California seems like a pretty great place to explore dirt, ride through the night and simply be a bikepacker. With mountain, desert and ocean all relatively close to each other, California is a fitting location for 5 bikepacking races. From the new Caldera 500, to the Trans North California, down to the Sierra Trail, Tour De Los Padres and finally the Stagecoach 400 which takes place this Friday at 6:00am. The Stagecoach was developed by Idyllwild locals Brendan and Mary Collier. Although Idyllwild may be better known for their singletrack, and as a summer haven to escape the heat, the route down to the ocean from the mountains and desert in self-supported fashion is sure to be a great experience. The first annual Stagecoach 400 took place in April of 2012 where 53 daring individuals took on the rather unknown route down to San Diego and back up to Idyllwild where the route starts and finishes. Now in its 4th year, the race will see 71 brave mountain bikers roll out of Idyllwild.
The route that stretches 400 miles and climbs 31,000 feet starts by heading south out of Idyllwild towards Borrego Springs, the Anza Desert and finally up the Lagunas Mountains before descending into the big city of San Diego. The desert heat and exposure is sure to be a shock for some, especially for folks that are coming from colder climates. The route travels on dirt road, singletrack and pavement all the way into San Diego.
San Diego is a large city, and when one is on their bike for a day or two, this could be quite a culture shock. On the upside there is endless food and lodging with 24 hour options. Another crux, new to the ride this year, is the required Coronado Island ferry ride. While it may sound simple, limited hours will guarantee frustration as timing may not work out to plan. On the upside you get a nice ride across the bay, and get to experience more of the ocean.
Once you get off the boat you will parallel the pacific ocean, turning back east at Torry Pines State Beach. Racers will take on the heavy singletrack section and eventually make their way through Pamo Valley, Warner Springs and finally back up to the pines where it all started.
This years ride is sure to be different from previous years. While some years have been cool, others have been warm. The temperatures this year could be the warmest since 2012, as the desert may reach 100 degrees fahrenheit. Other reports indicate that the sandy section in desert is in fantastic shape due to recent precipitation, which should make for much easier travel.
In the end a unique event such as the Stagecoach 400 should not be overlooked. This grassroots race that is put on by some pretty cool bike shop owners has been around for 4 years now, with impressive numbers coming from both casual racers to well-known names. This year will be fun to watch from the couch and you can do so here at trackleaders.com.
Good Luck all!