The plan for the Folsom Lake Loop ride was stated this way in brief: “Both the Peloton and the Performance groups will be doing this ride together. The plan for the Performance group ride leaders is to keep this ride mellow and provide some pacing, encouragement, & coaching for Peloton riders should they want it. However, once on Auburn-Folsom Rd, I suspect the deck will get reshuffled and the real poker will begin.” About 40 cyclists showed up for the ride!

I ended up sweeping the route and riding with the most important folks on the ride, my partner, Krysta, and a friend from work, Roxanne. After mile 9 on Salmon Falls Rd, we never saw the main group again, so I’ve asked the other ride leaders from the Performance & Peloton groups to give their two bits. My ride stats: 54 miles in a ride time of 3:26, for an average speed of 15 mph, and about 4100 ft of climbing, with an average heart rate of 139 bpm.

Performance ride leader Phil says:
After checking the CF site one last time at home I rolled to meet up at Karen’s Bakery by 8am. Made the last turn into the parking lot and was greeted by a HUGE turnout of riders [something close to 40 cyclists, ed.]. After descending and crossing Salmon Falls Bridge the road turned up. I rode to the Rhino riding with Stan and a rider from out of town [Jim G.]. We reached the Rhino and caught up with Kevin who was taking on nutrition. Kevin you were climbing great today. The group briefly discussed waiting for the group behind us, but no one knew how far back they were. We took a few sips of water and decided to ride on to Pilot Hill.

The front group was still at Pilot Hill when we rolled in. We replenished our water, took in some nutrition, and rolled out in a large group towards Cool. I sat in around 5th-6th and waited patiently for the city limit sign to come into view. I decided at 300 meters or so to put in an all out sprint to the line. I surprised the group and no one took up a chase [the sprint wasn’t announced, so Phil was sprinting against the wind (ed.)]. The group rolled right through Cool without stopping, to work our way to the descent into the Am. River confluence. I ramped up the downhill speed out front, but caught up to a pickup and two cars that took my advantage away. Big Ring Jeff caught up with me and the cars, & took the inside line. This was a great move by Jeff as the shoulder widened at the bottom, Jeff coasted in no contest for the county line points! [This sprint was announced.] I stopped and took some pictures of a few riders at the start of the climb up Old Forrest Hill Road. In the background you see the new bridge that we will cross shortly on the way into Auburn.

I was one of the last riders in this group to top the Old Forrest Hill climb. A group had just rolled out and I had to put in some effort to catch them. I caught up and decided to pass them and get out front for the descent down to cross Forrest Hill Bridge. Almost every rider passed me on this last climb up to Auburn. A few of us caught up with a group at the left turn light. We rolled on through Auburn to Auburn-Folsom Road. I took the front and upped the effort a few watts climbing the last roller to Maidu Market. We rolled in to catch the front group.

Rolling out of Maidu we were around 20-25 riders strong. The group split at the light and I was fortunate enough to be in the lead group for the run down Auburn-Folsom road. Tom M. did a quick descent and I caught up with him just as the road turned up with the rest of the group passing us on this short climb before the real run in to Folsom starts. Big Ring Jeff took to the front (I guess BR Jeff likes this stretch of the road) and upped the pace for a couple of miles, then Robert and friend went to the front and put in huge pulls with everyone hanging on. There was an effort to get a double pace line going a few times but some of the riders are not up to speed on this type of pace line and it disintegrated. (We need to have a ride clinic to educate riders on this technique). Some of the riders split off on the way through Granite Bay to head home. Arriving at Karen’s around 11:30am, I had a ride time of 3:10 at an average speed of 17.1 mph.

Overall this was a great ride today. All of the riders participating kept the ride safe.

Oz will have to fill in the KOM riders. I was too far back on the climbs to comment.

Performance ride leader Oz says:
In all my years with CF, this was probably one of the largest turnouts we have ever had. Guesstimates are that we had about 27 riders. There was definitely a feeling of excitement in the air. We rolled easily out of Karen’s Parking lot over to East Natoma towards Green Valley road. Everyone stayed together until the road started to tilt slightly upwards towards Salmon Falls road. As we crested Green Valley road approaching our left turn onto Salmon Falls Road, the group heard a loud pop. The group slowed/stopped to evaluate the situation and we had heard that one of the riders had a side tire blowout. It was decided to roll slowly as one of the other riders (Danny) was able to help patch the rider’s tire. As we headed down Salmon Falls Road toward the bridge, there were a good set of small hills/valleys and heart rate started to rise. This is just enough for the anticipation of the fast decent onto the bridge where some of the riders were planning a TT run from the bridge to the Rhino [Safari Estates]. Jeff T. and a handful of riders took off the front and were not to be seen again until the Rhino. Jeff told me that his time was slightly over 18 minutes (18:08)! A small group waited at the Rhino as the ensuing group finally arrived a few minutes back. We then all rode together to Pilot Hill where everyone got water and replenished on their nutrition. Kevin, Stan, and the rest of the Peloton group were not far behind and joined us for a while.

Once we had our water, Jeff Minter, Tom, Phil, and I led the group out of Pilot Hill into Cool. There were a lot of cars on the small curvy road into the confluence of the river. Some of the faster descenders were actually held up due to the traffic. We had heard later on that one of the riders (the one with a flat) may have collided with a motorcycle [ed., we don’t know what really happened]. Hopefully he was OK. We enjoyed our descent into the confluence in anticipation of what would be the “queen” climb of the day (Old Foresthill Road). This is not a particularly steep climb, but a steady 6-8 percent, 3 mile climb. It’s a grind getting up it. It’s very exposed to the sun and we were starting to feel the heat. Once again, Jeff T. led a small group to the top and waited for the remaining ensuing riders at the top of the climb. We regrouped on Foresthilll road and road 20 riders strong down towards the Foresthill bridge. Just as you cross the bridge the road kicks up for about 3/4 mile wit
h grades of around 10-12 percent. A small group was able to make it through the stop light but others got caught. The groups came back together in Auburn and we worked our way at an easy pace to Maidu Market where we refilled knowing that we had an exciting downhill to come on Auburn-Folsom. Seeing as how I got unhitched on the last ride down AF, I was not going to let that happen again so I stayed very close to the front group up and over PowerHouse road. Jeff T, Robert Goss, and Vic did some hard individual pulls at the front. Phil was in front of me the majority of the time, so I knew I was in a good position (thanks Phil!). The group was finally able to all join and share the load in a paceline rotation all the way to Folsom. As we approached Karen’s, I looked down at my cyclometer and couldn’t believe it was a little past 11:00.

Another great and safe ride!

Oz’s ride stats: 54.4 miles in a ride time of 3:08 with an average speed of 17.3 mph and a total elevation gain of 4,304 ft and an average heart rate of 167 [Wow! That seems high. I guess Brian was coasting].

Peloton ride leader Stan says:
When I counted 30 cyclists at the ride start I got a bit nervous. Fortunately everyone had the appearance of being comfortable on their bikes. As we started the ride, my brain was saying “dude, you’re gonna have a great ride today.” As we started the climb up Salmon Falls from the bridge to the Rhino, my body began to slowly protest against my brain’s jovial spirit.

Phil was kind enough to hang back and pace me and Jim Garwood up a good portion of the hill. Support from experienced riders like Phil is especially helpful when you’re riding a route for the first time. Phil gave us a sense of how long the hill was, and when we might get some relief along the road, etc. After a while, Carl Costas dropped back to relieve Phil. Carl, too, offered helpful tips as we made our way up Old Forest Hill Road after the bridge. The climbs always seem longer to me the first time I do them.

At the top of Old Forest Hill Road, we re-grouped with Jim, Carl, Brian, Krysta, and Roxanne. We made our way up to the gas station and re-filled with water, Gatorade, and ice and got on our way for the fun part of the ride. As we came up on the descent on Auburn-Folsom at Indian Hill, Brian asked us to stop and suggested a game plan for the pace and pulling. I’m learning to appreciate more and more Brian’s desire to communicate his thoughts and get people on the same page during a ride. I’m learning as I go along and hope to emulate his approach on rides I lead. Problem is, lately I’ve been doing very little leading and a lot of following! I’ll keep at it though!

Peloton ride leader Kevin says:
We had a huge turn out today, I counted over 27 riders [more showed up later, ed.] staged at Karen’s for what I like to call the “Meat Grinder” or officially known as the Folsom Lake Loop. Starting out from Karen’s both groups stayed together for the most part until the first slow climb up Green Valley Road. Just at the top before turning onto Salmon Falls, one of the newer riders had a tire blow out (sidewall) and Danny stopped to help out. We heard later that he used the ol’ dollar bill trick to “patch” the blow out and I heard later that the rider continued on with the route. As we started up the 1st set of climbs towards the “Rhino” (at Safari Estates), the gradual, slow slog up the hill naturally thinned out the group. Most of the Performance riders had already spilt off the front of the group and started their timed sprints from the bridge to the Rhino. Phil dropped back to check on those of us slower climbers and offered encouragement to those needing a bit of extra help up the climbs. I stopped for a quick break and along with Phil waited for Stan and a few others to catch up before heading out. I managed to follow Phil and Danny up to the Pilot Hill water stop to find the Performance riders filling up their water bottles before heading up to Cool.

Not long after reaching Pilot Hill, Stan and few others rolled in for water and a short rest before the entire group rolled out towards Cool and down to the Confluence. Once on Hwy 49, I was able to catch up to a fast group of Performance riders that included Danny, Bruce, Oz, Carl, and Phil among others. Once we reached the descent the group spilt up a bit with the fastest out front all the way down to the bottom. The descent is fast and a bit tricky at times with one or two hairpin turns with reverse concaves on the roadway. This is one of those descents that can put you right in between cars as you barrel down the road. Found my self having to slow a bit to avoid rear ending a car on the sharpest curves. Some of us heard later that the same rider who had that blow out back at the beginning had a run in with a motorcycle; hopefully he wasn’t hurt too badly [we’re not really sure what happened, sort of hearsay, ed.]. Once reaching the bottom we turned right and headed up the 3 mile climb to the Forest Hill Bridge. By this time it started to really heat up and I felt myself having to work hard just to keep a steady pace. It wasn’t long before I fell off of Oz and Bruce’s wheels. At the top of the climb we regrouped and headed up and over the Forest Hill bridge. The breeze while riding across was a welcome reprieve from the heat and it helped me catch on to a group of about 5 heading up that nasty little climb after the bridge into Auburn. This group included Bruce, Danny and John (Jeff?, ed.) who races for BP and we traded off taking the front heading back towards Folsom out of Auburn. It wasn’t long after heading out from our second water break at Maidu Market, a group of “fast movers” rolled by us like we were out for a Sunday stroll. At this point, I, along with the others in our small group were really felling like we were out of gas, but soon rolled into Karen’s to find a large group including those fast movers talking up the ride.

All and all, I felt pretty good today. This has got to be one of the best routes around; it’s got climbs, but nothing too steep and you gotta love the fast and curvy descent down to the confluence. Great ride everyone and thanks for helping pull me up a few of those climbs when the gas was just about to run out!

Kevin’s ride stats: 53.75 miles in a ride time of 3:17 for an average speed of 16.3 with a total elevation gain of 4,371 and an average heart rate of 152 bpm.