Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Memories of Dan Crain's Furnace Creek 508 Adventures

Jim Cook wrote:

"I saw Dan shortly after his first surgery. On this Sunday about 1:30pm I finished up a ride with a friend. Then started to ride over to the hospital to see Dan, but change my mind because I knew I would be in that area on Monday. Never thought of Dan not being there the next day... WOW! I'm thinking a lot more now! 

The first time Dan had me crew for him on the FC 508 was 2007. It was one of my best memories with him. He was racing that year with Joe Brown, and they had Kevin Baer and myself as their crew. The four of us laughed so hard on that event, our guts were sore. Everything was just funny to us, no matter what it was. Cindy Staiger, who was officiating, had stopped us. Dan's hardwired-in auxiliary flashing went out on his van in Panamint Valley, so everyone was frantically trying to trace a short in the dark. About a half hour later a solo racer DNF'd right by us. Cindy borrowed the portable flashing lights from the solo racer, came over holding the lights in her hands and asked us if these would help us. We all laughed and Dan was on his bike racing to Death Valley. 

On Townes Pass, Dan wanted me to follow him down the pass. Dan was very particular how he wanted to be followed down the pass. Kevin was driving up the pass, so we decided to switch drivers as the van was moving. Not a wise move, before we could get switched the van is rowing backwards, and Dan lost the van's ahead lights as he continued to climb the pass. Joe was about ready to jump out, but Kevin and I couldn't hold back and we started laughing. In Furnace Creek, Dan asked if he was going too fast up Townes for us... more laughs. 

Next, Dan was cycling the gradual climb from Kelso to Amboy, and Wade Baker was closing in on Dan fast. Dan was almost at the summit, but I could see Wade was going to catch him. I asked Kevin to pull up next to Dan. I asked: "Do you want a picture taken as Wade passes you, or do want it taken at Amboy before Wade gets there?" Dan kicked in the afterburners... more laughs. When we got to Amboy, Isabelle Drake was there waiting for Wade. She had the same polk-a-dot 508 Jersey as Dan was wearing. While she was waiting for Wade, I took a picture of Dan and her. They looked like they were on the same team. It later became one of Dan's favorite pictures. Dan and Joe set a new record that race for the two-man relay team 60+ division that race, which still stands today.

Congratulations to the Whooping Cranes
 on their 2007 Furnace Creek 508 record setting ride!!
Photo taken by Jim Cook

Team Whooping Cranes
Thanks to Jim Cook for this photo

You can see an on-line album of the 2007 FC 508 that I had made Dan and Joe after the race HERE.

One of the most exciting moments of cycling for Dan was in 2009 coming down Townes Pass during the 508. It was about midnight when he reached the summit. He had me take his vest, arm warmers, and water bottle, then handed him two water bottles that he specially prepared for this descent. They were both filled with lead weights from car wheels that he had collected while riding. The conditions for the descent were almost perfect, extra weight, and the confidence having his van's lights right with him all the way down. The curves and especially the dips were very dangerous at speed. Dan would have me follow him on this major descent 3-5 yards back in the middle of the road. On the curves, I would be on the left-side of road and cut the curve before he did, to give him the van's lights through the curve. His daughter witnessed this as she nervously sat in the passenger's seat. Isabelle Drake tried not to watch as she prepared for her shift. I clocked Dan for a sustained speed of 65+ mph for about 2.6 miles down Townes Pass. He passed five racers on that descent as if they were standing still. Dan loved to climb and descend, and he did it fearlessly."

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Dan Crain ... You Will Be Missed

The California Triple Crown family lost one of the Most Accomplished Long Distance Cyclists in California when Dan Crain passed away last Sunday, August 15, 2010.

Let's celebrate Dan's life!! 

This is a place where people who loved Dan may feel free to write a memory they have of him, a story, or to say goodbye to a good friend.  Please share your thoughts by clicking on the "Comments" at the bottom of the tribute below. You need not be a cyclist to share a memory here. 

The California Triple Crown family lost a really good friend
and a cycling legend with the passing of Dan Crain
on Sunday, August 15, 2010.

Dan Crain on the 1996 Eastern Sierra Double
Photo by Robert Freed

Dan supporting the 2010 Grand Tour
Photo taken June 26, 2010 by Lynn Katano

Dan and Anny on the Grand Tour Staff Ride Highland Double
Photo taken July 24, 2010 by Steve Meichtry

A memorial service to celebrate Dan's incredible life was held on Saturday, August 21, 2010 at Harbor Christian Church in Newport Beach. Over 300 people witnessed the wonderful stories and memories that was shared from family members, as well as his personal friends. Following the service and luncheon, Anny Beck hosted an 8 mile tribute ride in honor of Dan as they ride Newport's Back Bay loop. 

ADO Gang-member Roland Hoffman produced a beautiful video that was shown during the service, capturing Dan's incredible life here on earth. You can enjoy the video HERE

Cindi Staiger wrote on the Ultra Cycling e-mail list, "A few weeks ago a great ultracycling friend was in an auto accident in Orange County CA...Newport Coast.  A Range Rover did not see Dan Crain and struck him. 

He went to the Mission Hospital and underwent a couple surgeries thereafter for a broken L1 vertebrae. 

From friend's emails and FB postings a few words... He was recovering well he even went for a 'walk' around the hospital floor - Sun., Aug 15th however - he got up with help from the nurse - they say he felt faint and the staff got him back to bed.... The Code Team worked on him for half an hour trying to revive him.  They think he had a pulmonary embolism, a fatal blood clot in his lungs, not uncommon after surgery. (The Coroner will do an autopsy to verify this.) 

He was a 7 time finisher of the Furnace Creek 508 (1 time four-man, 4 times two-man, 1 time two-mixed, and once solo). He also holds (with Fred Boethling) the two man 60+ record at Race Across America... He also finished 106 California Triple Crown double centuries, earning 13 triple crowns along the way. He also gave plenty back to the sport, having volunteered at 21 double centuries.  ...some Everest Challenge records too...Davis 24 hour Challenge record. 
Dan was 65 - he leaves behind his Daughter Danielle and a son, other family and a great many cycling and other friends." 

The Orange County Register published this report on Dan's tragic accident.  On August 18, 2010, the Orange County Register published the coroner's report.

Dan's Sister, Sandy, wrote: "Dan's Memorial Service, or the celebration of his life, will be this Saturday, August 21st, at 11:00 a.m. at Harbor Christian Church, 2401 Irvine Avenue, Newport Beach 92660. I know that I originally thought the service would be several weeks away, but this Saturday worked out better for Dan's daughter and son, Danielle and Alan. I do hope that his bicycle family will be able to attend. There will be a time of open sharing of memories of Dan from everyone, as well as a light lunch provided afterward. Please pass the word on to all of Dan's bicycle family."

Dan and Bobbi Fisher on 2004 Davis Double
Photo taken by Eric Smith at Redbike Photo

Dan at the 2006 California Triple Crown Awards Breakfast
Photo taken by Eric Smith at Redbike Photo 

Dan loved to ride a bike. Any bike. Any time. And he always made it fun no matter how hard the ride was!!

Dan completed an amazing 106 California Triple Crown Double Centuries including many of the most difficult ones in California as shown on his California Triple Crown History report HERE .  In 2000, Dan rode every Double Century in the series ... all 18 of them!!  In 2001, Dan and Anny rode the 1st Place Tandem in the 2001 California Triple Crown Stage Race.  In 2004, Dan and Anny rode the 2nd Place Tandem in the 2004 California Triple Crown Stage Race.  Amazingly, Dan was a Solo Finisher of the brutally tough California Triple Crown Stage Race in










Yet, he gave back BIG TIME to the sport ... as shown on the report, he supported 21 of these Double Centuries!!!  He was a Gold Thousand Mile Club Finisher in 2004, 2006, and 2007 by completing 5 Double Centuries and volunteering at more than one of them those years!! 

Charlie Irwin, Dan Crain, and Chuck Bramwell
2001 California Triple Crown Awards Breakfast
Photo from Chuck Bramwell's Archive

The Hall of Fame Class of 2001
2001 California Triple Crown Awards Breakfast
Photo from Chuck Bramwell's Archive

Dan Crain was inducted into the California Triple Crown Hall of Fame in 2001 after riding 50 Doubles starting back in 1996.  When he was inducted into the Hall of Fame, Dan gave these tips to new Double Century riders:

- Don't accept pain from riding long distances … work on the problems.

- Don't try to make up time on descents. The risks aren't worth the rewards.

- Enjoy the ride, and share the experience with others. Life is better experienced as a shared journey rather than as a race to beat others.

Dan told the audience: my personal philosophy is to celebrate life and share the celebration with others.

In 2007, Dan was inducted into the 100 Double Century Club
of the California Triple Crown!!
He was only the 6th Cyclist to ever complete that achievement!!

Dan also was a legendary cyclist on Randonneur rides which are long-distance unsupported endurance adventures.  More information on these rides can be found HERE.  Dan was amazingly tough on these rides and he completed the 750 Mile Non-Stop Paris-Brest-Paris in 1999.  He also completed the 750 Mile Non-Stop Davis Gold Rush in 2001 on a tandem with Anny Beck.  Dan went on to be awarded The Randonneur 5000 award for those riders completing at least 5000 kilometers of brevets (including a Paris-Brest-Paris, a full ACP series of 200 km, 300 km, 400 km, 600 km, and 1000 km brevets, and a Fl├Ęche team event) within a four-year period.  Few Americans have ever earned this award.

Dan and Lynn Katano wearing their 2004 Davis Bike Club March Madness Jerseys
Photo from Lynn Katano’s Archive
I believe Dan logged the most miles of anyone in that 2004 Competition

Dan loved challenging himself on the Furnace Creek 508 course.  In fact, he was inducted into the Furnace Creek 508 Hall of Fame in 2007.  Dan competed in this 508 Mile Non-Stop Race a total of 8 times!! Jim Cook wrote about his favorite memories of crewing for Dan on his Furnace Creek 508 adventures HERE.

Bill Osborn was Dan's Furnace Creek 508 Teammate in 2002 and he wrote up a beautiful report HERE with some great photos.

Dan and Anny were always fun to ride with
 no matter how steep the road got or
how tough the conditions were

In 2005, Dan and Fred Boethling set the South to North Across Utah Two Man Team Bike Record in 21 Hours 47 Minutes with a great report HERE.

Later that year, Dan and Fred competed as TEAM 60+ in the Race Across America.  Fred and Dan both turned 60 shortly before the 2005 race. In fact, Fred was the oldest rider in that year's RAAM. They finished the 3,052-mile ride in 8 days 13 hours 34 minutes, setting the over-60 age group record with an insightful report HERE.

Fred Boethling wrote in the Race Across America newsletter: "Dan's cycling palmares were significant. He finished the Furnace Creek 508, a RAAM Qualifier, seven times and completed 106 California Triple Crown double centuries, earning 13 Triple Crowns. In 2005, he and Fred Boethling established three 2-person 60+ team records ... the Davis 24-hour Challenge, a RAAM Qualifier, a UMCA Utah S-N Cross-State record and the Race Across America. All three records still stand. According to Fred Boethling, "Dan was a horse. He did all the work. I was the supporting cast."   Dan gave back to the sport as well, having volunteered at nearly two-dozen double centuries.

Dan is survived by his two children, other family members and a great many cycling friends. Dan, we'll miss you greatly."

Dan competed in the Davis 24 Hour Challenge and in 2006, he set a course record for 24 Hours Solo Riding in the 60-69 Age Group of 399 Miles on the Big Canyon Course then he came back in 2007 and set another course record for 24 Hours of Solo Riding in the 60-69 Age Group of 387 Miles on the Cobb Mountain Course as shown HERE.

Dan was also featured in Roy Wallack's book, Bike For Life: How to Ride to 100.

Roland Hoffman wrote: "Dan was a true emissary to the sport of endurance cycling! I'm in a total state of shock as I was planning to make my visit with him tonight after work! It's certainly a blessing to ride with a true "legend" of the sport on many occasions during my 15 years of ultra endurance cycling! A courageous, adventurous, and caring person . . . and well loved by us all!

Rest in Peace my friend as the lord will comfort you and keep you . . . as you truly enriched and touched each and everyone of us . . . more than you'll ever know. We are so blessed to know you during your life here on earth. You are now "God's chosen one" as you will be riding alongside him among the heavens, as the joy of your presence here on earth will be within our hearts . . . forever! 

You will be well missed . . . "

2008 Hemet Double Staff Ride
A lot of which was in the COLD rain
Photo taken by Jim Watrous

Rick Burneson wrote: "Other than sticking with me on that miserable Hemet ride, my two other memories of Dan helping out are:

1. Repairing my broken chain under the wind-mills on Tour of Two Forests (the Tour of One Desert Year) with SRAM Quick-Link.

2. Loaning me a front wheel when mine started breaking spokes on the Grand Tour in 2007.

He was a frequent rider on our OCRR Tues. / Thur. ride where he was also an excellent mentor to some of the newer riders.

Dan will be missed!"

Dan training on Glendora Ridge Road
Photo by Rick Burneson

John McKee wrote on his excellent racing recap about Dan HERE : "Dan decided in 2009 that he wanted to experience more from cycling and thought he would give bicycle racing a try at the age of 64. Dan joined OCW/Paramount in April of 2009."

Dan at the 2010 Manhattan Beach Grand Prix

Charles Chen wrote: "Jim Leslie found Dan's personal blog HERE

He is one of the nicest guys I know on and off the bike.  I am still in disbelief that he's no longer with us.  Dan, you're truly missed."

Dan and Anny at the start the Davis Gold Rush 1200K in 2001
Photo taken by Chuck Bramwell

Two days and over 500 miles after the above photo was taken, Tom Reynolds and I were fortunate enough to find Dan and Anny.  Unfortunately, by that time, I was out of film in my old camera.  We must have ridden 200 miles with Dan and Anny coming back into Davis that awesome night.  We were plenty tired by that time but the miles just flew by. And how could we have been flying like that after riding 500 miles the prior couple of days? Dan was just motoring with Anny on the tandem and I remember working real hard keeping up with them and Tom.

For me, it was beyond epic.

It was beyond hard.

It was one of the best long distance pacelines I’ve ever been in.

It was a time I will always remember as being the best of times.

And that's how I'll long remember my buddy Dan Crain. Flying at full speed on his tandem with smoke coming off his Rear Derailleur!!

With a big smile on his face.

I’ll miss you Dan.

 I'll miss your help.

 I'll miss your big smile going ear to ear.

Chuck Bramwell
California Triple Crown Guy

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Troy Raffelson ... One In A Million

This is a place where people who loved Troy Raffelson may feel free to write a memory they have of him, a story, or to say goodbye to a good friend. Please share your thoughts by clicking on the "Comments" at the bottom of the tribute below. You need not be a cyclist to share a memory here.  Please e-mail any photos of Troy that you'd like to share to Chuck Bramwell at and he'll post them here.

"The finish line is just the beginning of a whole new race.
We are not human beings having a spiritual experience,
We're spiritual beings having a human experience"
Susan Saint James who lost her 14 year old son in a plane crash

It is with very heavy hearts that we pass along the sad news of Troy Raffelson's passing in a tragic accident at home on May 6th. 

Troy was truly one in a million.

The above photo of Troy was taken last September after he climbed Mont Ventoux in France 3 different times in one day, culminating the cycling trip of a lifetime to Italy and France.

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."
                        Quoted by Troy at the bottom of his e-mails

This message is so hard to write. We are taking one day at a time and one step at a time. We would like to thank all of you for the outpouring of love, prayers, good thoughts, and well wishes for Lorna and our family. It means a lot to know that Troy has so many friends and was loved by so many.  Troy was married to Lorna Raffelson, Carol's sister so Troy was married to Chuck's sister-in-law. 

To Chuck, Troy was like a Brother, his best cycling buddy, and one of his very best friends.

Troy loved Lorna a WHOLE BUNCH!!

Please come and join in a celebration of Troy’s life on Wednesday, May 12th at 2:00pm at:

Clairemont Church of God
4955 Conrad Ave.
San Diego, CA 92117

Please join us afterwards for refreshments and reminiscing.

"Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am in a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush,
I am in the graceful rush
Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.
I am in the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there. I do not die.."
     "Do not stand at my grave and weep" by Mary Elizabeth Frye
     Shared by Brent Thomas

Did you know that Troy was the lead singer in a Rock n' Roll Band?

Lorna and Troy had a great vacation to the Grand Tetons in 2006

Troy loved racing on the Track.

One of our favorite photos riding into Panguitch, Utah
on the Tour of Southern Utah

Troy with Floyd Landis
Troy knew everybody!!

Troy loved to tackle extremely difficult cycling challenges.  He completed 6 Double Centuries in the California Triple Crown Double Century Series as shown in his California Triple Crown History Report HERE.

In lieu of flowers, a donation can be made in Troy’s memory at:

1 – Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong foundation at

where you can donate in memory of Troy and send an e-card to Lorna at , 1396 Chaney St., El Cajon, CA 92020

2 - Troy and Lorna loved the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training program. Donations can be made at

where you can donate in memory of Troy and send a Greeting Card to Lorna at

3 - Your favorite charity.

Please pass this along to anyone we may have missed and keep Lorna in your thoughts and prayers.

Love to all,

Lorna Raffelson
Chuck and Carol Bramwell

"There is one phrase which should be erased from your thinking and from the words you speak aloud. It is the phrase, 'If only.' It is counterproductive and is not conducive to the spirit of healing and of peace. Rather, recall the words of Proverbs: 'Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.'" (Proverbs 3:5,6)
           President Monson at funeral of 5 little girls who tragically died in trunk of car

P.S.  This is the hardest memorial I have ever written.  This hurts so much.

Of all my cycling buddies, Troy was my very favorite buddy to ride with.  His heart was always in Track Racing but somehow, I managed to convince him to go out on some BIG cycling adventures.

A magnificent morning in Bedoin, France
Before the 3 climbs to Mont Ventoux
Those legs had climbed over 80,000 feet in the prior 2 weeks
Were they up for another 14,000 feet in one day?

We were climbing STEEP roads all over the mountain.
Troy had wings on his back!!
Chuck Bramwell, Troy Raffelson, and Alan Ptak, The Three Amigos, after climbing Mont Ventoux 3 Times in One Day
September 11, 2009
I just found this photo as the Wallpaper on Troy's iPhone.
We took thousands of photos from our HUGE adventure.

Troy, Alan, and I had a magnificent week climbing so many of the Colorado Mountain Passes that we dreamt of in October of 2008.

Alan Ptak found the great Colorado photos above and posted some more with Movies HERE.

In 2009, we then had the trip of lifetime riding with Andy Hampsten in the Dolomites of Italy following by the famous Alps from the Tour de France ... all topped off with 3 Ascents of Mont Ventoux.

Troy rode each of those days like he had wings on his back!!  He just went flying up the toughest climbs in Europe featured on the Giro d'Italia (the Tour of Italy) and the Tour de France.

Troy and I in our Ventoux Finisher Jerseys
Long Beach Fixed Gear Century to the Queen Mary
January 9, 2010
Troy's Fixed Gear bike "Giuseppe" Olmo in background

"You and you alone must decide whether the goal you are seeking is worth the price you must pay for it in effort."
Troy and I were sitting in an Ice Cream store in Panguitch, Utah after a long day on the bikes on the Tour of Southern Utah.  A boy came in with a T-Shirt on and this quote on the back.  Troy and I looked at each other and both agreed that this was one of our favorite all time quotes ever.  Troy loved that moment and loved that quote so much that he added it to his Facebook page .  Troy loved a challenge and loved working on BIG goals both on and off the bike.  He was a hard worker and was always there to do the heavy lifting no matter what the job.
We trained really hard in July and August of 2009 to prepare for Italy and France
Sometimes we had to start at 4:00am to try to beat the heat on the climb to Onyx Summit

Whenever I rode with Troy, he always made me ride better and have more fun.  He would pace me for miles and miles just above what I thought I could ever do.  He was just an amazing person ... both on and off the bike.

I have a boatload of memories with Troy which will somehow have to be enough for the rest of my life.

He was one in a million and I will miss him so much on our bikes, in our family like he was my Brother, and as one of my very best friends.

But I have faith that I will see Troy again in a much better place than even the heavenly roads in Alleghe, Italy.

With a very heavy heart,


“I was glued to my TV when it looked like he looked at me and said
"Best start putting first things first."
Cause when your hourglass runs out of sand
You can't flip it over and start again
Take every breathe God gives you for what it's worth
Don't Blink … Life Goes Faster Than You Think”
“Don’t Blink” by Kenny Chesney

The lyrics to this song now have new meaning to us all.

Any day one of us can be called home.

Shelf Sitter Cyclists from Troy and Lorna to Darryl MacKenzie
Referenced in Darryl's beautiful comment below

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Tom Milton ... You Will Be Missed

"yep, I was there."
Tom Milton, 2009 Terrible Two
Self Portrait

"Nothing perfect lasts forever.
         Except in our memories."
                  From the poster to the movie: "A River Runs Through It"

This is a place where people who loved Tom Milton may feel free to write a memory they have of him, a story, or to say goodbye to a good friend. Please share your thoughts by clicking on the "Comments" at the bottom of the tribute below. You need not be a cyclist to share a memory here.

Sadly, Tom Milton passed away while riding the Devil Mountain Double on April 24, 2010.  Tom was inducted into the California Triple Crown Hall of Fame in 2009 in recognition of him completing 50 Double Centuries in the California Triple Crown Series.  Tom loved these hard rides and he tackled the most challenging of them all as shown in his California Triple Crown History Report HERE

Tom was a gifted inventor and was the owner of Selle An-Atomica.

Debra Banks, a good friend of Tom, wrote me:

It is with deep sadness that we are passing along this news. Tom Milton (Selle An-Atomica) collapsed and died of a heart attack while riding the Devil Mountain Double this past Saturday, about 3 miles from the summit of Mt. Hamilton. Lee Mitchell was on the scene, as were a number of cyclists who were the first responders. Earlier in the day, those who rode with him said he was happy, smiling, enjoying the weather, the fine company and fine day. The community was right there with him during his time of need. His girlfriend went to San Ramon Saturday evening to piece together information and collect Tom's things.

For those who knew Tom, we hope you'll remember him well. His passion for life, cycling and the betterment of both was his primary goal. He was a lover of the finer things in life and would go on about how we should all fully enjoy a fine wine, good tequila, a beautiful day, friends and worthy conversation. Whenever someone was hurt or in need, he could be counted on to assist in any manner he could. He could positively cajole a peer into riding farther or faster with his wit and support, while his smile and good humor warmed many in the middle of a long dark road. We were privileged to have known him and to have shared many of our Triple Crown roads with him.

You can send a card to the family at:
PO Box 2424
Fairfield, CA  94533

Keep riding your bikes, enjoying life and raise a glass of your finest beverage to Tom. He will be missed."

Barbara Anderson wrote on the Davis Bike Club e-mail list:
I have just learned that Tom Milton died yesterday, apparently of heart-related causes, while riding the Devil Mountain Double. Tom rode many of the DBC's ultra-distance events, including numerous DCs and brevet series. Another rider on the Devil Mtn Double who rode some distance with Tom yesterday wrote an account of the day on his blog. Here's the link:

I didn't know Tom well at all; all of our interaction took place over the years at the DC's pre-ride registration. I know he was an experienced rider and will be missed by the cycling community. If anyone hears of pending services, perhaps the information could be shared on this list. My sympathies to Tom's family and friends.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Bruce Taylor's Shenandoah 1200km Ride Report from June 5-8, 2008

The Shenandoah 1200km
The Shenandoah 1200km was held on June 5th-8th, and the Southern California Randonneuring community was well represented on the Shenandoah 1200km by Tim Sullivan, David Nakai and I, Bruce Taylor, all finished this ride, which has been reported the most difficult of all 1200km, Grand Randonnee. A 1200km Grand Randonnee is a 745 mile route which must be completed in 90 hours. On the Shenandoah we climbed a total of around 50,000 feet, to make things even more challenging; the Mid-Atlantic States were having a heat wave during this time. On my gauge, the temps peaked at 108 degrees; add to that high humidity with no wind, and it was a real cooker. I will never complain again about heat in Southern Calif., where we generally always have a cooling breeze and the humidity is always low. The heat and difficulty of the ride caused a large number of riders to DNF. We had 61 registered riders with 57 starters and 30 finishers; if you include the DNS with DNF together, then the DNF rate is over 50%.

In spite of all of this, the terrain that we covered was some of the prettiest country I have ever seen. I would venture to say that the beauty of the course, coupled with the historic sights, made this one of the most awesome ride I have ever done. The ride was also extremely well staffed. At the controls you had volunteers literally falling over each other to ensure that you got everything you needed. The route was well planned, with the majority of the climbing, also the most difficult, being on Day 1 and 2, which took you on scenic byways over the Catoctin Mts. and the foothills of the Allegany Mts. and finally taking you to the Blue Ridge parkway. Days 3 and 4 of the ride were mellower, traveling down the Shenandoah Valley and giving you time to recover from the hard climbs of the first two days. I finished the ride feeling great about the whole experience.

This was the inaugural event of the Shenandoah 1200km which, unless you were familiar with the area, meant that you were blindly going into the event, truly not knowing what to expect. I went into the event confident in my climbing ability and wondered, “How hard could it be to ride some roller up a valley?” This led me to make a big mistake in gear selection. Since the bike I was going to ride had a triple, I didn’t bother changing the cassette which had a 23 as it biggest gear. I would have loved having at least a 27. I knew I was in for a difficult ride when David showed up at the start with an extremely light bike with a very small seat bag. David generally does these events in a full touring bike with 4 panniers filled with everything imaginable. When I found that I could lift his bike with two fingers I knew I that I had greatly underestimated the terrain over which we would be riding.

3 weeks prior to the ride, I was involved in an accident with a truck which struck me in the back with his mirror. The impact was hard enough to break off the mirror and sent me flying into the side of the road. So I spent the 3 weeks prior to the event trying to keep my fitness up and recover from the accident which left me with severe endurance issues, since my body was trying to repair itself. By the time of the event the pain was almost completely gone, but I was not confident that my endurance would hold up. These facts made me enter the event with a very conservative approach, especially since I was entering the event with a slightly heavy bike which was under-geared for the upcoming hills. I knew that David, who has finished 6 1200km events and Tim, who has finished 10 1200km events, were doing the ride, and if I needed advice I could count on these fine Randonneurs to help me get through it.

Day 1
Leesburg to Gettysburg
We started the ride at 4:00AM. The day before, Leesburg had experienced a thunderstorm which had left a lot of debris and downed utility lines on the road. I rode with the leading pack of around 20 riders which rode at a fast but not hard pace, and we made good progress through Northern Virginia. Soon we were crossing the Potomac River and were in Maryland. Once we hit the Catoctin Mts., I dropped back from the group and maintained a steady climb up Spruce Run. Once over the Catoctin Mts., I joined up with two other riders and made good time to the Gettysburg control. Most of the lead group was here. I was glad to see that Tim was still here which gave me sense of security.

Gettysburg to Sharpsburg
I immediately started out and rode through the Gettysburg Park. I have never seen so many monuments. They were quite impressive; if I had not been doing an event I would have spent the entire day studying the battlefield itself. I was soon riding onto Antietam, which took us over many rollers, some of which were very steep but none of them very long. It was during this stretch that a small group caught me which included Tim. I stayed with this group for the remainder of the day. We passed several road crews who were cleaning up the debris from the previous storm. The wind must have been very severe through here, since large limbs and entire trees had blown over. At one point I saw an oak tree which had been blown over onto a farm house. Just before the next control we rode through the Antietam National Battlefield. It again was very moving and had many large monuments to the bloodiest one day of the civil war. Just as I was leaving this control David rode up. He told me about one rider who had broken a spoke at mile 20 and DNF the ride. David also, told me that he felt worn out by all the hills we have been going over. Just confirming to me that he was concerned about this ride and I needed to continue to be conservative and conserve my leg strength for the upcoming hills on the second day.

Sharpsburg to Winchester
Once back over the Potomac River and in Virginia Tim, Steve Atkins and I made good time to Winchester. Enroute we caught back up to Jim Koening, who stayed with us until Harrisonburg. Soon we caught another group of riders and our group was around 6 riders. During this afternoon the heat came on and you could feel your entire body covered with layers of sweat. The group split as Tim, Jim and I made one extra stop to cool down and buy sunscreen which I had in my drop bags but had none with me. We saw several riders at the Winchester control and everyone was buying cool drinks and ice trying to recover from the heat.

Winchester to Harrisonburg
This leg of the journey took us up on a ridge along Back Rd., which had numerous rollers some of which were steep but short. We had an excellent view of the Shenandoah Valley from up on this ridge most of the afternoon. After we crossed Union Bridge we came to a small hamlet where we stopped for refreshments. Soon we were riding down the ridge into the valley where we got our first glimpse, as we rode across it, of the Shenandoah River. We made excellent time as Tim and I raced to Harrisonburg. At Harrisonburg I remarked to Tim how difficult this first Day had been. It reminded me a lot of the Bass Lake double that we do back in California, being very scenic but hilly. Tim made the most prophetic statements of the ride when he said that this was just a teaser for tomorrow. Tim’s drop bag was at Deerfield, so he pushed on. My bag was here at Harrisonburg, so I spent a few hours off the bike taking a shower and having a fine dinner. The organizers had rented dorm room at the Mennonite University which made the experience quite nice. We had two riders to a room with full bathrooms with showers across the hall. I couldn’t fall asleep so at 11:00am after a few hours off the bike, I was back on my bike riding onto Deerfield.

Harrisonburg to Deerfield
I really enjoyed this evening ride. It was cool and I felt great after my shower, dinner and rest. I had no leg soreness from all the days climbing, probably because I never attacked any climbs; I took them all easy. Soon I found myself in Deerfield. The control was at a volunteer fire station. Tim was still there and was not scheduled to be waking up for another hour. So I lay down again and attempted to get some sleep. Once again, I couldn’t. As soon as Tim was up, we had a great breakfast. Again the volunteers out did them selves. The cook was willing to cook up anything you wanted. So after a hearty breakfast around 5:00AM, Tim and I were on the road.

Day 2
Deerfield to Clifton Forge
As we left Clifton Forge we caught up to Judith Longley and Martin Laudie. We would stay with these riders all the way to Hillsville. We had a great ride down to Clinton Forge which was through the beautifully forested Doughat State Park. This was one of the most spectacular sections of the ride. It was mostly downhill and most of the time you were under the forest canopy. There were some serious climbs ahead of us, so at Clifton Forge we stopped to have another breakfast. We were riding in the front group, being around 5th on the road.

Clifton Forge to Christiansburg
After we left Clinton Forge, we found ourselves on some serious climbs. This was going to be the toughest leg with over 7500 feet of climbing in 79 miles. Rich Patch, Upper Rich Patch, and Jameson Mountain Road were extreme trials relieved only by overhead shade. On Jameson Mountain Rd, I had to stand and transverse back and forth up this long steep climb. It was as steep as anything you would find on the Terrible Two. I thought that if I was ever to have a heart attack on a ride, now would be the time. Finally I made it to the top where I found Tim and Martin waiting for me. After a little rest, we were flying down the mountain and into a valley on the way to Christiansburg. The heat was now unbearably hot. We stopped at a store for some refreshments and I found myself walking around the store in a daze trying to find water. We had to consume our snacks out doors in the heat. This was the worse that I felt during the entire ride. I mentioned to Tim how I felt and asked him what I should do and his reply was to ride and he was absolutely right. Once I drank several quarts of water, I felt much better being back on the bike riding. I rode into Christiansburg a cooked and tired rider. I was surprised that no one had passed us during the afternoon since we were riding slowly in the heat of the day, but I guess everyone was having difficulty on this leg of the ride. After a short rest Tim, Judith and Martin took off to do the next hard leg of the ride up to Hillsville and Fancy Gap on the Blue Ridge. I elected to stay longer to help recover from the day’s ordeal. Tim didn’t say anything but he looked disappointed as he took off. I think he was thinking that I might DNF. This surely would be the place to DNF, and later several riders did that and this place became the Village of the Damned, as one rider would call it. After resting for 30 min. in the well air conditioned room, I got up, ate dinner, and was soon joined by riders coming in. They were all positive and eager to push on. Matt assured us that although there was a lot of climbing up to Hillsville, none of it was difficult. With body cooled down, refreshed, and with a renewed positive motivation, I was back on my bike riding up to Hillsville, which was extremely scenic and, as Matt had promised, not difficult. The climbing was, however, endless, and I kept telling myself that I just needed to keep going and not stop and I would make it. I finally made it to Hillsville where Tim, Judith and Martin were just leaving to go to Fancy Gap 13 miles up on the Blue Ridge. I arrived only 30 minutes later than they had, and they were genuinely happy to see me. I think that they were relieved that I hadn’t quit. It was around midnight that I took off to climb up to the Blue Ridge. I had rested for one hour and then took all the weight off my bike caring only one water bottle I felt great as I flew up the climb with almost no weight on my bike. The views from the Blue Ridge were breathtaking. You could see the lights of North Carolina on one side and the hamlets of the Shenandoah on the other. The stop over at Fancy Gap was neat. Fancy Gap is a camping area on the Blue Ridge. A lot of riders were staying here in cabins. Again I found myself alone with the Volunteers who could not do enough for me. I had a great, made-to-order Hamburger with all the fixings and baked beans. I was having the time of my life eating and chatting with the Volunteers. Soon I was going down the Hill back to Hillsville, and I passed several riders going up to Fancy gap on the way. One of them must have been David but I did not recognize him. I got back to Hillsville around 2:30AM. I asked to be waked up with Tim at 4:00AM and tried to get some sleep. Again, I was unable to fall asleep with the riders coming and going, but I did have a nice shower.

Day 3
Hillsville to Christiansburg
We had a great ride down to Christiansburg. There was some climbing but most of it was downhill and the scenery was as spectacular as ever. I enjoyed looking at the hillside farms, and the views of the Shenandoah were great. The ride now along Indian Valley Rd. was at times fast and furious as you raced downhill along a rushing river. Soon we were back in Christiansburg. Tim had breakfast as I again, lay down, and tried to fall asleep. After a short rest of less than an hour, we were back on our bikes riding onto Buchanan.

Christiansburg to Buchanan
Again we found ourselves in the country riding over rolling hills, but today none of them were very long or steep. We stopped at a local store which had indoor seating at the halfway point to Buchanan. We had a refreshing lunch and met up with a local riding club. I really admire these local riders who ride these hills daily. Tim told them about our event and they were equally amazed at our endeavor. We finally got out of the hills at a small town called Fincastle which had a 20% grade into town. I miss-shifted and walked up this little hill as Tim muscled his bike over it. Fincastle was a fine example of a small Southern town with a large monument to the confederate army in the center of it. We arrived in Buchanan around 2:00PM, stopped at the control for lunch.

Buchanan to Harrisonburg
When we started riding at 3:00PM, we still had several miles of rollers on the Business Route 11. The temperature was over 100 degrees on the road. This road reminded me of Damnation alley on Breathless Agony. I was really feeling sluggish climbing at 5.5 mph on these rollers. If I wasn't having a meltdown I could have easily done these at 12 mph. Tim suggested that we get a Motel room for a few hours and start again at 6:30PM. For the first time since the ride started I fell asleep and sleep solid for 2 hours. Those two hours in air conditioning made all the difference in the world. I was now able to climb at a respectable rate and the temperature had dropped to the mid 80’s. Harrisonburg control was 90 miles from Buchannan, so we planned to stop for food at 30 miles and 60 miles. Shortly after leaving the Motel, we were out of the Rollers. The road now became practically flat and we made excellent time. Since it was now night time and there was not much to look at, and since Tim rides a very consistent speed day and night, I passed the time by falling back behind Tim and then picking up my pace to catch him. We stopped at Arby’s in Stanton which was only 30 miles from Harrisonburg and had a great French dip sandwich and ice cream soda. This last stretch of road was uneventful except for several miles were we saw a very fascinating display of fireflies dancing over the ponds and streams which we passed by. Also in the distance, you could see a lightning display over the Leesburg area, but we were too far away to hear the thunder. As we approached Harrisonburg I could see Tim ahead of me going over a particularly long roller, but I no longer had the energy to chase him down. At the Harrisonburg control I had a great dinner and a nice shower, and at 2:30AM I went to bed for another great sleep till 4:00AM.

Day 4
Harrisonburg to Middletown
At 5:00AM, Tim and AI took off for the last 110 miles. I felt great after a relatively easy day yesterday and a great 1 1/2 hours of sleep, and was truly enjoying the sights. It was 60 miles to Middletown, which was at the end of a gentle climb along a ridge which again had spectacular views of the countryside. I saw several flights of geese fly by as well as a balloonist flying above tree top just north of us. During this section I had a flat which only took a few minutes to fix. As we took off I found that my rear wheel would not turn at all. Tim was out of earshot, so I couldn’t inform him of my difficulties. A couple of Randonneurs came up the road and assisted me in adjusting the wheel, and after another 15 minutes I was on the road again. Tim had ridden back to see what the problem was; a gesture I didn’t expect, but appreciated. Later, I found out that my rear wheel had a crack across the entire rim. I was lucky to have finished the ride on this wheel. Soon after this, we were joined on the ride by Tim Carroll, who rode the rest of ride with us. At Middletown we stopped and had an early lunch and a great conversation about past Randonneuring events before we continued on our last 50-mile leg.

Middletown to Leesville
As we started our last leg I told both Tims that if I dropped off to not worry about me since I was going to take my time on the last leg, and would be making several stops to enjoy the scenery. So I rode the last 50 miles alone just taking in all the sights and sounds of this great countryside. I wanted to savor every moment and not occupy myself with trying to match the pace of other riders. There were also two more climbs to get over before we were on the downhill run into Leesburg. The next 30 miles to Snickersville Gap was awesome. The day was warming up, but I was in the shade of the forest canopy for most of it. I stopped when I reached a low-water, one-lane concrete bridge. The sight was remarkable. You ride across the Shenandoah just above water line for a great view of this mighty enchanting river. There were several locals swimming in the river and I wanted so much to jump in and join them. After this I rode alongside the river for several miles in shaded forest. At one point I came upon this turtle trying to cross the road. I stopped and picked him up and place him back on the grass by the side of the road. I didn’t want him to become road kill. I guess I should have walked him across the road because later David told me he came across the same turtle determined as ever to get across the road. I was almost out of the pass when I was thinking that these last two climbs were highly overrated in difficulty. In fact, so far these last climbs had been some of the most enjoyable cycling I have ever done. That was until the route turned onto Route 7: a 3-mile climb up to Snickersville Gap (Manassas Gap) in full sun. This was at the extreme heat of day and I was slowly being roasted as I climbed up this road. After 2 miles I found some shade with a slight breeze which I found to be refreshing. I found that after I resumed my riding the top was only ½ mile more. Soon I was flying down the last major Hill of the ride and turned onto Snickersville Gap Rd. and into the town of Snickersville where I stopped for some water and an ice cream float. I was enjoying this refreshment when a volunteer drove up and offered me more food and an ice sock. I put on the ice sock and found that the perceived temperature dropped by 10 degrees. I wish I would have remembered this technique on the first day. The rest of the afternoon was uneventful as I rode back to Leesburg to increasing traffic and noise but the scenery was still better than anything I would find in Southern California.

I finished the ride 83 hours after I started. I finished feeling great, and enjoyed the whole experience immensely. I felt better and more rested than I did after PBP. I attribute this to how well the route was planned, with the last two days being so much mellower than the first two days, and to the excellent pace that Tim set: a steady, moderate speed, with well planned rest stops. Even though I didn’t get a lot of sleep, the periodic planned stops made up for it and added to the whole experience. I felt fortunate to have been able to ride with such an experienced Randonneur as Tim. Truly a master of this art.

Closing thoughts
The Shenandoah is truly a remarkable event. The roads except for the wind debris were all excellent. The scenery was scenic and at times breathtaking. The support was fantastic. There were at times large distances between controls, but there were well spaced services to meet our needs. I would recommend this ride to anyone who is conditioned for it: just remember to bring your climbing gears, and, if needed, your ice socks. And don’t forget your camera, for you will be riding in paradise. John Denver, in one of his songs, calls the Blue Ridge and Shenandoah Valley a touch of Heaven. I must say that I was surely touched by the beauty and enchantment of this area. I just never thought Heaven would be so hot.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Bruce Taylor ... You Will Be Missed

This is a place where people who loved Bruce Taylor may feel free to write a memory they have of him, a story, or to say goodbye to a good friend.  Please share your thoughts by clicking on the "Comments" at the bottom of the tribute below.  You need not be a cyclist to share a memory here.

The California Triple Crown family lost a really good friend with the passing of Bruce Taylor on Saturday, February 6, 2010.
The above photo of Bruce and Lynn Katano was taken in May of 2009 on the Glendora Ridge Road by Ron Hanson.  Bruce was proudly wearing his extremely hard earned Shenandoah 1200K Jersey after completing that 750 Mile Non-Stop ride the summer before.  Bruce wrote up a great ride report of his Shenandoah 1200K adventure HERE.

Steve Meichtry rode many miles with Bruce on California Triple Crown Double Centuries and Brevets.  He assembled his favorite ones of Bruce as a memorial to this great ultra cycling guy HERE

Steve Meichtry, Bruce Taylor, and Chris Hanson - Three Amigos

Bruce always had the biggest smile!!  :)

One of my first memories of riding with Bruce was on the Lake Mathews Century of January 3, 2004 here:
Chuck Bramwell, Steve Pohle, Mike Burns, Bruce Taylor,
and Chuck Phillips

It was the first of many hard rides that Bruce and I shared together.  He was always a good buddy to ride with.  He knew the importance of training hard in preparation for the harder events which we both went on to accomplish successfully.

Bruce went on to complete 32 California Triple Crown Double Centuries including many of the most difficult ones in California as shown HERE  He was a Gold Thousand Mile Club Finisher in 2008 by completing 5 Double Centuries and volunteering at one of them that year!!

In May of 2007, Bruce rode the Breathless Agony Century and I was able to capture these fun photos of him hard at work that cold day.

Bruce at Rest Stop 1 in Beamont

Bruce climbing the brutally steep Oak Glen Climb

Bruce arrives at Onyx Summit at 8,443 Feet

George Vargas and Bruce rode many miles together
 on the San Diego Brevets

Bruce rode magnificently that day completing the course in 6:17.
He trained really hard that year.
All of his hard work paid off that day.

Just 3 months after those photos were taken, Bruce traveled to Paris and completed the most challenging 750 Mile Non-Stop Paris-Brest-Paris!!

Bruce, Mike Miller, Suzy Degazon, and Jana Lingo
 before a 200K Brevet

Mike Tsoi, Bruce Taylor, Chuck Bramwell, Jon Shellenbarger,
Doug Patterson and Jerry Brown
on the Long Beach Fixed Gear Century of January 17, 2009

Bruce's wife, Jeanne, wrote: "Hello, first I would like to thank all of you for the outpouring of well wishes and concerns for our family. It means a lot to know that Bruce has so many friends out there in the cycling world. I have received so many emails and will try to respond to as many as I can at a later date. Here is the information on the memorial service.

Friday February 12, 2010
Calvary Chapel Rancho Cucamonga
10700 Towne Center Drive
Rancho Cucamonga CA 91730

In lieu of flowers, a donation can be made in Bruce’s memory at Please pass along to anyone I may have missed."

His obituary on the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin is HERE.

Deb and Brian Bowling of Planet Ultra wrote:
"As some of you may have heard, our cycling community has lost a great friend, Bruce Taylor. Bruce passed away Sunday from injuries he sustained in a cycling crash.

Bruce joined the ultra cycling community in 2002 – and committed himself whole-heartedly from the start! That first year, he completed the California Triple Crown with Grand Tour, Knoxville and Death Valley Fall. He wore that CTC jersey proudly. After he won it, he just kept on pedaling; always with a beautiful and contagious smile on his face.

Between 2002 and 2009, Bruce completed 32 doubles, and was a California Triple Crown winner 6 times! He was a Planet Ultra Grand Slam finisher in 2007. During these 8 years, Bruce also rode 33 RUSA sanctioned brevets, including 10 in 2007 on his way to completing one of the most prestigious long-distance amateur cycling events in the world, Paris-Brest-Paris. A very impressive ultra cycling resume, indeed.

Bruce was a passionate cyclist who shared his love of the sport with so many of us along the way. We enjoyed sharing the road with him – and he will be missed.

Bruce’s wife, Jeanne, and all of his family and close friends are in our thoughts and prayers. We wish them strength and love in these painful, sad times. We hope they find comfort knowing that Bruce had so many friends in the cycling community.

A memorial service will be held for Bruce on Friday, February 12, 2010, at 10:00am at the Calvary Chapel in Rancho Cucamonga located at 10700 Towne Center Drive. In lieu of flowers, Bruce’s wife Jeanne has asked that donations be made in Bruce's memory to the Lance Armstrong Foundation at

Rest in Peace, Bruce.

With love,
Deb & Brian"

A beautiful photo tribute at Bruce's Memorial Service

Bruce's ride numbers and California Triple Crown Plaques

Bruce's Paris-Brest-Paris Jersey

Bruce's California Triple Crown Mug

I was looking through my e-mails today from Bruce … he was always so helpful, thankful, and just plain nice … both on the bike and off.

From now on, the “East Fork Century” will be known as “Bruce Taylor’s East Fork Century”. All of those who have ridden it will always remember Bruce’s great work on creating a beautiful route taking us on many roads that we seldom had seen before.

On November 24, 2007, we rode the Mount Baldy Century.  Bruce always loved climbing up to Mount Baldy even in hurricane force winds which we ran into that day.  Bruce is wearing his Blue Planet Ultra Grand Slam vest here as we headed up the climb that day.  I'm so sure he had his big smile going ear to ear.  :) 

And that's how I'll long remember my buddy Bruce Taylor.  Going full speed ahead right up a major mountain climb with a big smile on his face.

I’ll miss you Bruce.  I'll miss your help.  I'll miss your big smile going ear to ear. 

Your buddy,