Konocti Challenge Century

bri-5948Two days ago I rode in Lake County’s big cycling event hosted by the Rotary Club. Its one of the few attractions that have steadily grown in this poor county. This year I decided to take on the hundred mile version. Since I’m a local, I know all the pieces of the course. Its only the “Century” versions of courses that are compared in cycle magazines. This one compares quite well.

This is another item on my recent retirement to-do list checked off. The Thursday before the Challenge I reentered the world of performance poetry at the Ukiah Writers Read. Actually it wasn’t a performance event since I was the only poet performing with memorized material. To be truthful, I ventured to Mendocino County to introduce my style to Mendocino’s Poet Laureate. This style might be called dramatic reading. My girlfriend calls it “yelling at people.”

A dozen years ago I rode the 65 miler in the same event. This one circles the Lake as close as possible. It’s probably not unfair to say this shorter route is for tourists of mixed abilities who are going to do other things while they are here. It is of limited interest to serious cyclists unless they are recovering from injuries or are in decline.

The reputation of hundred milers being for athletes was made clear when the 65 and 100 routes diverged in Lower Lake. Up to this point I was passing my fellow geezers and the overweight. After they pulled away at the split to complete the 65er the only bikes I saw were a couple dozen buffed people whizzing by who left late.

Since I’m local, the terrain is familiar to me. I ride around the County and over to Napa all the time. The only source of dread was the upcoming 3.5 mile steep grade between Anderson Springs and Whispering Pines on Highway 175. It was painful. But I still had wind and power in my legs so I couldn’t stop. There were other long or steep grades but no more long AND steep grades. I rolled in at 5pm just as the BBQ was starting.

So now I have the minimum credentials to muse on thematic rides I would like to develop. The Rotary has shown no interest in inter county rides. But I can imagine three rides with a historical context or regional appeal. I see a way to add dramatic and video elements to these promoted rides.

First a little history. Lake County never had a railroad coming in to it in spite of many stock selling attempts for the purpose. The only effort that actually stuck a shovel in the ground was the Bay Cities Company that planned an extension from their line in the city of Napa, thru Conn Canyon and Pope Valley then up to Lower Lake. Bay Cities hired 50 people to survey the entire route and actually built a trestle over the creek in Napa. With the invention of the freight truck in 1910 this promising effort was shelved.

There are existing roads that come within a half mile of the planned tracks. The name of this near miss railroad spur wasn’t fixed. For future fictional dramatic purposes I have baptized it the “Konocti Kannonball.” This would also be a good name for a bike run route. Hopefully I’m not the only one who sees the train theme spinoffs.

My second fantasized foray over the County line slides between the East side of Mendocino out of Willits and the West side of Lake County, thru Redwood and Potter Valleys, over to Blue Lakes and Scotts Valley, Hwy 29 to Bottle Rock, then screaming down stream on 175 to Middletown, ending at the brewery on the bus 3 line. Unlike the Konocti Challenge which emphasizes the Lake Chamber pushed spots, this route shows off more of what the locals like and connects with more hip Willits. I call it “The Backstreet.” I am a firm believer in “Mendo-Lake” wide projects to expand opportunities.

For something completely different, I am researching a mountain bike run out of Lakeport, over the Cow Mountain Recreation Area to Talmidge, East of Ukiah. I don’t even know if its possible for anyone not of extraordinary ability to complete this run. As soon as the dirt road pulls away from Scott Creek it becomes “Eight Mile Grade Road.” This sounds bad. In the spring I plan to hike the route before I ride it. This could be the ultimate “bad boy” ride with a gritty anti Chamber of Commerce attitude. I call it the “Escape From Lake County” route.

A screenplay will be forthcoming.

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