In our final (and almost only) training ride for MUni Weekend, we headed out to Tamarancho for the full loop. That ride is always more tiring than you’d think it should be; it’s long, it’s all up and down, and it’s always a bit more technical than you remember it as. And, I suppose, now that we usually go down Endor, the big downhill is not technical but is pretty intense to ride.
Ricardo and I got some pretty good flow on some of the berms; still not 100% solid but we’re getting faster. Dragon won Best Biff falling off the side of the trail toys, but also got a point for getting up and over the fat log up there. We met a youngun on a bike who hung with us for an hour or so; we’re hoping he’s another unicyclist in the making.
Bravo Canada produced an amazingly high-quality video about last year’s UNICON 17 in Montreal, featuring interviews with locals Jimbo and John Foss, and about two seconds of a Berkeley Revolution game.
We were invited to perform at the opening of the Marin Bicycle Museum and Mountain Bike Hall of Fame over in Fairfax. We brought a mini basketball team and messed around for 45 minutes or so, got free lunch and beer, and then headed up to Camp Tamarancho to crash the Chainless downhill race on the flow trail.
Ricardo took first among the unis at 5:08, but didn’t succeed at his goal of beating at least one bike. Doing that might take someone willing to blast it in high gear (which is Totally Doable but freakin’ scary).
Anyway, because we started late we approached Endor from the counter-clockwise direction, which turns out to be fun and shorter than the whole loop, so now we have another way to enjoy Tamarancho. And we met a new rider, Ned, who lives over there and looks like he’ll be a great addition.
Ashley suggested that we go check out the new trail system at Crockett Hills. Jim Johnson, builder of Tamarancho, and the BTCEB have gotten permission to build singletrack trails through a park that’s mostly open grazing land (pockmarked and smelly, like most of the EBRPD grazing land), with a few nice oak groves to break up the heat.
It’s reasonably nice stuff for a big wheel, but it’s too smooth for real MUni. The first flow trail is fun, the second one not really worth the extra ride. Doing the first one twice is probably the winning move.
Unfortunately this place is going to be blazing hot in the summer, and unrideable in the winter because of clay soil. But it’s nice to have another option out there, especially since it’s the first time EBRPD has allowed any construction of cycle-legal singletrack on their land. (And they have a lot of land, more than any other agency in the East Bay.)
It was good to get back to Joaquin Miller; looking back at my photos, training for Unipal took us to other, longer rides, so we’d only been there once in 2015. (How is that possible?)
There are a good number of changes since we were last there. The staircase by the old burned-down building has been rebuilt, with a switchback trail paralleling it (might be a nice connector from the bottom of Cinderella). Upper Palos Colorados is in the process of being re-routed into switchbacks as well, a process that looks like it will take quite a while, but we rode some bits of it.
Chaparral hasn’t changed, still the most fun trail in the park. The rocky sections gotten even a bit harder.
We got some mist that made for nice shots. Welcome home, guys!
It’s taken a while to dig out from under the pile of memories and photographs I brought home from the Nepal trip, made all the more poignant by the devastating earthquake which struck just a few hours after the last of our group boarded her plane in Kathmandu. It had already been an intense trip before the connection to a disastrous event.
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!