What a fabulous turn out for the Hollister Mini Death Ride! Sixteen brave souls made long drive down to Hollister and the attempt at two of the three climbs that make up the full Hollister Death Ride. From Different Spokes we have Patrick, Jeremy, Bill, Bart, Erik, Rico, Roger and myself, plus new members Michelle & Shance. And from AIDS/LifeCycle (and with a little convincing from Downtown Julie Brown) we have Julie, Julie’s husband Mike, Michael C., Dave T., Robert & Chris Z. After bagels and fruit, we assembled for a group photo, before heading out as the fog began to lift.
Skirting the south end of town, we made our way to Cienega Road, the beginning of Hollister’s Wine Trail, which also goes past the Hollister Hills Recreation Area, popular with off-road motorcycle and ATV riders. We regrouped in front of De Rose Vineyards, which also fronts the driveway to the Pietra Santa Winery. Julie & I headed back after few minutes when Bob hadn’t shown, we found he had been having mechanical issues where his rear brake was dragging, making hill climbing much tougher. All seemed to be ok when we got to him, and the 3 of us were with the others at De Rose in no time.
At mile 17 we regrouped at the entrance to Thousand Trails Campground and then from there it is 5 miles to the Paicines General Store to fuel up for the first of the two major climbs of the day. However, leaving leaving Paicines, Robert had the first flat of the day, I had not heard him holler behind me when it happened (a thorn got him) but when I noticed that he was not behind me anymore. This put us behind the group.
Quien Sabe starts in Tres Pinos and climbs up 1500 feet in just under 9 miles, around Cibo Peak, to end at the entrance to San Benito Cattle Company. There are several spots for relief from the climbs in the lower section along with a decent to Santa Ana Valley Road, where we turn right and then left to continue up Quien Sabe, but the upper 5 miles is all climbing. And according to the Krebs Maps, there is a triple chevron (greater than 9% grade) section. Before long, the first of the group was descending, first Chris and Michelle, followed by Patrick and he stopped and we chatted for a minute.
After Patrick left, I waited a minute or two and after no others were coming down, I continued to climb. Eventually the rest of them did start coming down, and I stopped and took photos as they descended; Shance, Bill, Jeremey, Bart, Mike, Roger, Julie (screaming “aaahhhhhh” as she passed by), Michael and then Dave.
At this point, I turned around and descended the portion of Quien Sabe I had done. It wasn’t too far down before I came upon Shance & Bill; Shance’s tire had come off the wheel as he was descending! We later guessed that the tube must have been getting low to have allowed that to happen. I waited while he changed his tube, and the three of us proceeded down to Santa Ana Valley and into a fabulous head wind, which seemed to follow us, even as our direction changed from northwest to west down to Fairview.
Thanks to Shance’s one man paceline, the three of us quickly caught up with the last of the others just arriving at the Fairview country store, our second lunch/refueling stop. It was nearly 3pm when we arrive, and there was still 25 miles to go, including the 10 mile climb up Lone Tree Road. As we got ready to go, first Robert found his front tire flat (again!) and after his was fixed, Shance found his same rear tire flat (again!) The thorns were winning today, but Roger aka “Thorn Boy” was spared! About half of the group was heading back to the house and skipping Lone Tree.
Part of the reason for leading this particular ride to get some climbing in training for the Big Sur Ride in a few weeks, with 11,000 feet of climbing in two days, 7,700 of it the first day. Lone Tree starts out much gentler than Quien Sabe, but it is more than 2,000 feet in the 9-1/2 mile climb, more than Quien Sabe.
While I felt I should be back at the house to help Bill with the food prep and entertaining, I wanted to at least do a portion of Lone Tree. Mike, Roger and Dave headed out first, followed by Erik, Bill, Bart, Shance, Michelle and myself. Michelle and I rode together as we started out Lone Tree, and chatted and at about quarter to 5pm, I turned around to head back, figuring it would get me back home about 5pm.
Back at the house, the first group were all showered and relaxing, and Bill was getting the BBQ ready, folks were having a great time. Figuring the earliest anyone might be back from Lone Tree would be shortly after 6pm, Bill went ahead and cooked the three tri-tips and two ahi-tuna steaks and we started putting out the potluck. Folks were also getting hungry, so we began eating.
One by one, the eight official finishers of the Hollister Mini Death Ride returned, first Mike B, who described in great detail the small farm house on the right at the end of the road and the gate on the left, proof of having reached the very end of the road. As the other returned, there was much discussion of which climb was more difficult, Quien Sabe or Lone Tree. Consensus was that Lone Tree was much more difficult, especially the last mile or so before the summit.
Eventually all the Lone Tree climbers made their way to the spa, for a well deserved soak after the long climbs of the day. After that, dessert was served including Rico’s fabulous lemon pie. We wrapped up the evening with a viewing of the photo DVD presentation put together by Michael from AIDS/LifeCycle 5, including Shance getting dressed in a dress for Red Dress Day! And it was learned that one of the Day 3/Rest Stop 2 Post Prom Nighters was Chris Z’s boyfriend Rueben (yes, “that” one, for those of you who were there!)
P.S. Bill & Bart were going to go do the Carmel Valley loop the next day. Instead, the four of us ended up going wine tasting along the ALC Day 2 route from Salinas to Soledad, including Rest Stop 3’s Pessagno Winery, along with San Saba Vineyard, 1800 feet above the valley floor near the west entrance to the Pinnacles was Chalone Vineyard, and finally Marilyn Remark Wines. Hopefully they had a nice ride Monday!
Thanks again, everyone for coming down and making our Labor Day weekend special.