The end of our training series has arrived; one last trip to Tamarancho, one last climb up Iron Springs, one last blast through the Boneyard, and one last race down Endor. Followed, unfortunately, by one more climb back over the last ridge, which is easy to forget to remember until you have to do it.
Everyone did well, better than when we were here last, and that’s all you can hope for in a training series. Ashley and I are off to Nepal this week (along with other locals Nathan, Corbin, Michelle, Chris, Stefan, and Willie), and while it’s not really possible to simulate climbing a pass at over 18,000 feet, we did as much as we could to get prepared.
Thanks to everyone who participated in the ride series, especially those who drove, hosted, or otherwise helped us make it the most fun, and the most work it could be.
Phew. Diablo’s always a strenuous workout, but doing it on dirt makes it truly epic. We found a couple nice new trails which meant we could do a loop that started and finished without long road segments. Plus they added three or four bonus climbs! Along with the Summit Trail, which is a serious slog up, we got a great workout, got ice cream at the top (you hear that, Mount Tam?) and then burned our brakes and legs on the way down. The hills were gorgeous and green, the wildflowers were out all over the place, and we reached the pinnacle of the Nepal training series feeling pretty good about heading to Annapurna next week. (Next week!)
Our Nepal training took us down to Santa Cruz for an an overnighter this weekend. We rode Soquel Demo Forest on Saturday and Michelle’s Rob’s Ride on Sunday.
Demo Forest was pretty amazing; we had seven riders there who are going to be in Nepal (me, Chris, Ashley, Nathan, Michelle, Stefan, and Corbin). That’s 25% of the tour! We climbed up Buzzard Lagoon, which I’d never done before, and then took the still-under-construction flow trail down, although a couple of folks split off to do Braille Trail instead. Unfortunately the flow trail there isn’t as uni-friendly as the one in Tamarancho, so next time we’re all doing Braille Trail. But it was a great workout, capped off by that soul-sucking climb back to the parking lot at the end.
After a party at Michelle’s place, we crashed down there and then headed to Rob’s in the morning for Rob’s Ride. We went up the newish EMC trail, which adds a whole bunch more dirt to the ride, and looped around in Pogonip to work on our braking skills. Ricardo won Most Broken Unicycle as he taco’ed his Coker wheel, but we kicked it back into shape enough to finish the ride. Dragon won the top 10 biffs, as most of the crew was in don’t-get-[re]-injured mode.
And then, a round of disc golf at the brand new San Jose course to top off the weekend, thanks to Daylight Saving Time. [Verdict: Not bad, but not as dynamic as some of the other South Bay courses, and somewhat punitive in their pin placements.]
Mount Tam is a relative pip-squeak in Himalayan terms, but it’s one of the best training rides we have around here. So a group of us, including four Unipal folks, headed over to Marin on a gorgeous day to crank up Old Railroad and fly down Eldridge Grade. On the last day of standard time, we were out almost until sunset, and got some beautiful light on the still waters of the bay.
Dragon won First Blood, Best Cliffside Retrieval, Best Biff, and Best Injury, in four separate incidents. Dude, leave some awards for everyone else.
On to a double ride next weekend; we’re less than a month away!
Well, that was a new one on us; we’ve never been hailed on on a ride before, nor have we had to shelter from some pretty serious thunder and lightning. Exciting stuff! It made the trails more exciting too, with lots of mud and slickness added to the already technical riding at Annadel. Dragon won Best Biff of course, but Josh edged him out for cliffside retrieval. Ricardo continues to explore the possibilities for what MUni can be done on a 36″. The weather made for nice photography, and we managed to get home with no major injuries, and in time for birthday parties and other general festivities.
The trails have dried out, so the previously postponed ride in Tamarancho was back on for this weekend. Seven riders joined up to take on the trails, and man, if you do a lot of do-overs on the climb and rock gardens in Tamarancho, it’s a ridiculously tiring ride. Only a few of us had enough energy to go up to the very top of Endor (the flow trail), but it was worth it, because the first berm is the biggest, an impossibly high banked turn, and that’s just the start of the fun.
The unis ranged from Ricardo’s geared 36 down to Chris’ short-crank 24″, along with Ashley’s old-school steel KH boat anchor 24″ with 170s. Everyone had fun. Dragon, of course, won Best Biff and Best Human Cliffside Retrieval, but G beat him out in the Unicycle Cliffside Retrieval and Really, I Started This Ride On A No-Sugar Diet categories.
Fun was had by all, and we may have to revisit the spot for another training ride, it was that butt-kicking.
From the rain to the desert, Chris and I showed up to represent the Bay Area folks down at Arizona MUni Weekend in Phoenix. Chris started this event back when he lived down there, and it’s been taken over by Nate Bernstein, who we met as a wee one back at Moab MUniFest in 2003. He did a great job organizing, and fun was had by all. Well, some fun was had; I won Best Injury at the bottom of Cheese Grater (the hardest trail of the weekend) by bashing my knee into a boulder, had to walk out and get three stitches. That wasn’t fun. But other than that it was another great MUni weekend!
We’d originally planned to ride Camp Tamarancho over in Marin, but one of the rules at Tamarancho is to let the trails dry out after a rain (especially Endor, the flow trail that we were really excited to try with some fast unis). So we redirected to Joaquin Miller, where the riding’s always great regardless of the weather. And, it was. We parked at the bottom, started out with some playing at the fountains (the spiral walls are fun), did the chute by the overlook and then the chutes by the meadow (some good brake practice), climbing One Buck, looping down Palos Colorados, back up One Buck, up Big Trees, and then rolling down Cinderella/Sinawick/Bishop’s Walk back to the cars.
Ricardo continued his streak of bad mechanical luck with a failed tire bead that kept popping his tire off the rim. He also got first blood with an impressive biff on the stairs at the fountain, but was easily beaten out for Best Biff at the end of the ride when Dragon went off the side of Bishop’s Walk and slid 30 feet down the hill.
We’ll try for Tamarancho again after we get back from Phoenix MUni Weekend next week.
We went down to Santa Cruz to have Corbin lead us on his version of Rob’s Ride (with Rob himself unfortunately sidelined by illness), climbing on the new EMC trail instead of going up the road (more dirt = more fun!) Most of us then descended down to Highway 9 on Airborne, which was a bit over-gnarly for the big wheels, and even my sweet new 29er MUni skipped a couple of sections. (Although one of those sections, Corbin rode in high gear. He gets a point for that.) Then we looped it back around on EMC to get back in time to watch the Marshawn vs. Shane Vereen Bowl. EMC was a good warm-up for next week’s Flow Trail at Tamarancho; swoopy and fun. Grace won Best Biff on her recumbent, trying to get over a slippery pipe, and I got First Blood, with extra points for christening my new uni with it.
We’re starting to ramp up the Nepal training series, and with that in mind we headed over to China Camp on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. We had a huge crew, a dozen people, including newcomer Eric from Marin. (Welcome!) Most of the group did one loop, three of us (me, Beau and Nathan) did a double, and one (Dragon) did one loop plus a bonus climb.
Dragon won Best Biff along with Best Human Cliffside Retrieval, unfortunately my fault because I’d installed the wheel backwards on the uni he was borrowing. Oops. We were able to get the pedal reinstalled (one benefit of cheap steel cranks), to give him two or three more opportunities to re-tweak his ankle injury. (Take it easy, dude).
Harrison’s video contribution this week is a compilation of Josh’s attempt (eventually successful) to ride up the side of a tree.