TOC Camp Stage 3: San Francisco to Santa Cruz

Dr. Kitima before Stage 1 with her emergency med supplies...a foreshadowing of the events of Stage 3

Theme of the Day: Murphy Comes a Knockin’, Big Time!

Summary: a great ride down the coast, a quick transition to a dramatic rainforest KOM, then things go sideways with two crashes and a coach in the San Jose ER.

The Full Run Down

Stage 3 dawned with the threat of rain (it’s May in Cali, wtf?!) though the forecast promised it would clear up later in the day. The campers clipped in from the hotel right on the coast in Pacifica, with a tough climb 1.5 miles out of the door quickly separating everyone into A and B groups. Coach Rich gathered up the large A group and lead a smooth paceline of ~10 riders down the coast to the turn inland and the start of the KOM.

Coach Patrick was on admin duty today, driving the admin vehicle (used for carrying most of the bikes and all of the luggage) to the end of today’s riding, where he would then hop on his bike and ride backwards against the course, rejoining the camp along the way.

Stage 3 was indicative of the tremendous terrain variety featured by the Tour of California, as within 3 miles of turning off the coast we found ourselves climbing the first KOM within what could be described as a Northwest rain forest.

The vans met us at the top and the campers changed layers, with Coach Rich flipping it to sweep up the first of the B-riders up the climb. Most of the campers came together at the top of the KOM and we started the descent on the other side. The road was twisty, steep, and more than a little slick. Rich decided to stop midway and wait for the campers…and waited…and waited…and then his cell phone rang with a Massachusetts area code…not good. He flipped it and began to ride back up the hill as campers now descended past him: “Trent crashed…Trent is Ok….Trent is a CHP car….” Rich reached the top to find camper Trent Prough in the SAG van after a crash on the descent. Good road rash on his hip and a very painful shoulder, though not a clavicle fracture. No worries, Trent is pretty tough, having earned the nickname “Drillbit” after putting a drill through his thigh in a separate incident 🙂

Rich used the van to shoot himself, Trent and camper Mike Allen back up the course to rejoin the rest of the campers and continue the ride. Within a couple minutes, however, we came up on a surreal scene: Patrick was sitting in the mud against a guardrail with several campers standing over him and a CHP officer stopping traffic. Patrick had apparently crashed on the solo descent, our KOM climb coming the other way, just minutes before being by our A-group riders. Not good but very fortunate for him, considering. The Team quickly worked together to stop traffic, load Patrick (painfully) into one of the vans, and a strong rider was sent down the hill to get Dr. Kitima up the hill and to Patrick as quickly as possible. It was very impressive to see the Good Doc transition instantly from cyclist to general surgeon, beginning the assessment of Patrick in her wet cycling kit and helmet! Patrick was later diagnosed with a broken clavicle and fractured pelvis. This was no small injury!

We regrouped everyone at the top of the KOM to assess the situation. One very unique dynamic of conducting this camp on the Tour of California course is that the race is working very, very hard to catch you. This means rolling road blocks and a serious sense of urgency to get the campers past Point X by Time Y so we can stay ahead of the race and move smoothly from the day’s riding to our next hotel. The camp had quickly become an extraction of bikes, campers, and two injured riders, with the added requirement that we need to get Patrick to an ER as quickly as possible. Given the remoteness and the constraints of the race, we decided we could do that much more quickly using our own assets vs EMS.

Rich issued battlefield commissions to a couple of the campers, tasking them with helping to get everyone through the rest of the course, while he and Kitima drove Patrick and Trent to the admin van. Once there we moved Patrick over to the van and shot the van out to the San Jose ER.

For the campers, the rest of the ride was fantastic, with sweeping descents on narrow country roads, as the course left the coastal range to rejoin Pacific Coast Highway at Gazos Creek Road. The campers treated themselves to milkshakes and good coffee before a scenic drive up the coast to our hotel in San Jose. Many campers gathered over burritos and beers at Chipotle to discuss the day’s excitement and wait for news from Patrick and Kitima.

Stage 3 Map and Profile

Stage 3 in Pictures and Video

The A-Group, rolling down the coast

Climbing through NW-like rainforest just off the coast

Chipotle burrito and Pacifico, staples of the ToC

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