Time crawls when you’re not having fun

January 10, 2016 § 15 Comments


The customer has spoken when it comes to the kind of race they like:

  1. Close to home.
  2. Easy and safe to finish.
  3. Mathematical chance of victory.

Oddly, when these people put on their cycling fan hats, they idolize riders who do well in far-flung stage races that are incredibly hard, amazingly dangerous, and virtually impossible to win. This fits the psychological profile of “I want to be like that person without all work.”

While looking over the SCNCA race calendar for 2016, I’d like to make a recommendation for a race that you certainly have not done. I can say that with confidence because  last year the combined field including all categories and age groups had about fifteen people. All but five or six quit somewhere along the way.

This race is the immoral Tuttle Creek road race, slotted for February 6th in Lone Pine, at the foot of the eastern Sierras. I will tell you this: It’s harder than any other race on the calendar, and the first separation will occur within the first fifteen minutes. Worse news? You won’t be in the split. Instead, you and I will be off the back, then further off the back, and then quite simply alone.

The scenery was magnificent; incredible stone formations was set off against the gigantic Sierras themselves, and the iron gray sky lent a hardness to the atmosphere that perfectly matched the grueling nature of the day.

The climbing in this race was far harder than UCLA Punchbowl, Boulevard, or Vlees Huis. The hills were steep and punchy, long and grinding, and mostly endless. The downhill was easy and straight and safe and fast, but it ended much too quickly. Rain is always a possibility in February, and with El Nino it could easily be pouring, or, with a few degrees drop in temperature, could morph into freezing rain, sleet, or snow.

One of the loneliest moments in my life on a bike occurred during this race, with no one behind me for miles, no one visible ahead of me for miles, and the lone sign of a bike race was race promoter Steve standing on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere asking me if I wanted a gel, when what I desperately wanted was to quit and a blanket.

So why do it?

The first reason is that it supports the whacky promoter, a/k/a Motorcycle Steve, who you see zooming around on his motorcycle as a race official. Races are tough to put on, especially hard-ass road races far from LA that can be cold, or wet, or snowy, yet miserable even in the best conditions given the brutality of the course.

The second reason is that this kind of race promotes event diversity. If you have EVER complained about “too many crits,” you should nut up and do this bastard. If you finish you will count it among your best finishes ever.

The third reason is that the SCNCA calendar in 2016 has put the Decrepit Persons Bragging Event and State Championship early, early, early in the season. Getting the road fitness you will need to do well at the State Bragfest will depend on doing more than PCKRR with its baby climb, and maybe Boulevard. Tuttle Creek will whip you into shape and is a far better race than anything San Dimas has ever put on in terms of difficulty.

But the best reason of all is that finishing the event shortly before dark, wrung out, frozen to the core, and depleted of all precious bodily fluids, you get to tank up on a very ordinary cheeseburger at the cafe in Lone Pine that nonetheless tastes like the finest meal ever made. Trust me. It’s worth it.



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§ 15 Responses to Time crawls when you’re not having fun

  • dangerstu says:

    After you wrote about how great it was last year, I thought this sounds like something I would like to do. Unfortunately I’m travelling to Bakersfield to ride the Rock Cobbler that weekend.

  • shano says:

    i might have to sack up and do this. I’ve done Steves Shermans Pass RR (climb til your dick falls off then climb 9000 more metric shit-tons.) Cant be any harder than that. I’ve done Death Valley stage race twice (climb til your dick falls off and your face melts then climb a bunch more. Day 2 climb/vomit/dry heave til the road ends.)
    Cant be any tougher than that – right? 🙂

    • fsethd says:

      It’s not harder than those races. It’s shorter and better prep for the upcoming races, i.e. Punchbowl, Castaic, and Bakersfield.

    • Hey Shano,
      After all those metric tons, Tuttle Creek won’t even register on the shyte-meter. Much. But we will expect some stressed internal organs and hurt feelers at least.

      +1 to immoral. There is no way to justify this race or grounds of morality, or any kind of goodness whatsoever. We plan to run it anyway.

  • joelhugh says:

    Going swimming. Leaving now.

    Sent from my iPad


  • David Huntsman says:

    I dined with Steve last night. He’s a super guy, very supportive of all racing and especially the juniors. I preregistered the kid for the race last year, knowing we couldn’t make it, just to support the effort.

  • Brent says:

    immoral / immortal. I see what you did there. This race is so nasty it will corrupt your inner goodness. 🙂

    • Well, happily the article is not about me at all. Because the real story is the Redlands Beginning Racer Program, the GS Andiamo club, the Junior racers, and a bunch of adults conspiring to help turn unsuspecting kids into better riders. And just maybe better folks in general as a result. I am just there in a supporting role. I *will* have seven “event days” in 2016 by the end of the MLK weekend. So there is that.

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