Wednesday, February 2, 2011

make like a raccoon and ...

On Friday evening I met my new carpool buddy Mike, who drives a sweet pickup truck for professional reasons only and who told me all about the Thai heritage of Red Bull. After the directions to the mystery spot petered out, we spent a long time casing the lonely stretch of highway between Caspar and Fort Bragg while growing progressively more confused as to the location of the ocean, never mind the campsite.

In daylight the next morning, I was reassured to see a lot of:

a) Food1
b) Hardtails2
c) Local guides. With super-trustworthy mountain-men beards.

Wary nonetheless of the great Mendo unknown, I took the “mellow” option. Second to double-layering my socks, this was the best decision I made all day3. Between a frenetic cross season and sunsetting out of the Cal women’s team, it's been a long time since I've been out with a group willing to stop and pick the mushrooms. Who should mind waiting for the last rider down when it gives you a minute to ogle big trees and the rusting shell of a lost Plymouth Fury? This, truly, is how I like to ride.

Which brings me to my point. Let me search-engine-optimize:

Mendocino, mountain biking, singletrack, rad

Photo poached from May Woo.

The aforementioned locals have put some serious hours and love into this place. Not since Bend have I ridden trails so clever: tight, twisty, rooty, hearts-and-minds stuff threading through the trees, plus fast, swoopy, Ewok rollers, all on nice friendly loam with hardly a rock in sight. All the fun, minus most of the terror—maybe not everyone's idea of perfect, but it sure as all my scars is mine.

The catch, of course, is that very little is signed or mapped. If the Mendo men wanted to keep the secret, they easily could; there's certainly a very compelling, very Fern Gully argument for that. But they're practical. "This area is dying," said one. "Timber, fish, all of that is dying out." "We don't want to be another Moab," said another, "but we want people to come ride."

Guys, say no more. I know where I'll be this October 7-9. And many times before then, I hope, picking up my Gu wrappers, yielding amicably to hikers, and buying local.

Mad thanks to our guides, mastermind Murphy, and my fellow-mellows for a fun weekend. Again, again!
1. Inevitably, 75 percent of my calorie intake for the weekend came from the Costco brownie bites.
2. Photo included not for the number of hardtails, but because Sasha's new pink one demonstrates just how awesome they can be. Mine got some ribbing ("Great ... uh ... power transfer?"), but I love it anyway.
3. We rode Sunday, too, but I'm leaving that part out because I was really incompetent all day. Hey, acc-en-tu-ate the pos-i-tive.

1 comment:

thedailysaga said...

Although "sunsetting out of the Cal Womens' team" brings metaphorical tears to my eyes...

the trail sounds awesome AND those are the biggest cantarelles I've ever seen. I'm sold.