Saturday, June 19th, 2010

MTB: Henry Coe 10K Ride Again

This is my post to the related MTBR thread. (There are more stories and photos there.)


This is about Charlie’s training ride for the thread bearing “rustic 10k” event. Just like last time, he sent an invite to a list of friends stating “the route should be long and miserable”; but unlike last time when more than a dozen people responded to his calling, only three invitees, Patrick, Erik, and me, showed up this time. I don’t understand why.

It could have been only Patrick though. At 10:16 PM on Friday, I sent out this email to them: “We partied too late and just got home. Dead tired, but nothing is ready yet, so I highly doubt that we would be able to get up at 4am to make the 7am start, even though we really wanted to join the ride. There are definitely many trails listed on the route that we are interested in checking out. Oh well, please count us out.” At 3:45am, Erik woke up to do his usual mid-sleep chore, which disturbed and awoke me. A conversation began. “Should we go to Coe?” “Yeah, it would nice to do the ride, but I haven’t gotten enough sleep yet.” “Or, we can sleep in and go to Saratoga Gap. There is a Santa Cruz bike demo there today.” “Let’s go ride at Coe.” “Bike demos are hard to come by. Let’s hit Saratoga Gap.” “It’s already too late to get up now. There is no way we can get everything ready and be at Hunting Hollow by 7am.” Through the conversation the light on the night stand was turned on, off, on again, and off again. Just when we were about to go back to sleep, the cats jumped into bed and started walking on us. It was 4:20am when I was driven out of the bed, and found this email reply in my Inbox from Patrick, “Some serious lack of kitten love this weekend! Charlie and I will do our best to save them all!”

Almost 20 hours later, at midnight when we were still driving home, Erik and I sounded like a broken record, albeit a tired one. “I’m glad that we got up and made the ride.” “That was great ride. I’m glad that we made it.”… What had made the ride so memorable? Oh, where do I even begin?

— We had two pinch flats on the ride. Charlie got one on White Tank Spring Trail. Obviously, he was hauling mail down that trail, an indication of the mad success of our trailwork last week. But when we stood around, Erik had to bring up that I said the reason he got flats often was his lack of good riding skills. Did he not know that Marriage Rule Number One is bedroom talks are not to be made public? Plus, that just made it even more embarrassing for me when I got a flat half way down Tule Pond Trail. I would say I fixed it pretty fast with the assistance of Charlie and Patrick while Erik rode/pushed up half of the trail to look for us, but it was 8:20pm when my wheels rolled again, simply too late for a flat!

— Two incidents of chain sucks when the chain fell into the spokes. One happened to Charlie and one happened to Erik. Luckily, neither caused serious damage.

— Two bent (or almost bent) derailleur hangers. One huge stick miraculously worked its way into Charlie’s chain/cassette. It had all the power to break the derailleur or bend the hanger, but Charlie broke it first without much effort. the other time, I made some superwomanly powerful move and rode right into Erik’s derailleur. That did bend it, but he managed to bend it “back” enough to finish the ride. The bend was visible when he took the bike apart the next day, when we also found that his bottom bracket had been half seized up.

— Imagine riding down the steepest trail you’ve ever ridden with one eye closed and the other half closed. Now, that’s probably how it felt to Charlie when he came down Middle Steer Ridge trail (one of the steepest descents at Coe). About this, he has written, “To explain, descending Middle Steer Ridge Trail in heavy winds, tall grass obscuring the trail, and increasing darkness, my left contact lens dried up and fell out. It was surreal riding in fuzzy darkness. We had very bright quarter moon thankfully.”

If you are about to shed some tears over the mishaps we had “unfortunately” experienced, thank you but please stop. “That which does not kill me makes me stronger.” You see, we are all much stronger now… maybe except Patrick, since he was mishap-free all day.

— Of course, I don’t know if Patrick could, or should, get even more stronger. He cleaned ALL the ride-able climbs on the entire ride, including Anza-Jackson (his first!), the steeps on Dog Trail and Dutch’s Trail, and Serpentine at the end of the day! We were all utterly impressed. The sacrifice he had to make was he had to ride by a balloon on the side of the trail half way up Serpentine, but it turned out to be a god send for Erik when he needed a break.

— Speak of breaks…When we took a break (not the first one) at the Hoover Air-strip, I asked if it was our lunch break, or we would break again for lunch. Charlie looked at me as if the question surprised him, “We’ll be taking breaks all day. We ride in between breaks.” That’s indeed how it was as Patrick has summarized, “8 hours riding time + 6 hours sitting by creeks, waterfalls, on ridges and generally soaking in the Coe atmosphere (and picking grass out of our socks).”

— I enjoyed every moment of the ride, but what stood out for Erik was the back country adventures. We got on some obscure (aka fun) trails. For example, on Dog Trail, When a straight line up a steep hillside looked impassable, we elected to explore a side path that circumvented the knoll. We ended up carrying our bikes bushwhacking cross-country and uphill. On Phoneline trail, despite the guidance of yellow ribbons, there was still mandatory pushing through tunnels and snaking around Poison Oak bushes. These things no doubt slowed our pace down, but they sure kept the mystery and excitement going.

— The most peculiar thing for us all though was the sighting of people pulling two-wheeled hand carts in costume and high spirits. We first saw them at Pacheco Camp and they cheerfully waved at us, and we saw them go by (after having heard their still cheerful voices) when we took a long break by the creek below Kaiser Aetna Road. Later when we passed by Pacheco Camp the second time, we learned from our trailwork buddy Rob that those were Mormon yoots.

— Our ride turned out to be about 50 miles (10k – 11k ascent). My GPS ran out of battery shortly before I got back to the car, but that was no biggie because we had plenty of equipments on our ride as you can see from: Charlie’s MTBguru report and Patrick’s Plus3Network report. My almost-complete track was also uploaded to Garmin connect, Plus3Network, and MTBguru. (Why all 3 sites?) From Charlie’s report, you can also see (and envy) what nice weather we had been blessed with.

— We thought we were lucky to make it back in the moonlight without a light. Brian (knobs) rolled in 15 minutes later. All five of us gathered at Denny’s to trade our tales and laughs, even though those laughs may have sounded a bit tired.

Charlie had warned us that he would leave his camera at home. I know, big disappointment! But Patrick had taken some great shots with his. So, keep your appetite up because his pictures will not disappoint. Below are some pictures I found in my camera, many of which were taken under the urge of Charlie, “did you take some pictures of that???”

Charlie coming up Jackson Trail.

Bike demo. Brands: Specialized and Titus. Location: Kelly Lake, Henry Coe.

When I asked why anybody would drag a cart around all day, Erik replied, “for the same reason why we ride our bikes around all day.”

Erik (back) and Charlie (front) descending Dog Trail with Patrick at the bottom.

We didn’t take that trail straight up the knoll, and ended up bush whacking.

For the completeness of this document, this is what we did during many of our breaks.

Charlie: Is the trail here, or here, or there? Hmmm… I think I’m lost…

charlie: Ha, I found the trail! It goes this way…

How did the stick get itself in like this???

Could not have asked for better weather than this.

Charlie and Erik on the skyline.

More of my photos can be found in my alum.

2 Responses

  1. Joeon 22 Nov 2010 at 3:27 pm

    Hey, I saw this post when searching Coe mountain biking blogs. I am completely blown away that anyone could do as much riding in a day in June at Henry Coe as you claim to have accomplished. I ride Coe all year long and have been since the mid 90s and I am in pretty good shape, but 50 miles…that is about 8 10Ks.
    You should change your ride to the 80K.
    In the one picture you look to be pushing 60 years of age sir. I take my hat off to you. There is a gentleman named Jay who rides at Coe 6 days a week and he would be impressed with your ride.
    I find that 25 miles in a day climbing at Coe kicks my ass. You must be the world’s mountain biking iron men!

  2. mudwormon 22 Nov 2010 at 9:03 pm

    Hi Joe, glad to hear from another Coe rider! Thanks for your kind words; not sure if I want to pass them on to my companions though — “pushing 60 years of air?” sheesh, none of the guys was even close!!! But, yes, I know Jay and we’ve met many times just because every time I went to Coe and he was there! Hahaha… Oh, you think this ride is big? Check out Hard COEre 100 (MTBR thread)! Hope to run into you someday.