One Rider Shares His Memories

(Ed. note October 2012:  please keep Frank in your prayers.  He is hospitalized in serious condition after a crash between his bike and a motorcycle on Santiago Canyon Road.)

One of our participants this year, Frank Hoppen, shared a fun recap about his experiences at our 6th annual Rwanda Ride.  He gave us permission to share it here…

Hi Doug, thanks for the great event and I am glad it was a success.  Here my recap with a big smile……

50 Mile Mountain Bike Ride Recap.  Holy Cow, what a ride!

Hi guys, here a little recap of the Project Rwanda ride this weekend, held in short words.


  • Fall 2011.   A friend told me about his awesome 50 Mile Ride for Rwanda experience. He had fun, although he was not prepared enough and almost died doing it. Sounded like fun to me too.
  • April 2012.  While in Germany I surprisingly got a link to sign up for it. Although I was not in shape and not trained for it, I did it. Actually never rode that far. Usually 5-15 mile rides the most.
  • 10 minutes later, I got the confirmation and note that only trained, experienced riders, with a 7 week training regime should ride that one. For me, I would have 10 days to get ready. Awesome!
  • 10 Days before the event, I returned back to Socal and started riding. First day I ate it hard and blew my knee out.  Toughed it out and rode 2 times 5 miles in the days leading to the event.
  • The night before, I shopped for everything GU, Electrolyte, Powerbars, and other energy mixes I could get my hands on. Big bag for $90 and started gulping it down and stuffing backpack for tomorrow. Screw those poor bastards who trained for 7 hard weeks! How stupid! I got it dialed in with a quick shopping trip. See, that is when school education pays off.  The night before, stomach cramps and diarrhea. Why?!
  • 7.00, starting in the back of a huge group. Everybody, from leisure rider to pro are there. PA yells, that it is a RIDE! NOT A RACE! Take it easy!
  • Mile 0.75, passing the 5th guy fixing his flat tire. Making sure I am staying in the middle of the trail.
  • Mile 1. First hill is a domino effect of one guy not making it and everybody now is hike a bike. Bridge crossing is like a clogged toilette. Waiting in line to get thru. Its NOT A RACE!
  • Mile 2. The first long climb it is like a ant trail with hundreds of riders spinning up the hills.Awesome sight! It is a very, very slow pace but I am not being the idiot starting to go thru the bushes to pass someone. Its NOT A RACE, right?
  • Mile 2.1. First Idiot is passing me and the others in front of me. Dude, its NOT A RACE!
  • Mile 2.11 I just turned into an Idiot and am passing guys uphill. Ye, still NOT A RACE, but these guys are too slow.
  • Mile 3.1. First long, windy downhill. People going very careful and SLOW. I am staying behind them and am bored to death. I am holding my urge to pass in check. Its NOT A RACE! Be nice and not an idiot.
  • Mile 3.2. That is as much as I can take it. Passing people now and am ready to be called an Idiot.
  • Mile 4. Getting used to be an idiot. Not that bad at all.
  • Mile 8. Feeling pretty good besides stomach pain and burping all the sugar up. I might have overdosed it eating all that GU stuff. Passing a lot of dudes who actually think that this is NOT A RACE.
  • Mile 9. Passed a group of 20-30 dudes and after a few intersections I don’t see anybody in front anymore. Realized I missed a turn. Have to go back and start over passing the last guys again. They smile at me and do not have to say it. I know I am an Idiot!
  • Mile 10. First aid station. I skip it. Keep going. I did not work that hard to waste my time with resting.
  • Mile 14. Lots of fast fire roads up and downs. Still passing more dudes than those passing me. How many are there?
  • Mile 16. Skipped the second aid station and made it quite up in the front. I am dying and almost had enough. Im surrounded by lean guys in spandex, with a small water bottle on the bike only. Why am I the only idiot with a 12 pound backpack and 4 pounds of water on the bike?!? Going light, lean and fast with a quick stop at the aid stations does make sense now.
  • Mile 17. I am paying now for making my way up to the front. What do those guys not understand in Its NOT A RACE! Dear God!
  • Mile 17.2. This is a low point. I am getting passed on a steep section by a dude on a Singe Speed bike!
  • Mile 17.2.1. Low point just got topped, got passed by a 40+ year, 110 lbs women. Must be SS dudes wife!
  • Mile 19. Pants rubbing on knees is too much now. Dropping them and riding now in underwear. I am way past human decency. Thinking of throwing my 12 LBS backpack with $ 90 in energy stuff into the woods. But I am too cheap to do that. I should have trained. Realized, me going to school did not do anything good.
  • Mile 21. Dudes and Gals,I passed before, are all passing me now. Painful ! Some are wearing backpacks now. Means I am dropping back into the slower, looser group. AWWWH!
  • Mile 22. Exact 2 hours riding now without a stop, Making it an 11 mph average. Still not too bad for not training.
  • Mile 28. Where are all these hills coming from!!! Still pushing like hell to keep up as much as possible. What do these guys not understand that this is NOT A RACE!.
  • Mile 28.3. Helicopter coming down, trail is stopped right in front of us. Everybody bummed. Once about the poor dude who is laying there to get airlifted and also for us standing with the clock running. I am thinking to fake a heart attack to get on that ride out of this hell too.
  • Mile 30. I should not have thought about that heart attack. I think I am having one now.
  • Mile 31. Taking in the goodies from the aid stations. Legs are shot, I am a wreck.
  • Mile 36. I never had cramps riding. Read the night before a report from a dude who had to fight cramps on this ride. Sure enough, I am having cramps now too. I should never had read that! Darn mind. Riding on single track in beautiful wood area behind a slower gal. Nobody can pass due to the narrow trail. About 8 pissed and one smiling dudes behind her for a mile. The smiling one is me. Finally a brake.
  • Mile 38. 12 to go. In survival mode. Why am I going this! Looking for signs of Mountain Lions. If I see some, I lay down there and hope he will get me. Sounds like a merciful way to get out of this.
  • Mile 43. Spraying my swollen, hurting knee with arthritis aid. I am running into a hot chick. She did the 25 miles route as well without training. We talk and I like her. There is the last steep climb out of O’Neil park coming and I decide to follow her. Starring on her cute butt will pull me up the hill. Like a donkey following a carrot. I am also married since  14 years to her.
  • Mile 47. Holding back my urge to yell at her that she is going to fast. But realizing that I have to live with that for the rest of my life, I shut up and take it like a man. It usually is an easy way back to Cooks, but we both are way beyond exhausted. It is a pain.
  • Finish! We made it and have  grins from ear loop to ear loop. Loading the bike into the truck, there is something under the windshield wiper. Got a ticket for parking? No, it is a flyer for an invitation for a 100 KM ride. I just barely survived 80 KM and am in a world of hurt. I don’t even want to look at my bike anymore! That dude putting it there got sooo lucky. I would have slapped him silly if I would have caught him.

After-party. What a cool gathering. Met up with the rest of the family and Yannick won an Apple TV, Gloves and a $60 certificate. The raffle had $ 36,000 in prices.

But the real great thing was the success of this event in helping some poor dudes and their family in Rwanda. 782 riders and donations collected 101,000 in aid for a real great project Rwanda.

Here is one of the bikes they will get to haul the coffee! Think about next time you have a coffee after a ride.

Be a part of it next time. And remember, it is not a Race, Its a ride!