Many came from many miles away to take on a challenge and enjoy the scenery during Mt. Shasta Rotary’s 6th annual Castle Crags Century, a fundraising bike ride that started and ended Saturday, June 23, at Mt. Shasta City Park.
Some rode to prepare for other rides, some were seeking to improve on past times. They all welcomed the variety of challenges offered by one of the event’s five courses – from the nearly 37-mile Metric Ride to the 141-mile Super Century.
Just before day breaks, people quietly rode into the park. Some in cars with their light weight bikes strapped on to the back or top or sitting in the back seat, others rode in on their bikes from staying overnight in the area.
Riding partners Brandon Gilbert and Dawn Machado from Visalia challenged themselves by doing the Super Century, “the biggest and toughest ride we have ever done,” according to Gilbert, who said, “This is training for the Kaiser that is coming up which is in the top ten of hardest rides. We are both excited and nervous. We are looking forward to some beautiful scenery.”
Sixty-seven year old Raymond Perry of Ashland, Ore., said he was doing the Super Century for the third time and, “As long as I don't spend much time at the rest stops, I am hoping I will be faster this year.” His prior times were 10 to 11 hours.
He was competing against his past, but the Castle Crags Century is not a race. There are no specific start times, no race clocks, no list of winners. People of a wide variety of ages and ability were among the 203 participants who started and ended their rides at Mt. Shasta City Park.
Half of the funds raised from the event support the Mt. Shasta Dignity Heath volunteer free transportation service. Other Rotary projects include the senior nutrition program, maintaining the local trail system, disabled sports, two Mount Shasta High School scholarships, sending four students to Camp Ventura and Camp Royal, and Mt. Shasta Sisson Museum.
More than 125 volunteers through Mt. Shasta Rotary help put the event on, including 15 operators from the Mt. Shasta Amateur Radio Club who volunteered to track the riders in case of accidents and/or other health and welfare issues.
All the routes had numerous water and rest stops and SAG stations serving cookies, fruit, boiled potatoes, sport and health drinks, sodas and chips.
Andie Callahan of Chico said she camped out overnight to be ready to ride at 5:30 in the morning. She said food and water are most important. On her bike she packs her map and layers of clothes because it can get chilly crossing over the Mumbo Summit. She carries snacks, her cell phone, water, and an extra bike tube and a pump, and a couple of lights.
“I have been riding less than a year though I have ridden in the past,” said Callahan. “This will be the longest I have ridden and the highest I have climbed. I am training for the Death Ride in the Sierra Nevada south of Lake Tahoe. I work for Sierra Nevada Brewing Company and I have a coworker who is also doing this and the Death Ride. It is a challenge.”
Nancy Vallance from Mill Valley said she used to race professionally and was “excited to be here. This is a beautiful race. I am here for the beauty of it. It is great route with nice people. They have great volunteers. The escape and tranquility of getting out of the Bay Area and the comradery and the magical mountain is fantastic.”
Jason Wilson of Redding, a returning participant, said, “Cycling is a really good way to stay healthy. This ride is a great challenge. I used to weigh 350 pounds and now I am under 200 pounds in three years, which I attribute to cycling. It saved my life. I expect to do the Century in eight hours.”
The Super Century grew this year from 135 miles to 141.37 miles. It takes riders out to Grenada with 9,500 feet of climbing. Because of its long and steep downhill sections, cyclists are advised ahead to use aluminum and not carbon tire rims due to possible overheating that can cause bicycles to become unstable.
The 99.1-mile Century Ride is a combination of the other rides totaling 8,500 feet elevation gain.
The Mountain Metric challenges road cyclists with its 6,300 feet of climbing over 62.4 miles. This route, with some 12% grades, takes riders over the Mumbo Summit by Gumboot and through Castle Crags State Park. This course had to be rerouted the last two years due to snow. It includes short segments on interstate 5.
The Valley Metric Ride is 79.33 miles with a 2,500 feet of elevation gain with a course that travels north of Weed.
The half Metric Ride is a 36.7-mile ride that gains 2,200 feet in elevation, taking cyclists from the Mt. Shasta City Park through Weed and back.
Those who pre-registered for the event received one free raffle ticket and a free beer ticket, a T-shirt, lunch and, for Super Century riders, a second free meal in the park afterwards. There were also vendor booths to visit after the race.
Event sponsors include Dignity Health Mercy Medical Center Mt. Shasta, Chevron, Cross Petroleum, Owens Healthcare, Black Bear Diner, Snow Creek Studios, ExperShare-Workspaces, Kellogg Engineering, Palfini Financial, Mt. Shasta Sisson Museum, Russ Porterfield-State Farm Insurance and Siskiyou Humane Society.