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Ride Reports Archive

March 2003

03/02/03 - Me and the Wild Pigs
by Heather Kirkby

I guess I wasn't able to tempt any Bellas with my offer to ride Henry Coe on Sunday after the Specialized-thingie but I wasn't going to let that stop me...I had never seen the Wild Pigs of Coe and that was the goal of this ride.

I wish I had a digital camera because, really, words just don't do that place justice. To get to Coe, you drive 13 miles UP and OUT of Morgan Hill into the hills to the east... so you start riding on top of the world really. There are amazing vistas right from the parking lot which is just a hint of what lies ahead.

It's the perfect time of year to ride Coe - no summer heat (it bakes up there apparently), wildflowers are starting to bloom (reds, pinks, purple, yellow, blues - as you can see I'm no fountain of wildflower-knowledge but they sure are pretty - even the darn poison oak looked beautiful with its new baby red leaves and the sun streaming through them making it glow, argh#*@$!!!) and with limited rainfall the trails are in great shape (note: they shut down all single track to bikes for 48 hours after rain). There's never many people up there or so it seems, then again - it is the largest or 2nd largest state park in California so there's a lot of space to get lost in!

There is just a ton of *amazing* single track back there, super-giddy-fun singletrack. There are also some bitchin' steep fire roads, it is still unclear to me what the folks were thinking that made some of those roads - but for anyone seeking ultimate-fire-road-challenges I suggest Henry Coe. Personally, I could live without them, I'm happier with a lower angle kind of grind where you can find your groove as opposed to being out of the saddle working your weight, body angle, and trying to avoid tire slippage just to stay upright and forwardly mobile -- all for the sake of climbing some nasty fire road? At least there is China Hole which is one of my fav singletrack climbs anywhere - you can find your groove there.

Anyhow, I've done this loop a few times before so I only looked at the map once, maybe twice (honest Sabine!). For other map people out there, here's the loop.

From Park HQ I went straight to Frog Trail which is one of those fun zippy singletracks that hugs the ins and outs of a rolly hillside...there are even some old wooden steps that are easy to bump down and make you feel like a happy kid : ) Frog basically leads you to Middle Ridge Trail which is another slice of singletrack heaven and takes you all the way to the bottom of Coyote Creek Canyon. Middle Ridge winds along a green/golden ridge (depends what month you're there) with epic views - I kind of feel like I am riding through a Specialized commercial or something! Eventually it drops into the forest where there are some not-so-easy tight downhill turns which become less scary after a few go's, and a few falls...and down to the river.

There was a boy at the river, and I like riding through rivers in general, but when a boy is watching there is no option in my mind - I am riding through the river (having 2 brothers and no sisters may explain some of this type of behavior). There were 3 more river crossings ahead, I made them all except the one where the boy was watching - go figure, too much pressure I guess. So yes, water level was mid-calf I think. It was a warm enough day to be riding with soaked feet - luckily. The other rivers resulted in fully drenched feet too, so it's not like a clean ride spared me anyway!

This part of the park is called Poverty Flat, and from here begins some heinous fire road whose only redeeming feature is it ends with a great downhill and a super vista all the way to Los Cruzeros...2 more river crossings...another tad bit of unfriendly fire road, and back onto the singletrack of Lost Spring which leads to the beginning of Infinite Happiness: China Hole Trail. And today...China Hole Trail and the Wild Pigs.

I have ridden Henry Coe several times before and never seen the Wild Pigs, which of course was the purpose of my ride today. I wondered if they would run away, or be hard to see, or hide in the forest. Today was THE day and as I headed out on China Hole Trail I suddenly heard the most amazing chorus of snorting I can tell you with confidence 1) they run away 2) they are not hard to see and 3) they do not hide in the forest. To my right, an entire hillside seemingly made up of pigs of all sizes started to move. Maybe 1/2 dozen mommies and daddies (or all mommies?) with 20 or more kiddies tore away from me. It was one of the funnier sights I have ever seen on my bike. The adults were quite big and I was very happy they were running away from me.

With the pigs gone I was left in peace to enjoy one of my favorite places in the park - China Hole Trail to the Narrows. Winding singletrack through meadows and forests that spits you out at the final river crossing. And I just remembered - there were 3 young boys at this river and I made it across! I know, I'm a 30 year old freak that still tries to show off to 14 year old boys - I am clearly still recovering from my sister-less childhood.

From there is the best climb in the park, the gentle sweet single-track of China Hole that leads back up to Manzanita Point Road. By the time I get to this climb, the sun is often starting to get lower in the sky and everything starts glowing a little, I love it.

There are a few more bumps and grinds along Manzanita Point Road, but none of the vicious fire road stuff encountered earlier in the day. In fact 1/2 way along I came across a cute boy (I'm just guessing, he never removed his sunglasses to confirm the cuteness factor) who was looking for his people - they were still on their way up from Poverty Flat Road. This boy was more my age I think, and he took the opportunity to ride back to the Park HQ with me. We chatted and it made the final grinds really quite pleasant (surprise, surprise). Back in the parking lot we parted ways, then he appeared at my car with a scribble on a scrap of paper - his name and number. Now, I have a boyfriend so I shouldn't even be telling this part of the story, I suppose, but it's still about the most flattering thing in the world I think (it's only happened 2 or 3 times in my life) and it gave me a big old grin. But I wiped that smile off my face, thought of my honey Austin, and then I had an even bigger grin. He loves that ride and if he weren't 300 miles away in Janesville, CA he would have been there too (and I would have been holding onto him in the parking log and not a scrap of paper).

By now, my body was happy as ever but twisted as tight as a knot so I sat down to stretch in the grass by that parking lot that sits on top of the world and overlooks the wonders of Henry Coe...ah, all is at peace in the world (well, sort of, maybe not, not really I guess, at least it feels peaceful in the Henry Coe parking lot).

For those of you still reading, thanks for hanging in there! Hopefully this ride report will tempt you to join the next venture to the wilds of Henry Coe. I do prefer to ride with other Bellas, and even Fellas, whenever possible...but if none are around I don't let it stop me.


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