What a fantastic event - I always remember that this is the hardest ride I do every year but I forget just how hard it is. Finishing for the 3rd time feels just as big an accomplishment as the first time!
As documented above, I had a problem with my bike while checking it over the night before - the headset had frozen up. I pulled the steerer tube out and WD-40 got the upper bearing moving but then it came unstuck and the bearings spread all over the garage floor. I thought I was done. My dear wife went over the floor and found all but 2 of the bearings while I tried alternatives. Somehow I got the bike back together in working condition (steering much improved although it would occasionally creak ominously during the day).
The downside was I lost sleep, getting to bed after midnight leaving me with only 4 hours of sleep, and that restless with nervous excitement for the ride. I paid for it late in the ride but at least I was there!
Huge kudos and thanks to ElHombre for his tireless work in organizing this ride, providing all the detailed routes, and single-handedly keeping the event on the calendar and growing. After this year's big turnout I can't wait to see how many turn up next year to test themselves!
Skyline35 and mudworm broke the starting rules
and took off before the main group. But we had a large group start together, most attempting the full 100 miles.
It was very, very cold in Hunting Hollow (my Garmin showed 35°) so it was very welcome when the temperatures quickly climbed as we ascended Lyman-Willson Trail. Brian was already showing his strength, starting at the back and passing everyone on the way up; I wondered how he was going to contain himself to ride with us at our much slower endurance pace (and, of course, he wasn't able to, going on to set an unreachable course record).
Most of the pack started up Steer Ridge Rd together but quickly splintered into several groups. The day was looking to be quite spectacular for a big ride!
We regrouped near the summit of Steer Ridge Trail - this was the last I saw of MudnCrud until very late in the ride,. aside from a very quick meeting at the bottom of Spike Jones Trail, who took off at a fast solo pace.
I nearly missed the turn up Anza, forgetting about that fun little detour in the route. Here ElHombre leads Brian up Anza.
A few of us managed to clean the Cross Canyon climb out of Coit Springs - that made me feel good and set a nice tone for climbing for the rest of the day.
This was my final view of Brian as he disappeared over the ridge ahead on Cross Canyon - his incredible time was even more amazing considering he spent the first few hours hanging back with us!
The Cross Canyon Wall looks so enticing with the work plymmer and others have done to create a clean line on the lower half, but it's just too much for heavily laden riders and we all push.
After the top of Cross Canyon Trail, ElHombre and I rode for a while with Eric, hoping that plymmer was hanging with the Google guys to make sure they didn't get lost
We've had every type of weather at Los Cruzeros for this event - today was a perfect 71°, making perfect conditions for the Mahoney Wall and Lost Spring Trail climbs. I was able to clean the Wall with very little pain which was very pleasing this late into the ride.
I had an enjoyable descent down to China Hole, cleaning the final rocky descent thankfully because I had my drop seatpost. China Hole still had a bit of water.
I chased down ElHombre on the climb out of China Hole so I could do the climb with him. There was a very nice breeze making it much more comfortable than usual. I really like the Manzanita grove on this trail
On the climb up towards HQ, I tried to recreate the "cover photo"
I took for last year's Coe 100. I really like that photo. This is, perhaps, more representative of this year's Coe 100, with more color and less heat.
The whole way up to HQ I was really enjoying the colors all around - the normally brown and dull grass was a vibrant gold and the clouds in the sky just made everything picture perfect.
Last year we had spent 50 mins at HQ for lunch and had originally planned to cut this down in the 2012 running. We failed miserably, staying even longer this year. But with a larger group, we were enjoying ourselves so didn't feel the need to rush at this point.
Porkstacker had been riding very strong all day and while the rest of us tried to minimize our intake of solid food to just enough to keep the hunger away, he got a double order! I was impressed! I can ride pretty well with solid food but this was a whole new level!
We took a while to get our stuff together and get moving again. I had set my Garmin on a USB charger to hopefully ensure it made it thought the night but unfortunately, it caused it to stop properly recording (without giving any indication of a problem) until quite late in the ride. Garmin sucks. I pasted ElHombre's track into the missing segment of mine since we rode pretty close together for most of that section.
The two Google riders decided at this point to forgo the joys of a long night ride and made plans for a Middle Ridge descent then straight back to Hunting Hollow.
While descending from HQ, my front brake made the unmistakable metal-on-metal sound. These things always happen right after I've had the opportunity to fix it without holding folks up! So I determined to ride Flat Frog and Hobbs without using the front brake, try to get a gap on the group so I could replace the pads without creating too much delay.
I was pleased to see Middle Ridge is growing again, although still plenty of evidence of the fire. I cleaned the first wall with no difficulty, feeling great that I had this much strength this late in the ride.
Porkstacker had told us, amongst many, many other interesting things
, that he really liked steep fire roads so we were pleased to present him with Poverty Flat Rd! Of course, it's not only steep but quite sandy and his tires were definitely not optimal - I have no doubt that he would be a spot in the distance if he had his fat bike.
Nevertheless, he seemed to enjoy it (where enjoy it means a lot of swearing
After a brief rest at the JackAss Trailhead, we got moving down to Shaffer Corral then along The Narrows.
We had wondered earlier if we would spot a tarantula on this ride and sure enough, on The Narrows, we had our only encounter.
On my first ride to Bear Mountain, I was given the full description of how terrible the climb was, how jaw-dropping it was to see it for the first time, so I did my best to pass that tradition onto Porkstacker since this was his first counter with The Bear. He seemed suitably impressed with it!
Near the start of the Bear Mountain climb, we ran into discus who had stationed himself out there to offer encouragement to all the passing climbers. Very cool! I assume he was responsible for this awesome creation as well!
There is only one known clean of Bear Mountain (our very own Brian Lucido) but I thought given the right conditions, I might have a shot at it except one of the first walls. It didn't take long on that wall to realize that today wasn't the day!
I made a pretty solid effort with the rest of the climbs and definitely got a new PR of around 43 mins (have no Garmin data for this section to know for sure). mudworm, proving that she should have been riding the 100 miles, blew this away by at least a minute in a very impressive performance! Porkstacker was seemingly having a great time
One of the most sobering events on this ride is getting to the summit of Bear Mountain and realizing that you aren't even half way done yet!
Everyone was low on water so we sprinted down to Mississippi Lake and filtered. Plymmer took the time there to fix a problem with his derailleur jamming up.
We had hoped to get to Pacheco Camp before sunset but it was clear it would be dark before then, so we fixed our lights at the lake. Sunset came not long after we climbed up Willow Ridge Rd from the lake, although I resisted using my light until we got down to Pacheco Creek Trail, enjoying riding in the low light.
We spent a little longer at Pacheco Camp than I expected, given we had filtered at the lake. At this point, we weren't really pushing for any particular time so longer breaks were ok.
Phoneline was uneventful this time, although in memory of it, my rear tubeless tire lost a lot of air while we were stopped at Pacheco Camp. I topped it up and sloshed the sealant around and it was solid for the rest of the ride. Turkey Pond was a lot of fun with all the trees removed (thanks to Plymmer and others who undertook this!)
The climb up to County Line Rd to Dutch's seemed to take longer than usual but once there we ate a little and hit it. Dutch's is a fun trail but somehow it seems even more fun at night; we don't get to see the great views from the trail but when we did stop and turn off our lights, we had a great 180° view of the starry night which more than made up for it!
As we descended Dutch's, I was reminded of last year when we found Aaron and Sean lost in this section we have named Coe's Burmuda Triangle. When we got to the creek crossing, I realized why - the trail appears to go into the creek when in fact it crosses it - that's obvious in daylight but not at all at night.
We made our way up the steep climbs, walking a lot of them but giving some good efforts on others. Lots of regroups here so folks didn't get lost. I also appreciated the new signposts which make it a little easier to navigate here.
We learned later than MudnCrud had taken a wrong turn here and done a bonus climb. He found his way to Kaiser-Aetna Rd and decided to wait for company for the remainder of the ride - we met him there later and he became a fast addition to our groupetto!
The climb up Kaiser Aetna was draining as always, but not nearly as much as it can be in the heat. Porkstacker showed off his climbing strength here, powering ahead of us until ElHombre could take no more and chased him down! We rolled into Dowdy Ranch at just past midnight to find MudnCrud there!
It's hard not to stay a while at Dowdy but it was very cold. Even though I was drinking a lot, I was feeling dehydrated which is never a good thing. We all decided to take our caffeine supplements at this point, hoping to avoid the sleepiness of last year's final 30 miles.
We spent 30 mins at Dowdy but I got chilled to the bone while we were there. Mudncrud mentioned that the bathrooms were actually open, so I stayed in there for 5 minutes to warm up a little. The moon was finally up as we left Dowdy - I hoped it would help illuminate the way (I love riding by moonlight alone).
ElHombre lead the way on Burra Burra which somehow seemed much shorter in the dark this year. Nearly every time I cross Burra Burra in this direction, I almost turn down the Dormida Trail but this time I didn't even see that intersection!
Once on Center Flats, we steeled ourselves for the short but difficult climbing to come. Although much better in this direction, Center Flats is very hard with 73 miles and about 16,000' already in our legs. I made good attempts at all the climbs - except the big one which I chose to walk. The final climb to Wagon Rd was soft from grading - I had been hoping to make a good attempt at cleaning that.
At Wagon Rd, there was no talk at all about anyone bailing out. Solid group we had assembled here with firm resolve to see this through. I was getting quite sleepy and had started to lay down and close my eyes at regroups to try and clear the sleepiness away. A couple of times I actually fell asleep (blissful!).
My foggy mind couldn't remember the rest of the route very well so I mostly followed ElHombre's lead. In typical fashion, he had started very strong, tired for a small period in the middle but was coming on very strong now; some don't need to train for epics; it's just built in!
We regrouped at nearly every major intersection to make sure nobody got lost but otherwise went at our own paces. I had been drinking steadily since Dowdy but was feeling increasingly dehydrated. I had long lost the ability to eat anything - even Perpetuem tablets wouldn't go down. Sipping water was producing stomach pain. But I figured I would be able to hang on from here - riding out any other way wouldn't have been that much faster than just competing the course.
I enjoyed the Dexter descent, even though I accidentally left my fork locked. ElHombre set a fast pace along Grizzly Gulch. At Willson Camp, every fiber of my being was saying to not go down into Vasquez but nevertheless, I followed everyone down and made reasonable attempts at the climbs to the Long Dam Trail intersection.
The last 2 years we had got lost at the bottom of Long Dam but this year, ElHombre found the way through quite directly. We reached the final climb on Wagon Rd at about 5:50am. I remembered this climb was quite steep but I worked at it with a steady, slow pace, trying to clean it. Unfortunately, my tiredness was making my steering erratic and I steered into some gravel and had to dab. ElHombre had shot ahead up the climb and we both cheered as I reached the summit. It's quite a good feeling to know the climbing is done.
It was really, really cold up here and found laying the grass was warmer than standing in the cold breeze. My Garmin was showing only 19,849' ascended which I knew I'd have to make up. We bombed down Wagon Rd, ElHombre and MudnCrud taking the lead, into a freezer at the bottom. While we waited there for others to arrive, I climbed up the end of Hunting Hollow Rd to the gate, adding some footies so that the deficit to 20,000' was small.
ElHombre powered along Hunting Hollow Rd and I played catch up for most of the distance. At the Jim Donnely Trail, I took off up it in an attempt to accumulate some miles and footies. My Garmin clicked over to 20,000' quickly.
Back at Hunting Hollow, I was greeted by mudworm and Brian wrapped in blankets; I didn't even have time to manufacture a 100-mile stare! Once I was done, I turned on my car's engine and after changing out of riding gear, sat and let the shivers subside. Then some very good chicken noodle soup courtesy of mudworm. I was able to eat the cup of noodles no problem but was getting pretty severe indigestion and nausea. It took a while for that to subside.
Rather than hang around in cold Hunting Hollow and getting a little sleep, I drank a Red Bull and attempted to drive home. It was a bad idea as it was obvious I was unable to keep focus. I pulled off on New Rd and slept for 20 mins or so. After that it was still a battle to stay awake on the road but I was able to get home safely.
It's hard to explain to others, especially cyclists, how just riding 100 miles is such an epic ride. A part of the fun of having more finishers is that there are now more of us who truly understand just how difficult this ride is. Hopefully, next year will expand that even further!!