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California’s toughest

By Rocky Brashear

The old TUC, (Tour of the Unknown Coast). For some of us, after the years of riding the century known as California toughest, the novelty has worn off and the memory of pain lingers through until the next year. It had been 3 years since I made my last ride at the TUC. So I guess I would say the memory of the difficulties of the ride had faded somewhat, allowing my natural instinct of self preservation to lapse a bit.

Even though I like to complain I do love the ride. It pushes your boundaries, and lets you know really what your body is capable of. This year most of the ride seemed to fly by for me, with beautiful scenery racing through the senses in colors and panoramic views. These pleasurable portions were separated by teeth gritting hill climbs and a few scary moments to encompass a full day emotionally and physically.

One scary moment for me came when I was descending the backside of Panther Gap. About a mile into the descent my bike started making a high pitched whine. I look down to see in horror that my freehub body had seized and my chain was rapping into my wheel. For those of you not savvy with bike lingo this means my wheel could no longer spin free as I descended at 40 miles an hour. In a split second my bike became a fixy. I pedaled as hard as I could barley able to stay ahead of the wrapping chain. The rest of the descent was hair raising as I was forced to pedal constantly while riding the brakes all the way down through switchbacks, gravel, and traffic. Thank God for the mechanics at the lunch stop. Without tools to handle a problem like that I would have not been able to finish.

The rest of the day was a lot safer for me, and fun. The only exception to the fun part would be about 50 feet into endless hills… and for pretty much the rest of the ride. With the Wall you can kind of fix you mind on getting just a little further and power through the brutally steep climb. Endless hills however are unrelenting. My fatigue had reached the point where I could barley turn the pedals over, and for that stretch of road I was what I like to call “Owned” by the TUC. I knew the finish line waited, along with the tastiest cheap burrito I would ever have. So I continued on like everyone else, still all smiles at the end of the day.

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Tour of the Unknown Coast
May 8, 2010

Tom Phillips at the start of the 100-mile TUC.

100 Miles
One-hundred miles. Ninety-four hundred feet of climbing. Beautiful views of giant Redwood trees and the ocean. It can only mean one thing: The Tour of the Unknown Coast, promoted as California’s Toughest Century. No doubt. Bigfoot’s Tom Phillips and Rocky Brashear were all smiles at the beginning of the 100-mile TUC. Rocky finished in seven hours. See his previous post for details on his adventure.

Carl Hesselein won the 100-mile race in under five and a half hours. He was followed soon after by Matt Schiff. Way to go! Catch more action on the 100-mile TUC on video (see previous entry on Bigfoot’s blog).

Rocky Brashear at the start of the 100-mile TUC.

200 Miles
Holy Banana Slug! Bigfoot’s Jim Robbins was the first rider to finish 200 miles in a time of 13:26:00. Jim completed two full laps of the Tour of the Unknown Coast. Can’t imagine how it felt to see the Ferndale Fairgrounds and ride past knowing he had to do it all over again! Congratulations Jim! You are insanely good!

Bigfoot Pres. Tim Daniels waits at the start of the 100k.

100 Kilometers
The metric 100 took off at a blistering pace. Revolution Bike Shop’s Justin Brown hammered from the gun and about 50 riders splintered apart by the first turn into town. He plowed through the Avenue of the Giants and never looked back. Justin won the ride in a time of about 3:20:00. Bigfoot president Tim Daniels soloed much of the 62-miles, with 3200-feet of climbing into constant headwinds (what was he thinking?). He was in eyeshot of Bigfoot’s Vicky Sama and Sid Noyes, who rode most of the way together with Paul Tolme who was on his singlespeed carbon belt drive. After the halfway mark turnaround, Vicky told the group the goal was to catch Tim. Sid put the hammer down and dropped Vicky in Rio Dell (that vicious climb out of town, ouch). She didn’t catch Tim but Sid eventually did. Vicky finished in the top ten overall and was the first woman finisher in a time of about three and a half hours. Her hubby Paul finished at the same time.

Paul Tolme rode the 100k on his singlespeed.

Max Capps sports his Bigfoot Bicycle Club jersey

After the TUC, riders were treated to free bean and beef burritos, courtesy of race organizers. Before the rides began, riders were offered a free breakfast of waffles, eggs, bacon and coffee. Good eats both before and after the Tour!

An estimated 1,200 riders took part in this year’s Tour of the Unknown Coast. The ride starts and ends in Ferndale, Calif., and travels south along Highway 101 and the Avenue of the Giants. Folks riding the full 100 miles do a loop that goes to Petrolia and along the ocean. Riders doing shorter options have a turn around point along the Ave. of the Giants. The weather this year was stellar– blue skies and mild temperatures. Of course, there was that nasty wind, but that’s always the case when you ride near the beach.

Congratulations to club member Max Capps who finished the 100-kilometer ride on his comeback to cycling after breaking his foot two years ago. Way to go Max.

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SATURDAY, MAY 8 IN FERNDALE, CA.
If you haven’t heard about it yet, it’s the ride of the century! No kidding. It’s a 100-mile ride with options of lesser miles. Get more info at Tour of the Unknown Coast.

Bigfoot Bicycle Club will be there. Come ride with us!

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