Tuesday, 6 July 2010

July 4th Weekender

I did think about calling this post “Return of the Shredi” but I need to nip these lame film puns in the bud right now. However, I would’ve had good reason. As we approached a particularly Endor-esque trail Jason turned to me and exclaimed “if I don’t see any Ewoks on this trail I’m gonna be pissed!” Yep, it was a three day weekend and whilst our American hosts were off celebrating their independence, we decided to escape foggy SF and hit the trails!

I'd taken my Nomad down to Santa Cruz on the Saturday to get a pre-Downieville tune up sorted out. On Sunday me and Spangles decided to hit Skeggs to get some pre-race training in. In fact this was my first time riding there with the new bike so I was excited to hit the technical trails and fast descents with 6 inches of plush suspension at my disposal. Also, Skeggs has some brutal climbing so we knew a good training session would be achieved. We weren't wrong.

We took our, now usual, route of Fir, Resolution, North Leaf and South Leaf. We also looped back to hit Giant Salamander. A great mixture of challenging technical descents, ascents, singletrack and some epic fast double track. South Leaf is becoming my preferred trail of choice. Its full of jumps and whoop de doo's and nice railed corners but its reasonably wide and has grassy banks either side of the trail so you can safely allow the mental mist to cloud you and haul ass! ..... Great fun.

The price for all this fun? The climb back out. We took Timberview to Salamander. Man, Timberview is a cruel beast. It's steep, almost too steep to keep pedaling, but then it will level out just enough to pull the heart rate back from the redline and allow for a little recovery before the next assault. Yep, this trail is nature's own Divisadero Street. However, we were once again rewarded at the top with the Giant Salamander. I'd ridden this trail before, but the other way - ie climbing it. This time we were taking the fun route. Salamander has some really nice big, rolling jumps. But it also has an equally big abyss to one side of the trail. So caution, or at least the brake, has to be applied every now and again.

The fun was short lived however. We still had the climb out. For some reason we ignored the relatively forgiving Methusela and took the Fir route out. This trail is a fun descent, but a brutal climb. Steep and rutted it tests both cadence and patience. Once out, we took the short, fun Sierra Morena section back to the car. A lasting reminder of how great and varied this place is - and why it won't be the last time I'll be taking the Nomad south for some dirt.

Monday I met up with Aaron and Scott for a late afternoon session at Tamarancho. The weather was beautiful. Sunny, but not stifling. The light was great. Trail - bone dry. An epic ride was forecast and we were not let down. Well, Scott's tyre was. It flatted halfway round. Other than that we had a great ride. We took 'Rancho counter clockwise. This is fast becoming my new favourite way to ride the place. I'll always love hitting the B-17 trail descent, but climbing it means you get to descend Serpentine. Also, the Wagon Wheel rock garden is a goood challenge on the climb. I also had the pleasure of Scott riding my tail - making dog/mountain lion noises to inspire me to ride harder. All in all, a great way to spend the penultimate weekend's riding before traveling North to Downieville. Stay tuned!

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