Got to Irvine, So-Cal, Wednesday, bought a 29er Hardtail. Today was a sunny day, 25deg C Sunday where I could have half a day off to explore. Bought trail map of Santa Ana, filled up two biddens, added spare tyre and off I went. To cut long story shorter , riding around found a MTB rider carpark, took some local tips and headed up the hill.
What is it like ? Think Stromlo, in terms of trail surface- hard packed and rocky for the most part….But think back of Stromlo then x3 terrain and area x 3 ! This climb humbled me. The granny ring was my friend.
From the carpark, 200m above home start, the first 100m rise is on bitumen then the climb starts on the dirt…next 350m is on good single track with occasional step at an average of 4% grade with the first half of it at 9.5% and rocky . The track climbs a ridge line with cliff each side , fantastic views – the ocean on one side, the endless mountains the other side… The track runs in thick brush along a knife-edge – there is little room for error- a mistake would hurt. I see many riders, all on dualies, many of them stopped cursing and trying to adjust their ‘brain’ suspension shock. After several false at-the-top moments, and a few rutty gravel short dippers , finally get to the top where there is a sign ‘the top’ . Several tracks go in a several directions… A few other return trail options to ride on another day. But,
But today, down is “The Louge”, a few MTBers looking down from the top pondering it…. so , today I rode a trail that would be my most challenging trail /decent ever .
The first 300m down was at -6.5% was narrow (30-50cm track width) cut deep into a clay channel, winding ,screwing water course loaded with steps and rocks. Sitting on way back on the bike, I managed to get down without a spill with heart pounding and upper body aching at the bottom.
Compromise between going too slow,not having enough momentum through banked bends ….and shitting one’s self as the bike picks up speed heading into the next dropoff+rocks bit. Got to the bottom, my head was spinning due to intensity of concentration from the non stop terrain adaption.
James said to me once just have faith and let it roll. I did . Amen.
Quickly I am back to undulating singletrack and creek crossings . No cougars to be seen (except at the bar), nor rattlesnakes though I am advised to look out before stopping and putting a foot down.
Next Sunday day maybe we’ll go to Santiago Peak (1733m). Maybe.