Velo course: The Rock & Sand Club Loop
I may ride the Rock & Sand Club Loop (R&SCL) on my cyclocross bike, but make no mistake, the routes' features are not what you would typically see built into a CX course. By that I mostly mean the rock - everything from loose gravel to gardens of baby heads. The stretches of rock, though fairly short, will have you riding on edge if you take them with any speed; hit one of those sharper-edged bubbas square on and you risk an almost guaranteed pinch flat. As a result, and in order to avoid such a tragedy on this great day to ride, you will probably be doing a lot of weaving, and very likely some bunny-hopping. To compound any problems, the rockiest portions also coincide with trail, both single and double track, where there is not as much room to maneuver. You will, in other words, get a good "handling" workout here.
garden of baby heads
even though sand makes the title of this Velo Course, it is mostly inconsequential, just deep enough for interest
jump off the road here to begin the second section of trail
fast section of trail
red ants - apparently they like buckwheat
not a lot of trees along the route, but somehow this sycamore and another directly across the road at this point, are managing to squeak by in the drought
The nitty-gritty: I choose to start this ride at Encanto Park and ride the couple miles on the SGRT to where the actual loop part starts. There might be something to say about paying the entry fee and parking by the lake, but I am not sure what it is. After you go under the I-210, swoosh around a couple paved twists of the bike path take the second dirt road to the right, which still has some remnants of paving. The paving gets better for a bit; don't be concerned, just stick with it until you bump off its edge and onto the opening section of rocky trail. If there is anything interesting to see on this loop it is likely to be seen along here - on my most recent ride, a beautiful, and quite healthy looking coyote crossed my path; the bicyclist attempting to blow up one of those metallic balloons beside the trail was just a strange sight.
This trail will widen, eventually, into a dirt and gravel road with some little patches of sand blown in, and will bend right toward the dam gates. You will cross where the river would flow if it did such a thing but, except for that, this part of the loop stays pretty much the same. When you reach the far end of the dam take the paved access road up, then all the way back along the top of the dam. True, it is paved, but hey, its mileage and adds to your yearly count. At the east end of the dam, cross the intersection and begin to watch for the next section of dirt - it is not the first trail on the left, but the second and marked by a tree. This part is mostly single-track, and not nearly as rocky as the loops' opening section and you will probably take it faster. The trail will dump you out to a gravel service road - merge right onto it. This road will become paved and then join the SGRT at a little visitor center where there is an outdoor drinking fountain, good thing to know on a hot day. Continue on, up and over the little hump in the path, then down the other side, watching for the path branching off to begin a second circuit of the loop. It is almost exactly seven miles around, believe it or not, so do it a few times for a decent riding workout.
have a little extra time, take the true gravel grinder road immediately north of the lake on your last lap, there are a few shade trees and some nice views over the water