The drive up was uneventful and as always scenic and as soon as I crested the hill into Anza I said goodbye to coastal Eddie and hello to clear skies and sunshine. It was shaping up to be a great weekend. I have been making the drive up the hill a lot lately because I have once again fallen in love with this quaint mountain town. Most of my life I had grown up living in mountain towns, Wyoming, Denver, Colorado Springs and Woodland Park Colorado about eye level with Pikes Peak. I still seem to gravitate towards those mountain towns, especially if the riding is good or climbing or fishing. Downieville, Truckee, Mammoth, places with a lot of local flavor. Places that both love and hate cyclist, places that on one hand are more than happy to welcome you in and take your money and on the other walk in groups down side streets pointing fingers and laughing at lycra clad cyclists while daring there drunkin brethren to jump from the highest manmade structure in town into a puddle of water doing a belly flop. "E Clampus Vitus" but I digress.
I rolled into town fairly early with plenty of time to set up camp, relax and read a little "Generation of Swine" before heading into town to the Cafe Aroma, billed as "Idyllwilds funnest and funkiest fine dining establishment" for some lunch and a presentation of "Better Living Through Trails" by the Trail Crew representatives from the IMBA. It was a good presentation filled with fun facts and numbers letting all the business owners in town know that mountain biking is GOOD business and just by living next to a trailhead ups your property value. You don't say.
After the presentation I was up for a ride and after talking to Brendan Collier proprietor of Idyllwilds The Hub Cyclery and Siren frame builder extraordinaire I was hooked up with some locals who were set to show me the inner workings of the Hub system. I rushed back to the camp as giddy as a little school girl, I had been to May Valley area a number of times and was starting to get the hang of the trail system on the that side of town but I had yet to make it to the Hub trails. I'd only heard tales of fast flowing single track and "tasty" rock overs that made you feel alive again, but never experienced them. I was already on a high as I raced out of my campsite geared and ready to ride. The directions from camp to the trailhead were basic but confusing at the same time since I'd never been there, fortunately a lifeline to Simon at the shop set me straight and I was soon standing at the trailhead waiting for my guides.
I first met Marlin an unassuming gent that looks what you think a guy would look like from the mountains that rides and works on the trails a lot. Great guy, we small talked as he unloaded his John Henry Siren and waited for the others. A couple minutes later two other fellas pulled in, Scotty whom I met earlier that day at Cafe Aroma and wait for it, wait for it THE SILVER FOX. As they pulled their trusty steeds from the truck I noticed the the Fox too was on a John Henry Siren, singlespeed version. Must be in the water cause every local that I've ridden with or ran into on the trails up here sports a John Henry Siren of some flavor. After a brief howdoyoudo we were on the trail and rolling.
I never knew where I was, not for one second, nor did I care. I followed one wheel after another as the guides switched leads down swooping singletrack that zigzagged thru the pines, down the sides of canyons and on some of the most fun natural features I've come across. I hopped onto the Silver Fox's wheel for the uphills and set into a comfortable singlespeed pace to grind it out. Its a pace I know and one that's always consistent on an uphill run. These mountain dudes got some lungs and my poor flatlander lungs were screaming for the thin air by the top of most the climbs but those were just the dues paid for the eye watering, twisting, machine testing downhills.
After the ride I headed back to camp and the Silver Fox decided to ride back with me. We stopped and I invited him to join me in a little after ride libations. Before leaving North County I had made a stop by the liquor store and picked up a bottle of Corsairs Wry Moon whiskey. A particularly spicy rye whiskey unaged and made in handmade pot stills, supposedly Al Capone's favorite. This is commonly known as moonshine. We talked about the ride and drank and talked and drank and drank a little more and the Fox was off. I got changed and with bottle in hand went to meet Brendan at The Hub Cyclery to talk bike frames.
|My Twinzer in the buff!|
|The Silver Fox and Brendan.|
Most parted ways after a while and the rest of us ended up nestled back in the arms of Cafe Aroma wondering what tomorrows trail crew day would bring(thats a different story in and of itself). Me, I was already thinking about the trip to Blythe I was gonna take to meet the Silver Fox on his home sandy turf. All in all it was a great weekend on the hill spent with some really cool and talented people. If you have not been to Idyllwild lately you are missing something special. As Brendan says "This place is about to blow up!"