2023 Stagecoach Sideshow Restrospective

Stagecoach Sideshow Winter Soldier Edition

We’d been receiving a steady stream of emails from folks dropping out in the week leading up to the ride. One email read: “I guess I’m gonna give up my Sideshow spot… I have chilly ‘n’ sloppy here at home all the time!”

Idyllwild got more snow than most locals could remember. Steve from Idyllwild Heat recalled seeing this much snow in the 1960’s & 70’s but not since then, he said. It was a LOT and it was all melting off into waterways as we prepared for the ride start… and the forecast called for yet another big storm; the 11th “atmospheric river” of the season.
Meg & I scrambled to re-write the entire route for more favorable (less unfavorable?) conditions both for rider comfort and also for better trail sustainability. We checked with various land managers and knowledgeable folks and came up with the route I’ve been calling Stagecoach Winter Soldier route. This’ll likely be the go-to route for touring riders facing storms in the future, and possibly for the Grand Depart riders next week as well.

The start list was comprised of 30 riders; the majority of them veterans of other high-level bikepacking events & Stagecoach finishers– hearty folks who could ride well in a variety of conditions and might not need as much guidance as Grand Depart starters. We met at Idyllwild Brewpub Thursday night to discuss our plans and solve the issue of the coming storm– we knew we’d all have to be off course by Monday afternoon/evening as the forecast was calling for a solid 2-3 days of cold, wet, hyptothermic conditions after then. We came up with various ways to curate & re-route our experience for the conditions.

The new route includes singletrack outside Idyllwild that’d been missing since the Mountain Fire of 2013, and several new pieces of doubletrack through Garner Valley…. all of which was nearly saturated, but not muddy. Several large water crossings, and general slowness of the conditions put us about 1-1/2 hours behind schedule arriving in Anza. Coyote Canyon was a pleasure to ride and the desert below greeted us with warm-but-not-hot afternoon temps and a nice rest in Borrego Springs. Several riders took their time in the desert towns before Fish Creek (the Iron Door was a popular spot on St Patricks Day!) and from there the routes we all took more closely resembled a chaotic mess than an organized route. Some folks cut out San Diego by crossing to Ramona, others popped over to Julian for their famous apple pie and rejoined the route in Warner Springs. Others (myself included) loitered in the desert a while for the great camping & hot springs opportunities, and Blake Bockius even made a desert loop before re-routing himself back up to Idyllwild via Coyote Canyon. One rider– Drew Raney– completed the ENTIRE course on a respectable race pace and is counted as the sole finisher of the full course on the Sideshow. As I type this, I know of only 2 other riders still on route; Cedar Kyes of Esker Cycles and his riding buddy left Alpine this morning en route to San Diego where they intend to pull out.

This Sideshow format is in flux; likely to evolve for next year. Stay tuned; I’m sure we’ll come up with even more ways to have fun with it.


Winter Storm update

This late winter storm that just passed through California left over 50″ of snow in Idyllwild, with huge amounts of snow and rain in the region. Any touring riders this month should definitely keep an eye on the weather, and check in about any reroutes or closures.


Brendan shared these photos from Idyllwild yesterday.

And yet, the projected forecast in the desert end of next week? Almost 90 degrees!

Alpaca Coffee

Grand Depart and Sideshow Registration

Goodmorning all, and happy new year! If you’re interested in registering for the 2023 Grand Depart or the Stagecoach Sideshow with Brendan, the registration link is now posted here. We have a cap as we do every year, and after that a waitlist.

If you’re interested in an ITT with Trackleaders on a different date not overlapping the Grand Depart, send an email to stagecoach400@gmail.com anytime.


2023 Stagecoach 400 Sideshow

The Stagecoach Sideshow takes off March 17th from Idyllwild running clockwise (desert first) on the route, one week ahead of the Grand Depart. We are adding this to give more options and to better accommodate demand— but the Sideshow will have to be a smaller event because it is running clockwise.
The ride is self paced; just like the Grand Depart and you can go at whatever speed you would like. We will provide cues & gpx files with deeper dives into points of interest along the way and (optional) schedules for riders wishing to sync up and ride together on a similar pace. We will identify accommodating camp spots & things to do along the route for sub-5 day, and sub-4 day paces.
Riders will be expected to follow standard self-supported guidelines to be considered Stagecoach 400 finishers. Satellite tracking will be provided.

The Sideshow is not a race— it’s for anybody who’d like to see the route differently. Previous Stagecoach finishers, backcountry tourists, “soft ITT’ers” or anybody hunting for the FKT (funnest known time) are all welcome to join!

As usual, there is no prize, and no entry fee, but we will be raising funds for the Idyllwild Outdoor Education Booster Club, helping provide kids learning experiences in the great outdoors.
This ride will be smaller than the Grand Depart, with lower rider entry cap. Registration will be opened concurrently with the Grand Depart, sometime around the new year.

Spring 2023 news

Hey all! 2023 grand depart date is March 24th in Idyllwild. Registration will be posted sometime the first week of January- highly recommend keeping an eye out each day for the link. We have a cap as we do every year, and after that there will be a waitlist. Registration will include a donation to a good cause (will be options). 

ALSO- excited to share that Brendan will be leading a Stagecoach Sideshow ride one week before the GD, rolling out on Friday March 17th! It will be social/fun-focused, but with long hard days and big miles, and some minor route changes (scenic additions) & highlights TBA from Brendan. If you are looking to make friends, have done stagecoach half a dozen times, aren’t really into the “racing” vibe, or maybe you can’t make the GD for whatever reason, you can register for the SC Sideshow so we can get more new faces in for either group start. It will also have a cap and separate waitlist. It will be self-paced, self-supported, and follow the same rules of the grand depart, so you’ll be an official finisher under those guidelines as well, if that matters to you. It will also be on Trackleaders.

We love when people register for an ITT, or a few people do and roll out together, as long as it’s not overlapping with our GD due to parking and other conflicts. Email me if you’d like to do an ITT:  stagecoach400@gmail.com

This all being said- the Stagecoach 400 is simply a mountain bike route. It’s not a race, and you can ride it almost year round any way you’d like. Please respect the organizer and riders and do not poach the event- this puts it at risk for a multitude of reasons. Thank you! 


Xavier Ernesto Chiriboga: new course record

Please congratulate Xavier Ernesto Chiriboga, who has set a new fastest known overall time for the #stagecoach400 route, taking two hours off the previous record, setting the bar at 37hr 21min. He completed his ride in Idyllwild at 9:21pm Saturday evening. 

He dedicates his ride to his inspiration, his daughter Manuela.

@chiriboga_xavier resides in Quito, Ecuador, where he is a cheese maker and farmer from el Sinche. When he isn’t working, he does various local adventure style racing and cycling, with his first bikepack event being the high elevation 2021 TransEcuador Bikepacking Race, using a shower curtain taped across his triangle as a frame bag, and a makeup kit bag on the top tube. He came in 1st by a full day, setting an FKT there as well. He has also won the @huairasinchi of the @arworldseries Adventure Race World Series, the Brevet across Ecuador, and the Petzl Trail Plus running race.

A few years back, Xavier met Stagecoacher @th3l0cust while he and friends were bikepacking in Ecuador, and he learned about the 400. He wanted to come take part, and prove himself. But, in order to do so, he needed help. His team, friends, and family back home helped him get to the US, and then had to borrow almost everything- bags, navigation, InReach… Hunt Cycles donated a wheelset and kit, so Xavier and Cale threw together a hardtail comprised of borrowed hand-me-down equipment and inexpensive knock off parts (including the no-brand Chinese carbon frame) 2 days before the grand depart, and he got a crash course in how to use all the technology while out on his own. 

It was his first time in a desert of any kind, and he said he loved all of the rocky descents. He said once he got through Coyote Canyon, he looked at the time, and knew he could do it, so he ran up the steep Turkey Trail switchbacks as he got closer to Anza. He showed up in Idyllwild empty, with no food or water left, full of joy. This guy is really something else. 

He took some footage during the ride as well, which you can check out on his page. He would love to do more events and races, but is genuinely in need of any sponsorships in order to do so. 

The previous course record was set by the legend Eddie O’Dea @eddieodea back in 2013, at 39hr 27min, which ended in a hallucination induced racing sprint up the mountain to the finish. No one has come even close to that time until this year. 

There must be an honorable mention for the second finisher this year, Abdullah Mustafa @theadroitman finished in a blazing fast 43hr 18min, which is the fastest time in the last 8 years, only behind Xavier’s. 

Congratulations to the 2022 grand depart top 3 men’s (and overall) finishers:

37:21 Xavier Ernesto Chiriboga @chiriboga_xavier 

43:18 Abdullah Mustafa @theadroitman 

48:47 Mateo Paez @whatswrongwithpaez_ 

Photos by @th3l0cust 

Scotti Lechuga sets new fastest time

A huge congratulations to the ever so hard working Scotti Lechuga for marking a new women’s fastest time around the #stagecoach400 route during this year’s grand depart. She finished at 11:05am Sunday, for a total time of 51hr05min. She was 4th finisher overall.

She battled the rugged trails, intense desert heat, washboards, and regional unfamiliarity and prevailed.

For those who don’t know Scotti, she has had a successful cycling career with a forward trajectory deep into adventure and bikepack racing, both in pairs and solo categories. She recently won the overall (that is, out of everyone, men & women) at the @arhighcountryrace last fall, and came in second in the @fatpursuit 200k, pushing her limits on all fronts to grow in the sport.

The previous women’s course record held solid for a decade, set by Eszter Horiyani @ez_gone_coddiwompling in 2012, at 54hr 40min.

This year, Jaimie Lusk’s finish time was also faster than the previous fastest time, an outstandingly strong ride as well! 👏👏

Congratulations to the 2022 grand depart top women’s finishers:

51:05 Scotti Lechuga @scottilechuga

51:40 Jaimie Lusk @jaimielusk

67:22 Meg Knobel @speedmeow

Photo by Evan Christenson @evanchristenson
Photo by Evan Christenson @evanchristenson
Xavier Ernesto Chiriboga and Scotti Lechuga, both first in their categories and new FKT holders.
Photo by Evan Christenson @evanchristenson

2022 Stagecoach 400

Registration for the 2022 grand depart is closed! If you didn’t catch registration, don’t forget that all spring is a great time to pick a good weather weekend, round up some friends, and ride the route.

2021 Stagecoach 400

April 9th, 2021 will be the 10th Annual Stagecoach 400 Grand Depart!

PLEASE ONLY REGISTER IF YOU PLAN ON JOINING THE 2021 GRAND DEPART, and intend to ride the entire route under our guidelines. We have limited registration space, and the route is there year round to ride however you’d like to 🙂

*Registration is closed*

2020 Stagecoach 400 Registration is UP

Click it and ticket


Follow this link right about here and get yourself signed up. Info will come via email communiques in the coming weeks.