Monday, February 13, 2012

Roads, paths, doubletrack and singletracks

In my last post I described a tire swap among two of our bikes. My universal bike, the Motobecane 29er Ti hardtail, now looks almost aggressive with those knobby Specialized Captain Control 2.0 tires. In between rainy Saturday and rain in the forecast for Monday, Sunday was the day to test the new rubber, with pressure set at ~ 38 psi.

My ride started on paved streets through Belmont and continued on the pawed Sawyer Camp trail all the way north to San Bruno. A short ride on Skyline and Sneath Lane took me to the entrance to Sneath trail and the climb to the San Francisco discovery site. Up to here, all pavement.

I did not feel any increase in rolling resistance, but then the trail was so busy with runners and people walking that I had to ride slowly most of the way. From the top of Sweney Ridge, Baquiano dirt trail starts as a jeep road but quickly turns into singletrack switchbacks descending to Fassler Avenue in Pacifica. Here, the tires felt very grippy and cushy, but then the surface was wet and tacky from the rain on previous day.

In Pacifica, the surf was up and the ocean water was busy with black neoprene. The coastal bike trail led me to the famous Taco Bell place at the beach, from where I took town streets to Old San Pedro Mountain road.

The climb up felt easy, muddy spots changed to crumbled pavement and to sandy spots. At the intersection with Montara Mt. trail, I pointed my bike away from the mountain summit (obscured by clouds)

and descended down towards the Montara Beach.
On the way down, the tires again felt super supple, hooking up really well in lose, sandy corners which I took at perhaps more speed than I should. The trail surface is rough, old broken pavement in many places, but I did not experience any of that locked front suspension feeling I had on my Bolinas ridge ride.
Once on Highway 1, I had to put up with car traffic and exhaust fumes for several miles, where, just past the Half Moon Bay airport, I entered a bike path along the coast and the state beach. There is a nice paved bike path, but in parallel, there were two dirt tracks: one very muddy and eroded for equestrians, and another, smooth and undulating one for mountain bikes! I followed the bike path, missing the whole busy town of Half Moon Bay and looking at waves crashing on the shore. The trail ended almost exactly at Higgins Purisima road, which I took back east, towards the mountains. Higgins Purisima is a steep climb. I was getting tired and did not really think about rolling resistance or gears I was using.
All those thoughts quickly reentered my mind as I finally passed through the Purisima Creek Redwoods preserve gate and entered the Whittemore Gulch singletrack.

There was mud. Lots of it. First, it was the nice kind of mud, loam mixed with redwood needles, beautiful. The first very steep climb starts right at the bottom of the valley. I did OK there, spinning the granny, perched at the tip of my saddle and the tires not slipping once. But then, the yellow clay mud section of the trail came and my wheels suddenly looked twice as big and felt ten times heavier. Rear wheel started to spin through as I applied power to the pedals, but to my surprise, the tires shed mud and cleaned themselves pretty quickly. It was  hard climbing, this trail is tough to climb when dry on the 29er with its tall gearing (28T cassette) and I ended up walking one super steep section at the top. On the switchbacks, I had no problem maintaining traction. Overall, I have to say, if I rode there with the Kenda Small Block eight tires, I would have ended up walking most of it, I'm sure.

The rest of my 60+ mile ride was roads, the tires were mud free after a few hundred yards on pavement, but most of that mud ended up on my face and butt. At the end of my ride, there was a bit more of trail riding from Canada Rd home, as shown on the Garmin track.

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