Riding Dirty Up the Devil’s Ass

It should come as no surprise that when David Wilcox plans a Rapha group ride, it’s going to be tough. When he showed me the route we’d take for Stage 03 of the Amgen Tour of California, I knew we were in for a big, bad day…

First, we started at Morgan Territory’s staging area. A parking lot in the middle of nowhere, in between a shaded, fast descent and an exposed, hot climb. Our route would start off with a ripping descent to get the blood pumping and then reach around Diablo to the dirty backside of the devil, before kicking us in the crotch on Mitchell Canyon.

We had a pretty good group.

We were about 10 deep and our bikes ranged from a vintage MTB with a basket, to a Get Rad Machine and a bunch of carbon fiber road bikes with 23c-25c tires. My ride for the day was my Bishop with 28c tires. Not ideal, but it handled it all with a shit-eating grin.

Ramon shouldering

For the most part, we were all in good spirits. Until we hit the Widow Maker, a climb that averaged 20% on dirt. Then, people cracked and my road shoes screamed in pain – which is why I hate wearing road shoes, especially in California where road rides often turn into dirt hikes.

Aaron and hills. One of my favorite photos.

We had ridden 20 miles and climbed 3,000′ in elevation by the time we got to the Juniper camp ground for the Tour of California party. After eating nothing but bike food and cold Tecates (beer is technically a food), we headed back down the mountain and around to the Morgan Territory Climb.

The climb up Morgan Territory is majestic... And cramptastic when your bottles are empty.

Now, locals know, this is not an easy climb, especially when the only thing in your bottles is water vapor and the only food you have are stale Fig Newtons.

... and his buddy were in rough shape.

Let’s just say three people didn’t make it. We had to send cars back to pick them up. They lay there, dead, like the baby Western Rattlesnake we found on the road…

But was it worth it? You bet your ass it was. The ride back was 30 miles and over 2,000′ – I highly suggest doing this as a loop. There’s water at the top at Juniper, just be sure you bring something to eat other than Tecates.

  • Eric Wang

    So Rad. Glad you survived that 16% kick-in-the-balls right in the middle of Morgan Terr. on the way home!

  • barry mcwilliams

    One of the best galleries yet. Amaze.

  • Eric Karacsonyi

    I love this stuff. Keeps me motivated

  • Matt Long

    Just amazing. NEVER leave Cali. Just keep doing rides and posting photo sets. Makes me wanna move !

  • Alex Hillis

    Morgan Territory is MUCH more manageable when it’s not almost 100 degrees out. I love the loop starting in Livermore, going up Morgan Territory, around to the north side of Diablo, and then heading back down the mountain and back to Livermore. Fun 80 miles and about 7k feet of climbing.

  • Alex Forbes

    Def. one of the best sets from this whole trip. Great stuff John!

  • Public_Parent

    So great!

  • Ornotbike

    That was an awesome ride! Great job capturing all of it. It was a long day…

  • GCYCLES

    Nice set of photos. Using the X-T1?

    • http://theradavist.com John Watson

      yep

  • Brendan

    Morgan Territory is especially beautiful this time of year with all the hills green. I did that climb in 90 degree weather but with two full bottles to get me to the staging area at the top. Must have been seriously hardcore without water and in the heat. Amazing photoset!

  • fixiemoney

    please post more picture’s of Jeremy’s Alchemy

  • Sean Talkington

    That dirt climb section looks wicked fun!

  • Keith Gibson

    Makes me want to ride, great set

  • http://krtong.com/ Kr Tong

    My back yard! Why i moved out here from sf! Not exactly amazing for downhill but for cyclocrossable stuff it’s just the perfect mix of paved and trails — and lots and lots of it.

  • Daood Abu Jacoob

    Can’t believe I didn’t get a hat.