Phil’s Fondo was a lot of Phun

CiclaValley’s 2016 fondo season came to a close Sunday and am glad to end on a high note.

After pressing it two weeks ago at the Gran Fondo Santa Clarita, I really wanted to take a step back and enjoy the Santa Monica Mountains at Phil’s Malibu Gran Cookie Fondo

Normally, I spend a half hour the night before getting all my gear together, but I had a much looser attitude going in.


I didn’t pick out my clothes until I woke up which was almost a near mistake down to my last decent clean kit before I had to grab something from my old knockoff pile.

I even wanted to ride one of my gravel bikes, but the faster one has a broken through axle and the heavier touring one would have required taking off both racks and switching in 28s.

That latter almost became a reality because I was having issues with my road bike, but was able to mask over its issues for the time being.


Nice company and temperatures to start.


The ride started out of CSU Channel Islands, which seems young being fourteen years old, but served previously as the Camarillo State Mental Hospital and the rumored inspiration for the Eagles Hotel California.

I got there early enough and even though there was a half-marathon staging in the next lot over, getting in was relatively easy.

Phil was strolling around relaxed and excited that the day had finally come.

The long Double Fudge ride took off while I was standing in line for the restroom, so when I noticed that Phil and the other pros were still hanging around, I was worried that our “short” 87 mile Chocolate Chip route would be a hammerfest.

We had a controlled start to get us onto Portero Road, but even as we hit the climb, the group moved at a moderate pace.



Potrero Road at a moderate pace.


Phil had his Cookie Monster costume head on the whole time and no one dared pass at the front, so it was nice that people weren’t emptying the tank on the climb.

Our next real test was the Westlake climb, which is punchy enough on its own.

I got pinched off the back as the group had narrow opportunities trying to pass the truck serving as the Lantern Rouge from the Double Fudge ride.


Climbing Westlake on the heels of a Lazer Cats kit!


There was no impetuous to catch on because this was about taking it chill.

The first rest stop was at the top and instead of a scene from Keystone Cops where everyone is scrambling to refuel and get out there, everyone was taking a social break just like you would on group rides.

The stop was also well stocked with gels, bars, shots and, oh yes, cookies. Cookies. COOKIES!

I won’t tell you the amount I ate during the ride, but I would say I had a 3-to-1 cookie to gel ratio.


Every pit stop had a relaxed atmosphere with well-stocked goods.


Phil announced we were leaving as we returned to our semi easy pace as we continued up Mulholland.

The amazing thing I found throughout the ride was the number of out of towners making it out.

I’m not talking Hesperia, I mean Georgia, New York, Indiana and Canadians.



Canadian & Cannondale – Drapac pro Mike Woods.


Tons of them! Don’t they know we don’t host the NHL All Star Game until January?

As we continued onto Kanan to make the climb up what locals call “reverse Latigo”, I heard a funny snap switching into my small ring.

I didn’t think much of it until we crested to one of the funnest descents you’ll find anywhere, that my front derailleur cable snapped.


Big Orange at the top of Latigo seeing my big mechanical.


If you remember my blog from Phil’s media ride six months back, this was about the same spot my rear hub went out.

I was going to text Phil to send a Mavic support car if he saw one (it was worth a shot), but then I discovered my phone went out as well.

So this was going well.

I figured I was just as likely to run into someone if I kept moving, so down Latigo I went.


At least Latigo always provides great views even with the fog below.


Nearing the bottom, it was an amazing contrast of conditions as these sunny turns transformed into a cold, strainingly visible mist.

I was able to keep a 20 mph pace once I got onto PCH, but you can normally go 50% faster in the big ring.

Cyclists kept passing me, but I was able to commandeer a Mavic motorcycle that Mike Woods was keeping pace with.

It was Brandon, the same guy who helped me with my last Gaimon calamity.

There wasn’t much he could do loaded with just spare wheels, he called the cars with service course bikes on top, but none were in range.

Since there was a lot of up and down coming, I just figured to ride until one of those cars caught me.

Encinal Canyon was a fun climb with the coastline revealing itself as I elevated, but when I joined two riders near the top, we were yelled at and buzzed intentionally by a van to get off the road (we were already on the shoulder).


Encinal with its great views of the Pacific.


Not mounting my camera ahead off time provided another opportunity where my nonchalance didn’t pay off.

Despite my slow speeds and my prayers for another bike delays, I got to the pit stop at the top of Encinal just to see Phil’s group  rolling out.

I could have caught on, but seeing how I would have fallen off on PCH anyways, why not cookies?


No shortage of these until I’m done with them!


After my normal chocolate chip allotment, I led two out-of-towners down the steep Decker descent save for the “flat” section in the middle where they zipped by my 36T power.

As if my bike hadn’t provided enough fun already, I could feel my back tire getting soft as I hit the most technical part.

This was not a section where I was going to risk seeing how long my tube would hold, so I pulled over to change out my only spare.

Again, I was in no rush and when I re-entered the roadway, but I had to pull over again because I forgot to tighten the clamp on my rear brake.

Sean from superdomestik was shooting pics on the side of the road, so why not stop to chat a bit more?

I made it back down the highway when there was another pit stop just two miles away (put there strategically for the longer Double Fudge riders).

Once again, Phil was there and everyone was chillin’ and lounging around.

I loved this vibe!

I didn’t want to leave, but knowing it would take me longer to get back on my set up, I headed out…until I ran into Brandon at the exit with another soft tire.

He did not attain lucky charm status with me.

After outfitting me a new tire and tube, and once again I was semi-functional and on my way.


Enjoying a little downhill on the Mulholland Climb.


As I started up the longest climb of the day up Mulholland / Yuerba Buena, I ran into Skip from the high rational Insane Bike Posse group I ride with.

There was also John from IBP a little further up fixing a flat, but we continued on knowing he’d catch up.

We held a nice conversational pace because we were in good conversation enjoying the natural beauty that all the hills and crags present.


John catching on near the top of Yerba Buena.


At the top, we pulled over for our final pit stop when finally that golden Mavic car made an appearance!

I instantly requested a change and while the only bike Mike (thankfully, not Brandon…) had was a size too large, it was a much better option with the last 25 miles needing big ring treatment.


My “new” ride.


Now, I had only gone up Yerba Buena in the opposite direction before and it’s been awhile too, but the ride from this point on was even more gorgeous.

You could tell by the number of hikers’ cars parked that you were experiencing a landscape all its own.


This was the “least” blurry photo I got near Sandstone Peak..


On the downside, the road is in bad condition which was heavily accentuated being stretched out on a longer frame.

The three of us pacelined the final sixteen miles enjoying more of a tailwind the closer we got to the finish.


Ahhh…..paceline. Take me home!


We were eager to hit the postride meal which had some of the better offerings I had at a cycling event (short rib sandwich = two thumbs high up) and more than ample adult beverages if you so chose to partake (I partook).

Phil was roaming around, talking to everyone and was the real master of ceremonies for fun.

I know he really wanted this to be a top notch event and it’s one thing saying he easily hit that standard coming from me, but everyone surrounding had an elevated attitude because this was such a rewarding experience.


Phil and my dreadlock inspired helmet hair.


The ride will be back next year, as I imagine many more cyclists after catching word what a fun all-around event this was.

I’ll be back for sure as well, but even if my bike decides to questionably participate for another time, I’m sure I’ll have a fun time doing Phil’s Fondo again.