So it was almost two weeks ago we awoke to a dark and stormy Saturday morning. I’ve learned from experience that no matter how nasty the weather Humboldt seems to throw at us, there will be intrepid cyclists wanting to ride the Banana Slug. We loaded the van in the rain, and it rained HARD on us almost all the way to Weott. As we picked our way down a drenched Highway 101 we could see the snow level had dropped overnight to well below 1000 feet. There was no doubt the riders would encounter snow on Dyerville Loop Road, or so we thought. As we arrived at the lower parking lot at Humboldt Redwoods State Park Headquarters shortly after 9:30 a.m., I was not at all surprised to find Grant Lay and Mark Griffin already there. And as I expected, more riders were showing up before we even had time to set up a shelter, registration, coffee, and food.
We had some late arrivals, but it didn’t appear to bother anybody that the start was obviously going to be delayed; riders didn’t seem too eager to get started anyway. As it were – just as the sun peeked out from behind the threatening clouds – we got seven determined riders on their way around 10:15. It was a little more casual than our typical “almost promptly” and nobody seemed to care.
The sun beckoned, so Jenny and I packed everything into the van but the table and shelter and set out on a leisurely ride to Albee Creek Campground. We figured we had about three and a half hours before the really fast riders could possibly show up, so we got back to the van with over an hour before we expected anybody. To our surprise, the first arrivals trailed us by only a few short minutes, and they came from the north, not the south as one would expect. Turns out there was an impassable slide on Dyerville Loop Road only a couple miles in, and the riders collectively decided to shift gears – so to speak – and ride up to the top of Panther Gap and back. In the end, all riders returned in less than three and a half hours; there were no mechanicals, crashes, or mishaps of any other kind. And though there were some sprinkles, the soakers had already passed by, and for the most part the weather was really nice. Finally, I got the feeling there was a bit of relief among the riders they didn’t have to ride through snow after all.
Oh, and for the record, Grant Lay was the only rider to do all four slugs this year. I think next year we’re going to throw in some bonus points for those who complete all four.
Here are the final results from our Panther Gap/Dyerville Loop Banana Slug:
Final Results from the series will be posted soon.