Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

MTB: A Hooky Ride at Henry Coe

Kids, do you know what happens if you play hooky and go ride your bike? Your pedal falls off.

Like this:

And then, you have to ride home like this:

But I know, it's just too hard to resist when you suddenly receive an email inviting you to go ride your mountain bike at Henry Coe even though the weekend just passed. Today is Tuesday, and this morning, I got up earlier than usual, veered off my usual route towards work, and pulled into the Hunting Hollow Parking Lot at Henry Coe right before 9am, and Charlie was there already. We were the only two bikers. I bet we were the only two bikers in the entire 87,000-acre park.

Without too much persuasion from me, Charlie agreed to start up Lyman Willson Ridge Trail, Bowl, and Middle Steer Ridge Trail, followed by dropping down Spike Jones Trail and Timm Trail. I mainly wanted to see how I would do with a heavy pack full of water, food, water pump, and gear for a full day of riding (we were planning on going for a long ride). I came off once at the steepest part on Lyman Willson, and only after I caught my breath did I successfully re-ride that part and continue on. That was good enough for me.

We decided to go straight to Middle Ridge Trail (near HQ) and we can get creative with trail selections on our way out depending on the day light, so we went straight up Coit Road. At one point, Charlie popped one or two NoDoz tablets in his mouth. On the other hand, I was still banned (by Erik) from taking the 5 Hour Energy drink (see the story here). So, if you had been there following us, you would have seen a motion picture like this: Charlie stands out of the saddle hammering the middle chain ring with a smile on his face. He turns his head left,right, up, and down, commenting on the rock formation we passed, or pointing out some faint game trails on the side, or just telling funny stories. And here is me, head down, sitting firmly in the saddle while spinning the granny gear, and uttering an occasional huh? yes? wow! ha! etc. Night and Day!

I hadn't gone down to China Hole for a while, so I thoroughly enjoyed that stretch and I was glad to clear the whole thing without putting a foot down (but I didn't attempt the very last 10 feet or so). I'm pretty sure that was my first time. After a short break when Charlie did his routine wild life check, we headed up China Hole Trail towards the HQ. Pedaling along after a mile or two, I noticed that my right foot kept slipping side ways. I thought to myself, the cleats must be completely worn out. Another switchback came up, and I gave a couple of strong strokes and suddenly my right foot came right off, along with the pedal! Hmmm… that was a mechanical problem that I did not have a solution for. I pedaled up to Cougar Trailhead and decided that with the right foot sliding all over the spindle, it was probably best if I turned around there. Despite my effort in talking Charlie into continuing his long ride (solo) while I turned back, he insisted on sticking together claiming it as the Coe etiquette. But I did manage to convince him to at least ride up to the top of Manzanita Trail. I just took it easy coasting back down, and the ride out of China Hole was not too bad except that the switchbacks became hard to manage with only one foot. We met up again at the China Hole Trailhead on Mehone Meadows fire road and rode out together.

We were the only two vehicles in the large parking lot! Aren't we special!

The weather was exactly what Charlie had prescribed — cool, yet not cold because I was wearing my short sleeve jersey on the entire ride.  At the China Hole, we both decided that it would be unnecessary to go to the HQ for water refill (plus we both carried water pumps). Well, unnecessary indeed.

That was my hooky ride story. Oh, it was so fun, but guess next time I should think twice before playing hooky again.

All the pictures are in the gallery.  Here are a few highlights:

The steep part on Lyman Willson Trail. It's long.

A down tree on Bowl Trail. Not sure how to caption this.

My usual photo spot — Middle Steer Ridge Trail & Steer Ridge Road intersection.

Stumpjumper M4 and Stumpjumper M4.

A bit lonely here.

Stats
Distance (mi) 29.2
Total Ascent (ft) 5853
Moving Time 04h 47m 16s
Stopped Time 01h 58m 56s
Average Speed (mph) 4.3
Average Moving Speed (mph) 5.9

P.S. No, I didn't really play hooky. My vacation time was about to overflow, so I had told my manager that I would be taking days off here and there.
P.P.S. There was an MTBR thread discussing the broken pedal.

7 Responses

  1. patrick Herlihyon 29 Sep 2009 at 10:17 pm

    Wow! So wish I was there. Got my car back today – so, tomorrow? :)

  2. Paulon 30 Sep 2009 at 5:47 am

    Thanks for sharing the experience with me. How old are those pedals anyway? Were the bearings shot already? Are those Looks?

    Pedals usually last me about 3 years max. and then I toss them f I cannot rebuild the bearings to satisfaction.

    Mei, you are light enough that Ti spindles would work safely I think.

    Miss you guys!

  3. Dirk dBwww.mon 30 Sep 2009 at 6:31 am

    Hooky rides are always fun, especially in Coe. October is also perfect for hooky rides in Tahoe (involves some more transportation), you get to see the fall foliage and if you plan it right (after a couple of rains but before the big snow), the riding conditions are great…

  4. Charlieon 30 Sep 2009 at 6:34 am

    Hi Mei

    Great and entertaining write-up of a fun day. Riding in the very cool temps, it was hard to believe that just 3 days ago I was suffering in 100º.

    I do feel I must mention that those weren't whole No-Doz pills; I chop them up for just a little caffeine lift for the climbs. It's my "hill-be-gone". :)

    Today I will upload a photo or two from the ride and be back here with the link.

    ///Charlie

  5. Brianon 30 Sep 2009 at 8:05 am

    Not sure what that caption should be either, but that photo has nice perspective. It should photochop well. :eek: Also, I've never seen that Timm Trail sign. Must be relatively new.

  6. Charlieon 30 Sep 2009 at 9:06 am

    I have a few photos here: http://www.mtbguru.com/trip/show/11499-2009-09-29-henry-w-coe-state-park

    Paul: that is a Crank Bros pedal.

    Brian: I was demonstrating my mtn bike skill set for riding that obstacle: OTB!

    I thought that Timm Trail sign used to be down by the spring at the official Timm/Spike Jones intersection.

    ///Charlie

  7. mudwormon 30 Sep 2009 at 9:58 am

    Patrick > …so, tomorrow?
    Patrick, if you go, make sure you bring spare pedals.

    Paul > How old are those pedals anyway? Were the bearings shot already? Are those Looks?
    These are Candy C from Crank Brothers I bought in November 2007. I must have really heavy feet! Not sure about the bearings (what are they anyway), but it looks like the thread that the end nut screws on are shot.

    Dirk > Hooky rides are always fun…
    Again, spare pedals…

    Brian > …that photo has nice perspective. It should photochop well….
    You are the man!

    Charlie > I have a few photos here….
    Charlie, Great photos as usual and a great ride as usual. Since you believed that I made you (by the use of some spinning wheels) invite me on this ride, I'll say, you are welcome!