Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Hunt of the North!!! Brought to you by Gravelstoke

Friday morning I awoke in my own bed confused by my surroundings. I had just been dreaming that Brendan bought me a surprise plane ticket to Kansas and that I was going to race Dirty Kanza, a 206 mile gravel race through the plains of Kansas, and arguably the most prestigious gravel race in the US.

It was my choice to not race Kanza. When the time to decide on such things was upon us I was convinced that to be a good teacher I could not miss any days of school for bike racing shennanigans (which is why BWR worked so well, close enough I don't need to miss school to travel), and made that call that I shouldn't go. Since then my tune has changed a bit, like the time Brendan convinced me to miss a Friday to drive to Prescott, AZ for the Whiskey, but for the most part I do feel obligated to my students and school.
Any way, staying home this weekend may have been a little hard seeing all the updates and hearing all the hoopla about Kanza/wishing I was there, but it DID mean I got to participate in the first ever Gravelstoke Hunt of the North, a scavenger hunt style bike ride in Northern San Diego county.
Any day where you see thses guys and drink their coffee is THE BEST DAY!!!!

This is not gravel, but this climb was sick!
The 'hunt' consisted of three route options with varying distances/difficulty levels that all hit 5 geocache sites with hidden colored gravel. Participants collected all 5 pieces of gravel and cashed them in for raffle tickets at the finish, where they could win some pretty freaking legit gear from some of my personal favorite SoCal companies (like Wend wax kits, and TASCO socks and gloves) I choose to do the 'extreme stoke' edition, which was a pretty fantastic compilation of 53 miles of the greatest gravel hits in the Carlsbad/San Marcos and Olivenhain areas.









Although I tried to load the route on my Garmin in advance, the dang thing didn't save the route, so when we rolled out I was 'stuck' riding with all the other crushers who choose to do the extreme stoke ride, and that was maybe the best mishap of my life. Being tethered to the group made the day WAY more fun, and although there was a good amount of stopping for scavenger hunting and waiting for the person who knew the route... it was really freaking fun following locals through the hidden stretches of dirt they ride every week. We dipped and wove between and under streets, along creeks and through open spaces in the coolest network of gravel roads and trails, which had me exclaiming 'HOW IS THIS REAL?!' all day.
When the group stops I work on my skills... Need to have all the skills!!!!!!
Badass lady alert!
The absolute highlight of the day (besides the Badsea nitro coldbrew in the morning, and Mexican ice cream before driving home), was riding on the front of the group with four super fast, crazy talented SD ladies, Laura, Casey, Christina and Leeanne. I was trying to keep up with Leeanne on this super rippin, twisty, bermy trail next to the smallest volcano in the US (yeah, it's a thing, and it's in SD apparently!) and just thinking 'wow, these SD ladies are super badass!.

Our super fun group of lady shredders and random dudes stayed together until about halfway through the day, when a few of us went off the front in an effort to finish the 53 mile route by noon. We got lost a few times, had to wait for Laura to tell us where to go a few times, and then eventually went too far off the front and ran into Andy and Casey who had cut off a dirt descent to end up ahead of us. Somehow I talked them into doing the whole extreme stoke route and I got to finish the day hanging out with two of the raddest Coureur teamies in CA (sorry BP, you've been replaced as my favorite Coureur!). Thank god for these tow, because they had the route on their Garmins and showed me all the 'funnest' gravel, and coolest tunnels, I fricking LOVE tunnels.
My fearless tour guides
At the end of the day I had 5 pieces of gravel in my pocket, a giant soyrizo burrito in my hand and a HUGE smile on my face. What a fun day! Turns out I was the only rider to actually complete the extreme stoke ride and we finished an hour late as a result, but it was worth every pedal stroke, climb, and stop to look at directions.

I'm sure Kanza was a life changing experience and all, but I'm also sure I had WAY more fun this weekend at the Hunt of the North :) Thanks Gravelstoke, for a really freaking good day on the bike.

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