Sunday, March 10, 2024

Remembered My Boots This Year, But…

This year’s Shasta Gravel Hugger in Montague, CA is in the bag. The Olympia/McCleary/Edmonds crew this year was Brad, Makaela, Stewart, me, Lolo the pup, (Olympia), Billy, Courtney, Scott (McCleary), and Piper (Edmonds). 

The crew!

Thanks to Karlye for loaning out her 4 bike rack!

The three of us girls in the back. 

Lunch in Eugene. 

We rented the Gillis House in Yreka, a huge Victorian mansion. Here’s a few photos. Notice in each of these photos there is a bike (or two).

The game roon (2 bikes)

Dining room (2 bikes).

Foyer and bike

Front living room…and bike. 

Main floor bedroom and Stewart’s bike. 

The house supposedly sleeps 16. It slept the 8 of us comfortably with Piper and I sharing the twin beds room. 

Me and Piper’s room

Brad, Makaela, and  Princess Lolo’s room. 

Billy and Courtney’s 


The house had 4 1/2 bathrooms and two kitchens. 

The “Master”. 

The upstairs full bath and half bath. 

Main floor kitchen. 

Brad and Lolo. 

Upstairs kitchen. 

It took awhile to get the lay of the house. There were also two staircases. 

Main entry

Back stairs to the kitchen. Lolo would go up these stairs, but wouldn’t come down them. She would find her way to the front stairs. 

After a great pasta dinner, we hit the sack in preparation for the race the next day. 

This race doesn’t start until 11:00am, and that’s just the women riding the Full Hug Route (100 miles). The Full Hug men went out at 11:15. Piper, Brad, Makaela, Stewart, and I went out at 11:30 for the Half Hug Route (65 miles). Scott, Billy, and Courtney went out at 11:45 for the Handshake Route (30 miles).

Waiting our turn. 

And they’re off (photos courtesy of Scott). 

Same as last year, the group pulled away from me quickly (even though I was wearing my own boots this year). As you can see from the above photos, the weather was much much better. We even got intel from Jason that there was NO snow on the entire course (a first in all the years they’ve been doing the race)!

Last year they had shortened the course due to snow, and pushed the start back a half hour. This year we would do the whole route. Last year I was in pretty good shape. This year, not so much. My biggest ride since getting back from South America was 37 miles. 

I watched everyone pull away. I thought I might catch Piper later, but that was not to be. I passes a couple of people, but they soon passed me. Rode with one guy for a few minutes, then I stopped to take a photo (I planned to take more photos on course this year…I didn’t).

We could actually see Shasta this year!

This year we got to do the Jeep Road. It was my favorite part (no, I did not take a photo of it). It’s a rutted, rocky, big puddle section. Fun! Also much better if you are going through it alone (pick whatever line you want).

After the Jeep Road, I realized I actually didn’t have the route on my Garmin (I downloaded it, but didn’t check to make sure it was there). I wasn’t sure which way to go, so I stopped to check my phone. I was going the right way. 

Eventually came to another turn with course flaggers. Así made the corner, the guy yelled, “Now for the tailwind!” It was also largely downhill. I was flying! I came into Little Shasta, and past the cemetery. I followed the road to the left, and continued on. Awhile later, I saw a sign for Big Spring Rd. What? We already did Big Spring Rd. I stopped and checked the route on my phone. Well, crap! I was headed back to town! How did that happen??? I had a decision to make. Go back to where I missed the turn, or just give up and go back to town (I was at 34 miles)? I looked closer at the map, and could see there was a road a little way ahead that I could take to cut back over to the route. Since I was feeling good at that point, I opted to take the road over to the route. Turns out, it was where the Handshake Route had turned off from the Half and Full Routes. 

It was just a couple of miles when I rejoined the Half Hug Route. It was just at the base of the big climb. The climb was different than last year. It was pretty rutted and a bit muddy. At one point it got to steep for me to ride (remember, not in the best of fitness).

The one and only Aid Station was at the top. I had a half of a banana, and a small can of Coke. At this point I figured I had gone about 3 extra miles…no big deal. Besides, next up (or I should say down) was the big descent (the one that was completely in the snow last year). Wow, that was so much fun coming down on a dry, snow free road!

With the downhill (and the Coke), I was kind of rejuvenated…for awhile. I even stopped to take this photo!

The hills were so green!

Then the headwinds…again…only this time I was considerably more tired. Plus, at this point, I remembered the course, and how far there was left to go, in addition to the extra three miles. Only, at one point, I thought I had less than 10 miles to go when a Full Hig rider went by and said, “Only 11 more miles!” What?  Noooooo!!! That meant I was going to be doing close to 70 miles! Well, it was what it was. All I could do was keep pedaling. It also looked quite probable that I was not going to finish before the sunset. At least, the wind had died down a little bit (those who finished earlier…and by “those”, I mean everyone else) had experienced much higher winds on the last 6-7 miles. 

Finally, I came into town and dodged the last bit of mud puddles, made the turn to the finish line, and the cheering of all my friends!


Instead of 65 miles, I had done 69.8. Piper and I were the only ones in our category, so she took 1st, but I won for most miles (and stupidity). Piper and I did a podium photo (and we even got prizes).

See? It was dark (and Piper is doing a great job of holding me up)!

In fact, all the Olympia/Edmonds women (and Billy) ended up on the podium. 

Makaela 2nd for Open Women Half Hug

Courtney took 1st (and she wasn’t the only one in her category).

Since I had finally finished, we were all able to go back to the mansion for some much needed food and relaxation. Jason came over with a box of his bars, and some new stuff to try. All was delicious! 

We all retired for a well deserved night’s sleep. Morning (and daylight savings time) arrived. To check out of the mansion, all we had to do was turn down the thermostats, turn off the lights, and lock the door. But by bit we all headed home. 

It was another great weekend with good friends. Although I swore while I was riding that I would not do the Shasta Gravel Hugger again, I may change my mind. At some point, I need to get everything right!