Thanksgiving weekend, 60F, and sunny? Let’s go to Metcalf!
After a great breakfast at Bobbi’s Coffee Shop, we hopped on the XTs and rode to south San Jose.
Upon arriving, we instantly got lost and wound up at the beginner’s oval. We decided that wasn’t actually a bad thing, since it had been over a year since we’d been at Metcalf and Peter hadn’t been on dirt on the XT since July.
The beginner’s oval is actually two ovals: a smaller loop and a taller one. The tall one isn’t terribly intimidating but it makes for great practice for the first few minutes at the park. We decided to do a few loops of the oval to start out any future trips to the park, too. Warming up is always good!
After the beginner’s oval, we did a loop of Trail 2, but neither of us really enjoyed it. It was pretty crowded and the initial downhill section had some ruts running parallel to the hillside that both of us got a little stuck in.
We did a quick powwow back in the parking area after Trail 2 and decided to try Trail 1 instead.
Neither of us had ever done Trail 1 before, and it was a ton of fun. There’s a good uphill and a good downhill, and lots of nice wide open turns. The trail was wide and pretty flat, rut-wise; all of the technical terrain ran perpendicular to the trail, which is much easier to handle (in my opinion) since the wheels just bounce over the ruts or bumps instead of getting stuck in ruts.
At the summit of Trail 1 is a nice little picnic area with two covered benches. They have a great view of the San Jose area, especially on clear sunny days. Maybe next time we’re at Metcalf, we can get lunch at the Roach Coach and ride with the food up to the picnic area.
Right at the picnic area, there’s also an entrance to a Grand Prix track. To be honest, I have no idea what that means. Peter did a loop to check it out while I peeled a layer off (the freeway ride to Metcalf is always MUCH colder than actually riding at the park) and reported back that it was fun.
As you might recall from my trip at Metcalf with Rhiannon in April ’05, I had a really hard time with the steep downhill on Trail 3. So when Peter reported that the GP track had a couple of steep downhills, I figured, well, they can’t be worse than the Trail 3 one! When I crested a turn and saw the downhill….well, I may have reconsidered. But I was really proud of myself that I completely stayed off the clutch and brakes and had full throttle control the entire way down the hill.
Right after that downhill is another one, slightly less steep, followed by a steep uphill. Gotta roll off the throttle right at the crest of that uphill because it barfs you back down onto another downhill. That one ends up with a nice cambered lefthander that ends in another uphill. You can’t really tell from the photos, unfortunately, but the uphill has some large moguls. You just have to stay pinned on the throttle (I’m finding that sometimes hard to do while standing on the pegs; maybe I need some bar risers) and try not to feel like you’re going to start rolling backwards ass over teakettle.
To a lefthanded turn:
To an uphill:
After the uphill is a cambered righthander that ends in a small straightaway that went right through a mudpuddle. Somehow I always seemed to wind up on that ledge on the lefthand side. Peter apparently also hit that bush. Darn slippery mud!
After the mudpuddle was another cambered lefthander which then led over a field of whoops back to the GP track entrance.
Clearly we spent a lot of time on the GP track since I, who has no sense of direction at all, have all of its turns and hills memorized.
We did tons of laps of the GP track, then would finish up Trail 1 and wind up back in the parking lot for a soda or bathroom break. Then we’d head back to Trail 1, do some more GP track laps, etc.
Both of us really had a great time. It was encouraging to me how much of the “technical terrain” was more natural to me than it ever had been. Without even reminding myself over and over and over, I was staying off the clutch and brakes in the hills, and was using the rear brake before the front, and was positioning myself for hills.
I’m excited to go back to Metcalf (maybe before the heavy rains since the rains carve those stupid parallel ruts down the hills….) and continue to improve my dirtbiking. There’s talk of another Sport-Touring.net dualsport ride to Parkfield in the spring, and maybe a day trip to the ghost town of New Idria sooner than that. Dualsport trips are always more fun when I feel like my skills are decent.