|Arriving in Fort Bragg, late in the evening after 245 miles on Day 2!|
This is day 2 of the Shasta Mountain 1000K Brevet, and the plan for today is to ride 245 miles with a whopping 18,000' of climbing. At this point we are asking ourselves how we got here, and why are we doing this?
Earlier in the year, I believe it was Jason Pierce who told us about the ride, saying it was limited to 50 riders, and that we should sign up. Since we'd been thinking about doing a longer brevet (1000K or 1200K), this one sounded awesome! Ride one way from near Klamath Falls, OR (Actually Tulelake, CA), to SF via a mountainous route through Trinity. Sounds like fun!
We signed up, and as the event date approached, we decided it was time to prep. So we looked at the course carefully for the first time... and said, "Uh-Oh." 630 miles with 45,000' of climbing? Really?
The ride was concocted by Eric Larsen, a San Francisco Randonneur Adventure rider. Eric had been working on the course all year, and did a pre ride the week before the event, self supported. He came back with stories of how difficult the route was, long nights on the road, very little sleep, and a 73.5 hour finish time. Hmmm.
But we'll have it easier. For the event, Eric will have staff members carry a bag for us, and provide water stops here and there, but we'll otherwise be self sufficient. Here is how it went:
First we have to get ourselves to the Winema Lodge in Tulelake, CA. It is suggested to take the train to Klamath Falls, then ride 30 miles to the start. Well, we can't take the tandem on the train, so we rent a one way van, and invite two friends to share the expense. Our traveling mates are Carl Sanders and Megan Arnold.
|Traveling with Megan Arnold, Sarah Schroer, and Carl Sanders is a breeze.|
We make the drive to Tulelake, drop our bags and Megan at the lodge, then head to Klammath Falls to drop the van. Carl decides to join us for the 30 mile spin back to the lodge.
|We found a cool bike path to get out of the busy Klamath Falls. Here we yield to some horseback riders.|
|Seems easy and care free as we roll the 30 miles from Klamath Falls to the Winema Lodge in Tulelake, CA. We have no idea about the suffering we are about to endure. Photo courtesy Carl Sanders.|
Unfortunately, we flat on the return, and we decide this is a good omen, not a bad one, as we get our bad luck out of the way before the start of the 1000K.
|A flat tire is a good omen. Bad luck out of the way early.|
|Dr. Schroer examines the patient. Photo courtesy Carl Sanders|
|The Winema Lodge is actually a hunting lodge. Rooms have 5 single beds each. It can be windy here. Photo courtesy Carl Sanders.|
|Signing in. I am speaking with Mark Thomas (right), Seattle RBA and 4 time PBP finisher. Eric Larsen (baseball cap), hands out brevet cards. Photo: Sarah Schroer|
|Eric Larsen gives final instruction to the riders just before the start at 6 A.M.|
|Rando Pace Line in the early morning of Day 1|
|Early morning pace line. We'd see little of each other after this short spell on Day 1. Photo courtesy Carl Sanders.|
|Riding with a small group in the early hours.. Photo courtesy Patrick Herlihy|
|Patrick Herlihy, Megan Arnold, and Jason Pierce, topping the climb near Medicine Lake.|
|At the top of the climb there is a fast section before Medicine Lake. Here we tow Patrick, Jason, and Megan. Photo courtesy Patrick Herlihy|
|As we roll into Mt. Shasta, we have a nice view of the Mountain between the trees. Photo: Sarah Schroer|
Our plan for this ride is to ride relatively swiftly during the day, in an effort to move along the course well enough to maximize sleep and minimize night riding. We start to become concerned that our plan is slipping.
We then begin the huge 3700', 12 mile climb up to Parks Creek Summit on Forest Rd N17 out of Mt. Shasta. Eric warned us about this climb, and I'm glad, since we are mentally prepared. We've now got 130 miles in the legs, and this climb has some long, steep sections. The fatigue is settling in. It's a real grind, and the climb goes on forever, just as Eric said, but we finally meet Charlie Fornier at the Summit. He's got water and light snacks for us.
|Enjoying the views of Mt. Shasta as we make our way up the N17 climb, we decide a short break for a selfie with the namesake mountain of this ride would be prudent.|
We arrive in Weaverville at 8:34 PM, check in the hotel, and Tim Mason has ordered some Pizza. We shower, then head back to the check-in room for some food and a beer. After that, back to our room to prep for Day 2, and lay our heads on the pillows.
Today is 245 miles and 18,000'. We decide we need to start early, so after a wake up call of 3:30 AM, we hit the road at 4:45 AM. We are painfully slow in packing and getting ready. I frankly don't see how we can possibly pull this off. The legs are completely trashed, butts are sore, and we're already in a state of extreme fatigue. You know how you feel after a really hard Double Century? Don't even want to look at your bike the next day? That's how we feel.
But we forge ahead toward Hayfork, up and over 3 big climbs, before heading toward Fortuna, and finally to Fort Bragg.
After a bout of freezing near Hayfork, we warm up a bit on the next climbs as the sun rises higher in the sky. Halle F-ing Lujah! The roll into Fortuna is fairly easy, with some downhill runs, and less climbing. It's an absolutely gorgeous road, and I am constantly reminding myself to enjoy the scenery, and not get too caught up in the stress of keeping to our schedule.
|Happy to be rolling along the gorgeous Hwy 36 toward Fortuna after the near hypothermic episode.|
We go over the Fernbridge, and arrive at a control in the middle of nowhere. There, Andrea Achilli waits for us with water, snacks, and baked goods that his wife has prepared. How awesome is that! Andrea lets us know that the next miles should be swift, with a few bumps and a good tailwind. Although the bumps were rather large, and the tailwind was rather weak, we do make decent time.
|Stopping at the Control at Fernbridge, we ask Andrea to snap a photo of us.|
|The cruise through Avenue of the Giants is quite pleasant.|
|At times we avoided Hwy 101 by taking the old road. Double bridge here. Photo: Sarah Schroer|
|Rolling along Hwy 101, not my favorite part of the ride. Good shoulder here at this tourist trap with an odd collection of figures. Photo: Sarah Schroer|
We crest the climb, begin the descent, and we catch Mike Sturgill. Mike sits on our wheel as we make the long descent... much longer than we imagine. Sarah and I decide to refrain from putting on our warm gear until the second, and final big climb to the coast. For the second time today, I am freezing, and this descent seems to go on forever. It's odd how you dread the climbs, and love the descents, but when it's freezing cold, the thought process is reversed.
At the top of the second and final climb, we say goodbye to Mike, as we stop to layer up, while he forges ahead. The wardrobe adjustment is a slow tedious process due to cold hands and fatigue, but we finally get it done.
The final miles are down the rolling coast to Fort Bragg, and they seem to pass by very slowly, although the coast line is spectacular in the moonlight. We finally arrive in Fort Bragg, check in with Tim at the Motel 6, then we get back on the bike to head for Safeway. It's the only thing open now, as it's after 11 P.M.
|Our dinner tonight. Souper Meal, bagels with cream cheese and salmon, and, of course, beer. Photo: Sarah Schroer|
We roll out of Fort Bragg at 6:40 A.M., after struggling a bit with a bad floor pump. Eric lets us know that half the riders have left and the other half are trying for a bit more sleep.
If the soreness in the legs and butts was bad on Day 2, there is no describing it on Day 3. Rolling out of Fort Bragg, the task ahead seems impossible. The legs can barely turn, even without any pressure on the pedals. Climbing seems out of the question. We know what Hwy 1 is like. Up, down, up, down. And this will go on for 135 miles before we turn inland at Pt. Reyes Station, and make our way to San Francisco. Mentally, the task seems overwhelming, but we just focus on bits of the course, the next few miles, the next stop.
As dawn breaks, the sun peaks below the fog and we are treated to some spectacular vistas early in the ride. Unfortunately, this does not last, as a high fog sweeps in, and drab light prevails for the remainder of the run down the coast. The good news is that the road is dry and visibility is good. The bad news is that we are facing a strong headwind, where often along this stretch one will experience a tail wind. We try not to stress about it.
|An early morning Panorama of the California Coast near Fort Bragg.|
|Spectacular views on the coast in the early morning hours.|
|The stretch of Hwy 1 between Fort Ross and Jenner is rugged and spectacular, with the road rising high above the ocean.|
|While we were criticized by those following us for sitting down, at this point it was necessary to take a break.|
At this point my butt is so sore, I can't sit for more than a minute or so, without excruciating pain. So we are constantly standing and sitting, even on the flats. The legs are also extremely sore, so each cycle of standing and sitting is so painful, the legs lock up, and the tandem wobbles down the road. Nothing dangerous, but we're starting to look a bit sloppy out there!
|Hwy 1 before Pt. Reyes Station in the late afternoon.|
We stop in Nicassio for a potty break and to put on our evening gear, reflective vests, jacket, and we turn on the lights. The final stretch into San Francisco will be in darkness.
|Second to last stop at Nicasio. On with the lights, windbreakers, and reflective vests, just before sundown.|
|Although we figure we can make the finish from Fairfax without stopping, a cool Odwalla smoothy sounds awfully good.|
|At the finish, finally. Now there's a happy pair!|
|At the finish, Marina Hotel. Clockwise from lower left, Craig Hicks, Sarah Schroer, Deb Banks, Jon Beckham, Tim Mason.|
This was an unbelievably hard ride. Major kudos to those who completed it, and I think there were perhaps a dozen and a half who did so. I will never forget the epic beauty of this ride, the ups and downs, both physically and emotionally. A big thanks to Eric Larsen and staff for having the vision for this ride, and taking the trouble to execute the vision. And a big thank you to the staff, without whom we may not have been able to finish in a timely manner.