Left work a little early yesterday with some planned time off and faced a dilemma when I got home. Although my job isn't physically demanding, I usually come home exhausted. So the choice of stopping to pick up beer and sit on the couch and watch Netflix was compelling. Thankfully I decided to 'man up' and hit the trails instead. My last trip over to Cathedral was so disappointing (due to the RV party) I was worried that it might even be worse this time since its Memorial Day weekend. Usually I like to get my times a bit better at Cathedral before I tackle Glacier Ridge (PDF), a set of single track on the side of Bald Hill, because its a challenging ride and you really need to be alert or you can get hurt. Doing Glacier Ridge un-prepared and tired is not advisable. But it wasn't too hot out, there was a nice breeze, and leaving work early meant I still had plenty of afternoon sun so as I suited up I began to get that exhilaration that comes with a good ride.
Strangely, I felt the malaise of work-induced tiredness slip away and I attacked the trail doing every optional black diamond on the track. At each one I'd think to myself, "maybe I should skip this one so I can check out some at the end I usually skip", but once I was actually at the trail entrance I'd invariably choose to do it. All the black diamonds are named with little black and yellow signs and have names which usually belie their difficulty. This includes 'Revenge of Shorty' (an homage to 'Shorty' which is a tough little uphill in the Rocky Point trails), and while I chose to do it (and did it with success), I usually wish I didn't. The big decision was at 'Gotta Do the Ridges' which is a curvy run down a gully which looks like a giant half-pipe. If you're not doing the right speed you won't make the up-sides, but if you go too fast you can overshoot at the top of each and mess up your down-run into the next loop. At the bottom of the gully is a long climb back up the hill with a couple nasty switchbacks which I usually can't do, but did this time with ease. When I got to 'Dark Side of the Moon' (theres no Dark Side of the Moon, really, as a matter of fact its all dark) there were a bunch of young girls on the trail without bikes. I thought this was pretty wierd - they weren't hiking, just kind of standing on the trail. Although I had mentally planned to skip DSotM, the female factor kicked in and I had no choice but to take that particular turn off. I did skip the 'Eclipse' which is either the most insane piece of trail work ever devised or the most unfinished portion. Then I skipped the rest of the black diamonds and bailed on the main trail.
All told I did a little less than I usually do at Cathedral (the ODO read 9.15 miles where it usually reads 9.5 at CP) and it took me an hour 18. I attribute my slower pace to the grueling ups and downs of GR whereas CP (although it does have some nasty, if short hills of its own) is much more flat. Cathedral is highly trafficked though and mainly as a result of people running the trails right after a rain, it has a lot more protruding roots which aren't a lot of fun to ride over. Although Glacier Ridge is a tougher, more technical trail its mostly still smooth track which is a nice trade off. Overall, GR is just about my favorite trail to ride.
Glacial erratic on the White Ghost trail (6/7/10)