2 am start at Hunting Hollow Parking lot of Henry Coe on Oct 16, 2010.
1 big loop, 100 miles, +20,000 ft of elevation gain and loss.
It even has its own website http://hardcoere100.org/
Okay, time for me to fess up… I did not attempt it. But among the near 7 billion people in this over populated world, three men did. Despite their apparent lack of sanity, I'm proud to call them my friends. They were a trio (MTBR handles in parentheses): Dirk (ElHombre), Patrick (ratpick), and Roy (plymmer). If you, like me, enjoy the pleasure of experiencing others' suffering from the comfort of a chair, you'll enjoy reading their stories:
- Patrick's Plus3 Network report , which I believe was posted before he even arrived home from the ride (and the ride raised $5.81 for IMBA)
- Dirk's MTBGuru Blog post , with great photos. Ever seen phantoms?
- Roy's MTBR Rundown, a short report for the long ride.
Now, if I did not do this ride, why do I even write this report on it? For the catchy title I guess…. No, of course not! I'm just so impressed with their heroic attempt that I wanted to provide one more access channel in the Cyberspace for their tales to be heard.
As for me, I first dismissed the idea of me ever attempting this ride. (I was quite flattered when Dirk sent me the information.) And then I found myself keep thinking about it — let's see… I've done 8.5 hours of riding non-stop at Boggs IV, 10 hours of almost non-stop riding solo (during 86mile Tour de Peninsula), and have managed a 7+mph overall speed for 7 hours on my recent All-of-Skeggs (10k+ ascent) bout. I feel that maybe if I pace myself and stay well nourished and hydrated, I might just be able to sustain 100 miles at Coe. Maybe…
On the morning of Oct 16, my alarm clock went off at 2am. By that time, I had been awake and tossing for half an hour. That's unlike me, who normally don't have trouble sleeping. But thoughts were going through my mind. 2am, the trio must be gearing up and rolling out of Hunting Hollow Parking at that exact moment per plan. For me to be rolling at 2am, I have to leave home at 12am. That means I have to get out of bed at 11am. That's the hour when I usually go to bed. So, basically, I will be looking at riding for 100 miles (16 hours if I'm lucky) without any sleep. That's mad. Too mad. No, it was right then and there I made the decision that Hard COEre 100 would never be for me.
Of course, I did not set the alarm for the Hard COEre 100. We were supposed to go to Tahoe area for a day trip. I had wanted to go ride Hole in the Ground (HitG) for a long time, but for one reason or another, we never went. Now the season was nearing the end, I had to make it happen. It was forecast to rain at 90% chance for Sunday, so we would do a day trip. To make the drive worth it, I (note: not we, just I because Erik was not with me on this) planned to ride as many miles as we could. First, Donner Lake Rim Trail (DLRT) and Hole in the Ground (~30 miles reported to be very fun by both Patrick and Dirk) and then, Emigrant Trail (I got a 27 mile track online). But Erik was still sound asleep. He had had a long week and needed the rest. I didn't have the heart to wake him up. So, I resorted to accepting that if we didn't get up early enough, we would just do DLRT+HitG, which by itself should be a ride that's worth the trip. But I was not willing to give up the hope that we could still do more than that, so I lay awake gauging Erik's breathing pattern. Finally, he woke up around 3am (after all, he went to bed at 8pm last night) and knew what I was up to. We got out of the door around 4am. By then, the trio had been riding in the dark at Coe for 2 hours. I went back to sleep in the next four hours when they continued to ride in the dark and Erik drove me and our two bikes up north with his WWII book playing in the speaker — everyone is where he/she was meant to be.
It was around 8:35am or so when we started riding at DLRT trailhead. (I started my GPS a bit late after we'd been riding for a while.) With the cloud coverage, it was not as cold as it could be for that altitude. Our ride started with a gradual climb, which also helped warm us up. I had high expectations for the trail and I was not disappointed. There were great views along the way. The riding was mostly easy, but there were also challenging sections through the rocks. I was amazed by the amount of rocks that were moved for this project. The result is a challenging yet all cleanable trail — my favorite type. I didn't clean every tricky spot, but knew that they were within my ability. We just need to come back to it and maybe next time I would not be foregoing do-overs for long mileages. We pressed on steadily at a leisurely pace.
There are abundant colors on the ride.
Donner Lake Rim Trail is a masterpiece in trail building.
At 10am, we reached the Hole in the Ground (HitG) loop. I was just about to find out what this famous ride was about. But I had no way of finding out where the trio was at Henry Coe on their pursuit. Were they as on schedule as we were — I was still quite positive that we would be able to do the 27-mile Emigrant trail ride afterward despite that we had not been pushing the pace.
The first part of HitG was a gradual climb. I reached the vista point at the top ahead of Erik, so I stopped. Two riders were already there, in resting mode as they were off their bikes. A few friendly greetings evolved into an exciting bike talk, which elevated in the level of excitement when Erik joined in. As it turned out, they were Ben and Tom from Colorado. Ben had just acquired a Santa Cruz Tallboy — to be accurate, his wife bought it and they both rode it and he fell in love. Even though he had his LT2 with him when we met him, that didn't prevent them from discussing in depth about the bike that Erik was about to purchase. Tom was riding a Lenz, which Erik also studied with great interest. I loved bike talks (I think I started it), so we all stayed put at the Vista Point. But finally I realized time was slipping away, but despite my multiple nudges, I couldn't get the guys to move. Finally, I had to ride away saying that I was giving myself a head start. I think that finally worked. Since now we were riding in the same direction at about the same pace, there were many stops where the guys talked. Ben was obviously the most skillful of all. It was amazing to watch him playing on the rocks while riding along effortlessly. For the short period of time when I followed him, I thought I would just follow his line. But I changed my mind quickly after I found out that he would divert from the beaten path and always playfully hopped on or off the rocks on the side of the trails. Most of the time, I wasn't able to follow him anyway.
When Erik was just riding with me, he wasn't too motivated to go fast, up hill or downhill. He was feeling all kinds of ailments due to previous injuries, lack of riding in general, and a bike too small for his size, etc. So I was glad to see him raise his pace when flying downhill with Ben. They would just reach a re-group point and start talking bikes again. But we had to say goodbye with Ben and Tom when they pressed on for their afternoon engagement and we chose to make a short out and back to the Lower Lola Lake. But of course by then, we had spent so much time chatting off bike that I knew we would not be able to complete the 27-mile Emigrant Trail ride in light. We would just play it by ear then. The newly forged friendship was totally worth it though.
Erik coming up Anderson Peak on HitG
Guys can talk and so can I!
A short break by Lower Lola Lake
When we popped out on the fireroad, I was puzzled — so far, HitG has been all ride-able. Where are those big steps that even Patrick had an over-the-bar (OTB) moment and Jeanne had walked (note: both are very skillful riders)??? But that question was answered very soon when we turned on to Lola Montez Trail. First, the steps were not very big and generously spaced, but soon they became bigger and bigger and closer to each other too. I kept thinking I would go OTB sooner or later, yet my FTM kept rolling down one after another. I was too scared to bail so I just let the bike take me along the wild ride. But finally, I got to a sharp right hand hair pin and my bike was headed down a drop that seemed like a cliff. That was it, I put my foot down. Just then, I found that my heart was pounding — the adrenalin was rushing through my body like crazy. It took me a while to slow down my breathing. By then Erik had been long gone — he only had one dab at that turn. With the steps closely packed, I walked down a few steps before getting on the bike and riding the rest. That, finally, was the end of HitG. The rest was just riding on pavement and fireroad to close the loop before we got back on DLRT for the return leg, which we finished at around 3pm. The trio should be nearing the end of their big Coe ride by then too.
I knew that Erik would be happy to call it a day then. But I convinced him the next ride would be easy. It would just be a relaxed ride. After we got some water in town and ate our lunch, we went to the trailhead for our ride on Emigrant Trail. As I found out, Emigrant Trail consists of many segments. The directions I found online put us at the trailhead for the segment that leads to Stampede Reservoir. The trail was indeed easy despite some ups and downs. In Erik's words, there was too much climbing, but he kept up the pace and did not lag behind. The reservoir was low, but still a beautiful spot. When we returned to the car, I asked him if he was sure he didn't want to do the segment to the other direction, and he was sure. That's okay, we would be night riding if we continued (for which I did prepare lights), but I was happy with what we did and had fun.
This segment of Emigrant Trail is very relaxing.
This part would be under water after rains.
When we changed and put the bikes away, it went dark. We were done with our ride, but what about that trio? Did they ride into the dark? Did they finish all 100 miles? Were they all safe? Those questions were answered when we got home at midnight and I saw Patrick's report on Plus3. They fell behind schedule and "only" did 80 miles (15k' of climbing). Slackers! Compared to theirs, here are our two "gigantic" rides at Tahoe:
Here is our photo album.