Sunday, March 13, 2011

Grant Park Growler

For most of the week, Beat's friends had been urging us to join them for their 20-mile run on Sunday. After our 18-mile Saturday run, we were both harboring a bit of late-week fatigue, and agreed it would be better to do something "mellow," like a bike ride, and then meet up with the group later in the afternoon. Beat and I decided to head up to Joseph Grant County Park, which is located on the edge of what is actually a large swath of open space on the east side of the SF Bay.

We meandered along a reservoir for about a mile, and then the doubletrack trail suddenly and discouragingly shot straight for the sky. Super-steep-granny-gear-if-you're-lucky climbs were followed by awful-steep-locked-up-wheels-if-you're-lucky descents, and it never let up. Signs even warned us of the possibility of a wet chamois on some of the scarier downhills.

There was some flat ground, but it was generally covered in mud and/or water.

We often stopped to catch our breaths and consult the map again ... "Do we really have to go up there? Really?"

Finally we gained the ridge and the roller coaster became more reasonable, complete with great views of Mount Hamilton. But my legs were running on near-empty, and I had little to combat the continuous climbs.

To add injury to insult, the final descent was so steep it required a full commitment that I failed to make. I launched over a headwall, panicked, hit the brakes — probably both of them — and lurched forward and sideways, making blunt contact with the stem in a way that hurts girls too, I assure you. I was too wrapped up in a visual bombardment of colors and stars to warn Beat that he should walk this section of the trail, but he was already off the bike when he approached the drop-off. Just as well. I joined him, walking downhill, laughing about my poor execution of this fairly terrible ride that in its own way was actually pretty fun.

It only took us two hours and 45 minutes to complete a 14-mile ride — which, according to GPS, had 2,800 feet of climbing, most all of that in the first nine miles, and none of it rewarded with any kind of reasonable (i.e. brakeless) descent. Basically, it would have been easier to run.

Live and learn. At least Beat's friend Martina made us this truly spectacular igloo cake to celebrate Steve's, Beat's and my completion of the Susitna 100. She even included our race numbers in the decoration: 4 (Steve), 60 (me) and 62 (Beat.) Very sweet of her — good to know that while some irrational actions will reward you with a groin injury, others will earn you a cake!


  1. So you got to have your cake and eat it too! NICE! I haven't been to Grant Park (yet) as it's a much farther drive from where I stay when I work up there (Sunnyvale area). There is just SO much public land up there, it's mind boggling. I noticed on your Map of Purisima Creek Redwoods ride (on Friday) that at the bottom you went left towards El Corte Madera...I was going to suggest that as another ride (it has it's own parking on top of Skyline rd as you are now aware). As you drive along Skyline Rd, any parking area you see will have trails descending. You haven't even scratched the surface yet on just THAT road! As to El Corte Madera open space, as you said: you need to keep looking at the map as there are so many junctions. I finally ended up carrying my backpacking GPS with me so I can just enjoy the ride and still find my car afterwards without being so worried about running out of daylight. That and my SPOT unit really set me free from worry (I bought mine after following your track in the GDR 2 years ago)...The SPOT is a very cool thing to have when I have no real idea where to tell my wife I'm riding, as I typically only know where I'm starting from. With the SPOT I'm free to just ride.

  2. WoW! For this igloo to build your friend must have been baking cakes for a whole week or has broken into the supermarket's cake-storage! How many briquettes were needed? -- anyway, enough to feed the whole Swiss Army, as we would say in Switzerland. Gorgeous idea!

  3. Jill, I consistently feel a) lazy and b)old when reading your posts. I honestly admire your energy level. A three hour bike ride the day after an 18 mile run? Craziness. I guess I need to ramp up my exercise or I can't read this blog anymore! :)

  4. That sign change is hysterical!

    And I love the cake!

    Enjoying your writing and adventure each & every day...


  5. Fantastic pictures. Northern California looks spectacular. Wow.

  6. Another fun post! Grant ranch is nice this time of the year and in the fall. Mid-summer can be a tad hot with little shade...
    Love reading about our backyard from your perspective!!!


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