Monday, October 30, 2006

First Attempt of Mountain Biking US : Henry Cowell Redwoods

Location: Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, CA
Distance : 6.5 miles
Difficulty : moderate, mildly technical
Duration : 2.5 hours
Elevation : 600in gain/loss
Ride type : first couple miles were paved road and uphill, then white sandy ground turn to nice loose ground on the forest by the river
Entrance fee : $5 + $1 for biking map
Date : 28 October 2006, afternoon
Comments : pipeline road is quite popular for walkers and horse riders, water available on the observation deck. Good for testing brakes and gears.

I have been mountain biking for three years when Mark lend me his twenty years old bike. Since we were in California a couple weeks ago soon we realised that we were in the mountain biking's heaven. This area is great for exploring the parks and natural wonder on the saddle; this made us getting itchy to put feet on the paddle again. So here we are in the Northern California trying new bikes from cyclepath shop. I have got bike Contessa 40 from bike-maker Scott which is lot better than my old one.

Henry Cowell Park is situated near Santa Cruz. We were heading there from Sunnyvale in interstate 280 then took highway 1 left to highway 9 through winding road of redwoods forest about 5 miles to the park. We had difficulties to find the Pipeline Road, after wandering around near Park Centre the path just there -among the giant redwoods tree.

Redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens ) can grow for 200-240ft (60-121m) high known for one of the eldest tree in the world. The red barks and heartwood were resistant to the fungus and fires that common happen in this hot dry weather in coast. The tall and leaf of redwoods made shady area for the forest path.

The track started with paved road to uphill even steeper after passing the railroad. And that would be on and on. I was struggling with gears system as I never play lowest gear ever. This is a right time to try. About 2.5 miles we down to intersection with Powder Mill Fire Road turn left to Ridge Fire Road climbed up again to the observation deck. It was nice view with the Panderosa pines and jay birds scattering on the ground looking for seeds. With it's bright blu colour the birds just easy to spot in.

In the observation deck we stopped for another intake fluids. There is tap water so you can drink here. I met two ladies riding horses. We had a chatt about this hot autumn weather. One of the lady said that the californian called this situasition 'indian summer' which a period that the air so dry and hot, usually late october or beginning of november before rain pouring down. It supposed to be more humid than those saturday.

Down the track we heading the Ridge Fire road again which is quite sandy. It's a hard work to keep your wheel rolling in the sandy ground. I found little bit fun though ! Then we back again into Pipeline road across to Rincon Fire Road. We were tempted to try the Cathedral Redwoods but I was begging to back into Rincon. It was lot fun here ! We just down hills among the tree roots and dark forest. I was playing again with gears and brakes. Oh anyway american put brakes in opposite side of UK bikes. Left hand brake for front wheel and right hand brake for back wheel. I have got lesson how to control the bike if we're hitting lumps of tree roots.

Then we back again into Pipeline road and heading to car park. Huh it was great ! My bike works perfectly well, my shorts with padding helps me from hurting my bums. So yes definitely will do some more.

Photos here Mountain Biking 1st Attempt (thanks for lovely shoots from Mark)
Map from

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