We started out with the Ladies’ night last Friday. A chance for some of the women to meet and discuss gear etc. and also watch a great flick and share some food. We do these gatherings once a month as an opportunity to mingle with the girls and this was our first ladies’ night in the new space. What a treat.
Many of the women stayed over Friday night and Saturday morning we gathered at the shop for last-minute bike prep and bag packing. The women trickled in between 10 and 12 and the advance group headed towards Thomas Mtn at 11:30. I’m very fortunate to live near one of Endurance Cycling’s legends – Wendy Skean. Wendy holds records for many 24 hour and 100miler races in the country and is also a great friend and inspiration of mine. She led the advance group to give her knees a gentle stroll since having recent knee issues – at 70 years old, i’ll be stoked to lead the mellower advance group for the overnighters!
I followed up with the rest of the gals once we were all ready. This ride brought many hammers and long-time endurance racing mavens to the Hub Overnighters.
The Miss Fits:
Ann Z – Downhill diva with style – packs random things like national enquirer in case we need funny stories around the campfire – veteran overnighter.
Carrie H. – Accomplished enduro momma who can look good in anything from a trucker hat to an evening gown – newbie overnighter
Christine G. – Sage momma and sand goddess – newbie overnighter
Dawne H. – Master brewer and singletrack master – veteran overnighter.
Gretchen G. – Heart of gold and smile so warm it can keep those around her cozy – also has a crash pad in SD that she’s willing to share while preggers waits to go into labor (xoxo) – newbie overnighter
Krista A. – One tough hot mamma – Undeterred tough gal who will ALWAYS show up (rain, ice or snow) if it sounds like there’s fun to be had – veteran overnighter.
Laurie H. – Queen Girl Scout – One of the few people I know I’d survive with stuck out overnight with no gear – veteran overnighter.
Shelly P. – Speedy, resourceful and willing to share stories about that crazy uncle – newbie overnighter
Wendy S. – What else can I say? – Endurance racing inspiration, best babysitter… even has a pump track for the little ones! – veteran overnighter
After gathering all the girls together at Thomas Mt. we headed out past the dogs and through the outskirts of Anza to the Anza Borrego Desert State Park. I think I was the smallest gal toting the heaviest load. Being the group leader, I carried a full first-aid kit and extra of many things, in case we needed them. I was also riding my new ECR (Escape Children Rapidly) which had the biggest tires and wheels of the crew (29 plus) – making me look like a 12 year old on a grown-up’s bike!
Saturday night was somewhat uneventful, other than the sun setting over the canyon as we hit the insane rocky descent. I think I lost a filling or two but just tried to keep the speed up so we’d all ride lightly over all the bumps – that’s my theory, anyways! I’ve been on overnighters where gals had dry bags strapped every which way and have seen a lot of gear go flying on this descent. Not this time, though. Most of the girls had revelate bags from The Hub and all was secure. I even tried out the Salsa Anything cages on my Surly fork and to my surprise, we all held together! We turned on head lights about 20 minutes before the cabin – perfect timing!
The special moments and silly stories that happen at the cabin make ladies’ trips the best. I can’t even imagine having as much fun with the guys as we had. The weather was perfect and most of us slept under the clear sky with a perfect view of the stars sans bivy or tent.
Sunday would prove to be a bit tougher and more of an adventure. Some rains have come through the canyon and moved a lot of dirt. There were sections, normally very rocky, that are now covered in dirt and somewhat tamed. However, the willows entrance is obliterated. The dirt in the bottom has raised up a lot and many trees are down. After spending a half hour bushwhacking into mesquite, we decided to take the high line above the willows on the hillside – through a place Dora the Explorer would call cholla hell. There was much bike pushing and carrying and lots of praying that our sealant wouldn’t fail us.
When we got fed up with cholla hell, we dropped down into the middle of the willows and finished them out slogging through a bit of water and plowing open the willows that have been choked down. Cutting through the willows was like untangling long hair – the willows from the left side of the trail went right and the willows from the right side went left. My bike and I combed through it and plow it open for the rest of the girls.
Beyond the willows, the canyon is firm for a short while. We then hit the bottom of the canyon (where it opens for motor vehicles) and wished we had boogie boards. The sand was softer than I’ve seen it in the last 6 years. My Surly ECR (Escape Children Rapidly) adventure bike did the trick – sorry girls! Gretchen and Christine were able to keep me within eyesight on their 29ers with a bit of dodging in and out of the wash and onto the crust beside it. “Go for the crust and keep your weight back!”
After enjoying some fresh squeezed lemonade roadside and stopping at a couple of the art sculptures outside of Borrego we made it to town. We had the adventure bus waiting outside our favorite Mexican restaurant with Brendan, Dave and the boys in charge. The girls quickly cleaned up a little and headed in for food while the guys loaded the bikes for us. Success!
I met a few newbies on this trip and the stoke is high for more ladies’ overnighters. We’ve got a beginner trip in the works as well as another advanced group. Stay tuned!