Rigorously lab tested and OWC certified.

Sprinter Van: Bed and Breakfast (and lunch and dinner) and Just Pull Out the Bike and Go and Sleeping in Comfort Just Like Home

It rock, and rocks over rocks too.

I’m loving my Sprinter van, which I’ve had for 6 months now. I can change for cycling, pump the tires, then go for a nice ride.

In the morning when it’s cold, I turn on both Xantrex Freedom XC 2000W inverters and pop on two 1500W space heaters powered by my 10 kilowatt battery system and wow is that a nice luxury. The electric power is for work (computing/photography), but the vast bulk of the power goes for electric heat, something I had not anticipated, but now greatly enjoy.

Many other amenities accrue, such as a nice Pinot Grigio from one of the two Yeti Tundra 210 coolers that form the bed platform.

f8 @ 1/20 sec, ISO 50; 2018-03-15 06:22:51
Sony A7R III + Voigtlander NOKTON 40mm F1.2 Aspherical

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Hamstring Tendon Injury: How to Treat When a Season of 8 More Double Centuries Looms?

At about mile 120 of the Joshua Tree Double Century, I began to have shooting pains up my left hamstring. While this slowed my pace, I was able to compensate by use the gluteus muscles more and giving up some power in the left leg.

At first I thought it was a small muscle tear, but it turns out to be something with the sheath around the tendon itself, which feels sandy or crunchy. I rode two days after J0shua Tree for 20 miles, and it re-irritated it. So I am not riding at all this week, hoping it heals up enough to do well at the Solvang Spring Double Century on March 17.

I have no idea how to treat this (any specialist doctors out there?), but I had a few prednisone tablets from treating persistent airway impairment from a virus and then allergies, and these seemed to help. Not taking much—don’t want to—but it seems to have taken out a lot of fluid from the area, which was swollen with fluid of a baseball size or so. Apparently prednisone has the same fluid-reducing properties there as for lungs.

Update 15 March: I have not ridden for 3 days, which will give me 4 days for the hamstring tendon to get well. The key factor was 10 mg prednison before bed, which took a great deal of fluid out of the affected area and no pain as of yesterday. Still a slight thickening in affected area, but minimal. I now have two more days and nights for it to recover until Solvang Spring Double Century. I expect it to act up late in the day there, which will rob me of some power as it did in Joshua Tree, but then I have two weeks to baby it and treat it until the Southern Inyo Double Century.

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Counting Up My Double Centuries

I am starting to lose track of how many double centuries I’ve done (well, I have all the training recordings but I keep forgetting exactly.

2011: 1 Everest Challenge (205 miles in 2 days)
2012: 5 = Death Valley Double, Solvang Spring Double, Devil Mountain Double, Alta Alpina, Everest Challenge
2013: 1 = Everest Challenge
2014: 1 = Solvang Spring Double, Everest Challenge (aborted 2nd day, lungs)
2015: 7 = Southern Inyo Double, Joshua Tree Double, Solvang Spring Double, Devil Mountain Double, Central Coast Double, Marin Double, Alta Alpina
2016: 8 = Southern Inyo Double, Joshua Tree Double, Solvang Spring Double, Devil Mountain Double, Central Coast Double, Davis Double, Eastern Sierra Double, Alta Alpina (to mile 165 7 of 8 passes, severe cramping)
2017: 8 = Camino Real Double, Southern Inyo Double, Solvang Spring Double, Devil Mountain Double, Central Coast Double, Davis Double, Eastern Sierra Double
2018: = 2 done, 8 more planned

I’m being slightly liberal here, counting the 2-day Everest Challenge as a double century and also Alta Alpine where I had issues and completed only 7 of 8 passes last year (severe cramps).

Total as of March 2018: 33, or 29 if strictly counted as single-day 192+ mile events.

Expected tally for 2018: 41

Double centuries planned for 2018

Barring injury that is.

I have an ambitious year planned for at least 12 double centuries.

Everything revolves around finishing well in the California Triple Challenge, the 3 doubles highlighted in green, which starts with amping-up fitness early and shedding fat ASAP.

See also my letter to Chuck Bramwell on solo vs de facto teams that game the placement system.

Continues below...

Double Century schedule for 2018

Getting it done

The cycling double century schedule shown below should be a lot easier with the comfort of the Mercedes Sprinter adventure van, not to mention being able to work efficiently before and after with no rush to get home.

My goal this year is to place well in the 2018 California Triple Crown which this year consists of:

These are perhaps 3 of the top 4 hardest double centuries in the state in my view, having done all the hard ones. I rate Alta Alpina 8 Pass Challenge as the hardest due to high elevation and sometimes very high temperatures.

By “placing well” I refer mostly to personal best efforts with no glitches; something close to what I can do on my very best days. I don’t hope to win, only to finish well for my own ability. I do hope to win at least one of the other double centuries this year (I’ve one the Central Coast Double once, and the Eastern Sierra Double once, so that is not unrealistic if training goes well).

This year, the series has all three events within 90 minutes driving of my home, so I have no excuse for not doing it (in past years it was too far to travel).

Why so many doubles so early?

The trick is getting in shape early, which means dropping 15 pounds of body fat by April 29, or just under one pound of body fat per week.

That’s incredibly hard to do, as it means a 500 calorie per day deficit (a pound of body fat is 3500 calories since it includes some water). Since back in 2011 I lost weight at the rate of 1.25 pound per week for 12 weeks. the goal has an existence proof, though 7 years later it will be harder to do. In 2011 (Sept 13) I got down to 7.9% body fat (168 pounds).

As of Jan 1 2018, I have reversed those last two digits: 168 now up to 186 = about 17% body fat.

  • Each double century typically loses me a full pound of body fat. It varies; it can be 3/4 to 1.5 pounds of body fat, depending on difficulty and self discipline in recovery eating properly.
  • There are two back-to-back (1 week apart) pairs of doubles 3/10 and 3/17 plus 4/7 and f/14. This early physical stress sets things up nicely for stronger results later in the year. Then a 2 week recovery prior to DMD on 4/29.

Why body weight is a BFD

The reason I need to drop 15 pound of fat is that Devil Mountain Double even 5 pounds of extra body fat costs half an hour of riding time: if total riding weight (TRW) is 196 pounds (rider 171 , clothes/shoes 3, food and water 5, bike 17) then 15 more pounds is a 7.6% increase in TRW. Devil Mountain Double with its 20000' of climbing means that ascending is about 60% of the riding time. Since it takes about 15 hours, that’s 9 hours. Adding 7% or so to the time, that adds 38 minutes to the riding time—around 14:20 versus 15:00. But it’s worse than that: if it’s hot, more fat means more stress (heat). Higher weight forces lower cadence on climbs, stressing legs and burning them out prematurely plus demanding higher energy expenditure, which means burning off glucose stores faster (higher exertion level for same pace). So I deem the difference more like an hour. And that means daylight finish versus night finish, which saves another 10 minutes (much easier to see/navigate). So that 15 extra pounds really means 70 minutes more riding time.

Losing body fat

Fat comes off most easily at first as the body is less cranky about losing fat. For me that means I should be able to get down to 179 on or ahead of that schedule (I’ve done that before), but 179 to 175 gets harder, and 175 to 171 the body fights back, big time (appetite, more efficient metabolism).

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2018 Double Century #2: Joshua Tree Double Century in Twenty Nine Palms, CA

The park service was up to its usual dirty tricks, threatening the use of force (police) to block any cyclist from going through the park, including those who had annual passes like myself. This is the state of America—unlawful use of force by bureaucrats with dubious legal basis: there is zero impact and absolutely no support within the park—yet actual threats of being turned away (or worse). So most everyone did the big circle loop route around the park.

2018-03-10: Lloyd after finishing 2018 Joshua Tree Double Century

I had an extraordinary day at the Joshua Tree Double Century on March 10m 2018 with only three minor setbacks:

  • Soaked feet /wet socks the rest of the day start around mile 100. It wasn’t the rain so much as my front tire kicking up water onto my shoes, which became squishy with water. The compensation: cool temperatures are ideal for me, since I put out relatively high wattage, so cool temps help shed body heat.
  • Rest stops 4/5/6/7/8 were not there. Even though I was the last one to leave (excepting a 3 man pacelining team), from what I can tell I outrode everyone excepting that 3-man pacelining team. Only by the kindness of a stranger (and at just the right time) did I get water at mile 144 right at the summit of 29 Palms / Hwy 62 and rice Rd. Otherwise, dehydration would have gotten very bad.
  • The worst issue: what feels like a small tear in the left hamstring about 3 inches above the left knee*, to the inside. This had been bugging me for about a week, but starting at mile 120 or so, I began to get shooting pains from that area all the way up my leg. This slowed my down significantly, but I was able to compensate by forcing the gluteus muscles to do more work, which made it only mildly painful.

* Turns out that pain in my left hamstring seems to be more serious than I thought. The large tendon that runs through the big hamstring muscle has a gritty feel to it, as if the sheathing that surrounds it were filled with fine sand. This has me worried—setting aside the Solvang Spring Double one week after the Joshua Tree Double Century, there is the matter the subsequent 6 doubles in 2018. With my strength and endurance waxing to high levels, the idea of having to quit cycling for a week or two weeks or a month to allow this thing to heal is extremely disappointing—basically the end of my season in competitive terms. So I hope it can heal quickly. Walking is no good; motions that lift the leg are worst of all.

It is Monday as I write this, which means only 4 more days for it to feel better before Solvang. So I guess I’ll fatten up and not ride or ride very little and see what happens. If it is not all but gone for Solvang, I’ll have to skip Solvang to allow time for it to heal for the next double on April 7 (nearly 4 weeks). I have no idea how to treat it and no one to ask 400 miles from home. The area is swollen some, from fluid it seems, and so maybe some anti-inflammatory agent might help. But I just don’t know. Today's ride (Monday) felt OK with the left leg; minor pain but nothing problematic. But when done with a very easy 20-mile ride, it seemed to be worse. Well, that was the test—whether I could use it and improve it, or use it and worsen it. Seems to be the latter.

I had no bronchospasms, but I also wore a face mask along the entire Interstate 10 section. At the finish, I noticed that cyclists had absolutely filthy faces—which means they were breathing that nasty stuff in. I will be using an N100 face mask a lot more, definitely any time there is significant dust or heavy traffic (which throws up dust and whatever toxic metals are on the roadway).

Regarding that 3-many pacelining team (beat me by ~29 minutes)—when they caught up to me at mile 100, they passed me, then I passed them, then they started drafting me. I had to wave them off but they did not understand, so I just stopped pedaling and let them go. So I was beaten in an unfair contest by a 3-man team in which each rider gets to rest for 2/3 of the way at greatly reduced effort—massively lower physical stress and effort needed when pacelining. Chuck Bramwell just won’t discuss this “external assist” versus solo effort ridiculousness; see my essay and his responses in How is Drafting in a Paceline Different from an Electric Motor?.


I consumed a total of 500 calories of Hammer HEED, and roughly 700 calories of GU and 120 calories of Osmo, equating to about 20% of the total caloric expenditure, a little low but nearly optimal (20 to 25% is best). The relatively cool temperatures kept dehydration far lower than in hotter years; I drank only 4.5 liters of water. However, that’s because I carbo loaded the two prior days, which stores a great deal of water.

Post ride

Rare in my experience in 36 double centuries, I felt ready to ride more when done. I went out and ate immediately and wanted to eat and it tasted good. Most doubles I feel like I don’t want to eat until tomorrow or feel more like vomiting than anything else. Not so this one, suggesting that my fitness has gone way up, and that I nailed the fueling and hydration.


start: 05:30:37
finish: 15:25:42
elapsed: 09:53:40
riding time: 9:47:11 (time actually on bike)

2018 Joshua Tree Double Century results

Riders {Mark Christopherson, Ludovic Hilde, Patrick Copp} were the 3 man team that “won” with identical times of 09:26. Their times are identical—pacelining for 196 miles is vastly easier than soloing. They should be listed as a team win; it is not a fair contest, and it is grossly misleading in terms of who “won”. It was clear when they passed me and I passed them and then they drafted me, that they were no stronger than me—but each guy gets to rest about 2/3 of the time. That’s no personal win, it’s a team win. While I respect their right and choice to paceline a double, I reject it as any kind of win except a team win.

I think team efforts should be noted as such in the results for all double centuries. But more important (to me), a SOLO designation (honor system) should be noted, which means taking no draft for the entire distance, thus ruling out pacelining or any kind of drafting. To be clear, some haphazard “by luck” drafting is at least a more sporting and honest effort than a pre-planned coordinated team effort. Why not just install an electric motor and call it a win—there is no difference; both are an external assist.

Red line is heart rate (bpm), green line is power (watts).

2018-03-10: graph showing power in watts, heart rate, elevation for 2018 Joshua Tree Double Century
2018-03-10: Lloyd after finishing 2018 Joshua Tree Double Century
f1.8 @ 1/500 sec, ISO 20; 2018-03-10 15:32:24
iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus back dual camera 3.99mm f/1.8 @ 28mm (4mm)

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Loss of Muscle Mass in Older Age Correlates Strongly with Loss of Nerves

Thanks to Robert VB for sending this article along.

This one below resonated with me, because in January 2018, 3 years after suffering significant nerve damage, I finally felt like my legs wire “firing” again—and I’ve put on muscle mass at the same time and can spin smoothly up to 110 rpm as I could back prior to the nerve damages. And I am much stronger than the last 3 years.

Inevitable muscle wasting of old age could be stopped, scientists believe

The inevitable muscle wasting of old age could be stopped, scientists believe, after discovering why people become frail as they grow older.

Most people become weaker in their later years, as their leg muscles get smaller and less able to bear weight, which often leads to disability and falls. But until now, nobody has known why the process happens or if it can be reversed. However, scientists at Manchester Metropolitan University have discovered that by the age of 75, people have between 30 and 50 per cent fewer nerves controlling the muscles in their legs.


The scientists also found that the nerves in healthy muscles can send out new branches to rescue muscles which have become detached, and believe that regular exercise could help this branching process.


“Our findings debunk the assumption that ageing automatically makes us more frail.”

Sounds like the “I’m getting old” excuse should translate as “I’m lazy”.

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Benefit of Cycling: Stronger Immune System

Robert V sent along this interesting article, which dovetail with my sense if it all, which I’ve mentioned for years now—I hardly ever get sick, and when I do I recover very rapidly.

Cycling keeps your immune system young, study finds

Cycling can hold back the effects of ageing and rejuvenate the immune system, a study has found.

Scientists carried out tests on 125 amateur cyclists aged 55 to 79 and compared them with healthy adults from a wide age group who did not exercise regularly. The 'miracle pill': how cycling could save the NHS.

The findings, outlined in two papers in the journal Aging Cell, showed that the cyclists preserved muscle mass and strength with age while maintaining stable levels of body fat and cholesterol. In men, testosterone levels remained high.

More surprisingly, the anti-ageing effects of cycling appeared to extend to the immune system.


“However, importantly, our findings debunk the assumption that ageing automatically makes us more frail. Our research means we now have strong evidence that encouraging people to commit to regular exercise throughout their lives is a viable solution to the problem that we are living longer but not healthier.”


See also Loss of muscle mass in older age correlates strongly with loss of nerves.

What’s the point of living a long time if one’s body is not functioning well, even in old age?

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Poor Customer Service Not Good for Any Business — Double Centuries Included

I cannot see well at close range, particularly at dusk/night. So I like to print the cue sheets (turn by turn instructions) prior to every double century. Problem is, paper ones disintegrate within an hour or two from perspiration, and plastic makes it even harder to see, particularly at the times I most need to see it (dusk/dark and even reflections in sun).

So my approach is to print the cue sheets on map paper, which is waterproof and does not smear or tear, plus I enlarge the type so I can see it more easily; typically I use both sides for a nice enlarged view, half the rout on each side.

The following exchange shows how people reduce their chances of succeeding in any venture by failing to understand (or even try to understand) customer needs, and to at least try to apply Miller’s Law: “to understand what someone is saying, you must try to understand what it might be true of”. In other words, look at things from the other person’s perspective, put yourself in the other person’s shoes, etc.

I won’t name names here as this is intended as constructive criticism. I am hoping the person involved will take the time to understand what went wrong.

Lloyd: can I get the Cue sheet in Excel format? I like to print it larger, and the PDF doesn't let me do that. Leaving shortly, no way to print the next 10 days Do you have the cue sheet in Excel format?

Response: 10 days out we cannot guarantee changes may be needed. Still waiting on final permissions.

Lloyd: thx. I like to print on map paper, which sweat won’t dissolve to pulp… paper you supply disintegrates, and plastic over it hard to read.

Response: Have you ever noticed you find something to complain about in response to nearly every email?

Lloyd: Do you really have time to show me such gross disrespect? You owe me an apology. If you had wisdom, you’d see it as a chance to improve your game. I’m doing you a favor if you’d pause and think about it. I rely on a MAP. Paper disintegrates. I can’t see at close range and plastic makes it much harder.

The conversation started out factually, stating my needs, but ended up being an ad hominem attack. Worse, it shuts down solutions—a route that might change a little is not a big deal (a pen can deal with that), but when someone starts down a dead end into personal attack mode, the solution of sending the cue sheet as is vaporizes as something reasonable that both parties can accept.

I’m used to dealing with this particular outfit—they have rejected every one of my suggestions over 5 years and disrespected me several times for good measured (threatened to cancel my registation once also!). Sadly, I don’t think they have ever paused to consider any of any suggestions in all those years. They are stuck in a mental rut. I hope they can see the light someday, which is all I wish for.

SSD upgrade that takes full advantage of APFS

Just Arrived: Lightweight Autobahn VR Front Wheel with Ceramic Speed Bearings, Schwarz Edition

The Lightweight Autobahn VR has been my favorite wheel for many (though not all) double centuries. It got a lot of use and ultimately some non-repairable damage.

Lightweight offered me a half-price crash replacement deal, which I accepted. This wheel was freshly built for me over in Germany about a week ago. It’s a beauty, with carbon fiber like you’ll find hardly anywhere else, including the Schwarz (black) logos that seem to holographically float in the rim section.

At 820 grams as shown, it is not a lightweight Lightweight wheel compared to a 430 gram Lightweight Mielenstein Obermayer front wheel.

However, the aerodynamics and mass of the Lightweight Autobahn VR make it a favorite for double centuries, particularly Joshua Tree double century, Solvang Spring Double Century, Southern Inyo Double Century, and Central Coast Double Century, all of which have moderate climbing (14000 vertical feet or less).

Well, the Central Coast Double Century highland route is hard core for climbing (at about 14000' gain) I suppose, but point is, the Autobahn VR is brilliant on descents and long runs of flat or mildly sloped ground, barring very strong gusts at 90°—otherwise it sheds wind and laughs it off. And CCD is 211 miles including a long stretch on the coast with a strong head/side wind where the Autobahn VR rocks.

I psyched that it arrived today because I can now ride it for Joshua Tree double century (March 10) and Solvang Spring Double Century (March 17), where it is ideal. Palo Alto Bicycles is gluing on Veloflex Vlaanderan tubular tire tomorrow. The workmanship for tubular gluing is superb there so all my tires are glued on by PAB.

Lightweight Autobahn VR carbon fiber tubular wheel
Capacities up to 48TB and speeds up to 1527MB/s

Thoughts on Recent Training, What I’ve Learned and What Remains to Learn

I’ve been reflecting on the past 6 weeks of training (Jan 7 through Feb 27) and I thought I’d share some thoughts on both psychological and technical challenges in dropping 15 pounds in 4 weeks, gaining hugely in strength and endurance, and in pushing through not so fun days early on.

The winter doldrums into early winter training

Since I hike and photograph in the fall, cycling drops off considerably, thus I lose fitness from about September through December. But the body cannot get stronger without rest, and so long as suitable activity is maintained, that down season may be a good thing, to allow a worked-hard body to repair every last little niggling thing.

The hardest thing for me is rapid weight gain in the fall—my peak riding season appetite persists for 4-6 weeks even as calorie-burn drops off. Asnd with the change in season, October triggers some natural rhythm which demands “eat!”. Nary a year goes by without that pattern.

Come late December, I start to think about training hard again. Except I usually cannot and that’s the rub: my mind remembers jackrabbiting up hills, but gravity and legs beg to differ. Pyschologically, this feels discouraging. The way I work around this is just to remind myself “3 weeks of 1.5 hours @ 1000 calorie per day every day and things will start to feel promising again, then excitingly rewarding not long after”.

That challenge is easier for some (perhaps) but very very hard for riders getting into the sport or away from it for a few years, so I’d say this for those people: use the statement above, substituting 6 weeks for 3 weeks and have faith it will work—because it will. And keep in mind that one or two or even three crummy days should be put in the rearview mirror—happens to everyone.

This year, we had better than summer weather for 2 weeks in late January into early February. I made a mental committment to use that weather for all it was worth, having sensed that my laid-off legs were ready to take on a very hard training load. I ended up surpassing my most difficult training weeks ever (17000 calories burned in one week), unprecedented (for me) for early season and not previouslly surpassed even in peak season—ever. To wit: endurance and performance are 70% mental/psychological, and 30% physical!

The result of such rewards (which will come to anyone/everyone who persists in training) is a resetting of expectations much higher than one might have considered possible. This is crucial for peak performance and gains over time. It is why I recommend that everyone train for and finish 3 double centuries over the course of a month or two—doing so will make anything else seems relatively easy, smashing through psychological barriers holding you back.

Training tips

This is a quick summary of key points that I’ve learned over the years, and including some groundbreaking gains this year. See the training section for more.

#1 Keep at it

My rule of thumb is to ride every day. Rest days are simply not needed. If necessary, cut back to a 1/2 or 1/3 or 1/4 ride, but do it. If illness strikes, once the body has beaten down the infection and has won but the fight is not fully over, ride lightly to get blood flow—my feeling is that blood flow accelerates the recovery—not long, not hard, but 30-45 minutes easy spin at whatever easy pace feels good.

Ride rain or shine. Pyschologically, skipping a heavy downpour day or three is fine. But it is a disaster for the mental toughness needed if this excuse is used on days where it is mainly a breakdown in discipline and not about conditions adverse enough to warrant skipping it—subconsciously you set yourself up to be a quitter—don’t do that to yourself.

#2 Aim to smash cognitive commitments to what is possible

Never ridden a century? Train for one and do three. This will obliterate silly cognitive committments about them being too hard. Doing just one is a bad idea, because those (incorrect) cognitive commitments will make it seem harder than it really is, and it will actually be hard and probably a “WTF am I doing this” thing. That’s why it is crucial to do at least three in a relatively short period (2 or 3 months)—that should obliterate the baked in assumption about a century being godawful difficult.

Once the cognitive commitments about a century are eliminated, the next step is a double century. A double century is 3X to 4X more challenging, so more training will be required. Still, following a year with the centuries accomplished, training 90 minutes per day for 3-4 months should be quite sufficient. Because the first double is likely to suck big time (very uncomfortable past mile 130), it is crucial that the committment is to doing three doubles within 3 months.

#3 Smile and be happy

Seriously. If you have to force yourself to smile, do it. The physical act of smiling triggers brain circuitry which will actually make riding easier. If you are dead tired, engage the fatigue and think how great it is you are out there ad not six feet under after a heart attack. Keep smiling—i works.

If your mind wanders into thoughts like “this is f***g stupid I’ll never do it again” and similar, turn it around—this is deadly to future gains. Do NOT let your mind continue down that path or the discomfort will increase and you will mentally quit long before physical limits are actually reached. Which means you will keep quitting in the future as a self-reinforcing mental pattern. I have never quite a double century, though I sure as hell felt like I wanted to. It was not easy, but nothing really worth doing is easy. Don’t fuck it up by quitting (risk of signicant injury is a legitimate exception.

#4 do NOT stop for breaks or for lunch.

Lunch is just about the worst thing you can do—the body shuts down metabolically and it will take many miles to get back in the groove (and it will feel shitty). Plus digesting an actual lunch is not possible while riding at any non-slug pace—stomach cramps and discomfort and even vomiting are high odds. Don’t do this to yourself.

#5 Be rigorous about hydration and fueling

This takes experience and see the other sections on this site. But in a nutshell:

  • Know your own body and what it will tolerate.
  • Test all fuel sources prior to event day; do NOT try something new on event day.
  • Don’t drink more than 1 liter per hour as your stomach can’t handle it anyway (exception: seriously hot days you might force down 1.3 liters, but this is likely to bloat stomach). But DO make sure you drink a liter an hour after the first 3 hours or so (depends on glycogen load/burn).
  • Eat a steady 150 to 200 calories per hour, less for smaller bodies, more for larger bodies. Eat energy sources that turn into glucose more or less immediately. Minimize anything that requires digestion. Some fructose is OK late in the game but no more than one Mountain Dew or similar every 90 minutes—the liver can only process about 60 grams of fructose per hour. DO take in this junk sugar after hours 8 or 9—the liver is drained of all glucose by then and needs something do to. In general, strictly avoid more than 40 grams of fructose per hour and never consume more than 70 grams at a time. Fruit, junk licorice, some candies all have fructose.
  • Do not eat fats. Your body cannot digest and utilize fat during a double and it already has enough fat for 5 or 10 or 20 doubles (depending on body fat levels).
  • The slightest trace of hunger should be immediately responded to by consuming 100 calories of a glucose source, like Hammer Gel or GU. Failure to do so can result in demanding hunger and at that point you’re likely to chown down and screw yourself for the rest of the day. You do not need a meal or solid food during the double if proper fueling (glucose sources) is done. Solid food has a very highi probability of reducing performance and a very good chance of leading to nausea and vomiting.
Rigorously lab tested and OWC certified.

10 Kilowatt Battery System in Mercedes Sprinter Delivers 263 amps @ 12.7/12.8V (dual Lithionics 400-amp batteries, dual Xantrex Freedom XC Inverter/Charger)

Now installed in my Mercedes Sprinter photography adventure van are dual 400-amp 5 kW Lithionics batteries wired in parallel, with dual Xantrex Freedom XC 2000W power inverter/chargers for DC-AC conversion.

Installed by ADF Sprinters in San Fernando, CA.

Shown below, two space heaters together are 3350 watts. All connections are doubled-up (each batter and inverter gets its own 4/0 cable). Circuit board and battery terminals do not even get warm under this massive load.

These being ultra high grade lithium iron phosphate batteries, both specifications and real-world field use prove that 90% discharge is fine (10% state of charge remaining), though I try to keep it to 15% SoC. Each battery by itself is rated to discharge at 400 amps and to charge at 360 amps—so even at 260 amps, my system uses only a fraction of the maximum capability.

Continues below...

263 amps @ 12.7/12.8V from dual Lithionics 400 amp batteries

Asymmetric amperage bug

Update: I’ve diagnosed the issue. With an asymmetric load, nearly all the current was flowing along just one of the 4/0 cables, with “juice” from the other battery flowing through the hot/red terminal tie (4/0 about 10 inches). Up to a 2X differential draw was observed, though that was atypical with a 20% differential more typical. The solution is to tie the two pairs of breakers together, determined by pressing a piece of 1/0 cable against the terminals whose ends were a mass of copper fibers—I could regulate amperage out of the one battery by up to 40 amps just by how hard I pressed the two cable stubs against the terminals. A short tie will be added to do that at all times, tying 4 circuit breakers together (two breakers in two pairs).

... original description follow ...

One performance bug as seen above is asymmetric power draw from the two batteries, which can be up to about 25% difference in amperage, depending on load. The same asymmetry is seen when charging with the alternator, which reverses the charging path, but leaves the inverters out of the equation. Therefore, the behavior must not be related to the cabling from the circuit board to the inverters but between the battery and the circuit board. There is nothing obvious as to the cabling as to why this would happen, see the notes below on cabling.

The behavior results in a steady deviation in SoC (State of Charge), for example 57% vs 63%. With zero load, amps bleed from the higher SoC battery to the lower SoC battery, starting at as high as 7 amps if there is a substantial difference in SoC then settling down to half an amp or so after 18 hours. In other words, the two batteries equalize until the voltage matches, but this can still leave a 4% SoC difference.

The asymmetry flips if inverter #2 is used instead of inverter #1. For example, if battery #1 is supplying 20% more amps, then switching the load to the other inverter flips so that battery #2 supplies 20% more amps. That suggests that the cabling supplies a lower path of resistance to each inverter/battery pair (inverter #1 cables to the hot terminal of battery #1, inverter #2 cables to the hot terminal of battery #2)—but the hot terminals of the two batteries are tied to together with 4/0 cable of about 10 inches in length—this should effectively make the two batteries into one battery. But clearly something more complex is going on. Perhaps the grounding cables are involved (also 4/0).

This behavior needs to be debugged and possible another 4/0 cable tying the two batteries together (positive and/or negative) might be needed to equalize whatever is causing the imbalance.


A more detailed report to follow as time allows.

Below, part way through the install process. The table as shown is temporary and will be replaced in a few weeks by a 1.5-inch-thick hickory butcherblock table. The inverters will then be spaced apart another 6 inches or so.

This was a tricky design process in which a few space problems cropped up we had not thought of—a 144-inch wheelbase Sprinter leaves little room to place both batteries along with wiring and outlets, etc, at least for my requirements. But it is now down and fully functional. This is the most capable battery system (by far) ever installed by ADF Sprinters (they do about 280 Sprinters a year).

Key points:

  • Positive and negative cables from battery terminals are 4/0 gauge. That stuff is braided copper which itself is 11.68mm = 0.46 inches in diameter — not easy to work with.
  • Positive terminals of the two batteries are tied together with a short length of 4/0 cable.
  • Cables to inverters and on circuit board are also 4/0.
  • The charging cables from alternator are dual 1/0 (equivalent to one 4/0). This is more than ample for the peak amperage from the alternator (up to about 138 amps). Dual cables puts half the load on the contact terminals, dual solenoids and breakers cut the amperage to each in half, thus keeping amps at less than half what the 150-smp solenoids are rated for—I wanted it over-engineered.
  • Double everything: inverters, cables from alternator, solenoids, breakers, batteries, status gauges—over-engineered for reliability under extreme load.
  • Each inverter/charger plus into shore power separately (8 AWG from shore power inlet to central outlet above the two dangling plugs). This was done so that a 15 amp outlet could be used by unplugging one inverter/charger (together they pull up to 19 amps = 2300 watts which would fry a 15 amp circuit).
  • The inverter/chargers when shore-powered by a 30 amp circuit can charge at nearly 160 amps DC.
Wiring in progress: dual Lithionics 400-amp batteries along with dual Xantrex Freedom XC 2000W inverter/chargers
Upgrade Your Mac Memory
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Mercedes Sprinter: the 180 Liter / 47.5 Gallon Fuel Tank for the 144-Inch Sprinter is Here, to be Installed Feb 28

I delayed shipment due to travel plans, but the tank is now here and will be installed at Mercedes Benz of Reno on February 28. A full report will follow as time allows.

Mercedes of Reno will be doing the install. Ask for Kwanny (service manager) if you also want an install. Please let him know that you heard about it at Lloyd Chambers' WindInMyFace.com.

For ordering info, see my writeup (to be updated with more details as time allows).

Mercedes Sprinter: Installing a Higher Capacity Fuel Tank (ACGB Tanks)

ACGB High-Capacity Fuel Tanks for Mercedes Sprinter
ACGB 180 liter Fuel Tanks for Mercedes Sprinter, top of tank, nestles into underbody
ACGB 180 liter Fuel Tanks for Mercedes Sprinter, bottom of tank (faces the road)
ACGB High-Capacity Fuel Tanks for Mercedes Sprinter
SSD upgrade that takes full advantage of APFS

2018 Double Century #1: Camino Real Double Century in Irvine, CA

I had an extraordinary day at the Camino Real Double Century on Feb 17 2018. Power flowed so easily that all efforts felt easy until mile 150 or so—no matter how hard the effort, it felt easy.

Around mile 150 my brand-new asthma inhaler in its ziploc went flying somewhere on a 40 mph downhill... just around the time I started getting mild bronchospams, probably from the nasty traffic exhaust in places. That and a queasy stomach so that I could not longer fuel properly, hence the reduced power output the last hour or so. Then the endless stoplights...! Still Iwas thrilled with the results, with only a moderate drop-off in power (watts) towards the end.

It’s a confusing urban course for anyone (like me) without the help of a GPS with turn-by-turn navigation. Because of that, I followed (well back or in front) the pack for the first 30 miles or so—because it would have been much slower to check turns. But reaching the ocean I left all those riders behind and never saw them again the rest of the day. I had to stop a few times and check turns, especially the tortured twist-and-turn route back through the residential area near the coast-gah! The cue sheet called for a street name that was not marked—gah! I wasted 5 minutes on that one alone.


I consumed a total of 400 calories of Hammer HEED, and 1370 calories of GU, equating to 25% of the total caloric expenditure of 6966 calories, which is about ideal. The relatively cool temperatures made that level of fueling possible; heat and more demanding rides can make it difficult.

After the ride I had anti-appetite—no desire to eat. I gagged down one rubber chicken taco at the local eatery (free meal included as part of the ride) and didn’t bother with the second. That and a licorice stick and some Hammer Whey were it for the night. But two days lighter my appetite ran wild—between the carbo loading prior and the uncontrolled hunger two days later, I am not sure if I gained or lost weight. But it feels like I have gained muscle and lost some fat.


I was the 2nd bike to finish, after the lead tandem I had pulled for some miles—I took a bad turn and then got stuck at some very long stop lights near the end—the story of the day. I spent at least half an hour at stoplights and 15 minutes on navigation.

2018 Camino Real Double Century results
click Overall, and note that riders 4 and 5 Lori and George were the lead tandem riders.

It’s hard to compete against pacelining riders who know the course by heart—they took places 1/2/3 (starting an hour later so I never saw them). I soloed as usual taking no draft, doing all the work myself—and as of this writing, radio silence from Chuck Bramwell on my suggestion for a “solo” designation so at least the results are seen for what they are: a team effort for most riders versus a solo effort for me. Even a 2-person paceline cuts effort by at least 1/3 for the following rider. I just cannot understand the point of a double century when the to me the challenge is a personal one, ruling out pacelining—why not just install an electric motor—same thing in effect (external assist).

I rode without stopping to checkpoint #3 at mile 118, carrying 3 liters of water to start. Preparation over the prior 48 hours involved carefully paced carbo loading, which maxes-out glycogen stores, and also brings along a lot of water (1 pound of glycogen requires 3 pounds of water, which is released when the glycogen is used up).

Red line is heart rate (bpm), green line is power (watts).

The ups and downs relate to stop lights and stop signs, ascents followed by high-speed downills, etc—not a course where one can just cruise.

2018-02-17: graph showing power in watts, heart rate, elevation for 2018 Camino Real Double Century

Pressed for time the next day, I did a brief recovery ride—no soreness, good power going over 300 watts without any trouble at all. Legs were not recovered, but they could still make good power. I think this means that most of my effort the day prior in the Double was aerobic. I also think that I fueled in a way that prevented catabolic losses of muscle tissue, a cause of muscle soreness.

It seems that with my small airways open, I can ride at a high pace almost completely aerobically, and that does not result in any sore muscles. So the key this year will be keeping my lungs totally open without impairment.

2018-02-28: graph showing power in watts, heart rate, elevation for recovery ride next day after 2018 Camino Real Double Century


Switched to Svelte and Versatile DiNotte QuadRed Tail Light For Daytime and Nighttime Safety

See my older notes on the DiNotte 300R. I’ve used the 300R and 400R for some years—outstanding lights with nary an issue.

Enter the about $170 DiNotte QuadRed. It checks off all the right boxes in terms of brightness, lighting modes, runtime, weight and compactness, build quality, etc.

DiNotte QuadRed LED tail-light

DiNotte QuadRed tail-light mounted on seat stay of Moots Vamoots RSL
f1.8 @ 1/85 sec, ISO 20; 2018-02-13 14:04:24
iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus back dual camera 3.99mm f/1.8 @ 28mm (4mm)

[low-res image for bot]

Last Hard and Long Workout Before Camino Real Double Coming Saturday

I’ve been training intensively with the aim of placing at the top of the group for 13 double centuries this year. See previous entries for the incredible workload I’ve been able to handle this year—that’s delight not bragging—every athlete loves it when things just work well.

Strength is up considerably, endurance is more than ready for a double century—this is probably the best condition I’ve been in this early in the year for at least 6-7 years. The two weeks of “summer in winter” in late January and early February I did not waste but hammered things hard, and my body just happened to think it was a very good time to do so. I am climbing 20% faster than just a month ago. That is partly reduced body mass and partly increased fitness.

As of today, the rapid weight (fat) loss is supported by this hard data, which stuns me since I did not think I could approach even half of these values for these periods of time:

 7-day caloric deficit per day: 1323 calories
14-day caloric deficit per day: 1517 calories
30-day caloric deficit per day: 1285 calories

I now seem to be able to handle an average of 2000-calorie daily rides at ~215 watts and still recover and become stronger day by day. I never thought I could tolerate that high a level of continuous exertion, but there it is, for 2+ weeks now—see the graph showing fat loss and caloric deficit. I have taken zero (0) days off working out for 37 straight days now.

Today is Feb 12 and workout done, I now go into taper mode on Feb 13/14/15/16 for the Feb 17 Camino Real Double Century. I expect weight to rise 4-5 pounds as my body full loads with glycogen.

The main thing I’m at risk for is impaired lung function, with a huge pollen dump starting about 3 days ago (semi-opaque layer of pollen on car windshields). I cannot afford to lose 10% or 20% of small airways, or I lose that much power—aerobic effort has to be...aerobic and if the lungs cannot deliver, the body is forced into anaerobic energy. The relatively high power levels seen below are (excepting some high power sprints) achieved by keeping my lungs clear. It feels like that with clear lungs I can hit 250 watts or so almost all aerobically, again, if the lungs are totally clear. If not, that drops to 210 watts—just going by how it feels. So lung function is a HUGE deal.

Three days prior, just one day of pollen was enough to narrow down my sinuses so that airflow through there is not much at all. I also noticed a day later some minor small airway impairment—this after totally clear lungs for a few weeks.

To forestall impaired lung function from allergen pollens*, I have ridden 3 days with the 3M Particulate Respirator 8233 N100. It works and is comfortable (if annoying to have to use it!), but not as well as I’d like: strong breathing tends to pull it into the face. It’s clearly not designed for athletes. I am actively looking for something better. One bonus is that in cold temps, the intake air is a bit warmer, which eliminates cold induced bronchospasm, which sometimes can get to me when breathing deeply at 45°F and below.

My subjective impression (legs, lungs, perceived effort) of my fitness is pretty simple: if I can keep brain focus, I can turn in a time that has a high likelihood of winning the Camino Real Double (or any other where I am not beaten by drafting riders, since I ride solo taking no draft). That is supported by very high power (watts) numbers for long sustained efforts. Power levels are running well above the 210 watts that won me (decisively!) the 2015 Central Coast Double, the question being of course what I can actually average for 200 miles. But CCD had a great deal of climbing and was thus much more demanding.

* The “French Broom” flowering now is awful (bright yellow flowers, huge bushes, invasive species)—the stink of it permeates the air 50 feet away. Pines are shedding a very heavy pollen load also. Later comes oak (worst of all for me), grasses and all sort of flowering stuff.

2018-02-12: 4+ hours 65-mile workout
Rigorously lab tested and OWC certified.
Rigorously lab tested and OWC certified.

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