30 June 2009

Central Valley BMW Riders Supports the Climb to Kaiser

By Paula Landis

Jon Mergan snaps a photo at the Shaver Lake Rest Stop
with his special mounted video camera.
The volunteer participation in the 34th annual Climb to Kaiser bicycle ride was something to be proud of. Twenty-three people turned out to assist with SAG, 10 motorcycles and 13 vehicles. Well over half of the SAG drivers were CVBR members.

SAG drivers started work at 5:30 am and many were still going strong at 10 that evening. Besides all the help, the BMW riders showed off their ingenuity.  Check out the custom racks that Kent Baucher and Terry Mergan built to haul cycling supplies (page 2).

Following are some thoughts from a few of the SAG drivers.

Ralph Tonseth: I volunteered to work the "late shift" (1PM to 10:30PM) with my pickup truck to assist riders who were beginning to realize, or had already confronted, the enormity of the task they had undertaken. As near as I can tell only Bruce Butterfield, Rodger Wagner and I had brought trucks to the event. Bruce had been tasked with hauling supplies and equipment for the rest stop personnel.  There were, however, several cars and SUV's (all environmentally friendly) from the cycling club also present on the circuit.

Kent Baucher went the extra mile and built a
rack to mount a floor pump on his motorcycle.
The advantage of my using a huge 3/4 ton Heavy Duty Ford as a SAG vehicle was readily apparent to the riders because of its size and the numerous "SAG" signs placed fore and aft, and on both sides of the vehicle.  In addition to the "First Aid Kit" I had been issued, I brought along a box of tools I once used to repair my own bicycle some 25 years ago, and an ice chest full of chilled drinking water. The ice water turned out to be the most popular item of the day.

In as much as I started late in the day, I decided to begin my duties by reversing the route, starting at Copper and Auberry Roads and working my way up to Kaiser Pass. About 2 miles past the Millerton Store, I saw my first opportunity to be of assistance.  Rider number 307 was standing in the shade of a large Oak Tree talking on her cell phone and looking as if she might benefit from some SAG assistance. She reported that she had been on the Century Ride with her brother and had encountered the dreaded "bonks". Her brother had left her for "dead" and continued on to the rest stop.  She gratefully accepted a ride to the Millerton Store rest stop.
Terry Mergan designed and installed a special rack
to haul water and spare riders for the cyclists.

About this time the elite riders were beginning to stream down from higher elevations and I continued my way up to the elementary school at the top of the four-lane where the radio volunteers informed me that there was no immediate need for my services that they were aware of, and that the only real excitement of the day had been much earlier when there was a cow / bicycle encounter at the beginning of the event resulting in the usual broken clavicle on the rider. The cow, as far as I could find out, was unharmed.

The drive through Shaver Lake and down into the town of Big Creek was uneventful, no traffic, no bicycle riders.  On the climb out of Big Creek, I expected to encounter at least one or two cyclists, but no, nothing til the Huntington Lake rest stop where, at 4 pm, I encountered a group of volunteers tearing down the facility and several BMW SAG Motorcycles waiting til later to follow the cyclists up Tamarack and down to the end of the ride.

About 4:30 pm, one of the radio volunteers asked me if I would drive to the top of Kaiser Pass and pickup a rider requesting a ride back to the finish line. On the way up the pass, I came across two riders out of water and well on their way to dehydration. That's where the ice water was received with great enthusiasm. A little further up, I was flagged down by rider 82 who said he was cramped beyond any hope of completing the ride and needed a lift to the finish. Putting his bike in the bed of my truck, we proceeded to the Kaiser check point and picked up rider 11 who was in a similar condition.

SAG driver Adriane Pineda keeps looking out
for Climb to Kaiser cyclists in need of help.
On the ride back to Clovis, both riders talked at length about how well supported the ride was by the volunteers.  Both said it was the best organized and supported ride they had ever been on of the many they had completed throughout the United States.

At the Big Creek / Highway 168 turnoff we encountered rider 110 who had experienced his second flat of the day and was in need of a new inner tube. Unfortunately, I didn't have a floor pump, so we waited while he used his frame pump to get enough air pressure to get to the Shaver Lake rest stop.

After dropping riders 11 and 82 off at Alta Sierra School at about 7 pm, I again proceeded on the reverse of the course to the Millerton rest stop where I told there was a rider down in the road about 3 - 5 miles toward Prather.  Bruce and I went looking for the individual, but were unable to locate anyone. It was now dark and on the way back to Millerton we encountered a number of the BMW riders escorting the last of the bicyclists down the road using their blinkers as warning devices for passing automobiles.

At Millerton we waited as the last of the riders decided whether or not they could complete the last twenty miles (all decided they could) and then I headed back to the finish line and enjoyed dinner with some of the BMW Club members at about 10:30 pm.

SAG driver Mike Inman keeps looking out
for Climb to Kaiser cyclists in need of help.
Totals for the day: 3 riders given rides, 3 riders assisted, 9 1/2 hours in the field, 230 miles driven.

I enjoyed the event very much and plan on doing it again next year.

Bruce Butterfield: I enjoyed the event. I used my truck. I hauled ice, two people (and their bikes) home, Millerton store supplies at the end of the day and also assisted with a flat tire!! GREATTT !!

Nancy Dooley: Here's a few lines from the SAG driver at the top! (note: Nancy has SAGged the last riders in for many years.)

As the riders leave Huntington Lake behind and make that final seven mile push up the mountain to the top at Kaiser Pass, the determination on their faces says it all. After a long day in the saddle and finally they have arrived! Big grins and relief testify to the effort that it's taken to get here. As a SAG driver for this last stretch, I never tire of witnessing the courage that it takes to answer the challenge of this ride. It's truly an amazing accomplishment.