Ryan Mullen // Big Epic
Following directions for me is difficult. Time to finally get a GPS computer so I wouldn't get lost. Indeed I bought a Wahoo Bolt and got lost. Getting lost is usually part of the fun of gravel, but not on an organized event such as this. So let's get into the ride.
Actually, let's start with the preparation. Preceding the ride, I realized my stash of tablets, bars, and gels were mostly gone. I still had some drink mix, but needed some sustenance for the ride. A long ride is not just about the bike and scenery, but if you're going to meditate on wheels for over six hours you'll need some real food. I made a batch of Triple Coconut Bread to go with a cornucopia of easily digestible fruits.
I postponed the ride until Friday, June 11th thinking the recent hot spell would subside to the forecasted cooler temperatures. This became a fool's errand on a bicycle. I started just before 8AM at Rancho Canada del Oro, which is one of my favorite parks to hike or bike, which I would have the opportunity to do both. The vultures are usually circling the park, but this morning they descended from the sky and were waiting for me on the first pitch of Mayfair Ranch Trail, a foreboding start to the ride.
I was really excited about my new tire setup, the Mullet. 48 knobs in the front and 44 slicks in the back. Poor choice. The slick rear tire was great on the small slice of undulating terrain, but on the loose ascents, it was too much party in the back.
Going from the smooth hill of Country View Drive to Stile Ranch Trail was like trying to get off a roller coaster after it has started. This would have been the time to get lost and inadvertently miss 5 miles on the ride, but that would come later. Did anyone stay on their bike on Stile Ranch or did everyone flounder down the hill like me?
Onto Mine Hill and Wood Roads trails through Quicksilver. By this time it was getting warm and I was thankful for mounting a third bottle under my bottom bracket (although a rock would knock this bottle free later). Crossing over Hicks and onto Mt. Umunhum is where I made my fatal error. I was on the gravel of Mt. Umunhum Trail when the new Wahoo lost signal and rerouted me up Mt. Um road. This will disqualify me from the Bay Area Epic, but is not the takeaway from the event. I made it to the "cube" at the former airbase atop Umunhum, up by pavement and down by gravel, which I wouldn't figure out was in reverse order until I reviewed my route after I was finished.
Back through Quicksilver and the car was one water break after another. Any excuse to let my feet rest for a few seconds before continuing the punishment.
While I've ridden most of these trails since venturing into gravel biking a few years ago, this was the first time I'd strung this many parks together. This was a special route that is just a sample of what the South Bay has to offer. Great route building and many thanks to Dave for putting this event on! I look forward to future Bay Area Epics with riders by my side.
PS, my body is still aching as I recap this ride two days later.