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.
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.”