Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Henry W Coe State Park

So, I bought this book here and started ear marking trails that I want to hit over the summer. Three routes are suggested for Henry Coe state park. I picked the hardest looking one and hit the road out towards San Jose way with Jason Spangles and our rides. We didn't know exactly what to expect but felt well prepared with our guide book and route maps. The terrain was 70% single track stretching for 16.8 miles with about 3000 feet of climbing. All figures I hoped to verify on my new Garmin Edge 500. A nifty piece of kit that I paired with a heart rate monitor. The Garmin appeals to the inner Knight Rider fan who wants their bike to tell them how fast, far and high they're going - as well as giving a friendly beep when approaching cardiac arrest. After a couple of mechanical issues (notably a burst camel sack) and equipment/gadget checking, we headed out into the wilderness.

Now, I'll start this record by stating that the book has the whole route arse backwards. I'm relatively new to mountain biking Norcal style, so I'm by no means an expert, but I always thought single track was fun to ride DOWN and fire road was bearable to ride UP...... Not according to our trusty route master book. Unfortunately, for all its sophisticated GPS intel, my Garmin couldn't warn us of this. Our fate was set. And so it was, in the baking Californian heat - with compromised water supply - we rode into Henry Coe to tackle its 70% worth of uphill single track.

Now, don't get me wrong, Henry Coe is a great place to spend the weekend. It has beautiful lakes and epic vista views..... But these days I only care about "epic" when it's in the same sentence as "trail". The single track climb was relentless and frustrating. We both found it hard to keep a steady cadence and kept getting outwitted by soul sapping steep ascents and devilish switchbacks. Once you finally reach the top (after several false summits) you have a few reasonable downhill sections, but its mainly just fire road. A good place to practice some bike skills, and for me to allow my new avids to break in, but not enough grin factor to make you forget about the heavy slogg getting there.

Still, it was good training for Downieville (our route was slightly longer than the book's 16.8 miles - we were closer to 22 miles.) AND we managed to avoid the parks famous inhabitants - Tarantulas! ...... Glad I knew about those fellas AFTER I sprawled about in the long grass trying to get cool pictures for this feckin' blog!

I rounded the weekend off with a short loop around Tamarancho. We have the dirt classic coming up very soon so I wanted to work on my switchback and technical skills. Tamarancho has some outstanding terrain. The single track really is quite amazing and its very easy to be whisked along and forget how demanding it is. Well, on this day I was reminded with a bump. Towards the end of the ride I lost concentration - and a lot of elbow skin - to another lesson learned : keep your weight balanced and centred and focus on the trail. Oh, and if you have elbow pads - they're really no use sitting in the car......

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