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March Club S&M Ride - The Rim Trail, San Gabriel Mountains

Story and pictures by Mark Wilson
Web Editor Barry Wood

Up Mount Zion The riders: Jon Kearley, Tim Lane, Garret & Kim, Steve Timm, Steve & Molly, Disco, Suzanne & Mark.

Our March S&M Club ride was squeaked out on the last day of the month. It was a beautiful day and we were headed back to the San Gabes to tackle the Rim Trail. This trail drops off the North side of Mt. Wilson and provides ample technical challenges while providing incredible views and scenery.

We had a beautiful day with mild temps at the bottom and sunny skies. We started off by climbing the Lower Merrill single track past numerous hikers and some volunteers who were working on the trail. We expressed our gratitude as we passed and continued along to enjoy the incredible vista that unfolded below us as we climbed aggressively above the city of Pasadena. This section of the trail soon "topped out" with 2.7 miles and almost 1400 ft of climbing behind us. We could now relax and cruise up the remaining 2,600 ft of climbing the summit of Mt. Wilson. Along the climb we encouraged the faster riders to do an extra credit loop. They declined and seemed satisfied to lead the way, periodically stopping to let the rest of us catch up. Disco did a great job climbing this elevation without the use of toe clips. He completed the picture by wearing a big floppy farmer hat Step across to keep his Mohawked head from getting a sunburn. There were only a couple other bikers that we met along the way. They seemed surprised to see such a large group headed up the trail. Most people in this area are shuttle monkeys and are heading down to the challenging and technical trails below.

After hitting Eaton Saddle we finished off our climbing on the road to the top of Mt. Wilson, a short 3 mile or so pedal. Part way up this, we were surprised to see a truck go by with Disco hanging half way out the window waving to us as it roared by blaring heavy metal music. Being an opportunist, and easily making friends, he had hitched a ride to the top from the saddle. He was waiting at the top when we arrived to have a snack, fill up with water and to put on our downhill poison oak protection.

The descent started off with some easy rolling terrain, perfect for the warm up. Then it kicked into high gear with some super exposed and narrow sections. The trail alternated between these exposed sections and deep, tree covered, tight switchbacks. Jon was giving me a run for my money (or maybe he was just playing with me?) as we swooped down the trail. Sometimes it seemed more like surfing as the trail was completely covered in dead leaves and branches. I could see one set of foot prints from a hiker, who we soon passed leaving a trail that had certainly not seen any traffic since the fall. The extreme narrowness of the trail did not allow for fast speeds and required complete focus as it traversed along rock ledges. It reminded me of the upper portion of Yeager Mesa, although not as steep or overgrown.

Group picture After reaching Newcomb Pass we regrouped and then continued down through more moderate terrain and great trail conditions. We wove in and out of the trees as the trail continued to roll downhill with small rock gardens and lots of twists to keep you on your toes. We rolled into Sturtevant Camp and branched off for the last climb over Mt. Zion then descending into Winter Creek. Molly was starting to feel the length of the trail as she was coming off the top of Mt. Zion. She went over the bars and rolled down the hill with her bike following along behind her. Fortunately she was able to self rescue back onto the trail and caught up with the group at Hogee's Camp.

Everybody was starting to get tired by this time so we finished off the last two miles of trail winding back and forth across the creek then finished off with the pavement back to downtown Sierra Madre. We had a total descent of over 6,000 ft and a 27 mile ride.

Next Ride will be Bell Ridge.

- Mark

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