Grasshopper: Kings Ridge
April 15, 2013
I went back up to Occidental this past Saturday for the third time this year - yet another Grasshopper, this one the famous Kings Ridge edition.
Angel Garbarino looking fast and strong
It was a slightly nerve-wracking start - a couple hundred amped up cyclists, going downhill for 6 miles on a narrow, twisty road with cracks and potholes.....definitely a few tense moments as squirrely riders grab their brakes and weave in and out of the group. I kept it safe and stayed near the back, riding with my friend Angel and enjoying the scenery. The pace didn't pick up until we were on Highway 1, where strong crosswinds splintered the main group. The wind did a number on me, and I fell back pretty far, but luckily the road turned upward before long: a 1500 ft. climb up the famous Meyers Grade.
Looking back down Meyers Grade
Meyers was heinous, but I was feeling great and passed a ton of people, joining up with a group of 6 or 7 at the top. We were all working together pretty well, trying to catch the larger group ahead of us, when a woman in our group crashed hard going around a corner. I didn't see it, but we all stopped to make sure she got help - felt so bad for her, she was in a lot of pain with blood on her face...apparently she was just banged up, nothing broken. After making sure she was taken care of, I kept on rolling towards the quick dirt descent back down to Highway 1.
Who says you need a mountain bike to ride dirt?
Ahhh...dirt. My home. Nothing quite like 2-wheel sliding around muddy corners on 23mm tires. I blazed that descent, catching more folks, and ended up on Hwy 1 with one other guy.
We traded pulls for a couple miles against the strong wind, and quickly arrived at the Kruse Ranch climb - more dirt! My legs felt great and I made pretty good time up the climb. Some ridiculously steep grades after the bridge slowed me down a bit, but before I knew it I was on Kings Ridge.
Kings Ridge Road...stunning
Kings Ridge Road is an incredible ribbon of concrete along a high ridge through the Sonoma coastal mountains, and the weather was gorgeous. I was having a blast, but starting to lose steam. The rest of the ride was uneventful - fun descent down from Kings Ridge, getting picked up and then dropped from a fast train of riders, and suffering up the gradual climb solo to the finish. Pretty pleased with how I felt - definitely much stronger than the previous Grasshopper. Finished in about 4:40 - still nowhere near the top of this crazy fast group of riders, but the legs are feeling good.
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