Celebrating 5 years of Ironman participation

Motherlode Century


It’s funny what you willingly sign yourself up for sometimes.  Take the Motherlode Century bike ride, for example.  The website does little to hide the fact that it will be hilly.  And, by hilly, I mean close to 10,000 feet of climbing!  Seriously, that’s like hiking on your bike.  And, the ride was starting in Lotus, CA – that’s right along the South Fork American River in the foothills of Gold country outside Lake Tahoe – where it is HOT.

So, knowing full well, it would be a long, hot, hilly day, I signed up for the Motherlode, packed up my gear, and joined my friends to tackle this thing.

Motherlode century start

Ready to go!

The ride was not too bad to start.  And, we were enjoying the full support with aid stations every 20 miles or so.  Who can resist soda, jelly beans, and salty chips on a hot day?  Soda count: 1

It was around mile 40, that things got interesting.  First up – Mosquito hill.  And, yes, the hill was named appropriately.  At times I could see the mosquitos sitting on my arm snacking away, and I could do nothing to stop them.  Surely taking even one hand off the handle bars would have led to me falling over on the steep climb.

Next, we all wore out our brakes on the steepest descent down a one lane road that ended with crossing over a wooden bridge.  Oh, and then we had to climb back up, of course.

Mosquito Hill Bridge

Mosquito Hill Bridge

We were still in pretty good spirits, especially after the lunch stop.  Per Kelly’s advice, I loaded pickles on my sandwich.  Rumor has it they help prevent cramping.  Seemed like a good idea.  Soda count: 2.5

Mile 71 brought the most interesting and challenging element of the ride.  We cruised down a winding road only to find the road slowly breaking up – first gravel, then dirt, then a creek.  Yes, we had a water crossing.  The ride organizers had a volunteer there to serve as a bike valet.  CK got a lift, and we waded through the water and cooled off a little.  Did I mention it was in the 90’s by this time?

motherlode river crossing

motherlode bike valet











Leaving Weber Creek was one of the toughest, steepest climbs. From a complete standstill, you had to climb something so steep, all you could do was stand, pedal, and look at your front tire.

While that was challenging, it was the final climb up Salmon Falls that nearly did me in.  Totally exposed with the sun beating down on us from miles 75-87.  An extra aid station part way up the climb was essential for my soda intake.  Soda count: 3.5

The ride finally came to finish with an easy 4 miles back to the Earth Trek Campground.  Showers, the river, a band, a BBQ – perfect!

We recovered enough on Saturday for an 8 mile run near Folsom Lake.  Our spirits had improved enough that everyone was willing to participate in a little synchronized swimming lesson from yours truly.

post motherlode synchro


Author: sarabstro

My name is Sara Strope. I'm hooked on triathlons. I spend my days building a health tech startup, promoting organ donation, and producing events. Oh, and training!

2 thoughts on “Motherlode Century

  1. You’re a great training buddy, IronWoman. Fabulous write-up of this crazy ride!

  2. Love the synchro shot 🙂

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