BadVentures Vol. IV
An Enduro Style RACE
Year before last, the BadSea Bicycle Squadron went to race Grinduro, a gravel grinder up in the Lost Sierras where racers camp and then ride a loop though logging country where their official time is the cumulative total of four discrete segments of the course. The weekend was a blast, and ever since, the BadSea Dudes have been brewing on the idea of bringing the concept of an enduro-timed mixed surface ride back home to the Southerns of California.
Late last month, we decided - now’s as good a time as any. And plans were set in motion.
This wouldn’t be a race. Just a ride. Show up or don’t. No entry fees. Just a suggested route and the invitation to come-with.
Billy, our in-house techno-wizard, decided to build a timing app that would harvest everyone’s times from the segments automagically. Rawley offered up his brewery as the start/stop point which made a heck of a lot of sense because Rouleur Brewing is a brewery inspired by cycling lore and plus they have beers… duh. GUP, a pressurized shot of sealant for instant flat repair donated some product and, just like that, we had self-supported on-course race support. The TASCO Race Team was showing up with a number of racers so they threw some merchandise in for the raffle. Dave at Gravelstoke (a website celebrating all things gnarmac) likewise garnered the attentions of his bicycle brethren and threw in some raffle prizes. Finally, Victor Sheldon of Quick N Dirty Mountain Bike Races caught wind of the hoedown and brought a van full of Hammer Nutrition products to fuel/hydrate/recover the meandering miscreants.
It was time to put tires to tarmac and get some blood flowing, and then put tires to dirt and really do some work.
Those vying for top-contention made themselves known and leapt off the front. The rest of the fat-tire faction followed suit chasing their roosts as the trail narrowed and sent the group up a steep and rocky ascent. Then, a brief respite as the course flattened to traverse across the front of the old quarry at Calaveras. But soon the riders were back into it, finding themselves shooting through dark and tree-shrouded tunnels that launched them down a chute of jagged cobbles. Wheels back under their control, the riders chuttered down some rutted and sandy doubletrack before crossing the line to finish the Sugar Skull Skills segment.
Or anxiety for what might come next. Or both.
The beauty of this enduro-style format, is that all these emotions (and uncertainties) were allowed to simmer as the bikes rolled at recovery pace towards the next segment. Everyone could discuss amongst their buddies what they thought the most challenging piece of the previous segment was, or what might be waiting for them around the next corner.
The uninterestingly named, BuenaRose segment was a flat and fast fireroad that whipped through a creekside park, then under a bridge to some lilac-lined singletrack, back under that same bridge and popped up a short embankment to finish back at the road from which the course had just diverted. Dismantling into subgroups that were self-selected by speed, you could see small pelotons forming. Groups of 4 and 5 riders tucked in together and attempted to stick close enough to one another to get a drafting advantage, but not so close that the errant drift of a loosed wheel sent them tumbling.
A mostly uphill gravel wash with some false flats, a tunnel, some sandy spots, and occasionally a pretty damn drunk hobo that looks questionably alive. This was a devious segment, particularly because it was too easy to go too hard, which was a terrible way to prime the legs for what lay immediately ahead - the ominous Backside Bell Tolls segment…
Locals are well-acquainted with Double Peak and its lofty and winding tarmac. Much less frequented is the Northwestern face of the cerro, which is summited via a torturous single lane access road for service vehicles. If the chip seal doesn’t break your spirit, the 21% grade will. Those that expended a bit too much on Dead Bum Gulley were kicking themselves as they attempted to paperboy up the steeps of Backside Bell Tolls, but no amount of self-flagellation would make getting to the top of Cerro De Las Posas.
The summit was windless and everyone’s radiators were steaming, the effort of being halfway done, not to mention that last ascent had the riders sweaty and salt-crusted. To stoke heart rates even higher, the rouleurs tantalized each other with provocative two-wheeled stripteases as they attempted to peel off vests and arm warmers without falling down into one of the thorny ravines that traversed the backside of Double Peak.
Letting loose, the decomposed granite trail pointed down and the pack freewheeled around to be surprised by the only unofficial aid station on this unofficial race. Stocked with pound upon pound of perfectly crisp bacon (pro tip: he secret is deep frying), Tecates on ice, and a keg of BadSea Coldbrew.
Properly refueled, we then set out on the bomber descent down the road through San Elijo. Brief glances down at the Garmins revealed speeds in excess of Mach 11.
It starts out deceptively with a short steep pitch on a paved walking path. The route quickly turns to rocky singletrack though, and then a roller coaster of even rockier fireroad that dives down to bottoms of the shrubby box canyon and back up again. Well, back up again if your tires can find purchase on the shale that shifts with each pedal stroke and makes you feel like you’re trying to climb on roller bearings.
This segment would grant Pete Tholl the dubious honor of gnarliest wipeout during the ride. Gunning for the holeshot on an off-camber and rock-strewn descent, he tore a sidewall and went down. The mid-segment repair put the podium out of reach, but PT continued to throwdown for the rest of the ride.
Still, there were three segments left, would everyone hold on? Or would riders begin to implode?
Thankfully, a sufficient recovery roll on the road was followed by a short ripper of a segment. VeloRaptor links three eucalyptus groves together had everyone dive bombing through the understory like birds of prey.
There was laughing. There was joking. There was talk of foods and beers.
A quick and punchy roller of dirt that is a perfect juxtaposition to the golf course that lays beneath it. A bunch of stuffy polo-shirted old men driving across manicured lawns in electric carts clearly had a different idea of how to spend a Saturday than our motley crew of dusted and bleeding velonauts. Couldn’t spend too much time contemplating the contrast though, there was still one more stage to slam before the first BadDuro! was in the books.
So it was called, fittingly, Ditchin’ Church. I started with some BMX jumps to huck off of. Then the route whipped around to descend the ravine. Immediately, riders were met with a choice - ride the skinny on the highline, or shoot the boulder alley of sharp stones - either way, you were liable to go ass over bars. And a few people did. Just as terminal velocity was regained, a sandpit. Then back up to full speed for a couple chicanes, a concrete swale crossing, and boom. The final segment was logged. The almost day was done.
However, so the newly-christened BadSea BadAsses wound their way through a few more dirt pieces that didn’t count towards the cumulative time, spinning out their legs and recounting the day.
The riding band of revelers had plenty of energy left for the afterparty. The O Truck Organic Food Truck was onsite to refill bellies that had dug deep over the many efforts the course threw at them. Then it was podium prizes, raffling off of BadSea Coffee subscriptions, brewing equipment, and TASCO merch, no one went home empty-handed because there was also plenty of Rouleur beers to be had.
1. Ryan Dahl (Wend Performance)
2. Brent Prenzlow (Celo Pacific caffeinated by BadSea Coffee)
3. Milwaukee Marc Engelhardt (TASCO Race Team)