RR: Remnants of Emily

Discussion in 'Mountain Bikes' started by JD, Jul 25, 2005.

  1. JD

    JD Guest

    Getting into the groove in SoCal has been sporadic at best. Of course,
    patience is a virtue and it always seems to pay off with high
    dividends. Yesterday was one of those days.

    Greg returned my call Saturday night and stated that he had to work, so
    ride location had become my choice alone. I had been watching the
    weather the past few days and the remnants of hurricane Emily were
    firing up afternoon thunderboomers in the local mountains. The local
    radar pictures showed a lot of recent activity in one particular area I
    have ridden in a few times since arriving and I knew that the trail
    conditions had a high probability of being very good. Roll the loaded

    The smell was the first giveaway that it had rained recently. You
    know, the smell of a pine forest after a summer rain. Exposed soil on
    the side of the road was damp in most places, but not wet. Clouds were
    already forming, but I knew the loamy soil that is prevalent on this
    trail would hold up in all but the worst downpour.

    There were a couple of vehicles in the area of the trailhead I chose to
    access my route from. There was a couple preparing to leave from the
    small lot I parked in and we exchanged pleasantries and trail condition
    ideas before they pedaled off up the fire road climb. It didn't take
    me long to get going and I was on my way in about five minutes.

    The fire road was pretty loose on my last visit, but had firmed up well
    after the rains. Forming clouds also kept things pretty cool, by
    providing perpetual shade from what is usually a hot summer sun in the
    open areas on the climb. My bike of choice on this route has always
    been the singlespeed because of the a-technical nature and easy climbs
    of the route. When I passed the aforementioned couple, the dude
    remarked about my lack of suspension and it prompted the response, "I
    have 36" travel, front and rear" as I stuck an arm and leg out.
    The climb went really quickly because of the conditions, especially
    after I warmed up a bit.

    At the top, I decided to explore a little and ride up a spur trail that
    I had yet to ride. It was a little horse-torn and after about a mile,
    turned into a rocky doubletrack. No thanks. Riding back down it
    wasn't too bad though. Wasting no time, I headed for and then down
    the main attraction.

    The gamble, however slanted the odds were, paid off big-time. I
    can't imagine more perfect conditions on this trail. It was just
    damp enough to keep from being loose in the loamier spots and packed
    hard enough to roll like crazy. In fact, 40psi was not enough for some
    turns, as I could feel my front tire trying to roll off the rim in a
    few of the harder turns. That said, it was ripping fast and was taken
    full advantage of. The short climbs seemed shorter, as did the
    downhills because of the speeds attainable in such conditions.

    The plan was to ride another spur about halfway down and it arrived
    just as I was passing a couple of dudes who were headed the same
    direction. One of them commented about the singlespeed as I headed up
    the spur and I grinned and said that it was time for some
    extracurricular activity. The spur heads up to a campground about a
    mile and some change away from the main trail. When I rode this spur
    earlier this year, it was pretty overgrown and unused because the
    campground had yet to open, but was now worn enough to not miss any
    turns. In fact, it was in better shape than the main trail and one
    pitch I had to walk on my earlier visit was easy to climb this time.
    The turn-around at the apex wasn't much of a pause, just a couple of
    deep breaths of fresh (naturally) pine-scented air and it was off to
    the races. The payoff from the extra mile of climbing was phenomenal,
    as I knew it would be from surveying the trail as I climbed it. It was
    by far, the most fun downhill section I have ridden this year in both
    that the trail was perfect and the flow attained while speeding down
    the hill. Rolling back onto the main trail, I was beyond stoked.

    The main trail kept rolling well, just as it had before, though it
    becomes predominantly downhill after the spur trail intersection. The
    turns become mostly tighter and the straightaways longer, so the speeds
    vary greatly with a lot of heavy braking into many of the turns. A
    couple of the wide-open sections that I remembered the run-in to gave
    up speeds in excess of 30mph and let me know really how fantastic this
    trail can be when caught at the right time.

    After about a mile or so, I caught up to the riders I had passed before
    turning up the spur. It was at a deadfall that was blocking the trail
    and both turned and saw me arrive as they were about to get on their
    bikes. One decided to yield right there and the other decided to ride
    on. In about a quarter mile, I caught up to the other right before the
    next deadfall and he conceded the trail. I could hear him trying to
    keep up at first, but the sound of his fully clanking down the trail
    faded quickly.

    The trail conditions never failed to keep the stoke up. One section
    near the end where the trail winds through a large area of Manzanita
    was especially improved by the rains. The ss rolled effortlessly
    through and stuck to the normally loose surface like glue, allowing me
    to keep speed where it's normally not possible. There's nothing
    like rediscovering a trail through superior conditions, which appears
    to be quite a rare feat in SoCal. Beating the skidiots and shuttle
    monkeys to the punch has its merits.

    Right after finishing the ride, I called Greg from the trailhead and
    left a message to let him know just how badly he was boned by having to
    work instead of getting to ride. Maybe next time he'll develop an
    eye problem, "I just can't see myself working this weekend..."