Huh? What’s that? For those that don’t know, it stands for Short Track Cross Country and for the first time in several years, we have a local series again. The STXC series put on 3 or 4 years ago was my first attempt at racing a bike. I had just started riding and my friend talked me into trying it out. I got my butt kicked but it was so much fun, I’ve been riding bikes ever since!
While my skills, strength, and stamina have increased a little since then, Tuesday, I had the pleasure of getting my butt kicked again. I think I finished a respectable 6th overall and 3rd in my age group. Still lots of fun but still LOTS of work to do to get where I’d like to be. Thanks to Dan Bittick for capturing the photo of me trying, and failing, to avoid the “mud” pit. I call it mud. I’m not sure that’s all that was in there judging by the quality of odor enjoyed every time I passed through it. This time I was prepared, not like last time.
I stayed off the bike Wednesday, and Thursday I was headed down the coast and back to my Motherland, aka Humboldt County.
As Friday morning rolled around, I was more than ready to get a good ride in. So, Ruth and I left the fog shrouded Ferndale, avoided the pot-holes and happy cow splatterings (what should I have called them?), associated with the foggy bottoms (not the cows’, just the name of the area) and made our way over the Three Sisters to Rio Dell.
I’m pretty sure Ruth was tired of all my hometown stories early on, but she’s a trooper and pretended to care. By pretended, I mean she kept her ear buds in and nodded whenever she saw my mouth flapping. Really, though, I spent my first 28 years there and I have a couple tales. And, don’t get me started about the earthquake in ’92 when we had to shut down the mill and clean up all the lumber yards that looked like a massive game of Pick Up Sticks!
After a sketchy crossing of the Eel River over a bridge under construction and a few less than kind travelers giving us a buzz, it wasn’t long before we were exiting Highway 101 and entering the Avenue of the Giants. While a couple brave friends (Colin, Jamie) and I had occasionally ventured this far on our 10 speeds back in the 80’s, Ruth had never been there before so I took the opportunity to show her one of my favorite places. Just a quarter mile off the Avenue is a now overgrown section of the former highway and the old crossing of Jordan Creek. It’s a very peaceful place despite being near the freeway.
From there it was on to Redcrest, a very small town along the Avenue where I lived for about a year. Yes, I told more stories before we decided to take a quick break and play tourist. We were lucky enough to find someone willing to watch our bikes for us for a few minutes.
Not quite ready to turn around, we rode down to the confluence of the Main and South forks of the Eel River before making our way back through the Redwoods and home to Ferndale.
The headwinds that commonly blow out of the Northwest and up the river valley didn’t let us down and we fought them all the way back home. Without mentioning any names, someone said drafting behind me THE WHOLE TIME didn’t really help much. I’m thinking we’ll test the theory a little differently next time! Despite said negativity, we had a great time and were pretty wiped out after the relatively mellow ride.
Due to Saturday being another travel day, I felt like I needed to do some work on Sunday, and since most everyone I ride with was either out of town or spending time with a mother (Mother’s Day), I was on my own.
Knowing I wanted to climb a little bit and get at least 75 miles in, I decided to try a ride I had thought about back in January. I would ride up several roads between Jacksonville and Rogue River until I ran out of pavement on each of those roads. I started by climbing Livingstone, Tami, and Old Military on my way out of town. Heading north on Old Stage, next up were Kane Creek, Galls Creek, and Hodson Roads.
From there, I made my way to Rogue River Highway where it was up Foots Creek, Right Fork Foots Creek, and Birdseye Creek Roads before cruising into the town of Rogue River and turning back toward Gold Hill.
My hope was to finish the ride in about 5 hours and as I approached Sardine Creek Road, I figured I had enough time to tackle it as well. I was still feeling pretty good so I pushed a little on the 4+ mile climb to the Oregon Vortex parking lot. I managed to get a decent time on the Strava segment for the climb, finishing in 2nd, just behind Matt Solomon’s time. Anytime I’m right behind one of Matt’s times, I feel pretty accomplished, and I was happy with the effort!
I still wasn’t hurting too bad yet, but the day was warming up and as I finished my final climb of the day up Cady Road, I was more than happy to be done. I’m totally loving the Masi. It climbs better than any other bike I’ve ridden yet and it made it easy to meet my goals as I hit just over 80 miles and climbed 5400 feet. In my book, that was good enough to earn me a big juicy burger and some greasy fries…..and half a Bobbio’s pizza a couple hours later.
Hey! Don’t Judge.