Tuesday, January 12, 2010

China Camp - New Year's Day Goodness...

Every year a group of us do a New Year's day mt bike ride. The goal of the ride is to, 1 - start the new year, rain or shine, with a ride and, 2 - ride somewhere we've never ridden before.

This year, with the weather guy saying 80% chance of rain, we decided to go to Marin County and ride China Camp but had Grant Ranch in reserve as a backup.

Waking up at 6 on New Year's Day (yeah, I'm an old fart and was in bed by 10) I checked my email to find Jerry's note saying China Camp was down to 10% rain and we were a go....

As we all pulled up in to the parking lot the weather looked as if it was going to cooperate and we began getting our stuff together.

Having never ridden China Camp we weren't sure what to expect. I had heard that it was the only legal singletrack in the area and was known as a great riding place, but like many places, I was afraid it might not live up to the hype....in this case it totally lived up to the hype. The day was to be filled with lush greenery, great trails, good friends and decent weather.

The ride started out easy enough. Almost perfectly tailored to the SS with narrow, winding trails that although they climbed, weren't brutal to the point that it was miserable.....boy was that about to change.

Soon enough, we turned a corner and the trail turn upward.....seriously upward...upward to the point that had I been on a geared bike I would still have thought of walking. On the SS it just got to the point that I couldn't stand and grind without losing traction, or coughing up a lung. At about the 3/4 point there's a switchback and I had to stop - or die.

Eventually with a bit of walking I made it to the top where re-grouped and started down the other side. Down and down we went, around corners, through switchbacks until eventually we came to a fork in the trail.
It was here that the maps came out, the GPSes were consulted and the discussion began. Soon it became apparent no-one had any idea where we were or which way we were supposed to go. The discussion continued until some guy rode up and confirmed our fears. Yep, back up the hill.

After regaining what we had thought was the peak we realized we still had quite a bit more uphill before we got to the real top. So uphill we went.
Thankfully, most of it was switchbacks and the climb was gentle. Again, perfect for me and the Jabber. At least until we came out to some pavement.

Thinking that as long as it was paved I could climb it, we started off.....soon enough though I realized that paved or not, I didn't have the horsepower to get up this hill....again I was forced to dismount and walk the rest of the way. The only consolation was that a couple others on geared bikes also walked.

Eventually we got to the real top of the hill.


It was there that the fun began in earnest....the trail curved and wound down the hill. There was one section that was really steep, rutted and almost made me wish for suspension...again, we made a wrong turn and went down a trail for a ways before someone realized we were headed the wrong direction....backtracking only adds to the adventure.


The downhill only got better and better. The trail snaked it's way down the mountain we had spent all morning climbing and eventually, our faces plastered with smiles we made it back to where we had begun....

I've never understood how weather people can be so wrong so often and still make a living. In this case I was thankful they held up the tradition of inaccuracy, the weather today had been perfect!

Cool aqnd cloudy with one or two drizzles and eventually even a little sunshine during our after-ride bbq.

what a fantastic day!!!! Another New Year's Day ride in the bag!

3 comments:

Struggling with Duality said...

I don't recall walking at all. Of course, I bought my bikes to ride, not push - but I'm weird that way.

OldNSlo said...

yeah, whatever.....you geared people are just weird that way...

Struggling with Duality said...

"you geared people"? I'm sorry, how many gearing options are on your K2 MTB or your Giant road bike? How many? What, I'm sorry, I did not hear you - say it again? Oh, 24 - and 18 - thank you. somebody woke up on the wrong side of the Bigot bed.