02 October 2016

2016-10-01 - Grizzly Century

After last year's last-minute, but very necessary and accepted cancellation, the North Fork's Grizzly Century was back for 2016.  It was welcomed by about 400 riders, covering four routes.  Most of the riders chose the regular Century (100 mile) or Metric Century (100 kilometer) routes.  There was an optional, eight-mile, unpaved portion to the Century which gave riders the opportunity to see a different route without additional mileage.

In late 2015, North Fork, Ca. and surrounding communities were threatened by devastating wildfires.  Many reminders were seen throughout the day.  Much of the first 30 miles of the course was left scarred, or otherwise completely changed where whole forests were leveled either by the fire itself, or by the clean-up and more recent restoration efforts.  It was a stark contrast to the virtually untouched portion along the last 30 miles of the route.

The day was nearly perfect for a ride with a clear sky, light breezes, and temps between the high 50s to low 70s.  Most of the SAG duties were nothing more than tire issues and water.  I personally fixed four flats, two of them before 8:10 in the morning.  There was one relatively bad spill near the end of the day that required EMS; a mix of tree-root produces pavement undulations and downhill speed.

Ride pictures below... 

Three SAG motos in the parking lot prior to the start of the event.  Kevin's Honda ST1300, with Chuck BMW K75 and Bryan BMW R1200 GSA.
The Yosemite Bicycle & Sport SAG rig is a staple at the Grizzly.  Better service & experience cannot be found anywhere.
Lion's Point Rest Stop.
Fresno Cycling Club President Dennis Ball at Lion's Point Rest Stop.
Reminders of the 2015 fires that threatened North Fork and forced the cancelling of the 2015 Grizzly Century. This is less than a mile from North Fork.  The pavement is still red in places from the fire retardant which was dropped from air tankers in an effort to control the fires.
Parked along Minarets Road. Reminders of the 2015 fires that threatened North Fork and forced the cancelling of the 2015 Grizzly Century along Minarets Road between Lion's Point Rest Stop and Mile High Rest Stop.

25 June 2016

2016-06-25 - Climb to Kaiser

The 2016 Climb to Kaiser went relatively smooth.  There were no major accidents or heat related illnesses to report.  That's always a good report.  Most of the days SAG duties were air (flat tires) and water (low water bottles) related.  There was one minor crash with what was initially thought to be a possible broken collarbone.  Luckily it ended up just being bruised.

The day got off to a rough start with a confusing lead-out.  A minor miscommunication between Clovis Police Department and the lead SAG caused the group to miss a turn on it's route through Clovis.  Clovis PD took it in stride and managed to get the riders through Clovis safely.

All told, I (SAG Moto 1) made two full trips from the start in Clovis to the top of Kaiser Pass and back. Plus a few miscellaneous side trips. I left home just after 4:00am and left with the mass start of Kaiser and Tollhouse Century riders at 5:30.  After leading out that main group, I returned to the start in order to lead out the second group of riders for the Millerton Metric ride at 6:30am.  After their lead-out, I began working my way to the front of the pack to stay with the lead riders on the Climb to Kaiser.

After very brief stops at Wildcat and Tollhouse Rest Stops (I didn't even get off the motorcycle), a quick stop at the Tollhouse top water stop and Shaver Rest Stop, and another brief stop and he Huntington Rest Stop, I was at Kaiser Pass Rest Stop at 10:53 when rider #1107, Jove Graham of Clovis arrived.  He made it in 05:23.  Incredible.  He was only there for maybe two minutes.  Just long enough to grab a bite, be mobbed by the press (literally), have his bottles filled, and then he headed down the mountain.

I followed him down the hill, stopping at a few of the Rest Stops, and escorted him the last 20+ miles to the finish, just before 2:pm.

I returned to the top for the last rider's arrival at 5:00pm and closed Kaiser Pass Rest Stop at 5:pm.  The last rider made it to the top under his own power - by walking the last half mile - but unfortunately, requested a transport down the hill.  I swept the course for riders down Kaiser Pass Road, Tamarack Ridge and Highway 168, pushing the remaining riders toward Shaver.  We closed Shaver Lake Rest Stop at 7:00pm and swept Alder Springs and Auberry Road pushing the riders and remaining SAG vehicles toward Millerton Store Rest Stop.  We then closed Millerton Store Rest Stop and had all of the riders back on the road, headed to the finish by 8:45pm. The Motos escorted in the final riders. I escorted the 3rd-to-last rider from Millerton to finish. Nancy Dooley followed in the final two riders.

The day's temperatures ranged between 62 and 102 degrees.

I rode 380 miles total on Moto 1.

A copy of the Fresno Cycling Club's Rough Draft Newsletter, including additional Climb to Kaiser info can be read here: July 2016 Rough Draft

Early morning stats.
Moto SAGs linup prior to the mass start.
Riders line up for the mass start.
Shaver Lake rest stop gets ready for riders.
Big Creek rest stop.
Flags line the last few yards of the Climb to Kaiser.

07 May 2016

2016-05-07 - Fresno Cycling Club's Kirch Flat Cinco de Mayo Ride

This year's Kirch Flat Cinco de Mayo ride sponsored by the Fresno Cycling club was another hit this year.  Cooler temps and a bit of rain on parts of the course during the day made for some easier riding compared to last year's heat.  Along with a new start/finish venue as Paso Tiempo Park in Clovis, there were some minor route changes to the longer rides.  The intent was to even out the route distances; the reality added to a bit of confusion on the road for some of the riders, and SAG vehicles.  With the exception of one rider who got into a corner too hot on Maxon road, everyone made it back to the finish for barbecue, though, and generally had a great time.

Riders line up at the start.
Event Hostess Yvonne Moreno.
Riders line up at the start.
Jim Johnston's BMW R1200 GS SAG Moto.
Riders line up at the start.

27 June 2015

2015-06-27 - Climb to Kaiser: Heat, gear put riders to test

Climb to Kaiser: Heat, gear put riders to test
BY ANGEL MORENO - amoreno@fresnobee.com

  • Fresno’s Amy Cameron overcomes health issues as top women’s finisher in 155-mile Climb to Kaiser
  • Joey Galloway, of Exeter, was the top men’s finisher for second year in a row
  • No major injuries or accidents reported in Saturday’s 39th annual Climb to Kaiser
There is nothing easy about the Climb to Kaiser.

The distance: 155 miles.
The climb: 15,000-plus feet from Clovis to Kaiser Pass and then back.
The weather: Triple digit temperatures and high humidity.

But the challenge in completing what is arguably one of the toughest endurance rides in the nation is as much mental as it is physical when it comes to riders surviving aches, pains and the occasional flat tire to make it to the finish.

Just ask Amy Cameron, the first woman to finish Saturday after 9 hours, 38 minutes, 9 seconds in the saddle.  In her fourth Climb to Kaiser, the 35-year-old marketing manager at Wine.com finally crossed the line in front.

“I told myself I’d do it until I won it. Then never again,” said Cameron, who is from Fresno but now works in Oakland.

After a runner-up finish in 2012, Cameron fell ill. She was diagnosed with celiac disease and also became “super anemic,” she said.

As the health problems grew, her sponsors vanished.

Still, Cameron didn’t give up. She trained for two years, returned to health, picked up Bay Area sponsor Mike’s Bikes and finally can check her top finish off her bucket list.

“I’ve had some really good luck,” she said. “It’s a blessing to be back to health.”

Cameron’s teammate and friend Jennie Phillips (10:29:14) was the second woman to finish the full ride.
288 - Number of riders who started the Climb to Kaiser, with more than 60% from out of the area.
Joey Galloway, 36, of Exeter was the men’s top finisher for the second year in a row, crossing in 8:55, nearly 20 minutes slower than last year’s time because of a pinched flat on his way down Tamarack Ridge. It was the third top finish in eight rides for Galloway, who is sponsored by Dayka-Hackett.
The one downfall that all parties agreed on was the heat.

“It was stupid hot,” as Cameron put it.

“The humidity was awful,” Galloway said. “It saps all your energy and you can’t push hard.”

Temperatures were in the mid-90s near Shaver Lake and eclipsed the century mark as riders descended into Prather.

To ensure all riders stayed hydrated, there were nine rest stops, each equipped with cold water, Gatorade, fruit and other snacks and towels soaked in buckets of ice. Numerous support vehicles also covered the route.

Some riders took their time to cool down, stretch and reapply sunblock at rest stops, while others plowed through before the heat got worse.
"IT WAS STUPID HOT." - Amy Cameron, of Oakland and formerly Fresno, who endured temperatures that hit triple digits to be the first woman to complete the Climb to Kaiser Saturday
“It’s a hot ride this year,” race volunteer Dennis Hall said. “This ride takes a lot of endurance and if you’re not ready, it can easily take its toll on you.”

This year, 288 riders started, with more than 60% from out of the area.

Madera’s Benjamin Madrigal (3:57:21) was the top men’s finisher in the 71-mile Millerton Metric. Leading the women’s field were Laura Wright of Modesto (4:37:01) and Clovis’ Jaime Schaffer (4:46:30).

Top finishers for the 95-mile Tollhouse Century were Christopher Buock (6:09:06), Mike Brown (6:09:10) and Michelle Brown (6:11:27), all of Fresno.

No major injuries or accidents were reported, though two motorists were reported to California Highway Patrol for harassing cyclists and one was cited, race director Jennifer Collins said.

For full results, search Climb to Kaiser at runsignup.com.

Angel Moreno: 559-441-6401, @anhelllll
Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/sports/outdoors/article25692334.html

02 May 2015

May 2, 2015 - Fresno Cycling Club's Kirch Flat Century

I worked the Fresno Cycling Club's Kirch Flat Century this year after a one-year hiatus.  I missed it last year to attend my Aunt's 100th birthday party.  I last worked this ride in 2013 and a short write-up can be found HERE.

There were some changes for 2015, including some additional routes.  This ride is designed by the Fresno Cycling Club as an all-ages, all-abilities, membership drive ride.  As such, they try to have a route for everyone, including a flat 15 mile route, an all flat half metric, flat and hilly metric routes, and flat and hilly full century routes.

While this many options is great for the cyclists to find that right ride for them, it can turn into a logistical nightmare for the SAG as riders are literally going in six different directions.  Since most of the riders are local, and they're on local roads that they know, it's not uncommon for them to make their own revisions to the routes during the day depending on how they're feeling.  But, at the end of the day, all of the riders make it to the end for a barbeque with friends.

This year, the weather was great and everyone made it back with virtually no problems to speak of.

Kevin's Honda ST1300 MotoSAG in an orange grove west of Orange Cove, CA.
Part of the Century route along Adams Avenue at Wakefield Avenue, west of Orange Cove, CA.  View east.
Part of the Century route along Adams Avenue at Wakefield Avenue, west of Orange Cove, CA.  View west.
The last of the Century riders turn onto Park Avenue from Hills Valley Road (State Route 63) headed into Orange Cove, CA.  Easily the worst stretch of road on the entire course.  View east.
The last of the Century riders turn onto Park Avenue from Hills Valley Road (State Route 63) headed into Orange Cove, CA.  View east.
Fresno Cycling Club President Dennis Ball (sporting the full Fresno Cycling Club kit) escorts the last riders around the Century course.

01 May 2015

When to call the SAG wagon

Cycling: When to call the SAG wagon
By John Cutter - Orlando Sentinel

Somewhere near mile 85 on Sunday, I realized I was not going to finish the Tour de Forts, one of my favorite cycling events.

It was only 15 miles to the finish, but I was hot and tired. More importantly, I didn't feel safe on a busy two-lane road with no bike lane and construction ahead. It was the tightest part of the route, the vast majority of which was on extremely bike-friendly roads.

After the fifth car whizzed around me, as I struggled to ride more than 12 mph into the wind, I pulled safely onto the grassy shoulder.

It was time for the SAG wagon, which picked me up and took me to the finish. 

It's not how any cyclist wants to finish a long ride, but sometimes it is the smartest move.  It is far better to live to ride another day than let physical and mental fatigue cause you to injure yourself or another rider.

But almost every instinct in a cyclist fights against quiting, especially that close to the end of a Century.  

My "spidey" sense told me to stop on that road in St. Johns County. I had felt that way for a couple of hours, after we turned into a strong wind around mile 45 in St. Augustine and my speed dropped quickly from 20-plus mph to 13 or so. 

I ignored that little voice. Part of the appeal of riding is pushing yourself hard, yelling "shut up legs" while you imagine that post-race meal and drink. 

I see no shame in grabbing that ride from the volunteer, who sweetly even offered to drop me off close to the finish so I could ride in. Since this was not a timed race, she wasn't violating any rules, simply trying to be save me if I felt embarrassed. 

I didn't. Although I didn't like making the decision, I am at peace with it. 

I encourage cyclists to know when they have passed the limits of safe riding. Ask yourself, are you having trouble keeping your bike straight in your lane? Are you cramping? Are you having trouble thinking clearly? Do you feel safe?

As I put my bike away at my car, I saw another cyclist pouring hydrogen peroxide on nasty road rash on his legs and arm. Apparently someone stopped unexpectedly in front of him, sending him to the ground.

I don't know if the person who stopped was past his or her limit, but I felt even better about my decision. I could have hurt myself or someone else if I hadn't stopped for the SAG wagon.

11 April 2015

April 11, 2015 - FCC's Big Hat Century

Fresno Cycling Club's Big Hat Century was this past week.  The riders couldn't have ordered a better weather.

This year's ride changed the route a bit.  From Clovis, to Friant, to O'Neals, up Walker Grade to Northfork & around Bass Lake was unchanged.  The difference was the return trip through Auberry, meaning a climb over Powerhouse Grade.  A challenge for many riders.

All told though, by the end of the day, all of the riders made it, with very few mechanical problems to report, and only one spill.  From a SAG standpoint, any ride where we're not needed is a good day.

The beginning of the day started out great with many riders mingling and anticipating the day to come.

Riders line up at the start of the day.

The obligatory Bike Lane photo.  This was taken just south of the town of Friant (looking north to Friant).

Spring Valley School rest stop, O'Neals, Ca.  The Metric Century riders turned around here.  The 85 mile and 100 mile riders continued on to Northfork.