We're happy to see events returning to the cycling calendar - especially when they include strict adherence to Covid safety guidelines. This past weekend, we sent our CEO, Ryan Cady, Custom Sales Regional Manager, Jordan Babb, and our Director of Content, Jake Orness, off to Bakersfield, California to suffer through the 2021 Rock Cobbler. Did they survive? Read on to find out.Captions By: Jake Orness
CEO & Founder
"After completing three Cobblers in a row in the early years of its existence, I somehow managed to miss the next three. This was not by choice as this is one of my favorite events of the year. So it felt good to finally make it back to Beautiful Bakersfield and toe the line for an actual event, especially after living through the Covid break. And yes, I did say Beautiful. All you have to do is look at the photos from the Pure Gravel team and our own Jake Orness to see what I’m talking about. The hills/mountains to the east of Bakersfield and the challenge and views they present are what keeps me coming back.
After arriving a bit later than scheduled but right on time to register, I was able to squeeze a shakedown ride in just before sunset. The temperature and light were absolutely perfect. With bib number and goodie bag in hand, I grabbed some take-out and headed to my Pure Gravel recommended motel. Let’s just say that I absolutely trust the Pure G crew for all advice on gravel equipment, but as far as accommodations go, they failed. Thankfully the in-room A/C had a small jet aircraft fan that blocked some of the constant noise, and I was able to get a few hours of Zzzz.
The official call to the start line came right on time, and I was able to line up with lots of old friends and many new ones, many sporting some fantastic Eliel threads. I, myself, opted for my Factory Team-issue Diablo jersey as some higher temps were predicted, and some brand new prototype cargo bib 2.0s. I had plenty of storage in both and was ready to go. After an awesome Hendrix-esque guitar National Anthem, we were off and rolling. Things started out hot as we hit 2 of the longest climbs in the first 10 miles. At the top of the second climb, we hit our highest point, and I settled in with the group I’d be with for most of the day.
Luckily, I found my right hand man, Jordan Babb, and also had a couple of SD locals in my group to attack the next sections. Cobbler keeps coming at you thick and fast with challenges and entertainment. By mile 50-60 I was cursing Sam Ames (Rock Cobbler event creator) as he sent us up and down the same ridge 6-7 times in a row. I needed a lower gear but I only had myself to blame as Sam had warned all competitors to bring lower gears. Jordan had been shepherding me for quite a few miles at this point, but he was still feeling good, so he eventually jumped in with some faster guys who came up from behind and hammered his way home ahead of me. I found myself alone for a bit, but then a wheel appeared going roughly my same pace, so I had some company again to push me to the finish. It felt so good to cross that line again for the 4th time. Cobbler is always a major challenge, and the food, camaraderie and finishers trophy (a real engraved hatchet!) are well-earned and enjoyed.
With the race in the books and goodbyes given to all my friends and competitors, I loaded up the truck and I hit the road back to San Diego with tired legs, a well-used rig, a sore back, arms, and hands, and a headful of great stories.
Can’t wait to do it all again next year.
To the Cobbler!!"
Custom Sales Regional Manager
"They call this event the "Stupid Hard Race." They say that you'll die a thousand deaths between the start and finish. All of these things ring true. You can expect steep punchy climbs, hike-a-bike sections, knuckle-busting gravel, and even a ball pit to add to the shenanigans. This event is brutal and forces you to work every pedal stroke and STEP of the way. For those who have done Rock Cobbler previously, you know what you're getting yourself into. And for some reason, this event brings us back year after year wanting more and more punishment. The terrain is unforgiving, making you ask, "should I have brought a mountain bike?" In previous years, I have!
That’s why we sign up for these types of events. Right? At least for me, it was. The harder, the better. I was ready to get back out there to push the limits of my body and mind and meet those demons within.
Although my body wasn't as tuned-up as I'd liked, I went in with a strong nutrition plan: a bottle an hour, taking in the majority of my calories through drink mix. Here's a pro tip, take a third bottle and get yourself a pair of ELIEL Endurance Bibs for additional storage; you'll need it!
No matter how prepared you are, Rock Cobbler is always there to throw a curveball!
Halfway through the race, one of my bottles blew its cap spraying Scratch Lab product everywhere leaving a sticky mess on me and my bike which soon became caked with dirt. Shortly after, BOING! A second bottle jumped out of its cage, leaving me with just one 24oz bottle for the rest of the ride. I decided it was best to stick with our well-working group rather than going back for it and losing the flow. Fortunately, Rock Cobbler had the best aid stations on course which were staffed by volunteers awaiting our arrival with drinks, snacks, country music, and even a tire toss for a chance at $400! I didn't win the cash, but I was able to manage the rest of the race by making use of every rest stop.
For those who prefer a more gentle "baby butt gravel," this event isn't for you. How about bone-rattling horse hoofed trails? Yes? Well then, step right up for a nice taint beating! There’s plenty to go around.
Although this event has grown significantly over the years, it still holds onto its "underground event" feel. It felt good to see familiar faces again, or at least what I could make out under a mask. And for those of you who are wondering: yes, I beat boss man, (ELIEL CEO) Ryan Cady, giving him “the-look” over my shoulder with ten miles to go. "Eat my dust, friend! Eat my energy drink encrusted Eliel clothing covered in 100 miles of California dust!”
What a blast!
See you next year, Rock Cobber!"