For the 2010 annual Team Lost Coast Brewery training camp, we decided to head to the woods of Sonoma/ Mendocino County for some awesome, epic riding on the coast. Brian graciously offered to host us at his big, comfy house for a world-class “bike and breakfast” experience. Seriously, we woke up leisurely each morning, made a huge breakfast, and then set out for a day’s worth of riding. Sadly, not all of the team mates were able to make it for the training camp as people’s lives are busy and it’s hard to match schedules, but Matt, Brian, Amon, me (emma), and some friends- Fort Bragg Gabe and Gabe Cheese, Ethan, and Nicole joined in on the fun. Our first big ride began Saturday morning, or actually closer to Saturday at noon by the time we ate breakfast, packed our camelbacks, and prepped our bikes. We left from Brian’s house with a group of mountain bikers bigger than ever sighted in Gualala before. We rode from Brian’s house to the nearest brief section of singletrack which dropped us down to the river and then up our first fire-road climb. This was pretty much how the rest of the day’s ride could be described: climb up long fireroad, descent ripping fire-road, cruise across rollers, hop on pavement, hop off pavement, cross creek, climb, descend, repeat. There’s an amazing network of fireroads in the Mendocino forest that Brian has managed to mater navigation on that can lead you on a ride that lasts all day, as ours did. About 4 hours into the mellow, steady paced ride, we came to our first creek crossing. We all sat down for some rest and to eat our packed lunches (brekkie burrito take 2!). The river looked fierce and deep and we all questioned if it was safe to cross it. Brian bravely made the first journey and even though the water was above his waist, he assured us it was passable. The Gabes then made their way across and even their tall frames sunk far into the water. Brian crossed back over to give Nicole the safest, driest ride across. It was super cute and impressive. We then journeyed on into the forest, hitting up some super fun, tight trails that felt like a tunnel. Before we knew it, the light was fading and it was dusk before we happened upon the creek crossing to get us back home. This creek looked more shallow than the first, but once we strode into it with our bikes, it was actually quite fierce and swift-moving. Gabe even got swept under and I had to scramble to grab some reeds to avoid the same fate. We re-filled our bottles and packs with filtered water and began the journey home. On our last descent we fell victim to a rash of flat tires- twice for Gabe, then twice for Nicole too. (Note: Nicole, who has only been riding for about 10 months, came on this and all of our rides over the weekend and Champed it~! She stayed with the group on the climbs and was KILLING it on the descents! I was impressed, intimidated, and totally stoked to have another girl to ride with! Go Nicole! Do some races, crush it!) We fixed the flats as fast as possible, keeping our eyes peeled at the falling sun. Finally, the sun set and we were in darkness. Luckily, Brian secretly knew this ride was going to take hours, and Gabe from Ft Bragg had ridden with Brian enough times to know that EVERY ride with Brian lasts about 8 hours, so they busted out their lights and we rode the last sections of trail seven riders with only three lights. We finished the ride with a steep road climb back to Brian’s house on the peak of the ridge and rushed into the house and out of our shammies to scarf down some much-needed pasta dinner. All told, the ride was 7 1/2 hours ride time, some 10,000 feet of climbing, and a mere 40 miles! Geez those hills on the coast are steep. And despite riding in the dark and being out all day, most people finished with a smile on their tired faces.
Month: March 2010
In the middle of a busy weekend of moving, Ethan and I decided to hit up one of the new “Banana Slug Series” rides- the epic Dyerville Loop. The Banana Slug Series is a series of monthly training rides in Humboldt County. Similar to the Grasshopper Series, these rides are fun, epic, and competitive, but not a race. There’s no entry fee, no course markings, no neutral support, no prizes; just incredible routes and the camaraderie of fellow riders. We came out for the second ride in the series- the Dyerville loop going from Weott up Dyerville road to Alderpoint road and back along the avenue. I’d never done this route because I’ve always been intimidated by the extremely long climb up Dyerville Loop Road, but I was encouraged knowing that there would be other folks out suffering. When we rolled up to the ride start at the Women’s Federation Grove I was super excited to see that there was a parking lot full of cars and lots of riders, about 30 total. We all rolled out in a neutral pack along the Ave to the start of Dyerville Loop on an interesting variety of bikes- lots of road bikes, a few cross bikes, and even a handful of mountain bikes (Dyerville Loop is about 18 miles of dirt road). I cruised with the group until the boys started to punch it on the rollers and settled into a comfortable pace off the lead pack. The first dirt climb was a sticky, slow, steep mess and I kept on feeling like I had a flat as my tires sank into the muddy road. At one point the climb got so steep that people were walking their road bikes. I kept on cranking, enviously eyeing a fellow on a CX bike who flew past me in a patch of gravel.
At the top of the first grueling climb, a handful of the people I had been riding with made a right down the hill to do a shorter ride. I was sad I’d lost my group, but determined to keep going on the planned route. We then started the longest climb EVER! We began on some steep pavement and them opened up into a rolling, dirt, mostly uphill valley. I met up with a nice rider from Arcata who I chatted with about the incredible weather (it was sunny and warm, in Feb!). We even snapped some pictures on a scenic ridge and shared a pack of Chomps. Eventually though, he fell back on a steep climb and I didn’t see him again. At this point my legs were feeling good and I was rockin out to my Ipod. I made an effort to catch up with some guys I saw ahead on the climb and rode with them for a while, then passed them. This happened two more times and I was amazed by how well I was climbing on the endless gravel road. Towards the end of the gravel though, my energy started to fade and I was astonished we were still going up. By the time we hit the pavement descent down Alderpoint Road I had already been riding 2.5 hours! Alderpoint Road was fast and scary with it’s tight turns and speeding drivers, and I got passed back by a rider from the hill. As we rolled through Garberville I fantasized about just cutting out and heading home for some quesadillas, but I saw the rider from the descent ahead on 101 and did my best to catch him. It took all the way until the Avenue of the Giants turn off to get in his draft but I was definitely glad I did! Me and my new friend (Kirk?) rode together along the Avenue, taking turns drafting. We stopped for some water at the store in Phillipsville as we were both running out of water and feared cramping. The Avenue was more difficult than I anticipated. There were heavy gusts of wind coming up along the river and as we rolled near Myers Flat, my riding buddy was starting to fade. I told him to just rest in my draft and I took the wind the remaining 8 miles to the finish. We rolled in at 4:43, just under 5 hours and an hour after the leaders. Ethan was patiently waiting at the picnic table and Jim wrote down our names for the finishers list. I was proud to read later on the website that I finished 15th, the first female finisher and about mid-pack. The Dyerville Loop ride was probably one of the most challenging rides I’ve ever done, but Jim did a great job of organizing the ride, the weather was perfect, and I hope to do it again next year! Check out the flyer for future Slug Rides and hit one up if you can.