Me: “With some precautions, I think we can still pull off the Bones to Blue event this year.”
2020: “Oh yeah? Hold my beer.”
We were all looking forward to it
After 5 months of lockdowns, sickness, death, cancelled events, social isolation, economic doom… riding amazing singletrack in the mountains with a bunch of other nut jobs sounded really good.
With a better understanding of how to avoid COVID, it seemed we could still have an adventure. Just make a few adjustments, like wearing masks and cancelling the pre-race dinner.
Over 40 people signed up, including a crew ready to do the Forlorn 4-Day option.
But then the wheels came off
During the week leading up to the start, a storm system blew across California, spewing down hundreds of lightning strikes. It started fires all across the state. While nothing was burning close to the Bones to Blue route, the air became saturated with particulates and turned rather toxic.
Predicting air quality is a tricky beast. I started pinging with the experts at the Reno-based US National Weather Service. Nerding out on winds, elevation factors, and developing systems, was not how I expected to spend the week.
In the end, it looked like air quality could improve around the start, but it was far from certain.
Mr Glass wanted to see who was “unbreakable”
The starting group dropped down to about 15 riders. I think everyone planned to see how they felt after riding the Bones loop and, then, after getting back to Truckee, decide whether to continue.
Unfortunately, the air at the start ended up being bad. Like really bad. And the predicted improvement didn’t kick in until about 30 hours after the event started.
So, day 1 basically consisted of smoking a few packs of cigarettes while riding demanding, technical trails at high-elevation. Just a few riders continued beyond the first day. And only one finished the entire course!
Turns out, Rylee is unbreakable
There were two particular highlights this year…
1) The number of women who participated shot up to 6. Normally, it’s usually only 1 or 2. I loved seeing this trend.
Bikepacking events are unique because they give anyone a chance to test themselves and have a memorable adventure. The reality is, however, that they heavily skew towards white males. My goal is to make anyone feel welcome and I put a lot of effort into providing detailed route info, hoping to reduce the mystery and fear of taking on the route. I look forward to seeing more diversity in Bones to Blue riders.
2) Despite the challenging conditions, Rylee crushed the course and set a new woman’s record: 57 hours, 19 mins.
She rode through bad air and an intense thunderstorm. And to top it off, a random guy on the trail “beta-sprayed” her, telling her that she shouldn’t be out alone, she didn’t know what she was getting herself into, and that she wouldn’t be able to handle the tough miles ahead. Keep in mind, she ran into this fragile-ego dude about half-way through the course when everyone else had dropped out (or was about to) and was pacing well-ahead of the course record. As a white dude, I’ve never had to deal with other trail users telling me I didn’t belong.
Looking forward to 2021
The Bones to Blue route is pretty dialed in, so, next year, it won’t change much. There’s been a lot of logging around the the final descent before the finish, so we’ll likely need to alter that. And I’ll book campsites and the cabin again, so the Forlorn 4-Day option will be available.
Vaccines seem to be on their way, so we’ll likely have a “normal” experience next year with all the good stuff like hugging, high-fives, etc. And, hopefully, we’ll get a break from what seems like an annual fire season in CA.
Lastly, I’m launching a new gravel route/event: The TruLassen Tour
Over the last 2 years, I’ve been researching a gravel route that goes from Truckee to Mt Lassen and back. I wanted a route that’s beautiful and challenging, but can be done in 4 days or less by “off the couch” riders like me. The group start will be end of Sept or early Oct. For more info and to stay in the loop, check out the website (https://trulassen.com) and join the Facebook group.