Lei Liu // Grand Epic

This April has been filled with endless rains. I have to wait until the last weekend of the “Bay Area Epic” month to actually think about the epic ride. If I was choosing only one course out of the three, no doubt it would be the Grand, which was a whole new level of challenge for 2023.

James and I started from Cupertino where we met a few other epic riders. The river in the Stevens Canyon Trail was freezingly cold. Although I did not want to ride for 10 hours with wet feet, I had no choice but to step into the water.

It was a joyful cruise after we refilled our bottles at Woodside. Canada Rd was such a popular road bike destination, so we tucked low and traded pulls just like doing a road bike ride. There were some steep hill climbs that brought back the awful cramping memory from James, but he was able to get to the Sweeney Ridge without drinking pickle juice this time.

With some extra help from the dropper post, I felt it quite playful to go down singletracks near Pacifica. I knew there were some rocky downhill trails, and I was grateful those black diamond features were not included in this year’s epic route. Alex and Jan-Willem showed up there and they looked like they were communicating with aliens.

The second half of the ride was a different story. The hills got steeper and the terrain got more technical. James ate too many spicy burgers and started crampings, but he managed to climb to the top of Tunitas and had a great rest. The remaining part of the route went through Skeggs, Russian Ridge, and Page Mill. Having some trail fun and road downhill towards the end definitely made it mentally less hard, but they could push the body to its physical limits after a long day.

From dawn to dark, we went back to the parking lots. Glad that I completed this year’s epic with someone together. Congrats to James: he had thought about going for the Big Epic but I upgraded him to the Grand Epic in the morning. Lastly and as always, thanks to the organizer for putting all the great trails together!