07 September 2008

San Clemente Singletrack 2008-09-07

I had spread the word wide that there was to be a group ride at The San Clemente Singletracks, complete with carpooling and a lunch at a brewery/pizzaria near the ride site. SDMTB, Dirt Treaders and Gay Outdoors along with several friends all got messaged. With this much coverage, I expected that I wasn't going to be riding alone. Rodney RSVP'd from SDMTB, Jake and Chris from Gay Outdoors and "Danimal" from Dirt Treaders along with two friends.

I had set up a couple of car pooling sites along the way. The first was at the La Costa Park & Ride near my house. I got there, but no one had RSVP'd that they were going to meet there, so, it was more just an exercise to see if someone would show up. At exactly 7am, I departed for the Oceanside train station where I was going to meet Rodney and "Danimal" and the two friends. As I was driving north I got a text from "Danimal" saying that there was some feelings of ill and a over abundance of training and work and that there would be no "Danimal" on the trails with us today. I guess the two friends couldn't ride if "Danimal" couldn't ride. But I was still expecting Jake, Chris and Rodney.

I sat at the train station, waiting, and when it got to be about 7:20 and no one was there, I started to think I'd be riding by myself after all. I called Rodney first, and he said he was just in a different parking lot from the directions I had emailed him, and he'd be right over. Jake sounded half asleep when I called, but told me he was planning on meeting us at the trail head. So, Rodney and I took off at 7:30 as scheduled, and headed north to San Clemente.

The ride was filled with new acquaintance communications of what and where and when. As a result, it seemed like we were in San Clemente in short order and navigating the back roads to get to a place I'd never been to before. Jake called for directions to the trail head which I read from my PPC. A soupy marine layer was shrouding our surroundings in a gray, moist cloud. It was too late to turn into the parking lot by the time I noticed the sign. I drove past the entrance to the parking lot did a loop at the end of the median and we were quickly parked and getting the bikes off the rack and oiling chains.

My phone rang and I answered it to hear Jake explain how he had left his shoes at home and would be back in 40 minutes (putting our ride about 20 minutes past schedule). Rodney and I agreed to wait. We checked out the kids riding Razors in the skate park, doing all sorts of cool tricks. We cleaned our bikes. We fiddled and focused on passing the time with activities instead of conversation. Jake and Chris finally arrived, a bit later than they said, but we could go on our ride so I was excited.

The Ride:

We started off the ride by stopping and chatting with someone who was just finishing his ride. After lamenting the loss of the secret status the trails had apparently held for the past 20 years, he gave us a quick idea of the layout of the park and a direction to head, even drawing a map in the dirt. Following what I remembered of his map, we zipped along on a fire road until spotting what I assumed was the singletrack he had mentioned. We veered left, grabbing the singletrack and immediately had to pull over because other cyclists were coming in the opposite direction. After they passed, we continued on our way, zipping through some really nice singletrack, over a bridge, through some gullies, and finally being redeposited onto the fire road we had started on, just further west. We rode the fire road down the hill until spotting another singletrack. I slowed to make sure everyone was still with me, then jetted down the singletrack. It was fun and fast, but not terribly challenging or scenic.

Along the way I got to watch someone recover, somewhat gracefully, from an endo. We both made it to a wash at the same moment. The wash had a nearly vertical slope requiring attention. Unfortunately, the other rider looked up, expecting to see me descending, but I stopped before entering. As usual, those moments in Mountain Biking that requires our attention and don't get it, are the moments where we discover more slapstick. Fortunately, the rider was unharmed; but we came to learn that this group saw the posting and could have come on the ride with us but chose to ride on their own.

After riding "No Turns" which was mostly a sandy trail at the bottom of the park, we ended up at a road and gate to the military base.

We took a trail we spotted in a wide graded area. Upon arriving at the top of this little climb, Jake was feeling the effects of youth and unfortunately succumbed to a headache and hamstring issues. He and Chris decided that they were going back via the road while Rodney and I headed down some singletrack that took us up a hill we both kept thinking must be primarily used in the opposite direction. We continued on this trail until it spit us out at the spot where we had originall stopped to ask for directions.

Rodney was a good climber with many years of experience on his cleats, and the sound of the bear bell clanging away right on his back tire made short order of the hill and we figured that we had probably made it up before Chris and Jake would be up. So, we decided to drop down the road and meet up with them. I knew about 100m in that there was no way we were going to see them, but I kept going until we got to the bottom of the hill and then turned around and went back. It was just to grab a bit more hill climbing on my part, but Rodney wasn't far behind.

When we made it back to the car, there was Jake and Chris sitting on the sidewalk, stretching and searching for some sort of headache relief. Of course, I had something in my first aid kit, so even though I was ridiculed as usual for having so much stuff in my pack, it sure was helpful. :)

After putting everything away and changing my clothes, we all headed off to Pizza Port in San Clemente for pizza and beer. We got a nice pitcher of Shark Bite Ale and a yummy pesto/artichoke heart/feta pizza. (The rest of them had it with small hunks of chicken flesh that they appeared to enjoy.)

We sat and talked about bikes and this and that until the mood struck us to depart. Rodney and I bid Chris and Jake a safe return, started down the interstate.

It was a nice day with non-technical singletrack and some nice well packed trails.