My Caldera 250 north hardest thing I have ever done. The Northern Loop is roughly 317 miles and 38k climbing.
Last year I had to work so I just did the roll out with the group for the first 25 miles. 2016 a few friends wanted to do the ride so I requested a week off work to give it ago myself. So the night before we had the meet and greet and had amazing Ahi Tacos at Gomez in the Village at Mammoth. A great time chatting with Old and new faces.
Then my friends came back to the house and we had to many beers. So getting up at 5:30 am was ruff. KC, Daryl, John and myself finished up packing food. We rode over to New York Bagel Deli about 6:15 am to order a warm breakfast before meeting at the old cabin for the 7am rollout. Everyone turned on there spot devices. Alan gave his Spiel and 7:02 became the official start.
When the start went out I didn’t really expect to be fully racing it was going to be more a party ride with friends. As the rollout happend I found myself and Daryl leading the train. I was surprised the fatbike and big tires was holding its own. It was chilly and I think the redbull I had was giving me wings.
Once we hit a short section of pavement on Deadmans Summit that is when my fattires slowed me down with the rolling resistance. The hangover nature break didnt help me then I watched the lead pack pull away. We started climbing up towards the glass mountains. The fall colors where firing I didnt bring my camera/phone so I didnt really get any pictures.
Starting to get dropped I was wishing I had build up a 27.5(650b) plus wheelset. The hangover was kicking in and the redbull was wearing off at mile 20 something. I was lucky to find an outhouse and a creek close by. I filled my water bottles up with creek water. Which became great because I was able to pass about 5 riders filling up and taking a break at the water fill up mentioned in the cue sheet.
I was able to make a push but there skinny tires on the nice gravel road. They where able to catch me and then pass me. I just focused on staying consistant there was a heard of wild horses that was pretty neat to see in the distance. The road started to become silty I was able to catch back up to them. The fat tires I was able to ride thru.The silt got to deep so we had to do The Push.
The road turned hard packed and I was dropped again for a few miles on the backside of Mono Lake.
I just focused staying consistent. I crossed the Hwy the old Carson Bodie railroad this is where my Fatbike thrived.
The Pack had to hike a bike, my Fatbike just spun thru and probably advanced me 30 minutes. The ghost town of Bodie I was able to just view it before darkness came over. I made it to just outside of Bridgeport but was 36 minutes late to catch anything open. I did have food to make it to Walker but I wanted a hot breakfast.
I probably should have kept pedaling and set up camp some where at the base of Mt. Patterson. Then try to make Walker Burger which I ended up missing. I was able to make a store in Walker and have a frozen burrito. Ok now that I jumped ahead of my story back to camping just outside of Bridgeport, CA.
I set up camp and the next rider up was my friend Daryl. H e set up camp next to me and pulled out a beer and shared what a great beer. I had a flask of whiskey took a couple sips but was to dehydrated to have more. I was only down to a half of water bottle. Aaron rode by and opted to push on then Art and Jason. They kept going also. Then John showed up and camped with us. It didnt take long to fall asleep.
My sleep setup was pretty quick so I got a bit of headstart. I planed to meet John and Daryl for a yummy breakfast at Bridgeport Inn. I loaded up on food at the gas station by the time I finished then Daryl and John met up with me. So after breakfast I got a headstart on the road section before the climb up to Mt. Patterson.
I knew with there skinny tires and they where stronger riders then me I knew they would catch up. Daryl John and myself all caught back up and stopped at a great water source. We started on the rolling double track Daryl started to pull ahead and we lost John. The dirt road took a right got steeper and softer. I was able to catch up to Daryl and eventually pass him.
At 10,800 plus ft came to the remains of an 1880 Belfort town located in the sweetwaters range. After more climbing passed by a creek I had plenty of water to make it to Walker but passed Art and Jason. I just kept pedaling the last probably 800 ft got real steep and had to start the push again.
11,500 ft later I was at the pinniCal of the ride. I grabbed some photos from Matt Reynolds photo collection.
I really started to make up time on the other guys a fast moto downhill I liked my fat tires for the downhill tried to pump the breaks because I was smoking them.
The trail turned to Singletrack along a stream and I was just wondering how Alan Jocoby the race promoter found this stuff because it was amazing. I finally made it to Walker just before dark I knew I was to late for Walker Burger so I had to settle for the store which was good because I needed to stock up on food. I started to notice that I was having trouble eating bread it was making me gag. I got the microwave burrito and gagged on the end tortilla piece.
I love Redbull also but this time it taste like chalk and now I have a hard time drinking Redbull which is probably good now. Just Deli meats Cheese and pickles and snapples and Mountain Dew where things I wanted to eat and gummy worms. I had gained probably an hour on the three. I got back on trail starting up Mill Canyon road and rode darkness for about another 10 miles. I got tired and couldn’t ride thru much more of the darkness so I set up camp.
The next morning about 6:30 am I heard voices it was Art, Jason and Daryl camped out next to me. I was a little amazed because I was tucked away a bit off-road that they camped next to me. I couldn’t believe it they had dehydrated meals cooking and I was kinda envious but I didn’t want the weight penalty. I packed up and got my head start because the trail was hard packed and know once again they would catch up.
The first half of the race was now complete now just finish going South about 150 more miles to go. So they caught me and we where kinda all riding together along more amazing Singletrack weaving between fall color Aspen trees. The Mill Creek Trail I would say was like early classic Singletrack almost a lost treasure.
After riding about 60 miles of rolling singletrack on the edge of the Hoover Wilderness, amazing fall colors and going back and forth with Alex, Jason, Daryl and myself riding into the night got tuff. I was worried about catching my gears on the sagebrush I was riding with Daryl and told him I was ready to find a campsite. The first spot I picked out was getting cold so we looked for a more protected spot so we rode another 15-20 minutes and found Art and Jason setting up camp and having a dinner so we camped next to them.
I heard the guys up making there breakfast so I got up slammed some gummy bears and started my headstart. Daryl caught back up to me and we continued to ride tandem out of the singletrack and back on some hard packed gravel roads. We where going along and was having a fun decent but missed the turn and had to back track. We saw Art and Jason pass us. I just watched them pull away.
We came out to Highway 108 sonora pass and was having a blast riding on the road downhill the colors, wind blowing thru my helmet, getting a break from the tuff terrain, and make up some miles it was great. About mile 178 came to Leavitt Meadows Campground. Came to a neat bridge that crosses East Walker river and found Art and Jason loading up on water and stuff . I found a nice swimming hole stripped down went for a plunge (hippie bath) to clean the salt and dirt crusty off. The swimming hole was so refreshing much needed better then coffee.
Got back on trail riding along the East walker river then some steep hike a Bike until we got to Poole Lake. Surrounded by more amazing sierra beauty and nobody to be seen. I was getting worked but the terrain visual was so rewarding and kept you going. Somewhere around mile 202 we came to an amazing Singletrack downhill and Daryl and I where just having a blast.
We somehow made some good time on are fellow racers except Tony he was just gone and Aaron was ahead of us also but not sure what his gap was like. Daryl and I road the short 395 section to Buckeye rd Daryl pretty much pulled me on the road section as I tried to TDF (draft) his wheel. Once we got to Buckeye rd he road his pace. Riding along I saw his bike leaned up under a tree and soon realized this was where Buckeye Hot Springs was. I saw a picture of Buckeye Hotsprings and always wanted to check it out.
I hiked down the steep trail and saw Daryl soaking and having a meal it was even better then I had imagined and warmer also. What therapy for my legs and when I got to hot just sat in the river. I was glad I made this stop but got passed again by Art and Jason.
So I got my headstart again on Daryl and he caught back up to me. We came out on Twin Lakes rd and came up to the Twin Lakes Resort store where Art and Jason where eating and stocking up on the goods. Daryl got food for lunch I gave cash for the split. I think I almost ate a whole jar of pickles myself I tried another can of red bull but just so chalky. Happy full and ready to go I made a mistake I did not stock up on some food thinking since I kinda knew the area I could make it if not Virginia Lakes store to at least Mono Market.
We got back on track and hit a Hike A bike although short was probably the hardest for me hike a bike. Finally off the hike a bike and one push at a time I was at the start of Dunderberg Meadow and more breathtaking views.
This was the start of my Debacle I was getting dropped it was just me and the trail and not really having food but knowing I could probably suck it up and getting dark and running out of time. I had already reached a goal in my head of riding the area I had never rode. Also wondering if I should have a rest day before the work thing. I ended going with a DNF and pulling out at Virginia Lakes Road to Conway Summit. Making it Mono Market before they closed. Some people had been tracking the race and I was surprised they showed up at Mono Market bought be a Mountain Dew they offered me homemade treats but sadly I just could not eat any bakegoods.
I new my ride was over so I grabbed some stuff for a breakfast and a 24oz can of coors light rode into the night for about 5 miles setup camp drank my beer and starred into the stars.
The next morning I started to ride the 395 home (The surrender ride). The Sag Wagon of KC and Alan tracked me and I took the ride of shame to June Lake Brewery with the guys to enjoy great recovery drinks. I was still happy with my progress but I have two years to think about the reride.