This is why we ride: Fishrock
The Bike Monkey Fish Rock Race got on the Fast Forward radar a little more than a year ago. Technically, it's a non USAC sanctioned bicycle race. For us it would be a chance to do a team ride together over a wide range of surfaces and inclines. The following is the event recap from team rider Jim Perreria.
About two months before the event, Pat Miller started organizing a Fast Forward Fish Rock camp. He secured a ranch and the help of Tim Ward of Anderson Valley Community Farm (a farmer, cook, and avid cyclist) for the whole team to stay and enjoy with gourmet food all weekend. In late December, a team Christmas present arrived on a pallet at the Fast Forward HQ in the form of our new BH Team RX frames. www.bhbikesusa.com
This was now a chance for us to shake down our new rigs properly. Come on March 10th!
Pat Miller: Fast Forward founder and team leader. Former college lacrosse player turned elite cyclocross racer answering any and all questions about toughness. At home on any terrain and always looking to attack. Loves to suffer almost as much as making others suffer. Always at the front of the pack.
Warren Marshall: Another all around rider with a passion for hills. Flat out the best hill climber I know. Coming out of South Africa with some kind of southern hemisphere bicycle mojo.
Brad Canella: Our SoCal Fast Forward representative. Fast, fast, fast. Everywhere, everyday. Good luck dropping this compact generator. CCCX Masters champion and multi race winner.
David Wierzba: The Milwaukee Mauler. Complete natural on a bicycle. Super smooth rider with superb bike handling ability. Decades of bike racing experience have created a bike riding machine. Multi time cat 1 race winner.
Jim Perreira: Happy on anything with two wheels and a handlebar. Specializing in muddy conditions and sand.
Joe Strandell: Cycling coach for many top cyclists throughout the country. Fast Forward training consultant and team rider. Another racer with years of experience willing to go deep or chill out and enjoy the ride.
Erin Gil: Our Clydesdale diesel workhorse. Some riders are measured by wattage output or race results. Erin is measured by heart and willpower. Willing to take on a challenge fit for a 120 pound Columbian pro tour rider without a whimper.
Paul Young: If Iron Man is the definition of suffering, then Paul is your man. An Iron Man finisher, Paul knows how to push through maximum levels of pain. Always there at the finish and ready for more.
JD Prater: The newest Fast Forward member. JD spent the fall cx season winning the CCCX "B" single speed championship.
The Event: Fish Rock
71 miles, 9600+ ft of elevation gain, 15 miles of dirt road
Saturday March 10, 2018
A brisk and partly overcast morning greeted over 250 riders eager to test themselves on a brutally tough ride. The Fast Forward awaited the start with some team photos and SIS nutrition. Everyone seemed genuinely happy to spend the day suffering together. Pat suggested we remain together as much as possible and regroup at rest stops when necessary. The start is about a half mile of gentle grade followed by 16 miles of mostly steep climbing with a few quick decents on moist tarmac under a redwood canopy. A massive peloton blew to pieces early as riders moved up and down through the pack searching for a groupeto of equally skilled riders. Our no man left behind lasted a few miles as Paul Young had some early problems. Pat, David and Brad circled back to search for Paul to no avail. Meanwhile, Warren was in the lead pack being pulled way out in front of the Fast Forward main group, never to be seen again.
Erin, Joe, JD and Jim kept a steady pace as Pat, Brad and David chased back on. Down now to a group of seven we pressed on up and down a series of rollers 2000ft up in the coastal redwood wonderland. Spectacular views in all directions, morale is high and legs still fresh. Rest stop one gives a chance to fill bottles and eat some snacks before an epic decent to the sea. In no time at all we're blasting from shady forest to bright blue sky, like a bullet train shooting out of a tunnel. We rotate positions for several miles along the coast while picking up other riders along the way. The pace is steady and the morale is high but the legs are starting to softly whisper mutinous plans.
Pt. Arena, Ca. Prototypical northern Ca. seaside town. A mellow feeling of contentment washes over you as you cruise through this sleepy town. What awaits still haunts your mind as you turn inland from the coast. The next several miles takes you from sea level to 1,200 feet in a punishing staccato of punchy rollers. Easily overlooked on the ride profile, this section begins to drive the nails into the proverbial coffin. By now we're happy to see rest stop two. Freshly made quesadillas and potatoes along with the usual staples and water prepare you for the dirt and gravel leg graveyard just around the corner.
Fish Rock road starts with a steep broken pavement decent back into the redwood forest. The rolling dairy land and sheep farms are behind us. The seven riders from our team had regrouped at stop two. Morale still high, legs wavering and starting to have that conspiracy conversation with your mind that overthrows the best laid plans. Not long after the dirt climb begins, Pat punctures a rear tire. Joe and Erin continue on, banking valuable time. The other four of us watch riders ride pass and casually talk, all the while offering no assistance to Pat. We'll joke about it later, but it was kind of weird. The main Fast Forward group now has three riders up the road and one behind.
Fish rock road is no joke. It goes up quickly. Traction is as good as it gets today, but standing up to grind up a steep pitch is met with wheel spin and lost speed. Our Garmins think we're paused because we have slowed to a crawl. Somewhere along the way, JD's legs desert him and he silently slips off the back. Brad is leading us up dirt purgatory as we slowly reel in Joe. I do my best to stay with Brad. The conversation eases the pain in my left knee. Soon after passing Joe, our electric bike support rider Debbie Young stands next to her dead bike. Robyn Marshall is summoned to the rescue in the trusty Tacoma. Erin Gil is spotted off the bike and cramping, but very near the summit. We briefly offer encouragement and Pat stays behind and keeps Erin moving forward. I notice David has his vest on still and seams shockingly fresh. Poker face or smart pacing? We have been keeping it gentlemanly and it has made the ride actually enjoyable. We're down to four after Pat bridges across. The downhill dirt sections require concentration and skill. Apparently, David and Brad have more than me. I spit the chain off the big ring and dismount to put it back on. I spend the next 10 minutes burning matches to catch back up. I feel surprisingly good despite this and we surge up and down several more miles of dirt road. More spectacular views from the ridge tops. I don't want it to end. I can't wait for it to end. I dream of being on one of the many motorcycles that come towards us, effortlessly gliding along at low rpm. Back on pavement. We've found a happy pace and are eating up miles quickly.
Rest stop three. Do we wait? The three trailing riders have joined together unbeknownst to us. Slowed by leg cramps, Joe, JD, and Erin have had to back down their pace. It's survival mode for them, but at least not alone. Brad, David, Pat and Jim take a long break at rest three and joke about Warren drinking beer at the finish. Rain clouds loom. Morale is high. The legs are loosing the battle to stop us. 9000 feet of climbing down and less than 10 miles to go, Brad relates a story of cramping during a race in sight of the finish line and spending 10 minutes working them out before he could remount and finish. Luckily, that won't happen today. Our pace picks up dramatically on the run back into Boonville, the start/finish town. Our pace line is efficient and our effort is prodded on by a sudden cold cloud burst. Rollers....again. Brad drills every incline. Pat reaches for a gel. David is a Vulcan. Is he in pain? happy? angry? Who ef'n knows. I silently curse Brad. I jump to the front on the down hill runs to keep my legs spinning. Pat rips past on the final approach to the finish. Brad is caught out for a second but regroups and chases us down. Four abreast we cross the line. Adrenalin tells me I'm ready for more, but that thought is overridden immediately by thoughts of cold beer!
We finish at Anderson Valley Brewing. The bench racing commences. Joe, Erin and JD are just a few minutes behind. Warren is done eating and is enjoying at least his second tasty beer. It's getting chilly and racers are steadily coming in to the finish as I ride back to the start to pick up my truck and head home. As I drive south out of town I spot Paul Young churning down the road to finish the ride. Sweet. Nine start, nine finish.
I spend the next three and a half hours reflecting on the day. The remainder of the crew heads back to the ranch for beers, wine and gourmet eats with Chef Tim. The scenery, the company, the challenges, all of it. I'm pumped on the new bike. It's my Swiss army knife bike. A new ride to add to the calendar, a Norcal spring classic. This is Fish Rock.