The bikes shook down well at Lake Hodges, and the beers went down just as well at Stone not long after the ride. Fresh IPAs in the garden out back, shaded by trees, sitting in chairs made for giant humans, we had little reason to get up and leave, other than the need to get things ready for the next morning.
Cuyamaca Rancho State Park in east county San Diego is dang purty. The hills rise up, boulders are the color of mountain lions, oak forest and pine forest spread their limbs, and meadows of golden grasses wave in the breeze.
We worked our way up the single track of East Side and West Side. Crossing over the hard road and following Green Valley to Upper Green Valley on the forest-road-turned-rough-double-track, the rolling wasn’t that difficult.
(You do begin to realize, however, that, yes, you are climbing at a gradual pace. The double becomes single and the topography becomes desert, just like that. The trail turns rocky, and it becomes exposed. Looking back, the view is all desert and mountains.)
We had some grunts here and there before officially leaving Cuyamaca and entering Anza-Borrego State Park, where you eventually spill on to the cross-country mtber’s dream: rolling happiness with views that fill your being with peace.
La Cima is its name.
Soapstone and around Vaqueros over to the other side of the park, we went. The skies were building up thunder clouds in the mountains to the east. Flash floods and monsoons were forecasted for the area.
Up the forest road and a quick right up Middle Peak Fire Road to the top, pedaling through a burned forest.
At the second left for Black Oak Trail, we stopped to eat and drink, and to enjoy the surroundings. A slight rain started falling. I wasn’t feeling well. I refreshed my memory of the various connections needed to get back to the car. Thunder rolled in the distance every now and then.
The top of Black Oak is chunky! Chunkerific! Down through the burn.
It then opens up and caresses you.
The sky was getting darker and the darker was getting closer to us. Up Azalea and then Fern, where we began the thirty minutes of faaaaaaast double track descent. Fern to West Mesa to Japacha, where it drops back in on the West Side single track.
Back to the car on East Side, and I was hurting. Hot air temperature still hung, as the storms never made it over us.
I hurt so much that while the others ate a late lunch in town, I laid on the floor in the back room, slowly sipped water, and tried to keep the ice bag that the waiter made for me on top of my head.
* ALL PHOTOS BY LEDPEDAL