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 by: Bill Oetinger  3/1/2020

A North Bay 200-K Triple Crown

It’s that time of year: are you ramping up for a new season? Have you got big plans? New worlds to conquer? If you’re an ambitious rider who likes to set season-long goals and then work toward them, I have a suggestion for what might add up to a new and exciting challenge for you in 2020.

In short, it’s a a package of three very hilly and hard 200-K rides coming up in May and June. All three are Santa Rosa Cycling Club rides. All of them have been on the club ride calendar for a few years but what’s new now is that a few SRCC members—veterans of all three rides—are kicking around the idea of promoting the three of them as a little North Bay Triple Crown. Complete them all and get that feather in your cap. More importantly, if you’re competitive, add your times together for the three of them, as in a stage race, and see how you rank with the other hardcore hammers who’ve jumped into the fray.

At this point, although all three rides exist and are on the calendar this year, no one has actually done the work of tying them together into this trilogy of rides, with some reliable timekeeping and support. It’s just a gleam in the eye of a few riders. It’s possible that by the time May rolls around, this will have taken on more substantive shape. For now, I’m just trying to prime the pump by putting the idea out there where people can read about it and think about it.

What are these three tough rides we’re talking about? Here they are, in the order in which they are scheduled…

Fearsome 5

The Fearsome Five • 129 miles • 15,000’ • Early May

This website will tell you pretty much everything you need to know about this brutal ride. It was created by our Belgian friend Marc Moons, who needs no introduction among hardcore riders in this region. One of the toughest competitors on two wheels but a charming gentleman off the bike.

At the site you can find a RideWithGPS map of the course and digests of the adventures encountered on past FFs. It was first run in 2007 so this year will be the 14th edition of the ride. It consists of a series of out-&-backs on some very butch climbs, in the style of the Death Ride (but a lot harder). It stages out of the elementary school in Alexander Valley, first going north over the multiple summits on the Geysers, down the north face and up Pine Mountain Road, a remote, obscure dead end. Back over the Geysers, north to south, then south along Hwy 128 through Alexander and Knights Valley and up Ida Clayton Road to its summit. Back down that hill, north on 128 and, saving the best for last, up Pine Flat Road to the top, one of the most infamous climbs in the North Bay, with some of its last pitches up around 20%.


The Bad Little Brother • 131 miles • 14,000+’ • Late May (usually Memorial Day weekend)

This is the oldest of the three events. It was created by my old buddy Rich Fuglewicz in 1996. That makes this its 25th Anniversary. Here’s a RideWithGPS map of the course. That’s for the standard route, which is what most people do. There is also a “highland option” that plumps it up to 134 miles and 15,000’…as if this nasty piece of work needs to be any harder. (I suppose, if this does become part of a timed stage race, they will have to decide which course will be the official timed one.) Its original title was The Terrible Two’s Bad Little Brother and Rich commissioned Art Read to create a graphic for the event that paid tribute to Art’s original graphic for the early years of the Terrible Two.

I am proud to say I was on that first BLB back in ’96 and finished in the lead group. I guess I’ve done it about ten times. In those days it was run in April but it has been on or near the Memorial Day weekend for many years now. It’s a demanding counter-clockwise loop from the Warm Springs Dam Visitor Center up into Mendocino County. North through Cloverdale and up Hwy 128 to Boonville, then west over several steep ridges on Mountainview Road to Point Arena. Down the coast and back inland on Annapolis Road and Skaggs Springs Road. Easy to describe it but much harder to ride it. It’s a beast


The Terrible Two 200-K • 121 miles • 11,000+’ • Mid- to Late June

Run in conjunction with the club’s legendary Terrible Two Double Century, this 200-K is sometimes referred to as The Tolerable Two. But it’s only tolerable compared to the full double. Here’s a link to the club webpage for the event which will take you to this RideWithGPS map of the course. There is a short description of the course there (written by me). Essentially it’s the second half of the Terrible Two—“where the Terrible Two gets truly terrible”—with a section of the Wine Country Century route up Dry Creek Valley to bring the riders from TT headquarters at Analy High School in Sebastopol up to the midpoint of the TT course at the Warm Springs Dam site.

TT200-K riders start their day a couple of hours after the riders head out on the full double. The 200-K riders arrive at the midpoint before the doubles riders get there and the fastest among them will stay ahead all the way to the finish. Slower 200-K riders may be overtaken by the fastest of the doubles riders later in the day.

We added the 200-K to the Terrible Two in 2013, making this the newest of the events in the set. It wasn’t timed in its first years but the riders asked for a mass start and timing and we have adjusted accordingly. The course record now stands at 6:52, set last year by the aforementioned Marc Moons.

(By the way: I am no longer involved in management of the Terrible Two. I retired this year.)

The Fearsome Five and Bad Little Brother at this point are still just glorified weekend club rides, although with colorful, storied histories already. They offer minimal support. The last I heard, the BLB was asking for a $10 donation to cover gas costs for sags and for a little food laid out along the way. The TT200-K is an official event with an entry fee and everything that goes with it: the usual superb support the SRCC provides at all of its pay-to-ride events. While the challenge is what will probably act as the biggest draw for participants, it’s worth noting that all of them are off-the-chart gorgeous.

Fields for all of these events are still relatively small—even for the TT-related one—but if this Triple Crown idea catches on that may change. They’re all so brutally hard that I doubt they’ll ever grow much beyond the scale of what we might call cult classics. There just aren’t that many people who are strong enough to tackle them…or who want that sort of challenge. But if you are one of those people, you can try them all on for size this year, whether they have been officially bundled together into a series or are still just three, stand-alone rides.

Bill can be reached at srccride@sonic.net

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