From The Steeps:

Monday, January 02 2006 @ 10:00 AM
Contributed by:sbaden


What a great way to start the new year! We started the ride a little earlier than I would have liked- 9 A.M. (I'm not much of a morning person)- but it was a good thing we did as we just missed the rain.

Can I just say... I got my as@$% kicked by the Backbone team. There is a reason they are a race team and they certainly showed me why. They even took it easy on me. OK, I learned my lesson. You can not ride once every other month and expect not to die on the trail. It was the "Resolution Ride" though- right? So here is my resolution for 2006- and I never make resolutions: This year I will do my very best to ride at least twice a month. There, that's a resolution that is pretty do-able.

Chris and Joy led us (literally by a good 100+ yards) up and down some of the best single track I have ridden yet. Caballero Canyon was a challenging single track to climb which brought us to dirt Mullhuland. By the time we got to dirt Mullhuland my breakfast was knocking at the door and visions of my own mortality were broken loose by the ferocious pounding of my heart. Perhaps I'm exaggerating just a little. Not about my breakfast though- that was for real!

A gradual climb up dirt Mullhuland to "The Hub" allowed me time to make peace with my breakfast and recover slightly. Dare I say... and along this gradual climb I was passed by a runner. Now, when I say runner, what I really mean to say is that she looked to be at least 65+ years old and let me just define running as more of a slow jog- no, more of a shuffling of her feet. Her thoughts, as she passed me, were as strong and evident to me as the pounding of my heart in my chest- "Eat my dust." And I did.

We regrouped at the head of "Backbone." Yet again the trail continued uphill but this time it was a heavily wooded single track that disappeared into the trees and brush. At this point the look of it was a little daunting as my body and energy had been mostly spent but I soon found that this was... the pay off. This was by far the best part of the ride! The trail whipped back and forth, up and down along the hillside under the shade of trees. I expected, at any moment, to turn a corner and find a deer, bobcat, mountain lion (please-no!), nudist- this was the Santa Monica Mountains after all.

At some point the trail heads downhill for several miles to the Will Rogers State Park and this is where we decided to turn around and though part of me wanted to continue down the trail that I was enjoying so much an even bigger, wiser part of me was screaming "NO - TURN BACK!"

On the way back down the Backbone I was bringing up the rear- yeah, I really didn't need to state the obvious- and had one of my best crashes ever! If Benny Hill had been riding with us he would have been so proud of me. This single track has a steep uphill on one side and a steep downhill on the other with trees and bush on either side. My front tire catches a rock that is sticking out of the ground like a massive boulder (6 inches) and sends my bike off the trail on the downhill side. I hit and brush passed a tree and slam into another tree that stops my bike abruptly. I continue however, trading my bike for wings, between the two trees, through a wet bush with a rather nice landing on the steep hillside where I am graciously stopped by mother nature- more wet bushes. I could hear Betsy, who I was following, calling to me, "Shawn? Are you OK? I can see your bike but I can't see you." Caught somewhere between pain and uncontrollable laughter I made my way back to the trail, grabbed my bike that was nicely propped up between two trees waiting for me to return and continued along the path back to the fire road. It was a nice long downhill back to the single track at Caballero Canyon where we split into two groups. Desi, Betsy and I took the single track back to the cars and Chris and Joy went on to another trail.

I got back to the car with one thing on my mind... Long, hot shower!

I had a great time- Thank you Team Backbone for including The Steeps in your New Years ride. I'll be in better shape the next time.