11 August 2008

10-Aug-08 Sycamore Canyon Ride

I couldn't believe it! I was not only on time to the ride, but I was actually early! I attribute it to one thing: I made a list of all the things I needed to do to get ready for the ride. Then I went about checking them off. Shoes, clothes, clothes for after the ride (since I wasn't going home), gym clothes because I missed a workout during the week, GPS, video, etc. (it was a long list). I hit the road and headed south. I was meeting Bill R and Claus. I had wanted to do a bit of exploration, looking for a way to avoid riding on the road from where we park to the trailhead. GoogleEarth images show it's possible, but unfortunately, Claus was given strict time limits on the ride, and exploration wouldn't fit within his confines.

I got to the parking lot and set my bike up, oiled the chain and waited for Bill and Claus. Bill showed up first. We had a good conversation while waiting, including the discovery that Bill had forgotten both his Camelbak and his socks. Fortunately, I had both water and spare socks, so he was in luck.

When Claus arrived, we got our selves moving pretty quickly. I admire people who can just put on their shoes, throw on their hydration pack and ride. It's not something I'll ever be able to do, but I do admire it.

We hit the road, and the singletrack. Claus, as usual was in the lead. For some reason, Bill was slower than normal, asking me to go first. When we started up the "new hill," Claus was in the listening to music and missed the single track, and couldn't hear us shouting to him. So, he headed up the steep jeep road while Bill and I did the sweet single track. We met up at the top. From there we rode along the fire road until we got to the trail that would take us down. At the intersection we encountered three guys, one of whom looked like either he had crashed or was simply exhausted. Regardless, he was just sitting on the ground. His buddies answered for him when asked if he was OK. It turned out it was the guy's first ride, on his CostCo "Mountain Bike" and was certain to be one of those bad first experiences where experienced riders take a newby out and expect the newby to be able to do everything they've been doing for years. While the uphill part might have been easy, the downhill that they were headed for is steep with rutted switchbacks. Oh well, so much for friends!

We zipped down and into the canyon and Bill must have been really hurting because he was so far behind. At one point Claus missed the trail again and I passed them. I went a short distance and waited to make sure they were following. Claus passed me, but Bill never did. I went back to the turn, but Bill wasn't there. I assumed he took the "easy" way, and so I jetted ahead. I met up with them both at the gated entry to Goodan Ranch.

We continued on, until we got to the fire road where Bill said he was going to turn around and head back. I felt bad that he wasn't going to finish the ride with us. I had wanted to hang out with him after the ride, perhaps going for tea and a chat.

Claus and I continued up the fire road, doing the big climb. I was feeling very slow at this point, and was unable to keep up with Claus. He raced ahead while I rested several times on the climb. I guess the extra weight in my pack and the elbow & knee/shin guards probably slow me down quite a bit on the climbs. Once on the top, I was a bit more able to keep up with him as we headed north along the ridge to the road that would bring us down to Martha's Grove.

I ran off the road on the descent towards Martha's Grove, and was glad I was wearing those guards as my forearm banged into the hillside as I came to a stop. The gouges on the elbow guard look like there would have been a significant amount of blood had I not been wearing them. Those guards are ultimately a pain and expense reducing health insurance policy.

Martha's Grove was loads of fun. This time I just zipped over the ugly section like I had no fear. I was hot on Claus' back wheel all the way down which isn't usually the case, so I was feeling very good about my abilities.

The rest of the way back was fairly uneventful. The climb back up the hill wasn't as difficult as before, but I still had to walk a few sections.