Author: Mike Hassur
Up at 4:00 AM, shower, bike and gear already in the van, meet Leon in front of my house at 4:35 AM, head over to Conor’s house , pick him up and we are headed toward the mountains by 4:50 AM. That’s how today’s Sunrise Double Ride began for the three of us. Our drive out to the Crystal Mountain turnoff of highway 410 was filled with conversation (mostly about Conor’s recent participation in a “Medical Leadership Camp” at UC Berkley). We arrived a little late to find Jim Wilcher waiting for us. Les and Dwaine arrived shortly after we arrived. Everyone transferred supplies and clothing into my van, and I drove over to the base of the Sunrise Climb while everyone else rode from the Crystal Mountain turnoff. Once I arrived at the base of the climb, I got my bike out (my new Calfee Dragonfly!!) pumped up the tires and headed back the way I’d come to meet the guys as they rode toward me. I got as far as the Ranger Station at the entrance to Sunrise where I met up with the main group, turned around, and headed up with them.
We arrived at my van and prepared to make our first climb up to Sunrise. It was warmer than we expected, so most of us were shedding clothing and just carrying a jacket/vest in our jersey pocket to be used for the ride back down. As we started the climb, Leon asked if we wanted to time trial up. I’m not sure if anyone else heard him; but I did, and I indicated that I was game (of course, Conor was already out of sight by this time). Leon and I took off followed by the others. We worked hard on the way up and were pleased when we reached the final hairpin turn which signals the end of the serious climbing. We had it made – just a couple more miles of mild climbing. Unfortunately, we didn’t count on the wind that greeted us just past that last hairpin turn. Instead of being able to blast that last section with the energy that we had left, we were forced to battle the wind all the way to the finish. It was frustrating and difficult. The wind gusts were bad enough that I was a little concerned about staying on the road in the last half mile where it is a gentle downhill, and you can go pretty fast. No one got blown off of the road, but the wind sucked!!
|Jim and Dwaine heading down (just leaving the Sunrise Lodge area)...|
We regrouped at the top, put on our jackets/vests, and headed back down. We hadn’t gone very far when we saw another rider heading the opposite direction. It was Rob Critchfield. We waited as Rob turned around, and we all headed down together. The descent of Sunrise is dangerous, because it is so much fun. It’s easy to go fast; there are ess curves and hairpins to negotiate, and it’s just a blast. The problem (at least for me) is that you are having so much fun that it is easy to forget that you are sharing the road with motorists and other cyclists. I have to constantly remind myself to be careful. As I followed Dwaine down the lower third of the descent (which is just one curve after another), it was so cool to watch him swooping through those curves. He just “flowed” through those curves. Again, I was enjoying watching Dwaine so much that I had to jam on my brakes for a particularly sharp curve as I was going a little too fast and not paying sufficient attention. I haven’t gotten the GoPro mounted on my new bike yet which is a shame because this descent would have made a great video.
|Rob and Conor...|
At the top, we took a short break and headed back down. Leon and Jim were waiting at the upper hairpin. They joined us as we passed, and we headed down once again – thankfully, the descent was uneventful.
When we arrived at my van, there was some discussion about going up again. In the end, we did not go up again as some of us were tired and the traffic was picking up. Leon, Conor, and I loaded up our bikes and headed home; while the other guys rode back to their cars. Les and Dwaine were talking about going up Crystal Mountain when they got back to the car. The pictures below suggest that they made it.
|Dwaine at Crystal...|
|Les at Crystal...|
The weather – which was supposed to be rainy – was beautiful. It was a great group of guys to ride with and a great climb - other than the wind at the top, an almost perfect day. Can’t wait until next time!!
To see all of the photos from this trip, click on the following link (thanks to Les Becker and Jim Wilcher for the photos): https://plus.google.com/photos/103821724300588557330/albums/6038599614292205585?banner=pwa .