Gravel Mob Recap: 57 Miles of Fun and 1 Mile of Crashing (VIDEO)

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If you were able last week to deduce from my Sulphur Mountain and Sisar Canyon write ups that I was riding Gravel Mob this weekend, then congratulations!

You’re smart enough to work for CiclaValley.

Part of doing any ride is to experience something you haven’t done before, even when you’ve done the ride before.

 

 

 

In this case, I wanted to enjoy the fun descent on Highway 33, since I was directionally robbed on my previous ride.

Otherwise, I didn’t have any pressing goals.

I knew Sisar was tough, especially after doing Sulphur, so I wanted to find a balance between expediency and not killing myself with over 7,000 feet of climbing dirt.

Here’s my photo diary mixed in with a couple videos of failures that should properly recap the day:

 

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This was the first time I had been to the Mob Shop. It had a pretty awesome set up. Even more awesome than this chalk drawing. I probably should have taken a picture of that.

 

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There were a lot of smiles and familiar faces out there. It was also in the 40’s when I got there, but spirits weren’t damped for too long.

 

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Large groups on bike paths can be dangerous. So can safety pins popping off your jersey when you’re grabbing your camera. If anyone got video of me stabbing myself in my back, I might have made you millions.

 

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There were about 200 riders that all had to squeeze through the gate to Sulphur Mountain. It was still cold, so probably half the group took a pee break as people were being herded through.

 

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I think a lot of people still don’t know what to make of people riding dirt on anything but a mountain bike. I’d like to think that’s what’s going through those people’s minds off to the side. In reality, they are probably intrigued by our silly clothing.

 

 

 

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About a year ago, this is where I gave up on Sulphur Mountain because of the mud. It such an important moment in my life, that this guy brought out a drone to capture this significant event.

 

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It was ‘purty. Just people on bikes. Riding on dirt. Getting dirty. That part doesn’t look as nice after hours of riding.

 

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I was super happy to ride at what pros call “at tempo”. I call it riding smoothly without redlining because there’s a lot of climbing ahead. I’m not as good at wording as the pros are. That’s what separates us.

 

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Sulphur Mountain actually has sections of downhill. The turns can require some break-work, but still welcome.

 

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Your last panorama before finishing off Sulphur Mountain.

 

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I talked my friend Hamish into doing this ride, even though he hasn’t been on the bike as much. I waited at the top of Sulphur for him to catch on, but took off ahead on Sisar figuring he’d catch me with my ineptness on the upcoming single track. This is the closest he’ll get to an apology.

 

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After a couple of river crossings, the rocky portion of Sisar comes to a halt. Instead, it’s replaced by steeper, demoralizing miles of upness. Here, my friend Bill has his head down like all of us did.

 

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It’s tough, but at least it’s pretty. It feels better when you know there are others sharing the pain.

 

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The mid-section mostly faces north, which means facing these rocks. It’s a nice interlude. Any distraction is welcome.

 

 

 

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There was an unmanned pit stop near the top. I apologize for inefficiently pouring water into my bottle. I’m still dealing with dear shoulder.

 

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The last part of Sisar looks short, but in reality scale isn’t your friend and it’s a long and drawn out trek to the top. And this pic only shows a part of it….

 

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Credit the whole Gravel Mob crew for having well placed and well stocked pit stops. I’m learning now to go banana heavy which seems to be cutting down on my cramping. Who knew?

 

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After you’ve hit the top of Sisar, there is still parts of climbing patched in there along Nordoff Ridge. Most of it is downhills and rollers, but still, this isn’t welcome at this point.

 


I didn’t adjust the shakiness on this video because I imagine this is where both my water bottles fell out. Of course, I didn’t discover this loss until I was at the next pit stop. Hopefully, all the trash I’ve picked up in our National Parks makes up for these two bottles.

 

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Is sure looks lonely and dry out there. Reminds me of the movie “High Plains Drifter”. For the rest of the ride, all my thoughts going through my head were in a Clint Eastwood voice. Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?

 

This video pretty much says it all. It was a fun ride until this crap hit. I ended up with some bloody knuckles and a few cuts here and there, but overall, I think I came out ahead. At least, after all that crashing. By the way, I’m proud that Strava had me down for 79th of 92 riders on this segment that day!

 

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It turned out Highway 33 wasn’t as fun as I’d hoped. There was a bit of a headwind and I think my front disc brake was rubbing after all that crashing. So yeah, I still feel empty.

 

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A group of us formed after a construction stoppage on Highway 33. I thought the ride in would be a bit friendlier, but I guess there were a lot of other people with energy left too.

 

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The post ride festivities were great. Tons of prizes and the tacos hit the spot (and count the number of people with blue cups). Got to hang with Nora nd Jeremy from my LACBC family and met Dave who read my earlier articles on the route .

If there was any regrets, it was that I should have taken my family along for a weekend in Ojai, but that requires planning, which requires me to be someone who I’m not.

I’ll also chalk up the constant crashes and Highway 33 as regrets too, but I think the overall fun masked these small misgivings.

I’m looking to come back next year, this time with some wider tires….