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.
We kicked off the Nepal training series in grand fashion, doing the Dimond/Joaquin Miller loop from the bottom to the top. When we’re Moab training we usually don’t work up to this until late February, but we’re starting big for this event. (We’ll be 10,000 feet higher than the highest ride in Moab).
We had a good crew, seven people including three registered Nepal riders, and we had great weather (though not great views, pretty dang smoggy in the Bay right now, time for a rain dance) and a fun time tiring ourselves out on the trails. The highlight was Dragon’s new claim for Best Biff Of All Time, trying a steep hillside in Dimond, failing early, going into a roll, and a roll, and a roll, and a roll. That also counted for first blood, but the judges are still considering whether it counts as a cliffside retrieval if you were intentionally riding down the cliff.
And Merry Christmas! Harrison captured the event on his new GoPro.
For the first ride in the Nepal training series, we crashed the BTCEB Gala Ride up at Rockville Hills. As usual, we didn’t see too many bikes, because the trails we ride are too hard for most of them. We had a special guest, Stephen, who is back in the Bay Area for a few months and hasn’t forgotten how to ride, and Corbin also came up from the southland.
We spent a good 45 minutes on Lower Tilly/Manzanita, found a new loop back from there that’s going to be the new default, cruised over to the Cascade (Chris cleaned it, his first time ever), and hurried back from there, arriving just before the beer ran out.
Lots of impressive biffs (Dragon won but he had a lot of competition), nice lighting for photography, and a ton of fun riding.
Ushering in the new season, we went up to Rockville Hills and played around in the mist. It was really quiet, with no wind, almost no one in the park, and they haven’t brought the cows up there yet this year. There’s a ton of water (both lakes are overflowing), and we had some fun riding on trails covered with a foot of water.
I won Best Smack Into An Overhanging Manzanita Branch, Josh won First Blood, but Chris trumped all with what has to be called the Biff of the Year (sorry, Dragon), along with Best Human And Unicycle Cliffside Retrieval, by falling backwards off the trail and doing a full flip, landing past the switchback 20 feet below.
Gorgeous light, fun riding, and the place to ourselves. Here’s to the next solar cycle!
We hit the trails right when the last cloudy remnants of Stormageddon (puhleeze) were lifting off the peaks, which made for a beautiful ride. There were surprisingly few trees down; I guess the wind mostly came before the rain moistened the soil. A couple days of drainage had left the trails up there wet but not super-muddy; traction was pretty good, actually, except on the logs at the top of Castle Park, where Chris won Best Biff and Best Injury. G later grabbed First Blood.
Funny thing about a dry day is that your uni comes back all muddy. When it’s raining it comes back clean. Of course, there’s only one way to clean off a MUni–ride more MUni!
K wanted a chance to try out a geared uni, which inspired us to go for Tom’s Rob-ish Ride. We hadn’t ridden it as a group in some time, although I often use it to crank out a quickie, so to speak.
The roads were dry but the trails were muddy after the week’s rains. We had fun playing in the mud, including a skidding contest in the meadow (Geronimo won). At Ricardo’s urging we modified the route to go down Cinderella, which was quite tricky given the conditions, but fun. And I was glad to see that the drains I dug at the trail maintenance day a few weeks back are working great.
We took a shortcut on the way back, on a route I had scouted but discarded as the main option for the ride. G won Best Human Cliffside Retrieval on the north part of Sunset Trail, which is also where Harrison won Best Unicycle Cliffside Retrieval. Unfortunately it wasn’t until after we got to the road that K won Best Biff, losing control on super-steep Castle Drive. Road biffing isn’t nearly as fun as mud biffing. No serious injuries, but the new route will be used on an as-required basis only. (It’s a little shorter.)
Our friend Felix made it to the Bay on his international unicycle tour; we saw him at UNICON in Montreal in August, and he’s been riding west since then. To take a break from road riding, we took him out to Rockville to get some real MUni action. He did great, making the chutes in the quarry, the rocks in the rock garden, and linking the cascade.
Dragon won Best Biff, First Blood, and unfortunately Worst Injury, as he tweaked his ankle badly enough that he missed out on a bunch of the fun stuff. RICE it, dude.
From here, Felix heads south along the coast, eventually looking to arrive in Mexico City in a couple of months. What an adventure!