Pine “Flat” Round-up

ox·y·mo·ron

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.
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