California 2012: Paradise


Let’s agree to call this the Kings Range Bike Trail. The path in the Lost Coast is actually known as Paradise Royale, but I keep hearing Meatloaf in my head.

The trail takes off from the same point as the terraine park, and we’d been advised to ride clockwise from there. There is a benefit to knowing so many trail builders in the US: we get inside knowledge for trails as soon as they are put up & signed.

It started swoops and well bench cut – Scott commented that it was so nice to ride professionally built trail. We climbed in an unassuming fashion in dim mature forest, and when we broke out into sunlight the foxglove and grasses were hip or should high, and retaining water from yesterday’s rain/this morning’s dew. When I was in the lead, I ducked to take a frond across the helmet and it felt like a 5 gallon bucket of water was streaming across my glasses for the next few minutes. Our arm and legwarmers were getting soaked.

The first major river crossing had a path of large boulders and a doubled rope to hold onto, but the setup was both slippery and made for people with longer legs – Scott hauled his bike across ok, but I ended up putting a leg into the river. It’s not like my shoes weren’t already wet, but now one sock was also squishy. This is not the trip of dry footware for me. But this crossing was the low point of the trail – literally. We now started the 1300ft climb.

I had some bad day sort of moments – that frustration so annoying that you can’t even clip in – and Scott had recovery issues, and we both sucked wind. We’ve never been good climbers, for all we love to bike. Having said that, the trail was not terribly steep (except in tiny sections), and the switchbacks were realistically rideable. There were plenty of small sections of downhill to rest the climbing muscles, and only one carry your bike over it downed tree – which is right where our camp neighbor (who’d borrowed a shock pump that morning) caught us. We bucket brigaded the bikes and let the speedy guy by – he was doing a lap alone before he took his wife on a lap. I can only dream of the fitness.

Eventually, Scott and I reached the top of the ridge line – the trail started snaking from the east side to the west side, and while we were still climbing, we could see sky through the trees. We figured the trail would top out at a bald and we could sit and eat lunch and view the ocean…and sure enough, at 2100 ft there was a bald with a view…and a camp chair. This amused the heck out of me. We sat a while and I ate – Scott was still having issues from the climb – and then got back on the bikes. I put my jacket on in anticipation of a chill descent…but we were still on the climb. For quite a while. I took the shell off again. We took a break, then climbed more.

Eventually, we started doing more downs than up. The forest floor was a shoal of minnow-shaped leaves that squished noisily as we rolled over them. Occasionally there was a banana slug to avoid, named not only for their color but for their approximate size – really, hitting a giant banana slug might be fatal for the gastropod, but it might throw the bikers too. The climb had taken 2+ hours, the descent was a good deal faster, and dropped us all the way to our next major stream crossing, which I made across, and Scott put a foot in. Not that our shoes werent already soaked.

And from that point, our camp neighbor had told us, we were 20 minutes from camp. Did I mention he was speedy? And from here to camp was all up hill? We at least got to view some deer and the length of the terraine park with its freshly cut timbers and CNC’d metal bracing as we huffed up the last hour of trail.

We showered beside the van and packed up. The shoes are still drying in the back dash as we retraced our way along the terrifying twisty roadway back to the interstate, and drove across the central valley of California to our next destination.

(other Paradise Royale photos)



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