Category Archives: stagecoach info

2018 Stagecoach 400 Group Ride Start

March 16th, 2018 

its a wonderful life

It’ll be a ride, we’ll have fun.
The route will be updated in advance of the ride, with changes made as required for development, land management changes, etc. We will continue to improve the route for touring purposes as well and will be using the latest version of this track for touring cyclists throughout 2018.

Registration details to follow!



2017 Stagecoach 400 December Update 1

In keeping with Stagecoach 400 tradition, 100% of all money generated from the Stagecoach 400 will go to a local charity.
This year it’s the Idyllwild Help Center. The Help Center was our first beneficiary, back in 2009 with our first year running the San Jacinto Enduro, when we organized a food drive with the ride. We generated 350 food items with that ride. This year we’ll be making a cash donation by way of the Stagecoach 400 registration donations.

SPOT tracker use NOT mandatory
This year will NOT have mandatory use of SPOT trackers. We plan to set up a Trackleaders page as we have done in years past, and it’ll be up to you if you’d like to be shown on the board or not. We’ll provide information to register your own SPOT, or to rent one.

More tour options
The 2017 route will read more like a Choose Your Own Adventure novel than before. We will provide route information to highlight (or bypass) certain sections of the route. Options will now include a trip through Blacks Beach (nudist) and Coronado Island will be back on the route, as an option. Mileage & ride time will vary slightly because of this.
The “core” route will not include these options and will be used as the baseline of reference for riders with an eye for record keeping.

Registration will open by January 1st
We’ll have an Eventbrite page set up for the Help Center by that time. Get stoked!


2016 Grand Depart Communique Sent

The latest 2016 Stagecoach 400 GPX file, cue sheets, route addenda, and interpretation have been sent out to all the riders participating in the smARTS Project fundraiser. 

Sink your teeth in and we’ll see everybody in about a month!


Self Support in 2015: What’s In, What’s Out?

Guidelines for self-supported riding Start with “Pedal the entire route, under your own power, using no outside assistance or prearranged support.” Add to that, the vibe of “Do nothing that not everyone else can do.” I do not believe self-supported rules have to remain static. But I do think we have agreed to an ideology of what all these “self supported events” are supposed to adhere to. We all come together for a self-supported ride with an understanding that we’re all riding under “X conditions” and go forth on the honor system. Self supported riding has significantly grown in popularity over the past few years; and I believe that’s a great thing for mountain biking, and a good for the world as it’s bringing more folks out into nature. High minded stuff, yeah. But with the boost in numbers comes some inevitable misunderstanding of the self-supported spirit, and more competition brings some more bending of the rules. Some Change Not many years ago, cell phones were strictly off-limits to self supported riding; now we have real-time, first person updates on social media. Some contend that this has made these rides less of a solo venture and more of a mainstream, fully “plugged in” event. The Trackleaders pages and SPOT tracker technology that has given these rides a spectator contingent has also been criticized by some riders for giving away too much information, and the SPOT’s SOS function have arguably given many riders a false sense of security when heading out into unfamiliar terrain.

"you and your damn cell phones"

“you and your damn cell phones”

I like to think of us Idyllwild bikepackers and our riding buddies as being from the “old guard” of self supported riding, but we’re not. We’re really the “middle guard” who started doing timed events at the very first days of cell phones being allowed; from when it was frowned upon to use them but technically “in bounds.” Spectatorship almost never happened. One of my goals in putting the Stagecoach 400 route together was- I paraphrase here- to make a badass bikepacking route. Another goal was to bring a world class bikepacking event to Southern California. I set a high standard for participation in it from the start, and never concerned myself too much with making it “accessible” to many more than the very most honed backcountry riders. Maybe 30 or so people would show up each year, I figured, hopefully some of them would come from California. The San Jacinto Enduro was a great stepping stone to get Southern Californians into longer rides, and, with enough time in the saddle new bikepackers could sharpen their teeth and eventually get into the Stagecoach 400. That was my thinking anyway. Today we have folks who’ve never been on a bikepacking trip entering the Stagecoach 400. Many folks are coming to the Stagecoach from a different angle; not indoctrinated in self-supported riding, but coming from outside conventional racing. The Stagecoach 400, lets face it, is a big riding accomplishment, as is doing a 12 hour race, the Leadville 100, or the like. And that’s cool! It’s great. Welcome to the party.  I’m the old man standing on the porch, in my underwear shouting at the whippersnappers to get their act together. If I aim the garden hose at you, it’s not that I don’t like you… it’s just that I want you to be awesome. In that spirit, I’m clarifying below some common issues I’ve seen over the last few years of the Stagecoach 400. No Outside Assistance No Prearranged Support Caching some water out in the desert? Of course not. There should be no “caching” of any kind on the route. You should start with your own water, for example, and have a plan to find more along the way be it from a store, natural source, etc. The only stuff you use on the route that you didn’t start with should come from a publicly available store/source. What about using the Postal Service? You CAN use the Postal Service, or the like, but only AFTER the start of the ride. Mailing yourself a change of clothes to somewhere on the route before the ride has started is a no-no. Basically, the only reason you’ll be using the USPS is to send stuff home that broke, like your broken soul just before you throw in the towel and DNF yourself. Postal Service is damn near off limits. Want to send your sleep kit home on last day? Uncool! While technically not illegal, you’ll lose cool points and get frowns. Staying in hotels? You CAN stay in hotels, but again, DON’T make reservations until after the ride has started. Capeesh? As in, if the ride starts at 8am on Friday, don’t even pick up the phone to make a reservation until 8:01am or later. Making reservations before the ride has started is out of bounds. That would be “prearranged” get it? Meeting a friend/spouse/rider on route? Don’t do it. If you have a friend pace you up a tough canyon climb,*ahem, cough cough Oriflamme* for example, you should remove yourself from the ride and report yourself DNF. Likewise, if you feel you might need to see your SO during the ride for a conjugal visit, you probably should not enter this ride. Stay home and make sexy time. Having friends in the periphery via motorcycle, car, etc? Super uncool, out of bounds, illegal, DNF yourself. If your friends just so happened to be riding motorcycles in the desert that day, maybe you should join them. DNF yourself and enjoy a cold Smirnoff Ice. Don’t sign up if you think it’ll happen. I’m sorry to be a party pooper, but it really harshes the mellow for everyone else. Plus it’s pretty clearly taking “outside” and “prearranged” moral support. Likewise, if you’re not sure you can make it across the desert and maybe want the security of having a friend nearby to save you in case things get weird… we would rather you stayed home. We want your utter confidence that you can complete the route from start to finish. If you aren’t so sure, please keep training and consider joining us next year. Stopping by my house, which happens to be on the route? Don’t do it, unless you are stopping home to call in your DNF. Even if you broke a bike part *saddle* and you have a spare in your garage. Either go to a bike shop and have it fixed or DNF yourself. Do NOT go to your house for any reason.  Calling home with my cell phone? Instagram? Facebook?  Totally! It might mess with your head, but go ahead and do that as much as you’d like. Strava? Go to Leadville.

Stagecoach 500 (beta mode)

For 2015 we will have the option to ride a longer course. 


As the 400 route has become honed in over the years- and boy is it ever a good course for 2015- I’ve come to believe we might be ready for more options. This year’s option will be a prototype, rough around the edges. We may never run this course again. I like to think of it in the same way you might have one of those “Enjoy By” craft beers. Here today, gone tomorrow.

This route follows some of what we originally sketched out for the Stagecoach for its first public year in 2011/2012, heading down Palm Canyon singletrack (aka Palm Canyon Epic) and coming into the Imperial Valley around the East side of the Salton Sea. The course will go to Slab City/Salvation Mountain/Niland (aka Hipster Jerusalem) and make its way to Westmorland by way of agricultural roads. This course addition will join the current SC400 course in Ocotillo Wells.

The riding on the extension is deserty, and rural. Palm Canyon is considered by some (me) to be one of SoCal’s greatest singletracks. It’s downhill trending, but will take a while to get done. There will quite a bit of pavement through Indio and Mecca getting to the North end of the Salton Sea. The riding in the vicinity of the Sea can range from sandy & rocky to very sandy to hardpack. In the microcosm of the extension, a fatbike or “plus sized” tire is a good choice.

Agriculture is king in this area. You’ll see Date Palms, expansive farming, little Mexican markets, the American Canal, a and remnants of the push in the 1950’s to make this area a seaside resort. We will see hot springs, mud pots, palm oases. I have seen quicksand, once. Some folks in this area are living off grid. Some are not. Most are not used to seeing mountain bike touring in the area… We will be riding below sea level. The human history in this area is rich, and the geology is very unique, special. I will attempt to aggregate some resources to read up on all of it and share it here.
For now, here’s a link to a trip we took a few years ago to Slab City.

Let’s do it.

Here, some FAQ’s that might come up about this extension:

Why have an extension?
Because it is there, and I love the Imperial Valley. And because the Stagecoach 400 has gotten pretty popular, so we need to expand some options to keep it “core.” I kid.

If the Stagecoach 400 is good, the 500 must be better, right?
Not necessarily, unless “longer” is by definition better for you. The 400 is really good. In my opinion, it’s a good balance of Mountain, Desert, and Ocean. These were the founding principles of the SC400.
The 400 route is really, really good, very well put together. The extension is more “western” and definitely rough around the edges.
Ride what’s right for you, bro.

What sort of bike does the extension favor?
Probably a fat bike. Or maybe a “Plus” of some kind.

How are resupplies?
Not too bad, by rural desert standards. I’ll have all the info I can muster in the cues.

What’s the time limit for the SC400+ extension?
We will work with Trackleaders to add the extension on the regular 400 tracker… I assume that can be done, but I can be wrong. As for time, we give 5 days for the 400… let’s do a max of 6 days for the 500.

When will the cues & GPX be ready?
I’m setting a deadline to self for March 1st. If you’re local to SoCal, maybe consider letting this one be a surprise. Y’all preride too much. Onsight it baby!

Is Palm Canyon really cool?

How about Slab City?

Can I get an advance track of it so I can run it before March 27th?

But I’m a big deal on Instagram.
Don’t care. We will run it together on March 27th. It’ll be fun.

2014 Stagecoach 400 is a wrap

And it was the best year yet. Image

We had ideal weather, and a better route than in years past, and even more smiles per mile ridden. The change to the desert was almost universally appreciated, with far fewer casualties on the new route, plus the opportunity for some to soak in the hot springs at Agua Caliente. The pavement leading to Oriflamme provided an opportunity to soak in the desert without so much focus on riding technique.

We had a record 29 finishers- compare to 11 last year- despite a start list comparable to years past.

The ride has really been coming “above ground,” getting loads of attention in the San Diego area, and recognition from business owners throughout the route for economic benefit. The storekeeper at Agua Caliente told us we “made his month” and I’ve had word from innkeepers, shopkeepers, and restauranteurs in Idyllwild that we made a significant economic impact here as well. The storekeeper in Anza was most appreciative, as were the folks in Descanso.
Our suggested donations to the Idyllwild Community fund raised almost $1,000!

Route hiccups included a recently shut off water spigot at the top of Noble Canyon, which we’d confirmed on just two weeks earlier. Later on route, a “Closed” sign was posted at the tail end of the Sweetwater trail system coming into San Diego, where riders had to get creative and seek alternative means of passage.

The Ride
The early morning departure was delayed 30 minutes while we ironed out technical glitches with the trackers. Not an unwelcome delay, considering sub-freezing temps rolling downhill on the highway. By that afternoon we were in the desert at near 90.

The ride out front was tight, with Phil Liggett’s proverbial elastic stretching, contracting… and snapping. Guy Sutton, Bryan Taylor, and Erick Lord all made for an interesting watch on the Trackleaders page.

Credit Card tourists Cliff Clermont & Stan Potter showed a blistering moving pace, with long comfortable overnight stays… resulting in solid mid-pack finishes.

Keith Richards-Dinger put the hammer down on his single speed for a mid day Sunday finish.

Claude Frat had a strong ride, commenting frequently on the joy of his tour.

Tyrel Beede rocked the course in a very stylish 5 day pace, stopping frequently for Tall Boy refreshment. I witnessed Fosters, Tecate, and Bud Light, though I’m sure there were more.

Maria Lopez and Carisa Stelmat were this year’s only female entrants, making it to San Diego and reporting a great time doing it.


Spectatorship: How to get your Stagecoach fix

Technology has really afforded remote ultra riding a spectator base.

It really took off in 2008 with Tour Divide, when folks began calling themselves “Blue Dot Junkies,” and it’s been getting better ever since. The tracking technology and resulting ease of spectatorship has arguably helped shine a spotlight on ultra rides, upped the competition level, and brought sponsorship dollars into the sport.

Live Tracking

Stagecoach 400 leaderboard

Stagecoach 400 leaderboard

This year’s Stagecoach 400 will have live satellite tracking (faster reporting than ever before with the Gen3 Spot trackers) for each rider on course, and show overall progress made as well as time splits for segments of the route. At the time of this entry, we are adding names to the leaderboard who didn’t make the first round. The link below will be the same.
Check out the page for the 2014 Stagecoach 400

Audio Call-ins on Mountain Bike Radio

Screen shot 2014-03-12 at 9.09.50 PMRiders this year will have a phone number provided to which they’ll be able to call in and report their experiences on route. You might hear about tough trail conditions, people stories, or UFO sightings.
Check out the Stagecoach 400 page on Mountain Bike Radio


2014 Stagecoach 400 Start Date & Other Info

The 2014 date is set for Friday, March 14th departure from Idyllwild.


This date moves the ride up a full month from the 2013 start to beat the dreaded heat in the desert sections and hopefully find more favorable trail conditions in those areas as well. The date coincides closely with the full moon (Sunday the 16th). We will have about an hour less daylight with the new start date, at about 12 hours dawn to dusk in March instead of 13 hours in April.

Route Changes in the works:
May Valley (Idyllwild) reroute- this area is currently closed. We are hopeful it will reopen very soon, possibly in the coming weeks, but ITT’s between now and then will need to redirect around on pavement on Hwy 243 & Hwy 74. Careful out there, these highways can be dangerous with no shoulder.

The desert route will remain more or less gloriously unchanged. Except maybe cooler & firmer in March instead of April. Otherwise, maybe your tears will firm up the sand.

We are looking at more dirt in the Alpine area, after Viejas Grade.

We are looking at a better alternative to get to the “Scary House” in the Sloane Canyon area. The 2012 route went up the “most horrible hike a bike ever” and the 2013 route went around on the “kinda horrible pavement” so we are hopeful the 2014 route will find a good compromise here. Word has it, the alternative trail is “mostly rideable.” This is a maybe. Don’t freak out, people.

We are considering a possible “choose your own adventure” route option at the San Diego Bay whereby riders can opt to ride the Silver Strand out to Coronado, and take the ferry back across the bay. Likewise, we may pencil in a more definitive option to ride the Noble Canyon Singletrack earlier in the route.

We are looking at more Singletrack in Tecolote Canyon and the greater Mission Bay Area. We also have new beta on resupplies in the area, including the Karl Strauss Brewery tasting room, right on the route.

Tunnels section of Penasquitos Canyon- this will be bypassed entirely, as it is closed.

Minor changes in Black Mountain /Lake Hodges area. New resupplies too.

SPOT Tracker Deadline


Register your SPOT with Trackleaders, or sign up to rent yours by the close of business on April 19th.

Big brother is watching.

2013 Comminique is Sent

With loads of info. If you’re signed up, it should be in your email.