January 15, 2005: Epic ride number one for the year

Today, I was fortunate enough to hook up with Romulus for a rip through the Woodside-Skyline corridor. I was a little worried about the weather last night, but morning dawned clear and sunny. As I crossed over the hill to meet Rom at the junction of Edgewood and Canada, I entered a surreal fog bank covering Crystal Springs, but this cleared off as we moved south on Canada.

Too bad there's no place good to ride
Romulus picks his way through Skeggs
Cannonball suffers on Skyline

From the junction of Canada and Edgewood roads, we pedaled south into Woodside, then took Whiskey Stage Road over to Portola Valley where we picked up Old La Honda. During this entire first part of the ride we jockeyed playfully with the roadies out there, and we not only held our own, we passed the roadies, with authority. Occasionally, a lone roadie on a mission would crawl past us, but just as we did on Mt. Diablo last summer (See July 11, 2004: A true test of skill . . . and nerve), we dropped some skinnies. If we had been on our road bikes, hooooo Nellie' look out!

As we spun along, Romulus let me in on his Theory of Sporting Goods. Romulus sees sporting goods as overpriced and of pathetic quality. Retailers obnoxiously push their own brands; advertised "sales" prices are what the prices should reasonably be to begin with; consumers have to go to multiple retailers to get all the things that they want; and they stuff that they do find is shit. This seems especially true for cycling clothing and materials. The upshot is, as we have discussed in this space many times (See June 28, 2004: MTB Marxism -- Power to the people!), the cycling industry is doing nothing to nurture itself.

During the climb up Old LH, my camera/phone went off, and I admit, out of reflex, I answered it. How can I rail in good conscience against the scourge of cellphonemania in this world, when I robotically react to my little tracking device every time it chirps at me? Turned out to be CrankenFine looking for a ride. D'oh! Missed him today. I guess the good thing about the calendar is there's always another weekend to look forward to. We'll see thee on the morrow master CrankenFine.

We crested out on Skyline, and Romulus set about finding what was labeled on the map as the Skyline Trail. We could not determine from the map Romulus had whether this was a no-bikes trail or not. Romulus found what he was looking for and we got about a mile of trail in before we passed some residences. Sure enough, some vigilante landowner starts politely but firmly and without the slightest hint of compassion relieving our ignorance about local trail restrictions. Apparently, we had been riding a private stitch of trail that was itself an off-shoot of the no-bikes Wunderlich trail. Hmm. We played the ignorance card, "Golly sir, we'ze just all turned around. Which way to Skeggs?" That seemed to work and he "allowed" us to climb the adjacent earthen bank up to Skyline. I guarantee this guy has an antique revolver and a framed picture of Wyatt Earp in his den. It also struck me that it was no coincidence that a trail named W is so jealously guarded by the privileged class.

Once again on Skyline, we headed for Skeggs. The trails have been closed the last few months for trail repairs and improvements, but they're open now. We decided to cherry-pick some of the upper trails and work our way north up Skyline towards Kings Mountain Road.

This is where the ride turned epic. As Romulus later noted, we had hammered ourselves pretty hard on the climbs earlier in the ride and when we hit the rolling singletrack of upper Skeggs, our legs were quickly wobbled. Skeggs is Skeggs. The downhills were exhilarating -- it does feel like flying. But maybe a little too much. Romulus and I compared notes later in the ride and found that we had both been out of control at more than one point during the Skeggs downhill sections.

My timing and balance are not quite tuned to Skeggs quality at this point in the season. After so many road miles, I've gotten a little rusty with the fine art of evacuating the bike in a crash situation (and also a little rusty with the fine art of not evacuating the bowels during a hairball downhill). To bail or not to bail, such is often the question. Don't leave it up to Skeggs to answer that question for you.

Other than the difficulty level, the Skeggs trails were in really good shape. There were a few mushy spots, but for the most part the trails were firm and tacky. Look out for the wet leaves though.

By the time we got to Kings Mountain Road, we were spent, having long since reached the point of strained suffering, each rider silently contemplating their own pain points and enacting idiosyncratic methods for enduring.

The bomb down Kings Mountain was delicious, if not a bit wobbly. Once I hit the slobber point during a ride, the brain automatically reduces power to autopilot and I'm not fully dialed in on anything. Such was the case by the time we reached King's Mountain road, but we still hit the high 30s on this descent -- it felt faster than that.

Back at the cars, I lauded Romulus for his idea to ride with rear fenders today. I've always thought fenders were for weenies and commuters, but what a difference it made out in the mud today. Usually when I plow through the mud, I tense up for that rooster tail of mud and cold water in the small of my back. Today the bike got really muddy, but my clothes were practically spotless. And, it weighs hardly anything and installs in seconds. Blackburn, bring on your endorsement deal!


Mileage: 32.97 Time: 3:18:04 Avg: 9.9 Max: 39.0 Weight: 

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