Yep. I DNF’d. I was hoping for, at the best, DFL (dead f#*king last) but after 45 miles I said no more!! If you haven’t heard of the Rock Cobbler (which I kind of doubt you have) it is a 80-90 mile ride over and any and all surfaces in Bakersfield CA. Stuart found this race last year and FOMO got the better of me this year so I signed up!
I knew going into it that there was a better than average chance that I would not finish. Gravel riding is not my forte and I don’t have much access to it to practice. Coupled with the fact that I have a very high sense of self-preservation, I knew I was in for a long day.
Forget what you may think about Bakersfield, the course was beautiful (even if we rode by a fair amount of trash; just part of the Rocks Cobbler charm). The route took us onto some private ranch land (that is why there is no link to the course in this write up) that was just amazing, especially after all the rain. Yet, the course was beyond challenging for me. I struggled both with the climbing and descending which was pretty much the whole course! There were long sections where we were riding along a very small path (12 inches wide) on the side of a hill. I was reduced to walking many many many times. The picture above shows a section I never even made it to. The cyclists are hiking their bikes up a section of trail that is 42%! Oh, and the people at the top are throwing beach balls at the cyclists! This is not an event for the faint of heart or people with no sense of humor.
At mile 45 I rolled into the aid station in tears. I decided I just couldn’t do the last 40 miles of whatever was coming by way. I decided to roll back to the start and lick my wounds. By the time I got back I had done 66 miles with 4,000 feet of gain (all collected over the 45 miles of the course I did complete.) 7:25 elapsed time with 6:34 of riding time.
It truly is one of the most unique and challenging things I have very attempted. Neil Shirley is an amazing cyclist and past winner of the Rock Cobbler. His write up shares some amazing pictures from the day. You can read more about it here.
I have decided that from here on out I need to concentrate only on events that support the goal of qualifying Kona. Gravel riding doesn’t help me much for that one. I am going back to just cheering for Stuart at these events!