I’ve finally come up for a breath of air after our first Hopper. Old Caz is truly may favorite Hopper. That and Super Sweetwater when we do an extra 25 miles of road and then Old Caz. It was amazing to see 270 riders in Occidental. I was thinking we’d get a large crowd but that was somethin’. Everything went smoothly with registration and was helpful that many people had printed out waivers. Luckily Tera showed up at quarter to 9 and took over so I could attend to a few last minute things. Was huge having Rob Dillon from NorCal and John Schmier helping with the feed. Hopefully everyone got a sample of Roctane or Chomps from the Gu sample table. They have been big supports the last couple of years. I found myself even more distracted than years past and nearly left without food in my pockets. As we his the 10 start time I sent people down to Camp Meeker Rd for the start and as the last few rolled down I at last had two minutes to think of my own ride. As a “former” racer, mental preparation is habitual. And the absence of it is disorientating. So as I soft pedaled from the Community Center to the start I had two minutes to rehearse my game plan. It really isn’t that hard to figure out, even with no warm up. There’s the plan and then there’s the game. Fortunately I felt really good going up Bitner and had hopes for a decent ride. I was caught by a ton on Willow Creek and faked a surge before the dirt to have the descent to myself. This worked well and I hit the bottom with 6 others, including Rog who had crashed and chased madly from the back. We worked together and caught the first group shortly before Duncan’s Grade. The next climb popped me off the back and I rode solo until catching a few riders.We had a solid group until the beginning of the climb on Willow Creek and I managed to avoid laying fetal position on the side of the road and limped home to a solid 13th. I know this won’t happen in Chileno Valley. It’s my nemesis that on long road rides there is nowhere to hide and nothing to be gained by making up time on ripping dirt descents.
Stay tuned on ride details. We will start on Sat. Feb 18th at 10:00 AM. If you’re coming up from the Bay Area this is the most beautiful Southern Sonoma-Northern Marin Loop possible. Two years ago the first finisher was Andrew Talansky ahead of Ben Jaquemaynes and the entire Bissell squad. I wonder who will be there to put their stamp on it this year. Our ride will be a fundraiser for our friend and colleague, Ross Dillon, who was hit from behind by an inattentive driver over 10 years ago. Please visit their site to make a donation or donate at the Grasshopper.