Category Archives: Training Rides

7 Things I Learned About My Gear on Training Ride 3 (Ventura to Gaviota)

On these training rides we’re getting a lot of good experience using our stuff, figuring out what we need (and what we don’t), and how we need to modify what we have packed. Here’s what we learned this trip:

1. Wide leg pants = mud magnets = gross sleeping bags and gross to pack

The legs on the pants that I packed to be my camp pants are too wide. The pants are lightweight, packable, and super comfortable, but the pants have really loose, long legs – which means lots of loose, dragging material to get muddy and gross walking around a campsite. Since muddy and wet pants are gross to crawl around a tent/sleeping bag in, and gross to pack, and gross to re-wear, I am going to trade these pants in for some shorts/capris, I think.

2. 30-degree sleeping bags are (still!) too hot for summer camping

What the fridge! They weren’t horrible (like our 15-degree bags were) but ended up shedding off all of my baselayers during the night and was still pretty hot – even with 30mph wind and rain! I am hesitant to get a  40 or 50-degree bag (because I don’t want to be too cold), but, since we’re going to be largely touring during the summer months I am wondering if getting a 45-degree bag that only weighs 1lb + a liner would be the best option. Then we can just wear baselayers in the bags, and the liner will help us keep the bags clean.

3. Late night pee breaks = dirty feet. Is a bag liner the solution?

Getting up to use the bathroom at night means you’re going to have dirty feet when you get back in the tent, which means your dirty feet are going to get the inside of your bag dirty, which is going to be way more gross tomorrow night. That said – I am thinking I seriously want a bag liner. Dustin is concerned he might get tangled up in one. I am going to lead the way and try one. (Maybe silk. Oh the luxury!)

4. We were hungry. I think we need to make a better effort to work food and water storage stops into our ride schedule

I think it is going to be a challenge to time amenity stops right, and to balance what we’re spending, and also the weight we can carry.

5. Apparently you only need one shammy towel and 4 quarters to adequately shower yourself.

Dustin and I are getting really good at speed showering, and even better at cold water dancing. We thought we’d bring two big towels, but we’ve been sharing on big shammy towel and it seems to be working out just fine. We squeegee ourselves off so that we’re not soaking wet and then we strap the towel on top of the tent (to the back of the bike) when we take off so that it will dry in the breeze. (To limit road grossness we take it off in about an hour when it’s dry.) I am considering still getting another towel and using that second towel as my pillow (I have been using clothes inside of a big hat up to this point and that seems to be working out ok for me.)

6. Apparently my Thermarest Scout sleeping mat has a hole in it?

After a ton of mat searching Dustin and I have finally committed to sticking with the Thermarest Scout mats we already own. That said – while Dustin’s mat feels like an awesome 25-inch wide foam dream cot, my mat seems to be deflating itself in the middle of the night. Even partially deflated the Scout sleep was better than having no mat, so I slept pretty alright, but we definitely need to find the hole or buy a new one before the big four-month ride. If you’re looking for a camp mat that is low to the ground, wide, not very heavy I recommend the Thermarest Scout. It’s not a very 3li3t3 mat, which – with all the mat choices – might turn you off, but it’s light (1 pound or less) and the air doesn’t shift around in it, it feels like a foam bed, and you can just forget about it. (All good in my book.)

7. If it sounds like a chinook helicopter taking off then it must be dinner time!

Our camp stove is really, really loud. We knew it was going to be loud from the reviews we read online before we decided on this one, but we had no idea just how loud it actually is. That being said, the MSR DragonFly Backpacking Stove is AWESOME! It heated our food in no time. Dustin especially likes it’s ability to adjust the flame, as well as a separate fuel line adjustment, and it’s incredibly stable base for cookware. It’s also pretty easy to set up and operate, and folds up for compact storage.


So happy we’re testing our gear!

So happy that we’re taking these training rides to feel out what we need, what we don’t need, and how everything works. Over the next few months I’ll also be posting more in-depth write ups about the gear that I have (that I love!), how/why we chose our gear, and what our final packing list looks like.

Meanwhile, if you’d like to read the entire recap of training ride three, you can find it here: Riding from Ventura to Gaviota State Park: Training Ride #3.

Riding from Ventura to Gaviota State Park: Training Ride #3

Ride Details:

Day One: Ventura to Carp (21 miles) – Camp at Carpinteria State Beach
Day Two: Carpinteria to Gaviota State Park (43.5 miles) – Camp at Gaviota State Park
Day Three: Home from Gaviota State Park to Ventura (64.1 miles)

Total mileage: apx. 128.6 miles

This training ride from Ventura to Gaviota State Park was our first multi-day camping ride, and our first time riding over 100 miles fully loaded with both front and rear panniers. The weather was beautiful! I’m sure one of these days we’re going to have to try out our rain riding gear, but this wasn’t one of those days…. While it did rain for a few hours Saturday night, we never saw any clouds while riding.

6 Trip Highlights

1. We got to try out a 100+ mile ride with front panniers loaded!

This was a total adventure all unto itself. Dustin thought he read that we were supposed to carry 60% of our weight in the front and 40% in the back so we took off heavily front-loaded. Immediately this felt crazy. Steering wasn’t an issue but the bike was super heavy and everything felt like a lot more work. We thought maybe it was just because we ate one too many tubes of Pringles pre-ride and pushed on until we ran into our first bike-side roadmate who, riding along side us in the bike lane, told us that you’re supposed to load your bags 40/60 with most of the weight in your back bags, not the front. Hm.Heeding his advice we stopped at a gas station in Carpinteria and shuffled some stuff from our front bags to our back bags quickly. IMG_3554

Honestly, it didn’t seem like this made all the world of difference, but soon I totally forgot about the weight all together – which means it probably did make a difference. The bottom line: We’re riding with back and front panniers now and all is good. We even made it up the Bates hill climb without issue. The bags aren’t fully loaded (we both have lots of room in all four bags, actually), but this is good since a) we don’t want to be carrying a ton of junk and b) we’ll need the extra room to carry food and water we collect along the way.

2. We rode up and down a lot of hills (and we didn’t die!)

The ride from Ventura to Carpinteria is flat and well-known to us, but the ride from Carpinteria to Gaviota is largely up and down the whole way. No epic 1,000-foot mountains, but lots of steady ups and downs that require shifting.With all this hill climbing we discovered that, despite a ravish love for $5 pizzas, Dustin is actually awesome at climbing! And by awesome, I mean way faster than me. I am a slow and steady wins the race kind of climber, and he is a “let’s get this over with so I can have more pizza immediately” climber. We’re finding a nice balance. He treks ahead and makes sure there are no rattle snakes in the road, and I dilly dally and look at the ocean and dead Cyotes and single lost shoes and the millions of Trucker pee bottles and Bud Chelada cans that are littered on the side of the 101 (Why??).At the top of the hill he coasts and waits for me and then I smoke the craaaaaap out of him on the way down because, apparently, when you weight 20 pounds less you fly down hills way faster. We thought it would be the opposite (more weight = a faster descent) but from our on-road experience it seems that less weight = a faster descent. (Note: this is not based on science. It is only based on the fact that I, at 133, fly past Dustin hardcore without peddling on downhill descents and Dustin, at 153, lags way behind dragging $5 pizzas like wedding tin cans behind his bike.)

Shoe of the day

Shoe of the Day! Why are there so many lost shoes on the side of the Hwy?? Not a pair of shoes mind you, but always only one shoe.


Chelsea setting up camp in Carpenteria State Beach.

Alapacas (or llamas) along the Goleta Coastline

Alapacas (or llamas) along the Goleta Coastline

3. Google Maps made us run our bikes across the 101 South freeway AND the 101 North freeway and we didn’t die!

Since we’ve never ridden our bikes from Ventura to Gaviota before, we were using Google maps directions. The directions were fine until about 4 miles before Gaviota where they told us to exit the 101 North (we’re we had been riding on the shoulder for about 17 miles), turn left, and then get back on the 101 South for our destination to be on the right. Dustin’s spideysenses told him this didn’t seem right, but I said – not knowing any better options – that we should just follow the directions. So we followed the directions, which took us…………… to some hobo railroad tracks. And… nowhere. Ok, not nowhere. It took us in the wrong direction going away from our final destination with no insight into what the right direction might be. It took us there.So, after some mild bike kicking, hissyfit throwing, and major middle fingers thrown at MapQuest (if you hate GoogleMaps try MapQuest on a mobile device!! I would have had a better chance getting accurate directions from a smoke signal than that mapping service) we decided to get back on the 101 North and head a few miles further past the point where the faulty directions told us to exit the first time. To do this, we needed to ride a few more miles in the wrong direction on the 101 South (like… 8 miles) or run across the freeway twice. Traffic was pretty calm so we ran across one half at a time and then casually acted like nothing happened.After getting back on the 101 North we rode for about 5 miles until we entered Gaviota (yay!) and then saw Gaviota State Park on our left side (yay!) To get into the park we – again – crossed the 101 to get into a turn lane, and then crossed the 101 South to get into the park (sheesh).

4. Our Gaviota camp hosts were awesome people from Washington. We’re going to meet up with them again when we’re in WA this summer.

Upon entering Gaviota State Park we met Jim, the camp host, and Gail, his wife (also technically a camp host). They ride a tandem around the Gaviota/Refugio area and have land where they live up in Washington (they just come down to Gaviota for three months every year to escape the gloomiest part of the WA winter, and to save/make some extra money). They suggested that we drive up to Gaviota for our next ride and then climb climb climb from Gaviota to Buellton, or from Gaviota to Lompoc. (Apparently both options are steep and mettle-tapping.) They also suggested that we come visit them in WA so that they can show us some of the homes people are building on land out in the middle of nowhere up there (re: Exactly what we’re looking for). We exchanged email addresses and I can’t wait to get the Jim and Gail grand WA tour!!Fun sidenote: They are taking the northern tier route from WA to ME (via RV) in May. I told them to get the route all warmed up for us.

Gaviota train bridge

Gaviota train bridge

Gaviota State Beach

Gaviota State Beach

Some very happy (and very tired) campers in Gaviota

Some very happy (and very tired) campers in Gaviota

Making dinner on our new camp stove

Making dinner on our new camp stove

5. Some things we learned about our gear

On these training rides we’re getting a lot of good experience using our stuff, figuring out what we need (and what we don’t), and how we need to modify what we have packed. Since this post is already pretty long, I’ve separated the things we learned about gear packing and selection list into a separate post. If you’re interested, read 7 Things I Learned About My on Training Ride 3.

6. The Gaviota Farmers Market + Kahuna Burger is the Shiznit.

On the way home we stopped in a shopping complex in Gaviota to look for a Blenders In The Grass (an idea that got planted in our heads after seeing a Blender’s Adopt a Highway road sign…). In that plaza we ended up stumbling upon a giant Gaviota farmer’s market that was awesome! We also stumbled upon a BLENDERS IN THE GRASS!!! Which we promptly salivated about, decided what we wanted, and then vetoed to go next door and have garden burgers and milkshakes at the Kahuna Burger. It was a good idea. It felt like a bad idea after we had to get back on our bikes and ride the remaining 40 miles of our ride home… but I still think it was a good idea. (Best. Lunch. Ever.)   Our next ride will be in two weeks when we tackle Jalama Beach! Comment if you want to join. 🙂


The ride home along the coastal side of the Hwy was even more beautiful than the ride up.

The ride home along the coastal side of the Hwy was even more beautiful than the ride up.

Almost home!

Almost home!


Chelsea having way too much fun at a roadside construction site, just outside of Ventura.

For more pictures of this ride and others visit the Flickr link on the right sidebar of this page.

Practice ride 2.0: Ventura to Leo Carrillo, Down the PCH

Practice ride 2.0. That’s what we’re calling this ride, a 60 mile round trip from Ventura to Leo Carrillo State Beach, with an overnight camp. We picked a beautiful weekend to do this trip! The weather was lovely; sun was out (we got sunburns! Apparently no one told us it turned from winter to summer overnight.); wind was out (we got stuck in a couple pretty gnarly headwinds).

Chelsea, fighting a gnarly head wind coming across the Oxnard plain, but making it look easy.
Don’t forget to drink plenty of fluids! A much needed head wind, er, water break.
California coastline, just south of Point Mugu. (Can you believe it’s still snowing in the Midwest??) (Sorry Michigan!)

We arrived at Leo Carrillo State Beach in a little over three hours of riding, which is a little slow for us, but we battled a big head wind part of the way and stopped in for lunch at the famous Neptune’s Net restaurant.

Dustin, Dan and John at the entrance to Leo Carrillo campground. (And Dustin checking his phone to see if he’s getting the Cycling App “clout” he deserves!)
Chelsea at the entrance to the campground.

Once we arrived at camp we set up our tents, assessed our sunburns (with the cool ocean breeze it was hard to tell how bad the sun was cooking us until it was too late), and took an extremely cold and quick (but free!) shower. After exploring the campground and nearby beach, we ate some dinner and settled our aching bodies down for the night. Morning would come soon and with it the ride back up the coast towards home… and with it just a little more soreness and a lot more tiredness than the journey down.

Camp sweet camp … for the night. Leo Carrillo State park.

Stay tuned! We have another practice ride coming up in a few weeks. This next one will be a a three-day challenge from Ventura to Carpinteria then on up to Gaviota State Park (and then back again, of course, since we don’t plan to move to Santa Barabara at this point).


In the meantime, chat us up in the comments below!

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