Blazing new territory

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.)

Chris and Dragon playing on the slope

Dragon and mustard

Ashley cresting the last hill

 

Oaktown, baby

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!

Dragon on the drop

MUnis in the mist

 

Going to the mountain

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!)

Ashley on the switchbacks, Green Valley Trail

Chris and Diablo

The group on the last downhill

Not rained out

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.

Chris on the spiral

Training series kick-off

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.

Dimond Canyon MUni

Trying the skinny

Dimond Canyon

On the Ricardo Rock

Hazy Shade of Winter

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!

Chris on Lower Tilly

Josh

Josh riding the submerged trail

Chris dropping in

Josh

Josh on Rock Gardens

Misty MUni

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!

Misty MUni

Misty MUni

Misty MUni

Misty MUni

Misty MUni

 

Modified Tom’s Rob-ish

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.)

Climbing through Piedmont

Climbing through Piedmont

Butters Canyon

At the tree stunt

Bonus trail

Returning to the flats

 

Rockin’ in Rockville

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!

Playing in the quarry

Playing in the quarry

Playing in the quarry

On Cascade Trail

The bridge skinny

 

MUni with Bernard

Bernard was in town from Paris, and he needed to get some East Bay dirt. We had a good turnout (8 riders) in Joaquin Miller for a mellow loop on a beautiful day. We did an unusual jaunt down Sunset (we usually go up). Not unusually, Dragon won Best Biff (a relatively scary-looking faceplant into a tree on the rock face on the north fork of Big Trees), and we got back in time to do homework.

Views on Sequoia Bayview

Dragon trying the climb on Big Trees

Harrison on Big Trees downhill

Downhill on Big Trees

Bernard on Big Trees

Dragon dropping in on Sunset