Monday, June 7, 2010

Taming the Monster....

Well, this past Sunday was the Mendocino Monster. I felt pretty good about this ride up until the day before the event. This was to be the inaugural Mendocino Monster and according to the website, it was billed as 107 miles and approx 8000ft of climbing.

No problem right? I’m ready for that. Of course a couple days before the event, Tracy noticed that although the website said 8000ft of climbing, the GPS graph at the bottom showed 11,500 ft of I was ready for, 11,500 not so much.

I guess what they say is true. Ignorance really is bliss, because this little piece of knowledge took a ride I was excited about and looking forward to and changed it into a ride I was now stressing about and wondering if I could finish.

Tracy, Troy and I headed up to Ukiah Saturday afternoon and, after checking into the resort known as Motel 6, we met up with Bob, Leticia, Bill and Gail at the Ukiah Brewing Company. They had opted to spend the extra cash and upgrade to the 1½ star Super 8 motel instead of where we stayed across the street from the airport.

Normally, I would tell you that I’ve never met a brewpub I didn’t like, and for the most part, that’s still true. But this place may be the first brewpub I’m in no hurry to visit again.
The beer, I had the Pt Arena Pale Ale, was very good and the place itself is a cool old brick building, the server was friendly and helpful, the downfall of this place really is the food. And it’s not even that the food is bad. It’s not. It’s just that the portions are so small that we were talking about hitting up the pizza place afterwards. Luckily Tracy and Troy ordered the 1lb platter of fries so we filled up on those instead.

After dinner we headed back to our resorts and everybody turned in fairly early.
Sunday we awoke at 5:00 and headed for McD’s to fuel up for the big ride. How big it would be we weren’t exactly sure, but figured it was better to plan for the worst. In addition to our sausage mcmuffins, we got to meet some of the local folk. (its interesting the people you meet in the Ukiah McD's at 5:00am)

After breakfast and the sideshow, we all met up again at Mendocino College and after registering and filling out our liability forms (which pretty much said, if you crash, become dismembered, die or get lost and eaten by bigfoot, you can’t sue us) we headed out.

The first couple of miles are nice and easy, but right about mile 2 you begin to climb. And you keep climbing for the next 7 or so miles.

After every uphill is a downhill and this is usually one of the rewards for the effort spent climbing. The problem with this ride is that the roads are so rough, that the downhill portions beat me up almost to the point that I would rather have kept climbing. (almost)

This being their inaugural event, I would have expected some issues or learning experiences on this ride. Unmanned or ill-prepared rest stops, bad road markings, incorrect maps, etc. But we didn’t have any of those issues. This was one of the best supported rides I’ve done. All the rest stops we well stocked (except the last one which ran out of water but that was only about a 10 minute delay from what I understand), everyone was really friendly and seemed glad to have us there, and the food and snack options were great. (how can you beat lox and bagels for breakfast?)

Eventually we made it to the coast and headed north on Hwy 1 for a little while before turning back inland on Comptche Ukiah Rd. Surprise, surprise…more climbing….
After some climbing we had the best downhill of the day. The section heading back into Comptche school was the most amazingly smooth, fast, swoopy downhill we had experienced all day. And, of course a great song was on my iPod so I was in heaven as we motored through the redwoods.

We rolled into the rest stop at Comptche school and were once again treated and fed very well by the volunteers. Troy had been dealing with a squeak in his pedal and the mechanic on-site, Dr Sprocket, adjusted and tightened his cleat and lubed his pedals.

As is always the case though, all good things must end and the nice smooth downhill run, ended abruptly after lunch with some of the steepest climbs of the day. For the remainder of the day we would alternate between bad roads and dirt/gravel roads. The funny thing is the site boasted about riding 30 miles on closed private roads and granted, we didn’t see any cars for that section, but I think it’s mainly because a car couldn’t handle it.

Mile 72 or so was the beginning of the end. From there until mile 95 we climbed….and climbed…until eventually 2000ft or so later we came up to the last rest stop. And although they were out of water, they had great snacks and a little ex-up set up where you could get out of the sun. The view from the top, like the rest of the route, was absolutely beautiful!

The downhill, which should have been a reward, turned into a beating. Between the dirt/gravel sections and the paved/potholed sections I think I may have been more tired after the downhill section that I was on the uphill section.

Soon enough though, we rolled back into town and up the hill to the college. One of the really nice things about this ride was that they had opened the locker room for the riders and a nice cool shower felt amazing. This was followed by a fantastic tri-tip BBQ before getting on the road back home.

It turns out that both the website and the GPS graph were wrong. I ended up with 109 miles and 9800ft of climbing and, although the condition of the roads was really bad, the support, the volunteers, the scenery and the climbing will make this a regular on my schedule in years to come.

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