Theme of the Day: The Team that is Endurance Nation comes together to make some pretty cool stuff happen for the camp.
Summary: We climb legendary Sierra Road right out of the gate, the EN NorCal Sleeper Cell meets the camp and leads us around some road closures, many are introduced to their first 20-25 mile continuous climb while the TeamEN machinery kicks into gear to take care of Coach Patrick and get him out of the San Jose hospital and back to his family as soon as possible.
The Full Run Down
After the excitement and chaos of Stage 3, we were ready to get back to business on the Tour of California course! Stage 4 served up a mix of old and new terrain:
- The legendary Sierra Road climb. This 5k, 8-17% climb has been featured every year of the Tour. For us, it’s like seeing an old friend…who promptly punches you in the nose 5 miles from your hotel!
- The ride around Lake Calaveras, another Tour staple and one of the best example of “classic” California riding.
- Mines Road, new this year but scouted out by Coach Rich during a training camp for the EN NorCal Sleeper Cell.
- Del Puerto Canyon Rd to Patterson, a remix from ’08, except this year we would descend the canyon from west to east rather than climb up from Patterson.
- The area comprised of Mines Rd, Del Puerto, and Mt Hamilton (from ’08) has been officially named the EN ToC Triangle, as funky stuff just always happens whenever we go in here.
The B group, now quite large as the campers were beginning to feel the cummulative effects of 4-5hrs of riding each day, left 40′ ahead of the now-very-small A-group, riding through town to the base of Sierra Rd. Some of the campers decided to TT up the hill (or at least to pay attention to their time) while others just got up the KOM. From there it’s a quick and scenic descent on Felter Road and then the course pops over the ridge and sweeps through the hills and switchbacks over looking Lake Calaverras. It’s hard to believe you only a few miles from downtown San Jose!
The course dropped down to the I-680 intersection for a regroup of all the campers. Coach Rich had organized an “admin portage” to shoot those interested forward through the course to either the base or the top of the next KOM, near the start of Mines Road. Stage 4 was a monster stage and we made sure that everyone knew there was still much riding to come in the Tour. Those wanting to get in the miles were met by the EN NorCal Sleeper Cell, several members who took off from work to meet their virtual teammates, many for the first time, and lead us around some road closures to the base of Mines Road. The scene in the Park and Ride was like a high school reunion, as 2-3 year long friendships created in our forum were cemented with a real world hug, handshake, and face-to-face. As leaders of the EN community, this was very, very cool to see!
But we’ve got riding to do! About 9 of us, led by the cell members, rode smoothly about 15 miles on surface streets to the base of Mines Road, where they peeled off and we continued with our day. Mines Road is a “classic” California climb, with a steep 5k start (the KOM) and then 20+ miles of continuous 3-5% grade climbing to a plateau before dropping 15+ miles down Del Puerto Canyon Rd to our extraction in Patterson.
The EN ToC Triangle: something always throws us a curveball in this area. It’s stoopid remote, with no cell service, and there always seems to be an overzellous volunteer or local police working traffic. The net this year is that our rear SAG vehicle was prevented from following the A-group into the Triangle and we were left to fend for ourselves. Again, this is a situation unique to the ToC: the road behind you is closed, you have unexpectedly lost your support vehicle, but you do have a cue sheet that tells you when the peleton is expected to be where you are now (ie, I’m about 60′ ahead of them!!). You’re out of water = you forage for water and even a bike pump to fix a flat quickly from the spectators on the road. The Team works together to get everyone through the course, to include creating a wind-breaking phalanx or a well placed push on the back to help out the weaker riders. Fun stuff, always an adventure!
Everyone made it safely to Patterson where we gorged on fast food before watching the peleton blast by and continuing with our day and drive to Visalia. Once at the hotel we found that we had chosen the same digs as Cervelo, BMC, Jelly Belly, United Healthcare and others. Much bike porn in the parking lot and the female campers were able to get their groupie on, snapping pics with skinny EuroProDoodes and fantasizing what they could do with the published room assignments. Sorry, ladies, bail is NOT included in the price of the camp!
Meanwhile, back in San Jose, the TeamEN machine was mobilizing to get Patrick out of the hospital and into a member’s home for several days of physical therapy before he was able to get on a flight to Boston. Very, very cool to see the team work so hard to make this happen!
Stage 4 in Pictures and Video
Felter Rd Descent
EN ToC meets EN NorCal Sleeper Cell
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