Wednesday, March 19, 2014


By Mike Dunn

…I wrote this a day or two before the event:, I'm off to ride a mountain bike 400 miles. ...379 actual miles but you know how they do.
I'm excited.  I'm scared.  I saw my first mtn lion on main divide last week (little guy, just north of Eagle, more scared than I was).  He reminded me of the fact that shit happens in nature.   Nice guys die of hypothermia @ Santiago peak due to bad decisions.  Shit happens.  ...I know, ..dramatic. Sorry.
Stuff like this crosses the mind when Im this fired up and excited about something, but apprehensive because of the selfish personal investment my soon-to-be 48 year old self is making….”


Stagecoach 400, 2014

“Its about to get Western!”  That’s what the Stagecoach guys say when youre about to go to a place where no normal person would take a bike. ...Or, it might describe conditions that a person should not consider necessarily safe.  It might be 100 miles from civilization, or it might be into endless miles of sand, 8” deep.  It might be on a trail (?) through a willowed marsh, treading in 6” of muck and water, …or it might be 10 miles of crushing climb to reach a summit, only to discover with a look to the horizon that the climb isn’t even close to being finished.  …”Western”.
Though those moments are painful, maybe the most painful thought that occasionally creeps into your mind is ‘Ive got x hundred more miles of this shit!’.  For that reason, I cant imagine wanting to do an event like this alone.  The mind-fu%k factor would weigh too heavy.  This is the kind of event where you ("I") need the relief of great partners in crime.  I attribute successfully completing this race to those partners, Pat Hurter and Mark Owens.  I heard more sore-ass jokes over the past 4 days than I will ever hear again.  In fact, things got so deranged that sore-ass exhibtions were only a request away…lol.  Pat’s tenacity and hyper-outgoing personality was refreshing during the worst of times, ..and Mark’s aggravated sense of humor always kept me chuckling.  These men are champions.  I just want them both to know how highly I think of them and how much I respect what they accomplished during these 4 days.

 Pre-ride meeting.

Pic by Mary Metcalf Collier
The weatherman says its gonna be nice!  Not too hot during the day, and not too cold at night.  Nice!!  I show up at the meeting in flip-flops and its snowing outside. This cannot be a good sign even though Brendan Collier, the event’s organizer, says that it is.  I make a quick assessment of the hard-core’s standing around listening and surmise that I might be way outta my league here.  Standing over there is Marshall Bird from CO, whos done the Tour divide.  Mary Metcalf Collier, another divide killer, is taking pics while Guy Sutton is looking at some cue sheet info.  Pat leans into me and says, “you know, …it’s a little intimidating in here”.  Yup!  After getting introduced to our rented spot-trackers and receiving some pertinent course-related information, you start to get the impression that not only are these athletes physically strong, but also that they are mentally adept at making bad situations work in this gun-slinger event.  …Suggestions of “work-arounds” and on-the-fly route adjustments make clear that when they use the term “un-supported”, they aren’t messing around.  …”Western”
                                                                        Pre-6:30 AM start
Day One
We head down the hill from Idy at 6:30 AM in cold so biting that guys were saying the water in their camel backs was getting slushy in the hose.  Earlier, In my morning frenzy to get ready, I screwed up and spilled water from my reservoir onto my gloves.  That mistake would come back to hurt in ways that only nekked eskimos could understand. 

We head over Thomas mountain towards Coyote Canyon in better spirits.  The sun was coming up and its warmth was giving new life.  Moods lifted, and we became excitied about what was to come. 

During my research/education/consideration of the Stage coach, I met a man online from Mission Viejo named Gerry Lattimer.  He had been very helpful with information leading up to the event, and had turned into a ride partner that would last until the very last day.  Gerry was a great navigator as well as a great source of information (since he had successfully done this event twice before).  He also gravitated naturally toward our sometimes crass humor, so he was comfortable company.  ..So, now there was four of us.

Mr. Gerry Lattimer  aka Yoda
Mark took one for the team that day and used up all of the group’s flat tire bad mojo.  He had four flats before Borrego.  Thankfully, Desert Dan and his mobile bike shop was there in Borrego Springs to get him hooked up with new tubes and a fresh rim strip (the cause of his tire mayhem), because the spare tube supply was becoming depleted quickly.  We never had another tire issue after that.
                Expelling all flat tire mojo within the first 4 hrs. of the trip.  Mark taking 4 for the team.

His last flat occurred after a section of the route called ‘the willows’.  It’s a swamp.  Imagine being an infantryman treading through the dankest jungle of 1968 Vietnam, …with a mountainbike  The route traversed a ditch full of water, and weeds.  You couldn’t see out because the surrounding vegetation was too tall.  Malaria and typhoid fever was thick in the air.  Pat warned that we should probably keep our eyes open for punji sticks and booby traps.  ….Ok, maybe it wasn’t quite THAT bad, but It was moments like these I was glad Gerry was with us navigating, because I would NEVER have assumed that this was part of the route.
                                           Yes, that's a trail.  ...and believe it or not, ..probably the good part.
                                                                                     Anza Borrego
                                                                       Baileys Cabin
                                                    Mr. Lattimer chillin' while Mark takes care of a flat
                                           Pat doing some serious damage on a Borrego Springs Boorita!
 The Desert was probably my favorite part of the ride.  I had heard countless stories of 15 mile hike-a-bikes and un-rideable conditions.  Though there were a few bad sections (Diablo drop probably being the worst), it wasn’t THAT bad.  They had had moisture out there and a lot of the washes had rideable sections.   Im going to guess that we walked 5-7 miles total. We walked and rode enough deep sand to laugh about our past sniveling re: the sandy section at Vail lake.  ….lol, ..never snivel again.

                                                                      ...i didn't expect it to be beautiful.
 The Desert was my favorite though, not because of the riding, but because of what it was.  It was more beautiful than I ever could have imagined.  The stone features and stillness were incredible.  When we finally bedded down, the combination of the silence, clear skies, and perfect weather was something I knew I wouldn’t forget.  I had dreaded this part of the trip… …the ‘dirt-camping’.  My assumptions were wrong though.  It was comfortable and mountain lion/snake/spider/Velociraptor free..:).   Rick Wessels, ..I get it now.

We ended up crashing out at around 10:30 the first night....
                                                               , and this is what i woke up to.

Day One—Approx. 100 miles

Day Two
We woke up in the desert and headed for our first refuel in Agua Caliente.  Mark, a very nice man (and owner of the store), was there to hook us up with water, and cheap freezer food.  Apparently the “racers” had taken the good stuff before we got there, but it wasn’t bad.  I was still stocked up on Perpetuem  and some items that I had brought, so food wasn’t an issue yet (that was to come).  We jumped on some asphalt for a while and rode to the next destination,  Oriflame.  …the infamous Oriflame   Yeah lol, ..that sucked.  I love climbing.  I really do. That sucked.  Nothing like trying to negotiate a 40+ pound, gear-laden bike over a rocky shit trail with NO line.  There was definitely some walking involved there.  I might enjoy trying it again with a light bike and fresh legs, ..but then again, I might not.   After that was Mason Valley Truck Trail, which was MY kinda climbing.  It kinda reminded me of Eagle in the SA’s a bit. 

 From there we headed for Noble.  At the lucky five trailhead, Mark high-fived an old man for dumping his Harley in the rock parking  That would be followed minutes later by a very tired Pat Hurter dumping his MTB in the same lot. ….lol.  No injuries, just a jovial Pat giggling it off.

We arrive at Noble to no water.  This could have been bad as we were all low.  Apparently someone had wrecked the valve to the pump and it wasn’t working.  Fortunately it was manually fixable, and everything worked out but this was the kind of “self support” stuff that could have been very problematic.  It was a reminder that you always had to be prepared for what might not go according to plan.  ….One of many learning experiences on this trip.

The downhill stuff at Noble was an absolute blast, ..the climb up Indian Creek though was another rocky tough one.  It wasn’t Oriflame by any means, but in our tired states, it was a grind.  Once you pass the Indian Creek area and jump on East Mesa Fire road it was spectacular views of lush, deer-filled meadows and a fast fire road down toward Descanso.

I will carry two great memories of Descanso.  One was the delicious food and very nice people at Veronica’s resteraunt, and two.. ..the fact that there were people that knew of the event we were doing and giving us fist-pumps of encouragement as they drove by in there pick-ups.  Really cool and encouraging.

We decided to go for Alpine at that point due to a hotel that Gerry knew about.  It was a hit!!  A hot shower, ..a comfortable bed, ….and a delicious complimentary, all-you-can-eat breakfast!!  I ate 6 biscuits with gravy, French toast, and slammed a couple of glasses of OJ, ….and still filled my pockets w/ fruit and a sausage and egg bagel for the trip.  …..WIN!!  The place is called the Ayres Hotel in Alpine, and I recommend it highly.

Day 2—Approx 75 miles

Day 3
We left Alpine at a comfortable 8:30 or so.  With full bellies, and a yearning for a downhill trending ride to the coast, we made some fairly fast miles.  There were lots of views and quite a bit of asphalt.  I shared my distaste for riding in the dangerous world of texting drivers with the guys and was empathetically giggled at.  Mark and Pat became a touch agitated with the stereotypical roadies that would ride by without a hello.  I concur.  Roadies, if someone gives you a nod, aint too much trouble to nod back, is it?  We were passed later by a snotty ‘Pro’ wearing what appeared to be short ‘women’s’ lycra shorts and felt a bit justified…lol. 
                                                                     Damn roadies.
We arrived at the Sweetwater Reservoir trails to encounter another “western” moment.  One of the connector trails on our route had been closed and we were forced to go a different way.  Between the additional riding and the figuring out what that riding would be, we lost a solid hour.  Fortunately for us, a local was kind enough to make a suggestion.  This is a great trail system, btw.  If youre ever in the south section of SD county with your bike, I would recommend it.  
                                                                  Sweetwater Reservoir

This is Tyrel Beede.  He would later exemplify the spirit of the Stagecoach 400 by repairing a broken pedal with a rock (turning down many offers for help).  His 'self-support' conviction made his battle for a successful late finish even more sweet.  Bravo brudda.  I should also mention that he falls into the 6'5" and over circus freak category, which of course makes him uber-handsome by default. ...just sayin'..

The City.  Well, it was St. Patty’s day weekend and things were bustling.  Dealing with the traffic became a bit frustrating, and the route around Sea world (although great on a map) didn’t seem to be the most intuitive way outta Dodge.  Gerry and Pat were navigating and did a great job of getting us out.  From there it was up right through the UCSD campus and on to Torrey Pines.  Pat and I decided to follow the route verbatim even though it was through an area designated ‘no bikes’.  After doing it, I understand fully why the infraction was worth including.  It took us right by the USGA course and some incredible views of the ocean.


After all of that it was time to get east.  I had brought up the suggestion of making it in 4 days.  We were getting gassed, but the idea was appealing.  Pat loved the challenge and Mark dug getting an extra day off work, …so we surmised that the only way to make that a possibility was to make it to Escondido.  This would be, for me, my toughest day.  We headed NE and hit the Penasquitos trails (which were very cool, btw), and from there headed for Black Mountain.  That felt never ending.  I had ridden the Black Mountain area during Racers and Chasers events, and always assumed that a familiar trail was right around the corner.  It didn’t show itself for a long time.  By the time we hit Lake Hodges, we were exhausted.  For me the combination of riding through the city, the single track, and the mileage we were putting in was mentally burning me down.   Pat took a spill in the hodges single tracks that fortunately wasn’t as bad as it could have been.  I felt like I was in a daze throughout that whole trail system.  I wasn’t travelling fast but I felt like I was riding beyond my means to ‘get there’.  ..Lucky for me, ..I got lucky.

We arrived in Escondido at around 11 pm. I felt beaten.  On this trip, that would have been my low, I think.  I felt a little sick, and was hoping it would disappear with some sleep.  We found a cheap hotel and crashed hard.  The plan was to be up at 6, ready to roll.

Day 3—112 miles
                                                    Day 4, 6 AM., yeah.. ..Ive looked better.
Day 4
Im scrambling to get my shit/brains/wits together and Gerry comes to our hotel room door. He’s standing there in his gear, ready to go and says… “…I might have a little problem.”  “What?”, I ask.  “I almost shit myself in the bed last night”.  I wanted to laugh like hell, but I could tell he was very serious and quite concerned.  Pat, who was rooming with him confirmed.  Apparently one of the gas station burritos we had gotten a hold of the day before wasn't cooperating.  At least I wasn’t the only one that this pain-fest was having a physical effect on.  Gerry took off on route to see if things would straighten out (they did), and we went to starbucks to …..straighten out (and we

Mark and Pat climbing Black Canyon rd.

We knew we had 100 miles left.  What I didn’t know was that it was believed that there was 13000’ of climbing in that 100 miles.  “You love climbing?...well, here ya go motherf#$#r!!!”, I thought to myself.   I didn’t feel too bad, all things considered.  The nights sleep had brought my head back around, and  I still had no issues with my knees.  That would have been a game changer for me.  We packed full of food and headed for Raptor ridge.  After getting through the “Freedom 50” area, we spent some time on the 78 connecting to the next singletrack.   I DID NOT like this.  There was no shoulder, and plenty of assholes.  I was out of my element and very uncomfortable everytime I heard a car approaching.  Fortunately, it was only for a few miles til we jumped some single track, passed some beautiful turkey-filled meadows and headed for Black Canyon road.  Now the real climbing began.   We traversed a lot of fireroad that felt like the Santa Ana’s to me.  ..A lot of relentless, long climbing.  During this time I realized that the batteries in my track spotter were going dead and I freaked a little because I had no aaa replacements.  We had about 8-10 miles to the 76 freeway, and I hit it hard in hopes of making it to the Lake Henshaw store, 1.8 miles off course, and back without making Pat and Mark wait.  It worked out.  I would realize later that I should have taken that opportunity to load up on food, because that was it until Anza.

When we arrived in Warner Springs we talked more about the 4 day plan.  Pat was super cool, as always, and said go ahead.  He was riding very strong but had some course knowledge of what was coming, I think.  He wanted to take 5 and regroup.  So, Mark and I headed out with intentions on meeting him in Anza. 

……….then, it got western. 

I had made some off the cuff mileage calculations based on the cue sheets that were off.  Mark and I hammered up the asphalt that Pat compared to that at the East end of Palomar divide (an accurate comparison).  It was 11 miles or so of fairly steep climbing.  When we got to the top, Mark’s seat-post mounted rack (which had cracked earlier) snapped.  He told me to run for the 4 day finish, and he would wait there for Pat.  …I have great friends, thanks again Mark.   It was 4:10, and I had to make it to Sunrise market in Anza by 6, or I wouldn’t make the 25 additional miles of climbing to Idy.   I was out of food and noots.  I pointed my bike northward and hammered.  The trail turned to dirt, and it was tough climbing, ..rutted and gnarly.  By the time I could see a road ahead, I figured I was getting close, but I got to it only to discover it was Chihuahua Valley.  I was still 14 miles out.  I screwed up and I wasn’t going to make it.  Pissed and starting to bonk, I hammered on through what was the worst climbing for me during the whole trip.  There were relentless false summits, and steep grades.  For the first time in the trip, …and probably due to a lack of nutrition, my legs were starting to hurt.  In the distance a while later, I saw a rider ahead working on his bike.  His name is Brandan.  He came out for the event from LA.  I stopped to check on him and he told me that he called sunrise market and that they were going to stay open til 7 for the riders out there.  I was going to make it.  I hammered the last 7 miies to the market and got a sandwich, a burrito, a block of cheese, a rock star, a coke, and a candy bar… ..and sat down for a break. 

When we started the event, we descended a trail off of Thomas mtn. that we knew would be a hike on the way out.  I felt strong again and beat through it.  It was late, and I was tired, but I knew that with a full belly I was now good.  After getting over the mountain, it was just all about that loooooong road climb.  I arrived at the Hub at 10:27 PM to a glorious ticker-tape parade, dozens of trophy girls, and spewing bottles of champagne.   …yeah, ….no.  The shop was closed and dark, and there was a sign-in sheet and half cooler full of beers at the door.  Other than Brandon, who passed me earlier as I was refueling in Anza,  I was the only one around in that dark little town. …Just me, …and that wonderful feeling that I had just accomplished something monumental in my life.

Day 4—100 miles

Gerry would arrive about an hour after me, and my brothers Pat and Mark would ride in the next morning.  I watched them climb the trackspotter to Idy the next morning and new exactly what they would be feeling.  

The Stagecoach is an interesting event in that it showcases all of the wonderful aspects of southern CA.   Desert, city, beach, and mountains are all part of the experience.   I enourage any serious mtb'r to strive for this goal.... 

                                                                                   Pat's finish line
...It was an adventure with great friends that ill never forget.
392 miles
31,000' of ascent/climbing
3 days 16 hours 27 minutes





Tuesday, November 26, 2013


The 'ole MVMG facebook page will be retiring 12/1/13.   All new ride, event, and sponsor info will be posted on the MVMG groups page located here:
Get on over there and sign up so that you don't miss anything.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


...Crazy work schedule is getting in the way of doing this right, so the event will be postponed till spring.  Sorry 'bout that, and thanks for your patience.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

A big welcome to Wiens Brewing Co.!

I'm excited about this. A local brewery is a natural fit for the club, and a brewery run by avid cyclists is more than we could have hoped for. Wiens will be donating beer to the Gathering in October and a bunch of swag (glasses, hats, shirts, etc) to goat poker in November. Cool eh?

...and, Bring your membership card in and get the following discounts:

- Half off tasters
- $1 off ½ pints
- $2 off pints
- $2 off 32oz growler fills
- $3 off 64oz growler fills
- $1 off empty 32oz growlers
- $2 off empty 64oz growlers
- $2 off hat
- $5 off shirts
- $1 off logo pint glasses

 "BaaaAAAaaaaahhh".. .."UUuuuuurRP!!" :)

Monday, September 2, 2013


"Tuesday Jersey" orders are going in!! They are available White, Red, and Blue. Each MVMG member receives one free of charge in the size that you entered when you signed up. If you don't specify a color, white will be the default. If you would like to order additional jerseys, let us know by 9/13. This date will be the absolute cut-off for any size or color specifics, and for additional orders. Additional shirts for members will be provided at our cost, which is: $10 for sizes up to XL, $12 for 2XL, and $13 for 3XL. If you are NOT a goats member, you are still welcomed to purchase a jersey. Non-member cost is $15 for sizes to XL, $17 for 2XL, and $19 for 3XL. The shirts are the Polyester Sweat-Wicking T's, made by 'Sport-Tek'

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

..Leadville results are in,...

...and kudos to local boy Daniel Munoz for his 37th place finish overall, with a time of 7:29 and change. Leadville Results ..Daniel is actually a goat by way of his uncle Joe's second marriage to a distant cousin twice removed. ..So proud to see family kick butt!!