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Slowest Rider
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
This was more of a Passion ride, on the road. Seems like a slow day on NorCal, so I post here.
OK, it was a fire road. And perhaps a little paved road on the way to Quicksilver.

Some don't figure it's really MTB unless it's singletrack. Myself, I love fire roads almost as much.
Why? Here's an example of my ride today.

First the Grunt
Leave house at 12:45. Scream down paved trail, then dodge cars a couple miles down the road to Hacienda Entrance.
No cars in the lot. Hot day means it's desolate.
While paused at the gate, I see a one guy on Specialized go past me. Last I saw of anyone all day. Solitude this ride.
Pump out full power. Go up the hot-as-fire road at my best speed ever, up and up the non-stop hill. Get to the bench at Cape Horn in 17 minutes.
Get up to English Camp and find the northern shady route is closed to a slide, gotta climb the steep exposed road in the sun. Darn
The sun makes the fire roads white. Blazing sun above. White shiny dust under my wheels. My sweat is dripping off my elbows and wrists. My shirt is drenched like a pool. Even sweat dripping down my pants makes them wet. Yet the heat makes me feel good.
Stop 5 minutes at top of Bull Run picnic table to get a drink, light snack and take in the beautiful views of Sierra Azul.
Yep, all lined up in the distance across Hicks Rd. are Bald Mt., Mt. Umunhum, and El Sombroso, then the power lines leading down Kennedy. They'll wait for me another day soon.

Now the delight
I zoom down the fire road to Guadalupe Dam. The road is fast, rutted, and loose. I'm rolling fast and being careful.
The hot dry air is rushing by like a swamp cooler evaporating my sweat, drying and cooling me off delightfully.
I'm going so fast, the dry air is whistling in my ears.
Going through a dark shady section, a big black buzzard who'd been on the side of the trail tries to get out of the way of my speedy bike. It flaps it's wings and just ends up flying a few feet from my face. We fly together down the fire road for a while, the buzzard taking point, until he goes his own course.
Guadalupe dam comes into view as I fly into the valley. Wow, it's so green it's like a kids water color. Contrasted by the deep blue reservoir, and the white fire road snaking down through the green. It's a delightful sight that only I see in the empty park.
I zoom down the road for what seems like forever, winding back and forth on the tight switchbacks. I jump a few nasty ruts in the shiny white road at high speed. What fun!

The Stroll Back Home
I turn right to take the long loop back home around the north side of the mountain. It's all shady here. Ups and downs of a hundred feet or so. It's all cool and fast.
I suddenly hear a Semi Truck buzzing by about to hit me. I duck. A Semi in the woods? Then I realize it's just a massive swarm of bees that sound exactly like a big truck. I ride right through the middle of them as they flow around me, letting me through unharmed.
I pedal hard and steady in the green shade.
Over the top of a hill, I see a mother Quail, and her 4 baby Quails tagging along behind on the shady road. I slow down and carefully tag along like a fifth baby Quail. The mom doesn't seem to mind. I get the camera phone out to take a pic. The mom minded that and took the kids off the trial. I got a close pic from a few feet, but the Quail camouflage works wonders, and camera phones in the shade are no wonder.
I roll down some more, soon passing the remains of some furry creature, eaten by some other hungry creature in the park.
More speed, rolling shaded green fire road.
I look at my computer and amazed to see I'm doing 16 MPH on this rolling section. Two years ago I couldn't do 8 MPH on that section!

All Down Hill From Here
I come back to the Cape Horn picnic bench, deliberately going slower because I don't want the ride to end.
I grunt up a steep fire road toward the Mocking Bird entrance. Only at the top, I note I'm gong up fast, far from my lowest gear I typically need on that hill.
The exposed fire roads are all glaring white and powdery.
The hills down are very steep, very slippery, and very rutted at bad angles. I'm thinking I'm glad my Heckler has that 69 degree head angle so I don't get tossed over the bar like I surely would with my Trek Fuel.
I pass the spot where, last summer, a bobcat sat at a tight turn and watched the downhill bikers go by.
I get to the bottom and have to grunt up a big hill. I've never made it more than 2/3. Today I did the whole thing. :D
I exit the completely empty Mockingbird lot at 2:20PM. Very spooky not to see anyone there. Sometimes I'll see 30 cars there. The heat drove everyone away, but me.
I do a road ride down hill. I'm on 3/9 gearing and pedaling fast at 35 MPH down the hill.
I use my 8" Saint disks to scrub speed as I come to a stop sign for Almaden Expressway, just as a couple road bikes go by. I ring my bell. They smile and wave.
I go across the road and continue on down. I pass a recreational MTB guy at double his speed.
I then signal and turn left off Harry, right over the big rocky median, and over a curb into a residential singletrack - the only bit of singletrack I did the whole ride.
I zoom into home with my best time ever, even with the detour. I'm stoked.

What a great ride! :D
That's why I'm sharing.
 

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Nice Ride

Sounds like you know that area like the back of your hand. I can't say the same for myself. I may do a similar ride to that from my house on Wednesday. It should be a little cooler then. If I take the cross bike I will ride from here. If I take the Giant I will probably take light rail.
So if I go up Mockingbird I take it there is a bike legal trail head.
 

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Slowest Rider
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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Portola Vince said:
Sounds like you know that area like the back of your hand. I can't say the same for myself. I may do a similar ride to that from my house on Wednesday. It should be a little cooler then. If I take the cross bike I will ride from here. If I take the Giant I will probably take light rail.
So if I go up Mockingbird I take it there is a bike legal trail head.
Yes, my house is right between Quicksilver and Santa Teresa. Both right out my garage. Wasn't an accident:
Wife (when looking for place): "Look the great schools here!"
Me (looking at bike parks on map): "Uh, yeah, sure looks perfect"

There's a great urban single track down from the VTA. A paved trail goes by Almaden Lake and on down south. Right after crossing the little bridge to Camden, turn left, and on the left for a couple miles is a lot of delightful flat dirt singletrack weaving around in the bushes by the creek along Camden. When you get to Harry, then turn right and keep going across Almaden. Mockingbird is the same road as Harry, with a different name on the other side of Almaden.

Yes, there's legal bike entrances into Quicksilver from Mockingbird, Hacienda, and Hicks Rd at the top. There's only one bike route from Mockingbird, in spite of all the turns (Virl Norton, Hacienda, etc..). So you can't get lost of you follow the legal biking signs. The fire road up from Mockingbird is very steep, rutted, slippery and completely impossible for me. All hiking uphill. So I go a couple miles down Almaden road and ride up from the Hacienda entrance. It's much more consistent gentle slope, perfect for a nice workout and shaded most of the way. The Mockingbird is much better to come out going downhill on that section.

Both fire roads from Mockingbird and Hacienda join up at Cape Horn Pass with a picnic table, along with two other roads.

If you want to do a 16 mile, 2100' climb, loop in Quicksilver, like my ride above, take the Mine Hill road, the only one going on up from the picnic table at CapeHorn Pass. When you get to English Camp, a left at the T, look around at the old mines. The climb to the right at the T, on Mine Hill is much more shaded, but closed right now due to a slide from the rains. Continue instead on Castillero past English Camp up to the other mines. Go on up and around to the right and just past the peak you'll get to Bull Run, with a picnic table and great views of Sierra Azul. Continuing down Mine Hill from Bull Run, you descend some fast roads and get to Guadalupe Dam. By a park bench at the bottom, turn right onto Randol and come back around on shady rolling hills. If you stay on bike legal roads, you'll eventually come out at CapeHorn Pass on the fourth road at that intersection. (One from Hacienda, One from Mockingbird, Mine Hill up to English Camp, and Randol coming back on the north slope.)

Edit: Map of Quicksilver here.
 

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BigLarry said:
The fire road up from Mockingbird is very steep, rutted, slippery and completely impossible for me. All hiking uphill. So I go a couple miles down Almaden road and ride up from the Hacienda entrance. It's much more consistent gentle slope, perfect for a nice workout and shaded most of the way. The Mockingbird is much better to come out going downhill on that section.
As BL says, Mockingbird is quite steep going up. I would agree with him that the better route is to go down couple of miles and ride up from Hacienda entrance.
 

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That Thought

sungchang said:
As BL says, Mockingbird is quite steep going up. I would agree with him that the better route is to go down couple of miles and ride up from Hacienda entrance.
occured to me today at work (that Mockingbird might be too steep for the 34/26 low gear on my cross bike). I might try it anyway if I bring my mountain bike though.
 

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QuickSilver

I know I am still a complete noob but I love this park. It's not technical and all the times I have been there (about 10 now) it has been relatively empty. This includes after work evening rides and weekend rides. So far I drive to the park and from the parking lot with no warm up I can't do the hacienda road up - atleast I couldn't the first time I tried.

So I drive around back and drive up Hicks and park at that trail head. I basically do the same thing over and over just building up my legs and lungs... I ride in on "wood road" which has a nice little leg killer at the end up to castillero (atleast fo rme it's a little leg burner still, short but steep hill). I rest in the cross section of the trails a short bit, then ride Castillro uphill toward the bullrun picnic table. I keep on cruising all the way down to the bench at the Guadalupe reservoir rest a bit and go right back up that same path I came down. I still have to stop at the providencia switch back area on the way up but I am seeing progress. I go back out wood road too which has a few little burners on the way out just to remind you - you aren't done building up the legs yet...

But at any rate I love this park so far and I am glad it's not too far away because at my level this park is perfect.
 

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Ride Report 6/28

I didn't exactly do the ride I stated I would do. I changed my mind and decided to get some vertical feet out of the way first.
I parked in Lake Almaden parking lot at 7:45 am. I took off down the bike path and started realizing that if I went up either Mockingbird or Hacienda it would take more time to get the intersection of Hicks and Loma Almaden then it would if I just climbed up HIcks.
So I went straight past Hacienda along Almaden Lake to Hicks. I climbed Hicks and just kept going up Loma Almaden. I climbed Loma all the to a Mid Penn sign that said stop. I really didn't mind stopping at that point. I'm not sure how much climbing remains before one can look over and see Lexington.
I went down to the Barlow Trail and took that to the Woods Trail. Then I went up El Sombroso with one dab in the rockiest spot. Then on over to the ridge that leads to Kennedy Trail and that's where I met the grader. It was an interesting decent down to Kennedy Road as some big piles of dirt made the normally easy downhill a slightly technical affair.
I got back to the car at 11:15 after 30 miles of riding.
 

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Fireball in the Night
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Really nice post, Larry. It's a great park for a lot of people. (15W and HID for me.)
In add'n to Quicksilver, I used to really like cycling from my home near Santa Teresa Hosp. into the area around the caves off of Mezzone before paintball and wayyyy before the golf course was developed.
You know Almaden Feed N Fuel is being knocked out for housing? Triva to some. History to others...

~ Rex
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Portola Vince said:
I didn't exactly do the ride I stated I would do. I changed my mind and decided to get some vertical feet out of the way first.
I parked in Lake Almaden parking lot at 7:45 am. I took off down the bike path and started realizing that if I went up either Mockingbird or Hacienda it would take more time to get the intersection of Hicks and Loma Almaden then it would if I just climbed up HIcks.
So I went straight past Hacienda along Almaden Lake to Hicks. I climbed Hicks and just kept going up Loma Almaden. I climbed Loma all the to a Mid Penn sign that said stop. I really didn't mind stopping at that point. I'm not sure how much climbing remains before one can look over and see Lexington.
I went down to the Barlow Trail and took that to the Woods Trail. Then I went up El Sombroso with one dab in the rockiest spot. Then on over to the ridge that leads to Kennedy Trail and that's where I met the grader. It was an interesting decent down to Kennedy Road as some big piles of dirt made the normally easy downhill a slightly technical affair.
I got back to the car at 11:15 after 30 miles of riding.
That's a long ride, and you're fast! I've done something close to that ride in a lot longer time - maybe 4.5 hours. But if Quicksilver is open, it's always a much more enjoyable climb to go up through QS from the Hacienda entrance than do Hicks Rd.
I'm impressed you can ride up the back side of El Sombroso. I used to have to hike that whole last 1000' climb in 0.7 miles. I can now ride about 70% of it. Someday.....
 

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Wow, Larry. Really nice prose there. It's subtle but I like it. The meter of your sentences is kinda stream of consciousness. I do the same thing when riding the Q. Observe everything around me. It's a great park for seeing wildlife. If it's not the turkeys, it's the suicide bunnies (they've stayed outta my wheels as of yet). And as others have expressed, I secretly love that place. It's like McDonalds. No one wants to mention they eat there, but everyone has fond memories of the burgers, fries and shakes. I love getting there (Quicksilver, not McDonald's) about half an hour before sunset on a weeknight and burning out an hour SS lap. It does wonders for me.

Thanks for the passion hit!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
K-max said:
Wow, Larry. Really nice prose there. It's subtle but I like it. The meter of your sentences is kinda stream of consciousness. I do the same thing when riding the Q. Observe everything around me. It's a great park for seeing wildlife. If it's not the turkeys, it's the suicide bunnies (they've stayed outta my wheels as of yet). And as others have expressed, I secretly love that place. It's like McDonalds. No one wants to mention they eat there, but everyone has fond memories of the burgers, fries and shakes. I love getting there (Quicksilver, not McDonald's) about half an hour before sunset on a weeknight and burning out an hour SS lap. It does wonders for me.

Thanks for the passion hit!
Thanks for the kind words. But nobody would ever accuse me of poetry.

I was trying to convey the spirit, or joy on that 'road' ride, with a nonstop running stream of delightful experiences flowing by along the ride. Glad you understood.

Even though it's fire roads, it's a great park to get out for a fun quick 'silver' ride.
 

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Sombroso

BigLarry said:
That's a long ride, and you're fast! I've done something close to that ride in a lot longer time - maybe 4.5 hours. But if Quicksilver is open, it's always a much more enjoyable climb to go up through QS from the Hacienda entrance than do Hicks Rd.
I'm impressed you can ride up the back side of El Sombroso. I used to have to hike that whole last 1000' climb in 0.7 miles. I can now ride about 70% of it. Someday.....
Well Larry my inspiration is your ride reports. But I paid for that ride today. I think it all breaks down even enough. I may be a little quicker up the hill but the pain is the same just about anywhere off of Umunum.
 
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