We are excited to share a first hand account from team rider Jim Perreira regarding his September adventures for use as inspiration. This time of year it is easy to see our focus on cyclocross as it brings our riders together weekly to compete, socialize and enjoy cycling. But with the cyclocross season extending from August to January it's not the only thing our team riders have been doing. Enjoy!
As long as I can remember, I've been fascinated by maps. Mostly it was to find new places to catch trout. I've been on countless back roads, both paved and dirt. At some point Google Earth made things much easier. It also sucked some of the adventure and risk out as well.
Fast forward several years, and I'm still unfolding maps and searching for the next adventure. In the late 90's, I made my first trip to Mammoth Mountain. I thought I was just passing through on my way to Sedona, AZ. I ended up spending my whole vacation in the Mammoth area riding my MTB and fishing. Ever since, I've looked for any excuse to go back. Luckily, my wife loves it there too.
This year was my second go around at the Mammoth Gran Fondo. Last year was my first and I learned a lot. I learned that a short ride at 9 to 10 thousand feet the day before was a good idea to acclimate the body. I learned that for some reason, I get way hungrier at altitude. I learned that riding too hard on the first climbs of the day was not smart. I learned that a heavy base layer was a bad idea. I learned that the Mammoth Gran Fondo would be on my calendar as long as I'm able to pedal a bicycle.
The roads are smooth and 70% of the route is closed to cars for the day. There is tons of support and the event is timed with a KOM hill climb just past the mid point of the ride. Everyone from pros to joes line up together and follow the CHP escort for the first few miles. My first priority is to settle in with some riders my speed and try to also enjoy the spectacular Sierra vistas.
I rode most of the event with a group from Pasadena called High Tide. We shared pulls and chased down groups all day. A bad head wind really slowed us for a while as nobody besides us wanted to go to the front and work. Just after this section was the KOM of 3 miles and 1000ft or so elevation. I hit it hard and passed tons of riders. One guy in a Team Specialized kit sat on my wheel and passed me about a mile up the climb. I stayed on his wheel and counter attacked about a mile later. I felt really good and crested the hill content with my effort. At the finish, I found out that I had the fastest time of over 200 50-59 year olds and 5th overall out of 717 finishers.
The final 30 miles was rollers and cross winds and tired people with short tempers aggravating each other. The final ascent back into Mammoth Lakes is deceivingly hard. Last year I blew up within a mile of the finish. This year I found a good couple wheels to follow leading up to the final climb and hammered it home. 94th overall and not the least bit concerned about that anyway.
My wife was at the finish to greet me with a cold water. I shared lunch with my Pasadena friends and bench raced over cold beer. Thanks to Joel, Peter, and Mike for the company and encouragement. Joel did an especially large load of work and eventually left us behind. Epic ride!
The following weekend was another great weekend of riding in California gold country. Our group explored Rail Town USA and surrounding back roads, including the epic 6 mile 2100 hundred foot Wards Ferry road climb to finish the day at 6700 ft of climbing in 57 miles.
The next day was the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir loop. Another great day of leg ripping grades and rapid decents. More great scenery and a more casual pace this day, but plenty of elevation gain none the less.
All of this riding gave me a great opportunity to test my new Now Zappi team helmet. First of all, it's LIGHT! It ventilates really well and is the quietest helmet I've owned. There are no weird pressure points and using a head band under the helmet is a non issue. Also, there are no fit problems with any of my glasses. One of my regular riding buddies insists I am faster downhill with the Now helmet. Really impressed and happy with this lid! Note to self: Not all technology is bad or part of a mass conspiracy by the man.
Finally. It's good to be back at the CX races with The Fast Forward team. I missed it. See you all out there soon.