My second year for this ride, also second year going “solo” (Ben couldn’t come), but was enjoying wonderful company in the household at our little hideaway at Bass Lake, organized by Pat & Chris. This year’s household included Pat, Chris, Mark N, Jaz, Eileen, Mark S and myself (all from last year), as well as new additions Emily, David and Felix (all long-time, old-hand GPC mainstays).
Here’s a link to my Flickr web album for this ride:
The “singles” carpool this year had Mark S (driving, Eileen, Felix and myself). Each of the “couples” drove their own vehicles (Chris&Pat, MarkN&Jaz, Emily&David). Food contributions for Friday night dinner, post-ride snacking Saturday, and Sunday breakfast were again off-the-charts creative, bountiful and generous by all parties, ranging from fresh caught, home-cured lox and smoked salmon spread (Mark S), crisp veggies, humus and chips (MarkN&Jaz), a variety of artisan breads from LaFarine and the CheeseBoardCollective (Eileen), pasta (Chris), scalloped potatoes (Felix), a really inventive apple/vegetable cobbler (David/Emily), salad (Fri.dinner), and plenty of fresh fruit (Sunday breakfast) as well as and an egg scramble with mushrooms, cheese and sautéed arugula (your truly).
Oh, and we rode bikes, too!
Saturday morning we all got our bike stuff on, and those of us who opted to bring out bikes indoors for the night hauled them back out to be mounted on top of the cars for the early morning 10-mile drive to the Century Start up at North Fork School. At the school, we reassemble our bikes, then roll over to the school building. I think this year we decided it wasn’t necessary to go pick up our Pre-registration stuff the evening before-hand, so we went to registration, got the T-shirts etc, and just brought them back to the car before queuing up for the pancake/egg/sausage breakfast that’s included in the price of the Century registration.
Last year I had started really late, and didn’t want to repeat that this time. So I was on the road by about 7:30. Still, by about mile 2 it turned into a solo adventure for me: since you start out really cold and have somewhat of a descent the first several miles, I am kitted up with long leggings (or at least knickers), a SmartWool base layer top, jersey and jacket. Long-finger gloves, too, natch! Right off the bat, i had to stop to re-set something on my bike, so already lost my riding partner (Eileen). Mark S came up behind me soon and then soon afterward was also gone in front of me. Then Mark N… who was past me in a flash.
Shortly afterward, i was in the part of the climb in which i could no longer put off taking off some of my warm layers. While doing this, it seemed like the entire field of riders flew by. Just as I was getting ready to put all my extra layers away, one of the SAG trucks came by, pulling a Porta-Potty. He pulled over and offered to take my bag of sweaty clothes up to the next rest stop for me… i said “sure”!!! And then i was on my way. A few miles later, uphill, I came to the first rest stop. Grabbed some fruit, used the Porta-John and then saw Pat & Chris rolling by… as I jumped on my bike to chase them down, I remembered I still had to pick up my bag of clothes, so turned around to go back to the rest stop. The volunteer at the snack table was handing it to me and when i mentioned i really wouldn’t need any of it until Cold Springs, she offered to have it SAGed up to that rest stop for me, if I wanted… Wow, really? So I again graciously took up their offer and she passed the bag off to another SAG vehicle. And i was again on my way.
Went about 5 miles further, and started thinking, i think the lunch stop is around here somewhere (at Overlook)… and then there were a few signs on the road “Rest Stop ahead” or what-not… Unfortunately, this year someone forgot to mark the actual turn for the rest stop (a bit of a “Y” where the right fork heads slightly downhill off to the right). My mind was telling me “i think that looks like the intersection/turn for the rest stop, but there’s no signage, so i guess i need to keep going…. at this point there were no other riders around, and i hadn’t set my cyclometer to 0 until well after the start, so mileage points were a bit off for me in any case. Well, suffice to say, after rolling straight ahead for another 10 miles or so (somewhere around 37-43 miles), I come to the Rest Stop and intersection i recognize from the previous year as the turnoff to the Grizzly Road (the biggest, longest and final climb in the ride that goes up to Cold Springs). This is also the point where one has an option of going straight ahead for the “out-and-back” to the Sierra Lookout. This year my legs just didn’t have it, so I decided to stop and head up Grizzly Road directly… i am just not that “hell-bent” on getting my full 100 miles! Besides which I hadn’t had anything to eat since that last stop at 10 miles. And with all the fluids I was being careful to consume, I was overdue for the port-john.. hmmmm, this year for some reason they don’t have any at this rest stop. WTF??? I learn they do have porta-johns 15 miles back at the “lunch” stop (yeah, you know — the one i missed cuz it wasn’t marked) and also at the “Lookout” 10-miles ahead on the “out-and-back” leg. Fuggetaboutit!! Just then I see Eileen and Mark S rolling by on their way out to the end of the “out-and-back” section. I also know they are planning on continuing past the out-part of the out-and-back and just detouring around and down to the valley before climbing up to Cold Springs. I know i don’t have the legs or the energy today to keep up, so i decide to grab another cookie and then plan to go water the trees. And the worst part? Last year it was this Grizzly Road rest stop that had the delicious home-made sushi. This year i’m finding only a few slices of oranges, bananas and i think some cookies. Ok, after kwetching a bit with some other malcontent riders, and relieving myself in the trees, i’m off again on my solo jaunt. And it is lovely. I do love Grizzly Road!!
As i climb, i am reminded that there is nothing really steep and the lack of motor traffic on this road makes the ride really special. I also realize that since I am in fact climbing Grizzly Road a lot earlier in the day, and therefore not in such a hurry (last year started late and hung out too long at all the rest stops so we were climbing in heat and in a bit of a hurry, conscious of being DFL and not wanting to get SAGed in). I’m also no stranger to solo riding, so toodling along Grizzly Road on my lonesome is ok. Some folks pass by once in a while, and occasionally I pass some too. Eventually i reach Cold Springs, and realize I have hit the gold mine of rest stops… not only is the rest stop still OPEN (unlike when we reached it late last year), but it has fruit, PB&J, and SUSHI!! Yum yum yum…..
i get my fill, and them some more, and drink several bottles of cold beverage. Then i collect my bag of stuff, put on my jacket (but not the still moist SmartWool base layer), and I’m on my way … this descent is one of the loveliest I know… nothing too steep, nothing too twisty-turny.
At the bottom I am so pleased it’s still early enough to include the “around-the-lake” portion of the ride. So I make the right turn onto the highway and then the left turn to the lake and the right turn that goes right by “our” house. The lake route is really nice… there is even a rest stop on the other side… the ladies working it are practically begging riders to come on over for a bite (i gather that most of the riders are in home-pony mode and ride past). I’m glad that I stop, as the remaining section actually goes on for a LONG time afterward, and a whole lot of up and down which suddenly starts feeling like a bit of a cruel practical joke. I’m at the end of the ride, but what’s all this climbing about?
I arrive in North Fork and get momentarily confused/turned around about which direction to go at one of the intersections, but a minute or so later a few riders come by and set me straight, and then i’m just a few blocks away from the final little climb back up to the school for the finish.
I head to the sign-in area, and then start feasting on all the pre-meal goodies: smoothies, even! I check to see if Elaine and Mark or Felix have arrived, and find that none of them have… after a while David and Emily come, as well as Mark N and Jaz… 45 minutes later I realize i should just head down the hill to the dinner, and i find most of my household gathered there.
The post-ride meal is just what the doctor ordered. BBQ chicken, ribs, potato salad, beans, green salad. You can even get a beer for $2!
Pretty soon along come Bruce and Holly (not in our house, but wonderful GPC riding pals), their first time on the Grizz this year. And my old buddy David K (who has done the whole ride, also his first year for the Grizz). David has spent the previous night up at a motel in Oakdale (about 20 miles away) and is planning to drive back home to the Bay Area this evening. We convince him that is somewhat insane behavior and invite him to crash at the house for the night.
The group eventually makes its way from the feast hall to the Bass Lake house, and we spend a few hours talking about life and the current club politics. Life is good. I sleep like a baby.
Sunday morning, the household gets up in stages, and greets the morning. I recruit David to slice up fruit, we are all feasting on Mark S’s smoked salmon spread while I slice up the onions, peppers and garlic for the egg scramble. 2 doz eggs and “fixins” for 11 healthy, hungry cyclists. Just perfect!
Thanks to Mike Nolen and all the organizers and volunteers. This is becoming one of my favorite rides around!
David decides to head home and not do the Million-Dollar-Mile ride, as do all of the others, but our car occupants are not only agreeable but looking forward to it. And so we do (see next post).
My stats for the Grizz:
not too fast
about 9000 ft climbing, my best guess
jeez, i thought i wrote all this up earlier but can’t find the postings (it’s now Feb.2013)