Quintessential Grasshopper. Creek was high, spirits were higher. 230 starters endured the 2010 kickoff f the G.A.S. The usual big guns showed up this year with the addition of some out of towner up starts and an appearance by THE MAN. Old Caz sums up a Hopper. If you haven't ridden it you haven't really ridden a Hopper. Out there it's not just a question of fitness but of equipment choice and mental reserve. Slaloming from dirt to pavement the subtle avoidance of pothole, rocks and branches carved a single track. As I cramped limping up the Twin Sisters I took comfort knowing that those ahead, and behind were in similar states. I heard that even Shane B. who took the W was seizin' somethin' fierce. Can't sum up the whole day as everyone has their stories to tell, but I did spend my time near the front for the first time in years which was fun but as hard as always. This is a "tough love"crowd. Made the change to open up the ride once we got to the flats of Bohemian Hwy in order to string things out before we hit Duncan's. Before Tyrone Shane took a flyer with Glenn. Not two to let get away knowing how capable they are so we brought them back. Another surge in Monte Rio saw me with those two plus Brian F. Glenn was trying to organize us 4 but all I wanted to do was make sure they didn't get away. Would actually have been good to let Shane bake up in the front a bit. Speed stayed high on River Rd and Levi took the last pull into Duncan. Couldn't believe it as a cyclist just crossed in front of the tiny road as 200 of us came ripping up. Selection happened quickly as we hit the first steep and the top few slipped through my fingers. Levi, Shane, Krishna, Jim, Roger, Timmel spread a bit too much mustard on the dog for me so I settled in hoping to ride the second wave. Todd W, Kevin S, and Kenny came up and then dropped me off the back. I felt confident I'd catch them on the decent and did, then led them through the labyrinth of Oldcazlandia. C.B hooked on before the top and gave news that Geo and Glenn were just back. Austin Creek was thigh high so Kim won the bet and now I don't get to name her first child, damn. Check out the photos from the crossing taken by Paul Miller.The five of us hit Caz and didn't miss a beat rotating smoothly to Willow Creek. Rolling onto the bridge near Hwy. 1 we saw the next group. Todd roared like a dragon and helped motivate us to bring 'em back. Caught on as we went around the locked gate at the bottome of Willow creek and suddenly we were a group of nine. Shane and Levi were still up ahead. Managed to stay ahead of 2 of our group for a solid 9th. I knew exhaustion was setting in as I coasted down the back side of the 5 or six water bars on upper Willow Creek. Good time sharing stories and listening to tales of adventure. Stay tuned for Stage 2, gonna be hard! Stage 3...a crippler! Got a story to tell, send it our way.