Sometimes things go well, sometimes less so. Redlands Strada Rosso definitely falls into the latter category.
As a reminder the event is not a race, the
Race Event Director made a point of stating that early and often. No numbers, no timing, no KOMs just 100 miles or so, lots of gain ~12,500’ mostly on dirt, bring a CX bike and stay for the BBQ. And with that said on with the event.
My plan was leave the house early to arrive for the 7am start, it was a 90 mile 90 minute drive and I made good time and got there with plenty to spare, checked in and got a cup of coffee. I changed and wandered back to the “check in” area, little did I know it was not the “start area”. At 7:05 I asked about the start and was told it had already! Ugh!
I fired up the course on my Garmin, checked the route card and rode off. I met two other guys who were confident that they knew the way but after a mile my Garmin was screaming at me that I was off course. I peeled off and circled back. It took a couple of minutes to find the first off road turning. Finally I was on course and probably a good 15 minutes behind the other 80 or so riders who had signed up for the 100 mile course. I made my own way and after 10 or so miles I saw the first person on a bike. He was on the opposite side of the road going pretty slowly. “Got a pump?” he asked. I did and stopped. He had flatted twice and run out of C02. We rode together for the next 10 miles and to the first Aid Station after which he took off. I had discovered during our 10 miles together he was the CX Master’s State Champion…a bit faster than me for sure!
The route meandered around trails between housing tracts and over open land, there were a few climbs and descents but nothing too treacherous or technical. That ended soon enough. The next 10 miles were mostly up with a nice descent in the middle. Lots of single track with low resistance and flowy corners. Due to the recent rains everything was bright and green and the scenery included good views of the San Gorgornio Mountains. The cloud was hazy and the temperature was climbing slowly but would top out early 80’s and proven by the missed bits of me with no sunscreen!
I caught up with a group of riders and my double flat friend was changing his third flat! I chatted and then rolled on. This was the first challenging climb of the day. We were directed up and over Zanja Peak, there was some riding, some walking, some pushing and plenty of cursing. At the top a walked down section to avoid going endo and then a great swoopy descent to a parking lot.
A note here about the markings…they were patchy in parts and invisible in others even with a route card and a GPS file at the end of each section you were left rotating your head like an owl on high alert looking for the elusive arrow. While it gave you chance to catch your breath it made for lots of stops and starts.
I rode on and made it to next Aid Station at roughly mile 38 in around 4 hours. Fast I was not! I caught up in a gaggle of riders leaving and we rode along a double track path that took a sharp right and closed in. I was riding while others were dismounting. I kept going until a woman shot in front of me and stopped hard. I tried to unclip, failed and went down. Driveside down and still clipped in I slid down a bank. Not far but far enough. I picked myself up and dusted myself down.
I remounted and the pedals span. I hadn’t noticed the chain had come off at the rear. No worries, I put it back on and started pedaling, shifting to a lower gear and then came a clunk and the pedals spun just enough to wrap the chain around the hub. I pushed the bike up the hill and untangled everything. I tried again and the same thing happened. I put the bike upside down and spent 10 minutes unwrapping it again. This time I was trying to see what the issue was.
The derailleur was throwing the chain over the inner ring on the cassette, as a result or as a cause it was pulling the chain out of the derailliuer pulleys and it was rubbing on everything. I had lost my two or three last/climbing gears. Knowing I had the bulk of the climbing left to do and who knew what other trouble I would get into I made the decision to cut my losses. I routed my GPS to take me back to the start. I wasn’t sure exactly how far this was but I did know I would have to ride out of the valley I had ridden into. In the end the GPS put me on (mostly) the route of the 100k ride.
By the time I got back to town I accumulated 63 miles and 6200’ of gain in just under 7 hours.
So that was that really, not the event I wanted but one I walked (or rode) away from albeit with some rubbing and clunking!
This is only my second gravel ride and I only have the Rock Cobbler to compare to but comparisons can be made;
- Pre ride organization; this was great, communications were frequent and provided good information
- Check in; this was easy but the lack of pointing out where the actual start was a big miss
- Course markings; I have mentioned, pretty patchy
- Aid Stations; basic and nothing special, happy volunteers. I only went through two of them
- Post ride event; good food but again finding it and the finish proved to be a challenge
- SWAG; both events had unique and great swag, aprons and wiskey stones
With all that said some things went well and some lessons learned.
- The new Topeak Fuel Tank bento box worked well, I opted for this over the Revelate Tangle Bag and Gas Tank both of which are too big for the frame.
- Riding with the Fox back/hydration pack is easy and the worries over weight on my back were unfounded
- The little route card holder was perfect, my eyes less so, sports readers up next…or Lasik!
- Riding with full fingered gloves works but reduces the number of photos I take, as evidenced above!
- The Lyzene bottle cages are useless, insulated bottles don’t fit in them properly, I am trying regular cages next
- My plan to refit the groupset with Shimano Ultegra that’s coming off my roadbike, it can’t come soon enough. I just don’t like the shifting of the SRAM set
- I need to lose some weight on the bike, it’s too heavy with all the bits I put on it. The groupset change will help and maybe new wheels?
- The LBS pointed out to me that the Clement PDX Tires could be on backwards, even though there is no directional markers, it’s increased rolling resistance but better grip. That said the 33mm size tire is working really well and the slime filled Specialized tubes have so far been on point
- The obvious thing here is that I need to brush up on some basic maintenance of the bike too. I’ll be using the new Zinn book to try and fix the derailleur issue before heading to the LBS for the refit!
So next I have the Mulholland Challenge and High Rouluer Society ride in just over two weeks, in between then and now I hope to refit the bike with a DuraAce groupset.