1996 > Mother's Day Hammer Ride > Lisa and KenS's Report

Mother's Day Hammer Ride:
May 9-11, 1996

Route: Redwood City to Virginia City

DE/19,000 ft/ 300 miles.

How I got persuaded to do this 300 mile ride to see the dirt bike races in Virginia City, I'm not quite sure, but I thought, "what better way could there be to spend a Mother's Day weekend than to go on a long bike ride with what seemed to be a bunch of good-looking, athletic, witty, brightly-dressed males?". We all met at Steve Marsh's house at 6:45 am on Thurs. May 9th, and loaded our stuff into either the big white van, driven by Dan, or the red van, driven by Dan's wife, Marsha. The only two guys I knew on the ride were my training partner, Ken, and Steve Marsh, one of the ride's "Founding Fathers". I didn't realize until just about the time we all departed that I was going to be the only female rider, but having just recently read the book, "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus", I was confident I could handle any situation that might arise. We started at a moderate pace, rode over the Dumbarton Bridge to Fremont, and connected onto the Alameda Bike Trail, which took us up to the foothills by Niles Canyon. We all pretty much stuck together on this stretch, and stopped at an outhouse to relieve ourselves of our morning coffee and to strip down some of the layers of cycling clothing, since we and the surrounding atmosphere had warmed up. The first flat occured just before we turned off onto Palomares, but most of us rode on ahead, pausing briefly at the top of the grade, then on to Patterson Pass and to the first rest stop at the "Shell Station" in Pleasanton.

I could tell right away that I was somewhat of a novelty, or perhaps an anomoly, because, one by one, the male riders began to notice I was there and came over to introduce themselves to me. In retrospect, I wish they had introduced their bikes at the same time, since it was mostly the bikes I remembered later on. It would have been far more useful to know them as "Rick KHT", "Dave Bubblegum-colored Kestrel", "Frank Trek with the Suspension Fork" [editor's note: Lisa later became known to the group as "Lisa Black Trek", or just "Black Trek" for short]. I smiled and acknowledged that this was my first Hammer Ride, and that I was excited about coming along as I munched my first chocolate Powerbar of the day. I got the distinct impression they were surprised I was keeping up with the group and would be eager to see how I fared at the end of the day.

The lunch stop was in Tracy on a little patch of grass, and Ken, Steve, a couple others and I arrived ahead of the other, faster, group that somehow got lost plus was plagued with flats, as we all heard about later. Dan was there with the video camera to record the infamous events. All I could think of at that point was FOOD!! It was mile 70, and we'd been, well, HAMMERING all morning! I pulled out my turkey sandwich (crisp lettuce on the side), cookies, grapes, trail mix, iced tea and banana and proceeded to stuff myself. I seized the opportunity to use a real restroom with real running water at the restaurant across the way. Before I knew it, we were off again, in search of the secret passage across the San Joaquin River. At this point, the group split up into the "fast" group and "all others". I was with the latter group. We blitzed across the central valley in temperate weather with little or no wind, to the rest stop at a church . Dan was there with the camera again. It was always nice and comforting to see the white van where my food and other stuff was contained.

We hammered on and got to the foothills of the Sierras by the reservoirs. After 130 miles, I was tired but still riding along. By this point, I had experienced exactly what it was like to travel with the above mentioned bunch of males (Martians, in the terminology of my book). I quickly learned that the "men's room" could be anywhere, and at the rest stop before the 2 mile gravel stretch, it was mostly on the other side of the white van near the place where I needed to go to get my food. I tried several times to get to my cooler, but was shocked to find myself intruding upon some male's biological activity . Finally, out of desperation, I forged forward to my cooler, pulled out my food and ice tea, and quickly retreated to the safe area on the other side of the van. There were no women's rooms in sight, as far as I could tell. No appropriate trees, either. I would be forced to "hold it" for the next 15 miles until we got to the corner store in Burson where a there was a real restroom. I had noticed earlier in the day, much to my surprise, that snorting, belching, farting, and spitting were also normal, Martian activities.

Mikey and Rick got lost. At the bottom of the two mile gravel stretch, Mikey apparently "saw" the tire tracks leading to the right, as we learned Fri. night watching the video. Well, many of us had, indeed, turned right, then immediately realized the route was supposed to go left and turned around. Dan and Marsha had lost track of Mikey and Rick. Dan stopped and asked us if we'd seen them, but we hadn't for some time. Then Dan's beeper went off. We all got to the store, ate, and I found a real rest room (my mascara had smeared, and I needed to freshen up), and Dan took off to retrieve Mikey and Rick, who had gone off 23 miles in the wrong direction and were sitting on the lawn at some farmer's house sipping ice tea. Dan apparently picked them up, drove them back to where they had gotten lost, and dumped them back onto the road [editor's note: this illustrates the difference between a normal SAG, which transports an injured or tired rider to the end of a ride, and a "Hammer SAG", which will only take the rider a sufficient distance to make up for the extra mileage they would otherwise incur; injured riders are typically issued a medical kit and left to fend for themselves].

From that point until Jackson, Ken and I were riding together through the rolling hills (seemed like giant mountains at that point) to the Pardee Dam and Reservoir . The scenery was terrific, but my legs were really tired. We finally rolled into the motel at Jackson (160 miles) at about 6:30, checked in and took much needed showers. One glance in the mirror was all I needed to tell me I was very dirty, slightly sunburned with blood-shot eyes and very weather-beaten. My Mary Kay consultant would have been appalled that I hadn't brought my five-step skin treatment lotions to rejuvenate my delicate complection. The vans, Dan and Marsha, and six of the faster riders were already at the motel looking refreshed and sitting by the pool. Ken reported that he had been approached by fellow Martians who asked questions like, "does she ride a lot?" and who seemed amazed that I actually made it the whole way without assistance. Equipped with my newly learned awareness of the Martian psyche, I smiled politely and insisted I was really quite tired after the long ride.

The highlight of the evening was a shopping trip to Lucky's to get food for the next day - bananas, grapes, Gatorade, a 6-pack of bagels, cream cheese (of course), fat-free pretzels, ice tea, and diet coke - all things that would be in the white van that we never saw on Fri. because it had to ride up ahead with Scottie and Frank (that's another story). We then met the rest of the group at the Mexican restaurant, where we were joined by two new riders with fresh legs, Theo and Jeff.

Friday morning, after a stiff cup of Peet's coffee, we met Rick and his wife Miley, who drove the brown van from Redwood Cyclery, for breakfast at Denny's. The french toast, eggs, and sausage went down really well! In fact, I couldn't believe how hungry I was and how much food I was consuming [editor's note: other riders, along with the wide-eyed waitress at Denny's, noticed!]. Although Ken and I left the motel only a few minutes after the rest, we didn't see anyone until Cook's station on HWY 88. The morning consisted of a gentle climb up to Volcano , then Daffodil Hill and Shake Ridge. The roads were narrow with little traffic, and the scenery was splendid. We were quite hungry by the time we got to the appointed meeting place, and were disappointed that we had missed the white van by about 5 min. Dan had gone on ahead to catch up with Scottie and Frank. So, we went into the restaurant and had a turkey sandwich and refreshing drinks. One other rider was there, and we found out that Mikey and Rick were behind us on 88. It was heating up, and I was in need of a dose of Albuterol from my inhaler, also in the white van, so we put out the alert to the other van drivers to notify Dan to swing by, if possible.

The next several hours were spent riding up Carson Grade. Although the grade was gentle, about 6%, it was very, very long. We stopped at a couple of scenic overlooks to rest a little, sip from our Camelbacks and eat Powerbars, Gu and "Mother's" cookies. We saw the white van for the first and only time that day when Dan swung by so I could get my asthma medication, and we instructed him to drop off our food bag and cooler in the brown van, since that was the one we seemed to be seeing at all that day. About 20 minutes before reaching the top of Carson Pass, I'd had it! I'd had enough of climbing, enough Powerbars, enough of the Camelback, enough of everything. I'd like to have sat by the roadside and slept (or cried) for a couple of hours, but we persisted and continued onward and upward. FINALLY we made it to the top! The white and red vans and the faster group of riders had apparently left 15 min. before we got there. I dropped my bike and straggled to the nearest place where I could lean against something and take a nap, totally ignoring the three other riders at the top. After an indeterminate period of time, I awoke and proceeded to nibble on my warm, squished bagel. There was a restroom at the top, although I was yet again disappointed to find another little cell with a pit toilet and inadequate make-up lights.

The descent to Woodfords was much deserved. Except for a section of rough pavement, the riding was smooth and fast. The Snapple grape juice at the store in Woodfords provided the much needed calories and H2O to rivive us for the remaining 30 miles. We met up with the guy with the mountain bike and the guy with the little glasses who we saw at the top of Carson Pass and rode with them to Carson City via the valley road through Genoa. We rolled in at about 6:30 with an odometer reading of 115 miles. I found out that the people at the Motel Orleans were eagerly awaiting the arrival of "the woman", and even gave me a special room rate (so the manager said).

Saturday morning, Dave, Steve, Theo, Jeff, Ken and I gathered together for the final stretch to Virginia City for breakfast, souvenir shopping, and a brief look at the dirt bike races. There was a High Road and a Low Road, and we, of course, had to take the High Road with the 2 miles of 15% grade ! We ate huge breakfasts, and as the waitress was gathering the empty plates, Theo, who's a big guy, reported that he was still hungry, as if the waitress should have made sure he got enough to eat. She didn't know quite what to do at that point! Ken and I rode back to Carson City to the U-Haul place to pick up the 10' "van" (looked like a big truck to me) [editor's note: it felt like a 80' tandem trailer Peterbuilt-truck rig to me] that was to take us, our bikes and our myriad of bags back to Jackson. Theo had convinced us that we should turn in the van in Jackson and ride with him and Jeff in his truck for the rest of the way to Redwood City. The drive from Carson City to Jackson in the U-Haul with Ken and Theo turned out to be an adventure in itself, and I got an up front and personal look at how Martians interact in stressful situations. (I learned over the weekend that it's OK when one Martian tells another what to do, but if a Venusian tries to make suggestions such as "here's your seatbelt" or "are you drinking enough water" it is interpreted as "nagging".) [editor's note: the term "nagging" is in fact an accurate description of those instances where a female passenger makes loud, obvious gasping sounds of disapproval when a male driver, accustomed to driving a small sports sedan, accidentally misjudges the turning radius of a greater-than-10-ft-van while attempting a U-turn in rush hour traffic]. The U-Haul had a problem with the ignition switch, and we never did quite figure out the trick, so we left the thing running until we dropped it off . Ken looked truly relieved to finally rid himself of the monstrosity! We loaded up the truck with the miniature seats in the back of the cab (I'm not sure how Ken managed to fold-up his long legs and squeeze back there) [editor's note: it wasn't easy, and 2 weeks later I'm still suffering from medical complications] with our bikes and all our stuff and heard all about Theo's retirement plans and airplane adventures on the way back to Steve's house, the place where it all started out at what seemed like eons ago.

Respectfully submitted,

L.A. (author)/ K.S. (editor/kibitzer)

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