Friday, October 10, 2008

Brown Fox

Sunday my friend Doug and I rode out at Sly Park. Located up Highway 50 near Pollock Pines, Sly Park has the distinction of being the venue of our first mountain bike race in 1985. We were kids back then, and that first race, the "Spring Runoff," proved to be tougher than we thought. Doug and I came in dead last in the Saturday hillclimb, and the Sunday cross country was long and hard. Still, we caught the racing bug.

Back then there was only a network of logging and service roads to ride. We rode there into the early '90s before abandoning the area. Years later a trail was built around Jenkinson Lake, and just recently a trail system called Fleming Meadow was built across the road from the lake. I rode it a couple years ago when it was first built, but had not been back.

First up on the agenda was a loop around Fleming Meadow. Wait, I take that back. First was a wrong turn (my bad) which plunged downhill for 1.65 miles and dead-ended at a creek. We had to climb back out without so much as a warm-up. We walked two short sections, but rode all the hills for the rest of the day. Doug rocked a 32x18 on his Flight 29er like a Viking.

There is some really good singletrack out there. The Fleming loop has a lot of climbing, and the trails were pretty much up or down. I'm always searching for a comparison when I ride something new, and for this trail it would be some trails I rode in Oregon with Doug's brother Steve. Narrow singletrack, steep hills, and shady forest with ferns and green plants. Really fun but taxing on me at my current fitness level.

After Fleming we did the "loop" around the lake. The first half had some fun sections. The trail had been rerouted farther up the slope since the last time I rode it, making it flatter and less exposed and scary. Still, there were a couple places that freaked me out. I actually got a little vertigo, I guess? I walked a couple times. It has NEVER happened before, but I'm finding I have some lingering issues with my confidence since coming back from a long layoff. (Again, more on this later.)

Once we reached the campground, which is the halfway point, the trail kind of came and went. Much of it has been eroded away by the lake, so there was a little road riding involved to link sections of trail.

Towards the end of the ride, my handlebars spun in the stem going down a hill. It's a cheap two-bold stem, and I know better than to use one on a single speed. I really think the torque that single speeding puts on the bars forces the face plate to pivot back and forth on the bolts, and it will eventually back them out. The funny thing is, I checked the bolts the night before the ride, knowing full well what could happen when using a cheapo stem. And it did. So to any single speeders out there, get a good stem. I picked up a four-bolt FSA stem the next day.

Otherwise, it was a cool ride. I only took one picture, and it's not great (sorry Doug). I think the lens might have been fogged up like my glasses were at the time.

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