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  1. #1
    Junior Member n2geo's Avatar
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    Post-ride report: China Camp State Park

    This if for all the old-timers who complain that the newbs don't contribute enough to creating entertaining threads, rather than 'what bike should I buy'...

    I attended an event this weekend called Ales & Trails at China Camp State Park in San Rafael, California (Marin County). This was basically a fundraiser/membership drive for several local BTC (Bicycle Trails Council) chapters, and consisted of several group rides throughout the day and a huge, free BBQ and draft beer from Broken Drum for members.

    Since I'm sliding my way back into the sport, I figured this would be a great way to find out about group rides in my area. Besides, I'd never been to China Camp, which is a small state park along San Pablo Bay just north of Mount Tamalpais (~30-minute drive from SF). The terrain is pretty mellow; much of the park is at or near sea level, with a ridge ~1,500 feet high running N-S through the park. The awesome part about China Camp, though, is that *every single-track trail (except one) is open to bicycles*. This might not be a big deal elsewhere, but in the Bay Area, there is really very little legit, legal singletrack available. The trails at China Camp were developed partly by MTBers, and the park operates under an all-access model trail management that is really quite radical for CA state parks.

    Most of the singletrack is fast and non-technical, nice dusty hardpack with some rocky spots, but very few exposed roots. In and out of trees (mostly in), it was a blast shooting up and down the ridge with a group of ~40 cyclists (I went with the 'intermediate/fast' group. The only ones in front of us were the hammerheads). The loop was ~6 miles, and with the 2-mile warmup I had from where I parked the truck, it was the perfect segue into a pint of IPA!

    Anyway, I took a few pictures, and thought I'd post them here. Unfortunately, because the group was moving fast, I don't have any good trailside photos, but it should give you an idea of how the day went. Hopefully this works the first time...

  2. #2
    Junior Member n2geo's Avatar
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    Here's a view looking east over San Pablo Bay. Typical overcast morning due to the reliable summertime marine layer...

    Not sure if you can see them, but the black spots out in the water are duck blinds. This was taken just as we start to chug up the ridge.

  3. #3
    Junior Member n2geo's Avatar
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    Here's a shot of some other folks in the group. We were stalled because the group leader stacked it up on a short downhill stretch. Better him than me.

    It got me thinking, though...it's a weird feeling knowing that there is a rut, rock, or slick root out there with your name on it. You don't know where, you don't know when, but *everybody* falls. And I haven't yet (gulp). It's only a matter of time...

  4. #4
    Junior Member n2geo's Avatar
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    Here's the group at the summit. The last 1/8 mile or so was up a steepsteepsteep paved section, the only part of the ride where I chose to dismount.

    The top of the ridge is an old Nike missile silo. But now it's just a cool spot to catch your breath.

    About a fifth to a quarter of the group were women, which I thought was cool. Several of them passed me on the last paved stretch.

  5. #5
    Junior Member n2geo's Avatar
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    The view south, looking over San Rafael and prob. Fairfax. Mount Tamalpais, the birthplace of all this mountain biking stuff, is sticking up into the fog in the right side of the frame.

  6. #6
    Junior Member n2geo's Avatar
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    The view looking north, over San Pablo Bay. Basically the same direction as the photo from the start of the ride coming up the hill.

  7. #7
    Junior Member n2geo's Avatar
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    Now, back to the picnic! After about 90 minutes climbing, we were back down in about half that. It felt great!

    And really, is there anything better than frosty cold pints of IPA the minute you step off your bike? Ther may be some thing better, but you'll have to go to Tijuana to get it. I met some cool folks, and just wandered around looking at all the cool bikes (sorry, no photos of those...d'oh!!).

    And we needed the ale wash down the heapin' plate of food. Damn, I was crippled after eating this, but in a good way...

  8. #8
    Junior Member n2geo's Avatar
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    And finally, the band...

  9. #9
    Junior Member n2geo's Avatar
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    All in all, a killer day, and I was still home by 1400 or so. More than anything, I am absolutely hooked on singletrack now. The place I have been doing the lion's share of my riding in the last 3 months I've had my bike is 90% fire roads, and everything has a burly climb at the beginning. This track at China Camp just flowed, and flowed, and flowed. Even the climbs.

    Next week (fingers crossed), Camp Tamorancho, a Boy Scout camp in Fairfax with ~8-mile loop of singletrack accessible by permit only and is supposed to be the shiznit.

  10. #10
    Gravity Is Yer Friend dirtbikedude's Avatar
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    Sounds like a great time and ride and some good pics. Food looks good too.

    For future reference, if you are going to ride with a group that large you must bring a helmet cam along to catch the riders who bail.


  11. #11
    Senior Member slcpunk21's Avatar
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    Dude awsome write-up.... It's great hearing awsome stories about new guys riding! It puts the biggest smile on my face! So you going to ride the Camp Tamorancho with guys you met at China? Or is this another solo adventure?

    Great pics too! It's great to see different areas! Single track is where it's at bro!

    Again it's sweet you had a rocken time
    if you aren't having fun, then you get rigid, stiff, crash, cry and then you make your new friend run away..... (there don't you feel less nervous now?)

    when it's snowin check this place out http://www.treelinemedia.ca/phpBB2/index.php

  12. #12
    NCAA - DUAL CHAMPIONS! a2psyklnut's Avatar
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    That's a great write-up and sounds like you had a blast!!


    Keep it coming. We expect an equally interesting write up from your next outing!

    L8R
    "Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, "WOW, What a Ride!" - unknown
    "Your Bike Sucks" - Sky Yaeger

  13. #13
    Wood Licker Maelstrom's Avatar
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    That looks awesome...

    but seriously...old timers. Man now I do feel old

    It got me thinking, though...it's a weird feeling knowing that there is a rut, rock, or slick root out there with your name on it. You don't know where, you don't know when, but *everybody* falls. And I haven't yet (gulp). It's only a matter of time...
    Good line, cause its true. We are constantly being stalked by the stalker we embrace

  14. #14
    Training Not Too Hard
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    Falling apart of bike riding. Just remember get back up and ride the same section over gain. Make sure you don't get a fear of riding something because you fell on it.
    I was onced told when downhilling biking my first time after all my joints were bleeding that if your not falling your not learning.
    Looks like a great ride. It always fun biking in groups.
    To be the best you got to work harder then the best - JPPLAY

  15. #15
    Hill Climber Spider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by n2geo
    The awesome part about China Camp, though, is that *every single-track trail (except one) is open to bicycles*. This might not be a big deal elsewhere, but in the Bay Area, there is really very little legit, legal singletrack available.
    You got that right, especially in Marin. How lame is it that the birthplace of mountain biking has such limited access?

    Nice write up. If I had known about this ride, I definitely would have gone.

  16. #16
    Senior Member
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    china camp looks fun, guess i'm going to take my bike up there sometime.
    i won't deny it i'm a straight ridah

  17. #17
    Wood Licker Maelstrom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spider
    You got that right, especially in Marin. How lame is it that the birthplace of mountain biking has such limited access?

    Nice write up. If I had known about this ride, I definitely would have gone.
    I find it disgusting. In reality with the amount of real estate you have in the states, you should have an abundance of trails. I seriously can't believe the state of trail work in the states in general.

    No cycle trails in Marin...who would have thunk it...

  18. #18
    Senior Member Stubacca's Avatar
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    Awesome write-up, mate! I haven't had a chance to get out and do any serious mountain biking yet this year - was too busy training up for a pair of road century rides. I think you may have just given me the motivation to go out and ride some singletrack this weekend...

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