Tone and Eric Climb high into the coastal mountains to meet the Grasshopper
The event began with a trip to Miranda to watch a high school football game on Friday night. Tone's son Austin is a starter for the Calistoga Wildcats. The game was exciting for the first half. Both teams were able to move the ball up and down the field. However in the second half, the Wildcats began to dominate the scoring and eventually went on to win 60 - 31. After the game, the two drove to the Burlington campground and settled in for the night.
Camping at Burlington Campground near Weott
Both riders slept well under the giant redwoods. It took a while for the two to rally and get moving. Although they didn't know it at the time, it is possible to start the ride from the campground. Instead they drove the Bull Creek/Mattole road towards Honeydew to the Albee campground. This campground is the ideal starting point for this loop.
Tone and Eric grunt up the brutally steep jeep road
The ride starts on the Mattole road at a sign that says; "Fire lookout 7 miles". This is about 5 miles from highway 101. The climb will cover over seven miles and more than 2000 feet of climbing. The grade is so steep that, even in granny gear, the pedaling is very tough. It remains unrelenting all the way to the top.
Commanding views from the top of Grasshopper
After a break, the two discussed the route down. There was a small, seldom used single track that led off the top. It was unknown where it went, but this is totally in keeping with Tone's Lost Ride Series that has seen grown men break down and weep. Eric decided that he could survive a night in the wilderness and agreed to drop down the unknown trail. It initially dropped in the wrong direction, but soon turned to what the two believed was the correct direction.
Some boonie thrashing required
The trail was rocky but smooth. In less than a mile, it dumped into a remote camp, one that had a turnoff on the climb. A choice could be made to travel uphill, which likely lead back to the jeep road, or take the downhill choice to "we don't know where". Most notably the road was as smooth as a baby's ass. There were no technical issues. The grade was steep and allowed frightening speeds.
Weary hikers near the top of the Grasshopper trail
The next five miles were simply delicious. The trail ripped down the ridge twisting and
turning to the delight of the bikin' duo. This section simply frazzled the pleasure center
in the brains of the happy bikers.
At this point is was clear that the ride would not end up at the car. However, highway 101 could be seen in the far distance, giving some reference to the position.
This could be the sweetest downhill ever
The problem with such a delightful run is that it is seemingly over before you know it. The next thing that riders experienced was a trail junction with a very clear sign that gave directions. The Burlington campground was the direction of choice. The two parted the Grasshopper trail and began a long cross country ride on the Marin Garden Club trail. It was thought that things could not possibly get better. It did get better. Unbelievably this trail managed to explode the funnometer. The shear beauty of the ancient forest, the dappled sunlight on the fern and oxalis floor, created a space for the brain to fully boggle.
The turn from downhill to sidehill fun
The sign read: 3.5 miles to Burlington. Perfect. The two shredded the trail which remained at a constant contour on the hillsides, though it climbed and dipped all the way along. None of the climbs were significant, most could be rolled with a little speed. The trail was soft redwood needles with surprisingly good traction. The miles flew past. The ride had entered the EPIC catagory. Eventually the trail came to a river. Some confusion reigned. After talking to a group, the way was again found and the two made steerage along the Bull Creek trail.
Sizzling sidehill cycling
It seemed unlikely that the ride could get, yet, even more grand. It happened. The trail led into several groves of old growth trees. These magnificent beings bring to the present a sense of history, of knowing, of truth, of healing and of the supreme divine spirit that still exists in these remote sancturaries.
Be here, now. Always
Now the riders began to experience the first pangs of weariness. Thus far the ride had taken five hours in the saddle, with only two breaks. At the next encounter with a junction, the now smoking brain cells didn't seem to fully grasp the handle on navigation. Some discussion ensued. It was decided that both were tired and incapable of a clear decision.
These fallen giants represent nearly 50 generations of humans
The riders were attempting to ride to the Rockefeller grove which is close to Albee campground. Fatigue managed to rule the day when the two had the choice to bail out to the Bull Creek highway and pedal the last few miles to the car. To the delight of the riders, there was still ice in the cooler and seveal beers to greet the venturing cyclists. The weekend was topped off with one of the world's best burgers at the Bear Republic Brewpub.
It never ends