Sunday, September 19th, 2010

MTB: A Descender's Delight at Skeggs

Following conversation took place this Sunday morning.

E: Okay, I'm going in to work now. What are you going to do?
M: I don't know. *pout*
E: Go for a ride or hike. Something. Anything. Just make sure you get out. Otherwise, I'll sleep at work and won't come home.
M: Haha, you can't handle me after having stayed at home all day, huh? But hiking is too slow, and it's too much hassle to go for a ride. You ride for one hour, but the drive takes at least one hour, and then the shower, laundry, and bike cleaning… Argh, too much overhead!
E: Then ride for more than one hour! But I know how it is. You'll go for a ride and then tell me you've been home all day just so I won't come home…
M: Hahaha… (thinking to self, that's a great idea!)

Taking his advice, I went for a ride at Skeggs. We are so lucky to live so close. (I mentioned this to our friend Stephen. I must be getting old now because driving seems like a big deal.) Typical of this time of the year, Skyline Blvd was engulfed in the fog and the windshield wiper had to be turned on. The drizzles became rain drops under the big trees. Some sections of the trails were a bit wet, but the ground was not saturated yet, so it was still rare to find a standing mud puddle.

Today, I had in mind a ride I call a Descender's Delight. It was a ride posted by MrCrash on MTBR.  I remember I laughed when I first saw his route — it had to have taken some brain power to come up with this route that does almost all the main trails in the "right" direction. Usually, you can go both ways on a singletrack, and inevitably, there is one direction in which it feels easier (usually means downhill) than in the other, which inevitably becomes the "right" direction — the preferred way by most. This route covers Sierra Morena, Blue Blossom, Steam Donkey, Manzanita, Giant Salamander, Resolution, and North Leaf in their "right" direction (going downhill) and has uphill all on smooth fire roads or singletracks. What an ingenious idea! I had to give it a go.

The route did turn out to be loads of fun. Yesterday, I did a 11 mile ride at Skeggs, but it involved climbing Manzanita. I climbed it well (only came off once near the top of the north side rock garden), but technical ascent seemed to have taken a lot out of me — I felt beat at the end. To the contrary, I felt strong the whole way today because all the climbing was relaxing and all the downhill was simply joyful. That was interesting. Riding solo, I didn't have to take many stops, but I did stop and chatted with a couple of random groups at some intersections and with Charles from Passion Trail before I rolled back to my car.

I was bummed that the GPS reception was so poor in the dense fog that I lost satellite reception quite a few times. Because of that, each missing section shows up as a straight line in the track, and the moving time was rubbish (the real moving time was close to 3 hours). One of these days, when it's clear, I'll have to do the route again just so that I get a better GPS track!

The overhead of this ride was higher than I had feared. Even though the trails were not as muddy as they could be, the surface got wet enough to be sticky. My bike was covered in mud by the end. I spent an hour washing it. When I was done, it was almost dark. The phone rang, and it was from Erik.

E: So, what did you do today?
M: Me? Oh, nothing. I sat in the couch all day…

Hey, he planted the idea in my head — Inception!

P.S. See the Skeggs Rides page for turn by turn directions and better GPS track (recorded on a clear day).

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