Saturday, April 4, 2015

Stagecoach 400 - Finish & Analysis

Up and rolling at a little after 6:30.  Got myself a couple of sodas, turned in the key and headed into fog. There was dense fog around the lake, but it went away as soon as I got away from the water.  The ride up to Warner Springs was pretty nice on the road, I could even see Mt Palomar observatory, and then I made the turn onto Puerta La Cruz which to my surprise was paved !

Lake Henshaw Resort
It seemed to have a lot of false summits, but was quite nice.  I managed to miss the turn to a dirt forest road, but figured it out without having to go too far down a steep descent, and got back on track.  There was more climbing to be had and then I got a descent and crossed Chihuahua Valley Road.  Was beginning to feel that I am pretty close to the end of this thing now !

California Riding and Hiking Trail near Chihuahua Valley Road
I was surprised by the California Riding and Hiking Trail.  The piece near Alpine was really sketchy, but this part was nicely rideable.  Had to walk a couple of places and that was more for something to change up the muscles. An OHV driver came by and talked for a while, me explaining what we were doing with this ride and he being a bit amazed by it.  The miles seemed to go by pretty well, the drinks that I had gave me enough calories to run on and other than beginning to destroy my rear brakes, the bike was working well.

By 1:30 I was at the Sunshine Market again getting an ice cream and AZ Iced Tea into myself and feeling pretty good.  The lady at the counter said she was worried about me ... Shelly had asked if I had come by and the lady was worried that something had happened to me. Kinda nice that a complete stranger would be interested in my welfare, she was really sweet !

Just came from "way back there"
Bailey Road  ( long long descent back to Terwilliger Road )

Sunshine Market
Happy at the top of Jim Truck Trail

The rest is pretty straightforward.  The hike-a-bike up Jim Truck Trail was indeed that, getting warm but just something to grind out.  I had a good road ride on 74, did the Keen Camp singletrack, crossed the meadow and then like many others, wondered when May Valley Road would ever end ?  I literally flew downhill back to the elementary school and about a block later wondered why the track to follow didn't show any longer ( reason -- I am done ! ).  Then my GPS said it's battery was low, but it was all ok, I could ride up hill to the HUB on my own.

Well, I clocked in at 5:28 pm, on day 5, rider number 36, about 11 hours past Brendan's 5 day cutoff.  So although I did finish the route, I'm not a real finisher, my being outside the limit.  But it's all ok, I did ride every mile and got it done.

Soooooo  .... what lessons to take away and do better in the future ?

Have to improve my riding in deep sand.  I wasted a lot of strength getting on and off the bike, getting mired.  Maybe experiment with letting more air out of my tires, so I have the confidence the whole thing won't roll off the rim.

I counted too much on the store in AC being ready, should have had more stuff with me in case they weren't there.

Need better lights ( have ordered something that should help a lot )  I had a hard time seeing depth in the trail at night, part of that is old eyes, but better lights would help.

Shouldn't have made that detour to Pine Valley, as I wasted a lot of time and energy getting back on course.  A camp near Lake Cuyamaca would have let me hit that restaurant again, but I wasn't thinking very clearly after Oriflamme.

I need to figure out how to see the Etrex 30 display better.  At night the backlight goes away after 30 seconds and reaching up to press the button to zoom in or out ( making it light up ) was a bit of a hassle.  Maybe carry a headlight also.

The bike and gear seemed to be just right. I had the right clothes, my sleep stuff seemed to be ok, and I only took one Ibuprofen, so no real aches or pains.

I had a great time and was continually impressed with the route that Brendan has setup for this ride.  Just wished I hadn't gotten so bogged down in the sand and tried to do Oriflamme in the heat, but otherwise I think I did a reasonable job of it ( for an old man :-).

Next up, Chino Grinder in Chino Valley in May, then a northbound Tour Divide in June.


  1. enjoyed your write up--I got TDR hungry reading all the great food stops you got in

    riding in the sand in the dark is hard, near impossible without good lights , lower air might help some but imo a low knob profile on a wide front tire helps much more