Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Long Version

Life in Southern California is good. We're a third of the way into November and the weather is a perfect mid 70F. Better yet, we're lucky enough to have fantastic bike riding relatively close by in every direction. The SoCal Rivendell gang tries to get together monthly throughout the year, but has been pretty busy and unable to meet up since the Spring. Luckily things are slowing down a bit, and some rides are getting set up. For the November ride, we were hoping to get 10 or so riders, but between work, illness/injuries and familial obligations, ended up with half that. Interestingly, five different counties were represented, LA, OC, SD, SB and Ventura. A true Southern California experience! No Riverside people, suck on that 951!

We staged just outside the community of Silverado Canyon. Fantastic rural area in the foothills of the Santa Ana coastal range. There were a lot of cyclists out on the roads leading here, maybe some sort of a time trial event going on plus a lot of club riders. But most of them had skinny tires and had to turn around once the dirt started. I'm sure they were much faster than us on the tarmac though!

From the start, it's a pleasant tree-covered ride through town and to the trail head of Maple Springs in the Cleveland National Forest. Maybe 10 cars or so parked there. The paved road narrows but is still open to traffic at this point. It's pretty unrelenting climbing. I don't know the grade, not mellow but not terrible. Any steeper and it would become unpleasant. The pavement stopped at about the five mile mark (can't help it, I like knowing!) and then mostly smooth fire road. Some sections with large rocks, but no sand, washouts or gravel. There is no place I'd rather be than riding on fire roads, so at this point of the ride I was just in heaven.

The temperature dropped as we climbed, and I was under dressed with just a wool jersey. Not cold enough to put on my jacket and too lazy to put on arm warmers. The vegetation began to change from huge live oak and chaparral to smaller oaks with a lot of manzanita and now pine trees. Another five miles of fire roads to the saddle at the intersection of Maple Springs, Harding Truck Trail and the Main Divide trail. VERY windy and chilly here as the Santa Ana's were blowing and whipping right through here.

Some observations: With the 3+ million people living in Orange County, we only saw 30 or so up in the mountains that are 10 miles away from their houses. And half of those 30 were yahoos riding around in jacked up 4X4s.

This ride had a 20% female contingent, a new high for a Rivendell Ride.

It also had 80% of the bikes being Rivendell product, another new high!

The pace of the ride was perfect for me, and I hope everyone else. The above-mentioned climb wasn't really that bad, it was tough not knowing when it would end and how to pace myself. The downhill was absolutely perfect. Came down the Harding Truck Trail which is ironically closed to trucks and motor vehicles. Was able to open it up for 10 miles of uninterrupted downhill!

What worked:
-Platypus collapsible bags. Rob recommended these and they work great for bringing extra water!
-40mm tires. Just perfect. My Contis and Jenn's 650b tires gave ZERO problems. That said, the smallest tires were 33.3mm and they seemed to work out fine as well.
-Well thought out country bikes! I can't imagine not having a bike like this. Combining the best of mountain and road bikes in one package. Who woulda' thunk it?
-Silverado Cafe! GREAT little restaurant, with inexpensive good food and beer!

What didn't work: Ha, tricked you, everything worked perfectly! THANKS to the folks that showed up. Rob and Jenny both had to drive from a way out, so hope they got their money's worth! Good meeting you all in the flesh and hope we can ride some more soon!

Next month is a ride out of LA in the Santa Monica mountains, Dirt Mulholland. This is one of the best mixed surface rides in SoCal, so be there or be square!

Full set of pix on flickr.