Kenda Cup #1 EnduranceVail Lake 2017

Not exactly how I wanted my day to end…

The alarm went off at 4:30 am in Oak Park and it was pouring rain and 42 degrees. Awesome. Almost hit the snooze and went back to bed but made the coffee and loaded the car. On the road at 5:15 and poured rain the entire way to Temecula and the temperature never got above 46 degrees. I was having deja vu of the Vail Lake race 2 years ago but something magical happened about a mile from the venue. The skies lightened, the rain became a drizzle and there was even a little sun peeking through the clouds. By the time we lined up there was a rainbow. “This is going to be an awesome day” I told myself.

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We lined up. All the usual suspects were there: Tinker, Stephane Roch, Stuart Gonzalez… we all lined up. I’ve only beaten on technicalities but I was ready to hang with him today. Immediately the field separated. The pace was quick and relaxed. I asked Tinker if he wanted to lead into the singletrack but he told me to go ahead. We were followed by Stephane and then a gap opened.

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Ryan Steers Giant Tinker Juarez Vail Lake Kenda Cup Endurance

Lap after lap we rode a few seconds apart and I pulled and set the pace. Finally on lap 5 Roch popped. Now it was just Tinker and I. The legs felt amazing. Topical Edge? I kept waiting for his attack but it never came…until 3/4 mile from the finish line, right after the last climb and into the last flat and descent. He took off and I chased on his wheel for a few hundred yards before…crunch, stars, searing pain. I still don’t know what happened but suddenly I was upside down in dirt. I jumped back up, adrenaline pumping, and hopped on the bike. The bars were crooked- no problem, been there before, but I went to pedal and my crank wouldn’t turn. Crap.

broken chainring

I put my hands on the bar and my left arm collapsed and searing pain shot from my shoulder to my neck. I’m totally screwed.  I clipped in one foot, held the bars with my right hand and kicked down the hill to the finish stretch. So close. I hopped off and jogged the last hundred yards and collapsed at the line. “Medic!” Still nabbed second.

endurance podium vail lake 2017 kenda cup ryan steers giant cofactory tinker juarez

As the adrenaline wore off the pain set in. My collarbone was toast and my back was raw and helmet destroyed. In all the years of racing this was the worst crash, I’ve been lucky. Suddenly I was surrounded by staff and friends offering to bandage, drive, medicate. It was amazing. Eboz gave me ibuprofen and cleaned my wounds while the Zubicks dressed and iced me. Shannon drove my car all the way back to the ER in Woodland Hills. I felt so lucky.

Ryan Steers Giant Kenda Cup Vail Lake broken collarbone finish

broken collarbone surgery kaiser

X-rays confirmed what I already knew and Kaiser was able to get me into surgery the next day. Now one day post op I’m recovering, researching fancy trainers and dying to get back on the bike. Four weeks and I’ll see you back out there!

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Rock Cobbler 4.0 2017

I really wanted to do this ride last year but my wife was days away from giving birth and I couldn’t quite justify being out in the middle of a field on my bike all day and missing the big moment…so here I am this year. With all this rain I was dreading the course. I knew it would be muddy but I was hoping it wasn’t clog the tires and prevent them from moving muddy, like the last Pedalers Fork grinder we did. The night before I even grabbed the Trader Joe’s coconut oil non-stick spray and gave my frame a coat, which, was by the way a terrible idea because coconut oil becomes solid at room temperature and formed a wax like coating on my bike that was nearly impossible to get off and did not prevent one drop of mud from sticking. Live and learn.

Rock Cobbler 4.0 Lengthwise brewing Bakersfield

Reg

We lined up just before 8am at Lengthwise Brewing Company in Bakersfield. It was a chilly 44 degrees and a temperature inversion made for a foggy and smoggy sunrise.

Rock Cobbler 4.0 Start Lengthwise 2017

Lining Up

After a talk from Sam we headed out on the neutral bike path rollout for about 12 miles. There were pee stops and chasing back on the group as it had already began to string out along the way. By the time we hit the road it was game on. Hornbeck hit the gas on the first paved climbed and chase we did. There was a regroup at the top and things slowed down until we hit the first dirt when Jake Orness harnessed his CX speed and sprinted up the first climb with everyone in tow. I managed to hang right behind Scott Lundy in 4th or 5th wheel and right around Neil Shirley who kept offering the wise advice to chill, this was a long day. By the end of the first punchy climbs a group of about ten of us had broken off the front. We stayed that way through orchards, river crossing, cow paths until Neil and Phil Tinstman flatted right around mile 30ish. Then there were 8.

Rock Cobbler Jake Orness Ryan Steers Bakersfield 2017

Jake literally captures his point of view

We hit the road again and Jason and a small group caught back on. We pushed hard after the second aid station and managed to drop the pack down to six riders with myself, Scott Lundy, Brent Penslow, Menso de Jong, Jason Siegle and Vincent Ownes taking turns pacelining the pavement. It was awesome. Such a great group of dudes just working together and out for a ride. We kept turning around and catching Neil working his way back to us, and amazingly he caught back on when we hit the fire road. What a beast. Unfortunately he had to dig a little too deep and wasn’t able to hold on when the pace picked up around the crazy suicide murder hike-a-bike hills. Speaking of those… ever been assaulted with beach balls on a 35% grade while jogging with your bike? It will mess with you.

Rock Cobbler 4.0 2017 leaders Bakersfield gravel grinder

Elite 8

From there we hit Mr Toad’s and had the most amazing flowing descent back down. I put a little pressure on the front and by the time we hit the bikepath home stretch it was just Menso, myself and Lundy. Menso threw down a crazy TT and pulled away with Lundy and I chasing but I just couldn’t hold his wheel and slipped to 3rd. Overall it was an amazing day. I can’t say enough great things about this event and it’s everything a gravel grinder is supposed to be; not too serious, dirty, painful, beautiful, bloody, and comprised of the coolest cyclists around.

Rock Cobbler 4.0 2017 Ryan Steers winners

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