2010 Solo Shadow Tour

Jim's 2010 Solo Shadow Tour Daily Blog

For 2010, I'll be attempting a 6th unsupported solo replica of the entire Tour De France (TDF) bike race.  The TDF is an annual professional bicycle race held in France covering about 2,200 miles in 21 stages over 23 days, with 2 rest days.  The 2010 TDF is held Jul 3 - 25.  My Shadow Tour will be during the same dates, but entirely in So Cal.  All 5 previous replications (2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009) were successful. One might conclude this is routine--trust me, it's not. It's extreme cycling in July heat, in the deserts and mountains of So Cal, so one important disclaimer, nobody should attempt this!  For more background Shadow Tour details, click here.

Allez-allez! ~Rider Jim

Jim's 2010 Solo Shadow Tour Daily Blog


Stg Mi
Tot Mi

Tot El  


Jul 3



13,613 15.9 175 Carmel Valley (CV) / Del Dios (DD) / Via Rancho Pkwy (VRP) / Hwy 78 / Ramona / Old Julian Hwy (OJH) / Julian / Cyamaca (C) / Pine Valley (PV) / Laguna Mt Summit / Julian / OJH / Ramona / Highland Valley Rd (HVR) / VRP / DD / CV

1st Century:  6:55 at 12:15 P.M. w/ 9,980 ft el

Garmin Connect:  Stage 1
Mt Laguna
                                          Views of west side of Laguna Mt, near 5,000 ft
Jim in Julian
      Jim in Julian in front of Mom's Pies Store
5000 sing LM
                  Laguna Mt Summit, at last!
5000 sign LM
                West side of Laguna Mt
Field on LM
             Nice field on west side of Laguna Mt
View fm LM
             Views to southeast, toward Mexico, from the east side of Laguna Mt, approx 5,500 ft el
Rolled onto Stage 1 of the 2010 Solo Shadow Tour at 4:22 A.M.  Used 3 guppy lights and 1 larger front light.  All worked fine.  Minimal traffic all the way up Del Dios Hwy.  Riding 1st full hour in darkness necessitates reduced speed.  When dawn broke, saw my time was about 13-15 min slower than a typical ride to North County Fair Mall at mi 21.7.  Plus, I was "heavy" w/loaded 70 oz Camel Bak, 2 x 24 oz Polar Bottles, lots of gels, bars, and repair items.  Relief to have darkness + misty cloud cover for almost 3 full hrs, well onto the Old Julian Hwy climb.

Made it to Julian at about 8:38 A.M.  A homeless-looking man with a huge beard sitting on a bench by the store blurted out he knew "a triathlete".  I asked who, he thought, and said "they call him Triathlon Tugboat".  Figured that could only mean Ironman Legend, Tom Warren.  Told him I knew his wife, Barbara, and miss her (since her tragic accident in 2008).  He said Tom & Barbara were among the best people he ever met.  Told him I agreed completely.  Then had to roll off.  Thought about Barbara on the stage, and the many positive impacts she, and twin Angelika, have had on my life.  Quite a coincidence...

Next up was back-2-back flats on that gnarly 6-mile stretch of speeding pickup trucks to Lake Cyamaca.  Rolled through grit on the tight right side of the road containing staples and glass.  That sucked, but was entirely my fault.  2nd flat took about 30 min to find the tiny sliver of glass in the rear tire.  At Lake Cayamaca, big ole winds hammered until I got around the lake.  Then a fast descent to OH80 intersection.  A group of riders passed in the other direction.  Someone yelled "hey Jim!".  Not sure who though.  Later found out Drew Peterson was in the group.  By then, I was at mile 80 at around 11:30 A.M.

Tough 4-mile grinder thru Gutay to Pine Valley.  Stopped at the store.   Fountain drinks are always the best bet.  Got a huge cup of ice for Camel Bak/bottles, plus Diet Pepsi & Propel for bottles.  Had a Clif Bar and some gummy Hammer Gels things.  Rode up west side of Laguna Mt to Summit.  Saw a couple other riders.  Temps maybe in low 80s F, not a problem.  Windy descent on east side to Julian.  Stung on the neck during blazing descent.  Couldn't even take my hands off bars to slap that evil bug.  That's gotta be some kind of cruel Chinese torture.  More ice at the store in Julian, then continued fast descent to Santa Ysabel store.

Stung AGAIN on the same side on my neck, but at least I crushed that one!.  Felt light-headed for a few min, but ok.  Had craving for Peanut Butter & Cheddar crackers.  Shadow Tour Partner, Larry Gitman, swears by them and he's so right!  All those expensive GU's, potions, and Gel packets did noda for me.  Within 10 min after the crackers, I was riding like a new man--at mile 125!  Fast descent on Hwy 78 to Old Julian Hwy.  Raw-hided (no stops) last 50 miles home.  Sun was bright whole day, but not too hot.  Minor sunburn on quads.  Rode in new Pearl Izumi shoes w/Ti bottoms (on clearance for 1/2 price).  Very comfy, but after the monster 10,000 ft in the first century (6:55), big toes were hurting.

Pushed to reel-in 16 mph avg on return from Julian (where I was at 14.9 mph).  Got it to 16.0 on San Dieguito Rd, but the last blasted 280 ft hill to my Casa took it out, so finished at 15.9 avg, grrrrr.  All-in-all, have to say it's a pretty good start to this year's tour.
Sun Jul 4  Rest 50.25
2:49:08 1,971
CV / Hwy 101 N / Carlsbad / Hwy 101 S / Rancho Santa Fe (RSF) / CV

Jul 5



15.7 175 Palomar Mt 2X:  CV / DD / VRP / Lake Wohlford (LW) / Rincon / South Grade Palomar Mt (SGPM) / Palomar Observatory (PM) / East Grade Palomar Mt (EGPM) / Lake Henshaw (LH) / Warner Springs (WS) / Near Sunshine Summit (SS) / WS / LH / EGPM / SGPM / Coast / RSF / CV

SGPM Climb:  1:21:52
EGPM Climb:  1:10:30

1st Century:  6:38 at 11:24 A.M. w/9,812 ft climbing

Garmin Connect:  Stage 2

Today was a great day!

Ride started in Carmel Valley at 4:30 A.M. with friends Kathy & Dennis Kasischke joining me for 53-mile ride to the summit of Palomar Mt.   Was Kathy's first night ride.  She adapted immediately, setting a solid pace for Dennis and I, all the way to the store at the base of Palomar.  The morning air had a hint of whispy moisture under low clouds as we began the 11.6 mile tought ascent from the store, up the South Grade of Palomar Mt.  At about 3,000 ft we climbed above the low clouds and had blue skies and sunshine.  Still comfortable temps, because it was only about 7:30 A.M!  Kathy and Jim finished a well-paced, but spirited, climb to the summit in just under 1 hr 22 min.  Dennis maintained a smart pace as he continues is remarkable recovery from a scary crash last month that fractured several ribs.

Kathy and Dennis continued their century (+) ride, heading back the coast via East Grade and Hwy 76.  I continued on Palomar Mt to the Observatory, snapped a couple pics, then down East Grade and out to Warner Springs.  Before the descent, I noted my Garmin's readings of 63 miles, with 8,678 ft of climbing.  Battled some low-and-slow flying grasshoppers on Hwy 74 out (and back) to Warner Springs.  Notched my first century at 11:24 A.M. (always nice to get 'er done b4 noon).  Riding time was 6:38 with over 9,800 ft of climbing.  Delightful lunch at Lake Henshaw.  Very solid East Grade Palomar Mt ascent in 1:10:39.  At the summit store, a gentleman (Bill Matchett) noticed me filling my water bottles and asked about my ride.  Told him it was going very well.  He then asked if I knew "that Shadow Tour guy?".  Big grins!  He wished me well and I saddled up and began riding again at 123 miles, with all the tough climbs safely tamed.  Eager to cash in some stock on the fast 11.6-mi descent down South Grade.  Was loving life, carving S-turns, not a care in the world.  About 3 miles down, zipped into a tight blind left turn.

Directly in front of me, in my lane, was an enormous, maybe 80 lb, muscled up PIT BULL.  We locked eyes for an instant and I knew the attack was on.  Nothing I could do to avoid it.  Too much speed to stop, no room to maneuver.  He lurched at my left side, head down, like a bull charge.  Hit my crank arm with so much force he bounced backward and rolled a couple times.  The bike shuddered and swerved right, but I pulled through.  The chain flew off, so I couldn't pedal.  I had braked down to about 15 - 20 MPH.  Looking back I saw the Pit Bull recover, like the Terminator.  He was coming after me!  Only momentum kept me moving.  Could not pedal!  I yelled "NO!, NO!, NO!, NO!".  But this Pit Bull was viscious AND determined.  I could see many deep scars on his huge box-shaped head.  He attacked again on the opposite side and BIT OFF my rear derailleur with a huge clamp down of those monster jaws and canine teeth, along with a violent head twist.  It happened in an instant.

Simultaneously, I was in the next tight and fast S-turn and had to steer and hope my momentum would pick up.  It did, but the dog was now running parallel to me on my left side.  I figured it was gonna be either a thigh, or leg (for him).  'Cuz he had me.  I noticed he was injured and bleeding all around his head and muzzle.  Maybe dazed, not sure, but he didn't bite me.  Finally, after what seemed an eternity, my momentum picked up enough to outrun him.  For at least two more hairpin turns he continued running after me as I freewheeled faster, and faster.  Adrenalin is all that got me though.  THERE IS NO RATIONAL EXPLANATION FOR WHY I DIDN'T CRASH.  I continued to freewheel another 8 miles to the store at the base of Palomar.  I called my dear friend, Martha, in La Jolla, who totally had my back. 

Incredibly, a Good Samaritan, Scott Wallace from South Carlsbad, overheard my unbelieveable account and unhesitatingly offered me a ride to Encinitas.  This NEVER HAPPENS!  His very sweet young son, Peter, missed out on a planned activity.  I heard Scott say softy to his son, "we need to help Jim," and he proceeded to load my damaged machine onto his roof rack.  Peter, age 10, and a Karate Black Belt, was completely understanding.  Such a good boy!  Catherine (Mom), Peter, and Scott drove me all the way to the coast, an hour-plus drive, well out of their way.  Enroute, I called my bike shops, but all were closed.  Only Nytro was open.  Mechanic Rich took my call.  He was shocked at my brief account of the incident.  He said to come in and he would personally get me rolling, one way or another, in order to finish out the remaining 40 miles of today's 175-mile stage.  Rich lived up to his word.  He located a long-reach Dura-ace rear derailleur (virtually non-existent), handled my repair among a barrage of other customers (helped each of them too!), then replaced a mangled spoke (showing me how to do it--just in case) and expertly trued the rear wheel.  Even made sure I got a 20% discount the store was running.  Martha pushed through heavy holiday coastal traffic and brought me my fav Starbucks Mocha Frappicino Grande (with whipped), while I waited.  Amazing.  Is this a dream?

After I rolled from Nytro, at the very first stoplight, Manchester and Hwy 101, I was stopped at the line and man in the cross-walk noticed my Stagecoach Jersey, and said "Stagecoach, cool!  I did that ride!".  Now I'm hearing Twighlight Zone music--Ha-ha!

I reeled in those last 40 miles, finishing just before dark.  Even improved my average speed.  It's imperative to avoid fallin behind on mileage on this kind of unequivocal challenge.  Rich's fix was masterful.  He has the touch.  Even straightened my Merlin dropout--requiring experienced finesse when tweaking Titanium.

I owe everyone I came into contact with today my deepest Gratitude.  Thank You!  Today's stage was 100% about you guys.  I can ride long distance any time.  But it's a rare and special honor to have such wonderful people in my life.  Thank you all.  I hope to hear from you so I can update and correct this blog with correct names and details (sorry).  Mind and Body are little beat up right now.  But I will always remember my 6th Solo Shadow Tour, Stage 2, Jul 5, '10, as one of my finest and most cherished cycling memories :-)

 Lake Henshaw
                                                        View of Lake Henshaw
 PM Obs
                  Palomar Mt Observatory
 Jim at LH
      Jim at Lake Henshaw Grill
                                         Views from top of Palomar Mt near observatory
Jul 6
  Rest 56.23
3:06:12 2,934
CV / RSF / Santa Luz / Coast to Encinitas / CV
Jul 7
10:12:22 8,474
17.6 176 CV / RSF / Coast / Dana Pt / Crown Vly Pkwy / Antonio Pkwy / Trabuco Cyn Rd / El Toro / Laguna / Coast / CV

1st Century:  5:52 at 10:23 A.M. w/4,678 ft climbing

Garmin Connect:  Stage 3

Launched at 4:17 A.M.  Did a quick 21 miles in RSF, then headed north on Hwy 101 to Dana Pt in Orange County.  Had contacted Patrick, owner of Laguna Cyclery, the day prior.  Patrick provided me a very nice approximately 40-mile inland loop from the coast.  Part of it was on Trabuca Cyn Rd, which was a delightful tree covered section of winding country road at elevations 1,000 - 1,439 ft.  Would never expect such a pretty and isolated stretch of country road only 16 miles inland from the coast in OC.

The first 90 miles was nearly constant drizzle/heavy mist.  Later learned today was the lowest max temp for Jul 7 in many coastal cities.  The marine layer grew to 4,000 ft!  Whatever you call it, water filled my shoes, soaked my kit, covered my glasses, and made for some pity pit riding, especially while still dark (geesh!).  On the happy side, to counter the cold, I revved up the pace and stayed warm.  Seemed there were fewer cars on the PCH than normal, especially in the early morning.  Notched the 1st century by 10:24 A.M. in 5:52 (sa-weet!), so was motoring right along.  Took only one stop in the first 124 miles.

On the 15-mile segment through Camp Pendleton, the Marines let me enter through the South Gate, but I ripped it up through the base and arrived too early (0739 hrs) to exit the North Pulgas Gate (0800 hrs).  They let me turn around and hammer out 6 more miles (3-out-and-back) on base until they could reconfigure the traffic flow at the North Gate.  It's always fun to interact with Marines.  They are nortorious for finding the absolute hardest way to do something/anything.  But they're Great Americans, every single one of them!

Stopped at Laguna Cyclery in Laguna Niguel, but Patrick was not in.  Grabbed a big ole Turkado sandwich at a local sandwich shop.  There was a blonde Golden Retreiver hanging out there.  She just wanted to lick my gloves and give me kisses.  A welcome contrast to Monday's canine encounter.

After lunch, weaved through some tight traffic in Laguna Niguel.  They call "PCH" or "Hwy 1" up there.  It's the 5th time I've done that section on a Solo Shadow Tour Tour.  It's always tricky, to say the least.  Bike lanes appear and disappear in beach towns from San Clemente north to Laguna.  Requires total concentration every single second, which adds stress to the ride, that's why I only do it once a year.  Would likely be easier as a routine training ride, as opposed to a pressed Stage inside the Shadow Tour.  There were more than one close calls, but nothing too serious.  Nonetheless, relieved it's done. 
Trabuco Cyn
        Trabuco Canyon, Orange County, CA 
Trabuco Cyn 2
             Winding roads of Trabuco Canyon
Jim in Laguna Cyclery Store 
 Jim in Laguna Cyclery bike shop, Laguna Beach, CA 
      Pretty Blonde Golden Retreiver at Goko Cafe

Jul 8
1:37:31 1,757

Jul 9
    4 175.47
10:26:56 10,882
16.8 173 CV / RSF / Escondido / LW / Valley Center / Rainbow / Temecula / Fallbrook / Bonsall / Valley Ctr / RSF / CV

1st Century:  6:08 at 11:12 A.M. w/5,942 ft climbing

Garmin Connect:  Stage 4 

Rolled at 4:25 A.M.  Marine layer persisted all morning, even inland, all the way to wine country in Temecula.  Some partial clearing during the 11 o'clock hour, but on the return trip to the coast, could see the marine layer was still there.  Eerie to feel almost cold on a long inland ride in July.  The ride was difficult, because the terrain is mostly undulating.  Not quite up to the level of hard core mountains, yet not flat, by any means.  Nice views helped.  I under-estimated the distance of a section in Riverside by about 30 miles...D'oh!  Had to do a bunch of out-and-backs at different points on the route to build up miles.  That's not a good way to ride 175 miles, trust me.  Plus, when I rolled in the morning, I didn't press the start button on my Garmin.  Finally noticed the mistake about 40 minutes later when it got light enought to see.  Luckily, my trusty old-school Cateye Mity 8 computer caught all the distance and time.

Wine Country
         Thornton Winery in Temecula, CA
Wine Country 2
         Avocado country near Valley Center, CA
Temecula Winery 3 
Calloway Winery on Rancho California, Temecula, CA
Temecula Winery 4
          Mount Palomar Winery, Temecula, CA
Jul 10


1:41.02 1,864

Jul 11
    5 153.25
9:04:22 9,715
16.9 170 Ramona / Santa Ysabel (SY) / WS / SS / WS / SY / OJH / Ramona / HLV / VRP / CV

Ramona Hill 5-mile TT:  20.19

1st Century:  6:11 at 11:01 A.M. w/6,875 ft climbing

Garmin Connect:  Stage 5  

Rolled at 4:20 A.M.  Met Kathy and Dennis K near the start in Carmel Valley.  Dennis rode out to Escondido with us, and Kathy rode on with me to Santa Ysabel.  Was delightful to have their company.  Kathy continues to impress with her fearless night riding skills and overall strength in the saddle!  Kathy and Jim attacked the last 5 miles of Hwy 78 on the run-up to Ramona. Jim finished in 20:19, Kathy about a minute back.  Kathy was recovering from a tough 94-mile Saturday Swami's ++ Ride, where she had to bridge a couple gaps (with no help from the dudes!).  Weather continued to be fabulous for cycling.  Low clouds all day, a few patches of blue sky.  In the highlands, a few sprinkles on the return trip.  Just missed a couple summer rain squalls, as pooled water was on the road in a few places.  Went over 1,000 miles for the tour today.  Did feel a bit flat on the return ride.  Today's 150 miles was meant to be an active recovery day.  It was active.  Not sure about the recovery though! 

                                      Hwy 79 looking east near Sunshine Summit, CA
 Shadow Mountain Vineyards & Winery near Sunshine Summit
           Jim in Santa Ysabel, CA
                       Views of high country surrounding Sunshine Summit, approx el 3,200 ft
Jul 12
  Rest 52.52
2:54:26 2,481
CV / RSF / Coast / CV
Jul 13
11:09:06 14,459
16.1 170 CV / DD / VRP / LW / Rincon / SGPM / EGPM / LH / Hwy 79 / S2 / Scissors Xing / Box Cyn / Scissors Xing / Banner Grade / Julian / Ramona / HVR / DD /CV

First Century:  6:11 at 11:01 w/6,775 ft of climbing

Garmin Connect:  Stage 6

First day of cloudless skies across the southland from dawn to completion.  Rolled at 4:18 A.M.

Headed back to the ominous South Grade of Palomar Mt.  First ascent since the pit bull incident on Jul 5.  I reported the incident to the CHP, but they did nothing.  I freely admit this climb was intimidating.  I had big plans to arm myself with a stun gun, pepper spray, buck knife, whatever.  But in the end, my only defense would be heads-up cycling, strong legs, and a helluva fast u-turn!  Made it to the base of Palomar Mt (store) at 7:04 A.M.  Clocked a medium-fast 31:58 to the turn at 5 miles.  From there, had 3 more miles to the point of the attack, at mile marker 44.  NOBODY was on the road the first two miles.  Finally, a couple vehicles passed me heading down the hill.  Tried to ride at a pace keeping a reserve of burst speed.  Kept looking ahead and behind.  Thankfully, no Pit Bull this time.  At mile marker 44, picked up the pace the last 3.8 miles.  Passed two dismounted Caltrans crews clearing brush, and knew I was good-to-go from there to the summit.  Total climbing time was 1:24:58.   Given the stress of the situation, was happy to break 1:25:00.

Fast descent down the East Grade into the middle elevation deserts at Scissors Crossing.  Temps were definitely warm, but not sizzling, just over 90F.  Rode about 20 miles of the Stagecoach Century course, all at the north end, including Box Canyon.  Stopped at Stagecoach Trails store, iced up my bottles and Camelbak, then climbed Banner Grade strongly to Julian for a sandwich at mile 120.

Rode a solid 59-mile return to the coast via Old Julian Hwy, Ramona, and Highland Valley Rd.  Moved my average speed from 15.1 to 16.1 mph.  Consumed much more fluids on this ride than any previous 2010 stage, but kept it all together. 

                             Views of Lake Henshaw from the East Grade of Palomar Mt
      South view from el 5,500 ft on Palomar Mt
                         Lake Henshaw
        6-mile climb from intersection Hwy 79 & S2
          South view from S2 near Box Canyon
    Box Canyon near mi 36 of Stagecoach Century
            North view near Shelter Valley, CA
Jul 14
1:40:10 1,798

Jul 15
16.6 168 CV / DD / Escondido / Temecula / Fallbrook / CV

1st Century:  6:07 w/5,471 ft of climbing

Garmin Connect:  Stage 7

The weather service issued dire warnings for severe hot weather today, due to an enormous high pressure zone over Arizona.  Rolled early, at 4:17 A.M. and could clearly see a starlit black sky, meaning dawn would break cloudless.  It did.  Today's objective was to ride smoothly and efficiently, mindful of Saturday's mega-ride to Big Bear Lake.  Yet, riding too slowly would mean riding in sweltering late afternoon heat in the inland highlands of San Diego.  Kept the pace fairly high through about 125 miles.  Extreme high temps never developed, but there were lots of micro-climates in the 90's F and was in the sun all day.

At mile 62, in Valley Center, had another Pit Bull encounter.  Was around 8:00 A.M. in a section of rollers.  Was riding heads-up, so easily saw the animal in the center of road, about 80 meters in front of me.  I stopped, briefly, to access the situation.  At that point the dog began running toward me.  Had enough time to turn around and easily outrun him.  Most early A.M. dog encounters are likely due to owners not supervising them.  I usually ride past them, shake a water bottle in their direction, and they break off their chase.  But with Pit Bulls, no way.  These dogs are fearless and have been bred to attack.

Modifying the route was no problem.  With so many miles to ride, was actually cool to try some different roads.  Made sure to stay well-hydrated.  Always ride with 2 x 24-oz water bottles, plus a 70-oz Camelbak.  Find it's best to stop at stores with soda fountains.  I fill the Camelbak with ice only, which slowly melts into very cold water.  Then buy a Big Gulp-sized cup of ice with Gatorade for the bottles.  I use insulated Polar Bottles, which keeps fluids cold for about an hour.  Later in the day, switch to Diet Coke for water bottles.  On today's ride I stopped 3 times.  The first 2 stores let me fill my Camelbak with ice for no charge, just $1.75 for the cup of ice and Gatorade for waterbottles.  Last stop charged for all, but was only $3.00.  Skipped lunch in favor of a packet of peanut butter cookies and a sleeve of Clif Shots.

Wine Country 4
                           Panoview of winery along Rancho California in Temecula, CA 
           Lake Wohlford, just after daybreak
        View of Rancho California in Temecula, CA
  Hard to see, but there's an American Flag up there
   Was a hot afternoon along Interstate 15 today!
Jul 16
1:42:30 1,095
CV / RSF / Coast / CV
Jul 17
    8 170.15
10:57:44 16,042
15.5  167  Big Bear Lake: Julian / Warner Springs / Idyllwild / Banning / Beaumont / Yacaipa / Big Bear Lake

1st Century:  5:41 w/6,249 ft of climbing

Big Bear Climb:  3:00

Garmin Connect:  Stage 8 
  Rolled from the mountaintop town of Julian at 4:28 A.M.  Swift descent down the 7-mile hill in total darkness.  Flushed out one scared bird, which flew right over my front wheel.  Gave me an early shot of adrenaline, but no harm done.  As I crested the el 3,300 ft Santa Ysabel grinder hill, first light was breaking.  Nothing like daybreak in San Diego's highlands.  Mountains are skylighted in every direction.  The cool/warm air is completely still.  Only sound is the wind rush in my ears, as I spin effortlessly at speeds not possible any other time of day.  In what felt like no time, was passing Warner Springs, mile 21.  Continued over Sunshine Summit, el 3,200+, about 10 miles later.  Absolutely owned the road in the 5:00 A.M. hour.  Sailed along down the 10-mile mostly downhill section to Aguanga.  Felt the first rays of the sun on my right side just before the Aguanga/Hwy 371 intersection.

Met Kathy K at the intersection and began the 20-mile climb to 74.  Kept a high spin cadence to the Mobil station about halfway up.  Still nice weather as the sun rose higher in the sky.  Minimal winds helped make the long climb more manageable.  Kathy took an authoritative pull up the last the last 4 miles to the summit and left-turn onto Hwy 74.  I locked in my biggest gear, head down, and motored fast for about 7 miles to the vicinity of one of my all-time favorite places on earth:  Keen Camp Summit.  Kathy took over near the base of the climb and geared up for a withering charge over the Keen Camp Summit, el 4,915 ft.  I had to dig deep just to hold her wheel.  We crested the summit together.  Was the most exhilarating and enjoyable effort ever on that pine tree-lined stretch of highway.  Dropped down a few hundred feet and turned right onto Hwy 243 for the Idyllwild climb.

Kathy set a smart pace up the 4+ miles to Idyllwild.  Stopped at the Red Kettle restaurant for a quick pit stop. Was surprised to see my average speed to mile 79+ was 17.5 mph with about 5,200+ ft of climbing.  Had a huge bowl of homemade chicken noodle soup that was beyond category delicious.  The servers set us up with some pitchers of ice and we motored onward.  Over the top of the mountain, we got our first glimpse of Big Bear Mt in the distance.  Only saw one tiny cloud, a huge relief, because it meant less chance of a thunderstorm.  Some wind as we descended into Banning, so eased the pace, especially in the S-turns.

Banning was hot, but not oppressive.  Made the right-turn in Beaumont and up through Yacaipa, including a certain butt-kicking climb to 3,700+ ft.  On Bryant Rd, stopped at the last-chance 7-11 Store before confronting the 29-mile Big Bear Mt ascent.  Iced up and made the right-turn onto Hwy 38 at 12:46 P.M.  No clouds meant no rain, but also meant it was gonna be a sweat climb.  The first 7 miles are arrow-staight paralleling a wide rocky dry stream bed.   A wide bike lane is the only luxury on this relentless stretch.  No way to get comfortable.  It's a hot grinder to beat all grinders all the way to the switchback.  From there, 3 more hard miles to Angelus Oaks, el 5,700+ ft.  At the restaurant, Dave from Nytro introduced himself and asked about our ride.  He's interested in ultra-distance cycling.  Will follow-up with him when I bring Rich (mechanic at Nytro) some pizza for his help earlier in the tour.

From Angelus Oaks, it's another (groan) 19 miles to Onyx Summit.  But, every foot climbed returns cooler air in the late afternoon.  Plus, large pine trees offer shade.  The terrain undulates with some flat and down sections that allow one to recover along the way.  Kathy set an brave tempo for 16 miles, never faltering.  At one point, she moved ahead beyond sight.  About 5 miles from Onyx Summit, I slotted into my tried-and-true summit pace and slowly reeled her in, passing with 3 miles to go.  Didn't know it, but was on pace to break my previous best effort of 3:09.  Air was perfect.  Wind was perfect.  Sky was dark blue.  The torturous climb continued.  But felt strong through 7,500 ft.  Still good at silhouehetted against the sky.

Made Onxy Summit, el 8,443 ft at 4:39 P.M.  Kathy followed about 5 min later.  My time of 3 hours, and some seconds, was nearly 9 min faster than my previous PR.  We snapped some summit pics and started to feel chilled, so hopped back on our bikes for the 10-mile descent to Big Bear Lake.  The 6-mile final section along the lake is pretty, but legs & mind were beyond fried at that point. Made it to the Northwoods Resort well before sunset.  Cleaned up and walked to the lake shore for the sunset pictures below.  Perfect ending to a flawless full-day in the saddle.

Final thoughts:  Surely there are many other ways to cycle up Big Bear Mt.  I've had the privilege to race it at Breathless Agony in the past.  I've also ridden it solo, as day 2 of a 2-day training ride from San Diego to Idyllwild, then Idyllwild to Big Bear.  Riding it fresh is a hard ride, no doubt.  You'll be hard-pressed to find another comparable 29-mile climb from el 2,400 to 8,400 ft.  But what makes this particular ride singularly unique to me, is how it's ridden:  front-loading a difficult 124 miles, with 8,000+ ft of climbing, in the So Cal July heat, with 1,500 miles ridden in the previous 2 weeks.  It is what makes it unequivocal.  It is what gives it magnified personal meaning and deeper significance.  It is what makes an already monsterously difficult ride, extreme.  It is, where even Angels fear to tread.  (Many thanks to E.M. Forster). 

 Big Bear Mt 1
                                       Big Bear Mt from Yacaipa, from approximately 3,700 ft
 Near Riverside
        Near Riverside County Line on Hwy 74
 Jim 1
   Vista Point on Hwy 243 past Idyllwild, el 5,900 ft
 Big Bear Lake Sunset
                                                     Sunset on Big Bear Lake
Kathy K Summit
      Kathy celebrates her summit at 4:55 P.M.
JK at Onyx
  Jim's warpaint: supposed to be a "6" for 6 summits
Jul 18
2:30:47 3,445
Big Bear Lake / Arrowbear / Rim of the World Highway /Big Bear Lake
Big Bear Lake
                            Rest day spin to Rim of the World Hwy past Running Springs, CA 
Big Bear Lake 4
      Elevation 7,112 ft on Rim of the World Hwy
Big Bear Lake 3
     Pretty views to Big Bear Lake in the distance 
North Pole
           All the chocolate you'll ever need
JK on rest day
 Jim outside Northwoods Resort in Big Bear Lake, CA 
Suncay Brunch

Let's break this Sunday Brunch down:  Lobster Omelet with Garlic, Chicken, Grilled Onions, Beef Round (hot rare w/horseradish sauce), Beef Stroganoff, Cheesy Mac, Grilled Veggies, Chicken Bisque.  Not pictured:  plate of fresh fruit, French Toast, Home Fries, Strawberries w/Creme, and plate of fancy Chocolate desserts.  $21.  Thank You Chef Lester and Northwoods Resort!

Sunday Snack

Mid-afternoon Sunday snack in the Stillwell Room in the Northwoods Resort, while watching the Tour De France for 2 hours.  Master Bartender (and sweet lady) Ruthie set me up with half-priced Shrimp Cocktail, Ginger Ale, and Bloody Mary (made just right).  Ahhhhh.  Does life get any better than this?

Jul 19
12:23:40 16,241
16.2 167 Big Bear Lake / Yacaipa / Beaumont / Banning / Idyllwild / Hemet / Ranchita / Warner Springs / Julian

1st Century:  6:09 w/7,943 ft of climbing
2nd Century:  6:11 w/8,298 ft of climbing

Garmin Connect:  Stage 9

Rolled right on time at 4:29 A.M.  Tony at the front desk of Northwoods Resort was friendly and helpful, even at that early hour.  He made sure my box of cycling gear was ready for pick-up by UPS.  The steets were completely deserted as I spun along the lake the first few miles.  The turn to Hwy 38 has no lights, so was relieved to catch it correctly near mile 6, el 6,700 ft.

The long climb up to Onxy Summit was serene; the sky turned from black, to orange, to light blue as dawn arrived.  Near the top, there was enough light to see without bike lights.  Stopped at Onyx Summit long enough to put on a wind vest for the descent.  It was cool, not cold, about 60 F.  Checked the tires once more and began the white-knuckled 29-mile plunge.  Unlike the previous 5 Solo Shadow Tours, I was completely calm/confident with this intimidating section.  Wasn't pushing the pace on the climb up (11.2 avg at top), nor taking chances on the way down.  Knew to be vigilant for the unexpected.  As if on cue, a rabbit flashed across 10 yds in front of me.  Didn't even flinch; glad to get it over with early!.  By this time 10-15 cars had passed me, so was less concerned about giant pine cones, or deer, on the road.

Temps warmed below the 7,000 ft level, so stripped off the vest.  Legs screamed each time the road tilted upward through the roller section, miles 13 - 18.  Did not stop at Angelus Oaks.  Let gravity do all the work down to the Bryant Rd turn at mile 45, avg speed was 18.7 mph.  Always enjoy the early morning spin through Yaciapa.  Yeah, there's that rudely steep hill up to to 3,700 ft, but the community is neat and well-maintained.  Again, did not push the pace.  No jumps.  Stayed deep in the saddle.  Tailwinds pushed me through the 9-mile Banning stretch at 20-25 mph.  Iced up at Arco then made the turn onto Hwy 243 for the 20-mile climb + 5 mile descent to Idyllwild.  In past years, this section has been brutally hot with blast furnace winds.  This year, calm & cool; just like the old dude spinning the pedals.  Stopped at el 3,500 ft to take one last photo of the Big Bear.  Then took out 4,000 ft, no problem.  5,000 ft took longer, but still rode well inside my comfort zone.  6,000 ft took FOREVER, but even that sign eventually appeared and I knew Idyllwild was coming soon.  Got there around 11:20 A.M, mile 91 of the ride.  Red Kettle set me up with a tasty grilled chicken & ham on croissant, with side of fruit.  Pitcher of ice, of course.  Stopped at the town garage and boys gave me a can of lube to take care of my chain.  Wanted to pay, they said "on the house, dude".  Nice guys, and a nice town, too.

Can remember years where the 19-mile section on Hwy 243 to Hemet was literally hell.  Not so this year.  Even near the town, temps were in the 80s F.  Iced up near mile 112 and worked my way to the fearsome Sage Rd--the wicked 20-mile cross-compartment road that connects Hwy 243 and Hwy 74.  Again, recall years where that road, with it's triple camel back profile brought me to my knees.  Was an eye-opener to contrast the difference of perhaps 10 degrees can make.  It wasn't easy, by any stretch, but the miles went by, and I found myself at the turn on Hwy 74.

Iced up at Stagecoach Inn and hoped for the traditional afternoon easterly tailwinds.  Got some, but not as much as in the past.  Still, would trade strong winds out for the nice temps any day!  Motored along for about 40 min and found myself at the top of Sunshine Summit.  A solid 10-mile roller descent to Warner Springs brought me to the gas station, which was still open at 4:30 P.M.  First time I've ever made it before closing!  Iced up.  Had some peanut butter and cheddar crackers and spun off.  Plugged in the ipod at the turn onto S-2, mile 164.  First song was Hollywood Nights, by Bob Segar.  Must have moved me, 'cuz I looked down and 29 mph was showing in my computer (smiling).

Needed about 6 extra miles, so did an out-and-back to Ranchita.  Then over Teofulio Summit and a 12-mile downhill to Scissors Crossing.  Not one car passed me on that road.  Knew I'd get some free speed at the start, so wound up a big gear to see what would happen.  Stopped looking when the Garmin read 50 mph.  Hung on tight and let 'er roll for miles, and miles, and miles.  At Scissors, was greeted by the normal vicsious headwinds winds flowing down off the mountains.

Shot the pic below at mile 190.  That mountain was all that stood between me and success.  Mother Nature made SURE I earned it, because headwinds were howling all the way up to the Banner Grade store.  After that, I was inside the canyon, and winds were up and down.  Noticed I had a shot at a negative split for the 1st and 2nd centuries.  In years past, I would have poured my soul into such an opportunity.  But I stayed on pace.  Maintained a respectable cadence and let it increase as the gradiant relented near the summit.  With 1 mile to go, it looked good for an equal split, but ended with 1st century at 6:09, and the (much harder) 2nd century in 6:11.  Will have to call that a moral victory.   But it's really just experience and endurance cycling maturity.  Was one of my finest doubles to date.  Enjoyed a great meal at Rongbranch Restaurant in Julian.  Visited with new owner, Kathy, and long-time employee Delores.  Lisa and the folks at the Julian Gold Rush Hotel treated me like royalty, both on Friday night, and Monday night.  Recommend them highly.  One more 200-mile Stage left to wind up this 2010 Shadow Tour.  Can't wait.

Big Bear Mt 2
    Last look at Big Bear Mt on return climb to Idyllwild, approx el 3,500 ft.  Interstate 10 in foreground
                 4,000 ft and all's well...
   5,000 ft, is there another 1,000 ft up there??
   Yep, 6,000 and counting.  Ready for lunch!
Sage Rd
View from Sage Rd, that's Palomar Mt way out there
Julian hill
Here's exactly what I saw at mile 190, 5:28 P.M. el 2,500 ft.  Just 10 miles left.  Straight up that road, on top of that mountain, lies the charming Old West town of Julian (el 4,150), and the finish line for this tough double century.  Too bad the photo can't show the late P.M. winds pouring down the mt into my face! 
Jul 20
1:42:01 1,657

Jul 21
2:23:26 2,514
CV / RSF / DD / VRP / DD / RSF / CV

Jul 22
11:39:39 12,508
17.2 168 CV / RSF / LW / Lilacs / Bonsall / W Lilac / Temecula / Fallbrook / Lawrence Welk Rd / DD / RSF / CV

1st Century:  6:04 w/6,990 ft of climbing
2nd Century:  5:35 w/5,518 ft of climbing

Garmin Connect:  Stage 10

Rolled at 4:19 A.M. into a misty drizzle that lasted until about 9:30 A.M, all the way past Rainbow.  Made it up the steep side Couser, down the other side, then a solid 5-mile climb up Rice Canyon, on the way out to 2 laps of Temecula wine country.  Rode today's stage for time the whole way.   This was the only stage which I pushed the pace all day.  Even though it was 200 miles, in my mind, the Finish Line was in sight, so it felt good to see if anything was left after 3 weeks in the saddle.  Turned out there was still some good gas down in the old tank!

This tough 10th Stage completes the 10 main stages for the 2010 Solo Shadow Tour.  Three more short & fun spins to round out the mileage and finish the tour.  Today's ride put me over 2,000 miles with 149,306 feet climbed.  If I stay wheel side down, will easily surpass last year's record of 150,022 ft of climbing.  Should beat the record average speed too.  It's been my most balanced and well-executed tour to date.

Tommy Vs
Postride Tommy V's Restaurant 
Jul 23
1:43:41 1,634
CV / Santa Luz / RSF / CV
Jul 24
2:16:40 2,522
CV / RSF / DD / RSF / CV

Jul 25
 Rest 17.55
48:34 812
21.7    CV / Santa Luz / CV

Today's final fast-paced ride rounded out this 6th Solo Shadow Tour.  This year's tour was the overall fastest paced, at 16.74 mph, yet contained the most elevation climbed, at 155,485 feet.  That's over 29 miles of verticle climbing!  I lost 12 lbs over the 3-week tour. 

What most distinguished this tour, in my mind, was the wide confidence bred through direct experience with multiple successful solo tours under my belt.  I managed each stage well within my physical and mental limits.  So never doubted the successful outcome of the ride.  The overall temperatures were cooler than past years, but that's all relative.  Afterall, 90-95F is still warm vs. a slightly hotter 95-105F in the way out there back countries, mountains, and high deserts of San Diego, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties!

Many sincere thanks to numerous friends, family members, well-wishers (and Good Samaritans!), who encouraged and assisted me on this long journey.

Yellow Jersey 

Friend, Business Partner, Inaugeral Shadow Tour Veteran, and Burger Chef, Larry Gitman, presents 2010 Yellow Jersey to Jim during mini Champagne Ceremony at Larry & Robin's beautiful La Jolla home overlooking the Pacific Ocean.


2010 Jim's Solo Shadow Tour

Total Average Climbing Elev.
Date Day Stage Miles To Date Time Speed Elevation To Date

3-Jul Sat 1 175.23 175.23 10:59:44 15.90 13,613 13,613
4-Jul Sun
50.35 225.58 2:40:08 18.80 1,971 15,584
5-Jul Mon 2 175.10 400.68 11:09:13 15.70 16,257 31,841
6-Jul Tue
56.23 456.91 3:06:12 18.10 2,934 34,775
7-Jul Wed 3 179.85 636.76 10:12:22 17.60 8,474 43,249
8-Jul Thu
30.16 666.92 1:37:31 18.60 1,757 45,006
9-Jul Fri 4 175.47 842.39 10:26:56 16.80 10,882 55,888
10-Jul Sat
31.61 874.00 1:41:02 18.80 1,864 57,752
11-Jul Sun 5 153.25 1,027.25 9:04:22 16.90 9,715 67,467
12-Jul Mon
52.52 1,079.77 2:54:26 18.10 2,481 69,948
13-Jul Tue 6 179.66 1,259.43 11:09:06 16.10 14,459 84,407
14-Jul Wed
29.50 1,288.93 1:40:10 17.70 1,798 86,205
15-Jul Thu 7 175.30 1,464.23 10:32:15 16.60 10,810 97,015
16-Jul Fri
30.47 1,494.70 1:42:30 17.80 1,095 98,110
17-Jul Sat 8 170.15 1,664.85 10:57:44 15.50 16,042 114,152
18-Jul Sun
40.18 1,705.03 2:30:47 16.00 3,445 117,597
19-Jul Mon 9 200.35 1,905.38 12:23:40 16.20 16,241 133,838
20-Jul Tue
30.16 1,935.54 1:42:01 17.70 1,657 135,495
21-Jul Wed
41.76 1,977.30 2:23:26 17.50 2,514 138,009
22-Jul Thu 10 200.24 2,177.54 11:39:39 17.20 12,508 150,517
23-Jul Fri
30.22 2,207.76 1:43:41 17.50 1,634 152,151
24-Jul Sat
41.77 2,249.53 2:16:40 18.30 2,522 154,673
25-Jul Sun
17.55 2,267.08 0:48:34 21.70 812 155,485

135:22:09 16.75 155,485

Shadow Tour Background Continued

At my end, I have 23 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, 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 2010 Shadow Tour will match all the total riding distance and far exceed the total climbing elevation of the actual TDF. 

In 2004, my Shadow Tour business partner, Larry Gitman, and I, replicated 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 less than 100 miles in length.  The real TDF has exciting early stage sprint finishes, which I can never replicate.  The middle and late stages separate the leaders from the pelaton on just a few difficult high 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, played a continous role as well.  Both issues I find utterly detestible.  In 2009, TDF organizers finally intervened by including 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 stark contrast, the original 1903 Tour De France--the one that started it all--had only 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 rider 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 1970, he scorched the field.  He won the Sprinter's Jersey, the King of the Mountains Jersey, and the overall 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. 

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 850 miles in the first 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 more challenging and, correspondingly, more rewarding on a personal level.  It's not about racing or the times I post (although I do enjoy posting descent times on tough climbs).  Staying mentally tough through the long lonely hours, sunburned skin, saddle sores, swollen aching feet, high temps, blast furnace winds, and dehydration are a few of the many challenges.  I welcome these challenges and have learned to deal with all of them and more. 

It's important to minimize impact on work days; so only 5 will be sacrificed completing the 2,266 mile journey over 23 days.  This limitation drives up single day mileage, necessitating 9 stages with 170+ miles each.  Each of these stages far exceed the distance and elevation of the longest stage of the 2010 TDF.  In the interest of safety and good health, I've eliminated almost all night riding (pre-dawn excepted), barring unforeseen circumstances, with a 15-hour max time cut-off. I'll post daily blogs and pics. Some blogs will be delayed when I'm on the road, but I'll catch-up once back in San Diego.  All ride data is downloaded from my new Garmin 705.