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King Of Tooth Tarter
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This was a day for Willow Ridge Trail. I had intentions of cleaning it.

I had planned all week to clean Willow Ridge Trail. Last week, a group that included Paul Nam, Jon and Nica, Charlie (in spirit. He had left his gear at home and couldn't go), and Patrick went on a ride that included Willow Ridge Trail going up.

That route: HH to Gilroy Hot Springs Road, Coit Road, Meadows Mahoney Road, China Hole Trail, Cougar Trail, Poverty Flat Road, Shafer Corral Trail, the Narrows, Willow Ridge Trail, Willow Ridge Road, George Milias Trail, Cross Canyon Trail, Kelly Cabin Canyon Trail (cleaned by Paul), Coit Road, Wasno Road, Jackson Road, Jackson Trail, Anza Trail, Coit Road, Gilroy Hot Springs Road to HH Parking Lot.

We cleared a couple of trees away making it possible to clean. I was in good form and would have cleaned it if not for the tree blocking the trail (in which I stopped to help remove. The second tree was ignored by me and I went around it to see if I had it in me to clean the toughest bit which I did). Paul cleaned this bit also after he removed this tree.

Anyway, my intentions were to come back and finish what I started.

I arrived at HH Parking Lot to see Charlie's group getting ready for a "shorter" ride. The temperatures were cold and the weather didn't warm up too much. I had conversations with the riders before I got on my way going up Gilroy Hot Springs Road (the others went up in the Lyman Willson direction).

My route:

HH Parking Lot, Gilroy Hot Springs Road, Coit Road, Mahoney Meadows Road, Lost Spring Trail (a tree down but there's a ride around), Mahoney Meadows Road (the wall section), the Narrows, Willow Ridge Trail, Willow Ridge Road, Mississippi Ridge Trail, Coit Road, Wagon Road, Wasno Road, Tule Pond Trail, Grizzly Gulch Trail, Serpentine Trail, Steer Ridge Road, Middle Steer Ridge Trail, Lyman Willson Trail, Hunting Hollow Road to HH Parking Lot.

I decided that I would make it to Willow Ridge Trail as soon as possible. It was cold at first but the sun soon came out and gave a false impression that it was warm if you imagined hard enough. Up Coit Road cycling along I'm startled by a sound behind me. Well, it was Travis (who put on the recent Coe mountain bike competition). We rode together talking until I reached Mahoney Meadows Road and then it was time to part. Another mountain biker caught up to us and Travis rode with him for awhile. That worked out well.

On up Mahoney Meadows Road then down the Lost Spring Trail without event. Then I reached Willow Ridge Trail. I was ready and continued on. The bottom part of the trail is pretty steep but soon it eased to a reasonable pitch. The trail is in very good shape and sticky thanks to the recent moisture. In some sections I had to be careful as the trail is soft and loose on the sides. One false move and it would be all over. Would I go back to the bottom and try it again? How many times would I try it again if I failed again?...and again? This thought was going through my mind.

I was doing well. Up and up and staying on even through the mild switchback or two. I got past the section where the first tree was cleared last week. That was nice. Already I was farther which gives one confidence. That tends to build as you go. Up and up. I got past the section where the second tree was cleared. By then, the pitch had amped up. A pretty tough section and I was past that. Then it really got steep. My tires (Specialized Captain Controls if your reading Shiloh) slipped ever to slightly as I was traversing the brutal and wide open steep section. I hung on. It was dicier than last week. More of an effort. I had to do it though. If I didn't, then it would eat at me. And, once you fail it plays on your mind until you try again. Every failure weakens your confidence. I must clean this trail.

I got past the roughest angle of the trail. From then on it was just concentrating and not doing anything stoopid. I remembered a tight uphill switchback from last week. And...there it was. I took it wide and got past it. I was fearing this for a while as I played the tough bits in my head since last week.

There. Past the trail to Willow Ridge Spring. A bit of a tough section where there is a tall bench that knocked my left foot off the kleat last week but I stayed clipped in. A mildly steep bit and then I could see the large sign at the top. Then I reached it. I did it. No yelp or hurrah, just extreme satisfaction. I seriously did not think I would ever clean this trail until last week. Then it just seemed a matter of time. And the time had come. Very, very good.

I relaxed for a while at the sign then decided to go on up Willow Ridge Road. From the bottom of Willow Ridge Trail I had a notion of trying my legs at the Mississippi Ridge Trail. I headed out for it. I turned on Mississippi Ridge Trail (less than a mile before Mississippi Lake) and traversed the enjoyable, rough and sometimes real steep Mississippi Ridge Trail. Fun. I got to the bottom and looked around for the "up" part of the trail that starts at the creek. I found it and started up. I dabbed so I went to the bottom and tried again. Up and up but I did dab along the way. It is rutted and soft soil with branches in the wrong places making this trail one of the "grails" of Coe. I cleaned a pretty good portion of the up but then I came to the steep, steep section. I tried 3 times getting a little farther each time. It proved too difficult. Very steep and loose rock even now. Maybe another day. Maybe I'm a tiny bit closer.

I rode the trail and got to the top, walking a portion and enjoyed another fun downhill section. Rutted and steep, this trail can be pretty scary. You have to have your wits about you.

I got to Coit Road and climb up then a downhill section to Pacheco Camp. I had a bit of a stomach ache so the riding was a bit slower. I rested on a table at Pacheco Camp. No sign of anybody. Close to the camp on the fire road there was ice from a puddle. This at 2 in the afternoon. Of course I rode through it feeling like a kid.

Then it was up the Coit Road climb to Coit Dam Trail. Never a fun climb, it being fire road and my least favorite climbing. But, I made it. I laid down at the sign for Coit Dam Trail and slept for 5 minutes. That was needed. It was a tough day today. On to Wagon Road, Wasno Road, Tule Pond Trail. Tule Pond Trail was very fun as usual.

Yes, left on Grizzly Gulch Trail Tahoe BC. Must finish on Middle Steer Trail or be accused of "finishing weak". Jeff does have a good point. I was wondering if I enjoyed the satisfaction of cleaning Serpentine Trail more than the super fast downhill of Middle Steer Trail. The two seem connected. I feel I deserve Middle Steer Trail more if I clean Serpentine Trail. I was pretty beat, though. Even after a rest at the top of Tule Pond Trail also. I did manage to clean it.

Down to the HH Parking Lot. There I see Patrick, Mei and Eric from the group this morning. Patrick manages to take a photo as I roll in past him. We talk for a while and from there it is food then home. A shorter ride but some greatness involved. A very good day in Coe. I won some battles.

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