I rode by Alan Bonds' house, just two blocks from my own, at 7:00 a.m. We rode into Fairfax, a mile or so, and had coffee while we decided which way to go up. We chose to go straight up the course rather than either of the two alternative but much longer routes. As we made this decision, Jerry Heidenreich appeared on his Cannondale Lefty. Jerry dates back to our old bike club from the early '70s, Velo-Club Tamalpais, and is one of the original owners of Joe Breeze's first ten bikes.
We went out to get on our bikes, and Alan said, "Hey, there's Gary's car." Sure enough, Gary's unmistakable purple Lexus with the flames painted on it was parked in town, so we circled back and surrounded Gary as he sat there reading the newspaper. Gary's foot is in a cast from a recent accident, so he couldn't join us, but at least he showed up.
It couldn't have been a more beautiful day. This time of year, after the first rains of the fall, you get a few days of warm clear weather, and this was one of those days.
You can only ride short sections of Repack going up. Former US NORBA champ Joe Murray owns the record for climbing it, around 25 minutes, set 20 years ago. We took longer, nearly an hour to cover a little less than two miles.
Going up Repack lets you inspect it at close range. Since the day of the original races, it has changed a lot, and I do not think record times are possible even on modern bikes. In recent years it has been graded scientifically, because the steep road surface tended to get deep erosion ruts running straight down the middle of the road. In order to make the road drain, water bars have been placed in critical corners. Other corners have been graded severely off-camber, which makes it impossible to hit them with any speed.
Alan and Jerry and I were alone when we reached the top at 9:00, but Joe Breeze and his son Tommy arrived a short time later. Another dozen or so people showed up, but nothing like the crowds that had c ome to pevious anniversaries, because Joe had kept the news of this one so low key that even Alan was complaining that he hadn't heard about it except for my telling him. A couple of guys showed up from reading about it on another bike blog, but Alan and I were the only ones there who had actually raced that day 30 years ago.
Two riders showed up on single-speed, coaster brake bikes, one a titanium replica of an old frame. Some people have to learn for themselves why our crowd needed better equipment than that. We talked a little about coaster brakes, and I told them that they were about to learn why we call the road Repack
I showed the clocks and explained our system for the small group, and we hung around and swapped lies for an hour or so before the purpose of our presence called to us and without running the clocks, we took off in a group.
I was among the last down the hill after stopping to retrieve my blown off cap, so by the time I passed them, the coaster-brake riders had climbed back onto the road, a little worse for wear. A coaster brake doesn't work very well on an off camber turn.
The one-speeders limped down the hill far behind everyone else, and sure enough, the Bendix brake had smoke pouring out of it. Duh. If that stuff worked, I would still be using it.
At the bottom we found an official presence in the form of some Open Space rangers. They asked for autographs and obligingly used our cameras for group shots.
If the photo loads, it shows smoke coming off the Bendix coaster brake.
My book, Fat Tire Flyer: Repack and the Birth of Mountain Biking
is at your bookseller and on Amazon