I was able to make it out for a ride that turned out to be everything planned and then a little extra. As stated in the last post, While we are up in Atascadero each thanksgiving for some quality family time, squeeze in a Friday ride. In the past have done a fairly common loop in the Pozo / Margarita Ranch area that takes me around the valley floor for a fairly quick 40ish mile loop. This time decided to throw in some dirt road and an unexpected detour turned the ride into a mixed terrain metric century.
The early morning temps were hovering around 26deg , and I was having a bit of trouble getting motivated to dive out int that weather in the dark. I ended up holding off a bit, spent some time with my girls and then hit the road around 8 when the temps had come up a bit to a balmy 30deg. here was still frost everywhere even with the sun beating down. Heading south out of Atascadero things are downhill and warming up takes a bit of time. I left the normal loop along Pozo rd to head up the Rinconada trail to connect to Hi Mountain road.
This seemed simple enough from the guide books and the maps. From the trailhead I took a quick diversion up to the remains of the abandoned mining facilities.
Back down a bit to what I thought was the main trail, across a drainage, and then into the climbing. The “trail” was pretty bad and mostly hike a bike conditions between the mud and loose baseball sized sharp rocks. The trail quickly degraded into overgrown brush and I found myself bushwhacking in the general direction I needed to go. At one point I thought I had found the trail again, but ended up exploring some beautiful frosty meadows that were completely in the wrong direction. Backtracking a mile or so I was able to find the main Rinconada trail again, but this section was still more suited to a Pugsly than my Roadeo. After about 45 minutes of mostly pushing the bike uphill things gave way to some decent ranch trails. While things were often damp, the surface freeze kept it more like gravel, keeping the slip and slide to a minimum. The rate of climb decreased as I neared the transition to Hi Mountain road with a beautiful spot for a break and adjustment of layers
The remaining dirt sections of the ride were much more like the typical OHV and fire roads that criss cross the open sections of California. The views from up there are incredible. Depending on the direction of the switch backs you can see from Big Sur to Santa Maria. The climbing continued at a reasonable pace, and once on the south-facing side of the mountains the temperature had come up about 20 degrees. As usual on these roads the only signs of life were the birds, cows and occasional deer. I never saw any evidence of other people outside of the foot prints and tire tracks. Nearing the saddle and the route back into the valley floor the view expanded over San Luis Obispo and the Los Osos valley out to the ocean.
The way down was in very good condition considering the recent rains. Keeping things interesting, the shady inside corners were still covered in frost. descending through the scrub back into the oaks and then through the rolling meadows back to the Pozo ranger station. I only encountered one river crossing, which would not have been that bad had I not slipped a bit and dipped the toe of the keen sandle into the water soaking the sock on my left foot. Back on the road I was getting into the groove of my routine loop and making good time. I could feel my energy waning a bit and hit the snacks pretty hard. I think the cold and hiking sections took a greater toll on my reserves than I had anticipated.
My usual route takes me from Pozo road, to Parkhill and than I take the rolling decent along Las Palitas back down to Pozo and home. Getting to this point there is still quite a bit of climbing and false flats that fool you into thinking that you are trudging along the flats while still gaining quite a bit of altitude. By this point, 40 mile in, was felling pretty tired, looking forward to the downhill home. Last year on Las Palitas I encountered a pig either wild or just mean I am not sure, but it did charge at me a bit before running off into the woods and letting me past. This year it was the hunter, not the prey. At the top of a short rise about 50 yards out was what appeared to be some kind of boxer pit bull mix. It barked and charged a bit, I stopped and let out my best alpha growl, this was serious. The dog stopped for a second and let out a growl that topped mine and charged. I took advantage of my position on the rise to retreat fast as I could, the dog chased for about half a mile, with a neighbors cattle dog joining in the fun. Thankfully they gave up as the then decent now climb started. The long march back up to Parkhill and long way home was now fueled by the remaining adrenaline. Taking the cup half full approach, the adrenaline did far more for my legs than the Hammer Gel, and the added distance turned the ride into a full 100K. Although a bit longer then planned the remaining ride was a beautiful roll through the countryside home.
This ride turned out far better than I had expected. 100k of riding, 4400 feet of climbing and tons of hike a bike. Three liters of water. some Heed mixed in and snacks turned out to be enough fuel. The layering system consisted of my Patagonia Houdini and 3 layers of wool on top with Ibex wool on the bottom half, and even when soaked with sweat or descending in 40degree valleys the system kept me comfortable.
I am looking forward to the next holiday to head out onto some of the other trails in the area.
Full set of Pics