This year's OSBR was right up our trail, a gravel ride that butted cross-country-level dirt sections against endurance-level road climbs. And all in the sort of heat and exposure that had us wondering if four or five bottles of sunscreen would be enough to get through the day unbroiled.
As the ride kicked off, the group rolled out at an even pace, giving everyone a chance to meet one another and catch up. The first small paved bump up Camino Alto allowed the group to feel each others' form, and our first flat fireroads allowed us to get excited about what was to come.
After a quick water stop at the Meadow Club golf course, the first reality check hit. The fireroad that climbs towards Pine Mountain is steep and technical, and the while the lead group, headed up by Brennan Wertz, cranked up it with legs like pistons, the rest of the group started to feel the literal and metaphorical heat. Worse still, nature took a look at us, laughed, and sent a swarm of horseflies to intercept us. In a frenzy, they attacked. And like a bunch of babies denied the teat, their rage knew no bounds.
Now the riders descended. The drop down to the Alpine Dam is a bone rattler, a good place for a fish-tailing good time. But a mile or two before the dam saw the day's calmest stretch of dirt and allowed our motley peloton a rare moment of peace to prepare for what lay ahead.
After a quick stop for a photo and shade, the riders began an assault of the timed climb, a stretch of almost 9 miles of paved grade from the Alpine Dam to Mount Tam's West Peak. The initial ascent was pleasant and cool, but the sun showed its face once the group hit the Seven Sisters, and bidons were soon squeezed, drained and returned to the bike in disgust. The last part of the climb saw many riders struggling, and after 5,000 feet of vert in the intense sun, cramping and dehydration started to come knocking.
At East Peak, we all had a chance to rehydrate, laugh at ourselves and take in the breathtaking views only Mount Tam can offer. Camaraderie overcame the pain, and everyone began discussing how they had managed to get through the ride so far. Special feelings towards our fellow rider flowered and soon withered at the memory of those little shit horseflies. This double buzz of positivity and hate towards an insect which, let's face it, is probably essential to nature's delicate balance, followed us down the jarring descent down the Old Railroad fire road and back to the shop.
Back at AC, the group was welcomed with cold drinks and salty snacks. Revived and grateful, the stories started to unfold, and high fives replaced thoughts of lactic acid build-up. Smiles and laughter filled the shop as we reflected on what we had accomplished together. The agreement was unanimous: the day was challenging but fun. And those horseflies deserved to die horribly.
This event could not have come to pass without the generous support of our sponsors. Helmets off to Enve, CeramicSpeed, Q36.5, DMT, Sushi Ran, KOO, KASK, Nuun, Sandrino Pizza, Equator Coffee, and Cibo Bakery.
Finally, where was the raffle? It went virtual. The time difference between riders returning home meant too much waiting around, so we span the drum back at base later that day. If you were lucky enough to win, you'd have had an email from us by now. If you didn't, better luck next time!