Big Basin 200K
No entry fee. No registration forms. No SAG. A pretty DIY route sheet. A little over a year's worth of anticipation. A few friends. A lot of hill climbing. One awesome early Summer Saturday.

Since over a year ago, when Lisa and I participated in the Santa Cruz Randonneurs' Big Basin 200K brevet, we were eager to do this ride. The route was the same, eternally lumpy ordeal through the Santa Cruz Mountains and the Big Basin Redwoods that left me such an impression last year that it instantly made my top five list of favrorite rides anywhere. The Santa Cruz Randonneurs opted not to run the event again this year, so Lisa and I simply picked a date, called a few stalwart bike ridin' friends we haven't seen in a while, and hit the road for one long, glorious day of riding.

Big Basin 200 Route Map


Unfortunately for Lisa, "hit the road" became a literal manifestation at around mile 54, when she took a digger on a descent. Location: Pine Flat Road, north of Bonny Doon. Situation: Commencement of a descent after a brief hill summit regroup. Description: A loud flopping sound, immediately succeeded by a long scraping sound against the asphalt, horrifically mated to the visual confirmation I got on my backwards glance, confirming that:

a) it was Lisa
b) that she did hit the deck
c) and that she was sliding across the double-yellow line into the opposite lane.

FUUUUUCK!!!! (Says me)

Lucky for Lisa, there was no oncoming traffic for her or any of us to worry about. Better yet, by the time I had dumped my bike, and ran back up the hill a few paces, Lisa was already up, surveying the damage, and hyper-analyzing the incident. She lost a lot of skin on both knees, her left arm, left hand, had a footlong gash on her inner thigh from some part of the bike, and was bruised up in half a dozen places. No head impact. No broken bones. Just the unsightly appearance of blood streaming down her left leg. Tasty.

A few minutes were spent revisiting the moments that led up to the spill, and the fact that two people witnessed the fall in close proximity didn't seem to be much help. It was all puzzling at first, especially given how quickly and suddenly it all unfolded. But, Lisa was pretty convinced that she lost control of the bike when she was transitioning her grip on the bars to the drops for the descent, and simultaneously hit a tar lump on the pavement. Hands popped off the bars, wheel jerked suddenly to the right, she lost balance and got dumped at some 15mph. That seems to be the final answer. The consolation we all can get is that it happened early in this descent, too, where many stretches down the road had us going in excess of 40mph.

As badly beat up as she looked, I could tell immediately that Lisa was relatively OK -- or at least clear of a head injury reminiscent of the concussion she received from her last crash, nearly 3 years ago, at the Bass Lake Double Century. She appeared frazzled -- who can blame her -- but more or less together, and still able to focus and keep a smooth, straight line when we did resume that fast descent to Davenport.

Ultimately, she pressed on and finished the whole ride with gross, bleeding wounds. Tough girl, too -- should'a seen what SHE did to that pavement. Really fucked HIM up.

Her bike took nearly as bad a beating. Badly rashed up handlebar (which has since been replaced), rashed up shifter/brake lever, rashed up pedal, rashed up Brooks saddle (sniff). Apart from that, nothing broken, and nothing out of alignment.


The Santa Cruz Mountains (and its residents) have had the recent misfortune of one of the many forest wildfires that hit California this year, but CDF Fire and regional fire department personnel had completely contained the fires in this area weeks before we took to its roads. There was still a hint of smoke in the air, however. After all, there were also hundreds of large forest fires still raging all over the state that have spurred daily health advisories in every media channel for weeks.

We opted to start and finish our ride at the same location as the brevet -- a shopping center parking lot just outside the Cupertino Bike Shop. Seemed appropriate anyway -- even if we started our ride long before they opened their doors, and arrived back after they had closed up for the day.

Seven of us started. Seven of us finished within standard 200K brevet time limits, though this was of less consequence for the fact that we weren't trying to be a RUSA/ACP sanctioned event. Two girls, five boys. No controls, no brevet medals. Just a five-minute pack-up drill before everybody got into their cars and the hell outta there to get some grub... somewhere.

Apart from the first/last few miles, no part of the course is flat. It's either up, up, up -- or down, down down. 14,000' worth. In relatively traffic-free roads, no less. This repeated fact was kind'a surprising to me since we happened to be riding during MotoGP weekend and I was totally expecting to see a swarm of sportbikes in the hills.


On the return leg, while climbing up Hwy 9 towards Saratoga Gap, some really insightful car passenger felt compelled to hang outside the window like tha dawgg he was, and spew forth this brilliant revelation at 45 miles per hour:

You know, those clothes you're wearing don't make you any faster."

<<sigh>> South Bay suburban trash... never really know how special they are.


The nickname of the day bestowed upon me by Tim H. Because if I couldn't be a steady and consistent climber, might as well be a badass descender. Thanks, Fat Belly and Gravity!!

There was something about my descending that day though. I'm no slouch nor scurrykat any given day, but I just felt way more dialed, and able to really stick the tight twisties at speed with some really nice late-apex lines. And it never felt reckless -- always in control. Maybe moto skills starting to really permeate my velo experience, but a quarter of the day was all about flick, flick, flick, leeeeaaannnnn, whoosh swoosh and JAM.

It was ON!

Until we started the next damn climb anyway.

Distance: 125 miles | Elevation gain: 13,900' | Ride time: 10h20m
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