Riding over gravel, on purpose, for a long time, is one of the wilder and more fun ways to race your bike, even if it sounds like hell. Road cycling can become stale after a while, and like most forms of cyclocross, gravel riding makes for arduous and somewhat wacky racing. Which brings us to the Rock Cobbler, a Bakersfield event that describes itself as a “stupidly hard ride bordering on a race,” featuring almost 7,000 feet of vertical gain and, ominously, “a VERY challenging route not yet ridden, not yet tamed.”
What this means in practical terms is that riders raced through some dude’s house.
Racer Brian Guiniling said that riders didn’t know what they were in for. “The race promoters didn’t tell us about it in advance, so we kind of just dropped off of a dirt hill and made a hard left into this backyard where they were having a pool party,” he said. The party was hosted by a racing fan who knocked out part of his fence in order to make his backyard part of the course, and naturally, handed out beers to riders while decked out in a taco suit.
This is not out of character for the Rock Cobbler, whose organizers also forced competitors to hike their bikes up a 55 percent grade, according to Guiniling. Last year, they unleashed a wave of beach balls on the unsuspecting riders.
Cyclocross truly is the Mario Kart of cycling.