Saturday, March 21st, 2009

MTB: Henry Coe ~~~~~ HH to Middle Ridge

Crosspost from MTBR:
Remember this Henry Coe ride a bunch of people did last year? (I wasn’t there because back then, I had never heard of Henry Coe yet. Oh, what had I missed out?!) Well, it happened again this year, but only quietly. Why? Some time constraint was in place and the group size needed to be more manageable. Since there are so many Henry Coe fanatics out there dying to get on an epic ride there, a silent lottery took place. I, among a few others, was a lucky winner. When I received the notice, I hesitated for a moment. A week later would be my first 8-hour endurance race (at Boggs) and every article I read recommended tapering off two weeks in advance. (I read them on the Internet, so they must be true.) But was I going to let this precious opportunity pass? Of course not! That was an easy decision.

Other lucky ones included The_Law, dan51, Skyline35, jdubsl2, and JustJeff. Actually Plymmer won the lottery too, but he chose to go with another group for another ride. We only saw him briefly before they took off. That turned out to be an unfortunate choice for him. More on that later.

We met up at HH at 8am. Cloudy, but it was surprisingly not cold. When I made a comment on how many layers Skyline35 was wearing, he pointed out that once we went above the clouds, it could be windy and chilly up there. I didn’t think we were climbing Mt. Everest, so I left my warm clothes in the car. The route we took was best described by Plim in an old post of his (coincidentally, that was his recommendation for my first Coe visit).

I have to change my writing style a little because it’s getting late. Here are some highlights of the ride:
1) When we got to the top of Jackson Trail, we were in the clouds. It was windy and chilly just as Skyline35 had predicted. He must have gotten wiser when he turned one year older a few days ago.
2) The sun went in and out of clouds on the whole ride and there were a few minutes we were rained on. But overall, it was perfect weather for a long ride at Coe. I only carried one camelpack full of water and did not even finish that.
3) The wild flowers went wild. They were everywhere! It was sure pretty. Skyline35 and dan51 both took a bunch of photos of the flowers. A few times, when I saw them holding the camera when I rode by, I would immediately turn grimace into a smile in order to look nice in the photo but only to realize that they were actually pointing at one little flower an inch above the ground. Well, I’m sure we’ll see a photo contest pretty soon.
4) I had never ever seen so many backpackers on Middle Ridge Trail. Were there 30 of them we passed? I had my best performance going down Middle Ridge clearing a few spots that I always had trouble with before (some tight switchbacks and steep climbs). It must have had something to do with having an audience watching me at every turn. Many of them were young little boys. I would not have liked to embarrass myself in front of them!
5) It is always so much fun to ride with like-minded people. Have you ever heard anyone uttering in excitement the “wheeee” sound while climbing UP a hill? Well, you should ride with The_Law at Coe.
6) When we got back to the parking lot, Plymmer was loading up his bike. His freewheel broke half way up Jackass Trail. (Note: Not Jackson. Jackass Trail is way out there close to the moon.) He coasted and pushed his bike all the back doing some trailwork along the way. He said next time he would (wisely, I add) choose our ride instead.

Here are a few pics (from my gallery) and some stats.

Our rides taking a siesta at the bottom of Middle Ridge Trail. Guess who owns the only bike that did not have a Gravity Dropper?

Top of the Jackson Trail

A tree is down out of China Hole towards HQ

No more needs to be said about Henry Coe

Map and stats from MTBguru. If you can’t see the route map (in IE), click on the link below it.

Distance (mi) 34.8 /Total Ascent (ft) 6634 /Moving Time 05h 29m 42s / Stopped Time 02h 05m 26s /Average Moving Speed (mph) 6.2