Grant Miller // Grand Epic

I started the ride right as the sun was coming up in brisk 45 degree weather. The rolling hills were a nice warmup for the steeper climbs to come. On the descent down oak ridge my tires picked up mud from the morning dew and slung it all over the bike and myself. I was only 10 miles in and I already looked like I had been rolling around in the dirt.

The next hours flew by as I made my way through New Almaden to Quicksilver park. The trails in quicksilver were amazing. The dirt had dried out and the trails were flowing. I put in an effort on the Mines Climb to warm up for the main event.

After a quick descent down to Hicks road I gulped down some caffeine gels before starting the woods trail. I settled into a tempo pace for the flat and climbs leading to the start of the KOM segment. At the start of the first climb in the KOM segment I upped the pace but tried to save some for the 14% pitch coming up. Despite my best efforts, I still had to redline it to make it through that section and slipped out at the end of the steepest part. I quickly pushed my bike over the remaining rocks and then got back on. I kept pushing through the rollers at the top and finished only 2 minutes off the KOM.

After a quick recovery I started the “descent” down to Kennedy, doing my best to make it over the 20% rollers. I only had to dismount once to make it past them. I took the descent at a controlled pace and then flew down to Los Gatos on the road. After topping off my water I did the short climb to St Joseph’s before rolling around the reservoir and fueling for the coming climb.

On Black I settled into a hard threshold pace for 20 minutes to the start of the JNT trail. I used the downhill to recover before hitting the second half of the climb. It was my first time up the JNT trail so I didn’t know how to pace it, but just kept a comfortable sub-threshold effort for 20 minutes until I saw the bench and realized I was almost at the top. Before I knew it I was done with the climb and onto the Skyline trail.

The Skyline trail was really bumpy for a gravel bike and was slow going compared to quicksilver. I stopped at Castle rock to top up on water again then went at a leisurely pace to turtle rock. After taking my selfie I was flying down a downhill when I hit a rough patch of rocks and felt my rear tire take a pretty solid hit. A few minutes later I felt the rim bottoming out and stopped to check for punctures. I had a tiny puncture and kept topping it off with air but the sealant didn’t fill the hole. After another 20 minutes I stopped at the tree farm to put my spare tube in.

For the rest of the ride I did my best to avoid any pinch flats on the descents by taking them pretty slowly. I put in another effort on the Bella Vista trail to get to the top of Black Mountain before cautiously descending down to Stevens Canyon. For the final climb up Coyote trail, I emptied the tank to get to Maise’s Peak. From there to the end I just kept the pedals spinning and tried to enjoy the views.