Alpine Challenge Ride Report-30 April 2016
by Rob Verfurth
Riders: Hodges, Andrew, Ran, Marisa, Rob and Bernie
It was deja vu, all over again. I was ambivalent about the Alpine Challenge ride this year. The Descenders have ridden it most every year since 2004. I remember well the early days when all the guys would go down into Pine Valley while I cut it shorter since I did not think I could ride the extra 10 miles. I remember when I added the Pine Valley loop to my rides and also remember in 2013 when a number of us climbed up S2 to do the new 100 mile loop; we got back to the start and the only tee shirts left were XXL and S. I gave the small cotton t-shirt to my daughter; we did get our annual medals and a post ride lunch. I almost bagged out of signing up due to the long history of the rides and the fact that we ride there on some of our group rides anyway. Rick B sent out a reminder and the discount code, so I signed up. I was out of town leading up to the Saturday ride, checked the weather and wished that I had not signed up. Rick B fell near the end of BWR the weekend before so he was out anyway. I decided to go and hoped that the weather would hold.
In 2015 a group of us did the ride in weather that looked bad from the start. Voris had a mechanical on the Harbison Canyon descent. Guido went back to get his car to help Voris. Paul P, Bernie and I headed onward and then climbed up Dehesa. Bernie went out in front and completed the 100 mile loop in cold sleet and snow on the top of Mt Laguna–stud! Paul and I were soaked and freezing by the time we hit the SAG stop before the descent down into Pine Valley. We turned around and limped back to the start, barely finishing the 50 mile loop.
It was deja vu, all over again. The weather report said cloudy and cool. I took a chance and headed to meet the guys for the start of the ride. Bernie was out early as he was again planning on riding the Century. At the start a number of riders readied for the challenge ahead. I saw Hermann and Jeremy Schafer, along with their friend, Stephane. They ride with us infrequently, seem to have BMC sponsorship from Jeremy’s racing and were setting off on the 62 mile loop. From the Descenders, there was only Hodges, Andrew and Ran. Marisa was there with her fiance getting ready to ride, but I did not actually see her. I spotted Denise B’s friend, Amy, who was taking Denise’s registration.
We rolled into a light sprinkle. Hodges turned back to get something and I never saw him again. I rode with Hermann and his crew, along with Andrew and Ran. The weather got worse and we took it pretty cautiously down Harbison Canyon. We were soaked climbing up Dehesa. We stopped at most of the SAG stops to get a break from the lousy weather. Once again, we turned back at the SAG stop before the descent into Pine Valley. Mud was so thick at each SAG that my shoe cleats were clogged. I had to stop to clean them off and rode solo for most of the way back to the start into driving rain and headwinds.
At the finish we learned that there are no longer any T-shirts for the ride; we did get a medal and a fair tasting pasta lunch. Andrew, Ran and I ate lunch together before calling it quits for the day. It turned out that Marisa and her fiance skipped the ride all together and Amy rode a few miles before turning back. Hodges was out there somewhere and kudos to Bernie, hard-ass warrior again completed the 100 mile loop. Congrats to Bernie.
I decided I have had enough deja vu in Alpine. When I got home, I put my medal on the rack hook with the many other Alpine Challenge medals and vowed to be officially retired from the event. I only have two photos attached below. One at the start, just before the rains started and another at the end, just as the rains stopped.
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