01 January 2009

Sycamore Canyon 2009/1/1/ - First SDMBA/NMBP Patrol

So, the DirtTreaders were riding on New Years day. And not only were they riding on New Years Day, but at 9am. That meant, at least for me, an early night on New Years Eve. I know myself. I know that it will take me an inordinant amount of time to get ready and get out of the house. I know that once I get to the ride site that it will take me a good amount of time to get everything organized since I bring the kitchen sink with me on a ride.

Clothes are no problem, since I have my riding clothes anal-retentively organized into sacks. It makes it very easy to just grab a bag and go since each one already contains everything I need to wear. On top of that, there's the helmet cam to set up. Then there's the still cam to hook up to the camelbak. Then there's the iPod and headphones. Then there's the elbow and knee & shin guards, heart rate monitor with chest strap... The wheel needs to be put on the front of the bike... You get the picture.

I decided it was a good time to put the SDMBA/NMBP into action with the first patrol activity ever. So, I left at 7:45am for the ride. The drive out of Leucadia was a bit sketchy with deep pockets of fog all along the freeway. It wasn't until I got south of the hump at Del Mar Heights that it started to clear up, and by the time I made over Mission Trails Summit it was bright and sunny.
I arrived with about 40 minutes to spare, got myself together and by the time the ride was ready to depart, I was just putting on my helmet. :)

There were 13 riders in total, which is a pretty big group to manage. I had an interesting observation resulting from seeing another rider, Rob, with a brown Mojo SL with red linkages. I haven't seen too many Mojo SLs, or for that matter, Mojos at all here in San Diego. Rob had added a few nice upgrades from my ride, with a Talas fork over the RLC and some very nice wheels. The observation I had was how funny it is that a bike can create a connection between two people that I didn't experience with anyone else. It's almost that, at a minimum, the brand of a bike someone owns, but even more so, the brand and model can generate a bond between riders that riding itself doesn't necessarily do. The Specialized people recognize each other and the Trek people have something to chat about. And I've seen how the the river of component difference slakes single-speeders off from geard bikers on a group ride. Anyway, the group took off before I was quite ready to ride, but I jammed on it, and with some effort caught up with the leaders of the group within 2km from the car. Oops, I forgot to lube my chain. I was hoping that it would have had enough from the last ride at Palm Canyon. (It turned out OK. It was only at the end, after going through a bunch of mud, that the chain had any issues.)

Almost immediately after the ride started four riders were missing. At the first regrouping, we learned that one rider was waiting at the parking lot for someone who was late arriving. The two of themadded to the other two who zigged while at the front of the group while the leader and remainder of the group zagged. It wasn't long before we were all herded together, and off we rolled. Our ride organizer demonstrated a new route which took us up a very scenic stream bed. With many crossings, I'd be amazed if anyone had dry feet. When we got to the bottom of the first serious climb, we regrouped. This took much longer than the first regrouping, but we good naturedly stood around talking and enjoying the beauty that was surrounding us.

After climbing the hill which was soggy, loose and off cambre the whole way up, we regrouped again, this one taking much longer. We then made our way down a road, until a well hidden singletrack presented itself to our guide and we were soon zipping our way downward on a cobble-lined ribbon. The downhill was fun but a bit bumpy. Our guide and another rider were out in front. I was trailing a bit further behind, the remainder of the other riders staggered well behind me.

After some technical drops and slides that proved to be too much for the vast majority of us, resulting in muddy shoes as we hopped and slid our way down, we regrouped again, and then continued on our way toward the switchbacks climb and descent. At the break-off for the western switchbacks, we waited again for the group to catch up. At least one rider decided at this point to head around to the spot where the eastern switchbacks rejoin the main trail. The rest of us proceeded at various speeds to climb the western switchbacks. Rob, the racer, was the first to make it to the top. I was in hot pursuit, but once again, I've proven to myself that I don't need to pay money to find out that there are some people faster than me and some people slower. At the top I grabbed the camera and snapped pictures of everyone as they crested the ridge.
I made my way down the eastern switchbacks behind Steven and Rob. When I got to the bottom I looked up and it was an inspiring scene as so many riders were descending the switchbacks at once. I thought to myself that it would be quite a site to see so many riders with lights at night.
We regrouped with the riders who had avoided the climb and waited for everyone to get to the bottom of the eastern switchbacks.  Then, off we went, riding on the east side of the creekbed. At some point I managed to get out in front and rather than take my usual trail toward the gate at Goodan Ranch, I swooped in on another track and was so completely overjoyed. Fast, swervy singletrack that tested and encouraged good turning skills. There were a few stream crossings too.

We regrouped again at the gate, and then hit the double track leading up to the ranch house and then continued on the singletrack that runs to the west depositing us at the 4-corners of the main road. Several of us headed up "Cardiac" so that we could ride the downhill on the backside of Martha's Grove while the majority headed up the more direct route that doesn't have any payoff other than getting you to Martha's Grove trail faster.

We agreed to meet at the start of Martha's Grove Trail, but when our little group of four riders got there after a fast and fun downhill, no one was waiting. We didn't think that there was any chance we could have reached the gate before the other riders, but we waited a few minutes anyway. A family with small children took off hiking up the trail and then another large group of riders that was resting at the gate took off. Rather than have the hikers make way for two separate groups of riders, we followed on the tail of the other group. Once at the top of the first climb, we encountered two of the other riders in our group who informed us that the rest had gone on ahead. We continued the ride down Martha's Grove Trail and rode without stops, except for a brief moment at the gate at the south side of Goodan Ranch.

We hit the high trail on the west side of the creek, but there were a few spots where trees had fallen onto the trail. None of us had more than a nail file and the trees were too big to move by hand, so we climbed over the obstacles (none of us being trials riders), and continued on our way. By this point my legs were starting to cramp, probably as a result of the New Year's Eve drinking I did. By the time we made it back to the parking lot, my legs had cramped so bad that there was a stretch where I needed to walk because I couldn't power through the pedal stroke.
Once back at the parking lot, bikes and gear was quickly stowed and people departed for points unknown. Our two-and-a-half-hour ride had taken almost 4.5 hours and covered over 38km.