Stagecoach 400 2014 | Off the couch and into the oven

Stagecoach 400 2014The 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

Photos

Eric Nelson (Tour Divide 2010 buddy) of Wrightwood Cyclery built my dynamo wheel and setup my light.Eric Nelson (Tour Divide 2010 buddy) of Wrightwood Cyclery built my dynamo wheel and setup my light.
Eric Nelson (Tour Divide 2010 buddy) of Wrightwood Cyclery built my dynamo wheel and setup my light.13-Mar-2014 16:02
Brendan and Mary (from the Ride the Divide movie) held a potluck at their house the night before the race. It was great to catch up with Jeremy Plum (CSTR buddy) and meet some new people.Brendan and Mary (from the Ride the Divide movie) held a potluck at their house the night before the race. It was great to catch up with Jeremy Plum (CSTR buddy) and meet some new people.
Brendan and Mary (from the Ride the Divide movie) held a potluck at their house the night before the race. It was great to catch up with Jeremy Plum (CSTR buddy) and meet some new people.13-Mar-2014 19:30
 
5:30 AM. Bundled for the cold start and descent from Idyllwild.5:30 AM. Bundled for the cold start and descent from Idyllwild.
5:30 AM. Bundled for the cold start and descent from Idyllwild.14-Mar-2014 05:53
Bike is packed. Given the hot, clear forecast, I tried to go a little lighter and didn't take a tentBike is packed. Given the hot, clear forecast, I tried to go a little lighter and didn't take a tent
Bike is packed. Given the hot, clear forecast, I tried to go a little lighter and didn't take a tent14-Mar-2014 05:54
 
We gathered at the Higher Grounds cafe for the 6am start. Brendan had to check that everyone's SPOT's were working, so we got going 30 minutes late. It gave me time to catch up with Marshal Bird (TD and AZT buddy) and Blake Bokius (AZT & CSTR buddy).We gathered at the Higher Grounds cafe for the 6am start. Brendan had to check that everyone's SPOT's were working, so we got going 30 minutes late. It gave me time to catch up with Marshal Bird (TD and AZT buddy) and Blake Bokius (AZT & CSTR buddy).
We gathered at the Higher Grounds cafe for the 6am start. Brendan had to check that everyone's SPOT's were working, so we got going 30 minutes late. It gave me time to catch up with Marshal Bird (TD and AZT buddy) and Blake Bokius (AZT & CSTR buddy).14-Mar-2014 06:25
Brian Remlinger from Jackson, WY looking down into Coyote Valley.Brian Remlinger from Jackson, WY looking down into Coyote Valley.
Brian Remlinger from Jackson, WY looking down into Coyote Valley.14-Mar-2014 08:45
 
Stopping for a quick bite on my way to Borrego Springs.Stopping for a quick bite on my way to Borrego Springs.
Stopping for a quick bite on my way to Borrego Springs.14-Mar-2014 08:45
Sammy Johnstone from Julian, CA wading through the creek and the willows. The flowing creek and lush flora provided a stark contrast to it's desert surroundings.Sammy Johnstone from Julian, CA wading through the creek and the willows. The flowing creek and lush flora provided a stark contrast to it's desert surroundings.
Sammy Johnstone from Julian, CA wading through the creek and the willows. The flowing creek and lush flora provided a stark contrast to it's desert surroundings.14-Mar-2014 09:43
 
Jeff Butler from Park City, UT making his way into Fish Creek Canyon. The temperatures were probably hitting 90, so any shade was a relief. I met Jeff last year during the Tour Divide and introduced him to sleeping in outhouses. He didn't become a fan. :)Jeff Butler from Park City, UT making his way into Fish Creek Canyon. The temperatures were probably hitting 90, so any shade was a relief. I met Jeff last year during the Tour Divide and introduced him to sleeping in outhouses. He didn't become a fan. 🙂
Jeff Butler from Park City, UT making his way into Fish Creek Canyon. The temperatures were probably hitting 90, so any shade was a relief. I met Jeff last year during the Tour Divide and introduced him to sleeping in outhouses. He didn't become a fan. 🙂14-Mar-2014 14:11
Greg Schultejann from Apache Junction, AZ braving the sand and sun in Fish Creek Canyon.Greg Schultejann from Apache Junction, AZ braving the sand and sun in Fish Creek Canyon.
Greg Schultejann from Apache Junction, AZ braving the sand and sun in Fish Creek Canyon.14-Mar-2014 14:30
 
Huddling in shade.Huddling in shade.
Huddling in shade.14-Mar-2014 15:19
Cliff Clermont from Carlsbad, CA and his riding partner trudging up the Diablo Dropoff. They booked hotel rooms for the entire route allowing them to ride fast and light.Cliff Clermont from Carlsbad, CA and his riding partner trudging up the Diablo Dropoff. They booked hotel rooms for the entire route allowing them to ride fast and light.
Cliff Clermont from Carlsbad, CA and his riding partner trudging up the Diablo Dropoff. They booked hotel rooms for the entire route allowing them to ride fast and light.14-Mar-2014 16:15
 
Another break in the shade before hitting the paved highway to Agua Caliente. I knew that I'd make it to the store before they closed at 9pm and I was pretty fed up with slogging through the deep sand, so I didn't mind taking multiple breaks and enjoying the beauty and stillness of the desert.Another break in the shade before hitting the paved highway to Agua Caliente. I knew that I'd make it to the store before they closed at 9pm and I was pretty fed up with slogging through the deep sand, so I didn't mind taking multiple breaks and enjoying the beauty and stillness of the desert.
Another break in the shade before hitting the paved highway to Agua Caliente. I knew that I'd make it to the store before they closed at 9pm and I was pretty fed up with slogging through the deep sand, so I didn't mind taking multiple breaks and enjoying the beauty and stillness of the desert.14-Mar-2014 16:39
 

 

One Response to Stagecoach 400 2014 | Off the couch and into the oven
  1. Demetrius
    April 4, 2014 | 1:21 am

    Wow, marvelous blog structure! How lengthy have you been blogging for?

    you made running a blog glance easy. The full look of your site
    is magnificent, let alone the content!

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