February 1, 2007: Meeting and Greeting


Romulus and I have a big attack on Pescadero Creek Road/Alpine Road planned for Super Bowl Sunday morning -- our second annual Super Bowl ride -- so I decided to go with the Hoo-e today.

Rather, should I say this evening. Sad to say it, but sometimes paying work has to come before pleasure (or even blogging), so I knew I wouldn't be able to get in a full ride during daylight. No problem, that's what lights are for.

Next generation Gettin' air
The next generation
Gettin' air

I charged up my NiteRider HID Storm handlebar-mounted lamp and set off about 4:30 with the intent of cruising over the San Pedro saddle into Pacifica and back.

As per usual, I felt more like kicking it in the recliner, or even puttering around the house, than I did setting off on a two-hour mountain bike ride in the dark. By the time I rolled out the door, the temp was already down to 49 degrees. Cold weather: another sure-fire motivator -- not.

Taking the inland route north to Montara, I rolled an Inspiration Point–less backside EG over to the Coral Sea bike jumps. The joint was jumpin'. I found about 10 kids, ages 8 to 13, taking their turns on the massive jumps. I chatted with them for a while and they gave me a lot of good info about the local freeriding scene.

Such as, the Coral Sea jumps have been there for years, but recently, local bike legend Joel Slater reshaped them into their current form. Look out Jack Nicklaus and Tom Fazio, we may have a whole new profession here: bike jump architect. Slater has done an excellent job sculpting kick-ass bumps with names like "Butter," "the Tabletop," and "Eight-pack." In addition, a kid named Nate (who works at The Bike Works) constructed some really big jumps up the ridgeline from Slater's jacks.

It was pretty cool how these younger kids, the next generation of big air freaks, talk about local legends like Slater, Jake Meyer, and Jack Conrad. I was thinking these guys might be in their 20s now, but it turns out the legends are still high school underclassmen. Damn I'm old.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: kids like those I met out at the jumps today should not only be commended, they should be rewarded for their industry and their skill. These freeride jumps are impressive and the kids that build them and ride them should be acknowledged -- here's to ya fellas.

One last point on the freeriding jumps. As we were standing around chewing the fat, one little guy remarked how surprised he was that nobody had sued them yet for trespassing. This kid was like nine years old, but he already knows how our society works.

Think about it: huge jumps, unsupervised kids, private property. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, yet these underground jumps complexes survive because the kids work it out amongst themselves. Bring in the adults and somebody is going to want to make a buck off it or "protect" their children from death or disfigurement. Then you'll need to have lawyers and waivers and fences and overhead and next thing you know it costs $10 a head, if you can even get an actual bike park built in the first place. No, in this case, the kids have it figured out, and the adults should just keep their big noses out it -- unless, as I have advocated, San Mateo County or City of Half Moon Bay or some other municipality wants to work with the kids to build something together. It can be done.

For those interested in learning more about freeriding, check out the television show "Drop In" on the Encore WAM channel (Dish Network channel 347). Filmed in 2004, this reality TV series follows a group of young guys as they travel around western Canada in a tour bus. They partake in all kinds of extreme sports, but their primary focus is mountain biking. The show does have lots of posturing, posing, and grab-assing, but it also shows some incredible rides in epic locales like Kamloops and Whistler. One problem though, the only time I've ever seen it on is at 3:15 to 3:45 a.m.

POST bridge Montara at night
A new footbridge in the POST
The lights of Montara

I left the fellas and got to the base of Montara Mountain in McNee Ranch State Park well after sunset. I flicked on the lights and started the climb up the mountain on the remains of the old San Pedro Mountain Road. The road work Romulus and I have been doing is really paying off, because I was able to spin at fairly high RPMs for most of the three-mile climb.

As I crested the San Pedro summit, I was pumping myself up for the descent into Pacifica and the climb back. I really didn't want to bail out. I started down with the best of intentions, but after a couple of minutes, I began to consider whether it was really that smart to be out alone. I wasn't worried about hurting myself or even getting jumped by somebody, but I was worried about the cats. Who would rescue me out there alone in the dark if I was attacked? After a few minutes of internal debate, I decided not to chance it and headed back, but I was not happy with myself or the decision.

I was about halfway back down the hill to McNee, in a section of tight switchbacks, when I saw a bright light about four or five switchbacks down the trail. A double-take confirmed my first impression that the light was far too bright to be a flashlight. No, this was definitely a serious bike light.

Earlier in the ride, I had caught myself hoping that maybe I'd see some other cyclists, but since I rarely see other mountain bikers out here, even on sunny weekends, I knew it was just wishful thinking. Yet here was somebody.

A couple of switchbacks later, I found myself looking at not one, but two lighted mountain bikes coming right at me. We exchanged greetings and I asked if I could tag along. And then we were three.

Turns out that J and E do a weekly Thursday night ride. Tonight, they had decided to run up to San Pedro saddle. Though I had just come from there, I was happy to get some additional miles in and do it riding in a pack.

J was riding a hard tail; I didn't see the make, but it looked like a steel frame. I did notice a Chris King headset among the bike's pretty trick components; it looked light and nimble. E was lugging a 40-pound Kona full suspension, but he climbed the night's hills like he was on a cross-country racer.

At the saddle, we headed north up the Corkscrew, a short climb that features six supertight hairpin turns, and out to San Pedro Point. J's light started to go supernova on the way out to the point, so we decided to head back to civilization.

Old San Pedro Mountain Road
San Pedro saddle, in the daylight

Down San Pedro we zoomed, into some unmarked singletrack and down into McNee. From there, we rolled through Montara and Moss Beach into the Fitzgerald Marine Preserve. In the shadow of Pillar Point, we stopped so J could check the surf. While he was checking, E dropped into this tiny little stitch and rode it all the way down to the beach, maybe 100 feet down. Damn impressive riding in the daytime, E pulled it off in the dark, baby, in the dark!

I left the fellas at Pillar Point marina and headed across Highway 1 feeling pretty good about the night -- with one exception. Coming home through Moss Beach, we detoured through a church parking lot at the head of California Street. As I was pulling up on the front end for a bunny hop over a curb, I felt that horrible feeling in my back that I know all too well. I knew that I was fucked the second it happened.

Not wanting to seem like a weenie, I put on a brave face with E and J, but the second I got home, I collapsed on the garage floor for a few minutes of fetal position agony. Finally, I got up, did some nominal stretching and headed into the living room for a night of prostrate suffering -- at least until the muscle relaxants kicked in.


Dist: 25.44 mi Time: 2:32:28 Avg: 10.0 Max: 26.1 Wgt: 164.0

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