So yesterday I had the pleasure of joining 750 or so other cyclists at the 8th Annual Mike Nosco Memorial Ride. This is my second year of attending the event. The ride has a joint mission of celebrating Mike’s life and raising money for selected recipients who are in need. It’s a very popular ride and is very well supported by the local community including, riders, sponsors and bike shops. There was also smattering of Pro’s with Phil Gaimon, Ted King and Neil Shirley rubbing shoulders with the rest of us! It’s easy to tell how popular this ride is with all of this happening on a Thursday!
The route, as best I can tell, hasn’t changed each year so it would come as no surprise to regular riders. There are three main climbs which are timed for a KOM/QOM award. For those people who feel that it’s a bit too much there is a shorter route with less elevation.
Even though I haven’t done any major climbing since my HRS attempt in the summer I had no qualms about signing up for the 80 mile ride. The joy of a deep base and a big range of gears!
As, pretty much always, the weather was sunny and unlike last year’s chilly wind it was a warm start that would become a hot ride by the time we were in the canyons! A lot of folks were having a rough time by the end but let’s not get too far ahead!
The start is a low key but organized affair. The ride down Potrero is at best a bit hairy and with 749 other people it’s something that is taken gingerly. Nobody want to crash and even more so not going downhill within the first 5 miles of the ride.
To that end it’s a neutralized rollout with cars front and rear controlling the speed down until you reach the farm fields at the bottom. From here there is a couple of miles to the remembrance site where some words were said by his brother Jack and we paid our respects.
From here on out the riders split up into various groups over the flat terrain heading for the first climb at various speeds. As before I was reminded how much quicker a group of riders can cover the ground vs. a solo rider as I barreled along mid pack in the late teens, early twenties per hour!
A few miles ahead of the left turn into Deer Creek I passed the group as I didn’t want to get stuck in a bunch that ground to a halt on the sharp climb.
The first couple of hundred meters usually has people up and out of the saddle and there is crunch of gears sliding across the cassette! I sat in and stood occasionally. The climb has a couple of nasty false summits and as you round the corner you see you’re not quite there!
At the top was the first Aid Station. I rode through it and stopped the other side. I didn’t need any supplies. I scoffed a bar and headed out. To get to the descent there are a couple of nasty rollers which take you by surprise if you’re not familiar with the climb. The decent down Yerba Buena was uneventful. The road is pretty rough but despite that I was able to pass some folks, testament to an overall improvement in my handling skills from this year.
Turning left onto PCH at the bottom there was a one mile break until the next climb; Mullholland Highway. Needless to say having Everested on this hill I was very familiar with it. Before really noticing it I was halfway up. I ended up with my third fastest ever ascent, by comparison to Deer Creek it’s an easy climb and it gives you a couple of stretches to recover. The trick here is to not back pedal but to keep the foot on the gas. As before there was an Aid Station at the top and here I made a point of refilling my bottles and grabbing a soda. Along with the elevation gain the temperature was rising and I was glad I remembered to apply the sunscreen!
An easy decent to PCH down Encinal and I was back on the coast. Some rolling hills and a cool ocean breeze lulled me away from thinking about the climb up Latigo. I have ridden this many times now. It’s best described as remorseless; 9.2 miles and nearly 2000’ of gain. There were plenty of people struggling on the lower sections with some already walking. In the middle there is a false flat which lets you catch your breath before the last 2 miles which are followed by a quick descent and the final mile of climbing. With the last three miles to go I dug in deep and picked up the pace. I made the mistake of misjudging it and kicked it up too soon, by the time I got to the top my HR was well into the red and I had to stop to cool down. I grabbed several handfuls of ice and stashed them down my jersey will pouring coke down my throat! After a couple of minutes my HR had dropped and I headed back out.
With the three main climbs completed it was basically 20 miles of rolling terrain left to get you back to the Start/Finish where there was plenty of recovery food and even a beer tent! Alas as it was a school night…well day, I couldn’t loiter and had to collect the kids from school!
So despite my lack of climbing this year I felt I rode it pretty well, I was pretty close to my best times on the first two climbs but nearly 20 minutes behind on the third, obvioulsy put down to going all in too soon! Overall I was 2 minutes slower and half a mile longer than last year!
As like last year the event is a very well organized, because it’s a fund raiser you donation is your entry fee and depending on your donation you could get a Tshirt, jersey or full kit. This year I opted for the Tshirt as last year I went for the full kit but I haven’t worn it! Things average out I am sure. The event is very well organized and as mentioned well supported so there are no concerns about things running out.
If you’re looking for a good cause and a good challenge consider signing up for next year.