Brace yourself for a long tale, of a long, but fruitful day!
Some of you may have noted our small effort at providing a Mountian Biking outlet for those of us with an interest in riding off the beaten road. Bruce Bothwell, who really enjoys trail riding, has been kind enough to co-lead these rides, and show us some of the many trails on offer in the East Bay. Today was the third ride in the series. This beginner series soon turned into at least; an intermediate trail riding series. Much of the trails that Bruce has shown us have been quite technical, and on occasion a pretty darn strenuous.
Well today's ride outdid the all other rides by far. Bruce and I were joined by Rens, Rob, Steve Torrence, and after my tugging his ear at the shop the other day, Ed Milhauson. We were able to get to the Fruitvale Station in time for the first train departing for San Leandro at 0823. We then rode toward the hills, and up Lake Chabot road dropping down onto the Lake Chabot Loop at the old quarry. After wardrobe and tire pressure adjustments at the marina, we headed out for Cameron loop, and Ten Hills, trails that lead us to the Golf Course on Redwood Road. After a wee break, taking advantage of the newly refurbished bathrooms (see what I did there? ;-) we headed up Brandon and Redtail Trails. Brandon's a bit of a bruiser, and Redtail's single tracks were a bit technical, but we all made it up to Bort Meadow in fine form, there we enjoyed a short break under the Redwoods resting up for the next leg of our journey.
Then it was onto MacDonald Trail where we got ""Bruced". Getting Bruced is when Bruce can't resist something that we might find more challenging than we might think we are capable of, or at least off the beaten path. This was the latter, a genuine Cow Path that was not near as smooth as it looked from a distance. Let's just say that my hardtail MTB, and Ed's tail-end resting on his ill fitting seat were not exactly overjoyed with the present state of affairs. ;-) I believe it was near the end of this section that Rob, otherwise known as OTB (Over the bars.) in another lifetime, did a perfect forward roll into a cyclocross carry of his MTB, all in slow motion, right before my eyes. Neither he, nor his bike, suffered any serious injury while performing this amazing maneuver, put into motion when he was distracted by some innocent bystanders, then hitting a rut, and finding full compression of his front shocks. After a quick dusting off by Rob, and a minor repair to my chain after some improper shifting on a climb, we then joined Redwood, and Pinehurst Roads for some road riding on our MTBs. (Actually I'm off on the chronology here, but it's of no consequence.) Rens parted company and rode back home on Redwood Road after performing admirably while riding in sleep deprivation mode. She has a very busy household, and has not been getting enough sleep lately.
At the Pinehurst Staging Area near the top of "Little Pinehurst" we joined East Ridge Trail. After passing many hikers, bikers, and a few horses we found cool water and some welcome shade with a fence rail to sit on at the Skyline Gate Staging Area about noon. A very nice sea breeze cooled us down on Skyline to Sibley where after a short break, we entered the sublime, Skyline Trail. This is where Ed chose to part company after suffering much on a saddle that was out to get him. Unfortunately he missed the best trail of the day. This section was not too narrow or wide or bumpy or flat or steep, but just a gorgeous decent to the 24 Freeway Tunnel portal, and Fish Ranch Road. The single track that would have lead us back up to Grizzly Peak Road is closed to MTBs, so again we were MTBing on the road while climbing Fish Ranch, and Grizzly Peak Roads to the Steam Trains. Let me tell you that decending Fish Ranch is an immeasurably quicker decent on a road bike, than it is a climb it on a MTB.
Next was Volmer Peak trial that would lead us to Seaview Trial, then Westwards towards our final destination, but it was decided that we must climb to the top of Volmer Peak first. I have no idea idea why we did this in our present state of exhaustion, other than "Because it's there." It's an incredibly difficult climb, even on a MTB. The stunning views both inland and offshore made the arduous climb well worth it. We continued on Seaview until we reached Wildcat Canyon Road and the Inspiration Point trailhead. After a quick pee and snot break, we headed West onto the Nimitz Ridge trail where we found steep climbs and decents, and amazing cross winds and even more amazing views. Once, I felt a tremendous push forwards, another time I was shoved sideways at least six inches. On another stretch the wind was on my left hip and I sailed up a hill. All firsts for me. :-) After some crazy climbs and wild decents, we finally arrived at the El Cerrito Trail Head.
Steve reported 6000 something feet of elevation gain at the 42 mile mark. Another first for me, 150 feet per mile. We followed San Pablo Blvd. to the Del Norte BART station were I missed the train while getting something to eat after bonking all afternoon. I must mention that this must have been around 4:30. This adventure took a bit longer than expected. Rob and Steve justly took advantage of the timely train departure, while Bruce waited with me 19 more hungry minutes for the next one. Bruce and I got back to the shop about 5:45. My iPhone finally died near El Cerrito, so I'll post more complete stats tomorrow after Steve gets back to me.
If you think reading this expansive text was tough, just think of what we managed to do today. It was one of those days that challenged all of us. But we met the the challenge in fine form and good spirits for an absolutely Epic day!
I hope you can join us in the near future when we will have a much more reasonable itinerary. Presently we're thinking of just riding up to Joaquin Miller park and exploring the myriad trails to be found there. It should be a great morning's adventure.
I'll have to keep an eye out for your MTB rides; I've been heading out solo lately, which is not the safest way to do it. I will have to say that your route sounded like "way too much climbing for me", but perhaps I could have survived! I'll look out for the next one.
Stats. update: BART to BART., 42.4 miles, 6037 feet of elevation gain, and 5:12 moving time. All from Steve's Garmin.
Brian, please do join us for the next one. It will be much mellower, probably in about two weeks. I'll post it to the calendar as soon as I can.
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