Monday, June 20, 2011

Riding in the rain forest.

This past weekend (continuing my habit of writing about things a week late) we decided to head over to Fort Bragg for a little dose of the coast. Usually we stay at least 3days to make the 500 mile drive worth it, but this time it would only be for the weekend. We got an early 5am start so we could make it to Davids house by the agreed upon 10am start time. Dave had agreed to drag me around the forest for 6 hours on Sat and Sun and the change of scenery was welcome, not much altitude training going on though.....Mary and Sasha were along for the ride, we've been trying to do something that all of us can enjoy even though we might not be together. Mary is pretty much taking the year off from racing so a trip to the beach and a run along the haul road were here adventures for the weekend, she also joined us for the first couple of hours of our journey on Saturday.

Riding in the Fort Bragg area is very different from what were used to. Lots of nice trails and fire roads interconnected with some really vague trails that only a local would know. We've been riding along the coast for 15 years and only in the last couple of years do I have any idea where I am for the most part.

Yeah, there's a trail in there somewhere....

Dave was looking for a GPX route for an upcoming route being set up for the Fort Bragg Fat Tire Festival so we rode out to the beginning of the route, started the GPS and I followed as Dave led me around to some great new and old trails. The route ended up being about 35 miles and was part of a longer route that Dave was not up to doing today. Getting the half metric mapped out would have to do for today, perhaps I'll go up and we'll get the whole route next time. They are in the process of trying to map the area but I think that is a pretty futile effort given the braided network of trails out there, a GPX track is the only option I see.
Oh I forgot, I was in full bikepacking gear this weekend.

I was supposed to be out for an overnighter as part of the CTR training plan, I've got enough experience setting up and breaking camp so we had rented a motel room and I just rode with my gear on. Navigating the very tight trails with the added weight of gear was a bit unnerving at times but after a couple of hours I was in the flow and couldn't tell the difference. Dave and I had stopped at Harvest market and bought some beer and sandwiches for later in the day, we found a not so sunny spot and had a very nice lunch.
Looking for some sun in the rain forest!

We meandered around the forest some more before ending the ride where we started the GPX route file. From here we still had about 20 miles to get back home. A trip down through the Hare Creek watershed and back up to Hwy 20 finished the day. We had a lovely dinner with Dave and Janet but the night passed much too quickly and the lack of sleep from out 4am start caught up to us.
Sunday the agreed upon start time was 8 am. A call from Dave at 7:30 brought news that his rear disc brake had died. I headed up to see what we could do. Dave had a nice new set of XTR Dual Control brakes so we got to setting them up. An hour later we were off into the forest again. Today's route had no real destination. We eventually made our way out the Woodlands, a large State run day camp with an amazing network of trails. We traveled through parts of the Caspar Classic race course to get to the Woodlands, I came around a corner and found Dave in a heap down off the trail, his hucking skills need to be improved as he caught a tree coming off a log drop.
Got lucky there, lots of sticks to poke you!

The offending log ride, no North Shore BC for Dave!

Today was a little warmer than Saturday and the sun was out in full force, a real treat on the coast in the usually foggy month of June. We made our way up to the observation bench at the top of the Woodlands.
We had another nice lunch, no beer for me as I was pretty dehydrated form yesterdays ride and a fairly hard week at work and on the bike.
Beer and Salmon Salad!

From the bench we headed down the Stair Trail, named for the old redwood stairs that are now barely visible in places. Caught a few people headed down as well, these were the only other souls we saw in over 120 miles of riding this weekend.
Dave on one of the Woodlands trails.

Since we had to drive home today we were on a bit of a mission, yesterdays 6 hours of riding time took almost 9 hours, too many "safety meetings" for Dave :) We motored on along Camp One Rd along the banks of the Noyo River and made good time back to Fort Bragg by 4 pm, still a long day, but over 60 miles were traveled, all on dirt!

At the steel bridge over the Big River

Upper reaches of the Big River

As we rolled into Fort Bragg I called Mary only to find she was at Dave's house with Sasha and Dave and Janet's two little Queensland puppies. She had had a nice day with a run along the ocean and a relaxing time on the beach. All in all a great weekend, a long drive home reaffirmed our reasons for not doing weekend trips out there but we were both glad we made the trip. Trips like this with good people are the reason we got into this, sometimes life gets in the way of remembering the little things that make your life enjoyable and I was happy to be reminded of these special moments that I'll always remember.

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