The Stagecoach 400 is a bikepacking race in Southern California that is 380 miles and over 30,000 ft of climbing. Doing it this year was a very last-minute decision. Annie and I assumed that we’d be overwhelmed raising our newborn, Utah, so I didn’t expect to have time to train for or participate in any bikepacking races.
Fortunately, it wasn’t nearly as bad as we had steeled ourselves for. Getting out for 2.5-hour rides was doable. Thus, I was able to ride about 250 miles in the month before the race. It wasn’t a lot of training and didn’t really put a dent in the 20 lbs I gained since last summer. But I was just happy to be riding again!
I have to give a big thanks to Annie for being an amazing wife and new mommy. She had no problem with me training and being away for 5 days.
Overall, I did much better than I thought I would and it brought together a great group of people. Thanks to Brendan of Hub Cyclery for organizing!
I finished just under 3 days (2 days and 20.5 hours). Since I was out of shape, I had to cut back on sleep and I only took photos on the first day (see below). For a lot more photos of the route, see my ride from 2013.
Day 1 (Start to base of Oriflamme Valley climb)
- A chilly descent out of Idyllwild
- Wet, deep creeks running through the willows
- Warm temperatures near Borrego Springs
- Skipped Borrego Springs store and stopped at Split Mountain instead
- Hot, sandy slog through Fish Creek Canyon, but the new route returned to pavement sooner
- Refueled at the Agua Caliente store and chatted with a bunch of other racers (many slept on the lawn behind the store)
- Pushed into the night up the highway and stopped around 10:30 just before the turnoff for the Oriflamme climb
- Slept for almost 6 hours!
Day 2 (base of Oriflamme Valley climb to near Carmel Valley Rd)
- Long walk/climb up Oriflamme in the early morning
- Around sunrise, came across Brendan on the side of the trail about 3/4 of the way to the top
- He had pushed until 3:30 am the night before. After stopping, he got really cold and wasn’t able to sleep much.
- Pretty views from the singletrack and highway to Noble Canyon trailhead
- Spigot at trailhead was off (Booo!), but I had just under a liter, so I pressed on
- Refueled at Perkin’s store and chatted with another racer who was really happy the HAB sections were over
- Quick stop at a 7Eleven for some ice cream as I got close to the coast
- Reached San Diego shipping yards right at sunset
- Cruised through the crowds, beach fire parties, UCSD students and pushed on into the night
- It was going to be hot (>90) the next day, so I wanted to be sure I started the big climb out of Pamo Valley by 10am
- I stopped at around 1:30 am and slept on a side trail. I got only 2 hours of sleep.
Day 3 (near Carmel Valley Rd to finish)
- Pre-dawn riding delivered me to the gas station just beyond Lake Hodges as the sun was coming up
- Refueled and chatted with Jeff Butler before pushing out into a very chilly section
- In Pamo Valley, I crossed paths with MTB riders who were out for day rides
- Happily started the big climb out of Pamo Valley just before 10am, but it still got pretty hot and unexposed
- Got water and napped at the fire station on the Indian Reservation. Greg rolled up and we had a good chat.
- Dropped down near Lake Hemet where the temperatures were a little hotter and the roads were full of motorcyclists
- Stopped at the Warner Springs fire station to get water and nap a little. Chatted with Greg and Jeff. We all looked forward to finishing.
- The climb after Warner Springs was hot and Greg and Jeff quickly dropped me. I pulled over and slept for another 20 minutes in the dirt.
- I rolled into the Sunshine Market just as Greg was leaving. I had a fun, heart-felt chat with Earl, the camp host.
- Earl was holding food that Greg and I had pre-ordered since we knew that we were going to arrive after the store closed at 7pm
- I was close to finishing, but the sleep monster continued to plague me
- I napped for 10 minutes in the trail during the HAB back into Hemet Valley
- When I reached the pavement in Hemet Valley, I was still cross-eyed and hallucinating, so I decided to sleep for another hour
- I woke up shaking cold, but felt rested. I had a nice, quiet climb on the road back up to Idyllwild.
- Finished at 3am sharp!
- Thankful that Erick Lord left pizza and drinks for me, Greg, and Jeff – very classy move