Hollister Mini Death ride

The third annual Hollister Mini Death Ride ended up being greatly abbreviated, but it still felt like a ride thru a furnace, and yet seven of us survived to tell the tale. Fellow AIDS/LifeCycle Training Ride Leaders, George and Mary Beth came down to join Stephanie, Jerome, Doug, Wanderson and myself for this years ride, now ostensibly a pre-Big Sur Ride training ride.

An update was required to the traditional route (do two years make a tradition?) that has included the Cienega Road San Benito County Wine Trail for the morning warm-up to lunch in Paicines, prior to tackling the Quien Sabe (10 mile) and then Lone Tree Way (11 mile) climbs. The change was due to the replacement of the single lane bridge on Cienega near the Thousand Trails camp ground going on. While I have heard that you can walk down the gully and cross over and climb back up, I also figured that getting the worst climb done early in the day made sense. I had added a Santa Ana Valley warm-up loop up, at the request of one of last years riders, Julie’s husband Mike, who it turns out was vacationing in Hawaii (but doing the the Haleakala climb on Maui) and was spared this years ride.

Starting off with huge fresh made bagels from the Fault Line, we got ourselves going shortly before 9am, and I proposed the first route change for the day, eliminating the Santa Ana Valley warm-up, as long as the 6 mile ride to where the Lone Tree Road climb began was enough of a warm up, and everyone was agreeable. Heading out Fairview, Jerome advised me I was going too fast. I think its my fear that I will be holding up riders (because I sure don’t think of myself as a fast rider) that I have a difficult time starting out and maintaining a comfortable pace.

On Lone Tree Way, I pointed out the 2 gallon water stash I had placed the evening before, figuring we might need a refill. Lone Tree is an 11 mile, dead end road, and the climbing starts about 2 miles out after crossing over Arroyo Dos Picachos. The temperature climbed drastically, it wasn’t until we got up a bit higher that we got a small bit of breeze, but a check of the Polar HRM indicated it was already over 90 degrees. At about 2,000 feet is a virtual oaken tunnel and short downhill, deceiving you, there is still about 300 feet to go, and it’s a rough stretch, as those who have done it can attest. You arrive at a gated driveway, and I wonder “who lives way the heck up here, anyway?”

The good news was that some stretches of road that had some repairs done, previously this road has my vote as the worst road in San Benito county. The worst sections were made somewhat bearable. There are still some nasty broken asphalt sections, making the descent tricky, no one is going to break any speed records on this descent. And of course, we had to have a pair of dogs who wanted to hassles us, give us a bit of a scare just before the bridge. The water stock at the bridge came in very handy, even if lunch was only a couple miles away.

At the Fairview Market it was already 100 degrees, and I was already working on another re-route in my mind. I proposed the second change to the group, and it was all ‘ayes’ around; my thought was rather than do the full Quien Sabe climb, that we would do the gentler Quien Sabe-Santa Anita Road climb, the last planned out and back. As we headed to Tres Pinos, near the house, it just felt even hotter than the 102F in the sun, and I pulled over in the shade and proposed a much saner, flatter and shorter route, Tres Pinos and around Southside, and again no objections, such an easy group.

I phoned Bill at home to give him a heads up to our arrival in about an hour and a half. He was reporting 99.1 on our Weather Underground Personal Weather Station and was surprised that we weren’t back yet.

Fairview Road ends at Airline Highway 25, and it’s 3 miles to Tres Pinos, where there really is no sign of 3 pines. But the Country Store did have ice cream, and George, Mary Beth and Jerome took advantage as we stood in the shade across the street. Then it was time to get it over with. Southside is not the most direct, it adds about a mile and a half, but it has it’s own valley and it’s not in the direct headwind that usually is blowing east on Highway 25.

Then it was less then 2 miles back to the house, and about halfway there, I noticed my front tire going flat. Of course, this close but it wasn’t flat, so with some air (thanks to Jerome’s super pump, mine turned out to be broken) and held just long enough to get back to the house.

Roger appeared just after we got back, he had called in the morning, and was just getting up and I had suggested he could always drive down for the potluck. He also brought his bike and wanted to go our for a ride, and I suggested he skip it. But no, as soon as I headed to the shower, off he went, with instructions to Bill to not tell me where he was. Crazy kid, he went off to do the Santa Ana Valley and Quien Sabe loop, about 19 miles.

We were all quite overheated, so there was no great rush for the showers, but it sure did feel good once showered and changed. Bill had the potluck and barbecue totally under control. A friend of Wanderson’s, Russell, who lives here in town was able to come join us for tri-tip, salmon, combined with several pasta salads, a black bean salads, and the world famous cheesy garlic bread, and another group feast was presented. Coffee and Joseph Schmidt truffles completed the meal, and 7 more survived the Hollister Mini-Death ride for yet another year.

And at least Mary Beth and I did get our climb in, one very similar to the 7.5 mile 2,500 foot climb up Nacamiento Road we have to look forward to with Roger, Jeff and Scott, and a whole gang from ALC, in just two weeks!

The next day, Bill and I drove up to Quien Sabe and Santa Anita Roads where I had left a cooler with 3 gallons of water and several Vitamin Waters in ice, which we never got to. Someone had seen the cooler in the bushes and pulled it out, peaked inside, and then left it on the side of the road. Amazingly enough, the water I drained from the cooler was still cool.

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