I checked the weather 10 days out as I heard another “atmospheric river” was coming in. Although I know we so desperately need rain (64% normal snowpack levels), I was hoping the storm would shift to earlier in the week or after the race was over. As time ticked went on the severity of the storm decreased. We were no longer going to get up to 2 inches of rain. Seven days out, they scaled the intensity back to an inch. Another couple days we were down to 3/4 an inch. By race day we were at a 1/3 of a inch of rain in an 8 hour period.
A day prior to the 60 mile race/ride, we had a couple family members come up. Both Toby and Jamie arrived by 2 pm Friday afternoon. Jamie and I left to grab our packets, which contained some discounts to places in town as well as our shirt and BIB numbers. We then went over to Trader Joe’s for to supply everyone with meals for the weekend. Later that evening Toby and Jamie went to REI to get some last minute supplies. The evening was spent chatting and getting things ready. We needed to be up at 530 am and on the road by 6 am the following day.
Morning came and the streets were wet. It had rained while we slept, but it was quiet out there. I made some coffee and quickly ate breakfast. Jamie woke up and grabbed her food as well. Soon we were both dressed and ready to go. Toby came along transporting her bike and to try and grab some photos of us at the start of the race. It was a light rain at this point.
We found a parking spot at 635 AM. It was a nice rain at this point. Thankfully we had our rain gear all set and, quite honestly, expected to be in the rain the entire race with a small hope it would stop. The night before it said the lowest chance of rain would occur at noon. Beyond it was supposed to become a partly cloudy day. Anyway, the bikes were out and we soon were moving towards the starting line.
It was 5 minutes till the ride when they sang the National Anthem. They gave us some last minute info about the ride and from there the count down began. Keep in mind the rain intensity backed off some, but it was still wet out there.
Both Jamie and I were so pumped for the ride. The rain didn’t bother us and as the count down started from 10, we said goodbye to Toby and soon were on our way. It was a slow start too as about 2,000 riders were there and being funneled through the starting point. There was a police escort through Fresno to Highway 168. It was a great warm up actually and we chatted the whole time. Soon we were on the Freeway and this is where we both gained some speed.
Chatting away we rode past folks and sometimes others would pass us. The rain kept on coming and would not let up. Again, we were not phased by it. We were both warm and having a good time. The fenders we bought for our wheels worked perfectly. No brown stripes on our backs! About 2/3 of the way we spotted Toby who snapped a photo of us riding by. It was a great morning ride so far as we continued up the freeway!
The freeway portion ended about 15 miles into the ride. The course was then diverted into the countryside. About 400 yards off the road was the first break spot. Many riders were off their bikes, grabbing snacks, and chatting up a storm. I received a call from Diana stating she arrived at the course at the end of the freeway portion. Both Jamie and I turned around to go meet them.
Upon getting closer both Jaden and Diana were holding onto signs. As I arrived Diana had one encouraging me and Jaden made one for Jamie. My phone had too much moisture on the lens so Diana snagged one back of Jaden in between Jaden and I. We soon said our goodbyes and back to the break spot we went.
It was nice to get off the saddle, walk a short distance, and grab some Gatorade. We didn’t stay long because, well, we had a nice break with Diana and Jaden. Plus the spot was in the dirt, which now meant muddy clay. We were quickly on the bike and had to ride another 10 miles to the next stopping spot. Our plan was to spend a little bit more time there.
We made some good time cutting down to Herndon Ave. Here the course went east and with traffic. We did single file for most of the stretch and occasionally I would sudo draft up beside Jamie until I saw a car in my rear mirror. I then would return back in place and pedal on. The rain would only stop for small amount of time and then returned. So far there was no sign of “drying out” but we continued to have a great time. Soon we saw Toby again snapping a couple more shots of us riding by before heading south on Academy.
Our sudo break came earlier than expected. A fellow cyclist was on the side of the road. Jamie asked if everything was okay. I heard the lady say she had a flat and was stuck. Both Jamie and I stopped to go help. Shortly after Toby arrived and assisted. Jamie went right to work removing the tire and getting a new tube installed with Toby. Thankfully the lady had one spare in her travel bag. I supplied parts and then used my pump to air up the tire. We were on our way in about 15 minutes.
Academy was a wider street now. It was 4 lanes wide compared to the two on Herndon. There was a designated bike lane, so it was very easy to ride side-by-side. We made up for some lost time and arrived at the second rest point. Toby drove ahead and was chillin’ in the restaurant for a bit. I text Diana to let her know we may be a little later than planned due to the flat tire change. I then grabbed some grub, refilled my water, and used the portable facility. When it was time to go, Jamie said our next stop would have a burrito for us waiting. Talk about motivation to get there quickly haha. We also heard the SAR people say no more riders were coming and to take down the stand. It was time to make up more lost time and we had 20 miles to do so.
I would say most of the next 20 miles was my favorite part of the ride. The traffic was calm to nobody for the most part. The roads were relatively flat, so keeping up a higher speed and chatting was easily doable. We passed “rabbits” along the way (this is what we called people ahead of us as we were “bunny hopping” you could say). The rain was light and soon the ride would surprise us.
The route made a right hand turn on Belmont and it was quite a surprise. There was very little traffic, which was great, but the best part was the route itself. We rode along old valley oaks, part of a diversion of the Kings River, and by orange groves in full bloom. The lush greenery all around was very peaceful. Both Jamie and I rode in silence for a bit just admiring everything around us.
The ride crossed highway 180 in Centerville and crossed the Kings. We passed Sanger Cemetery and then headed south. Eventually we went west. Jamie would mention the miles left to the third and final rest stop. There our burritos waited us. Our hunger pushed us faster.
Unfortunately the worse part of the ride was here. The country road was so messed up that I stood up for most of it. The severally cracked asphalt was a rough ride. Thankfully in about 5 minutes it was over. About 10 minutes after we arrived at rest stop 3.
The stop was well needed. We grabbed a snag from our bags. Toby arrived a few minutes later with the best burritos ever. Both Jamie and I could have devoured the whole thing, but we still had 15 miles to go. We made ourselves stopped and shorty after were on our way.
Do not get me wrong, we were having a great time. The novelty of riding in the rain had worn off and we were ready to get our medals. We pushed hard and at mile 52 the rain stopped. Blue sky was seen and that was exciting. Soon it was partly cloudy and we were both drying out. I guess the weather report was accurate.
The last several miles was going through old parts of Fresno towards downtown. The last couple miles was west on Kings Canyon Road where we rode that morning. We eventually saw the finish line ahead. We decided to ride over the line together. Funny thing was we hit red lights and had to stop at stop signs just before crossing.
We did it. We had crossed the finish line and the race was over. It was a new personal best for both of us. A 60 mile ride complete. Soon we rode into the stadium, grabbed our medals, a bite to eat, and went back to the house. We were both feeling good about our accomplishment and ate plenty of food that day. We felt great and were already talking about next year. Will we do the 60 mile again or 100 mile ride? Hmm.