Okay this happened and it happened last month. Yeah I suck! But as some say better late than never.
This ride almost didn’t happen for me. The third iteration of the Redlands Strada Rossa mixed terrain bicycle festival happened March 19th with three different ride lengths, 50k, 100k and a full century for the real athletes.
Yours truly wasn’t sure this was going to happen? I’ve been dealing with a nagging right knee ever since my mini-tour in northern Santa Barbara county with my two Brother’s and my lower back wasn’t cooperating either! I usually drive out Friday to Redlands and stay at Che Estes Aka Cyclotourist residence but I opted to visit the chiropractor instead and sleep in my own bed. Crack, snap, pop and I was adjusted and hopefully ready for some two wheeled dirt fun.
Early Saturday morning at an ungodly hour I met my buddy Jim Warren who I arranged to hitch a ride with. We had lots of great bike talk and arrived in good time about 8am at the Estes residence. The start time for the 50k was 9am and as we readied our bikes I noticed my front tire wasn’t holding air! Pulling the tube I inspected the tire and sure enough there was a tiny goat head conveniently making trouble. I threw another tube in and immediately ruined it! The Panceti PL23 rims are tubeless compatible and getting the tire bead over the top of the rim is agony, while using levers I destroyed the tube, tick, tock. I had another tube so I carefully installed it while Jim patched the other tube. With the tire holding air we finally rolled over to the start, definitely an inauspicious beginning.
The start is in the alley next to Augies and the Redlands BikeBBQ and we made it with two minutes to spare, quickly signing in wristbands on we got in queue with Doug for the start. The ride started with a relaxed pace as we rode through Redlands trail system wending its way through neighborhoods, crossing the Santa Ana River then slowly climbing into the foothills of the San Bernardino mountains. Around 8 miles in we had the one true water crossing an oasis tucked in at the base of the mountains and well below Running Springs. Riders had to dismount and carefully negotiate the water carrying your bike. Once on the other side riders regrouped and mingled before setting off again.
Riding East crossing Mill Creek there was an aid station at highway 38 for refreshments. A short ride up Hwy 38 and a right turn into a stalled housing development with a post apocalyptic vibe added to the awesomeness of this section of the ride.
I had made a statement to someone that I planned on walking up 38 special and that’s what I sort of did. On the lower portion I ran into a old RSR mate Mike Beebe and some compatriots chilling in the grassy lower slopes of 38 special. In the past I’ve met Mike and friends packed with refreshments and this meetup was no different some fine whiskey was passed around and some suds before heading up the switchbacks behind Crafton College. I started out walking but soon re-mounted and chugged my way up. The views of the San Bernardino’s to the North and Redlands spread out below were as always worth the effort and the down hill single and double track coming up were in my near future. I don’t know whether it was the whiskey or the fact I’ve ridden these hill before or the Soma Cazadero’s tires but I was a downhill freak carving the turns with a sense of joy and confidence and the newly installed Paul Racers helped me modulate my speeds just right.
I was moving so fast I missed one of the turns and ended up making a right hand turn out of Crafton College and down the Sand Canyon descent headed back to Redlands. Because of this I missed about four more miles of the Oakmont dirt single track. My legs were already pretty thrashed and I didn’t feel like climbing back up Sand Canyon so I continued back to Redlands and rode in with a Canadian rider who had been on the century ride. He too was making an abbreviated course but his reason was because he’d gone down really hard. The evidence was in his cracked helmet from front to stern. Back at David’s I hung out and relaxed with the Family and waited for Doug and Jim who also cut the 50k course short.
All showered up Jim and I walked over to the festivities, live music, homemade food and Ritual Brewery selections on tap. The hometown feel was further accentuated by David’s wife serving me a hoppy brew and then running into Nils(he did the 100k) from LARCC (LA River camp coffee) who joined our little table for our RSR debrief and bike talk.
My take away from this years ride, the crew who organize this grass roots dirt fest pulled out all the stops to make the routes even better than I thought was possible. The three routes have something for everyone and with numerous bale out points anyone can participate. And next year I’ll study the map a bit better so I don’t miss good dirt.
Another note our David cyclotourist while out scouting the various sections of this year’s RSR went down really hard after getting his handle bars snagged on a protruding bush/tree limb and broke his collarbone. Amazingly, he was out being the congenial host as always yet under heavy medication to handle the pain. Heal up quickly buddy.
Next up an April bike overnight in Orange County.
As always thanks for reading and keep the rubber side down.