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!
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.
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.)
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.
For Dia de los Muertos, Ashley brought us a collection of cowls for a Death ride in Joaquin Miller. ’twas a beautiful autumn day, and everyone was out there; a ton of hikers and dogs, and even another group of unicyclists we met up near Sequoia Arena. Great to see more folks out there!
Ricardo with his new 125mm cranks edged out Dragon for Best Biff, though Dragon still took Worst Injury, landing hard on his ribs coming off the diving board on Chaparral. Faye managed Most Broken Unicycle as well as Best Cliffside Retrieval when her crank fired off her uni and down the hill. Tristan one-footed it for a while before they turned back.
There’s some “Sundays in the Park” concert series going on up at Joaquin Miller, so there were hundreds of cars parked near the main entrance. For us, Sundays in the park can start anywhere, so we went up top, hit Chaparral, and tried out Josh’s new brake setup on the chutes by the meadow (worked great). Dragon won Best Biff for the day (and maybe the year) with a spectacular flying faceplant. He also put in the current annual leader in the unicycle bowling category on the same hill. An impressive showing!
Just in time to take some more pictures, I’m finally caught up with the ones I’ve already taken. This batch was from Dimond Canyon last weekend, where Josh got the bright idea to take advantage of the drought to ride up the dry creek bed. Sausal Creek was heavily channelized and segmented back during the end of the WPA era, so there are lots of decaying concrete structures around. We had some cool challenges riding from one to the next through the loose rock gardens of the creek bed.
Dragon won Best Biff (as usual), and all of us wound up banging one part of our body or another on the obstacles, but it was fun to try out a different approach to the park, that we won’t be able to do once the rains start back in (assuming they do). We might ride it that way for the Sunday MUni ride at BACAFest.
Finally getting back onto the local trails, we’ve hit a couple of rides recently. The first one in Joaquin Miller, with old stalwarts Chris and Ricardo, and newcomer Harrison, a freshman both at Cal and on the trails, out there on his 29er. Hard for even a newbie to beat Ricardo for Best Biff, though; he waited until the bonus trail to bust it out, but it was a good one, flying over a boulder he was trying to hop up on.
After spending some weekends on roads on two wheels, it was time to get back to the dirt on one. It was a hot day so we went for a shaded ride in Dimond Canyon, with a jaunt up to take in part of Joaquin Miller. Josh unfortunately hurt his ankle playing around on the jump right at the start of the ride, but Best Biff was won later by Kevin, trying a highly inadvisable chute near the top of the Dimond switchbacks. That was second blood, though, with First Blood going to Scott’s pedal bite early in the ride.