The Spring Classic ride happened yesterday. The forecast predicted rain 100% and temperatures not past 55 degrees. I’d say a good 150 people showed up, suited in rain gear and sporting flimsy fenders on their bikes. We were ready.
The ride starts at about 9:10am with a neutral roll-out. We weave our way through San Francisco and then we’re off. I had no clue where we were going and trusted the people in front of me to lead the way accordingly. You knew you were on the right path as soon as you came up to a group at an intersection with a map pulled out. We’d confirm the route, mount up, and push forward. There was a climb on a slippery mountain side, mud made of clay, consistency of peanut butter, tires just spinning out but I got up the damn thing and then went down the damn thing. Going down it wasn’t incredibly difficult but that clay mud got stuck in my tires, brakes, everything. The thought of ripping my derailleur off got me off the bike. Tried clearing some it off with a stick, slowly jabbing it around the crevices around the brakes but it did no good. Ended up walking down and using a resident’s water hose at the bottom to get my bike back in working order.
Planet of the Apes was next. A good slow uphill with a group of about 10, then down the broken pavement, some more mud shit, some sand, some gravel. I went down with joy. The road spit us out onto Highway 1, merely 5-10 minutes from the first checkpoint.
My feet are long-gone by now. Hands still work but I know they’ll be shot by the end of this thing, too. We get to the checkpoint and I get the last bit of coffee, eat the eggy bagel I was supposed to eat before this damn ride, and realize that it’s a good thing I have this bagel because there is no food there (note: there was supposed to be food but the guys ahead of us ate all of it). Those that didn’t have food sank down a little, mounted back on their bikes, and headed out into more rain and wind and cold.
You could tell people wanted this thing to be over. It was a good challenge but we were all freezing and pushing hard to get to the end. We climbed up Stage Coach road, went down, up, down, up, down down to the next checkpoint. Mm, food. Lots of food. And coffee and sodas. This was the checkpoint where one had to decide to do the long route (100 miles with 10k feet climbing total) or the Express Route (85 miles with ~6k feet of climbing). After short debate internally and with some of the other people I had been riding with, we chose the short route. We wanted food and warm clothes too bad, and we knew taking the longer route meant even colder temps and steeper climbs. Again, mounted up, pushed on.
So that puts us back on Highway 1 for about 30 miles. Nice rolling hills and pace lines. Now, the fender thing; the rain made pacing people difficult. Those without fenders shot bits of rain and dirt up with every spin, and there were multiple times where I encountered this in my eyes and had to fall back. Even those with fenders still shot out a bit of that crap. One had to just put their head down and push.
The rain let up at the end, finally allowing us to get cozy on each others wheels. There was the 4th checkpoint about 13 miles from the end, with more coffee and pb&j sandwiches. Standing around too long brought on the shivers. We were so so close to the finish.
And then there it was, about 35 minutes later, the last turn to the Ibis bike shop down in Santa Cruz. The two other riders I had been with for countless miles and I were relieved. There was food and bathrooms and dry clothes in that building. I was shaking. I could barely move my fingers in order to take my shoes and clothes off. So happy to be done.
Apparently, about 10 people completed the 100 mile route (including Barry Wicks). There were two other groups that attempted it but the freezing temperatures and worn-to-shit brake pads (no stopping) got people to hole-up in a country club out in the middle of nowhere with hot toddies and french fries and a fire place.
There’s another one of these Spring Classic rides in April and I’m excited to tackle it. Rain or no rain, I’ll be there again, clawing my way to the finish line with a hunger for miles and climbing.
I’ll make note of one last thing here; my body this morning feels like shit. Back and neck and legs hurt. Drained. In a fuzz. I woke up at about 6:30am and couldn’t go back to sleep because I felt almost ill. Got to get laundry done and work the ALC Expo from 10-4 today before I head off to Alaska tomorrow. Going to be an interesting day.