Bike for Bender is a local California non-profit organization that was founded in memory of Robert Bender, who lost his fight to cancer at the young age of 26. Proceeds from their annual hosted events benefit many local community groups, including High School Mountain Bike League Teams, Boy Scouts of America, fallen riders, cancer research institutions, as well as efforts to improve and develop local trails and cycling pathways.
Here are two ride perspectives from two of the participants from The Path Bike Shop staff and race team, congrats to all for toughing it out!
My goal for the 2014 SART Hell Ride was to beat my time from last year (5 1/2 - 6 hours).
The start of the ride I was feeling great, unlike last year. I stayed at a solid pace, making sure not to overdo it early in the ride. The condition of the trail was perfect with nice post rain-packed dirt. I met some people on the trail; everyone was friendly and having a good time despite the cold conditions. The first 13 miles to the Post Office were my favorite by far. At the top of the fire road climb there were Bike for Bender volunteers with adult beverages and cookies. We took a nice little break there before continuing on our way.
About a mile after the Post Office, the rain began to pour. Actually it was hail and sleet. Sleet begins to fall when temperature falls below 32-degrees, just to give you an idea of how cold it was. I was still feeling good at this point; but my already rain-soaked layers got more and more heavy as time went on. I put on 2 out of 3 pair of socks I had with me, and two pairs of gloves. I also had waterproof pants on, but my hands were done. I tried my best to get the blood flowing and barely stopped to stay warm. Descending became unbearable and I knew at this point I would have to bail out before the climb to Morton's Peak. With my hands numb, my fork now stiff, and my dropper post failing, we finally reached the bail out.
There we sat with fellow Hell Riders where another volunteer was handing out hot chocolate and snacks. Though my shivers never seemed to stop and my lips didn't change back to normal color, that hot cocoa made me feel so much better. We still contemplated finishing the final 10 miles of the ride, but I just had no desire to ride anymore. One of the volunteers offered us a ride back down to the brewery where we met up with Paulina and Kim. We celebrated our accomplishment with lots of beer and pizza.
In the end, I'm satisfied with the distance I made it and my endurance this compared to last. Sitting at the brewery stuffing my face with pizza I definitely regretted not finishing; but then again I had pizza, so who cares. Until next year!
The Hell Ride this year sure was a challenge. When we got off the shuttle to the starting line, it was 32 degrees out. The weather stayed dry for the first hour and a half or so, but as soon as Kim and I got to the 3rd mile fire road climb (before the first turnaround point) it started drizzling. By the end of the fire road climb it was pouring rain. When we stopped in at the market, it began to pour even harder. Kim and I still had the energy to keep going, but we were freezing cold. I couldn't move my fingers, and Kim's lips were literally purple. We were actually afraid of getting hypothermia!
We stopped there and got a ride back down the mountain. Not many people made it all the way through. It took tenacity, vigor, and downright stubbornness (maybe even a little masochism too). One thing I can say, before we stopped the trail was AMAZING. Gorgeous, flowy singletrack with lots of exposure in between stretches of fire road.
I took out the Giant Trance Advanced 1 demo bike on the ride, which I am convinced is the best all-around trail bike I have pedaled. If it weren't for the dang rain and freezing temps, I would have loved to finish the ride. I will be back to SART soon to redeem myself!