There are century rides. There are hard century rides. Then, there are hard, epic-adventure century rides. When Chris Kostman, founder of AdventureCORPS, Inc., the Furnace Creek 508, and the 135 mile Badwater Ultramarathon announced a new century ride, I knew it would fall into the third category. The first Mt. Laguna Bicycle Classic, a 101 mile ride with 10,800 feet of climbing was to be held on April 17th, 2010, starting just 15 miles from my home. Reading that the event included two of my favorite climbs, Kitchen Creek and Pine Creek, I had to do it. These two crudely-paved Fire Service roads are long, steep climbs that ascend 6,000 foot Mt. Laguna in beautiful San Diego County via remote, breath-taking routes.
When my two daughters, Moriah and Hannah, who were respectively 10 and 13 at the time, saw the event write up, they said, "Dad, may we please do this event." Both girls were fairly accomplished cyclists, having already completed numerous fun events and their first century ride, which had 3,800 feet of climbing. In addition, they had tackled these two tough climbs before in our weekend rides. However, this event was far more extreme than anything they had ever done before, as Pine Creek, the most vicious of the climbs, was slotted at the very end of the ride. This brutal but magnificent ascent has 2,000 feet of climbing in seven miles, sustained 18% grades and numerous 20% corners.
As I contemplated hitting the 20% crux of Pine Creek at mile 82 with 9,000 feet of climbing already brewing in my cooked legs, my daughters pushed again, . . "Dad, we can do this. Please, Please, Please!" Moriah, who was 4' 1" and a mere 58 pounds, looked me in the eye with excited determination and said, "Dad, I promise I will not DNF, please let us do this ride." With a long sigh, I gave in and after a few emails to Chris, he graciously changed the minimum age requirement of the event to 11, which Moriah would make by a matter of weeks.
After months of faithful training, the girls were ready. The day had come. After praying for safety and strength, we headed to the starting line and began our epic adventure. It was a glorious day for a bike ride and the AdventureCORPS support staff was amazing. All day long the girls received encouragement from other cyclists and staff who were stunned that these two young girls were doing this event. As we made the turn on to Pine Creek Road at mile 77, I turned to the girls and asked them, "Are you ready?" In perfect unison, with sheer raw determination in their voices, they both grunted back in their lowest voices, "YAAAA!" Then Moriah added a confident, "Bring it on!" for good measure.
As the girls climbed through the toughest seven miles of their lives, they passed over 20 cyclists from the event who were painfully walking their bikes up the relentless grades of Pine Creek. In their minds, un-clipping was not an option as they were resolute on finishing strong, which they did in just over 9 hours. They crossed the finish line to the tune of cheering cyclists and event staff. As the ovation continued to rise in volume, I sat on my bike astounded with warm fuzzy tingles, so humbly proud of my two girls. I finally un-clipped and gave them both a big hug. They were beaming with joy!
Of the 200 cyclists that entered the event, only 131 completed it and only 17 of those were female. At age 11 and 13, Moriah and Hannah were 2 of those 17 women. This article was published in Hammer Nutrition's Endurance News. See the event photos here.