Rider Highlight: Casey Cohenmeyer tackles the Italian Sausage Ride

SE Athlete Casey Cohenmeyer recently tackled the Italian Sausage Ride. While not an official event or race it is a gathering of riders possessing questionable judgement: 127 miles, 12k feet, 62 miles off road.   

Here’s Casey’s Recap of the epic self-supported day:

So what are you doing this weekend? ISR…. it’s kinda like Belgian Waffle Ride only like three miles shorter, same climbing, more dirt, harder dirt, and entirely self supported. What??? Yeah. 18 of us rolled out in the rain at 6:15 am for a day of adventure. 15 men, 3 women, 6 or so on hardtails, the rest on gravel bikes and I don’t think there was a tire skinnier than 38c.
Predictably, considering the company, I got dropped on the first pavement sector, but found my wingman waiting for me at the end of the first bit of dirt. The first 30 miles out to Ramona was all familiar territory, then we got to the Cedar Creek Downhill. “Where you going?” the ranger said. “San Marcos.” “WHAT?” “Yeah, San Marcos. Do we need a permit?” “No, not the way you’re going. NOBODY goes that way.” ….. and off we went down some pretty spectacular switchback single track with absolutely epic views, and then the wheels started falling off.
The next bit of uphill gnar, I could ride for 50-100 feet and then would have to dismount over and over, to the point that we just started hiking, not to mention no cell signal, middle of freaking nowhere, and oh yeah a cliff. Basically if you crashed out here, you’re waiting an hour or two for your buddy to ride out to cell signal and then a helicopter with a basket is gonna have to come rescue you. It’s that kind of terrain.
We settled in, thinking we were the stupidest smart people in the world, and we were in fact hiking from Ramona to Julian, carrying bicycles. Fortunately after a second mile we saw a truck three switchbacks up, and realized salvation in the form of rideable-for-me dirt was close at hand. The next section of hardpack dirt climbing into Julian was gorgeous, it’s just a bummer that you have to briefly ponder your death to get there, but it was worth it. Considering how long that first “possible walking” sector had taken me, we decided to do a bit of a re-route and chop out the next bit of dirt, in an attempt to make it back before dark and actually have some pizza and beer with those we started with.
We stopped in Santa Ysabel, bought Hostess Pies in a Box and a full sized can of Pringles that I stuffed in the back of my jersey. We rode to Sutherland Dam, BWR route and then onto one of my new favorite dirt roads Pamo Truck Trail. If you’ve ever ridden Black Canyon, it’s similar scenery, but with a far more entertaining and technical surface, and an absolutely gorgeous descent down to Pamo Road, where we met up with some of our fellow crazies on hardtails, ate Pringles rubbernecked at an overturned 4×4. The dudes didn’t look too concerned, so I assumed nobody needed any medical assistance.
The way back took us through some familiar and unfamiliar but new favorite dirt sectors and we rolled back to the start after 11 hours and 44 minutes. Our reroute chopped off seven miles and about 1600 feet off the original planned route, but more importantly, there were still people there to have pizza and beer with….. and that’s really what all this insane stuff is about, laughing with people during and after a day of shared stupidity, suffering and fun.

Which coach do you work with to be able to do these gnarly rides without hating your bike?

I work with Adam Mills and my preparation for this event was a bit unorthodoxed. I was well trained going into BWR five weeks before this ride but then had some medical issues in my family and had to take three weeks completely off the bike. My fitness was not at my best, but I know for sure that the base that we had built for BWR must have still been serving me pretty well or I would have died out in the wilderness on this thing.

What advice do you have for someone wanting to tackle these long rides frequenly?

Learn to ride dirt fast and efficiently, you can save so much energy for later in a long day like this one. That and Pringles. One can easily ride 40 miles with a giant can of Pringles stuffed inside the back of your jersey. Carbs. Good. Salt. Good.
Best of luck, Casey, at SPNDX Stampede August 5 in Big Bear!