Saturday, March 24, 2007

Gate - Junction - Tire Poppers - Junction - Summit - Gate

Epic ride today. Got to the Gate a little early and put up a rock. Started up slowly and then I stopped to watch

Wildlife Encounter: Two young coyotes near the loading dock.

They didn't stick around long enough to be photographed though. So I started up again expecting something magical to happen around every bend.

Roadkill Sighting: Baby snake.

I saw JB behind me and hoped that he wasn't in too much of a hurry because I was enjoying a slow ride on this beautiful day. He caught me below the Bump and then we continued at a conversational pace, except we didn't have anything to talk about. We realized at one point though that there weren't many other riders on the road. Today was probably the best weather so far this year; where was everybody?

I pulled ahead at the Bump, JB caught up.
JB pulled ahead at the Ranches, I caught up.
Then we passed three friendly guys and I put in an effort and held it to the Junction; JB came in a few minutes later, and then the three guys. Counting one other guy at the Junction, that made six riders we'd seen all day... odd. We wondered if there was some big ride or other event going on.

So I talked JB into doing the Tire Poppers and back up but he was less than enthusiastic about it. We did see more people ascending SGR, including

Oddball Observation: A rider in a cowboy hat with a couple other cyclists. I hoped I would catch up to him again on the way up.

Turned around at the Tire Poppers and JB groused a bit but seemed to enjoy himself once he found his groove. Lots more people over here and the sun was warming up by now but there were also a herd of motor vehicles hauling up trailers and camping gear, their drivers lacking the skills necessary to navigate mountain roads with multiple users; made riding less of a nature experience.

So we got to the Junction and JB put on his jacket and I told him I wanted to go up to Juniper. He was surprised and declined my offer to come with. There were about a half dozen cyclists hanging around by now.

I began the third climbing segment feeling pretty proud of myself. I wondered if I might convince myself to do the Summit, but decided I'd be happy with Juniper.

Oddball Observation: Recumbant tandem - long and low with bright orange paint: I gave them a double ding with my Incredibell

Well Juniper was packed with SUVs so continuing on was an easy decision. I rode up to Muir Picnic Area and by now I was about spent so I pulled over for an outhouse experience thinking that was it and I'd turn around... but maybe if I sat on that picnic table for a while, the will to summit might again embrace me. The table offered a secret view of the road and I sat there for about 10 minutes watching the riders go by. Most of them were just huffing and puffing, but some of them were talking to themselves, cheering themselves on, or just whining... it was an enjoyable peek into how other riders tackle the Mountain.

When enough motivation returned, I finished the ride to Summit. Lots and lots of riders up there, all just a bit smug. Lots of motor vehicles as well, all just a bit clueless. I timed my descent just for fun - 24 minutes from Summit to Gate - not pushing it except a bit at the bottome, just interested because I don't think I've measured that before.

On the way home I felt a saddle sore forming (must remember chamois cream) and it had gotten blustery and I was pooped but psyched. That's how you feel after an epic ride.

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