Sunday, June 29, 2014

Bohlman-On Orbit, Black Road, China Grade death march

There was dirt too. Photo by Steve
Executive summary: 63 miles, 7800 feet of climbing.

I'd heard of Bohlman-On Orbit ride for years and wondered what it meant. Is there some guy named Bohlman who was once on orbit, or do we ride loops — orbit — something? Perhaps it's so hard you need to be like, way out, man, really in orbit to ride there? Nope, it turns out it's the name of a street in an area where streets all have space-age names.

It also turns out to be crazy steep. As in the longest crazy steep climb I've ever done. And that was only the the first climb of the day. But at least all the climbing gave us an opportunity to descend down a steep loose gravel  trail. By opportunity I mean #&!%@*&?%@. That was followed by a highly technical switchback descent which was also (word of the day) steep. Steep enough I worried about overheating my rims.

Yes, those are 20% grades in spots.
Our friend and über-guide route planner Lanceoldstrong messaged me to say he wanted to do a long ride Sunday. Of course Tricia and I said yes, and joined him and Steve to drive to this crazy route.

Steve had to show off his BMX skills.
I can't believe actual people ride this more than once. There aren't many photos because I spent most of my energy just trying to not fall over and stay alive. That, and keep up with Tricia who, though she kept saying it was hard and she was tired, keep pounding away at a level that made it hard (and often impossible) to keep up with her. Even though she had a strong day riding, she seems most happy with the thumbs-up from a motorcyclist on one of the huge climbs.

Dan may have seen a hobbit.

The ride through the redwoods was stunning, and wonderfully cool. It was great not to have to climb in the hot sun; the trees provided so much shelter despite the hot day it was almost chilly at times. Before the China Grade climb (pro tip: roads with "grade" in their name are often really steep) we stopped to regroup and talked to a guy who was waiting for someone. It was like the state had stationed a tour guide there for us. He gave us park info, climb info and kept telling us how beautiful the climb would be and how much we'd enjoy it.

We did, but is sure was relentless. We kept thinking we must be almost to the top. At one point as we rounded yet another switchback I heard Tricia loudly yell "Really?" as if chiding the mountain would make our summit come sooner. It didn't.

The whole time we were riding I was thinking WTF Oldstrong? But it's amazing how quickly one can forget suffering. Already I'm thinking "Well, that was a nice ride" even as I vaguely remember being at death's door.


  1. Midland9:00 AM

    That was one "steep" ride! Had thoughts of bailing out quite often.The descents were pretty sweet. Your dismount on Bohlman was classic. I'm sure Oldstrong was glad I didn't take his Mt. Diablo bet. Dinner was nice & jokes were funny.

  2. Oh, you were in my neighborhood! I guess China Grade is a little steep. We have plenty worse around here :-)


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