King Ridge…How do you sum it up? Many of you have ridden King Ridge and perhaps joined the thousands at Levi’s Gran Fondo and you are familiar with the route. Many have ridden it so many times it’s become second nature; a Sonoma County Certified Ribbon Road, ridden hole shot like your favorite back yard single track. For all it’s an unforgettable ride, sights burned into your brain unbeknownst to you as you go ripping up…and down. I think the more I ride the Ridge the more I want to stop at random spots. Along Hwy 1 near Salt Point, half way up Kruse to check out the massive tree sized rhododendrons, atop the bridge over the Gualala River searching for steelhead, corner of Tin Barn and Hauser to ponder at the marvel of the Buddhist Temple . All rides have their natural rhythms and rest points and this is a true rubber-neckers delight. Please do stop and marvel, just remember your friends might not be waiting for you at the top of the next climb.
The Hoppers began out of the spirit of friendly competition amongst brothers and sisters in the West County/Gianni church of rotating mass. Like all long rides with mixed groups there are surges and lapses. It’s a dance amongst friends,especially when guys and gals ride together and try to figure out exactly what the days pace is going to be and who’s to decide. I believe one of my inspirational moments for the Hoppers happened 15 years ago on King Ridge. After a busy Spring and Summer of racing I savored late October and November rides when we would do long, steady rides without too many hard efforts and no unexpected attacks by friends testing their form. It was on one of these King Ridge rides when a friend (name withheld; who wasn’t a bike racer but fast none the less) was experiencing an unexpected jackpot of fitness and decided this would be the day when he would crush his “racer” buddies. So we let him yo-yo off the front all day and ended up riding much harder than we wanted. Then at the end of the day what happened?, yeah, we ended up waiting for him as he picked up the pieces somewhere along the rollers of Seaview and helped him find his way home. Why didn’t we leave him? Because he was our brother. But…I thought…we should put a date on the calendar to ride King Ridge with no holds barred. If you attack and blow up, no waiting. It was like the Oncelers when they discovered the Tuffula trees,I needed to let the whole family know. I got on the horn (no email…oh simple life was) and called Hunter (Santa Cruz gang), Kent and Don (Pink Palace gang) Glenn (NorCal/(Dave’s) gang) Duncan, Rog (Healdlsburg gang) Yuri and Timmel (Petaluma gang) and of course George, Leo, Ray, Kevin, Mike,Matt and the rest of the Gianni gang and the Hoppers were born.
Well, word has spread and it’s hard to hide a good thing. We are doing our best to stay true to our roots and make the Hoppers as hard, and as fun as we can. We do our best to keep it safe but it’s up to everyone to ride within their ability and be responsible for their actions. It would be quite easy to draft a route that would be un-doable or see 15 out off 150 riders finish but that is not the goal. We create unique, challenging courses that flirt between just right and a little too much. So on to his years route choice. If you ask why I’ll have to tell you the same thing I told Todd W. as we climbed Meyers Grade on a pre-ride, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got.” I have the King Ridge loop completely programmed into my internal GPS/Powermeter. (Lord knows I don’t ride with one and can never really tell you how low a Hopper is) Clockwise…It’s a bit more of an unknown. You all know you’re wondering what it’s gonna feel like climbing Hauser Bridge climb.
Remember that these rides are not sagged. Everyone needs to read the Rules of Engagement. A Hopper isn’t quite a race (we have permits as a “training series”), not really a century or a Fondo but well…these are Grasshoppers! Please ride carefully and carry all the necessary equipment and tools to take care of your misfortunes, hunger and warmth. NorCal will be our neutral support once again and you will be happy to see Wade at the corner of Tin Barn and King Ridge. Say thanks and pick up your snacks. We will have some water to fill your bottles or you can leave him your personal bag at the start. The descents on this ride are all black diamond. Caution for high speed, unpredictably steep corners, cattle guards, cows, deer, unfilled pot holes, overfilled or gravelly pot holes, rednecks in big trucks who don’t give a fuck, hippies in Prius’s who love you but didn’t expect 20 bikers at 45 mph on a blind corner and other surprises. This is a true road ride with one section of gravel/dirt climb. Most folks will choose to ride their small tires but wouldn’t hurt to put on 25 or even 28cc tires. My bike of choice is my Specialize Roubaix.
Look forward to seeing you all on Sat. Mig