  That extra 9 miles in the desert took me right to the edge, no doubt, and I will not make that mistake again.  The rest of the ride up SR371 was characterized by speeding trucks and motorists, lots of afternoon heat, and the residual tiredness from two weeks on Shadow Tour.  The final climb up to Idyllwild was fun though.   After the summit finish, hung out in Idyllwild, checked out the TDF coverage on OLNTV.com at an internet cafe and was bummed to read Floyd Landis had such a hard day in the mountains.

Jim relaxing after the climb at the Idyllwild mountain lodge

Thursday July 20th Stage 17:

91.59 miles
6:21:22/14.2 avg mph
8,902 feet total acending elevation
108 avg heart rate, weight 184 lbs
Cumulative Distance:  2,036.66 miles

Idyllwild/SR 243/Banning/Redlands/SR38/Onxy Summit/Big Bear Lake

Day 3 in the mountains took me to the highest point in the tour.  The ride from Idyllwild to Big Bear was potentially on hold due to the fires in San Bernadino.  However, the firefighters kept the flames way out in the back country and the fire threat never impacted the ride.  The highlight of the ride was the 40 mile climb on SR 38 from Bryant Road El 2,700 ft to Onyx Summit, el 8,443 ft a stage.  Once again, Mother Nature, made things interesting by having furnace heat down in Redlands and thunderstorms up near the summit.  The slope of the climb was more gradual than the first two days, but the the seemngly endless 40 miles made it a brutal final climb.  Once in Big Bear, I got word of the amazing day for Floyd Landis.  His stage win meant two things to me:  first, Floyd showed that the previous day's collapse on the final climb meant he is human and second, his remarkable comeback the next day proved he's also super human...Great Job Floyd!!!

Jim at the summit of a 40 mile climb near Big Bear Lake

Friday July 21st Stage 18:

86.63 miles
4:48:35/18.0 avg mph
4,328 feet total acending elevation
98 avg heart rate, weight 183 lbs
Cumulative Distance:  2,123.29 miles

Big Bear Lake/Onxy Summit/Redlands/Return to RSF by car/Afternoon ride in the vicinity of RSF

The return ride from Big Bear featured a fun ascent from Big Bear, El 6,700 back up to the Onxy Summit, El. 8,443 ft.  An early start and cooler temps made the climb feel easy.  Then the 40 mile return spin to Redlands reminded me that's it's still July down in the valley, and the temps were back above 100F by 11 A.M.  From Redlands. drove back to San Diego to complete the mountain adventure.  A 30 mile spin in the late afternoon capped the day's riding.

Saturday July 22nd Stage 19:

56.33 miles
3:32:35/18.0 avg mph
2,218 feet total acending elevation
96 avg heart rate, weight 181 lbs
Cumulative Distance:  2,179.62 miles

RSF/Del Mar/Carlsbad/Oceanside/Carlsbad/RSF

An easy spin along the Southern California Coastline.   The temps in the 80's with high humidity has the locals sweltering, but somehow, it just didn't have the same effects on me after the last three days of torture.  Waited to start my ride until after I saw Floyd Landis smoke the last Individual Time Trial on OLN.  His journey will end in a Yellow Jersey in Paris tomorrow.  My personal Shadow Tour journey will also end tomorrow, maybe in a yellow cycling cap...and I think I'll have a big, juicy bbq cheeseburger!   It's been a blast, thanks for all your support!

Sunday July 23rd Stage 20:

93.80 miles
5:40:20/16.5 avg mph
4,138 feet total acending elevation
106 avg heart rate, weight 179 lbs
Cumulative Distance:  2,2273.42 miles

RSF/Del Dios/Via Rancho Pkwy/SR 78/Ramona/Highland Valley/Via Rancho Pkwy/Del Dios/RSF/Santa Luz/Del Mar/RSF

Whew!  Solo Shadow Tour 2006 is at last a Fait Accompli.  Thinking my last stage needed just a little excitement, I tossed in a fast ascent up the Ramona Hill in 21:24, with a full compliment of two water bottles and a 70 oz camelbak.   The underlying motivation was to get up the hill quickly, so I could halt my eastbound direction and head back to the relatively cooler coast.  Yesterday saw temps all across San Diego County setting new records.  In Ramona the mercury actually hit 113 F.  The paper said an enormous high pressure zone on the west coast is sucking in hot air from the desert and moist air from the Sea of Cortez to create unusually hot and muggy conditions in normally perfect Southern California.  Anyway, I got out of there by 10:00 A.M. and figured it was in the mid 90's.  Not too many other cyclists out on the roads today.  Guess all this heat and humidity takes its toll.  Back at the casa, grilled that bbq cheeseburger.  I continued the Shadow Tour tradition of donning a yellow jersey at the completion of the ride.  There weren't too many media on hand this little celebration, nor was there any congratulatory calls from heads of state.  And that's fine by me, all that is justifyably reserved for the real TDF winner.  And this year's winner was truly deserving of praise, congratulations to Floyd Landis on his triumph at the 2006 Tour De France!   

With the 2006 Shadow Tour safely in the books, the next challenge will be to ride some of the great mountains in the Southwest this fall and winter.  Mt Baldy and Mt Evans come immediately to mind.  Maybe some three day mini tours to help Larry prepare for his Transcontinental Ride too.  The 2007 Wells Fargo Stagecoach Century in January will also be lots of fun to host for our loyal riders.  Until then, enjoy your rides and please always ride safe out there!

Best Wishes,