I’ve been waiting months for this race. We’ve hosted a few rides/races at PF but Gideon and I began scoping out this route back in May. Wouldn’t it be cool to have a gravel grinder and take it on the Millennium trail?
We’d been mountain biking up there for ages but one morning we took the Tuesday AM gravel ride down the switchies and decided it would be too much fun.
We added that section to the Ahmenson route from the spring and threw in Calabasas peak for good measure. What’s Sufferfest without a gigantic soul crushing climb? Or so we thought…
I’m SoCal you can always bank on beautiful weather, and, in October it will be sunny and warm. Maybe there will be the Santa Anna’s to deal with but just beef up the aid stations. Right?
About a week before the race rain began to creep into the forecast. Oh well, probably a drizzle at best. No big deal.
There were a few showers on Friday evening but when the course was marked on Saturday morning it was 100% hero dirt. The rain had packed things down, the dust was settled and the trails were in perfect shape.
On Sunday morning we woke up to a steady rain that turned into a light drizzle by the time we lines up in the Pedalers Fork parking lot. Coffee was flowing and we were trying to stay warm.
It was cloudy and cool when we took off. Perfect. I was tasked to lead the roll out to The Oaks and the start of the Millinium trail single track. The pace kept rising as I was getting half wheeled and by the time we hit the trail we were cruising. Nervously I hopped the wet curb, slid out, and smacked the rear tire resulting in a dismount. Balls. Everyone behind me just had to get off their bikes. Sorry. Safety first?
The peloton immediately separated on the switchback climbs. Myself, Marco Arocha and Brandon Baker went off the front and were being chased by Tydeman Newman and Dermet Carroll. As the trail got more technical the gap narrowed behind us. Brandon, Marco and I chatted about the beauty in front of us. Neither had ridden Millinium and were blown away. Suddenly Tydeman was in our wheel as we descended to Bark Park. No surprise as he’s super fast and was on his FSI. The mist was beginning to get heavier.
As I pulled us along Las Virgenes Tydeman mentioned that some guy on an orange FSI ate it hard. Dermot! Noooo!
By the time we hit Ahmenson the rain was steady. The trails went from packed to peanut butter and the wheels got so clogged they refused to spin. Shit.
It quickly turned to hike-a-bike as Brandon and I shouldered our CX bikes. Marco was on a MTB and disappeared behind is and Tydeman kept riding unencumbered …the beauty of a Lefty.
After about 2 miles of jogging, pedaling, shoving muddy gloves into the fork and chain stays we finally began the ascent out of Ahmenson and the transition of trail from clay to sand. Tydeman was stopped and we chatted for a minute and pulled fistfuls of mud off the bikes as Brandon hiked up behind. We set off again and the wheels began to turn. By the time I hit Crummer road there was no one behind me. Weird. Kind of neat. Expecting a chase I flew down the descent and pounded Moreau as hard as I could. I swung through the PF lot hoping for a hose but Gideon said no. Back on the road. A seventeen pound SuperX with 15lbs of mud. Awesome.
Last race I was on the MTB and got reeled in on Stunt. I was determined not to let that happen. 300-400-500 watts. I banked on good dirt ahead but if Calabasas peak was muddy I was turning around. Up I went. The sand was sticky but packed. Pretty nice.
By the time I got toward the top there wasn’t anyone in sight behind me but I kept on the gas. I was having a blast. I came across and surprised Derek and Matt who were in the process of building a jump on the summit to summit descent. No thanks. They tried to talk me into it but these boys were suffering from a concussion and a broken shoulder. I skipped their advice and decided I’d be better off living to ride another day. The Santa Maria trail was in spectacular shape and I railed it. From there is was a push up the pavement, down dirt Mulholland and back to PF.
I rolled into the parking lot to… “dude did you just finish the whole route?” It was awesome. Sufferfest beer was flowing and happy faces were everywhere. Most people had abandoned after the first muddy half and hadn’t done the best part. Oh well, more of an excuse to stop and drink beer.
Brandon rolled in about 15 minutes later followed by Tydeman about 15 minutes later. The sun was starting to shine and the party was in full swing. What an awesome day. Can’t wait until the next one! Oh, and I won’t ever complain about the dust again. I’ll take it any day over peanut butter clay.