Ride by Shooting

Shots fired while out on my bike

On Thursday morning I was sitting at my desk feeling a little low. What I need, thought I, is an adventure.

Just me and Pumpkin Butter. But it needs to be somewhere different. Somewhere I can drive to in the Rogue. Thus was born a spontaneous adventure called #roguepumpkin.

I decided to head north, since it was supposed to be quite hot down south. Decided I really wanted to ride Avenue of the Giants. So I plotted out a route, started examining the segments, and realized I had accidentally plotted the exact route that the Tour of the Unknown Coast takes. (Regarded as one of CA’s toughest centuries).

Left on Friday and it took 7 hours to drive to the north end of the Avenue. Stayed in a hotel in Loleta, CA. 

The ride itself started with about 40 miles of relatively flat riding. But gorgeous riding. The part of the Avenue I rode was fantastic, but really, the ride along Bull Creek Flats Road was just stunning. I narrower road (no lines) and just amazing scenery. 

After that, I climbed Panther Gap, which was switchbacky and long (about 7 miles) and descended down into Honeydew. The descent, and the one later between the wall and the 8 mile climb) was steep and unforgiving. I stopped a couple of times to let my discs cool down some. And to take photos. Lots of photos. You can see them all here (about 30 in all, including the ones in this post).

Drove all the way back to Santa Cruz on Highway 1, which was epic and lovely and all was well with the world. Just wish weekends were three days. Anyway, it was a great day and super micro-adventure with #roguepumpkin. Got me thinking about another one. 

When adventure doesn’t come to you, you go find it. 

Strava deets here

Get out there. Do dumb things.

Last week, I did the Tour de Tree again. It’s a self invented event. No one pays me to do it. And guess what? All the rules, I made up. 

It takes place over 5 days and is 10 Stages - 5 AM, 5 PM. Basically riding to and from work everyday. Santa Cruz to/from Morgan Hill. That sounds easy, but my commute includes Mt Madonna, which has an amazing tree at the top of it. Rule is, when you get to the tree, you do a ‘tour’ of it i.e. ride a loop around it.

The week for me was roughly 66 miles/5,200ft of elevation gain on average a day. 

I convinced one other person to do ALL the stages with me, and some other folks joined me here and there for a stage or two (I encouraged people from Morgan Hill side to ride to the tree, do their loop, and head back down to complete a stage. A few did it in the afternoon, and two braved the morning and did a stage up to the tree in the fog.)

For the final stage, both Jon - the other person who did all 10 stages and  wearing the Van Dammage kit - portaged a tallboy to the Mother Tree and toasted our victory together. It was an amazing and very tiring experience. Wednesday was the hardest and I took to taking noonday naps on the lawn outside work while everyone was out on lunch ride just to catch up with sleep - getting up at 4:30am every morning does that to you.

I took a lot of photos and some videos for what is a very long week. You can view them all here, included some loops of the Mother Tree and a rather impressive puncture pic —> TOUR DE TREE - AUGUST 2014

Also, here’s an example of a stage. The final PM stage. I did change the afternoon routes from time to time, adding in more climbing generally, but this is the standard afternoon commute. 

Egg in the nest. 
Campus, Santa Cruz, CA
Ants marching up Monitor Pass at the Death Ride. 
My Strava deets from the ride here

Ants marching up Monitor Pass at the Death Ride

My Strava deets from the ride here

Worth it. 
Strava deets here

Worth it. 

Strava deets here

Some scenery from my first Death Ride (Tour of the California Alps) two weeks ago. Loved loved loved Ebbett’s. Carson was a drag, but mostly because the distance between finishing Ebbett’s and the climb on Carson Pass is a pain and you have to ride past your car. :)

We camped by the side of the road at the start, which was awesome, but I didn’t sleep much the night before. 

Strava deets here

Photo shoot shenanigans. Drove up to Santa Rosa area last Thursday. Had a really sucky fender bender on the way up - extremely glad I didn’t get rear ended. Four bikes on the back and two of them unreleased. That woulda sucked. Anyway, great day scouting with jake and Elise, and we went to fantastic woodfour. Try the strong and dark Belgian! The growler design is also amaze (though you can’t get a strong and dark in one - 9%). Shoot went great.

So, I did it. The race report is in my head. But for now, all I have is the memory, the aching body, and the satisfaction. 

And the result. You can even see a vid of my finish here

In Lawrence, Kansas, just days away from the Dirty Kanza. Went out for a spin with Dan Hughes. Dude is on point and I hope he wins it again. Rebecca Rusch joined for dinner. I am being spoiled!

Really hoping I have the best ride of my life. I will be stoked if I get anywhere near 15 hours. Ambitious!

There’s only one switchback on Whitney Portal road, but it’s a switchback for daaaaaaayyyyysssss.
Locked gate? You think that’ll stop me? On Friday I climbed Whitney Portal Road. 11 miles with about 4,200ft elevation gain. The part past the locked gate (which starts at the bottom of the road leading to first switchback) was the best bit. No cars! Just solitary suffering, with the occasional g’day to a hiker. Greta day on a bike.

Out the door at 5am. 

Highway 1. Quiet. Listen to Harmontown. Dungeons and Dragons. Silliness. Fun. Forty miles disappear behind me. 

Up Gazos, cut through to Stage Road. Cool. Overcast from time to time. Getting warm. Stuff my SL jacket in the back of my bibs. Change gloves to shorties.

Climb Tunitas. At the top, cold, windy. Cold. Fog and sun and chill. Up. Top. Long fingered gloves back on. Jacket donned. Down.

La Honda descent flies by. Goal to be ordering sandwich in the General Store by noon. Churn fast.

12:04. Close. No cigar.

Eat. Shiver. It’s supposed to be warmer than this.  

Cut across to Alpine. Climb. Banana slugs are long and fat today, but not luminously yellow. 

On. And On. Climbing warms me up. 

Turn onto Skyline and up to four corners. The wind is whipping. I was not expecting this cold, though I have enough layers. Dread the descent. 

Zip. Eat. Clip in. Down.

Tears stream from the chill. Fingers are frozen in their gloves. It’s painful. But fast. How I like it. 

Climb again, to next descent at China Grade. 

Roll into the basin. Spigot. Water. Eat. Off.

Feel good. This is the fast part. Felton Empire will occur. There is no doubt. Be there by 4. Be there.

4:35. Dammit. I turn. It’s mile 113 and I turn to charge up to Empire. 

Climb. Legs feel great, but knees are a little stiff. Getting dark in the redwoods. Taillight on.

Top. We are at 11,854ft. Still about 25 miles to go, I guess. 

Ice Cream Grade. Pine Flat. Boony Doon. Highway 1. Taco stop. Done. 

139.5 miles. 12,800ft. 12 hours (slow, but steady)

Shower. Kick back. Find out Karol-Ann has won Stage 2 of San Dimas Stage Race after a two minute, solo breakaway. Stoked. In the back of my mind, I convince myself it’s because I stuck her in that redwood last week for good luck. 

Good day. A good, great, magical, hard day.

I sleep. 

Strava deets here

Sunday. I get my arse kicked all over the Santa Cruz mountains by Karol-Ann Canuel. I stick her in a tree to make myself feel better. 

Worth it. 

The route, if you’re curious. It was front loaded with climbing. She’s a climber. I’m a… not. But I love this route. It’s one of my favs.

Ride to eat. Eat to ride. Last weekend I took Olivia up Mt Hamilton. It was her first time. Quote: “I can’t believe I’ve lived here for three years and never done this”


STRAVA deets here

The clocks have changed. There is now gorgeous afternoon light on my commute home.