Monday, 21 June 2010

Over the Bridge

Its the countdown to Downieville, so in anticipation me and Spangles decided to get some mileage and footage under our wheels this weekend. Downieville starts with a brutal climb. I'd been googletubing videos in the week and simply watching was enough to make my legs tremble. Fun shredding would have to wait. We needed to feel some pain!

With this in mind we decided we should hit the Marin headland trails. I'd heard good things about this area and, on paper, it looked like a good, long ride with some nice steep climbing. Its also very close to home so we could roadie style it from my place. After a quick fuel up at the Chestnut Bakery (great coffee) we were ready. Riding over the GG Bridge is made a little more technical by dodging all the tourists and road bikers. But its a good way to warm up. By the time we hit dirt we'd already covered 8 miles.

We took the coastal road down to Bunker road and hit the Rodeo trail before bearing right onto the Bobcat trail. The first of several long climbs taking us back up to 1000ft or so above sea level. From there we rode to the Tennessee Valley Trailhead and picked up the Coastal Trail. The flavour of the day was to be climb, descend, climb, descend - and repeat. This was perfect.

The Coastal Trail is closed to bikes on certain sections which is a shame - but understandable given the number of pensioners and toddlers en route. That kinda technical I don't want to deal with. So we took the coastal fireroad to bypass (and add some more climbing) and then re-connected near Muir Beach. This short section of the Coastal Trail gave a cruel taste of how fun it COULD be.... lots of ruts and whoop de doo's .... but lots of families and rogue dogs. So we had to exercise restraint. Maybe a mid-week or early morning session is in order to really take advantage of this place...

Once we hit the trail to Muir Beach, we peeled off to the Green Gulch trail. Through the Zen centre and then onto a nice, steep technical climb. This one caused my all too familiar cramping and burnout to kick in. But a couple of minutes rest and some Sharkies later I was good to go. Before it gets really brutal, the terrain levels out and the heart rate goes back to normal. Once we cleared Green Gulch, we stopped to sort some mechanical issues and scoff scooby snacks before the climb up Coyote and on to the Miwok trail. Now, Miwok is fuuuun! Deep ruts, lots of jumps and - thankfully - few hikers. It even throws a few tight switchbacks at you to keep things interesting. My technique was a little less than fluid on a few of the jumps and I hit a few smack on the front side. But it was no bother to the Nomad's stride. 6 inches of travel will do a lot to smooth out shabby trail riding. Speaking of which, with all the climbing we were doing I really noticed how great the pro-pedal is. Its only once you unhinge the Nomad's plush suspension do you realise just how firmed up the arse end is by the pro-pedal. Impressive stuff. But I digress.

So, we'd had our fun. Back to the meat of this ride ; climbing. Our descent had taken us to the Tennessee Valley trail head. Now we needed to head back up to the Bobcat trail. A quick before and after Garmin check verified my guestimate - we had a good 1000ft of straight climbing ahead. No worries. By now, we were 25 odd miles in and feeling pretty good. I'd been playing with a new pedaling technique all day which seemed to be reaping rewards. I normally just huff and puff and stab my feet south to get through the climbs. But the Nomad is an unforgiving beast when it comes to climbing. She's no slouch, but she aint no mountain goat either. So better technique was called for. I focused on using my upper legs to "kick and scrape" through the pedal cycle. It feels a little strange, but works a treat. Every time I nailed it, my cadence got faster, smoother and less strenuous. But its not quite hardwired yet. I need to work on making it my default stroke - especially when the going gets tough and steep.

Anyway, all these thoughts of technique and analysis are going through my head as I spin the granny gear up the climb. Like all the ascents that day, the grade wasn't steep enough to warrant resting - "no one got stronger from stopping" I kept chanting to myself. But it was long enough and intense enough to lay down some solid foundations for Downieville and beyond - I hope.

We hit Bobcat and rode back to Rodeo and onto Bunker road for the climb out, back to the bridge. Just in time too as my camel sack was run dry and we'd finished the last of the scooby snacks. Riding past the tourists gathered at the look outs, I took stock of all the epic views we'd seen that day - A fringe benefit of enjoying our sport and something I'd otherwise miss out on. Another good reason to get out and ride :o)

After five and half hours, 36 miles and 5500ft of climbing, we arrived back in the city. Confident we'd reap the rewards of our graft later. But also aware that we'll need to get a couple more sessions like that under out belts to make Downieville as pain free and fun as possible.

No comments:

Post a Comment