Juan takes no prisoners, people or gear. A sign at the start warns you are financially responsible for your own helicopter rescue.
Just finished a ride with 6 guys on the San Juan Trail and video off the Ortega Highway and now I feel like I was skating the half pipe down the street- stiff, bloody, and beat up with an aching hip… We started our little adventure at 6 this morning with overcast skies and a tasty hint of drizzle, so rare in our neighborhood. I told The Professor I’d be home by noon.
The ride starts climbing from the parking lot with something like 23 tight switchbacks on decayed granite up into the clouds and out into the familiar exposed socal supersun. Feeling good, no problem, I still have the race wheels on from last weekend. Me and the Trail Ninja (you should see how smooth he is, damn) get to the top and wait for the regroup as that socal supersun bakes and the flies start to gnaw through my shorts. I kill one and feed it to the ant lions, watching his little flyness get pulled under the sand to help continue the sweet cycle of life.
50 minutes go by and were off to do a loop from cocktail rock. Mmm, climbing in the hot sun with a cold start. Crest the top and the Trail Ninja flows while I keep getting caught in those f#cking gnarly ruts. I ate shit like it was going out of style on the downhill. Decayed granite is pretty much just sand paper for people and I promptly managed to remove a lot of needles skin from my delicate little XC body. With blood running down my arm and into my glove (and blood running from my knee, oh yeah, through my shorts on the hip, too. Yep, same hip as last time…ha ha) I finally catch up to the Ninja and the Football Player who are waiting at the bottom. I shrug it off like nothing happened, it’s more manly that way. But I could allready feel the stiffness coming. From there the trail climbs some more and then enters a really fun sweepy area that even has some shade and a little too much poison oak, my nemesis. We get out of the trees and it’s getting hot, inland empire hot. We climb some more and the trail gets pretty rocky.
I eat shit again, off my game, I’m dabbing like a sucker and don’t even care because the flys are trying to eat me. The Football Player is starting to cramp a little (he climbed like a sombitch though, nice) as we make it back to Cocktail rock under a sun running at full capacity hot. New guy #1 is out of water and a little pale, we send him down early and wait again for the others. It’s noon.
Riding down the Juan is sick. You can go so fast. Almost blew a couple turns that would have put me into the abyss of the canyon below trying to keep up with the Trail Ninja. Just as I was starting to feel the love again, I split the sidewall of my wimpy little race tire on a devil rock along the trail and couldn’t get it to seal. F@ck you, Stan, I was thinking while putting the tube in and airing it up, watching the sealant spray all over my drive train in the process.
We got to the bottom at last, re-navigating those beautiful switchbacks with aplomb and drank the best tasting ice-cold cheap beer while we waited for everyone to arrive, hooting like bandits as we saw each one come down. The San Juan is a beautiful trail, she takes no prisoners, and that only makes her more beautiful.