The trail that I ride most often runs through a portion of Nisene Marks State Park in Aptos, California. The trail goes out of the park and then back in after a steep and tough climb up to Sand Point which looks out over all of Aptos and out into the Monterey Bay.
It is a fantastic trail with very technical sections, singletrack along the edge of a hill with occasional hundred foot drop offs a few inches away, wide redwood lined trails and some high speed bomber run areas. There are even water hazards, bridges and the occasional wild donkey braying somewhere off in the deeps of the woods.
It is, in just a few words, some of the best riding I've had the pleasure of being able to hit regularly.
But even filet mignon gets tiring if that's all you ever eat. So, yesterday, I mixed it up a bit and reversed my normal course. I opted to climb up the backside of the mountain, a sinewy track with carved in berms, single, double and even triple jumps. Coming down this trail is phenomenally fun even though I'm not really much of a jumper, I do rather enjoy hitting a nice berm and ripping around a corner sideways.
The ride down is lots of fun but I found that the ride up affords a very, very different perspective of the trail. I saw so much more, saw numerous new routes, shortcuts, alternative tracks and tons more. It was also damned hard work because of some of the steep sections and other sections criss-crossed with roots at all angle.
I also made sure to keep my ears and eyes open not only for the occasional mountain lion but for other bikers bombing down the hill at speed. But today I saw no one until I was just about out of the woods entirely at the end of my ride. I toiled my way to the top, having to climb off and push my bike a few times.
At the very top, I took a break, drank a whole bunch of water, soaked in the magnificent view and, for some reason or another, put my bike on the swinging bench and took some pictures of it.
From there, I kept on my reverse course and dropped down the hill in the bright sun. Its an old access road that's gotten badly rutted out and I nearly went tumbling after getting a little out of control. After getting things back into a more stable state, I headed back into the park and down from the Mesa Grande trail head.
The ride back down from there is pretty familiar territory as its part of the original loop I've ridden for many months now. Its well overgrown right now and there are prickers growing out into the trail all over the place. But it is still pretty fast and always good fun. It doesn't hurt that there are rarely other people out on the trail away from the parking lots.
I also got a chance to stop near the bottom of the trail to photograph one of my favorite derelict cars. I love seeing this car slowly be absorbed back into the earth over the weeks and months and years. I was also sorely tempted to go for a quick swim in the really cold creek but was running a little tight on time so that'll have to wait for next time.
All in all, a great and refreshing ride with a new perspective, a new appreciation for the bombing run downhill on the backside of the mountain and a really good sweat.