Sunday: to the mountains

20 03 2007

img_0181.jpgI was awoken by nearly 200 lbs of Rotweiler laying on me and licking my face at 7AM. There are worse wake up calls, and this one was soon followed by a large plate of eggs and toast and coffee. After a bit of morning fortification we loaded up the car for a long excursion on the mountain bikes. I’d be riding Larry’s custom steel Seven. The fit was nearly spot on, though a bit more upright than I’m used to on the 29er. I hesitated a little at the little wheels and all the shifty bits, but the latter would turn out to be useful as the day progressed. We’d be spending the day at altitude, with little access to water, so we packed heavily and each of us carried a Camelback laden with food and extra water.
About 40 minutes drive put us at the trail head at Sisar Rd where we mounted up and started offimg_0184.jpg (about 9:50) on a 12 mile climb that would take us nearly 4000 feet further up to the ride maximum of about 7000 feet. The road up was a rugged jeep track that gave way from lush forest to dry scrub as we climbed. At the base we covered up in arm and leg warmers and vests, but a few miles into the climb we broke through the cloud layer and felt the full blast of the sun. We stripped img_0185.jpgdown for the second half of the climb and marveled at the views of the mountains in 3 directions and the blanket of white clouds that obscured the Pacific Ocean to the West.
After an eternity of climbing we turned downhill on singletrack down the edge of the Rose Valley. Within 100 meters, Richie, leading the way on his new carbon Anthem, came across a group of hikers in a technical rock section and amazed them with aimg_0191.jpg spectacular yard sale. Larry then informed us that the bells on his handlebar were meant to alert hikers of our presence, not to deter mountain lions as we’d assumed (apparently in Santa Barbara, the bells are free at trailheads, provided by local riding clubs to ease tensions among cyclists and hikers looking to close access to the trails). The descent took us 5-6 miles down a spectacular, semi-technical side hill that at times was little more than 4-5 inches of slightly raised shale on a img_0195.jpg500 foot exposed slope. At the bottom we got onto a section of rolling up and down through a dry river bed that dropped us out at the midpoint of the ride in the Rose Valley campground.
After a break for lunch Larry offered us a short, steep option (with an extra downhill payoff) or a long gradual options. Fools that we were, Richie and I agreed to the former and we headed up a formerly paved road that took us up 2000 feet in 2 milesimg_0209.jpg (that’s 20-25 percent grade!). I sang praises to my granny gear the whole way up as I struggled to stay on top of the bike (I failed a few times, but managed to ride most of it). At the top we began an exposed 3 mile descent to the Gridley trail, which took us an additional 5 miles down to the road. Rolling down Gridley took us back down to the cloud layer and from 85 degrees to 60. Halfway down we passed through the img_0211.jpgclouds and the air became cool thick, and the vegetation went from pale and dry to a vibrant green. Just below the clouds I managed two flats in 100 meters, one a ripped sidewall and one a pinch flat (damned low volume 26ers!) so I took the bottom half of the descent at a ginger pace.
The trail dropped us out on the road, from which we had to climb back over to the trailhead where we’d left the car. The route took us back over Rt 150 on a part of the TOC course, the climb painted with messages for the riders and markings for a KOM. At the top we had a few miles of flat and rollers that put us back at the car at 4:10. Roughly 6 hours out, at least 5 pedaling. We estimated the route at 50ish miles and about 10,000 feet ofimg_0216.jpg climbing. We quickly ate everything we’d not consumed on the ride and headed back in to town, the whole way making plans for the Mexican feast we’d pick up on the way.
We stopped in downtown Ventura on the way home to pick up burritos and quesadillas from a little hole in the wall who’s clientele was predominantly Mexican (a good sign in an region with many Mexican joints to choose from). As we pulled in to the drive we were met by Mark Nobel and his partner who joined us for a meal that would put El Campesino to shame (though I still love that place!). Mark is a US National champion cyclocross rider (2007 40+), former track olympian (England 1988), father of Chance Nobel (U23 cyclocross worlds team), and all around fun guy. Despite my need to get up tp Santa Barbara for work, it was difficult to tear myself away from this cycling oasis I’d found at Larry and Sheryl’s place. So it was with a heavy heart that I packed up my things after dinner and said goodbye to my new friends and their wonderful dogs. Not to be outdone, Larry insisted that I take his Seven with me for the week in Santa Barbara. I don’t know how much use I will find for it, but I feel a strong need put that bike to use to repay Larry his amazing hospitality.




One response

20 03 2007

yay yay yay . glad to hear you are getting some great rides in. I’ve been skiiing and falling on the road (walking) because of ice so I hurt all over and feel like spring will never come. so ROCK IT OUT.

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