Anticipation is thick enough to spread on toast with Nutella. With folks coming from Trinidad and Arcata to the North (you know who you are) and others from LA and Santa Barbara Old Caz is gonna be going off! What fun! Nearly have all my ducks in a row with Hopper logistics and can think about riding again. Fall is dry and minty. I know we all have pangs of guilt while getting day after day of killer Fall weather but I can feel it, Winter is coming! We’ve got our 15 winners for riders who have signed up for the Whole Enchilada and will let you know soon! They’re the lucky recipients of a custom “Grasshopper” Crashtag. Don’t worry, you can get one too! Go to CRASHTAG to order yours.
Believe it or not we’re only 3 months out from another epic season of Hoppers! Put ‘em all on your calendar. Registration will open Nov. 1st. ***This page is being worked on LIVE next couple of days. All the essential event info, 2015 Sponsors and map/route for Old Caz will be up on it’s own page soon. Thanks for your patience.
Old Cazadero (Cross) Jan 31st
Chileno Valley (Road) Feb 21st
Super Sweetwater (Road/Cross) March 21st
Skaggs! (Road) April 18th
King Ridge Dirt Supreme (Road/Cross) May 9th
If you are here you are curious. If you’ve been coming for years you are wondering, “what the hell are we in for?” but of course you’re in for the adventure and just wondering if you really can do it on a road bike. If so what tires? How long? How much dirt? yada, yada. Those new to Hopper Adventures hang on as I ramble on with the details of the June 7th Grasshopper Adventure and make sure to read Rules of Engagement and Hopper History to get a pre-view of what these rides are all about. Picture(s) worth a thousand words…maybe more. Here’s a peak of the scenery and then I’ll go over some of the details for our next Grasshopper Adventure.
After heading up Coleman Valley from town we’ll descend Willow Creek Rd. (dirt) to Hwy 1. This is the same start as Grasshopper #1 Old Cazadero.
Heading North on Hwy 1 we’ll pass Jenner and climb out of Russian Gulch. We will not climb Meyers Grade this year but will continue North on Hwy 1 to Fort Ross. Fort Ross climb is not too long but steep with no rest. Will be nice to hit it early unlike the Terrible Two that climbs it at the 150 mile mark.
Atop Fort Ross Rd we head North on Seaview until we get to the turn at Salt Point State Park. If you get to Kruse Rd you have missed it. Here’s a little video to help you make your turn.
At the top of Kruse we will have our Osmo feed and support by Bici Sport. I’m sure you’ll need it. We’ll have some snacks, some GU, Guayaki and any secret supplies you leave at the start we’ll have waiting for you.
From the top of Kruse we descend to Hauser Bridge and then climb UP to King Ridge Rd. This is a stiffy and will likely make many a grown man or woman cry for mercy. We’ll take King Ridge to Cazadero, Caz. Hwy to 116. 116 to Hwy 1 and then UP Willow Creek. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. Get your adventure on ‘cuz it’s going to be a rocking good day and a great way to kick off the the summer. We’ll party at the end with cold beer and great raffle prizes. We’ll also award the Iron Spike for the hard-man and woman of the year. Not to mention the Grand Prize Raffle of an Ibis Haakalugi Cross Frame and Envy Fork!
Full route details HERE. Includes dirt sections.
In a nutshell:
85 miles 8500 ft climbing
4 dirt sections: Willow Creek 7 miles -descent and flat. Salt Point 4 miles-descent. Kruse Ranch: 4 miles -climb. Willow Creek flat/climb 7 miles.
Other roads fair to horrible. Recommended bike: Road w/ 25-28 cc. or cross bike with smallish tires in new to excellent condition. Climbing gears. Be prepared: 2-3 tubes, patches, tire boot, (extra tire?) credit card, space blanket (j/k), water, food and good sense of adventure with a huge appetite for fun!
a figure of speech by which a locution produces an incongruous, seemingly self-contradictory effect, as in“cruel kindness” or “to make haste slowly.”
or let’s say…”Pine Flat”.
Yes there was a flat stretch with a beautiful stream and pine trees that have at last rebounded from the vicious fire years ago. The stream was calling to me like sirens to a sailor. Though the rippling spring threatened not to crash my ship but rather to give me refuge and refresh my shattered spirit. Actually it wasn’t that bad, though at that point in the climb Stosh and I were waging the slow battle of the century and I was contemplating a nap. Having seen at least a dozen riders pass me all I could think of was the burning pain in my feet. And with a nearly empty tank I sought not so much as to salvage my pride but simply end the suffering. Who’s idea was this anyway?
The day started rather calmly as the headwind discouraged anyone from making any efforts that would cost them later in the day. It was a sign of respect for the challenges that lay ahead and made for a social roll out to Cloverdale. Unlike last year that saw us strung out from the get-go, only Roger made a go, hoping he might be joined by some eager rider. Alas, No such luck.
This was the smallest field of the year with 13o starters and compared with 300-400 makes for a “mellow” staging. Every riders has been entered (again) for the grand prize at the end of the series, an Ibis Hakkalugi Disc frame with an Enve Fork. (Don’t miss Hopper #5) The day began signing riders in at Max Machinery in Healdsburg. (Thanks!) Richard and Fritz from Spoke Folk Cyclery were on hand offering mechanical support and Osmo hydration at the mid-way point. Once again we had GU and Guayaki to help fuel us at the start and prep us for another adventure. We weaved our way through Healdsburg and made a pause on WestSide Rd to wait for those who missed the 6 way stop light and then it was on. Levi took a massive pull and I hung on for dear life as we turned onto West Dry Creek Rd. Actually he just casually pulled through and we all realized the strength of the wind as we headed north. Even the Queen’s English was afraid to rock it at the front. Something about a 12 mile climb at the 50 mile point that turns even a crazy libertarian into a conservative. Was great to see Rog go for it. Gotta love the confidence to bring it when it was destined to fail. Truth be told it drove me crazy to go slow. As a mountain biker waiting and conserving is not my strong suit. Soon enough we found ourselves at the base of the Geysers climb. I made sure to stay near the front as we climbed and descended the rollers on the south approach to the climb. Just before the bridge I made sure to be one of the first few to hit the gravel. Crossing over we began the slow burn that is the lower pitch of the Geysers and I stayed onto the back of the front group just long enough but let them go at about 2 miles before the steeps. I hit the climb pretty hard and came up over the top with J. Lee, Stosh, Brian Andersen and a rider from the Olympic Club. I thought I was saving my matches but not sure if it was not eating enough or just not enough fitness but my efforts were soon to be doomed. J. Lee dropped the hammer on the Geysers descent and bridged to the next group so the three of us headed up the first level of Pine Flat. I didn’t mean to go hard but rode away from my companions for a bit (bad mistake) before being caught by Dana Revalo and Joe Hughes. I had nothing and the effort to stay with them was fruitless. Then came George, then Brian, then….well you get the picture. Nearly made the steeps but had massive cramping and to get off my freaking bike! Oh well. At the top Tera was waiting with snacks and cold drinks, oh yeah. Just a minute behind me came Luke and Mike Hosey. Way to rock it Luke. Was amazed how everyone was so stoked with the course and thankful…are you all freaking mad? That was insane! I respect the skill, resolve, endurance and tenacity of all my Hopper brothers and sisters. Warriors every one of you.
Make sure not to miss King Ridge; the Queen Stage of Grasshopper Adventure Series 2014.
Lions, tigers and bears oh my….Really no excuse for not posting sooner but…
Hopper #4 is special, in a fun-painful kind of way. We know it’s going to be hard…it’s a Hopper. If you are new to the Hopper please make sure to read Rules of Engagement. (You can also print a waiver from this link) But just because a ride is hard doesn’t make it a Grasshopper. It’s all the amazing athletes, sponsors and good-will on wheels that makes every Hopper an epic, memorable and safe day. We’ll roll from Arnot-Roberts winery, some of the finest local winemakers and Grasshopper sponsors. I started riding from Duncan and Nathans’ place in Healdsburg in the early 90′s and have fond memories of epic road rides getting ready for the mtb season. Second,the Geysers is a big ride. For many cyclists it’s barely achievable starting and ending in Healdsburg, but we will add on Pine Flat Rd. We’ll head west to West Dry Creek Rd and then over to Dutcher Creek on our way to the Geysers. It’s a “gentle” climb for the first 20 minutes with amazing views if you have time to look. The kicker comes about 2/3 of the way to the top when we pass the turn that heads to the old Geysers Resort. At the top of the Geysers climb there will be a neutral feed provided by Osmo and Spoke Folk Cyclery in Healsdsburg. If you wish to have a quick transition you can leave extra bottles at the start and we will have them for you at the feed. If not, you can stop and fill up. Old bottles can be picked up at Spoke Folk back in Healdsburg. (201 Center St. Hldsbg) There are several sections of gravel on the the Geysers climb and one on the descent. At the bottom of the Geysers when most would call it a day and head back for a shower, lunch and a cold beer, we’ll climb Pine Flat. What could be better than a big day on the bike with a couple hundred of “your best friends who you just met” riding lightly traveled Sonoma County Certified Ribbon Roads? Pine Flat (yes it’s an oxymoron) is the ultimate out and back climb that heads from Alexander Valley and summits near 3000 ft. This is a local favorite. Please climb and descend carefully. Pine Flat Road gets a lot of cycling traffic and there are folks living up there so ride safely. Under an hour of climbing is a fast time! The opening streches are rolling and not so inimidating if you have something in the tank. You will need to save something for the last pitch that peaks out over 20% at mile 60. If you have a climbing gear, put it on! I’ve seen the toughest fall to their knees and beg for mercy on this section. The Hopper officially ends at the top where we’ll have some snacks and cold Guayaki drinks before heading down. Don’t be discouraged by going down what you came up. It’s a marvelous ride! The shop sponsors for this stage is SpokeFolk Cyclery in Healdsburg. Stop by to talk with Doug, Richard or Fritz to get the skinny and for any of your pre-Hopper cycling needs.
Categories are Open Men/Women. No age groups this year.
$25 Pre-reg $30 day-of
Pura vida. Mig
The course is back to it’s original route. This means we will be doing Sweetwater Springs Rd. -Old Cazadero Rd-Fort Ross Rd. Here’s the Strava 70 miles and 9 K of climbing! All riders will get a custom laminate map with directions. The course will be marked with arrows on the road. Riders will roll on their own to RiverFront Park where we’ll gather briefly before heading out at 10:45.
This is a classic Hopper. In fact, the very first Grasshopper 16 years ago went over Sweetwater Springs Rd. I believe Rick Hunter had a radio strapped to his bike so we could listen to the Niners game. It’s a tiny ribbon road that goes from West Side Rd to Armstrong Woods Rd. The climb on the “back” east side nears 20% and though relatively short, will split up the group for good.
What bike should you ride? The ideal bike is a road bike that can accommodate 25 or 28c tires. The “only” dirt is Old Caz. This is a 3 mile dirt descent with a creek crossing, a dirt climb and another dirt descent. I’ll be on my Specialized Crux Disc with 25 tires. This is NOT the Hopper for tubulars or fancy wheels. Back before all the fancy cross bikes and road bikes with disc breaks we’d be on our Ibis Spankys, Eddy Mercks, Soulcrafts or in my case a Miyata and just be careful on the descent. I’d say this ride pushes the limits of all bikes and riders and is what makes Super Sweetwater special. You can of course ride a cross bike but will not want to be on knobbies all day. However…it is a Hopper and and Adventure so come one, come all. It’s been done on a fixed gear and a tandem but never seen a unicycle yet. Some photos to wet your appetite. BTW…it’s the week after Sea Otter so maybe some of the Big Guns will be out. WAS…65 mile, 6500 ft of climbing. Yeeeehaw! Fort Ross Rd is OPEN. This means we “get” to climb Fort Ross and will be blessed with Meyers Grade decent to Russian Gulch. Can’t wait.
I awoke at 5:00 on Saturday and checked the Weather App. After watching the weather report for 10 days it wasn’t until the day of Grasshopper #2 that I had confidence in what I was seeing. No rain after 10:00 AM was the prediction. I put down my phone and continued with the prep and packing that I gave up on at midnight the night before. Wind? Why worry? Since we were riding Chileno Valley “reverse” or clockwise I figured we’d have a killer tail wind heading East where we usually get killed with a headwind half way through the loop.
My riding these days is primarily with the El Molino H.S. Mtb team and an occasional weekend ride with friends so I did not have high expectations of my performance. Besides, Chileno Valley is where I traditionally get crushed by my “roadie” friends. I need to find some dirt connector to throw in. Some things we learn once but most we learn over and over again. The “oh, yeah right” moment came to me after I started having my first cramps on Wilson Hill. I love Osmo Nutrition, and the quote they use, “you’re not bonking, you’re dehydrated” is right on. I drank enough the day before and did okay the day of but think after several weeks of H20 neglect I was in the negative. Think I over dressed too. Oh, and maybe I used the wrong socks, and listened to the wrong Led Zeppelin album on the way to Occidental, and…and…Well, you get the point. No REAL excuses, just a tough day on the bike.
With a start line of 240 toughmen and women I knew the day was going to be awesome. We again had a smooth start thanks to the Occidental VFD. With roughly half the number of Old Caz riders our presence in town was noticeable but not totally overwhelming. After a brief pre-ride chat and sponsor acknowledgement we hit the tough start up Coleman Valley Rd.Cresting the top of Coleman Valley looking South I realized three things: 1. The wind was coming from the East. 2. The views were going to be stellar. 3. The pain cave I was going to spend the day in had no down pillow. I dug deeper than I should have,thinking I could hide on Hwy 1 in the back of a large group. This was mistake number 1 for a couple of reasons. First, the group I joined was killing it on the coast and was motivated to pick up riders who had dropped us on Coleman Valley.
I think we must have been the 2nd large group, though hard to say. The second realization was that with the offshore wind there was virtually no draft to be had heading toward Valley Ford. Our group swelled to around 20 as we hit Middle Rd and then a few popped off on Turkey Hill before Alexander. I could tell that people were feeling it when the group nearly came apart on Alexander by the shooting range only to get hammered by Dr. Todd and Yuri heading onto Chileno Valley. Think Charlie was in the group as well. The wind was so brutal on heading toward Wilson Hill that the group in front disappeared. I was tired, but not too trashed and thought Wilson Hill would be no problem.
Unfortunately my legs thought differently and I had to stop with a right hamstring cramp. I drained the rest of my Osmo, ate a GU and soldiered on to regain my group at the feedzone. Kevin from Echelon gave me my 2 bottles and even filled a third, thinking of Joy Rd. I munched a pack of GU chomps and was ready to work with our group of ten or so. Several other riders came from “nowhere” to join our group and we at last had a tailwind. The wind to our backs. No wonder this is a common expression to mean things are going well in life. Until they aren’t. I was near the turn off to Walker Creek Ranch that it became too clear that the connection between mind and body were not in sync. Mind said, “hang on, conserverse, cruise to Joy with this awesome group of riders.” Body said, “maybe you should just pull over, look at the view and take a nap cuz you are now cramping in parts of your body you don’t know the name for”.
The good news is that even as I slipped further back I was still appreciative of the beautiful day and impressed by the number of riders who so gleefully caught and passed me. Michael Jordan gave it to me on Hwy like I was Charles Barkley in Space Jam. Rick Pepper caught me and we yo-yo’d together until the climb on Franklin School Rd. George Hope rolled up with a group and then left me and then finally a group with Jess Couch and others just before Valley Ford.
Thankfully Maxine Lamperti was waiting for The Boys and shared a bottle of water with me and I limped my way to Bodega Hwy and up Joy. And I didn’t even walk. Well, “sometimes you eat the bar, and sometimes the bar eats you.”
Grasshopper #2 Chileno Valley
March 1 2014
10:00 AM Occidental Community Center, Occidental California 95465
If you’re ever going to break out your fancy wheels at a Grasshopper, now is your chance. This is truly the only Hopper that has no gravel, though the rollers and steep climbing sections will challenge roadies who prefer the flats. Climbers will also be pushed to their limit trying to hang on the fast flat sections as everyone eagerly mashes big gears to see what they’ve got early in the season. In the back of everyone’s mind, the voice of reason for each big effort, is Joy Rd. Maxing out at 20% just 2 miles from the finish you will be doing your best not to walk your bike. If you have a compact and a climbing cassette…bring it. You won’t regret it. We’re stoked to have Osmo as our hydration sponsor and they will be at the top of Wilson Hill at mile 44. Echelon Cycle and Multi Sport is our shop sponsor and they will transport any special food or personal bottles to the feed zone. They will also offer neutral mechanical support at the feed zone. If you’re new to the Hoppers please read the Rules of Engagement and Hopper History so you know what you’re in for. We can’t wait for the fun to begin! Don’t forget to sign up early on Eventbrite as we will likely be selling out the week before. Rider limit is 400.
Garmin details for the loop are posted here and below you’ll find a map and mileage with turns. There will be arrows on the course but not course marshals. The will be an Emergency vehicle following the course but no broom wagon. Be prepared. Know the route. Carry food, tool and H2O. Remember to have fun and ride safely!
Planning for this year’s Grasshopper began in October and I was so excited, and busy, last week it was hard to sleep. I think it took many by surprise that the event sold out early;but it’s hard to keep such a fun ride secret for long. Fortunately we didn’t have to turn many people away and we rolled from Occidental a bulging 400 strong peloton. I’ve always enjoyed the creative process of sculpting the perfect combination of roads but this year the logistics of the event has gone to another level. I was happy how things turned out but there are always “growing pains”. We regret that so many people missed the turn in Cazadero (it was marked on the road, on the ride card, and on the Garmin map on our site). We did our best to sort things out and I know results are still not perfect…we’ll have a marshall there next year, I promise.
The start was buttoned up tight by the Occidental VFD in town and on Willow Creek and this made a HUGE difference! Thanks! A big thanks to our top sponsors out there this weekend: NorCal/Bike Peddler with the neutral support atop Old Caz. Osmo with the hydration and recovery (sorry they weren’t at the top of Caz…got lost!), Guayaki with tasty maté beverage, Dan Boyle Realtor and Giro. There was a table with more than 45 awesome prizes from all our sponsors so almost 1 in 8 riders got something. Everyone was entered for the grand prize raffle to win an Ibis Hakaluugi and Enve Fork. The first man, Levi, and first woman, Helena Drumm, got a killer bottle of Arnot-Roberts wine. Shows what a diverse ride this is when you look at the bikes of the top 3 men. Levi was on a Specialized Crux, Pete on a hard tail mtb, and G. Kabush on a Scott road bike. I wasn’t in this break so it’s a story that will need to be told another day. Hopefully you picked the perfect bike and had a killer day! I don’t want to get to philosophical about the day so I’ll pass on the words of my good friend Kent Chilcott who is flying right now. He flatted just as we rolled out from the start.
Not my best result but an excellent day. Had lots of great interactions out there as I was clawing my way back. Measured in terms of start vs finishing position, it was my personal best Hopper. Think I’ll record the memory that way. Made up 260ish places and a big chunk of those once turning on to Willow Creek.
It seemed that each group I would catch would find new hope to catch the group in distant sight ahead of themselves. We’d organize. We’d start rotating and some fraction of us would make it to the next group. It was entirely different than riding from the front and gradually slipping.
Made lots of close temporary friends throughout the day and this is the spirit of Hoppers. No matter how it turns out, you’re part of a wave of positive energy with interesting individuals with whom you implicitly share common traits.
The difference I most enjoyed from the back is that the survival imperative makes allies of us all…….until Willow Creek anyhow.
While this one may have been my worst in terms of time and placing, it was my favorite in terms of experiencing the event and other participants. Never before have I witnessed the entire 100% population of Hopperers in front of me and here’s something that struck me. Even the 400th rider who I caught towards the top of Willow Creek, and the 350th and the 300th, these are all really good riders.”
I feel the same way, warriors every one of you…and almost 40 women finishers this year! Awesome! We’ll see you at Chileno Valley! And don’t forget to pre-reg!
Hard to believe we’re just a week away and harder still to think this will be the 16th Annual Old Caz Hopper. You can find ride details at Hopper History and essential information at Rules of Engagement. Please read both of these so you know what you’re signing up for. Cheers.
Ride Details: Old Caz
This is 50 miles of super-eclectic paved and dirt roads in the West County. It is best on a cross bike but can be ridden (carefully) on a road bike with big tires. Or ripping, on a mtb with skinny tires. There are 4 dirt sections: Willow Creek Rd descent +/- 5 miles, Duncan +/- 1 mile climb, Old Caz +/- 3 mile descent, creek crossing and 1 mile climb followed by 1/2 mile descent. Lastly there is the return climb up Willow Creek; also dirt. All other roads are paved from very good to very poor condition.
Ride begins in Occidental, Ca at 10:00 AM and finishes officially atop Willow Creek and you will ride back to Occidental. Please don’t park or send others for you to the finish as there is NO parking. Thanks. Register at Eventbrite. See you there!