The 3rd annual Stagecoach 400 began this morning at 6:00am PST from Higher Grounds Coffehouse in Idyllwild, California. This self- supported race travels through mountains, desert, and ocean landscapes, showing the diversity of Southern California. The course will climb a total of 31,000 feet on 75% dirt. The Stagecoach 400 moved up a full month from 2013 to avoid the heat.
Like many other self-supported bikepacking races, the Stagecoach follows the simple rules: No outside support, no dropped cache bags, you must follow the set course in it’s entirety, and you may not break the law. It sounds pretty simple, but it will be no easy task to finish the 400 mile trek. All racers are provided with a GPX file that they can load onto their GPS to make sure that they stay on course.
Some will take their time, while others will be gunning for the course records. The current record holder for the male category is Eddie O’Dea (2013) at 1 day, 15 hours and 27 minutes. The current female record is in the hands of Eszter Horanyi (2012) at 2 days, 6 hours and 40 minutes. Neither of the record holders are participating in the race this weekend.
Below is race director Brendan Collier’s thoughts on the Stagecoach route, some changes, and what he sees for the future…
“I was inspired to put together the route as a highlight of the things I like most about Southern California- the proximity of mountains, desert, ocean, and the contrasts of rural areas near population centers. The terrain and climate all change as you ride, as does the culture. I like that. I’ve been in California about 9 years now and keep coming to appreciate these things.
The nuts and bolts of the route came after piecing together exploratory rides over the years with my friend Dave See. We never had a grand route in mind, but always liked to go big. Chad Leptich in Julian and Guy Sutton in San Diego (a race favorite by the way) were instrumental in the route design for the San Diego area. We keep tweaking it.
This year’s route has a significant change in the desert. We will gain comparatively less elevation in the soft sand, and have a new resupply spot at Agua Caliente hot springs where the route rejoins pavement. The change suits the serious drought we’re in right now better, and adds flavor with the hot springs, as well as Mud Caves along the way in the Anza Borrego Desert. Likewise, the new route spends more time on the Great Southern Overland Stage Route of 1849.
Other changes this year are minor, reflecting changes in the city from political (trail closures) to phsyical (bridge work). I have been tempted to create a self-supported Stage Race of the route as well, to allow some time at the more interesting stops, and boost the social component. In that scenario the route will also change a bit to bring us to Coronado Island. The primary goal is the create a great route as opposed to an event, per se… “
If you want to get your Trackleaders fix, here is the link. Also, Mountain Bike Radio is hosting a call in line, so listen in to your friends, family, or just a random rider to see how they are doing on the trail.
If you wish to hear more about upcoming bikekpacking races this weekend, and much more, tune into Bikepacker Radio below. Good Luck to all the competitors, we hope you have a safe and quick 400 miles.Episode 1 of Bikepacker Radio: