Riding Rough with the Dirty Chain Gang

I can hear your words of incredulity now, or maybe they are words of shame, or pity: "Wait, you mean you cut out, like a longhorn culled from the herd and destined for the slaughterhouse, right at the point where the ride was going to get fun?" Yeah. "You must be a special kind of crazy."

The Dirty Chain Gang (DCG) rode the CHWP and Marshall Canyon this fine, bright morning. The last time I rode out around this foothills loop with the gang I had to chase from the get go; let me tell you, it is much easier to arrive on time and forego the chasing part. Anyway, conditions up in the Wilderness Park are pretty darn good right now - there might be a few new eroded ruts in the road, and some others may have been deepened by the winters' rains, making the riding a bit rough for us hardtail riders, but the hillsides are green, the skies are blue, the dust is down, streams are flowing and primed to be splashed through.

The gang rode strong, the gang rode well. Trail walkers were awed as the riders ground out a steady uphill tempo, only occasionally surpassed by a speedier trail runner. Every turn opened up a new vista - mountain, canyons, sky, people enjoying the day, all the reasons Claremont established the Park - preserving hillside open space and providing a place for people to get outside.

The gang rode well together, no inflated egos spoiling to one-up each other; comrades of the narrow saddle until that rival gang rode by. Then the talk grew silent, the air still, faces grim, light talking, joking banter ceased, eyes became narrow slits of suspicion as the two groups sized one another up. Helmets were tilted down further over the eyes, shading faces, hiding intent from the gaze of these others. A tragic shoot-out was averted largely due to the others continuing past, and on down the trail. Crisis over, the DCG moseyed on to Marshall Junction where a trio of us cut out from the group, hightailing it back to town, appointments, or what ever else awaited to fill up the day.

Descending through Cobal Canyon, a bunch of young riders climbing uphill, the CHSMtbTeam out for a training spin, probably pretty thankful to have this loop just up the road. It would have been a little too challenging to attempt a one-handed descent while pulling the camera out.

up Mills Avenue

up Burbank Canyon

regrouping at the saddle

on again

up at the shelter

representatives of the CSBG, riding with the DCG today

warily watching as the rival gang rolls past