California Classic (9th Annual)

The 9th Annual California Classic Weekend had one again arrived. It is usually hosted the first weekend in April. Last year it was raining the entire ride, but not this time. Thankfully it was going to be a mostly sunny day. No rain clouds in sight. The grass was green, wildflowers were out, and everything blooming. You would think that would be a cause for allergy concerns, but surprising not really. The rain prior to the race really cleared the air.

Ready to leave the truck and get the bike ready.

I left the house early in the morning. The sun was still hiding behind the night sky. The highway was quiet getting to downtown Fresno where the ride would begin. Around 630 AM I pulled down the street. Cars were backing up trying to get a parking spot. I didn’t mind a very short work (2 minutes to the starting line) and found parking right away. I soon assembled my bike, checked all my gear, and made my way.

Everyone lining up. Only a few minutes till it begins.

I found my spot near the beginning and was just waiting for the last bit of time to tick by. I met a gentlemen who was a vet and we talked for a bit. I snapped a photo for him and help another person out to make sure they were tracked correctly. Soon the National Anthem was sung, we all cheered, and then mounted our bikes. It was time to ride about 2 minutes later.

The first 15 miles is mostly on highway 168. The first 3 miles are through Fresno to get to the highway. Some people were out cheering us all on as we rode by. Police were everywhere making sure we were safe. Soon we were on the freeway and it was so quiet. No vehicles anywhere and that was awesome! The temperature was also perfect for riding. I just had a long sleeve jersey on and shorts. Completely warm by this time and ready to ride!

Diana and Jaden meet me at mile 15.

As the ride neared the end of the freeway, the first rest stop was there. It was a nice place to get off the seat and enjoy the free food. I had a bagel and banana. Diana called me while I was eating and so I peddled back to meet them, which was about 30 seconds away. City workers were there watching and guarding the road. One of them was so kind to take a group photo of us three. Diana and Jaden wished me the best and I would see them in 3 more hours.

I kept going onward to the next rest stop. This one was another 10 miles out (mile marker 25). The ride was now on country roads once you leave mile 15. Cars can now ride up beside you as you hug the shoulder and eventually get onto the bike lane running along Academy Ave. This is where I fully enjoyed drafting behind other folks. I can say now experiencing it first hand how beneficial it is. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the physics behind it but experiencing it was cool! Before I knew it, the “train” was crossing over to the turn lane and to our second rest area.

The food here at the second stop was better. They had addition snacks like trail mixes, crust-ables, cookies, Gatorade, and some fresh fruit. I enjoyed a little bit of everything and soon began my way to my favorite stretch on the 60 miles ride. The stretch goes along part of the Kings River. The oak trees are older here and well established. The leaves were all out, orchards were green, the grass was tall and green, and wildflowers were out. The sun shown through the leaves and not a car was on the road. In fact, I was the only one riding this stretch for most of the way. It was wonderful.

Now at the same time it was going to be another 15 miles to the next rest area. I needed to press on as my legs were getting sore. I was not resting enough and could feel it. The seat was also getting not so comfortable, but the only way to get done is to keep peddling. Also, using the app RaceJoy, my family was sending me pre-loaded audio cheers and songs. I heard stuff from the 70’s and 80’s in terms of music. Rocky was very popular and all of it was encouraging and made me smile. My brother sent one that laughed at me. Reminded me of Predator as I left the wooded “jungle” riparian area of the Kings River.

The quiet 3 rest area.

I arrived at the third and final rest area on my ride. Surprisingly, it was not that busy. I guess many of the riders I was with at the previous stop either rested longer or took the century (100 mile) course. Eitherway, I enjoyed more of a rest as well as Clif Shot and GU Triple Berry energy boosts. The peanut M&Ms were a nice touch as well. I would need this final rest as the last stop was 20 miles away. It was the finish line and the first half is a dull ride compared to the previous 45 miles.

I rode along with really nobody around again. A couple on a two seater bike passed me and later near mile 10 another couple pressed onward. I just kept my pace and enjoyed the ride. My legs were not happy, but not hurting as bad either. They still needed a longer break and likely more nutrition. I was going to be burning a lot of calories and was not giving them enough. Anyway, I was soon in Fresno riding through the city streets. I eventually was near a couple rides just a mile or two from the finish line. A homeless gentlemen yelled, “pass’em brother, pass’em!” I smiled and took up the challenge. Renewed I flew by them and eventually crossed the finish line.

Ride complete.

I went towards the baseball stadium, received my riding medal, and began walking. A meal was waiting all those who participated and I was ready for it. Along the way there was a free sundae. I didn’t say no and told them to add everything. It was a great single scoop that was devoured. In line for lunch, I had them give me everything which consisted of BBQ chicken breast, green beans, rice, and a roll. It was really, really good. The food did not last long, but it was good. I did mention that already, right?

The free lunch.

I began to walk back to the valet to pick up my bike. Looking out over the baseball field, I grabbed a photo to send home. Everyone who rode in the race received a free ticket to the baseball game too. We were going to come back to capitalize on it for sure! Anyway, I made my way back to the truck and then home. I had a second lunch after a warm shower. The next thing I did was take an hour long nap. Looking forward to the 10th Annual ride!