The 2016 Grand Depart went down on Sept 24, with an official start time of 7:02am. A combined 17 brave souls set out for glory. This year marks the first running of the Northern 250 loop (which is actually about 317 miles). Each year, in addition to the full 500 option, we will alternate between doing the Southern and Northern loops (in 2015, we did the S250). My favorite thing about the Caldera and bikepacking events in general is the camaraderie that bonds the people that partake. I love seeing friends old and new, and watching everyone push themselves through their limits.
A few thoughts to ponder:
- Full Results Here
- It’s now official, the best bike for this ride is a plus bike of some sort. They excel in the pumice and soft sections, and riders who are on them are definitely hiking less than traditional mtb’s and fat bikes. Riders with the most success were using 1x drivetrains with a 26 or 28t ring in the front and 42 or bigger granny in the rear. Tires are still personal preference, but something with strong sidewalls is key.
- Adrian broke the 5 day barrier on the 500 and Tony set the inaugural course record for the Northern loop – both guys live in Bishop. I met Adrian at the finish line cheering on Arthur last year, and he said he wanted to do it next year. Here we are. Congrats!! I met Tony on the Sierra 7500, and he slowly got the itch… now with the S250 and N317 and Stagecoach 400 under his belt, he’s a bikepacking vet!
- We still are waiting to see a female complete any of the routes… come on ladies!!
- A super cool dude who’s been in a Tour Divide movie and a Trans Am movie and has a bikepacking resume longer than the Torah bailed after 220 miles. Yes, this course is brutal at times. And rewarding like no other at times.
- If your mind isn’t right and you don’t embrace pushing your bike through sand, you probably should choose another route. This is the Eastern Sierra. It is what it is. Rarely a free mile on this course, but every footprint or labored pedal turn leads to magical views. The pain fades. Good memories last forever.
- So stoked the KC, Pat, and Kyle met eachother and wound up having fun choosing their own adventure. I’m stoked that Devin chose this as his first multi-day bikepacking adventure. I hope it’s the first of many. I can’t believe Hunter made it as far as he did on the fat bike with 10lb tires 🙂 – when we saw him pushing his bike up the 395 to June, he was toasted!! Ha hahahahhahaa!!!
- I hope people continue to ride the Caldera in it’s entirety, or in bits and pieces, however they see fit. Get busy living or get busy dying.
Until next year… here are a few pics. If you search #caldera500 in instagram, you can find more… If you have some, send em my way and i’ll add them to this blog so they live forever in Caldera lore… To all the 2016 riders, thank you for riding. Recover well… and start thinking about the next adventure….