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Hayfork Century! Tears of cycling joy...
wait, that's sweat! Oooops....
but pretty darn close.
I think about what my "ideal" century offers,
this ride would be near, or at, the top of the list.
Incredibly beautiful country, a challenging ride, good
roads, light traffic, terrific support and friendly,
enthusiastic people. The organizers offered 115, 65,
and 50 mile rides, as well as a family ride. It
is quite an excursion, so next year I'll try to spend
the second day hiking, kayaking or (maybe) biking a
Drace and I left about 2:30 on Friday and took about
4-1/2 hours to reach Hayfork, including a coffee and
stretch break. As we rolled toward Hayfork from Redding,
steady rain fell and we started comparing how much rain
gear we'd bought and just how far we would ride, if
the rain continued. But the rain stopped, leaving majestic
clouds overhead and wisps of mist lacing the trees.
When we reached the fairgrounds, several volunteers
were waiting to check us in, along with Jerry Henderson,
another SEBC club member! He had taken Hwy. 36 from
Red Bluff and told us he had spent a lot of time taking
photos along the way.
of us were camping, so we set up our tents in a grassy
area at the fairgrounds. Cushy grass, no overhead "barnyard
lights" and clean restrooms with showers - fairground
camping doesn't get much better than that. Jerry headed
off to mingle with the locals at an Internet Cafe. Drace
and I went to a Mexican restaurant that was recommended
by the folks at the check-in. Surprisingly good food!
48 people had signed up, so we may have been outnumbered
by volunteers. Drace and I rolled out about 6:45 a.m..
He had the breakfast and said it was good - I ate a
bagel and a banana, breakfast of (fill in the blank).
We rode along a road that travelled past pastures and
along a river for quite a ways toward the first rest
stop at Hyampom. (Where do these town names come from???
Hayfork? Hyampom? Peanut?) It was really nice, and my
optimistic mind started thinking... we have to start
climbing sometime... 12000 ft. of climbing?
after the rest stop, we did start climbing... a steady
grade for maybe 8 miles. I, uh... rode my own pace,
so I didn't catch up with Drace until dinner. We've
been on a lot of rides together, so that's fine with
us. I did ride with several other people along the way
- a guy who came down from Ashland, a woman from Redding
and a local rider who I paced with for the final 10
miles or so. No big pace lines or tandems to hang onto
the first 70 miles, I was passed by 7 cars. Four of
them were support vehicles. One of the others had people
waving enthusiastically from the windows. In the ride
description, a gravel/dirt road section is mentioned
- even after the rain, it was easy to ride 18-20 mph
on it - not too tough. Where am I? Bike heaven! The
ride was a big figure eight, with the fairgrounds at
the center. The second 45 mile section took us along
Hwy 3 and 36 for a while. Even there, the traffic was
light. I don't stop at rest stops very long because
I cool down quickly and I don't like to eat a lot a
once... so I kinda ride along, munching as I go. So
I was only stopped for 30 minutes during the ride.
was a great lunch available. Since it was served at
the fairgrounds, there was an opportunity to drop off
or pick up extra clothing. I ate lunch when I finished
the ride a little after 3. It was really nice to hang
out and talk with some of the other riders. At 5:30,
there was a great barbecue dinner - this is where I
get to make up for those quick rest stops! There was
a fund raising raffle with a lot of cool bike stuff.
It was kind of a bikie community dinner. It was nice
to hang out with other riders, the organizers and volunteers
- after participating in events with 3000+ riders, it
was a very welcome and different change.
weekend is on my calendar for next year! See you there?
Current Sierra Express Bicycle Club "President
Preceded by many others who are still living...
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