Cycling Claremont: Coyote Howl Point
A little inspiration from a local source reminded me of a little loop i used to frequent, but haven't for a few years - the usual story of a place becoming too popular for its own good. The problem isn't so much that you go up there these days and there are a ton of people getting in your way - sure there are, and they do, but i think i could live with that (it is the loose dogs i can't live with). No, the problem is that i can remember when it wasn't like that, when it wasn't anything like that, when i could ride up there on a Friday afternoon and come across a grand total of one single person, maybe a handful of wanderers on a busy day. When I could descend along what ever line i wanted, and go as fast as my nerves would let me. When we were all regulars, and i could recognize them from far off - a familiar stride, tilt of a hat, a cadence of spinning cranks. Now everyone is new and unfamiliar. Even me.
My better judgement has had me riding road loops these past few years where once i would have done loops in the dirt. Not last night. Why not, if for no other reason than to say that i did it. I'm not sure why but the climb up Burbank Canyon to the Rotary shelter seemed especially easy. Apparently that was the impression others had as well; when i caught and passed a trio of fellow mtbers, one of them remarked that i was making it look easy. I lied and said it wasn't. I rode away and was confident that it actually was easy. Somehow it had become the easiest ride i had ever done. Perhaps when you haven't done a once familiar route in a while, it does seem easier when you finally come back to it. Wouldn't be the first time to sense that anomaly; think i will do Frankish Peak via the Barrett-Stoddard Trail one of these weekends, just to see if it works there too.
Anyway, the short loop was nothing spectacular, not that it ever really was. I did take that short detour to Coyote Howl Point which made up for any other deficiencies. The sun was getting a bit low to the horizon by then, a horizon made all the higher by the closeness of the mountainsides. Long rays reached out with that evening spectrum turning the red dirt of this part of the park to an even deeper ocher. People streamed past on the main loop, but thankfully Coyote Howl Point is off the beaten path, and thus infrequently visited. City folk mostly stay to the beaten path. No calls broke the silence, nothing to greet me, or warn of my intrusion. Maybe the coyotes are gone, like the deer, pushed out by the too many and their loose dogs. I savored the moment, the three hundred sixty degree views. I rubbed some of the red dirt into my sweat-soaked gloves, as blood brothers might co-mingle a mythic, ancient bond. The wind did its best to mimic Coyote, rising out of the canyon bottom to sweep across one ridge before another, gaining in strength and tenor all the while, before disappearing into the distance with a hush. I answered with a sigh, time like the lightness of the sky was grown short and i still wanted to take that fast run along Powerline before the road ride home.