3rd annual Boulder Creek Challenge Ride Report

3rd Annual Boulder Creek Challenge: Gravel Grinder, Challenge Ride, Fundraiserboulder creek 1 Last Saturday November 8th, riders congregated in Descanso to participate in the 3rd annual Boulder Creek Challenge.  The BCC began in 2012 as a way to have a great day on the bike as well as raise money and awareness for San Diego Velo Youth, a program that uses cycling as a tool to reach kids from at-risk schools and teach them about life skills.     The ride itself is a little over 60 miles, with over 6500 feet of climbing, most of it during the first 30 miles and on a dirt road.   The ride isn’t described as a race, but riders vie  for prizes at 3 KOM points along the route.  The nearly 5000 feet of climbing on dirt roads would mean that many would call it a gravel grinder one of the many gravel bikes on the market is probably the ideal bike for the ride.  We call it a “challenged ride” and riders are encouraged to challenge themselves, but equally as important is the fact that 100% of the proceeds go to San Diego VeloYouth.


The neutral rollout in through Descanso boulder creek 2

 The weather was sunny but cool, and  the rain from the week before had left the dirt roads in excellent condition.   The riders followed the  lead truck  on the neutral rollout and got to warm their legs up for a few miles before the climbing began.  The lead vehicle pulled away on Oak Grove road and , the highly motivated pair of  Dana Weber from Stage21/Cannondale and Tim Zandbergen  of Rokform/Rock-n –Road immediately turned the screws.  Ten minutes later, the duo had left everyone behind and they actually approached  FIRST KOM so quickly that the event staff was caught by surprise and barely caught them as the crossed the line.   Tim was first to the top of the first dirt climb and took the prize of PowerBar energy blasts.

Weber and Zandbergen riding away, with smiles on their faces

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Struggling to keep the dynamic duo in sight.boulder creek 4

Ryan Johnson, Kevin Lentz and  Celo Pacific , as well as   Everett Hauser of Adams Ave bikes chased up the dirt road as Weber and Zandbergen  bombed the dirt descent, sometimes getting their skinny tires  a bit sideways in the dirt.   The two stuck together and only widened the gap on the chasers on the 1200 foot dirt climb.   Here, Boulder Creek climbs at 12% or more for extended stretches, and the riders had to sit down and grind it out in a struggle to keep traction in the dirt.  When the twosome approached the second KOM, the other riders were nowhere in sight.     Weber wheelied across the line to take the KOM prize of a gift certificate to Toast Enoteca and Cucina  wine bar, while Tim earned the second place reward of another box of PowerBar product.

Weber and Zandbergen  heading down the first dirt descent

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The KOM Point Awaits

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Some riders enjoyed a more leisurely pace up the dirt climbs

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It doesn’t get much better than thisboulder creek 8

After the second KOM, the road turned to pavement and the riders rode towards the 3rd KOM atop Engineers road.    Dana and Tim hammered uo the 1200 foot climb and then  relaxed as they  crossed the line together to each win a pair of Spy Performance sunglasses and wait for the others.   It was over 10 minutes before the Celo Pacific boys made it up to the top of Engineers road to claim third and fourth  at the final KOM, and nearly  30 minutes until all the riders that made the time cut at the turnoff for  Engineer’s road reached the top.     The entire front  group stopped to trade a few war stories  and refuel with PowerBar blast, gels, and bars, then descended Engineer’s and rode towards Julian to enjoy some well-earned pie.

Katie Crist won the women’s KOM at the  Boulder Creek Fire Station and a pair of Spy Sunglasses

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 Former Olympian and world record holder Shaun Wallace was the first rider to cross the 2nd KOM, without making the time cut, and apparently the first to Julian Pie Company. boulder creek 10

Riders relaxed at Julian Pie Company as the KOM winners were recognized, and some even went for a second helping of pie.  After some pie, some coffee, and some trading of stories,  the riders rolled off together   back towards Descanso.  The climbing wasn’t quite finished, with 500 feet of elevation gain between Julian and Descanso park.   The group once again found Weber and Zandbergen pushing the pace, but not enough to break away, as a group of 10 crested the final hill and rode downhill into Descanso.

Julian Pie Company

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Riders Relaxing at Julian Pie Company  before the descent back into Descanso

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We consider the 3rd annual Boulder Creek Challenge  to be a huge success.    Everyone got to push their limits riding the beautiful dirt roads between Julian and Descanso.   The weather cooperated, we had some great pie, and we had great fun.    We also raised some money for San Diego VeloYouth and helped get kids from  at risk schools learning about life and riding bikes.     The 4th annual Boulder Creek Challenge will be some time during the first half of November 2015.  We hope  you’ll join us.


Sean is the head coach for Crank Cycling in San Diego CA.   Have a question for Sean or a topic you would like to see covered?   Contact Sean Via his website: CrankCycling.com



*All Photos Credit Elaine Hutchinson or Kathy Burcham