Oh yea, just for the record I did not have a mud bath in Calistoga! That was a joke I posted during the ride, a bad one I guess! Several people have asked me that. I have had a mud bath in Calistoga before and it was weird.
What a ride it was, leading up to it and during. The whole thing could not have gone any smoother, I trained hard, prepped my food and route as much as possible, the weather was spectacular, and I had great friends and family support me on the way. I knew it would be tough and indeed it was. In your mind you run through all the possible scenarios, potential problems and obstacles, planning all along how you would tackle them. Then you're prepared mentally for whatever comes. I was lucky to avoid some of the worst that ran through my mind, very lucky.
I felt great from the get go and about mile 40 I started to feel a bit of an ache in my left knee, and I thought uh oh, that's a bit weird, but I just kept pedaling and by about mile 75 my legs felt totally warmed up and ready for anything. It's amazing how sometimes an ache or pain just disappears or leads to the physical space you want to be in if you keep going.
The ride itself:
I started right on time at 6:00AM from my house in Corte Madera. Photographer Scot Goodman and my wife Melissa saw me off as the sun was beginning to rise. I wanted to ride alone for the first hour to get my head straight with what I would be tackling the next 30 hours, which I think was a really good call. This allowed me to get in the zone and have fun the rest of the 29 hours. John Ormsby rode with me from about 7am to 10:00am or so to Penngrove where there was giant Motorcycle Rally. It was great having someone to start the journey with, many thanks to him. Periodically I would see the talented Scot Goodman throughout the morning, mostly hearing the clicking of his shutter first. Thanks to him for capturing some great moments. After John left it was on to Santa Rosa where I met the best sag team ever, my wife Melissa and daughter Matilda. There I reloaded on food/fluids and was off again. Beautiful ride north of Santa Rosa into Healdsburg and north of Healdsburg was particularly gorgeous and a bit more desolate which was nice. Geyserville was a quick quaint little town before I headed on to Cloverdale. From Geyserville north to Cloverdale it was a bit tough, because it was the heat of the day at that point and I knew I would be doubling back on the same road 30 miles later. I carried on though and it was fine. I was super cautious about sunscreen Saturday, applying diligently every 2-3 hours, I knew it I didn't stay ahead of that game it could really bite me later on. Back to Geyserville after Cloverdale and I met the A team again for a reload, then it was on to route 128 east and south to Calistoga. The first part of this section to Calistoga was great, so beautiful and interesting, tons of vineyards, cows, hills and spectacular views from the bike. The second half of the ride to Calistoga was not as awesome; the road was seriously gnarled up, no shoulder, fast cars, and a fairly intense climb for 3-4 miles into the town. There were definitely many peaks and valleys, physically and mentally throughout the entire ride but I always knew there would be a flat sections or downhill at the top. Next stop after Calistoga was Napa on the Silverado Trail, which was a spectacular section of the ride, I think my favorite actually. The sun was setting, temperature dropping and I felt great as I was at 120+ miles and 14 hours in at this point. I met Melissa, Matilda, Brent and Tommy in Napa at 8:15 for the changing of the guard. Melissa and Matilda headed home for the night and the adventure was just starting for Brent and Tommy. With our warm clothes now on, lights blazing and bike wrappers glowing, Brent and I headed into the night back north on the Silverado Trail back toward 128 east. Tommy, AKA: the man, drove behind or beside Brent and I for THE ENTIRE NIGHT, providing light for our path, tunes for our souls and jokes for the mood. I am so gracious for the millionth time to both Brent and Tommy for tackling the night with me. Without them I think it could have truly gotten under my skin and into my head. We made it all the way 20 miles back north to 128 where we would head east on 128 towards Lake Berryessa and Winters California. Here was the section of the trip I was without a doubt most concerned with. Specifically because, this was the most challenging section of the ride with the biggest climbs, the darkest roads, and the most desolate mountains, all from 11pm to about 2am at miles 150-200 for me. I am so glad I drove this part of the ride the week before. We trucked through the climbs and were able to bomb down the downhills with Tommy's illumination and all in all it wasn't that bad, again I was prepped mentally for the worst, but always thinking of the best. After 4 hours through the mountains and countless 80's tracks, we emerged in the east valley towards Fairfield and eventually Vallejo. With the hardest physical section behind us it was getting to be 3 to 5am, hours 21-23 and 200+ miles with some seriously cold temperatures. We gritted through the cold and rode through cows mooing at us, cats making odd mating sounds and Brent hit a rat! We think it survived though. At around 6:00am my friend Micah showed up with his master of slobber dog Pablo. The night was long and cold so the sun coming up felt amazing and refreshing to the soul. Micah and Pablo ran a couple miles with me as Tommy rode the bike and Brent drove the car. The hills from about 6am-7am were kinda rough, but then I started to see the light at the end of the tunnel so it was all good. I knew at this point I was going to make it and everything would be fine if I kept eating, drinking and riding at a safe pace. About 7:00AM Micah hopped on Brent's bike and decided to finish the ride out with me, which was a great surprise! Micah and I rode through sleepy Vallejo over San Pablo bay on the Carquinez Bridge. Melissa and Matilda greeted all of us at the base of the bridge with coffee and donuts. I past on the donut but guzzled the coffee. I changed awkwardly and quickly in the car out of my night riding clothes to my BORP/touchstone kit. Micah and I set off to ride through the refineries of the east bay as we made our way through the small towns of Selby, Torney, Rodeo, Hercules and Pinole. We had some pretty steep hills through Richmond as my mileage clicked over to 260. Micah and I were riding on the Chloe Greenway towards Berkeley when this guy comes running after us. Turns out it was Marham Connolly from Touchstone Gyms (also on BORP's board) and he had been following on the Spot GPS unit. He knew I was nearby his house and on the greenway, so he ran out to try and find me. He was happy to see me and know that this was all going to be a success. Thanks Markham! Micah left me about 10AM once I got to the Bay Trail to go pick up his wife Denise and their 8 month old Max. At this point I was early as planned so I wanted to spend the last ~2 hours riding on the Bay Trail with several adaptive cyclists from BORP. Greg Milano, the head of the cycling program at BORP along with cyclists Kelli King, Kelly Klain, Sher Sheldon, Jenny Kern, Lin Chorng, David Gisson, Trooper Johnson, Richie Bennet, Steve Lau, Karla Gilbride, Martin Greiner, Laurie Largent, David Omoto, Zach, rode the last hour with me and in a true grand entrance we all rolled into BORP to a great welcoming party. It was spectacular to see everyone there, thanks again to everyone that came to celebrate. There was cake, the happy birthday song and lots of "how you feeling?" I felt great, alive, happy, glad to be done. We stayed for about an hour and then it was time to head home. At 1PM the party was over for the Briggs family and within moments in the car I was asleep. We got home, left everything in the car, I instantly showered and went straight to bed for the next five hours, woke up had some dinner, did a few chores around the house, stretched and went to sleep for the whole night.
The easiest part:
The last 3 hours, I was on such an adrenaline rush and at that point knew everything was going to end as planned. Once I'd biked 27 hours I knew the last 3 would be a piece of cake.
The hardest part:
The food. It was a serious challenge to keep calories coming into my body. My watch would go off every 15 minutes and after the first 12 hours I would hear the beeping and just groan. Food just started to taste so gross and truly nauseating even though I had a good variety. It took me a while to get my digestive system on track with all the food too. Thing is, if I hadn't been so diligent and persistent about eating and drinking there would have been seriously dire circumstances like bonking, cramps, dizziness, hallucinating, all the bad bad stuff that could hinder completion.
What I learned:
Preparation is everything. Mastering my route, my diet, training hard, resting hard the final 2 weeks before the ride, and working through all possibly scenarios in my head was paramount to the success. My mind was at ease while riding and I was able to just focus on pedaling, the scenery and the people riding with me. I also learned I have some great friends and family who I love very much.
What hurt the most:
Probably my shoulders. They still feel a little loosey goosey three days after finishing. I basically had something nagging me the whole time rotating from my neck, to foot, to shoulders, to wrists and hands, to saddle, to lower back and then back around again. Once I noticed one thing the pain moved onto one of the other spots, so it was never that bad.
How are you walking?
Pretty good, little stiff but I thought I'd be a more frankenstein honestly, careful stretching and fluids has limited that.
Money Raised: $5,000 (more is still coming in!)
Final Mileage: 280
Max elevation: 1145 feet
Total ascent: 5079ft
Total descent: 5167ft
Almost 2 cheese pizzas
6 granola bars
15 sport bean packs
4 PB and J sandwiches
Half a box of Quaker Oats cereal
About 1.5 gallons of Gatorade
Close to 6 gallons of water
Calories burned (at least 400 an hour) = ~12,000+
Pee breaks: I estimate 70
Drunk drivers: 1
Slobbering dogs: 1
Mud baths: 0
I'm glad to be finished, but I had a great time prepping and actually doing the ride. It is a spectacular feeling to be so focused for such a long period of time. It was an intense physical and mental challenge, but without a doubt the mental challenge was the harder of the two.
Thanks again for following, if you haven't had a chance to donate yet and want to, click here.
I hope to put together a video in the next couple days from the ride. Now, on to the next adventure!