For four decades, the Climb to Kaiser ride has been known for its rigorous uphill route that features 15,000 feet of climbing from Clovis to 9,125-foot Kaiser Pass and back. But on Saturday, the 40th annual ride took a romantic turn.
Jove Graham of Clovis and fiancée Brooke Danaher, both 32, became what is thought to be the first couple to finish as the top male and female in the full 155-mile ride.
Graham arrived at Alta Sierra Intermediate about 2:50 p.m., 8 hours, 21 minutes after the 5:30 a.m. start. Danaher rolled in at 9 hours, 59 minutes.
Oh it’s always painful, but I was a lot faster this year.
Jove Graham, who was the first male finisher in his second attempt doing the full Climb to Kaiser ride
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The two cooled off in the shade for a few moments, then Danaher reached her arms around Graham for a sweaty post-race kiss.
“The top of Tollhouse was the worst. I was hungry and had crampy legs,” she added. “But the best part was the rest stop at (the Pine Ridge Elementary) school, when they said the first rider just finished and it was (Graham),” she said, smiling at her soon-to-be husband.
The couple, who actually met while running, have a pre-wedding ride scheduled for the morning of their big day. Graham and Danaher will cycle side-by-side from Shaver Lake to Courtright Reservoir, where they will get hitched.
“I’m just glad it’s over,” Graham added. “It’s super awesome that Brooke won and neither of us crashed.”
Danaher needed one word: “Epic.”
Climb to Kaiser – It was an overall successful day for the event, with just one injury reported among a field of nearly 200 riders.
One male rider fell off his bike and was taken to a hospital with what was believed to be a minor injury, according to third-year race director Jennifer Collins.
I think it was a pretty good day heat-wise. It was a little windy, but as far as late June in Fresno it was pretty ideal.
Jove Graham, the first male finisher of this year’s full Climb to Kaiser ride, on the weather conditions
As usual, volunteers played their part. More than 300 helped care for riders at the start/finish line and nine rest stops and through numerous SAG vehicles.
Fresno’s Mike Brown, 52, was the first to finish the 70-mile Millerton Metric in 4:04:50. Lora Baggiolini, also of Fresno, was the first female in 4:18:50.
Clovis’ Denise Ramirez, 43, was the first female finisher in the Tollhouse Century in 6:47:20. Fresno’s Kyle Spralding, 24, was the first male in 6:06:14.
Complete results can be found here.