Don’t cross the Ride Marshall! And don’t cross the yellow line…ever! So here’s a rundown on this Saturday’s ride. First of all, both veteran and newbie Hopperites need to read the Rules of Engagement and History of the Hoppers so you get the scoop. There is no hand-holding out there but it is not a free-for-all. The roads are open and there will be traffic. There are no road closures or signage for the route. The forces that be know we will be out but everyone is responsible to know the rules of the road and obey them. We will have one emergency vehicle on course but let’s not put them to use. To report a DNF please call the number on your ride card. You must rely on others, yourself and the ride card (mileage to turns is in red and it is not exact so pay attention to where you are )to get yourself around the loop and back again.
Remember that Hopper #2 is also a fundraiser for Ross Dillon and donations will be accepted at the start or you can donate online.
Let’s start at the beginning. I expect there will be around 125 spots for day of reg so plan accordingly. This will put us between 375-400 riders which is reaching near critical mass. Ride starts at 10 AM in Occidental at the Community Center. If you’ve pre-regd you’ll need to sign a waiver and get your ride number. If you road in Hopper #1 just sign in. Just one ride number, and it goes on your seatpost,unless you can get it to stick, and stay, on your forehead. Grab a GU, a Hopper decal and go shoot the breeze or warm up until it’s time to roll. Osmo Nutrition will be at the 40 mile mark atop Wilson Hill with a cold bottle of Osmo. If you need more you’re welcome to stop and fill up. NorCal/Bike Peddler will also be there and helping with the feed. If you wish to have your own special stash of hydration and food you can give a bag to Frank at the start. Make sure your stuff is marked. All bottles and clothing that is left at the feed will be returned to the start at the end of the day. Unclaimed food, bottles, clothing will likely be recycled, eaten or donated. But not necessarily in that order.
We will be staging in 2 groups. Wave 1 is for Road Pro 1,2,3 and Mtb Pro/ 1. Wave 2 will stage behind them and will consist of Road 4/5 and Mtb 2-5 but will start at the same time. There are no age groups. Keeping the start safe is paramount. The most dangerous part of the day will be on the descents on Coleman Valley heading west from Occidental. Please line up in the appropriate spot to avoid having to pass or be passed early on. It’s a long day so chillax!
After the start we take an immediate Rt on Chileno Valley Road. This steep initial climb will thin the group out some and after passing Willow Creek Rd on the rt there is a ripping fast descent of less than a mile with 1 sharp, wet left turn. Remember if the road looks wet and slippery it is. Some north slopes will not see the sun all Winter. At the bottom there is a new bridge and the turn is awkward at high speed. I don’t know how else to say it. Control your speed and plan for the long day ahead. There’s a short but steep climb at mile 5 that puts you up atop Coleman Valley Rd with one of the top 10 views I’ve ever seen. Remember to look South and take it all in. Give thanks, take a drink an carry on. When you get the sense you are dropping off the Earth, the edge of the Left Coast, this is the time to take great care. Now is not a good time to enjoy the view. The road is very narrow, fast, no center line, and there may be oncoming traffic. I was nearly hit head on by a motorcycle who was going uphill faster than I was going down. Oh, and this is the cliff edge where my dad once rolled a dead sheep off the side when ours died and he didn’t know what else to do with it; but that’s another story.
At the bottom you hit Hwy 1. Visibility is poor here so take caution making a left. In fact, since we are going in a counter-clockwise direction there will be many left turns. Don’t cheat the corners. Fun time ripping south with a tail-wind until Franklin School Rd in Valley Ford with a few sucker-puncher rollers to keep the group honest. Or to call your bluff if you find yourself in too deep early on. Frankin School has one short climb and a gut punch to the top of Dillon Beach before descending into Tomales and Hwy 1. Along Stemple Creek toward Tomales Bay there is always a weird head wind heading South and then reverses as you hit Nick’s Cove. On this section don’t forget to eat and drink as there won’t be much time for this on Marshall Wall. Lft on Marshall Wall and you’re on your way.
I’m not gonna talk you all the way through the day, need to leave some surprises. Get safely to Hwy 1 and you’re all good. If it’s your first Hopper have a blast and think of the Joy at the end of the day. If you’re a seasoned local, have a blast and think of the “Joy” at the end of the day. We’ll be finishing near the top of Joy at Charles Beck’s place and there will be Osmo recovery for you and lunch available by Fork Catering back in Occi. Don’t forget the sweet raffle/Swag box! No need to give your name, unless you want, as we’ll be doing computerized timing from now on.
Ride on! Mig