Saturday, April 23 I spent a good deal of the day wishing I was in Australia for XCO World Cup #1. When we planned the season we targeted the World Cups in Europe for a few different reasons, among them being finances. I've come to accept that this decision is what it is, and that I can't change it now. But that doesn't mean I didn't feel quite a bit of yearning to be banging bars on the gnarly spider covered track in Cairns.
Instead, I was at home for the first non-racing weekend in a while, tasked with doing a longer ride to prep the system for Whiskey 50. (so yeah, I'm missing the first world cup, but how lucky am I to get to race Whiskey, and to go to Europe next month for World Cups #2 and 3?!?) To cope with the Cairns-missing disappointment Carl, Daniel and I planned a nice long Santa Ana suffer ride, based around the trails with the best wildflowers. Although I don't know if long Santa Ana rides are really that interesting to read about, so many thoughts went through my head, and it was just so nice out, I can't really help recording it.
The route: Park on Rose Canyon rd, ride up Trabuco wash, up Holy Jim trail, continue up Main Divide to the top of Upper Holy Jim. Drop into Upper Holy Jim for a minute, and turn left onto Coldwater trail (one of my all time favorites). At the bottom of Coldwater hit the sports park to watch some little league while eating PB&J, and then continue up Indian Truck Trail. At the top of ITT head back up Main Divide, and then down both Upper Joplin, lower Joplin and wrap it up with Rose Canyon Trail.
First of all, holy moly was the weather good. Earlier in the week we had some 90 degree days, but all day Saturday it was the most perfect 75 with a cool breeze, no flies and bright sunny skies. I think it was the most pleasant day in the mountains I've experienced in the 3 years I've been riding up there.
Also, holy cow the flowers were incredible. I requested that we ride up Holy Jim trail because it gets lined with flowers of every color and we were not disappointed! Sadly I didn't take any pictures because I was chasing Daniel who vexingly was way faster than me, but just imagine red, purple, orange, yellow and pink flowers the whole way up, and down Joplin as well. Not only were there so many flowers, the greenery exploded due to rain we got a few weeks ago, and the whole ride was more like a jungle expedition than a SoCal one.
Another highlight of the ride: getting recognized by people in my home trails. This may seem pathetic, but when people know who I am while I'm just out for a fun Saturday ride it totally makes me smile. I'm so lucky to live in SoCal where the cycling community is so awesome and friendly and enthusiastic. Thanks everyone who has ever taken the time to introduce themselves to me on the trail and for all your kind, encouraging words. Professional mountain biking doesn't come with the fame of baseball or football, but these encounters make me feel so freaking famous, hahaha :)
And a huge part of my time riding was consumed with thinking about how grateful I am that my body is in working condition, I can ride 10,000ft in a day, climb for hours at a time and just be outside doing what I love. There were times when the open wound on my hip hurt, esp when I punched it with my saddle repeatedly while trying to descend with a foot out, and I got stung by a bee, but it was seriously the absolute best day in the mountains.
After the ride we posted up at the Travuco Canyon store for fruit Popsicles, iced tea and we may have split a donut :) while talking about the ride and basking in the perfect weather. Spring is pretty great, and if I was in Austraila I wouldn't have gotten such a beautiful Saturday in my favorite mountains :)