but... I threw it together for SPOKES magazine and it did not make the cut
too much of a narrative
not enough information
so... since I went through the time
I might as well post it here
it was a great ride
I enjoyed the exercise of revisiting the experience
here it is...
Earlier this season I got on a plane and flew out to
When I got the SAVE THE DATE email from an old college friend inviting me to his wedding in Santa Cruz I immediately contacted a mutual friend of the groom to see if he had been invite as well. My old friend Kevin McCarthy who earned the nickname of Snoopy in college said he had gotten the invite. I planted the seed of heading out for the wedding and doing some mountain biking the days before the weekend. It did not take long for this seed to grow... Snoopy was game. It was agreed that we would be heading to
The planning did not involve a well organized itinerary. We were not clear about where we were staying or where we were going to ride. Our planning did not involve much more than requesting the vacation dates and booking tickets. As the trip departure date grew closer Snoopy and I began trying to decide what we were going to do about bikes. Our initial plan was to bring our own mountain bikes. In fact… we each had our bikes and gear boxed and were debating between the options of shipping the boxes via UPS or taking the boxes as luggage on the plane. After a mixture of deliberation and few rounds of rock paper scissors we decided to rent bikes once we landed in
I had already been in contact with Lars Thomsen of Trailhead Cyclery in
The flight across the country started in early morning on the east coast, which had us landing on the west coast in
Wilder Ranch is a California State Park which covers roughly 7,000 acres with 34 miles of hiker, biker, horse trails located right on Route One, right on the coast just a few miles outside of Santa Cruz. Years ago Snoopy and I rode these trails when out visiting this same set of college friends for a different wedding. We both agreed that the moderate technical terrain and the fairly familiar trails would be a good way to get accustom to the unfamiliar rental bikes. The parking area around the Wilder Ranch was filled with an assortment of vehicles with obvious marks that these cars, trucks, and trailers were owned by mountain bikers, bicycle shops, or mountain bike companies. People from all over the country and perhaps the world were in the area for the Sea Otter Classic and it looked like a good number of them were sampling the local trails of Wilder Ranch before the multi-day bicycle festival began just south in
Our posh rental bikes got some compliments. Snoopy was riding the aqua marine blue dual suspension Specialized Test Bike with The Brain while I was on an Ibis with a pale tan frame and squish both front and rear perhaps the Mojo… I am not sure. The specific specs on each bike were not as important as a moderately appropriate fit, but I was pleased to see that others could appreciate our choices. The other riders apparently knew the quality of our bikes and the reputation of the two machines. Here in the east Snoopy and I ride cross country hard tails so this trip to the moderate trails at Wilder Ranch aided in us getting a feeling for the steering and the response of the alternate technology of dual suspension before we stepped things up a notch the following days of more technical riding. The sun had not quite set but it was getting late. A little over two hours of riding and hanging out on the trails at Wilder Ranch was enough for each of us to get a feel of the rental squishy bikes so we packed things up and headed into town to connect with our California friends as well as some other friends who had traveled in from the east.
Our first night in
The El Corte de
Snoopy and followed Lars’ instructions and took a short climb to the top and ripped through what we knew was going to be a glorious roller coaster downhill. Early into our ride we had to modify the instructions so that we could hit the downhill of the Resolution Trail a second time. We took a right hand turn that weaved down a ways more before eventually climbed back to the top. It was sweet! It was worth it! The front and rear travel of the high tech Ibis bike gave me the freedom to lay off the brakes and enjoy the ride. The well tuned brakes gave me the confidence to corner fast and hard on the unfamiliar trails knowing that I could tone things down and pull things back when I needed to. We were ripping it! There was no dramatic air and we did not clear the crazy technical obstacles even with the second pass giving us greater familiarity. But it was well worth the short climb to back to Skeggs Point for a second dose of adrenalin that Resolution Trail helps to create.
The trails at El Corte de Madera are nothing short of epic. But the excitement did not end with the Resolution trail. There was still plenty of adrenalin to be had on a network of trails whose names I have since forgotten. The beauty of this ride is not limited to the quality of the terrain, the surrounding area is a sensation in itself. As we got further from the trailhead and deeper into the valley the Redwood trees got taller and wider. Redwoods reaching for the sky with massive trunks and deeply corrugated bark. Old stumps the size of American made SUVs showed a history of what once occupied these forests. When we reached the lower limits of the ride we took a break to refuel before the climb to the top. What a place for a picnic. What a place to refuel your body and your soul. We got to ride a little extra because we did get lost. Getting lost is part of mountain biking. The ride was all smiles. The smiles were so big that there was no frowning when we realized we had missed our turn and had to back track or on the long climb back to the top where our car was parked. Once back to the car we loaded things up and took Route One back to
Another late night of boys and beers added to yet another late morning. Things were not that wild and crazy as this bachelor party was nothing more than a catered feast of salmon and steak tacos by a bonfire on the beach, but it did make us to move a little slow out of the gate. More coffee and food… this time the food was eaten on the drive to the trail to economize time. The approaching evening involved more wedding activities… but first we had to ride… we had to squeeze in a ride before we would have to head north to return out bikes to Trailhead Cyclery in San Jose. I wanted this to be done before rush hour traffic backed things up to parking lot speed on the interstate between
For our last day of mountain biking in
Unlike the loop at El Corte de Madera from Skeggs Point the loop at the
At the top we stalled for a second to soak in the view while we fueled up with some water from our camelbacks. No time for photographs on this ride. We each had enough time to swallow a Tiger Milk bar and a caffeine enriched GU shot before we dipped into the singletrack. The rest that follows was all smiles! THOSE TRAILS RIP! And well… we did our best to rip them. Carving banked turns and hanging on tight through steep technical descents while doing our best to huck it off the frequent drop offs. There were a good number of log rams and dirt jumps that we each took The Girl Scout Routes around. But the less gutsy options were still a hoot! IT was amazing… it was epic… The trails at the Soquel Demonstration Forest ROCK!
Sweat soaked we got to the car wishing for more! Had it not been for the need to return the bikes and switch our full focus to the wedding party we would have most certainly spent a few more hours exploring the Demo Trails. But instead we loaded up the car and headed north to
We returned to
information on the various trails of