A place to share words and pics. Mostly bikes, but my photog eye does wander.

Bikes let the good times roll. In solitude or with friends. For a half hour or 8 hours. Pedals become the gears that turn the earth as the sun seems to track their motion, day after day. Miles become food, and you're hungry. The bike stops being a vehicle, or toy, or transportation and becomes an extension of will, allowing you to journey beyond the pain of self into the realm of almighty, joyous nature, she that feeds our souls. Pedal yourself into the maw of creation. Pedal yourself silly.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Day of the SoMo Epic

Freeskier and myself hatched a plan to make of day of South Mountain by going coast to coast to coast. We had planned to take on the Skyline at BCT, but the weather did not look like it was going to play along, so riding down home seemed like the perfect cure for the no BCT blues. I'm on South Mountain quite a lot since its down the street, but rarely venture to the west side. Sure, I've been on Bees and Gila, but National after Buena Vista? Nope. The new Marker 33 turnoff? Neither. The cliff hanger that is the descent to Bees? Oh, my no. Well, this day was the day, and it was everthing a day on the bike should be.

Looking back east at just the beginning of the ride. The Superstitions are in the far background.

Our route took us straight up Beverly Canyon from 46th street and then straight up National. I had thought of heading out on Javelina, then Mormon, but it turns out this route just isn't awesome enough. Freeskier had the right idea, if we're doign a big ride, lets make it a big ride. It was my first time riding UP National (at least to the Mormon turn-off) and I'd have to say it was pleasant. I think I'd do it again and I'd venture to say most of it is rideable. Its amazing how differnt a trail can look if the bike is pointed the other way.

I caught the valley of the sun in the sun. Looking north from National. Camelback is in, well, the back.

Freeskier made his way up the mountain with ease. He loves that granny gear and makes that bike motor. I've tried to shake the granny myself, and have done well the last eight months since I got the SS and then the 1x9. Slow, strong pedal turns suit my molasses motivation rather than spinning like you're trying to power the city. But hey, both work, and I've done both, and I'll probably go back one day, sooner if not later. Both worked perfectly on this ride.

Hunker down and go. National has lots of this stuff.

Riding National would take us directly under the towers. They start out a bit far a way.

Then get a bit closer....

....and then we finally get there. Slow going too. I had some derailer problems and Freeskier had been nursing a leaking tire. I eventually tightened a few bolts and his tire sealed up, so we could leave those mech issues behind us.

The trail west of Buena Vista is tons of fun. I keep slapping myself for not getting over there sooner. National really delivers.

This cactus has to get HD.

National after the towers loses elevation as it comes down to meet Telegraph Pass. Here its smooth, fast, techy, treacherous, slow and about everything in between. There isn't much time to play it easy, National seems to demand attention. But that's ok, because we had the intention of giving it hours of attention.

National coming down off the saddle, moving towards Telegraph Pass. Give it to me, sweet singletrack!

"Look at this cactus!"  The west side of SoMo has lots to offer as well. I should visit more often.

Telegraph Pass peels off of National here, down to meet Desert Classic.

We finally made it down to Telegraph Pass and then back up the next climb to get this view of the towers. Not a view I see often, for sure, and a lot of bike pushing to get up there. 

I always figured if you're not pushing your bike, or lost, its not much of a proper mountain bike adventure. Without either of those, its just a ride, but pushing and/or being lost automatically bump the ride into adventure status. If you're pushing while lost, well, then, you might be screwed. Thats just too much!

Going up National after Telegraph was a HaBFest. Rock poured out of the mountain, but not any rock, but unrideable rock, the worst rock to try and ride. So we pushed the vast majority of this climb. Adventure!

All that pushing rewarded us with Marker 33, at last, and after about 4 hours of riding already. A big...10 miles? Oh, my. The ridgeline ride here was beautiful, but lead to the switchbacks of almost certain terror.  Almost.

The Estrellas run north to south in the far west valley, seen here.  National follows the ridge to the right, out of sight.

We were high up, with lots of mountain under us. I've heard you can never really fall off a mountain, but you sure as hell can fall down one. National cuts across the top of this ridge. Click for the larger image.

We made it to SoMo's largest rock cairn. Or the largest that I know off.  Down we would go off the face of this ridge.

The trail hung on to the mountain. I hoped I could do the same.

In other places, the trail seemed to barely hang on.

Freeskier coming down the Mountain. Are his knuckles as white as mine? I really felt the exposure on the descent, it was the most concerned I felt about my riding ability all day. I could feel gravity, through some odd vector, pulling me off the mountain.

The switchbacks are cut in well, but tight with a big margin for error built into the outside turns of almost all of them. The 29er wheels left me feeling high and dry. I skipped most of the turns, or at least put an inside leg and foot out. I know I made one for sure. Live to ride another day!

Here's the ridge we came down. About 900 feet in 1.5 miles, roughly.

It seemed a shame to lose all that elevation so quickly, especially after working for it for so long. I'd rather have fast moving, countouring rollers the likes of BCT for miles other than switchy-death-backs. But its a lesson that we can't always have what we want or that anything is going to be fair. Take your lumps and pedal over to the next climb. I knew it was coming anyway! And it wasn't too bad, really. It got the blood moving just the same, if not more. I was glad to have marked it off the list, and really want to do the ridgeline again, but to maximize riding the descent, I'd like to ride it with my 26er. I bet I could make more of those switchbacks.

From there, we headed up over Bees Knees to Gila, and then hit the saddle and back to the road for an easy cruise back to DC at the Telegraph lot. Funny, after hitting mile 15, half our ride, at the Gila saddle, I felt like the ride was almost over. The work was done! All we had left was some Desert Classic and a choice East Loop back to the 46th street lot. And it was easier riding, nice fast and flowing riding, with pedals turning in rhythym consistently and shoulders and arms pumping over rocks and pressing turns.  We were still at the west end, and about 5.5 hours in but would make it back in the next 2.5 hours. We were flying.

King of the Cacti!

mine. mine. mine Mine! Mine!mine.MINE!

These shots are from another day. I didn't take many pics over here.  I was just happy to ride for a bit, and didn't get many good snaps anyway. But I knew I had these. Gila travels at the bottom of that momentous earth.

The Bees Knees descent. Click it, it looks like fun.

We soon made our way to DC and were out before we knew it. We rode for 30 miles, climbed 5600 feet and were out for 8 hours. What a day on the bike. Big miles, big challenge and big reward. It felt good to conquer South Moutain coast to coast. The real get out is riding National C2C2C. I'll have to put that in the ride rolodex. Its hard to beat riding all day, participating with nature, relying on yourself and seeing some really beautiful territory. There are so many elements to a good ride, but when they come together, it gives you energy, the bike starts to pull you up the mountain. That's when you don't want the miles to end. When you get to the car, its eight hours later, and you say, "I feel good. I could go for some more of that." The legs feel a little shredded, but somehow they're living on inspiration. They want to go far.

Thanks to Freeskier for coming along on the ride. Always nice to have someone to share the memory with, or else I'd all just wither away in my own personal mythology. There certainly was no need to keep this ride to myself and take the name Slayer of South Mountain- too good!

That's a good looking loop.
Who can guess where the big drop was? How about we spread that over the next 20 miles, eh?

No comments:

Post a Comment