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Coe MTBR Fall Circus 2009 - October 24, 2009

Distance: 14.92 miles Ascent: 3071 feet Moving time: 2:18 hours

It was time for the annual MTBR Henry Coe Fall Circus ride, so off I went. My usual riding crew didn't make it, so it was just me this time. In fact, I barely made it. I woke up early but was feeling pretty sick. I wasn't sure I should even get dressed, let alone go for a ride at Coe. I started feeling better after a while, but I ended up getting there about 1:15 late. It was very odd to have a big parking lot filled with empty cars with bike racks. I knew the route for the C group (we rode with the C group last year), so I set off following their tire prints. The weather was great: sunny, mild and a slight breeze. The trails were generally in great condition due to the recent rain, but there were some good sized water ruts on some of the smaller singletracks.

I headed up Coit Road, passing the usual our turnoff for the Anza and Jackson trails, and continuing up the mountain. I ended up catching the C group at the top of the mountain where they seemed to be taking a break. After chatting a while, everyone headed out. I kept riding at the same speed and the group soon disappeared behind me. I turned onto Wasno Road and rode along the ridgeline, which was very pleasant.

It was time to get off of the fireroads and onto singletrack, so I headed down Tule Pond. This was a fast descent through the oaks to Grizzly Gulch trail and Tule Pond. Grizzly Gulch starts climbing just past the pond, but the climbing really intensified when I turned uphill on Serpentine. This narrow single track went right up the hill. Not only was it steep and narrow, it also had a fairly deep rain gully down the center of what little usable trail existed. To make matters worse, there were a few giant horse hoof divots that made it even harder. I ended up having to push up parts of Serpentine. Near the top, I found a dead tree that squirrels or birds had poked holes into and then filled each hole with an acorn. It was very odd.

Serpentine takes you to the top of Willson Peak which offers a very nice view of the park. A short ride on Steer Ridge Road took me to Middle Steer Ridge. This is a narrow, steep singletrack that descends about 1600 feet in 2.25 miles to the bottom of the canyon. There were a few places that were steep, loose and rutted, making it very interesting. This was long, fun descent. The bottom empties onto Hunting Hollow Road that crosses creeks several times before depositing you back in the parking lot. Somehow, I sliced my tire in one of these creek crossings, but I was close to the end so it was not a big deal. I chatted with some of the other riders afterwards before heading home.

The weather was great and the trail conditions were generally very good. In spite of feeling sick in the morning, I had a much better ride than last year. I did not feel tired, a major change from last year. This was a lot of fun.

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