We linked up the trails in a way that created a nearly continuous 1700' descent on which I felt more relaxed and in control than I ever have. I've been consciously working on letting the bike go and letting off the brakes on steep descents. Speed makes almost everything easier to ride, and in the case of the steepest, loosest, most rutted section of this descent, I've normally slowed to a timid crawl, crept down the side of the rut, lost traction, slid down, and then vaulted off the bike. Yesterday I came in with enough speed that I didn't even recognize the section until I was arcing across a high line, about to shift over and bank off the other side of the rut to set up a good line for the rocks below. What a difference speed makes!
Dan negotiating a chainring-eating obstacle
I didn't take many photos because Dan had his helmet cam going. Unfortunately, he had it aimed at the ground instead of down the trail. Oops. I guess we'll have to go back and ride it all again.
Today I struggled to figure out what to do. My knee has been feeling good the past few days, but I didn't want to push it with a long ride, and yesterday I smashed my other knee into the handlebars. I ended up driving up into the foothills again, unloaded my bike, and realized it was time to figure out where I was going to go. I felt like exploring, and there were a few trails I wanted to try to link up, and one particular descent I've hiked and have had a hankering to ride. However, it would be a long, long hike-a-bike to get to the top the way I knew, so I struck off looking for an alternate route to the top.
5 minutes into my ride and I was already bushwhacking.
Eventually I popped out on an overgrown logging road that would link up to my descent of desire. But another faint trail caught my eye, so I followed it. It was someone's little singletrack project, marked with branches and cairns, but it clearly sees virtually no use. It dead ended in a small clearing with a nice view and a grave marker.
After being mildly annoyed that the faint trail just ended, I turned around and returned to the descent I had been waiting for. I grinned as my knobby front tire bit into the damp loam as the grade steepened. After a few seconds, the rocks began to grow, the rut deepened, and my grin spread. This trail was even more fun than I had imagined. A black squirrel soared across the trail as it leapt between branches, scolding me as soon as it had the new branch firmly in its grasp. I think the squirrel was just jealous.
Immensely satisfied with having finally taken a bike down that trail, I lazily rode for another 90 minutes to get back to my car. The sun sank lower, and I dropped into the cool air settling in a narrow canyon.
After a couple miles, I turned off and began climbing a trail I'd never been on. It petered out before the ridgetop I had to get over, so I pedaled my lowest gear through the crunchy yellow grass. Eventually I entered a small network of singletrack I had only been through once. I flipped on my light so I could see the trail beneath the thick forest canopy, and after a few wrong turns, I fortuitously managed to navigate back out to a dirt road.