2011 Solo Shadow Tour

Jim's 2011 Solo Shadow Tour Daily Blog 

With 50 summers safely in the books, I'll be attempting a 7th unsupported solo replica of the entire Tour De France (TDF) bicycle race. The TDF is an annual professional bicycle race held in France, with some stages crossing into Italy, Spain, Belgium, and England.  It's 2,100+ miles in 21 stages in 23 days, with 2 travel/rest days. The 2011 TDF dates are Jul 2 - 24. My Solo Shadow Tour covers the same dates, and same distance, but finishes 3 days earlier, and is held entirely in So Cal. My customized version of the Tour includes cycling 10 very long stages of 175 - 200 miles, alternating with 30 - 50 mi "rest" days. This year I've included 3 x 200 mi stages to produce a "JK CA Triple Crown". Average speed goal is 16.80. All 6 previous solo replicas were successful (2004, 2006 - 2010). One may conclude this is all routine--trust me, it's not. It's extreme ultra-distance cycling in July heat, in So Cal's desert & mountain regions, with many dangerous elements, so an important disclaimer: Do Not attempt this!

For more Shadow Tour background details, click here.

~Rider Jim

Jim's 2011 Solo Shadow Tour Daily Blog


Stg Mi
Tot Mi

Stg El
Tot El  


Jul 2



15,772 15.0 173 Palomar Mt:  Carmel Valley (CV) / RSF 10 mi warm-up (RSF) / Del Dios (DD) / Via Rancho Pkwy (VRP) / Bear Vly Pkwy (BVP) / Lake Wohlford (LW) / Rincon / South Grade Palomar Mt (SGPM) / Palomar Observatory (PO) / East Grade Palomar Mt (EGPM) / Lake Henshaw (LH) / Warner Sprgs (WS) / Sunrise Summit (SS) / WS / San Felipe Gde (SFG) / Scissors Xing (SS) / Box Cyn / SS / Banner Gde (BG) / Julian / Santa Ysabel (YB) / Old Julian Hwy (OJH) / Ramona / Highland Vly Rd (HVR) / Escondido / VRP / DD / CV

SGPM:  1:32:46
1st Century:  7:03, at 11:51 A.M. w/9,715 ft of climbing
2nd Century:  6:18, at 7:01 P.M. w/ 5,516 ft of climbing

Garmin Connect:  Stage 1  S/F: 4:09 A.M./7:02 P.M.
  Logged onto the Accu Weather website at 3:15 A.M.  A Severe Weather Advisory immediately popped up calling for "Extreme High Heat Inland & Mt Regions San Diego County, avoid all outdoor activity".  Welcome to Stage 1 of the Solo Shadow Tour! And yep, they got it right.  Rolled at 4:07 A.M. Added a 10-mile warm up in Rancho Santa Fe. The weird coastal air temps vs. ocean water temps created thick fog about 200 ft up, near Santa Luz. The fog conspired with total darkness to make sure I could barely see what was in front of me, even w/3 headlights. Plus, my glasses fogged, so it was a real pain. The extra warm up provides 40+ min before rolling through some rural inland communities where owners let their Pit Bulls roam free in the early A.M. Most of these dogs are absolutely viscious. Maybe their negligent owners get a kick out of watching their dogs attack cyclists. Have 4 pepper spray contraptions, but if a dog leaps out of the darkness, there's no way to respond. Extra miles in RSF also helps get me to first light.

When the sun finally rose, around 6:00 A.M. there was a cloudless sky as far as the eye could see. Meant it was going to an absolute scorcher inland. Anyone who rode 10 mi inland today felt it. I rode about 70 mi inland, even got 4.4 miles on the Stagecoach Century course on San Felipe Grade. Felt waves of desert heat coming up from the low desert--that baked desert smell was nearly overwhelming near Scissors Xing. Wait, I'm skipping ahead...

Got to Rincon and the Trading Post store at 7:26 A.M. Did a quick fluid upload and staight up Hwy 78 for 5 miles to the S. Gde turn off, then up through the switchbacks for another 6.2 mi. Shadow Tour Co-Founder Larry Gitman informed me of a recent Pit Bull incident about 2 mi up from the turn-off, so rode stressed for all of that, thankfully no dogs. The air was thick and hot. Almost no wind to circulate minor relief. Just a grind/suck all the way up. Downed about a full gallon by the summit at 9:05 A.M., but was still dehydrated. Mother's Country Store was open early for the 4th of July wknd. Was great b/c they let me fill up my bottles and Camel Bak as many times as needed. Think I guzzled 4-5 Diet Cokes. Ate a bunch of energy items, then up the dreaded 5 mi grinder to the Palomar Observatory. A nice dude snapped a pic of me, then back to the store. Didn't need to stop, so rolled freewheeled down the E. Grade. Quick photo at the overlook toward Lake Henshaw. Tried to upload to FB, but no cell coverage.

By mile 73 was already at 8,980 feet of climbing. Was nearly toasted and still had 127 miles to go. To make matters worse, my average speed was down to 12.7 mph. That's way too slow when riding a Double in July heat. Adds the danger of a night finish, which is absolutely unacceptable on a Sat heading back to the coast. Experience kicked in. I eased down the 11.8 mile E. Grade fairly fast, dodging a couple squirrels. At Lake Henshaw, kept rolling, but went into the "safe mode". That's where I ignore my avg speed and ride with a wide margin of energy conservation, focusing on fluid replacement and jamming down calories. This is VERY HARD to do, especially on down sections where the temptation is to hammer, but no. The ups aren't as bad, b/c speed isn't important. But mentally, it's demoralizing to throttle back for so long. Did what was needed to come back to life. Rode to Sunshine Summit then back to the Warner Spgs Gas Station for a massive fluid upload and sandwich. An absolute "Sweetheart" was running the store, named Shasta (like the Mt). She helped fill my bottles and Camel Bak with ice + fluids. I was having trouble getting money out of my wallet (and counting it), so she helped with that too.Spent 15 min inside the A/C store talking with Shasta and eating a sandwich.  A few customers came in and they were concerned about my health in the blazing heat. Was reassuring to have total strangers express interest and concern.

Rolled away at about 1:30 P.M., still in safe mode. Climbed up the 6+ mi butt-kicker on S-2 to San Felipe Summit. Wind was in my face (of course) coming up from the low desert. Not too bad if you're a fan of blast furnace wind in your face. Experimented with some increased pacing down the long 11-mile descent to Scissors Xing--nothin' doin'. Was still fried and it was getting hotter with every mile of the descent. And that bloody headwind! At Scissors, turned right onto Hwy 78 and eyed that awful 11-mi climb up Banner Grade to Julian. Mercifully, the wind neutralized for a few miles, enough to get up out of the pit. Temps eased near the top with some swirling winds that weren't too bad. Got to Julain at 3:26 P.M. and felt confident that I could make it the 57 miles back down to the coast. After topping off fluids at the store rolled down Hwy 78. Could temps cool mile-by-mile. Motorists were remarkably nice, giving me a wide berth many times. I tried to thank each with a Courtesy Wave. Gotta reward that kind of cool behavior! Then down Old Julian Hwy, buzzed by one UGLY turkey buzzard. Surely was attracted to my awful funk. Topped off at the Ramona Arco, then down Highland Vly Rd to Escondido, Valley Ctr Pkwy hurt a little, but got my avg back to 14.6 mph. Hammered hard down Del Dios to San Dieguito Rd. Saw"15.0 mph" on my Garmin and dug in deep to hold it up the final climb to my casa near Del Mar Heights Rd.

It wasn't pretty, but got 'er done! Glad I didn't try to make up time when I was plumbing the depths. Safe Mode was the right call. Will be damn hard to get my average speed back up to my goal of 16.80. Another blazing hot day on tap for Stage 2 on Mon, but the elevation is much more dispersed.

Lake Wohlford
                                                                  Lake Wohlford 
Palomar Mt Observatory   
    Jim in front of Palomar Mt Observatory
 Palomar Summit
       Palomar Mt Summit, views East to Lake Henshaw 
Sun Jul 3   Rest 35.23
2:10:20 2,192
16.2 174 CV / RSF / CV

Jul 4
10:44:57 11,116
16.3 173 Temecula Wine Tour:  CV / RSF 10 mi / Escondido / LW / Valley Center Rd / Lilac / West Lilac / Couser Cyn / Rice Cyn / Rainbow / Temecula / Rainbow / Fallbrook / Bonsall / Old Hwy 395 / RSF / CV

1st Century:  6:18, at 10:58 A.M. w/6,746 ft climbing

Garmin Connect:  Stage 2  S/F:  4:09 A.M./3:52 P.M.

Major regrouping on Stage 2.  Dire weather advisories called for extreme high temps, up to 102F in Temecula, the mid-point of today's ride.  Knowing the overall elevation for the ride would be "only" about 10,000 ft, I maintained an up-tempo pace on a bee-line route for Temecula.

Curiously, the Accu Weather forecast, which was spot-on Saturday, proved overstated today.  At least, I never felt anything like 102F anywhere out there--and I covered a huge swath of North San Diego County.  On the contrary, 80-90's F, at the most.  Was never seriously hot out there, but drank as if it was baking.  Avoided caffiene and passed on the E-caps Salt tabs in order to guage my rehydration plan with good ole water, Gatorade, and many Camel bak's filled with ice at the Arco Stations.  All went well.

Made very good time eastbound, arriving at Temecula by about 10:15 A.M. and wasted no time turning a quick 25-mile mini tour past Pachanga, along Rancho California, then headed back toward the coast, via Rainbow, Fallbrook (kudos for most American Flags!), Bonsall, Valley Center, Escondido, Carmel Valley.

Got my head right out there today.  Was definitely beat-up physically, and completely fried mentally, on Saturday's grueling 200-mile Mountain and Desert Odessey.  Even as an experienced ultra-rider, it's important to be reminded how narrow the safety margin is for this kind of cycling.  Never take anything for granted, especially the gradual and cumulative effects of dehydration.  

Couser Canyon
              Avocado Orchards and high country views east near Couser Canyon summit, mile 57 
Jim at Deer Sprgs
   Jim at Deer Sprgs Rd Arco, mile 149 
Palomar Winery
  Mount Palomar Winery on Rancho California in Temecula, mi 90 
Palomar Winery pano
                  One of several lovely wineries along Rancho California, Winery Row, in Temecula, CA

Jul 5
  Rest 31.27
1:50:38 1,708


176 CV / RSF / CV
Jul 6
11:08:18 12,378
16.1 174 Laguna Mt:  CV / RSF 10 / La Jolla (LJ) / Downtown San Diego (DSD) / Sweetwater Bikepath / Bonita / Chula Vista / Otay Lakes / Jamul / Honey Springs Rd (HSR) / Lyons Valley Rd / Japatul Rd / Hwy 80 / Pine Valley (PV) / Sunrise Hwy / Laguna Mt Summit / East LM / Julian / SY / OJH / Ramona / HVR / Escondido / VRP / DD / CV 

1st Century:  7:04 at 11:52 A.M. w/8,556 ft climbing

Garmin Connect:  Stage 3  S/F:  4:06 A.M./4:25 P.M.

Centerpiece for this stage was a grueling climb beginning in Jamul, up Honey Springs Rd, at mile 60, and ending 40 miles later at the Mt Laguna summit, el. 6,000 ft.  There were only a few downs on the entire section.  Inclines aren't too steep, just long & hot.  Temps were fairly warm all the way up to about the 5,000' level on Mt Laguna, where the sky became dark with heavy thunderclouds.  The weather forecast called for a severe thunder & lightening storm in the San Diego mt regions late in the afternoon, meaning after 3:00 P.M.  But by 11:15 A.M. the skies were already threatening.

With cooler temps under the cloud cover, I lifted the pace to 12's & 13's and shot for the summit as quickly as possible.  Over the summit by Noon, I noticed the Sunrise Hwy on the East side of the mt was still wet from a recent light rain.  Luckily I missed that, but weather behavior was erratic, not the best scenario on a very long ride.  Made it to Julian, mile 121, just before 1:00 P.M.  By then the sky was already rumbliing.  Since I'd pushed the pace, absolutely had to stop for a real carb upload (turkey/swiss sandwich) at the Julian store/deli.  Knew I was going to need the extra carbs to fuel my outrun of the impending downpour on my way back down Hwy 78 to the coast.  While making my sandwich a clap of thunder boomed through the door.  Everybody ran outside to see what happened, including me!  Then one more.  Ugg!  I downed the sandwich, snapped a couple pics, and raced off down the freshly paved (and silky smooth) Hwy 78.

Directly above my head I was literally bisecting the dark and blue sky and the dark section was chasing me.  A few huge rain drops hit my legs and ran all the way down to my shoes.  It was close, but I surfed out from under the impending Armeggedon directly above me about halfway down the Old Julian Hwy. 

Maintained a solid pace down through Ramona, Highland Valley Rd, Via Rancho Pkwy, Del Dios, and back to Carmel Valley.  A little disappointed with the overall pace, but satisfied because I was able to ride with authority the whole way.  Friday's ride is back up the South Grade Palomar Beast, with another, shorter, high desert tour to Sunshine Summit. Temps are gradually easing from now through the Big Bear Lake stage.

Star of India
                       The haunted Star of India moored in the San Diego Bay, 6:22 A.M. mile 26 
                                      USS Midway moored just south of the Star of India
 Mt Laguna Mt Lag 2
     Nearing the 6,000' summit of Mt Laguna               Mostly long, gentle incline, only a few tilt-ups
Lag Mt 3
     Looking back down Sunrise Hwy (S1), mile 96
Lag Mt 4
Past summit, heading down east side of Mt Laguna
Lat Mt 5
 Mile 121 in Julian, el 4,200' at 1:05 P.M. Photo taken right after 2 booming thunder claps. Check that sky!
Julian 1
Prepping to outrun the storm back to the coast
Julian 2
 FAV store: Julian Market & Deli--gr8 deli sandwiches!
         At the summit of the Old Julian Hwy, el 2,600', facing west, note blue skies westward, mile 134.
           From the same spot, looking back over my shoulder you can see what I was running from!
Jul 7
1:49:01 1,520
17.2 174 CV / RSF / CV

Jul 8
    4 175.45
11:14:00 14,633
15.6 171 Palomar Mt 2X:  CV / RSF 10 / DD / VRP / BVP / LW / Rincon / SGPM / EGPM / LH / WS / SS / WS / LH / EGPM / Rincon / Ridge Ranch Rd / Valley Center Rd / El Norte Pkwy / DD / RSF / CV

SGPM:  1:26:41
EGPM:  1:07:38

1st Century:  6:36 at 11:14 A.M. w/8,769 ft climbing

Garmin Connect:  Stage 4  S/F:  4:05 A.M./4:54 P.M. 

Back to Palomar Mt today.  Rolled at 4:05 A.M. and made good time on the 50-mile uphill from the coast to the Trading Post in Rincon.  Dawn revealed a cloudless sky, which made for a warm early morning, but not nearly as hot as Saturday's opening stage on Palomar.  Made it up the 5-mile section to the South Grade turn in 31:55, then maintained a good pace up the next 6.2 miles, thru the S-turns, and reached the summit in 1:26:41--over 6 minutes faster than Saturday's stage 1 climb.  Was at the summit at 8:55 A.M, so the store/restaurant was closed.  Had 62 mi w/7,780 ft of climbing, avg speed of 13.3 mph to that point  Snapped a few photos and rolled down the East Grade.  Several more thrill-seeking squirrels decided the best time to cross the road is within 15 feet of my front wheel--which always gets the blood moving!

Down at Lake Henshaw, the guys at the store set me up with a huge pitcher of ice for my bottles and Camel Bak.  Topped off fluids and headed out for Warner Springs and Sunshine Summit.  Favorable winds and surprisingly moderate temps on the high desert plain (~3,000') allowed me to rip it up.  But the very dry air takes it's toll, so I wasted no time knocking back the 20 mile out-n-back.  Continued to be surprised at the friendly motorists on Hwy 79, frequently giving me extra wide passing space.  Courtesy waves seems to be effective, especially for the vehicles behind, who see the wave and follow suit with extra space.  At the turnaround, took a photo of the Navy's Remote Survival Training Center.  Somehow changed my camera settings to a green tint.  Eventually got that fixed.  On the way back, quick stop at Shasta's gas store in Warner Springs, then continued to work my avg back up to 15.5 mph when I got back to Lake Henshaw.  With 112 miles done at 12:11 P.M. decided to shut it down for an incredible Turkey/Avocada sandwich before ascending the long, but much easier incline, on the  East Grade of Palomar.

Neutral to favorable winds made the East Grade climb a delight.  Made the summit in 1:07, iced up at Mother's Restaurant and began carving S-turns down the S. Grade.  Always on high alert near the 43-mile marker, where a Pit Bull attacked me last year.  Was lucky then and escaped any injury, but the image of that viscious dog lingers in my memory.  Once past that point, enjoyed a fast descent all the way down to Rincon Indian Reservation.  At about 2:30 P.M. as I bottomed deep in the Rincon Valley, afternoon temps really spiked, and I suffered for about 5 mil getting back up the 700' hill, dealing with some aggressive Harrah's casino drivers, until I finally made it up and past Pala Valley View Casino.  Took the alternate route to Lake Wohford: right on Woods Ridge Rd for a swift 5 mi, then left and blazed down several miles on the widened Valley Center Rd, a right on El Norte Pkwy for 4 mi, then left on Center City Pkwy to Del Dios.

With over 14,000' of climbing, this was indeed a challenging day in the saddle.  Confidence plays a huge role here:  I like the elevation dispersion on this long ride.  There are substanial recovery miles between the toughest grinds.  Plus, the first 62 mi has well over half the total elevation, so it's front-loaded (to a degree).  This wraps up Palomar's mountainous role in the 2011 Shadow Tour.  Sunday, it's back to the endless up-n-downs on the Temecula Wine Country route.  Tuesday, I'll battle the formitable Mt Laguna one more time.   Thursday is the coastal stage to Trabuco Canyon, in Orange County, as a relief stage prior to next Saturday's fearsome stage from Julian to Big Bear Lake.

                            Summit of Palomar Mt, Store and Mother's Kitchen Restaurant 
 Summit => most-loved mile marker on South Grade!
Palomar Summit 2
   Intersection South & East Grades on Palomar Mt
S grade 2
            Top of 11.2 mile South Grade Climb
E grade 2
             Top of 12.2 mile East Grade Climb
Navy Sign
        About 8 miles east of Warner Springs, CA
Jim bw
            At mile 101 in Warner Springs, CA
Lake Henshaw
                 Photo from Overlook on East Grade Palomar Mt, el 3,600', view of Lake Henshaw
Warner Springs
 Views east toward Warner Springs, semi-arid high desert plain, elevations range from about 2500'-3,000'
Jul 9


1:43:29 1,642
18.1 173 CV / RSF / CV

Jul 10
    5 200.50
11:57:40 12,592
16.8 170 Temecula Wine Tour II:  CV / RSF 10 mi / Escondido / LW / Valley Center / Lilac Rd / Old Castle Rd / Camino Del Rey / Bonsall / West Lilac Rd / Couser Cyn / Rice Cyn / Rainbow / Temecula (2 laps) / Fallbrook / Mission Rd / Bonsall / Valley Ctr / RSF / CV

1st Century:  6:12 at 10:36 A.M. w/6,891 ft of climbing
2nd Century:  5:46 at 5:12 P.M. w/5,088 ft of climbing

Garmin Connect:  Stage 5  S/F:  4:05 A.M./5:12 P.M.

Rolled off at 4:05 A.M. for a second tour of Temecula's Wine Country.  The marine layer was thick about 800 ft up and extended at least 30 miles inland.  The very moist air meant riding completely drenched for about 4 hours.  That much moisture makes riding uncomfortable, even though the outside temperature was probably in the 70's F.  Constantly wiping fog off sunglasses to see was a constant nuisance.

The daily A.M. squirrel report included something new, a screamer!  While descending Couser Cyn, the squirrel ran darted across the road, letting rip a high-pitched squirrel bonzai scream.  Cleared my front wheel by about 3ft--Oy!  Was a relief to finally summit over Rice Canyon & Rainbow and break out of the moist marine layer into brilliant sunshine dropping down into Temecula.  Morning and early afternoon temps ranged from my 70's to mid 80's during two laps of wine country on Rancho California and Pachanga Casino.

Original plan was to ride the standard 175 miles, but after the first 100 miles, in 6:12, was feeling pretty good, so stretched out the route to 200 miles.  Limited the number of stops in order to push through to a finish in the 5 o'clock hour.  Trust me, with the cumulative effects of the Shadow Tour, after about 8-9 hours in the saddle, the primary thought in my mind is to get off that bike and have some crunchy food! 

To stay focused on the 2nd century, worked on lifting the average speed.  Was at about 16.2 mph avg on the 1st century.  Gradually moved it up to 16.5 before arriving in Fallbrook around mile 145.  From there, lots of ups, flats, and downs, including a 4.5 mile climb up West Lilac Rd, allowed me to get it to 16.7.  Entered Lawrence Welk Rd, parallel to the Interstate 15 freeway, with 37 miles to go.  It took the entire 37 miles to get that last tick, to move the avg to 16.8.  I was convinced my Garmin had frozen, especially after throwing jump, after jump, after jump to try and get that needle to move!  It finally happened on San Dieguito road, with about 4 miles to go.  Of course that meant I had to dig in deep to get enough of a buffer to make it up the 200 ft Del Mar Heights hill without losing that last tick.  Was able to hold it to the finish. 

Was pleased to get the 2nd 200-mile stage done early.  One more on the return from Big Bear Lake will round out the "JK CA Triple Crown".  At the halfway point, with 1,060 miles in 9 days, feeling remarkably well.  Only phyical issue is one minor saddle sore.  Bike is also holding up well mechanically.   Rides on Tue & Fri before the Big Bear Lake ride on Sat.

Butterfield Stage Rod
  Views from Butterfield Stage Rd in Temecula.  Beautiful wide boulevards with Peppertrees.   Lovely area. 
Temecula Sign
     Descent into Temecula Valley from Rainbow
Postride 200
   Post-ride in Carmel Valley, CA.  War paint still on!
Jul 11
  Rest 30.29
1:51:06 1,699
16.9 174 CV / RSF / Coast / CV
Jul 12

16.2 174 Lake Cayamaca:  RSF 2 / DD / VRP / Ramona / OJH / Julian / Lake Cayamaca / Gutay / Pine Valley / Mt Laguna / Julian / SY / OJH / Ramona / HVR / VRP / DD / CV 

1st Century:  6:41 at 11:41 A.M. w/9,994 ft climbing

Garmin Connect:  Stage 6  S/F:  4:08 A.M./4:15 P.M.  

One more ride on the slopes of Mt Laguna.  Course is shaped like a giant Lolli-pop.  Coast to Julian, then a 40-mile loop around Lake Cayamaca, to Gutay, Pine Valley, over Mt Laguna 6,000' summit, back to Julian, and finally return to the coast.  Air Temps were superb, mid-70's above 3,000' elevations all day.

Early morning start at 4:08 A.M. caused some problems when my Blaze .5 Watt main headlight stopped working a half hour into the ride.  Had fresh batteries, maybe the LED bulb is toasted after 2 Shadow Tours and lots of other rides.  That meant using the 2 tiny guppy back-up white lights.  These are mostly for flashing to warn approaching cars.  They are intensely bright, but not focused in a way to illuminate 20-30 ft ahead.  Add to that, it was an overcast sky.  That meant riding precariously for about 1.5 hours.  Should have gone back to my house for a new headlight, but was already committed, about 13 miles into the route.  Nothin' worse than having equipment issues at 4:38 A.M. (groan).  I assure you, I'm not at my best at that hour!   Pre-dawn riding is already hard enough just to hold 14-16 mph.  I lost about 20 minutes by the time there was enough daylight to lift the pace around 5:45 A.M.  My logic for early 4:00 A.M. starts is to get well inland before primary traffic develops.  It also creates a nice extra time buffer for mechanical, or other problems, out on the route, allowing me to finish well before sunset in the 8:00 P.M. hour.

Once up the Ramona hill, I could feel temps were going to be really comfortable.  Was barely breaking a sweat up the Old Julian Hwy, yet was holding strong 10's & 11's in the meat of the main grind.  Back on Hwy 78, the haze cleared.  It was like a perfect spring ride:  bright, cool, cloudless, deep blue sky.  Motored up to Santa Ysabel, then ripped up the 7-mi climb to Julian, felt great.  Had 61 miles w/6,980 ft climbed to that point.  Took 4:14 total, including that ghastly 20+/- min of near blind cycling.

Winds were up and must have been helping, but despite riding mostly East-West all day, I never felt any major headwinds.  Winds must have been light, in the 3-5 mph range, bringing cooler air from the coast up to the high elevations.  This happens every Shadow Tour.  A couple days of relief high up in the mountains.  Hoping this will hold for the mega-mountain stage to Big Bear Lake on Saturday!

Squirrel report:  3 little dudes made the mad dash in front of me today, all on downhill sections, when there is absolutely no chance to adjust.  Closest was about 30 ft ahead, so not a big deal.  Incredibly, a little brown bird made a perpendicular suicide glide about 2 ft off the ground, within 10 ft of my front wheel.  I could tell she timed it well, but didn't stop her from letting out yet another bonzai bird chirp.  Clearly, not all of these furry friends make it.  Dozens of road pizza pies evidence the unlucky sprinters all along the highways & byways.

Lots of friendly folks at the country stores, Julian Market & Deli, Julian Mom's Pie, and the various Arco's I stop at all day long.  Motorists continue to amaze with wide passes and friendly waves.  Saw some hikers gathering near Lake Cayamaca--perfect day for it!

That concludes Mt Laguna's supporting role in the 2011 Shadow Tour.  Thursday is a coastal excursion up to Trabuco Canyon in Orange County.  Riding up & down the coast on Hwy 101 is my least favorite route, very stress-filled, but need the "recovery" 175 miles before assualting the fearsome Big Bear stage, featuring a 29-mile climb over the 8,443 ft Onxy Summit.  In past years, I've started at Julian and taken the shortest route (170 miles) to Big Bear Lake.  That sets up the 29-mile continuous climb up Hwy 38 at about mile 135.  This year, will add 5 miles on S2 to make the stage a full 175 miles.  Room reservations are in place for the Julian Gold Rush Hotel in Julian on Fri & Mon, and my old standby in Big Bear Lake, the Robinhood Resort, on Sat & Sun.  Couldn't quite afford the nearly sold-out lux accommodations at the Northwoods Resort this year.

Santa Ysabel
      Last rise above Santa Ysabel, el 3,000', west views, last rements of morning haze around 7:30 A.M.
LM 3000
    Near Santa Ysabel, El 3,000'
LM 4000
  Last riser up to Julian, El 4,000'
LM 5000
         Mt Laguna, El 5,000'
Julian Deli
Julian Market & Deli = sandwiches!
LM 6000
    Summit Mt Laguna, El 6,000'

   Mom's Apple Pies, Mmmmmmm!

Lake Cuyamaca
                                         Lake Cuyamaca near Mt Laguna, El 4,600'
LM Summit
                  Views to Southeast from lookout point near summit on Mt Laguna, El 5,800'
Jul 13
1:43:50 1,717


177 CV / RSF / CV

Jul 14
18.0 172 Orange County:  CV / RSF 16 / Coast / Dana Point / Crown Valley Pkwy / Antonio Pkwy / Crown Valley Pkwy / Dana Point / Coast / CV

1st Century:  5:42 at 10:09 w/4,846 ft of climbing

Garmin Connect:  Stage 7  S/F: 4:03 A.M./3:12 P.M.

Today's ride up the coast began at 4:03 A.M.  Even before first light, around 5:45 A.M., felt the first whispy drizzle drops falling from the sky.  Through Camp Pendleton and San Onofre State Park, drizzle turned to rain, filling my cycling shoes at one point, uggg!  Traffic was quite light northbound, which allowed me to pick up the pace.  Something I needed to do in order to stay warm.  The hardest part of this ride is always the high state of alertness required to avoid motorists of all kinds:  locals, tourists, delivery trucks, etc.

Enjoyed making the turn east (inland) on the scenic 9+ mile uphill/rolling Crown Valley Parkway.  It became obvious with the wet conditions, that tackling the narrow and windy Trabuco Canyon Rd was not a wise move.  Substituted an couple out-n-backs on Antonio Pkwy to round up the needed 41 miles in Orange County.  This also took El Toro Rd out of the picture.  Parts of El Toro are tough east L.A. style blocks, so was nice to know I'd be cruising back on the manicured Crown Valley Pkwy.

Shut it down just before noon, with over 126 miles, in Dana Point.  Turkey/Swiss at Subway then back in the saddle.  By then my bike, and entire lower body, were covered in mud & grime.  Shifting gets tricky when the drivetrain is wet and clogged with grit and muck.  Shortly after noon, as I rode south through San Juan Capistrano and San Clemente when the sky began to clear.  Picked up the pace to shoot for a finish by 3:00 P.M, which is about when traffic on the Pacific Coast Hwy/Hwy 101 gets very heavy.  Made it home at 3:12 P.M. with a respectable 18.0 mph avg with 7,946 ft of climbing. 

This stage was not very physically challenging.  Mostly just dealing with uncomfortable wet conditions and cool to cold temps. It was designed to be an active recovery ride in advance of Saturday's stage up to Big Bear Lake.  Still, a little sunshine and dry weather would have been welcome.  This is the 3rd year I've found rain on this particular stage.
Dana Pt
                      View of Pacific Coast Highway from Subway restaurant in Dana Point 
Pacific Ocean
                                Southern views of Pacific Ocean from Carlsbad on Hwy 101  
Jul 15
1:48:14 1,684


172 CV / RSF / Coast / CV
Jul 16
    8 175.39
11:33:32 16,798
15.2 167 Big Bear Lake: Julian / S-2 (5 mi) / WS / Idyllwild / Banning / Beaumont / Yacaipa / Angelus Oaks / Big Bear Lk

1st Century:  6:11 at 11:16 w/6,847 ft of climbing

Big Bear Climb:  2:58

Garmin Connect:  Stage 8  S/F: 4:02 A.M./5:11 P.M.
  Rolled from the Julian Gold Rush Hotel at 4:07 A.M.  Was concerned about the cool temps, approximately 50F.  Had a base layer, jersey, and my standard all weather long finger gloves.  Was confident temps would warm up as I descended to the high desert about 1,500 ft below.  The freshly resurfaced Hwy 78 made the 7 mile descent eirily quiet.  As a result, no incidents of flushing out squirrels, birds, or foxes.  As I descended, noticed the temps were falling.  Thought it was just wind chill, so gutted it out.  On the last wide turn and descent to Santa Ysabel, I hit a warm thermal that was absolutely wonderful.  That lasted for about 30 seconds, then right back into the cold at the Hwy 79 turn in Santa Ysabel.

By this point, I was committed to continuing the ride.  I had turned in my room key at the hotel's front desk.  The hotel (Bed & Bkst style) door locked behind me, and there was no overnight staff.  Plus, I was now 7 miles and 1,500 ft down the mountain.  I was certain that I could shake off the chill on the 1st long 3-mile grinder back up to 3,200+ ft past Santa Ysable.  Plus, I figured, the sun would soon rise and help warm me up.  I could see fairly well due to the full moon in the cloudless sky.

At this point, I was very cold: fingers and toes were aching.  Just as I tried to wind up the heart rate, I hit an unbelievable fog bank!  I was already feeling very cold, had not worked up any sweat on the descent, and now found myself now being chilled by cold moist air so thick I could hardly see the white line directly under my wheel.  It was a bizarre scene at 4:30 A.M., total darkness, but surrounded by white fog reflecting my lights.  Was surprised a couple cars passed me with a wide berth--they must have seen my flashing red tail light.

I pressed on, still wanting to believe that I could ride out of this mess.  I must have been right on the line of hypothermia.  Did not trigger the shiving reflex, but was definitely in a frightening spot of bother.  Made it to the 3,200 ft crest, got out of that awful fog, but was so cold I could not think clearly.  For example, in my Camel Bak, I had an emergency plastic poncho for just such a situation, but could not remember it was there.

As I descended near Lake Henshaw, all I could think about was staying upright on the bike.  A couple times, panic surfaced as a workable option.  At mile 14, turned right onto S2 for a 2.5 + 2.5 mile out-n-back.  The first grey rays of dawn were visible.  I was able to lift the pace a few notches and push back against the creeping cold.  Remember thinking the sun would be up soon and warm the world.  Made it back to the turn on Hwy 79, stopped at the 3,000 ft summit to take photos (below) of the sign and the moon over my right shoulder.  Even with first light, temps felt the same.  Made it to Warner Springs, mile 27, still bewildered as to why I was not warming up.  Then 8 miles later, at Sunshine Summit, the sun popped up, but offered little relief.  At least I could see clearly and ride fast enough to try and balance body temp vs. wind chill.

At the Hwy 371 turn, mile 47, the severe cold had diminished, but I still felt the lingering effects.  I rode 10 miles up to Anza feeling uncomfortable the whole way.  Only needed one small bottle of Gatorade to top off.  As I rolled up to the top of that 21-mile extended climb on Hwy 371 I realized I was not going to warm up anytime soon.  Decided to push straight through Idyllwild, my normal break point at about 5,500 ft.  I made it there at about 9:45 A.M.  Went another 6+ miles up and over the 6,000 ft summit before taking a photo/Facebook update break at the vista view point.  Was about 10:25 A.M.  Knew I had a 20 mile descent to Banning, where weather forecasts called for 90F highs.  Passed through 100 miles, descending to Banning, at about 11:15 A.M,  w/6,847 ft in 6:12.

Banning was definitely warm, but nowhere near 90F.  The winds were pushing cold air in from the coast on the east/west Interstate 10 corridor.  I munched the winds for about 7 miles, finally turning onto Beaumont for a the tough stretch through Yacaipa to Bryant Rd.  Stopped at the 7-11 store, iced up, and braced for the 30 mile climb up Hwy 38 on Big Bear Mt. to Onyx Summit.  Hit the Hwy 38 turn at 12:55 P.M, mile 130.0 with over 9,000 ft of climbing to that point.  Although the sun was out and I'm sure it was warm, even hot, I still felt cold in my core.  Maintained a high and fast spin on the long 6-mile base climb along the creekbed to the hairpin turn.  Feet were hurting.  Not from cold, just the cumulative effects of lots of mashing.  Set my sights on Angelus Oaks at mile 11 of the massive Big Bear climb.  The waitress sized me up quickly and immediately brought me their largest bowl of hot soup.  Had 3 Sierra Mists and got back on for the intimidating 19 miles up to Onyx Summit.  Late afternoon temps eased past 6,000 and 7,000 ft.  But I was never very hot all day, so that was a neutral benefit.  Listened to my body and stopped watching the Garmin.  Found a good pace in my lowest gear and checked into the Twighlight Zone for the last 7 miles up to Onxy Summit.  Was feeling suprisingly well.  Unusual to not be overheated at that point.  Near the first false top just passed 8,000 ft, checked the Garmin and saw I could break 3 hrs for the climb and jumped on it.  Snapped some quick photos at Onyx Summit, el. 8,443 ft, and made the 11 mile descend to Big Bear Lake.  From there, 6 more miles to the hotel and I completed the ride at 5:11 P.M.

Was a huge relief to be done.  But this experience points out just how vulnerable I am out there on these remote solo stages.  Must add more contingency plans to next year's event.

Fog Bank
  Looking back over my shoulder on Hwy 79 at about 5:30 A.M.  That Fog Bank chilled me to the bone! 
      Near Warner Springs, CA
BB 4000
    North side of San Jacinto Mt.
BB 5000
             Near Idyllwild  
BB 6000
 Climbing higher, just past Idyllwild
BB 7000
     And higher, on Big Bear Mt.
BB 8000
   And higher, near Onyx Summit
Onxy False Top
 This is 1 of 2 impossibly devilish false tops after the 8,000' sign coming up to Onyx Summit on Big Bear Mt
Onxy Summit Bike Onxy Summit Jim 2
  Traditional Onyx Summit Victory Pose         Another self-photography masterpiece, 4:30 P.M. at Onyx
Jul 17
3:26:48 4,409
15.2 169 Big Bear Lake / Arrowbear / Rim of the World Highway /Big Bear Lake
BB Lake fm above
       On my Sunday "recovery" 51-mile ride, shot of Big Bear Lake from Rim of World Hwy, El 7,200' 
Brunch Ice cream
       Northwoods Resort Sunday Brunch Rules!                            Best Chocolate Store, ever.
Jim 2 Jim 3
  Hangin' out at the ever-exciting Big Bear Liquor Store       Sir James (minus armor) at Robinhood Resort
BB Lake at sunset
      Sun just dipped below high ground at left of photo, nice shot of ducks on Big Bear Lake at sunset
Jul 18
12:20:20 16,241
16.2 162 Julian:  Big Bear Lake / Yacaipa / Beaumont / Banning / Idyllwild / Hemet / Ranchita / WS / SR S2 / Scissors Xing / Banner Grade / Julian

1st Century:  6:05 at 11:03 A.M. w/8,243 ft of climbing
2nd Century:  6:14 at 6:08 P.M. w/7,246 ft of climbing

Garmin Connect:  Stage 9  S/F: 4:13 A.M./6:09 P.M.

On Sunday at 8:00 A.M. rolled on a tough "recovery" 51 miles from Big Bear Lake, past Running Springs, over Rim of the World Hwy to a turn-around point near Blue Jay.  Temps was quite nice, even at the start.  On the return, passed a sign that said the temp was 78F at 9:45 A.M.  At that point I figured the weird temperature inversion from Friday was probably nearing it's conclusion.  Still, I went to the Chains Required Bike Shop and bought an additional long-sleeved base layer, a pair of thermal glove liners, and some neoprene toe warmers for the 30-mile descent down Onxy Summit.

By about 2:00 P.M. on Sunday, it was 85F at the lake.  I was fairly sure I would be fine for the return ride.  Was able to get online and review the hour-by-hour weather forecasts and saw that Banning was expecting a high of 97F and Hemet was execting 99F on Mon.  So it was clear the danger on the long 200 mile return ride would be heat, not cold.  Still, I was faked out before, so brought all the warm gear with me when I rolled on Mon at 4:12 A.M.

Even at the start, it was warmer than in Julian on Friday.  Felt fine the first 6 miles to the Hwy 38 turn.  Ground up the 11-mile slope to Onxy Summit.  Dawn was breaking right as I summitted. I could feel the cooler temps on the west facing side of the slope, most likely due to coastal winds.  I swapped out my soaked lightweight summer armwarmers for dry lightweight winter armwarmers.  Put on a wind vest and the toe-warmers.  Did not need the long-sleeved base layer, nor knee warmers, which I was carrying, just in case.  Decided to take the descent in 2-mile blocks in case I got too chilled.  But that did not prove necessary.  I rolled all the way down the first 7 miles to a flat section without incident.  Went another 5 miles to a turn-out and changed back to all summer weight items, as temps were back to normal (warm). 

Made it to the Bryant Rd turn at 6:55 A.M. with an avg speed of 18.5 mph.  Then up that irritatingly steep 700 ft in Yacaipa and down Beaumont to Banning by 8:00 A.M.  Iced up, then a fast spin to the turn onto Hwy 243 for the 25 mile climb back up to Idylwild.  Had some light tailwinds and maintained a good pace the whole way up, even through the 5 mile roller section at the top.  Hit Idyllwild around 10:30 A.M., about 40 minutes faster than last year.  Pace was the same, but this year I didn't mess around with lots of stops.  I knew it was to my advantage to get through Hemet as early as possible to avoid the high heat.

Nonetheless, by the time I got to my nemisis, Sage Rd, with 120 miles and 8,000+ ft of climbing, I was toasted.  Suffered on the steep section up to mile 125, but recovered a little over the camelback double dips.  Made it to Stagecoach Inn and a much-needed ice replacement, then navigated the stressful 2 miles on Hwy 74 to get past the Hwy 371 turn.

From there, surfed some nice afternoon tailwinds, along with some grinders, for the 20 miles up to Sunshine Summit and down to Warner Springs.   Arrived at the gas station around 3:34 P.M.  Had a cold turkey sandwich and some Diet Dr. Pepper.  Ice-up and rolled.  Felt fairly good on the 5 mile climb to Montezuma Rd.  Thought I needed 6 more miles, so went 3 miles out and back to collect them.  Then sucked it up for a 1.75 miles climb up to Teofulio Summit.

Plunged 13 miles to Scissors Crossing on very tired legs.  Late P.M. temps were in the low 90's F.  At Scissors, realized I need another mile, ugh!  Did one more out-n-back, then turned straight into the wind for the gut-busting last 10 miles up Banner Grade to Julian.  I'm 100% certain there are easier ways for me to ride back from Big Bear.  But there's something primal about facing down the Dragon.  In previous Shadow Tours, I've had stages finish straight up the 11.2 mile South Grade on Palomar Mt.  So in comparision, at mile 190, dealing with the less steep 10-mile Banner Grade seemed manageable, except for the winds pouring down the mountain into my face!  I knew something had to happen on the return ride to make me hurt and the wind was that something.  Usually, a couple miles up the grade, inside the canyons, the wind breaks down, but not this time.  It hit me all the way, only dissipating on inside turns.  Then, at mile 193, my Garmin ran out of juice.  Dammit!  Hate when that happens!  My trusty Cateye Miti-8 kept track of the last 7 miles, so not a  problem there.

Made the summit at 6:09 P.M.  Completed the 1st Century in 6:05, 2nd Century in 6:14.  Had a shot at negative splitting, but the winds on Banner Grade took that option off the table.  Still, was able to go under last year's total time by about 4 minutes.  Enjoyed a fantastic Calzone at Romano's Restaurante Italiano in Julian that night.  With the completion of this 3rd 200-miler inside the 2011 Shadow Tour, earned the highly coveted "JK CA Triple Crown" :) 
Onxy 2
Return ride to Julian on Mon, made Onyx Summit @ 5:33 A.M.  Quickly adding dry layers for 30-mi descent 
Onxy Moon Jim Idyllwild
              Full moon above Onyx Summit                           Traditional Gas Station stop in Idyllwild
Banner Brade
  Banner Grade at Mile 190 of 200.  Photo doesn't show killer headwinds pouring down the Mt from Julian, nor 90F heat. There are easier ways to conclude this gritty Double, but I wouldn't have it any other way!
Jul 19
1:16:51 1,109
18.2 165 CV / RSF / CV

Jul 20
10:10:14 11,222
17.2 165 Temecula Wine Tour III:  CV / RSF 10 / Escondido / LW / Lilac Rd / Couser Cyn Rd / Rice Cyn Rd / Rainbow / Temecula / Pechanga 6 mis / 2 X 5-mi Winery Loop/ Rainbow / Fallbrook / Mission Rd / Camino Del Rey / Bonsall / West Lilac / Old Castle Rd / Valley Ctr / DD / RSF / CV

1st Century:  5:57 at 10:35 A.M, w/6,947 ft of climbing

Garmin Connect:  Stage 10  S/F: 4:07 A.M./3:25 P.M.

Original plan was to take 2 rest days after the return ride from Big Bear to Julian.  But because I had rung up over 20 extra miles through the tour, decided to take just 1 rest day and complete the tour a day early.

Got going at 4:07 A.M.  Even at that early hour, in Rancho Santa Fe, I could tell it was opening day for the Del Mar Horse Track.  From about 4:40 A.M. onwards, saw about 30 vehicles moving around, where normally there would only be about 3-4.  On the out-n-back to Del Sur, legs were feeling beat up.  Finish line motivation was very high though, and wanted to post a good time on my final stage.  So, instead of balancing heat vs. chill factor, I was balancing speed motivation vs. trashed legs.

Dawn took forever to break, due to low clouds that extended inland all the way to the top of Rice Cyn.  First time that's ever happened.  But it meant nice temps for the first 73 miles out to Temecula.  Did a quick 3 mi + 3 mi out-n-back past Pachaga Casino and iced up at the Arco at mile 79.  Rode out to my fav loop around the wine country on Rancho California.  Did an extra 5 mile lap to collect up some miles.  On one quiet road, Calle Contento (love that name), I had just crested a little roller and was gathering speed on the descent, above 20 mph, when a crazed squirrel decided it was time to cross the road from my left.  All I saw was a flash of brown go under my left pedal and miraculously exit between my wheels completely unscathed.  Happened so fast I couldn't even touch my brakes.  Good thing, because Mr. Squirrel timed it exquisitely.  Like I put in my Facebook post, live long enough, everything happens.

Took the squirrel incident as a good omen.  Was nursing a solid 16.6 avg in wine wine country.  Eventually got it to 16.7 by 100 miles at about 10:30 A.M.  Tried to get some upticks on the descent to Rainbow, but legs said "no way".  So alternated some free-wheeling with mini-jumps all the way to Fallbrook and actally got 17.0 to turn over just as I entered town.  Didn't stop in Fallbrook, as I usually do, instead pushed it down Mission Rd to the Arco for an ice up and some peanut butter crackers.  Picked up some miles in Bonsall, got the average to 17.2, then straight up West Lilac Rd to Castle Creek Rd and down to Lawrence Welk Dr.  Even with the long climbs, I had a nice tailwind and got around the 13 mi loop with no loss of avg.  Did another 5 mi + 5 mi out-n-back to Bonsall, picked up 17.3, then the long 6 miler on Lawrence Welk to the Deer Springs exit.  That last 3 miles always kicks my butt and today was no exception.  At the crest, was able to keep 17.0 showing on my Garmin, but was completely fried physically and mentally.  Iced up at the Arco, had a stranger snap a photo, and rolled for the last 25 miles of the Tour.  Usually can fly down through Escondido to Del Dios, but not this time.  Worked hard to recover 17.1 and hold it through town to Del Dios.  On Del Dios, was greeted with typical onshore winds in my face all the way down.  Of course there are also "ups" along with "downs" on Del Dios.  But was feeling on top of the world for the last 10 miles and cruised through RSF and up to my finish at Del Mar Heights Rd.

That's a wrap for Solo Shadow Tour VII.  2,132 miles in 19 days.  Wasn't my fastest riding time, but was the least number of days to get 'er done!  Final weight of 165 = 2 lbs less than I weighed as a 1LT in 1987.  No flats, no crashes, knock on wood!  Many thanks to family & friends who stayed in touch, via emial, telephone & Facebook, with kind words of encouragement.  Trust me, it means a lot.  Taking on the Shadow Tour at age 50 is far different than age 43.  I'm more crafty and confident now, but physically, it's getting much harder.  Plus, curve balls are harder to hit than in my "youth".  Also appreciate the estimated 20,000 motorists who passed me safely out on the ride.  I'm sure I look like (and am) a wide load with my big ole' Camel Bak and oversized waterbottles grinding along those lonely stretches of highways & byways.  Am also sure I'm not always as far to the right as I could be.  So, to all who gave me some extra room, hope I gave you a Thank You wave!

                                                              <<<<< Le Tour C'est Fini ! >>>>>

Couser Cyn
                          Just over the summit of Couser Canyon, climbed up from the steep side 
Temecula 1
  Vineyards and Mts in distance from Butterfield Stage Rd, near Rancho California intersection in Temecula 
Thornton Winery
                                                  Thornton Winery on Rancho California 
Callaway Winery
                                              Callaway Winery on Rancho California 
Temecula Valley
                         Climbing out of Temecula Valley for the last time on Shadow Tour VII

2011 Solo Shadow Tour Recap

Total Average Climbing Elev.

Date Day Stage Miles To Date Time Speed Elevation To Date Start Finish

2-Jul Sat    1 200.71 200.71 13:21:31 15.02 15,772 15,772 4:07 7:02
3-Jul Sun
35.23 235.94 2:10:20 16.22 2,192 17,964

4-Jul Mon     2 175.31 411.25 10:44:57 16.31 11,116 29,080 4:09 3:52
5-Jul Tue
31.27 442.52 1:50:38 16.96 1,708 30,788

6-Jul Wed    3 179.05 621.57 11:08:18 16.08 12,378 43,166 4:06 4:26
7-Jul Thu
31.30 652.87 1:49:01 17.23 1,520 44,686

8-Jul Fri    4 175.45 828.32 11:14:00 15.62 14,633 59,319 4:05 4:54
9-Jul Sat
31.27 859.59 1:43:29 18.13 1,642 60,961

10-Jul Sun    5 200.50 1,060.09 11:57:40 16.76 12,592 73,553 4:05 5:12
11-Jul Mon
31.29 1,091.38 1:51:06 16.90 1,699 75,252

12-Jul Tue    6 176.41 1,267.79 10:54:34 16.17 13,509 88,761 4:00 4:15
13-Jul Wed
31.26 1,299.05 1:43:50 18.06 1,717 90,478

14-Jul Thu    7 176.76 1,475.81 9:48:32 18.02 7,946 98,424 4:03 3:12
15-Jul Fri
31.26 1,507.07 1:48:14 17.33 1,684 100,108

16-Jul Sat    8 175.39 1,682.46 11:32:32 15.20 16,798 116,906 4:02 5:11
17-Jul Sun
51.29 1,733.75 3:20:48 15.33 4,409 121,315

18-Jul Mon    9 200.20 1,933.95 12:20:20 16.23 16,241 137,556 4:13 6:09
19-Jul Tue
23.31 1,957.26 1:16:51 18.20 1,109 138,665

20-Jul Wed    10 175.22 2,132.48 10:10:14 17.23 11,222 149,887 4:07 3:25

130:46:55 16.31 149,887 1.3312%

Shadow Tour Recaps

Year of Tour: 2004 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011

Age: 43 45 46 47 48 49 50
Miles Ridden: 2,111 2,274 2,222 2,189 2,140 2,267 2,132
Time: 142:06:00 143:31:33 149:51:55 137:21:16 129:28:28 135:22:09 130:46:55
Average Speed Mph: 14.85 15.84 14.83 15.94 16.53 16.75 16.31
Feet Climbed: 107,460 126,772 134,970 142,891 150,022 155,485 149,887
Gradiant: 0.8900% 1.0558% 1.1501% 1.2705% 1.3274% 1.2989% 1.3312%
Start Weight: 190 192 200 188 182 180 178
Finish Weight: 172 179 186 175 170 167 165
Weight Lost: 18 lbs 13 lbs 14 lbs 13 lbs 12 lbs 12 lbs 13 lbs
Flat Tires: 1 1 1 1 2 3 0
Days on Tour: 23 23 23 22 22 21 19
Participants:  JK & LG Solo Solo Solo Solo Solo Solo

Shadow Tour Background Continued

At my end, I have 24 years of cycling and racing experience in all types of terrain and weather, especially in sizzling desert environments and advanced mountain cycling. I'm a lifelong conditioned athlete. I know every stage by heart, with no need for a map. I've mentally mapped nearly every crease in the asphalt, studied traffic flows of every mile of the route, and know how, and when, to make adjustments, as necessary.

My traditional venue for the Solo Shadow Tour is So Cal, from along the Mexican border to the south, north through San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Orange Counties, east through Imperial County, and west along the Pacific coastline on Historic Highway 101. The 2011 Shadow Tour will match all the total riding distance and far exceed the total climbing elevation of the actual TDF.

In 2004, Shadow Tour Co-Founder Larry Gitman, and I embarked on an adventure to replicate the entire Shadow Tour as a rigid mirror image of the real 2004 TDF. I discovered that precisely replicating the modern-era TDF format was not challenging enough. For example, in France, pro cyclists start about noon each day, following a huge breakfast/lunch, morning spin, and massage. The pelaton rides at a relatively fast tempo, but well within the capabilities of trained professional cyclists. They average about 180 km/day (about 4-5 hrs). There are 2 rest days. Most stages are about 100 miles in length.

The real TDF has exciting early stage sprint finishes, which cannot be re-created. The middle and late stages separate the leaders from the pelaton on just a few difficult high alp mountain passes. Further separations occur in Team & Individual Time Trials. Unfortunately, the last several years, with 3-4 stages remaining, the final podium rankings were relatively "fixed". Doping has, sadly, continued to plague the event. Both issues I find utterly detestible. In 2009, TDF organizers finally intervened by situating the brutal Mt Ventoux high mountain stage one day prior to the traditional "Champagne Spin" to Paris, along with other measures, to make the race more of a true competition. In my opinion,it needs many more reforms, starting with ethics training and a much more selective process for inclusion of riders and teams in the event.

In stark contrast, the original 1903 Tour De France--the one that started it all--had just 5 monster stages of 400 Km each, plus a final gruesome 480 km finishing stage to Paris. The race was spread out over 19 days. They rode on unimproved crushed gravel roads, on heavy steel bicycles, with just two gears: a large ring on one side of the rear wheel and a small ring on the other. To change gears, a riderp;stopped and turned the wheel around. Outside support was not permitted. They rode day and night in all weather conditions. There were no team tactics, every rider rode to win on every stage. In the late 1960's and early 1970's the legendary Eddy Merckx "The Cannibal" rode with a ravenous Will-to-Win. In his first TDF in 1969, and again in 1970, he scorched the field. He won the Sprinter's Jersey, the King of the Mountains Jersey, and the overal winner's Yellow Jersey. He won the Tour de France five times, the Giro d'Italia five times, and the Vuelta a Espana once, tallying 11 Grand Tour victories. Eddy Merckx remains the greatest cyclist of all time, well beyond the accomplishments of all other multiple tour champions including recent multiple TDF winners.

In the spirit of the original Tour de France and Eddy Merckx--a true test of Endurance + Will--this year's Solo Shadow Tour blasts off with 825 miles in the 1st week. This harkens back to the mega-distances of the original tour. I will ride all the distance of the modern-era TDF and considerably more climbing elevation. This makes the Shadow Tour much more challenging and, correspondingly, more rewarding on a personal level. It's not about racing or speed (although I enjoy posting decent times on difficult climbs and stages). It's about staying mentally tough and motivated through the long lonely hours in the saddle. Getting up at 3:00 A.M, fending off viscious dogs, avoiding aggressive drivers, riding through fog and rain, managing sunburned skin, saddle sores, swollen aching feet, high temps, fluid replacement, relentless headwinds, and creeping dehydration are just a few of the many challenges and dangers. Dealing with these challenges serves to amplify the sense of acheivement at the Finish Line.

It's important to minimize impact on my work days; so only 6 are sacrificed while completing the entire 2,132 mile journey over 21 days. This limitation drives up single day mileage, necessitating10 stages with 175+ miles each. For 2011, I've included three stages with 200 miles to earn my own version of the CA Triple Crown. Each of these 10 stages far exceed the distance and elevation of even the longest (about 140 mi) and most difficult stages of the 2011 TDF. In the interest of safety and health, I've eliminated all night riding (pre-dawn excepted), barring unforeseen circumstances, with a 15-hour absolute max time cut-off. I'll post blogs every other day with photos. Some blogs will be delayed when I'm out of town, but I'll catch up once back in San Diego. All ride data is downloaded from my Garmin 705 computer and will be posted on with a link to Garmin Connect on each stage.