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Stevens Canyon - November 20, 2009

Distance: 15.31 miles Ascent: 2253 feet Moving time: 1:53 hours

A storm was set to blow in today, so I tried to get an early start at Stevens Canyon to get a ride in before the storm hit. In the interest of time, I started at Redwood Gulch and rode up Stevens Canyon Road and then the Canyon Trail and Indian Creek to the summit. I was the only person on the trail until I saw a ranger doing some repair work at the Backpackers' Camp. The trails were covered with leaves and the ferns and mosses were a brilliant green. It was great to be out on the trail with the autumn colors and the quiet.

The real story of the ride turned out to be the weather. My ride started with cool air (nothing that could not be solved with a long sleeve shirt) and it got moister the farther and higher I went. At first it was a very light mist, then a heavier mist, and then a slight drizzle that increased in density as I ascended. As I started up Indian Creek, the drizzle turned to light rain and a hint of wind appeared. As I broke out of the tree cover, the wind started picking up. By the time I got to the climb into Backpackers' Camp, the wind was howling. This was about the only time I can remember the wind actually helping push me up the hill. As I got there, I pass the ranger who complained about the cold, but I was doing fine with the heat being generated from climbing. As I got to the summit of Black Mountain, the wind was really howling and driving the rain horizontally. I didn't even bother to stop at the summit and returned to the Backpackers' Camp to put my windbreaker over my soaked shirt before heading down Bella Vista. The ranger was there again and trying to convince himself that it was not safe to be working under the trees in the high wind.

Now it was my turn to ride against the wind. As I headed down the singletrack, the wind was driving the rain into my face like an unending stream of needles. The gusts were so strong that it blew me off of the trail and up onto the hillside. At one point, I came around a corner and came to a complete stop as the wind blew directly into my face. I was completely wet and between the wind and my downhill speed, my hands were starting to get plenty cold. It was nice to reach the bottom and start pedaling again to generate some heat. At the bottom, the wind died down and there was a light rain, making the ride fast and enjoyable. The rest of the ride was pretty uneventful with the exception of meeting a different ranger walking along the trail at the creek crossing.

I really like riding in the fall. The colors on the trail are a real treat. The air is cool but not cold. The people are mostly gone and the animals are out. Everything is as it should be!

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