Sunday, February 6, 2011

San Fran Ramble post mortem.

Sat was a stunning day in February.  It was the kind of weather that 3/4s of the US would like to have but does not.  And on that note, 11 brave souls struck out for the 2nd Ramble Ride, the San Fran Ramble, so named for the way it criss-crossed San Francisquito Cyn.  We staged out of Castaic.

JeffJ gearing-up.  It was a clyde friendly day.
My ride for the day...the Breezer Cloud 9 carbon 29er.

I was uncertain of the exact mileage, but I expected it to be over 30 and under 40.  I got that right...barely...sort of.  I also figured on 4-5 hours to complete.  Missed that pretty much completely, but it was a friendly pace.  I like to make Ramble Rides 'no-drop' events if possible.  The route began on the local backyard trails and roads and kept climbing for another 6 miles or so on fireroad.  That was a bit of an energy sucker as it dropped nearly as much as it gained and by the time we found our connector road to the next section, we had lost 3 riders to time constraints.

And then there were 8.

Typical So Cal ridgeline fireroad.
  A bit of pavement brought us to the next climb.  This bit of uphill was made easier by the paved surface and is a Dept of Water and Power access road.  It climbs above the site of the St Francis Dam disaster, one of the worst calamities on California history.  We were a good couple of hours into the day at this point and about a third of the way along.

Road work.

Gates in So Cal have a hard life.
At the top, we re-grouped at a small reservoir.  Everyone was still feeling pretty good, myself included, so the pace was moderate and conversation was happy.  One cool surprise was the appearance of KT the Man, and old friend and super MTB rider.  He was the pace leader for the day.

The Magnificent 7...KT the Man makes 8>>>
KT the Man is also a scoff law.  Caught in the act.
A few more miles of easy climbing into a wide valley brought us to the high point of the day and let us enjoy a motorcycle built singletrack that rolled and dipped across whoopdies and loose rock, taking us back parallel to the way we had entered.  That connected to one more section of singletrack, this one even better. It followed a ridge line and was quite fast and narrow, having taken the shape of a tiny bobsled run from years of moto use.  It really was the best part of the ride, fun wise.

JeffJ, grinning and riding.
Sometimes you really did not want to turn right.  On the edge of a biiig drop.

I was noticing that I was beginning to feel a bit tired here.  My back was getting a bit beat up from the hardtail and a very stiff seatpost.  I was out of any kind of performance drink, so I was running on just water and Elete.  Some of the group was running strong though.  I had always wondered how Kevin did it...he always looks good, always is fast, and seems, well, more than a mere mortal.  Then, as we were watching, something amazing happened.  Jeff was taking some pics as Kevin took a classic Greek pose. 

Looking very manly, but.... happened.  The clouds swirled in.  The sky darkened a bit and the true nature of the man was revealed.  Behold, Hermes the winged messenger of the gods.  Ahhhh...that explains a lot.  Kevin has a new name.

The truth is revealed.
At this point, KT the Man took us a bit off the intended path.  I asked him if he was sure that this trail converged to the main road.  "I am positively sure", said he.  He has such a trusting face.  How could I say no?

You know how sometimes you just know you are going the wrong way?  Yep.  But why does it always seem that you go the wrong way downhill!  This was a fun hill to go down.  Not so fun to go back up.

What goes down in error, sometimes goes right back up in misery.
Back in town, and back on the right path, we stopped off to re-supply at a stop-and-snack.  We were about 36 miles into it by now and had been going for over 4 hours.  JeffJ was having back issues and called for the SAG wagon.  I was not much better, having been beaten into submission by the Marquis De Sade seatpost and CF hardtail.  We pretty much took over the front of the store.  Sorry about that.

Still bravely smilin'.  The worst was yet to come.

From here, we hit a couple of miles of pavement and then turned off onto a dirt road that I knew existed, but had never been on.  It connected to the local trail network we began the day on.  I don't know what the bulldozer driver had in mind when he graded this road, but it was not providing a gentle grade for tired mountain bikers.  Man, it had me off the bike and pushing.  It was then I knew I was failing slowly but surely.  I was out of gas, flat...broken...frammeled.  My back muscles were completely peeved at me and even pushing was difficult.  I was even fighting leg cramps, something that hardly ever happens anymore.  I was very glad to have a 22/36 on this bike.  A 20/38 would have been nice. 

Finally I made it to the singletracks that we began on, but I was in so much pain, I could barely navigate the creekbed.  Every bump shot arrows through my back and I was whining like a little girl.

Finally we were back with right at 40 miles and 5 3/4 hours under our belts.  I made a couple of errors.  I have not been on any longer rides lately, mostly just after work night stuff....nothing over 3 hours.  I was thinking I could get by with basically just water and electrolytes and I really do run better on some kind of performance drink like Carborocket.  I also underestimated that last bit of ridiculously steep trail by the water tank...the Trail of Tears...The Bataan Death March...Armageddon.

Well, OK, I am sure with fresh legs it ain't no biggie, but I was waaaaay past fresh.  I was firmly on the day-old rack like a bit of stale bagels.  KT the Man rode up it like it was flat.  He rocks.  Even Hermes pushed.  I guess having wings on your helmet is not all that it is cracked up to be, huh big guy?

It was a great day on the bikes, the company was stellar...not one whiner among them...and the trails were just for us to enjoy.  We never saw another soul once we left the local loop.

What is next?  Not sure, but I am enjoying the Ramble Ride idea.  I guess it is time to get out the maps and plan Ramble #3.


Anonymous said...

Love the Hermes pic. Oh, and now that it's been a day since we rambled, I very much enjoyed being part of the experience. Can't wait to find out where we will ramble to next.


Anonymous said...

Sorry I missed it, looks like it was a lot of fun!!!!

I noticed you mentioned the hard tail a few times, do you usually ride FS on longer trips?


grannygear said...


Yeah, typically an FS is kinder when the day gets long. But I am old and worn out!