Thursday, June 23, 2011

Summer Solstice Ride....

Sweat was pouring in to my eyes and I was pedaling like crazy. The only problem was I wasn’t making any headway….I mean, I guess I was moving fast enough to stay upright, but for all the effort I was putting in, I should have been flying up the hill instead of wobbling and bouncing along at a pace barely faster than walking….actually, maybe not even as fast as walking….

It was Tuesday the 21st….our second Annual Summer Solstice Ride in which we celebrate the longest day of the year with a mt bike ride and a bbq. It was also the hottest day of the year so far with temps in the 90s in the east bay.

We met up at Jerry’s house in the Hayward Hills and, after everyone agreeing that we were nuts to ride on a day like this, we headed out. The trail starts out with a nice steep downhill followed by a solid mile of climbing. Some areas of the climb are so steep that even after multiple attempts by the strongest climbers in our group, everyone walked them.

It appears that the parks dept has been out there doing trail “maintenance” recently. Yes, evidently if you work for the parks department then you consider dragging the trails with a D9 Cat to be “maintenance”. This left the trails ragged, loose and full of large sections of soft fluff and clods the size of basketballs…..

The last section of the climbing is a short, rutted, steeper than Jerry’s driveway section of maybe 100 yards that left me feeling like I might lose my lunch. It’s in full sun as well as full view of the riders ahead of you at the top, so there’s no chance that I was getting off to walk no matter how loudly I could hear my heart pounding in my ears.
Once we reached the top and regrouped for the requisite “aren’t we having fun now” photo, the fun began as the next section is a rolling, ripping 2 mile downhill through the trees that almost justified the climbing we had just finished. Even the parks dept “maintenance” couldn’t prevent the whooping and smiling that this section generated.

From here, the decision to continue or head back was upon us and Bob and Jerry, needing to get the BBQ started headed back while the rest of us continued “down” the hill. I put down in quotation marks because although we were working our way down the canyon, there were still several short steep sections that caused me to question my decision not to go back with Jerry and Bob.

Evidently, this section is even more well loved by the parks department since they took the “maintenance” here to a whole new level. Not only had they done the trick with the Caterpillar, it appeared almost as if they had roto-tilled sections they were so loose and full of chunks. There was also tree and shrub debris strewn throughout the trail to add to our fun.

There were a few creek crossings which are always entertaining.

As we reached the mid-point of the second section of the trail it, was already 7:30 and, not wanting to miss out on the BBQ we made the decision to turn around. As we began the climb out of the canyon, I realized that concentrating so hard on trying to find a decent line and stay upright while coming down the canyon, I hadn’t really been paying attention to just how much downhill we had done or just how steep a couple of the sections were.
As we climbed those sections, I was forced to sit and spin in my granny gear, legs working furiously, the rear suspension bouncing all over the trail, sweating my butt off, and again, thinking I should have volunteered to head back with the others to start the BBQ.

Eventually though we made it back to the top of the trail, jumped on the road and headed back to Jerry’s house. With only his unbelievably steep driveway standing between me and something cold to drink, there was no stopping me.

Afterwards, we enjoyed a nice BBQ, a beautiful evening and good fellowship. Toughest 6 miles and 1200ft of climbing I think I’ve ever done….

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