MikeS had taken a group out for this on a weekend I had other plans (hmn, wait, what are you trying to say there, Mike?!), fortunately Patrick hadn’t been able to make it either, so I was able to convince him to go the next weekend. We were going to go all rando-riffic, and had a few maybes, but EricW was the only one who actually made it out.
I didn’t take my camera, but Patrick’s photo tour version is here.
With only the 3 of us, it was a nice relaxed roll out through the burbs and up to Quimby Road. After a layer adjustment we set about the climb. Definitely the non-preferred direction, but I was able to distract myself somewhat with the morning views over the Bay and the roadside wildflowers. And the beer cans. Third Modelo tall… urgh. hope they aren’t still out on the road…
Crest and descent, almost missed our exit to the first dirt of the day. Whoa! Through the gate and into the tallTALL grass, which almost obscured the path in some spots. Fun rolling trail, with beautiful views over the valley and off to the summit of Hamilton, our next destination. A steeper pitch dumped us back onto pavement in Grant Ranch Park. There is the possibility for more dirt, which we vaguely discussed, but the ride is plenty stout as it is, so we stayed on the road.
The climb to the observatory was pretty quiet traffic wise, enabling us to spread out and chat. At one point I sensed something coming up on us, and was about to say “Car back” since it seemed larger than a bike, but it was pretty quiet, so could it really be even an electric car? I took more of a look and it was a banana mobile! Patrick knew Bill, the fellow piloting it, and they chatted a bit before Bill continued on his way. It really needs a Chiquita sticker…
As we got closer to the top, we started seeing some riders descending, and another woman on a Viaje passed me on her way up. We exchanged greetings, but wasn’t someone I knew. Hmn. OK, not that I know everyone in the Bay Area with a Viaje, but it’s not That Common of a bike.
It was nice to reach the summit, where we enjoyed the views and had some food and drink. Patrick shared some Circus Animal cookies from a packet he’d scored from the San Diego 600k, we’d also gotten to hear about the ride, with Circus Animals might have to move it up the List! After the restorative break, the guys decided they’d take the stairs down. I opted for the more traditional route. A roadie was filling his bottles at the spigot at the intersection and was amused by the antics.
What goes up… got a fun descent down to the Isabel. The guys were stopped at the bridge, I kept rolling, knowing they’d catch me on the following climb. Oh! more wildflowers!!! Another bump, water in the lake, wave to The Ranch, the daffodils are past blooming, more wildflowers though and here’s our exit!
Riding through the meadow is one of my favorite parts – the excitement of being on dirt, the anticipation for Coe, the sheer beauty of the place. This year the wildflowers were over the top. At one point I stopped to soak in the PURPLE!!! Patrick thought I was pointing out the herd of elk, and seemed a little disappointed it was just (more) flowers.
Of course those more flowers were brought to us by … rain. There were some substantial water crossings even in this section. One benefit to being the caboose is getting to see and (potentially) benefit from other’s line choices.
With only 3 of us the getting over and around gates seemed to go more quickly. Unfortunately the super fun roller coaster section also seemed to go more quickly, maybe since I’ve ridden it before and really enjoyed it so I was looking forward to it.
More amazing views – back to Hamilton, where we came from, and over to Bear Mountain, where we were headed, and everything in between. And more more MORE flowers. Some of the largest Mariposa lilies I’ve ever seen, both white and yellow. Eric spotted a horned lizard – they’re pretty camo! – and had the knowledge tidbit that they can shoot blood out their eyes as a defense mechanism. That would be ocular autohemorrhaging for the new phrase of the day. You’re welcome.
Up up up to the lunch stop on Bear Mountain. I’d struck out on the magic musubi, but had found some futomaki and inari, which definitely hit the spot. Still no ice cream cart, but I’d brought a beer and Eric had a mini-bar bottle of rum. Oh duh! That’s way more efficient!
Even with the fortification I didn’t make it all the way down the descent on the bike. Even though I’ve seen other people ride the steepsteepsteep part, I can’t seem to connect the dots on doing it myself. I consoled myself with the thought that at least I made the choice about when and how to dismount.
Once I got back on I did manage to make it through the stream crossing at the bottom staying in correct orientation to the ground plane, despite the fact the guys were waiting and watching. From there the trail runs along the creek bed, so there were many more crossings, and rather substantial from the rain. Alas I was not so successful with all of them, in fact having an abrupt and rude departure from upright in one spot. Oof. Apparently the bottle that had taken a flier on the roller coaster wasn’t enough of a sacrifice to the Coe gods.
After a few moments to collect myself, we carried on. In some spots I didn’t even bother trying to ride through, since my feet were already wet, and just walked through.
Eventually this section came to an end, and we turned away from the creek to the Mahoney Wall. upupupupupup … er not going to happen. Geez I can hardly walk this. With a stop and re-start Eric managed to ride it. Dang.
Oh more steep, no to the right up to Lost Spring. We stopped and filtered some water. It was shady but alas mosquito-y. The climb out was a bit poison oakey but it seemed almost as if someone has been out and trimmed a bit as it wasn’t totally overgrown.
Back on fire road for a bit, then Patrick asked if we wanted to take the trail option, which we did. It turned out to be a pretty loose definition of the word trail. Good times.
Then to the point of bonus singletrack or fire road finish in Coe. I suppose this would have been the time to give the singletrack a go, since I’d only be keeping two people waiting, but somehow I just wasn’t up to it. As it was, the fire road seemed longer than I remembered it. I finally saw a couple of people on foot and figured I was near the gate, which was true.
I had a snack and laid down on the bench, which felt good. I didn’t think it would be much of a wait, after a while I started to wonder and then they showed up. Patrick had had a flat.
Pavement stretch to Harvey Bear and then the superfun dirt. It was in great condition, smoother than I remembered. But, not all downhill. What?! Still, too soon, the end of the dirt portion.
Ah, but that much closer to the burger and beer portion. And, amazingly, there was a tailwind! Or at least not a punitive head wind. Woohoo!
After satiating ourselves at El Toro, there was the return to our vehicles. A bit of street and then the bike trail. We’d convinced ourselves it would be nice to have a little after meal digestion activity, rather than being done in Morgan Hill, but Patrick seemed to want to go for a PR. Alrighty then. At one point Eric saw some dirt and took it, although it ended up angling away rather than coming back to the main trail. Oopsies. Well, it gave me a bit of a breather.
Racing the sunset… and, not quite, although not completely dark when we hit the cars. We will frolic all day in the happiest way, and not get back until dark!
Ride date: May 1, 2016