The Stagecoach 400 mountain bike ride began and ended in Idyllwild — crossing more than 400 miles of varied topography and touching much of Southern California’s history along the way. Organized by Brendan and Mary Collier of Hub Cyclery, the ride also directly benefits Idyllwild youth, by raising more than $3,000 in registration fees to be donated to the Idyllwild School Outdoor Education Booster Club.
The Booster Club stages annual field trips for Idyllwild School sixth- through eighth-grade students. Each year the club must raise more than $12,000 to fund the three annual trips — sixth graders to Joshua Tree National Park, seventh graders to Catalina and eight graders to AstroCamp. Said Mary, of why she and Brendan staged the ride to benefit local youths’ outdoor education, “Because it’s the future of our town. We want to get them outside so they see what they have here.”
The Stagecoach 400 ride was the consummate outdoor experience — challenging, thrilling and with an educational component. “The ride illustrated our area’s unique proximity to mountains, desert and ocean, and crisscrossed historic routes such as the Juan Bautista DeAnza Trail, the Great Southern Overland Stage Route of 1849 and the Ramona Stage Route,” noted the ride’s website. Riders began in Idyllwild on Friday, March 27, rode through the San Jacintos to Borrego Springs by way of Coyote Canyon, crossed up into the Lagunas and west to San Diego Bay; then along the Pacific Ocean to Torrey Pines State Beach, then inland and up to Idyllwild along a combination of single- and double-track routes.
The top finishers, out of the 72 registrants, were Neil Beltchenko of Crested Butte, Colorado, first place, (finished Sunday at 5:52 a.m. in 46 hours, 52 minutes); Keith Richards-Dinger of Redlands, second place (finished Sunday at 11:25 a.m. in 51 hours and 25 minutes) and Ton Van Daelen of San Diego, third place (finished Sunday at 12:32 p.m. in 52 hours, 32 minutes).
Mary noted that local Mitchell Biley, 20, was the youngest of the entrants and is close to finishing as of this Monday evening writing. “He’s at Thomas Mountain now,” she said. “He should be in Idyllwild around 7 p.m. today [Monday].” She estimated his finishing time would be around 84 hours. She also noted that Biley’s accomplishment was pretty impressive, considering that more than 20 riders dropped out the first day because the ride was so grueling.