On Saturday our club ride schedule had three options, all starting in Ione. The first was only 21 miles to Sutter Creek and back; no one did that. The second was to Volcano and back, 45 miles, skipping the climb up Rams Horn Grade. No one did that either. The longest option was 65 miles (and 5,400 feet of climbing) to Pioneer and down to Jackson via Tabeaud Road; 6 riders (me included) took that option.
It often happens that our scheduled club ride gets modified depending on who shows up and how far they want to ride, or what the weather is like, or simply on a whim or spur-of-the-moment decision to do something different. So it isn’t too surprising that about 10 riders decided to add Rams Horn Grade before returning to Ione. That another 7 members decided to head for Cooks Station is unusual: that is a nice ride but requires doing about one mile on Highway 88 that has no shoulder and lots of traffic on a beautiful Saturday, which this day was. But these 7 had good reason; they were riding support for someone who certainly set two SBC records on Saturday; heaviest bike and longest alternate ride.
Ben is a young man who really likes to ride. And camp out. He started in Pittsburg (PA, not CA) and rode to Portland, then down the Pacific Coast and into Lodi, where he spent a few days with Russ and Sandy; SBC riders and friends of his parents back east. He showed up at the Ione start to begin his journey toward home, and Russ and Sandy were going to do the first 40 of those miles with him.
Ben rides a touring bike which weighs at least 45 lbs. By contrast, our club riders’ bikes are mostly 16-20 lbs., with a few traditionalists mounting steel frames with old school leather saddles that weigh around 23 lbs. But even these behemoths are about half the weight of Ben’s Clydesdale. By the time Ben put all his gear into his panniers the total weight had to be approaching 75 lbs. This is about 2 1/2 times what our tandem weighs, and there are two of us pedaling! I do not think there has ever been a bike this heavy on a club ride. I seriously doubted I could even ride the thing from Ione to Sutter Creek, never mind across the country.
Ben was starting in Ione and heading to Denver (!). He was hoping to get over Carson Pass that same day and stop to camp somewhere on the east side of the pass. This is carrying the ‘alternate ride’ to an extreme level, and no one accompanied him over the Sierras.
I’ve done many ‘cycling tours’ but I am not a touring cyclist. I don’t use panniers or saddlebags to carry stuff; that is what the support van is for. I don’t camp out or cook; that is what hotels and restaurants are for. But Ben seemed pretty happy and relaxed and confident as he set out to continue his great adventure. And if I ever meet him on a ride when he is on a normal bike, it will be a real short meeting before he disappears up the road; anybody who can ride that beast over the Sierras and Rockies is going to drop me without breathing hard.