Late night bike build sets stage for memorable Lost and Found Sierra adventure
SRAM athlete Emily Kachorek (who’s also the originator of Squid Bikes) found something pretty special at this year’s Lost and Found gravel grinder in California’s Sierra Mountains. Here’s her My1x report:
I feel like we are collectively starting to figure this gravel-road-event thing out. At the very least, I know the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship has. If you are familiar with California’s famed Downieville trail system and mountain bike race, you are familiar with the Stewardship. They are responsible for restoring, maintaining, and building all the wonderful trails in the greater Downieville and Lakes basin. What’s more, those folks can throw a bike party. The aptly named Lost and Found gravel grinder takes place in the Lost Sierra with the full route covering 100 miles (161 km), 80 percent of which is on dirt forest service roads and old railroad grades. It provides more than 7,000 feet (2,134 meters) of leg-and-lung busting elevation gain. Most people arrive Friday, camp onsite at Lake Davis, and spend the entire weekend hanging out generally enjoying the ample recreational opportunities the area offers. In its third year, the event always seems to produce a memorable weekend and, even in my third go around, this year was certainly no exception.
Main photo by Zack Cunningham, above photo by Ken Etzel
The camping, the racing, the weather, and event organization were all fantastic. But the best part of the weekend was painting my Squid bike the night before the race inside the vendor area. We are calling them “Race Day Rattlecans.” One of our friends said it perfectly: “It’s the ‘Iron Chef’ of bike racing. A little desperation. A little creativity.” Event participants and their families get to see the whole process of spray painting a bike, ask questions, and even try their hand with painting. We build the bike that night and then race it as a finished product the next day. When the Stewardship approached me about doing a Race Day Rattlecan for Lost and Found, I was stoked and immediately had an idea of what I wanted this Rattlecan to look like…. Actually, the idea came to me in a dream. A dream filled with Creamsicles and puffy white clouds.
Photo by Zack Cunningham
My mechanic, Chris Namba, and I arrived onsite with my raw Squid bike for some prep work. We brought along a full SRAM Force 1 hydro build group tailored to the Lost and Found course – a 38T chainring with an 11-36 cassette for those big climbs. We also brought Zipp 30 Course Disc-brake wheels set up tubeless with a nice wide file-tread tire, a few cans of Spray.Bike, our pre cut masking, a box full of tools, and a trusty Coleman lantern. The basic process went something like this: Spray the first coat of orange. Talk to people while we wait for paint to dry. Mask with first layer of “Creamsicles.” Apply a second coat of white. Chill out. Mask with second round of “Creamsicles” and clouds.
Above two photos by Ken Etzel
Add last coat of blue and more chilling. Maybe have a pre-race beer.
Photo by Zack Cunningham
Then comes the best part – the unmasking is kind of like unwrapping a present, only better, especially since it’s a group effort. Chris built the bike at the campsite under the lantern that night, and it was go-time bright and early the next morning.
Top photo by Ken Etzel, bottom photo by Zack Cunningham
As many race days go, it didn't go quite according to plan. I suffered a few flats but didn't let that stop me from a fantastic day out. The weather was perfect, sunny and warm but not too hot. The first of the two biggest climbs comes right at the beginning, reaching just over 7,000 feet. If you are racing, it’s hard not to stop and take in the view. Based on my efforts by this point in the day, reading the “mile 40” rest stop sign almost felt like a joke. The route mellows out from there with the rest stops providing welcomed breaks. While I did not indulge, the bacon-wrapped pickle seemed to be a crowd favorite. I am a jellybean girl and made sure to grab an ample supply for my pocket before hitting the last and steepest of the big climbs, which forced many people to walk.
I felt great and rolled at a good pace up the nasty climb all the way to the finish. The big effort was rewarded with a swim in Lake Davis minutes after crossing the finish line. Then came a plate full of pasta, cookies, a cold local brew, and the company of new friends. My new bike, covered in Sierra Nevada silt and mud, was a hot topic during the after party.
Above photos by Zack Cunningham
No matter if you choose to race or party-ride, one of my favorite things about gravel events is that everyone still gets to spend the evening around the campfire inventing new ways to consume sugar-filled calories, laughing, recounting the day’s efforts.