We drove up the day before, excited for the good weather projected to peak in the low 90's, and nervous that the bike rack was worth four times more than the car it was attached to. As we approached the Mt. Shasta exit of I-5, it was clear that we were among our people, for every car had a similar investment ratio, and that same nervous passenger in the back seat fixated on the bikes with unblinking eyes. We collectively sighed relief as we filled Mt. Shasta City Park for registration, relaxing in the low-key vibe of a small town ride.
The "Super Century" is the longest option at 139 miles, so like any group of dudes is prone to do, we signed up for the longest option regardless of our level of training. But I was glad to see that this gang of five was looking pretty fit for a group of dads in their 30's and 40's, and they knew to take the mileage seriously. Otherwise you would have to drop out early, and endure the required year of hazing for such a tragic move. The pictures alone...I can't imagine that kind of pain.
|(Breakfast of champions!)|
|(Early AM Start, photos courtesy of Devo)|
Chris Devine (aka, "Devo") was our local tour guide, a resident of nearby Chico, CA, who had just finished a long ride in nearby Lassen Park. He pointed out to us that most of the climbs would be like the first one - tall (3600' of climbing) but not a high grade, with 8 miles to get there. It was a comfortable pace, just enough to keep a breeze going, instead of an out-of-the-saddle grunt fest.
|(Mark and Brian are feeling good as the sun comes up)|
|(Dabell shares the road with cars smaller than him)|
|(Two Hats keeps us entertained)|
|(Brian makes some new friends)|
We spilled out into the farmland, taking a tour through Weed, CA (where "I *heart* Weed" t-shirts mean something completely different than any other college campus) and finishing 50 miles by 9 o-clock. Phew! We were making good time. Unfortunately, we had to stop for a mechanical issue as Mark Dabell's headset kept coming loose. He would have to stay behind for 20-30 minutes to get it fixed, but would catch up.
|(Brian cruises through the farm land)|
|(Objects may be larger than they appear)|
|(Perhaps this farmer is doing the Century?)|
|(Great aid stations with plenty of room!)|
As we descended, we ran into Dabell with less than two miles of climbing to go, but he chose to descend with us and save some for climb #3, the steep 2200' climb in the hottest part of the day. That proved to be a good move.
|(Dan takes on Mumbo Summit)|
We came into the lunch stop around 3pm, already 101 miles under our belt and still needing to tackle the 4400' climb up to Old Ski Bowl on Mt. Shasta. Everyone was looking good, showing only the slightest signs of wear and exposure (much in thanks to regular intake of S!Caps, a secret we learned at The Death Ride). Sore asses were wondering when the madness would stop. Just. One. More. Hill.
|(Brian, me, and Devo loading up at lunch)|
The stagnant heat came out on the first long stretch, and there were a few groans from the pack as the road pitched up. One happy group of supporters doused is with all the water they had (which was a lot), complete with a nice little shove up the hill. Allez! Allez! But for the rest of the climb, it was heads down, no talking, just you and nature. We all found that place of truth and pedaled.
|(Brian and Devo power up the last climb)|
I cruised through Bunny Flats (3 miles to go!), while Brian and Dabell stopped to take a picture to memorialize returning here after an ascent on Shasta some 12 years ago. These are some old friends! We soon broke free of the treeline and make the last few switchbacks to Old Ski Bowl, which at 7,700' feet, was only half way to the top. We enjoyed some snacks in the belly of the mountain, joining with the volunteers to provide a small cheering section for fellow finishers. Brian had finished next, then Devo, then Dabell, but Dan was still on the hill. The clock said 6:10pm...aid station closes at 6:30pm. C'mon, Diesel Dan!!!
|(20 minutes to beer!)|
|(A descent to heaven)|
Oh, yes, we will ride again!