Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Amgen Tour and My Little Pine Mountain Adventure

Solvang was packed! There was probably a line of parked cars toward Buellton 1 mile long. Luckily I snagged a parking space about 4 blocks from the start/finish area. I stuck around just long enough to see Lance and the last 3 racers take off then I watched the crowd of thousands surge to the finish line. At this point I wanted to get outta town before the masses had the same idea and before it got too dark to do a ride. Good job to all the locals who rode and some that did as well if not better than the pros.

Being over on the other side of the mountain I decided to head over to Paradise Road and ride to Little Pine Mountain. I hadn't ridden LPM in about 8 months and was hoping to find a little bit of snow from last weeks storm. Turns out the gate at the first water crossing is closed because the water is too high. Just by coincidence I had some sandals in the car and wore them to carry my bike across the x-ing- highly recommended. It was only about 1 foot deep at max but I hate starting a ride off with wet feet.

Other than the two people I saw walking on Upper Oso Rd., there was no one else on any part of the trail. Buckhorn Rd. to Happy Hollow was in good shape except for a few small rock slides and tree branches. The road got a little sticky in the usual places but for the most part it was dry and pretty hard packed. That is except for the few places where snow was on the road and it was a little muddy. Motorcycles are not allowed on Buckhorn but somehow they managed to get around the gate at the water crossing and at Camuesa Rd. as evident from the tracks. Not sure how they managed to get around the Camuesa gate but they did. Most days I would be upset they got around the gate but today I was thankful. Thankful because up towards the water tower snow on the road was about 3 inches thick and crusty. I tried riding straight thru it but found it tougher than riding in sand. The motorcycles had cut paths thru the snow and made it much easier.

My plan was to ride up the road, come down the single track and be back at my car just before dark. Maybe because I am out of shape, or I just rode too slow, or I took too many pictures of the snow covered peaks all around it took way longer than planned. By the time I started down the Santa Cruz Trail it was pitch black. Just as a precaution I packed my bike light and thank God I did. There would have been no way to make it down without as the moon was obscured by clouds. I didn't bring my helmet mount but my Cygolite TridenX is super bright and put out enough light that I didn't need it. Having done the trail hundreds of times over the years I felt pretty good about doing it solo in the dark. The trail itself is tacky in some places but overall very good and fast. The upper part is a little overgrown but it is always a little overgrown. There are a couple of shale slides on the trail, especially at the crib wall, but other than that it's pretty normal. Both lower water crossings are running pretty full but very make able.

Well I made it back to the car safely thanks mainly to the light. I would like to think that this scenario won't happen again anytime soon but realistically it probably will. BTW I have an extra Adventure Pass, so if you want one I can sell it to you for $17.50(normally $30)- Good for 1 year.

Yes, that's Lance somewhere behind all those peoples hands

1st Water Crossing

Camuesa Road and Snowy Peaks Behind Carp

Buckhorn Trail

Buckhorn Trail Zaca Fire Recovery

Buckhorn Trail in '08 Looking Pretty Scarce

Sunset and Snowcovered Peaks of the LPNF

Buckhorn Road Just After the Water Tower

Sunset Above Happy Hollow

Snowy Hollow AKA Happy Hollow

Super Bright and Super Light- My TridenX Saved The Day

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