Scott MacDonald // Mini Epic

There are a couple bumper-sticker style mottos that I like to apply to cycling:

  • If you stay ready, you ain't gotta get ready

  • Get in what you can fit in

The staying ready one applies to both gear & fitness. Keep the bike tuned up, water bottles filled, kit not too stinky for another ride. But also keep the body ready to take you where you want to go. I'm not the fastest guy ever, but I keep a low-key fitness goal of being able to ride a century at any moment.

For this ride, I was hoping to do the Big Epic because I liked that Dave had us hopping a gate into Santa Teresa after climbing that weird road with the half-built mansions that stand as a monument to the late aughts housing collapse. Sadly I only had time for the Mini Epic, which brings us to the second motto: Get in what you can fit in.

In normal life I'm a freelancer, which typically means I have a lot of latitude to go on rides when I don't have a gig and my wife is at work and my daughter is at school. Covid happened and my gigs dried up and my daughter started Zoom school and the freedom to go ride got more ... complicated.

So when my daughter's school started in-person again, albeit for just two hours and 45 minutes, I started planning rides that would take me exactly two hours and 45 minutes, from the hug goodbye at drop-off to the sweaty pickup after school. Get in what you can fit in.

Eventually the 2:45 school duration expanded to four hours, and on Tuesdays she had after school activities that added another 2.5 hours.

So it was today, the last extended Tuesday before summer break, that I headed out on the Bay Area Mini Epic, pedaling against the school pickup deadline to get in the most that I could fit in.

Spoiler alert: I didn't make it. Had to text my wife to ask if she could pick up the kid. Ain't no way I was gonna average 10 mph on a ride with 7k climbing, even with the paved descent of Umunhum. (Did I mention I did this ride on my 30-pound hardtail mountain bike, because I don't happen to have a gravel bike yet?)

The ride was great. It's in my backyard so I'm very familiar with all these trails. Best part was the always-fun descent of Chisnantuk Peak Trail, though it's much better with a little moisture in the soil. Worst part was the final short climb up McKean Road to Casa Loma -- the weather report claimed a high of 73, but my Wahoo was reporting 91. With just 3 miles left I finally relented and shed the base layer.

At Umunhum the peak was closed for construction. I didn't see the update on the website about how to handle this, so I threw my bike over my back and hiked up a few flights of stairs until I was satisfied that it was far up enough that it wouldn't get stolen, then walked the rest of the way to the peak. Turned out I could've shot my mandatory selfie at the lower gate, but hearing the booming echoes of construction inside the Cube made the effort worth it.

Funny story: If you read Dave's ride report, he mentioned an encounter with a cyclist at the Quicksilver parking lot who had a lot to say about how he rides without a saddle or seat post as part of his training for the Hawaii Ironman. As I pulled in to Quicksilver for my water refill, I saw a seat-free bike with mag wheels and a nearby gentleman talking the ear off another cyclist about how he thinks spandex grabs the wind too much so he wears the baggiest clothing possible so he can be more aero, which will undoubtedly help him when he does the Hawaii Ironman. He had a lot to say, but I was pretty sure I wasn't going to get ensnared by his story because the other cyclist he was talking to had the misfortune of wearing a Hawaiian shirt today, and the connection was not lost on our Hawaiian Ironman-aspiring friend.