Sunday, May 10, 2009

Climb, Grasshopper

This Saturday I did the final Grasshopper race of the series with Blake and Oliver. I can't find the link but they're basically really hard group rides. They have a cx and mtb one as well.

The ride began at a pretty nice group ride pace, or at least that's how it seemed near the back. The route started on a two-lane country road out of Occidental. Our lane was packed as far as the eye could see. This didn't deter the cars from passing blindly. Some of the cars going the opposite way even pulled over it. It was quite a sight.

Then the climb came. The pack started to thin out pretty good. Once the climb kicked up I dropped off Oliver's wheel but was ahead of Blake. It stayed this way for the rest of the race.

I climbed for at least an hour with the same group of guys. The views were incredible. It reminded me a lot of Alpine Road only with some massive rollers thrown in. Near the top there was someone handing out water bottles. It was super hot out so I took two.

Then came the descent. It was probably faster than anything I've seen. For added effect there were cattle guards every mile or so. One memorable one was right in the middle of a turn. Mooooooo!!!

Finally the cool breeze hit, a sign the coast was near. We made it to Hwy 1 and headed south with a tailwind. After a mile or so we turned and headed up a dirt road. Sweet!! This was my favorite climb. Small grade with good tree coverage. We stayed on this for a few miles until the summit. Some of the guys in the group warned about a screaming descent ahead. Then I saw the sign for 18% grade, next 2 miles!!!

We climbed a bit more and then the whole coast came into view. This ride had some of the best views I've seen on a ride. The only thing that compares is this one ride I did last spring break in Mammoth. After about 70 miles of riding we headed up Tioga Pass. Ten miles later, after we both wanted to quit, we came around a turn to see a frozen lake and snow banks.

Anywho, the descent was super fast and I can't wait to do it again. I had my hands on both brakes most of the way down. Ended up getting passed by most the guys I had passed on the climb but by this point I was used to it.

We descended a bit longer on Hwy 1 and then turned onto another gravel/dirt road. This one would take us to Occidental. This part seemed to last forever. I had been riding with a guy for a while so I stayed with him. I could have gone harder but I found out midway he was a fellow Okie so I stuck around.

The road wasn't too bad except for this one killer climb. I had to get really stern with myself on this one. I even summoned last year's Vineman. "You do not quit on climbs!!!" Ok, weird.

So I made it up that and before I knew it I was descending. Ahh. I saw a pack of riders on the side of the road relaxing. Figured they had stopped to take a break so I wasn't going to stop. I slowed a bit though and they asked my name.

"Um, is this the end?"

"Yes."

On the way down to Occidental we were almost killed by the Mazda Miata Junior "Sportscar" Club of the North Bay (MMJSCNB) ride. You can't win them all.




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