by Bill Plock
I’ve never raced a bike outside of a triathlon. I’ve dreamt often of racing Tour de France style with the long stages, epic climbs and riding in a peloton of colorful kits on amazing bikes in beautiful places. All with the entourage of team cars topped with bikes and wheels while mechanics hang out the windows tweaking derailleurs. The image in my head is a perfect blend of romance, adventure, perseverance and adrenaline. Who would’ve thought this next week I get to experience a race like that—in San Francisco, doing the Haute Route.
Today I received my official program of what to expect; the logistics, rules, reminders and some amazing photos of our 3 stage timed ride in the Bay Area—the program is 30 pages and this is going to be an adventure every cyclists will want to put on their bucket list!
For me, many things set the Haute Route apart from a typical multiple day ride. I am also participating in Haute Route Colorado in June, which is a seven day event. The intrigue lies in being “treated like a pro” and competing for times on parts of the route but allowing time to just relax and enjoy the camaraderie and scenery. Downhills are not part of the timing and having multiple timed sections, it allows me to hammer one hill or all, or none, depending on how I feel and compete.
Haute is the French word for high. The routes at all ten worldwide Haute Route events, take riders up the steepest hills and the highest vistas and most stages cover a 100 miles or more. In San Francisco, stage 1 and 2 total a 190 miles and 19,000 feet of climbing and stage 3 is a time trial. Each day finishes with a massage and a gourmet lunch. Your bike is taken at the finish line, cleaned up if necessary, and stored overnight. At night we all gather for a briefing of the next day’s ride and a podium ceremony for the day’s top finishers.
Our first day begins with a high speed ferry ride from Fishermans Wharf to Oakland and then a ride to Mt. Diablo. This route follows a popular stage on the Amgen Tour of California and covers 100 miles with 11,000 feet of climbing.
The second day takes us over the Golden Gate to explore Marin County and navigate Mt. Tamalpais (arguably the birth place of mountain biking) before returning to Fisherman’s Wharf. This route is 90 miles and climbs a total 8,500 feet.
Our third day is a time trial and a first experience for everyone. Until now, no cycling event has been allowed on Angel Island, once a military destination and now a state park home to sea lions and otters. The time trial follows the road around the island so we will be treated to 360 degree views of the Bay Area. It’s 9.8 miles of rolling hills and some sharp turns.
The final awards and lunch will be served on the Ferry, which reminds me to pack some sea sick pills—just in case!
This article is the beginning of a series of articles and social media posts to share the actual experience and tell you more about Haute Route, including some fun recipes from their award winning chef!
Once back from San Francisco, I will have roughly a month to finish up training for Ironman Boulder and then two weeks after that, I will be participating in Haute Route Colorado with its 523 miles and 52,000 feet of climbing, with the last stage climbing Pikes Peak! More on all of that soon, including a podcast with race director Micah Rice detailing this seven day event! Let me tell you, I’ve never been more excitably nervous than for these two Haute Route events!