January 2012 Ride Reports & Rio Bravo Rumble wrap up.
What a wonderful few weeks of weather we have had this year for the cycling and outdoor enthusiast. As much as we need the rain, I can’t say I haven’t enjoyed the the spring riding conditions and the natural ease of getting on the bike in the morning in warmer times. Later afternoon rides in 70-80 degree temperatures aren’t bad either when you have to work or have family obligations in the mornings.
I was inspired to put in some serious, or more serious, hours on the bike by my lack of fitness as of late. So I set out to hit a good 25 hour week and the fun that goes along with it. In the process I went to Woody a few times and Glennville once, got a few group rides in and a mountain bike ride or two.
It’s hard to find extra time to do anything, let alone something as selfish as “training”. I’m being tong in cheek of course, but with a very serious undertone. See any “Training” takes time away from things like, our kids, our spouses, our work and our house hold duties, to name a few. As such, serious training takes away serious time. Every cyclist(or any other recreational competitor, or enthusiast) goes through this “compromise” and for most of us it’s our family that tolerates our needs for our cycling habit, and for that I thank my wife!
January is my birthday month and so I had planned a birthday ride to Glennville with a friend on the day after my birthday. It was mid week and we both had been busy with family like most people, we were looking forward to some long miles.
Ryan was going all the way to Alta Sierra to meet his family and it was looking to be great weather. Plan was to leave by 10am, but as we all know, its hard to duck out during the first weeks back after the holidays.
We headed up north Chester towards hwy 155 and woody and then Glennville.
78 degrees and a light breeze made the work up both the Woody and Glennville climbs more comfortable, as Ryan and I chatted away the 40 miles to the Glennville Store. Some hydration in various forms were purchased and consumed in the patio area, not to mention a few candy bars.
As we topped off and prepared to make way, goodbyes were said and off we went. Ryan to the task of the next hour, approximately 8mile climb to the top of Alta Sierra, and I to my 40mile ride home, solo, late into the afternoon.
The beauty of cycling for me is the ability to climb inside my “own box” and goto work, so to work I went, as I’m sure did Ryan with his 10lbs of gear! As we know the miles go faster with your mind on your work so I pushed on home just before the last sunlight faded from the sky at 530pm.
So being a glutinous cycling nut as I am I was able to get away again that same Friday with Gareth Feldstein and Richard Picocelli for a 10 o’clock departure towards Glennville. Gareth was set on getting 100 miles in and Richard and I were looking at getting 3-4 hours in ourselves. Back up North Chester we went, again great weather and good conversation were our companions as we hit the pull to the “Y”. Up the Woody accent we went and Gareth was taring it up for a centuries pace, but looking in fine form as he then Richard and I proceed up to the top of the climb.
We again ate and said our goodbyes as we headed off to our prospective journeys. Richard and I had a leisurely ride home, observing a beautiful Bald Eagle across from Three Dogs shooting range and many hawks, crow, horses and cattle. Wind at our backs, warm weather and good company makes the miles fly, and we were home.
Much like the city streets offer a unique enjoyment, so does road cycling and racing, but for me the purity found in nature while mountain biking has had me hooked since I was a late teen. At the end of my 25 hour week, I was able to hit a trail that is for most a “less than fun” ride. As it connects the Kern Canyon Trail one direction towards Kernville and the Delauniga Trail down river towards the Democrat Hotel on the west side of the Kern River. The Delauniga Trail heads down stream to the Democrat Trail with, if you descend it you will be at the Democrat crossing, and if you accent it, as we were it takes you up to the junction of the the “Lookout Trail” that continues up a mile to Rancharia Rd., and the “Badger Gap” trail that continues north east towards the “Kern Canyon Trail” junction at what is know as the benches.
Beautiful day with great cyclists, Gareth, Keith, and Courtland and good company to boot! Keith is a 6′+ grown man, next to my 5’8″ frame I am a “dwarf”, and it was nice of him to allow Gareth to suggest the route, it has a 2-3 mile 35-55 minute climb at 13.6% ave grade. Good times!
Up we went at our various speeds, all suffering in our “own boxes” with our own voices yelling at us to STOP, and yet we climb, and climb… And climb. At the top a great view is the reward and from just west of the gate’ you can see Rancharia Rd a scant 200yard away. If you could run straight up the 25% slopes that leads to it, you would be there in no time.. however this 25% is what necessitates the “Lookout Trail” to Rancharia.
The Badger Gap decent and subsequent climb are a lot more gradual and smooth but absolutely beautiful with its deep green canopies and lush vegetation in the corners, along with switchbacks & super tight fast exposed descent’s.
With all together and refueled from the top to bench run, we decided to head up the Kern Canyon Trail 15min or so towards Keysville. Great section this is, fun and more technical with tight banked corners and rocks in the trail to manage. Out and back we went, on the return, as we passed the benches we turned left, “down river” onto the Kern Canyon Trail that takes you up and down towards our staring point at the Park on hwy 178 in the canyon at the first bridge crossing. Another great ride section that is fast and punchy with tight expose descents. Total ride stats; 21 miles and 3hours on the trail with some good guys and great weather made for a fine 25hour week!
So all that great riding and Great fun proceeded a local annual event known as the Rio Bravo Rumble. Held over the last 7 years on and at the Rio Bravo Ranch on Highway 178 east of town.
The Rio Bravo Rumble started in the late 80‘s early 90‘s(89-91?), and was Directed by David Simpson(rip), a local Cycling Hero of mine, and all around cool guy. Originally the “Rumble” was held behind the Golf course on the back side of Lake Ming in the picnic area. It ran along what is Tuscany Estates and down to the Tunnel under Hwy 178 and into the “Rio Bravo Ranch” orchards. From there it would cross the creek, and cut back towards the Rancheria Rd bridge, following the creek to the Kern River. Onto the Nickels Property west along the river and back ti the Picnic Area. I fell in love with Mountain bike racing at this race, more on that later…..
The 2012 version of the “Rumble” is held exclusively on the Rio Bravo Ranch, south of Hwy 178, & is a Biathlon, Run and Mtb Event sponsored by G&G Physical Therapy. Brian Monroe(partner at G&G) has been the Director since its re-emergence seven years ago, and put a great mountain bike race course together this year. Good long sustained climbs, mixed with punchy short ones, cattle beaten trails, off camber single track and technical docents(& a fire road or two) made for a tuff 32 mile Mtb race!
The first Rumble I did, I was a rookie who thought I had some skills, or at least enough skills. I quickly rethought that…….
As most of us have learned, or are learning over and over, Races Hurt!! And the first one can be a game changer for many, “wtf did I get my self into?!” is the thought I had. I learned a few things that day, (most of which I am still “learning” to “learn” from still) (1) that people cheat & get away with it, and the only way to stop it is to “ride them off your wheel”…… and (2) that I wanted to be like Dave(Simpson)!
I had barley survived my meager 8mile beginner race, dirty, tired and hungry I sat at the picnic area starring at my food. About that time Dave walks by drinking a beer congratulating the riders & receiving congratulations for “His” win in the 32 mile Pro/Expert race. I couldn’t even imagined, hard as I tried, how he could even walk, let a lone drink a beer! I was sold right then and there, road racing was lame, I wanted to race Mtb’s, win the rumble and drink a beer like a true Citizen/Cyclist… (right after that Sean Smith introduced me to a Race Called the Keysville Classic Mtb Stage Race…. and it was on for the next 23 years!)
David Simpson continued to be a mentor as Race Director of the Keysville Classic, President of the SSFTA and one Badass Bike Rider. Dave would tolerate may of our young “downhillers” attitudes, and show them a thing or two on his Proflex with its polymer front shock! David was the Man, he lost his life on PCH riding his bike, for me the “Rumble” and “Keysville” are Dave Simpson. His grit, his commitment and his smile.(he had a great smile)
This year was the first time I had raced the new version Rumble” in 4 years, and first time in the newer 32 mile Mtb course. In previous years the Rumble had a 16mile “bike” portion of the Biathlon, in which seemed a bit CycloCross friendly for the Mtb crowd, and as I discovered, Brian had remedied this!
Lined up first on the Rumble start/finish line were the cat ‘s(experts)16mile and 32 mile riders(I was unaware of this at the time…fyi), Courtland, Sam, David, Richard, JP, Mike, Ivan and many other took off at the sound of the “gun”, and the race was on.
I had no real direct knowledge of the course, but having ridden the area many many times I was able to relax and let the race unfold. The first 40+ min. is mostly a fire road to jeep trail climb, that allows a strong roadie on a cyclocross bike(richard) & John P on his ridged Mtb to drift up the trail a few. As I began to recognize the surroundings, I know we were getting to the top of the canyon, pushing hard at the end long climb, we caught the sight of the lead two riders. Out of the canyon and onto an off camber, cow beaten, single track decent that quickly exposed the cyclocross bikes short comings as the lead group was now one rider.
For some, the ability to follow course markings was difficult that day. As I proceeded after JP, a group had gathered consisting of Mike Noel, Cody Pratt, and Ivan Robles(HS Mtb Team). Working fairly well together, we could see JP just ahead, but we were very surprised to see another rider whom had mistakenly cut the course, a team mate of MIke’s riding withJP.
We began a downhill portion of the course, and started to gain on JP. Coming into the bottom there was a technical creek crossing, I was right on him. In the split mila-seconds that one has to think, I went to the left of two crossing options. I had watched JP dismount and was tasting the catch as I did the same dismount, just down stream. The haste of my desire for the catch had blinded me to the mud I proceeded to stick my foot into crossing the creek! Up to my ankles I went, almost losing balance, and defiantly loosing ground on JP and the group behind.
Being unfamiliar with the course as I was, I had been warned of the “one off”, first lap only climb up the radio tower road.. Well that had also slipped my mind during the haste to make the catch. I cleaned my shoes as best as I could and proceeded towards the “Climb”, trying to regain my rhythm and relax, as the race was less than half over. The task at the top of the climb was to tear a page from a book placed there by the promoters as proof of the climb, and I made sure I put the page some where that would not get lost(not doing that 13% climb for nothing!).
Back down in less than 60 seconds, and off towards the last two climbs and the end of the first lap.
The race goes up the road..
The “lost rider” was overtaken on the run in to the finish line. What I though was the chase group was down to Mike Noel and my self(and the lost guy).
For whatever reason the “lost rider” stayed with us as we came into the start finish/feed zone, somehow as I get my water hand off, I get boxed in & my front wheel gets caught up, & Bamm!!! Straight to the ground I go, water bottle flying, me cussing, the whole nine….
I pick myself up, gather my wits and my bottle and remount my bike for the final lap. Mike is around 150 meters up the road and the “lost rider” is with him as we start the long canyon climb, who knows how far JP is, as I have lost track of him in the madness. Anyway, its time to go to work so I put my head down and get to the task at hand, this time knowing what is ahead of me.
I catch Court, oops, the lost guy, in the canyon and continue towards the top. I find Mike as we come across the first single track section, and we exchange pulls up the nest small climbs. As we enter the more technically tuff section of downhill I am able to gap Mike. Through the mud section I go, choosing the proper side this time, up the other side and onto the fast fire road decent to the final two climbs. The first is a 6% 1000 meters at best climb, that loops back around itself and descends back down the same side. Up the last 10% 200 meter climb I went still searching for JP, I had failed to see him anywhere, and there were spots on the course that double back, it had me bummed. I thought I had lost him, he must have just pinned it and road me off his wheel… I was worthless and weak!
Down the orchard section to the finishing straight, one more look back, Mikes 100 meters back, a look ahead and no JP… I round the corner and onto the finishing straight, through the Finish line and the Timing Chip mechanism, onto the 1st looser… 2nd place…
Well…. as I look around trying to locate JP to congratulate him, I get the word…… JP had done one lap only, and had puled out after lap one….. Thus why I could never see him, he was driving to Fresno….
So I stopped sniveling and grabbed a beer, Cheers to Dave Simpson, Good Friends, Mountain Biking and the Rumble!!!!!
Zachary A Griffin