Ride Report: El Moro Highlights

“Seriously, you’re out here tearing it up on a fifteen year old bike?” He asks in disbelief. It’s not the first time I’ve rolled up to a circle of middle aged dudes for a group ride. But it’s the first time I’ve done it on a mountain bike, and first time I’ve done it in Orange County. And geez, these middle aged dudes seem cool but they all have really nice bikes. A brand new Stumpy, a Santa Cruz with shiny blue rims… none of them are hardtails and none of them are more than a year old. I don’t think they think I’m serious.

“Ahem, seventeen,” I respond. I’m not sure why I feel the need to correct him. “Seventeen years. It was top of the line in 1995, I’m telling you.” Of course, what I really want to say is: My bike is about as old as your kids. I bite my lip and look down at the good ol’ Marin with pink riser bars, Mon cher.

“And, it only cost me $248,” I say, smugly.

“Your entire bike costs less than my seatpost!” He’s wearing sunglasses, so I have to imagine his eyes getting bigger. I just smile. Ha, trust me, buddy, I realize that. He goes on, without (I swear!) an ounce of sarcasm:

“It’s OK, once you make your millions in physics, you’ll get a sweet new bike, right?” I just keep smiling and nodding, and this time, I feel no need to correct him.

………………………………………………………………….

After a quick fire road up and down, we veer off onto an overgrown single track named “Lizard” as I am informed. Lizard is a technical little beast with a fair share of twists and turns, a few erosionally challenged sections, one hike a bike, and even a little bit of slickrock (!). Aside from being a little slower than the dudes and having my foot fall out of my shoe once (yeah) I make it down and even manage to have a little fun.

One Lizard is out of the way, we start to climb. Miraculously, I start to pass people. Vive le Hardtail! When we reach the top of a long uphillish rolling section, I stop and take off my jacket and one of the guys rolls up behind me.

“Hey, you can really climb! You’re a climber, eh?” He says enthusiastically.

Wait, what? Me? Climber? Have I entered a parallel universe?

………………………………………………………

How come I never knew this was here?  I keep asking myself as we wind trough the drizzly, rainbow hued chaparral, up and down switchbacks that give tamarancho a run for its money, into shaded thickets and out again, brushing the edge of Laguna Canyon, under the 73 freeway and up to a gloriously long fireroad climb cresting with the Pacific on the other side. El Moro, the “Irvine Side,” where have you been all of my life?

……………………………………………………

“Whoa…a girl!” yells a mountain biker on the trail below me as he waits diligently for our group to clamber down an unrideable rock face.

Honestly, I’m used to being in the minority here. What I’m not used to is being pointed out like some kind of rare fauna. All at once, it finally hits me: I haven’t seen another girl on a bike all day. In the Bay Area, sure there are still fewer female mtb’ers than male ones, but at least they exist. And, to boot, a lot of them are really, really good. Orange County ladies must be more into tennis, or something. Immediately I feel a little inadequate as the sole representative of my sex on the mountain. If only S. or J. or even M. (the great and all powerful) were here, I think, then they’d see a girl who can really ride!

“Show these cocky guys who’s boss!” yells the guy at the bottom.

“Not on this stuff,” I yell back as I get off my bike, hoist it over my shoulder, and step carefully down the rock. I am mercifully immune to doing stupid stuff for the sake of dumb pride. It must be a girl thing.

……………………………………………

In all, easily, it was the most fun I’ve had on my mountain bike in a long time. See you next weekend, dudes, I had a blast!

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3 Responses to “Ride Report: El Moro Highlights”

  1. Katie Says:

    Awesome report. I think I’m going to be in Ojai in March, we should meet up with bikes! If you’ll wait for me at the top of hills…

  2. tornspira Says:

    If I’m here, YES! Ojai is cool, there’s some great hiking in Rose Valley, which is nearby, so there might be mountain biking too. If you’ll wait for me at the bottoms of hills…..

  3. freeridemountainbiking Says:

    freeridemountainbiking…

    […]Ride Report: El Moro Highlights « the daily saga[…]…

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