2018 Summertime Ride

Here’s a video of today’s ride, my favorite regular route. I added some captions to highlight some unique areas of the trails I’m grateful to call home. It’s about 20 miles and takes about 2 hours, starting at Highway 9 and Pipeline Road through Henry Cowell State Park, and continuing up 17 Turns to Mailboxes for the first downhill. Then, it’s a fireroad climb back up the mountain via Long Meadow in Wilder Ranch to Twin Gates; on to Sweetness, the second downhill. The warm-up and cool-down through Henry Cowell are perfect for this ride, and I’m super appreciative I can ride these trails with just a short drive from my house in Ben Lomond!

The birds and wildlife are always a huge motivator to do anything outside around here; I’ve seen a mountain lion on Mailboxes trail before. Today I saw several baby lizards, only about an inch long, which was a reminder to watch out for hatching reptiles on these hot, late-Summer days.  Having access to this stunning outdoor escape is one of the main reasons I moved to Santa Cruz in the first place, almost twenty years ago. These mountains feel like home, and though I’ve ridden these trails hundreds of times, they never get old – endless fun!

Summertime rides like these set the stage for content, happy evenings; under balmy conditions, a symphony of insects and a full moon fill the sky and the senses. I savor the Summer! I am beyond thankful for this time off, and for the freedom, flow, and grace it brings. Time is the biggest gift of all, and I don’t take it for granted. As a teacher, I know exactly when my time off is, and take advantage of it while I can. August 20 will be here before I know it.

Enjoy your Summer, too; go ride your bike! It doesn’t matter what you’re riding, it’s that you’re riding – and with a smile on your face.

 

 

Soquel Demonstration State Forest “Demo” MTB

Soquel Demonstration State Forest (“Demo”) is a gem within the Santa Cruz Mountains of California. Its name is what it is: a demonstration of how active logging operations can be paired with recreation. In the case of Demo, it’s mountain biking mecca for the South Bay and Santa Cruz regions. Though a bit of a drive to get to, it’s always worth it in my opinion.

Where else can you find miles of uninterrupted, well-designed and maintained flow trail within the Santa Cruz Mountains? We are spoiled with a plethora of awesome trails in Santa Cruz, but when all six stages of Demo’s Flow Trail were completed a few years ago, it opened up a new standard for how long and “flowy” a downhill could be. It is like a roller coaster; so fun! It is beautifully crafted and diligently kept up by the stewardship of many mountain bikers, like MBOSC, who lead Dig Days for trailwork. This is the main attraction of Demo, although it’s not the only one.

Braille Trail is another awesome trail within Demo; it’s shorter than Flow, but boasts more log jumps and features than Flow, and is more of a black-diamond run.

Sawpit Trail is the longest trail, mostly cross-country as it traverses Ridge Trail until its starting point. It was recently rerouted, and is a nice, fun trail with some good steeper sections. It has the longest climb out up Hihn’s Mill Road, at a little under four miles.

Corral Trail is a relatively short trail between Ridge and Sulphur Springs; a nice addition if you’re looking to do a longer ride, but I usually skip it.

Demo sets the bar for how much climbing you have to inure to go downhill. A 3:1 ratio of climbing to downhill feels about right, although the math doesn’t make sense, of course. Usually, I climb up via Buzzard Lagoon to Aptos Creek Fire Road, taking a rest at the Santa Rosalia overlook, which has a nice peek of the Monterey Bay. You can also climb in through Hihn’s Mill Road to Sulphur Springs (a.k.a. “Suffer Springs”), if you want a slightly shorter but steeper-pitched climb that skips the first part of Ridge Trail. It earns its nickname, though, as it feels harder than climbing up Buzzard Lagoon.

These rides will keep your endurance and strength up, no doubt. It’s a long ride in, and out, but totally worth it. I love the peace, quiet, and solitude of a long ride. It always sets me right.

Here are some videos of Demo:

Flow Trail from top to bottom:

Sawpit:

Braille:

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