Here's a report on a great trail in SoCal not too many have done yet but you might consider doing. The elevation gain is a little until 5,000 feet in the Cleveland Nation Forest. Takes approximately 5-6 hours to ride.
Our hardy group consisted of Mark, Suzanne, Steve, Ned, Mike (Half Rib) and myself (OMR). We met at the Trabuco wash at 7:30 am hoping to get off early and beat the heat. The ride up Trabuco Road was uneventful and made it to the Trabuco trail head in good time. Once on the trail, we discovered that there was a backcountry race going on as 40 some odd runners past us on our way up. Trabuco is in great shape after all the VQ riders went down it last weekend. With all the runners going down, it was hard to maintain a consistent pace… but we did.
Other than that, our ride to the top was again uneventful as the temps continued to remain cool. Once at the top of Trabuco and Main Divide, we discovered a race checkpoint there with plenty of goodies they willingly shared with us. Half Rib struggled in last complaining of not riding very much with all his traveling… that and a broken rib on The Luge several weeks back have slowed him considerably.
Mike wanted to bale and go back down Trabuco but after much talking, we convinced him to continue. So we shouldered the bikes and pushed up the Los Pinos Trail and finally reached the Bell Ridge cutoff. Down came the saddles and away we went. Bell Ridge is in great shape right now, but it is a backcountry trail … that mean, steep, rutted, off camber and bushy in sections… ahhh, did I mention steep. I was extremely glad I was riding my 5.5 squishy Intense and not the 29er… you need suspension on this trail!
Bell Ridge basically does what it says, comes down a ridge.. which mean ups and downs. Several of the ups are pretty long… and what goes up must come down. The big Nevegals on the front really help! A couple of times I felt the legs start to cramp slightly… but never really blossomed into full blown cramps. The increasing temps didn’t help matters. This is a beautiful trail. The views across the valley are spectacular. You can see Upper and Lower Holy Jim and Cadilac.
Half way down my front tire kept wandering in and out of the ruts & I couldn’t figure out why the fork felt so soft… until I realized after the second crash into the bushes, my tire was going flat. A quick change fixed that up and also allowed Mike to catch up with us. He started getting his second wind about then and we made good time continuing downward.
There is one section that is particularly steep, rocky and even hard to walk down. That out of the way, our speed increased… that is until the next hill upward. Just when you think you’ve past the hard areas, you come upon the baby heads from hell which goes on for quite a while. Again, thank God for suspension!
Near the bottom, there is one more surprise section, which is called Last Chance… meaning, last chance for drawing blood! It’s a steep loose section that you need to descend under control… or you crash and bleed. I managed to slide off the trail half way down and into the bushes…. with everybody watching at the bottom. Great!
Finally out on the residential streets in Robinson Ranch, we made good time back to the cars on Trabuco. We rewarded ourselves with copious amount of food and drink at a local watering hole and planned the next ride.
As I’ve said, Bell Ridge is a steep and rugged trail but there are many beautiful sections to ride. It’s actually in great shape right now… so, go ride it before it gets too hot!
Old Man Riding…
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