Lei Liu // Big Epic

Continuing my Mini Epic story

The night that I worked on my homework about the Mini Epic ride report, I was actually scheming a plan to fit the Big Epic in my tight schedule. At the end of May, I already had a 3-race-in-8-day schedule: Folsom Crit, Prairie City XC, and Susanville XCO. I certainly knew it was going to be a suicide if I added this big ride into it. However, just like others who were crazy enough to ride the Epic series, I still decided to do the Big on the day after Folsom Crit. Spoiler: I paid the price by performing poorly in Prairie City XC and Susanville XCO races. I was so tired both mentally and physically, and I spent a whole week off the bike to refresh.

I started my ride filled with optimism: I was able to ride the Mini in sub-4 hours, and the Big is just some more miles with an extra tour in the beautiful Santa Teresa County Park. It sounded like another solid effort, maybe under 6 hours, right? Why shouldn’t I be optimistic? I was WRONG.

[Here I am skipping some hours of riding in Calero park. I can’t remember anything exciting.]

My emotions started getting complicated at the point I turned into the Country View Dr. I have never ridden this road before, and I expected it would be a nice climb with some green-colored “country” views. It turned out to be quite the opposite. Long, steep, and exposed were all my impressions. Though I felt grateful for the organizer holding such an event, I couldn't help wondering how ridiculous he was to include this Country View Dr as a KOM section :) With such thoughts lingering in my mind, time seemed to go faster and I was kind of relieved a little.

With some style, I threw my bike over the gate connecting Santa Teresa County Park. Luckily no paint got chipped, I was thinking, otherwise it would be a huge bill to repair the Big-S which I might end up with asking for organizer’s reimbursement. Hope he had enough insurance to cover it. Safely down Stile Ranch Trail, I rode back Fortini Trail for a 2nd visit into the park. I have to say the climb on Ohlone Trail was the most unpleasant part of the whole ride. It was like an endless steep climb with no spot to recover. I started to feel sympathetic to those who rode gravel bikes here. Hmmm, maybe they just walked from the beginning and they didn’t bother riding at all. I, who pedalled hard on a 50 teeth cassette, should be the one showed sympathy.

The rest of the route was almost identical to what I had done in the Mini. Having said that, the riding experience was completely different. The Santa Teresa visit definitely put heavy tax on me, and the aggressive bike geometry gradually overloaded my back and hands. I had to stop pedalling and stretch myself over the bike. Even though, discomfort came back quickly and I had to repeat the stretch again. At this point, I almost gave up whatever time goal I had earlier, and I just wanted to finish the ride, then sit on a soft couch with popcorn chicken plus bubble milk tea.

Despite all the tough experience, I did one thing that would make me happy if I recall the ride a few years later. On Almaden Rd entering Quicksilver Park, two empty SIS gel packets slipped off my pocket. But I didn’t realize it until later I attempted to dump them in a trash can. Knowing that riders would be disqualified for littering as new UCI rules came into force, I must find them! So on the way back on Almaden Rd again, I examined every inch of ground and eventually spotted them. That was a great relief to me, and it helped me finish the ride in peace.

I have to stop my writing here because it is 11:59PM 6/13 now, just one minute ahead of the deadline. Thanks for reading and see you in next year’s Epic rides.