The Tour of the Unknown Coast is a legendary Northern California century that attracts all the Humboldt hammerheads. The rainy spring has limited my distance training, so I decided to ride the shorter, 100K race. To make things interesting, I rode my new favorite bike, a singlespeed Trek District with Carbon Drive. The pace was brisk as we headed out on country roads through farmlands and into hilly redwood forest. “Belt drive!” a cyclist behind me shouted. “It’s quiet!”
Vicky and I hung with the leaders until the group splintered at the first serious hill. At the 30-mile mark Vicky realized she was the lead female and enlisted me as her domestique. We traded pulls, closing the gap through the twisty, forested sections but losing ground when buffeted by a stiff headwind during the final 10 miles. We finished side-by-side, 9th and 10th, she the first woman and me the undisputed champion of the singlespeed division. Unfortunately there was no singlespeed division. My only prize was a free bean burrito from the organizers–and the knowledge that: all those other riders with their lightweight racing bikes, granny gears and big rings? Sure, they may have been faster. But I was harder.