It was 5:00pm on April 17th, 2010. Hannah, Moriah and I had just returned home after completing the Mt. Laguna Bicycle Challenge, a brutal 101 mile event with 10,800 feet of climbing and 20% grades after mile 80 (see ride report). As I sat fully reclined in my lazy boy enjoying my motionless post-ride euphoria, Hannah and Moriah came up to me with intentions in their eyes. "Dad we want to race against girls our own age." I was too spent to offer up any resistance and gently replied, "sure girls, find us a race, and we'll do it." Little did I know, they had already found and picked out the Devil's Punchbowl Road Race, which was only one week away.
Fast forward one week. After hours of driving, and with legs that were still aching from the previous weeks' 9 hour climbing expedition, we sat in the car restless as we navigated our way through a barren, God-forsaken wasteland out in the high desert called Pearblossom. I had not seen another car in 15 minutes. I turned to my wife with a hint of scorn and said, "You sure you have these directions right? There is no way there could be a bike race way out here in the middle of nowhere." My grumpiness was growing fast. "You know, even if we do find this silly little race, I seriously doubt that anyone else would drive all the way out here for this short ride."
Oh, how little I knew about the SCNCA faithful. As we came up the final road, that apparently was part of the course, cars instantly jammed both sides of the skinny two lane road, and the line of cars went on as far as I could see. There were hundreds of them. "You've gotta be kidding me." I exclaimed, as I could not believe what I was seeing. "Wow girls! I had no idea there would be this many people out here. Pretty sure we found it."
We eventually came up on the start/finish line, only to have an angry crew of five "official-looking" people start screaming at us, "GO! GO! GO! Get off the course! Riders coming!" Cow-bells were ringing and everyone around us was stressed out to the max in pure panic. I then looked in my rear view mirror and horror struck deep in my heart. Charging up the road like the Spanish bull rush was a pack of 30+ male cyclists, every one of them out of the saddle and hammering hard straight for us. Realizing our car was sitting right in the path of this oncoming freight train, I punched it and barely out ran them as I dogged countless other cyclists who were getting ready for their upcoming races. At the first sign of dirt, I swung our mini-van off the road and came to a skidding stop as the pack of hard core cyclists flew by us with amazing speed and sound. I turned back to the girls who were totally freaked out and said, "you sure you want to race?"
That exceptionally stressful encounter was our introduction to the SCNCA, and while it was a sketchy beginning, the girls race eventually came and went without incident. When they took second and third place in this very first race, I figured they did pretty good. Then I downloaded their Garmin data and found huge amounts of Zone 3 and Zone 4, with virtually no Zone 5. I realized at that point, that I had a lot of retraining to do, as for the last six months I had been training the girls how to be endurance cyclists and survive a 9 hour climbing ride.
As our family had already committed to 4 competitive club soccer teams, there were only a limited number of races that the girls were able to make in 2010. That said, they did get a good sampling of the different types of races and the difference that good sponsors and volunteers can make at a race. In addition, Hannah and Moriah each won State Championship events and were able to go to Nationals up in Bend, Oregon. All in all, our first partial season of racing SCNCA events was a awesome experience and we all learned a great deal. Our team still has much to learn, but we have now officially retired from soccer after nine years and have completely committed our family to racing. As a result, the 2011 SCNCA season will be very fun and exciting. As Rachel, Moriah, and Sarah will all have to race against each other in the majority of the events, it will also be a great opportunity for character building and good parenting. We look forward to 2011 with thanksgiving and eagerness, ready to strive with integrity, doing the best we can. See the cool 2010 photos here.