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2018 Stagecoach 400 in Review

The good, the bad, and the ugly

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Self-Support?

March 30, 2018
The seventh grand depart of the Stagecoach 400 took off at 8am sharp Friday morning without a hitch. Riders enjoyed classic Southern California “perfect” weather and very good trail conditions. Several first-time bikepackers were in the mix alongside some seasoned riders. We had a small group this year with a tight vibe rolling out of town.
We’ve had about as many riders ITT and/or tour the route this year as we had on the day of the grand depart, likely in part because of the weather delay we had this year (more on that later). We had a handful of riders start ITT’s every day of the week leading up to the grand depart, and continuing out afterward as well.

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some guys, a couple gals, and some bikes

The Ride
This year’s riders made better-than-average time out of the mountains down to San Diego. Reports filed in on the route’s private Facebook group from riders and fans on route, showing beauty, trials, and wonder on the ride.
Perennial favorite Alex Barnett pulled out of the ride after a crash with a knee injury and a mechanical. Other riders pulled out as well.
Idyllwild local Joe Picchiotino finished a solo ITT (started Thursday afternoon) and rode the entire route using only cue sheets.
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Julie Kanagy pressed on, shared photos, and finished her first ever bikepacking event.

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Julie in the Cuyamacas, “just before the shit hit the fan”

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Cache

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Jason, Mike, and Ton at the Tree Monument

The lead pack was strong, and fast. Cliff Clermont, Ton Van Daelen, Eric Brunt, Mike Barklow, and Jason Wolf pressed deep into San Diego on day 1. Eric Brunt’s blue dot went dead on the leaderboard off route NW of Warner Springs. Ton Van Dalen’s blue dot pressed on hard at a blistering pace before ultimately being overtaken by Mike & Jason before the end of the ride. Eric Brunt was the first back to Idyllwild, signing in a fastest time at 6:48am, and later changing that time to 9:08am after explaining he wasn’t clear where the route ended. His ride was protested by other riders on and off course and ultimately relegated with an asterisk for a route deviation. (more on that later)

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Eric and his light setup

Other riders trickled in, swapped stories, and enjoyed the serenity of Idyllwild. Two riders Gregory “Rocketman” Ruben and Wesley Wright decided to “take the right” out of Ocotillo Wells and press on into the beta-mode extension around the Salton Sea, which you can read about here and here. The long term goal for the Salton Sea route (about 60% established now) will likely be a standalone route as well as an option for touring Stagecoach riders. Rocketman and Wesley are still out riding at the time of this publishing.

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Rocketman & Wes near the Salton Sea

Falling Forward
This year’s event brought our first experience with a significant protest of a rules violation, with 3 riders raising issue with the reported first-finisher, Eric Brunt. To those unfamiliar with self-supported guidelines, it is this in a nutshell:
Pedal the entire route, under your own power, using no outside assistance or prearranged support.
For a more comprehensive explanation, we have required participants to read this article I posted a few years ago.

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The point of contention was whether or not Eric rejoined the route at the point the Trackleaders leaderboard showed him exit, approximately mile 49. The protest claimed he did not retrace his steps and ride the entire route, and also go on to claim the .gpx file he provided as evidence was edited. This last part is not something we have encountered as a self-supported community before, to my knowledge.
These are the facts:
— Eric’s tracker went offline off route Friday afternoon, in the area of the protested incident. Eric explains his lithium batteries went dead and his tracker did not work with regular batteries. His tracker never turned on again for the rest of the ride.
— Eric insisted that he backtracked and rode the entire route.
— After review by Scott Morris of Topofusion / Trackleaders, and another third party cartographer from ESRI, we have no evidence to show Eric backtracked and rode the part he missed. The portion of his track in question according to them is indeed suspicious, with no timestamp or speed data. Further we do show he proceeded down the highway to Warner Springs (rejoining the route at approximately mile 59) at the place in question. Eric explains the portion of the track in question might be different because his Garmin may have picked up signal only intermittently, or proceeded to the next closest waypoint.
— The rest of Eric’s file shows him completing the remainder of the route, clearly, with strong riding.

Despite Eric’s insistence that he backtracked and rode the route, the results will show an asterisk (route deviation) for his finish because of the evidence above.

What we will do differently next time
Not much. The self-supported guidelines we posted in 2015 still stand today, and despite popularity of mandatory spot-tracking among other self-supported events, we will keep it optional for reasons of our particular event’s preferences (lots of riders who want to tour it, or don’t want the expense of the tracker, want privacy, etc). ITT’s will still be expected to present .gpx files, and “fast” riders can still expect the demand for the like should their ride be contested. Fast riders in the future should know the rules intimately! ūüėČ

What’s next for the Stagecoach 400
The route is gaining popularity as a touring route during times other than the grand depart. Last year we a large grand depart, and steady trickle of riders throughout the year. This year we’ve had about as many folks ride the ride “whenever” as did the grand depart. For this reason we will continue to develop the route’s options and extensive cue sheets for area attractions (as a tourist resource) and we’ll press on into the Salton Sea area with a keen eye on respect for the area’s history and awareness for its present. The route will continue to evolve for the better and continue to grow as a resource for bikepacking in Southern California.

-Brendan

 

 

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2018 Stagecoach 400 Registration

Registration for the March 16th grand depart is up!

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The 2018 Stagecoach 400 will benefit the Idyllwild Help Center– 100% of your registration cost will be used to help local families in need.

Registered riders will receive communiques leading up to the event with updated route files and logistical information for the March 16th grand depart.

Click here to register

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 San Jacinto Enduro

We’re spinning the dusty classics and forgotten gems¬†
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The San Jacinto Enduro is back- it’s a campout, a hangout, and a throwback to what got us into the game in the first place. The ride is strictly self-supported, with 45 mile or 75 mile options on public, system designated USFS roads & trails, and even some highway. Stay tuned to this site for updates, and RSVP to socalbikepacking at gmail dot com to get your cue sheets and .GPX files.

Bring back the San Jacinto Enduro

California’s OG self-supported endurance ride.¬†

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We’ve been here for years

The San Jacinto Enduro is coming back, date TBA early fall 2017.
Expect: 45 mile, and 75 mile options.
Time tabulated for route completion
AND… segment times.

All timing will be reported on the honor system, using methodology TBA.
Self supported rules apply.
No BS allowed!

Stagecoach 500 is now a thing

Mountains – Desert – Ocean – Inland Sea… is now a thing!

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We’re just toeing the salty water here. A full blown Salton Sea bikepacking route is in the works. The¬†original Stagecoach 400 route was envisioned to go around the Salton Sea (and other places TBA) but it didn’t make sense for the final mileage goals. Admittedly, it isn’t quite as good as it’ll get to be. Particularly in the area between Ocotillo Wells and the sea. The better way forward isn’t what I’ve published, but I didn’t have a GPX track for that, yet. It’s rough. It’s good, and we’re going to use some hive thinking to make it even better now.

We’re offering a net 110 mile addition this year, totally optional, and encouraging desert-loving (and oddity-loving) riders to give it a whirl. This much is ready for prime time- barely.

On that note: please use it for good, not evil. This has been years in the making, and there’s so much interpretive information I’d like to convey- and can’t for this go- that stuff will come by this fall. I’ve been working with locals for years, riding it piece by piece, spending a lot of time there… my goal is to shine a light on this area, to bring more positive attention here. Instagram it and Radavist it (that’s a verb now?) and get stoked on it. The final product is due by this fall. Enjoy!

6 weeks to Stagecoach 400

And we’ve got a lot cooking!

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Here’s what’s going on:
Registration
If you haven’t yet registered, here’s your link.¬†

Core route
We maintain a “core” route very similar to what we finalized in 2016. This is the base for everything Stagecoachey going forward. An amazing tour in itself, and the basis for time tabulation for anybody “not-racing” or ITTing. That’s the 385 mile classic, awesome Stagecoach route we all love so much.

Options
For anybody touring and open to additional adventure, there’s a beautiful beach stretch in San Diego (low tide only), Coronado Island (daylight hours only), and a huge bonus stretch around the Salton Sea. (cool weather only)

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Yep! The Salton Sea.
Since 2012, this has always been in the background as something I’ve wanted to have part of the route, but for one reason or another- route kinks & weather mainly- it just never connected well enough to make sense. The new choose-your-own-adventure format lends itself very well to bring in the Salton Sea at long last.
The Salton Sea plugin is part of what’ll soon be a stand alone route, strictly for touring purposes. It is not a race in any way, at all. It demands stops, photos, and slowing down.
In that spirit, I’m working hard to provide worthy cues and interpretive information for the many wonders this area has to offer. ¬†I want to do the Salton Sea bikepacking route justice. More to come.

Route files coming to your inbox this week. 
You’ll get the first communique this week, before Thursday. This’ll be the gpx files, and rough schedule of events. The cues will take a little bit longer.