I'm up in Napa this weekend, celebrating my wife's birthday. While she and her sister are in Calistoga at a spa I'm out on the roads, seeking fun and adventure. My goal is to ride up and over Oat Hill, a 40 mile epic ride of road, fire road and epic single track.
The beginning of my ride was pleasant. No cars going up Old Howell Mountain road, just a steady pace up towards Angwin. My Wahoo RFLKT wasn't working too well in the rain. I tried syncing it before I set out, but didn't want to spend any more time getting soaked while standing still. I brought my Epic, which was the perfect choice for this kind of adventure. It was fast on the roads while feeling very secure on the descents. I forgot to bring a base layer, so staying warm was critical when riding in the cold wet weather. I tried not to stop that much, but there were too many adventurous moments to capture.
I got to Pope Valley fine and the rain hasn't stopped at all. I turn onto Aetna Springs road and start the long climb to the top. From there it got more epic as I rounded each bend. Rivers of water were washing over the road. Not a soul to be seen I wondered how safe it was for me to be out by myself. I was confident in where I needed to go. Just up and over Oat Hill and I'll be good.
Oat Hill is quite possibly one of the hardest trails I've ever ridden. Riddled with rock gardens and a few drops it wasn't made any easier by the constant rain. The top was exposed and windy. I found myself riding down basically a river of water over rocks for half the ride. Cold started to settle into my system, and I kept stopping to take in the views and capture some photos with my GoPro. Gotta keep moving.
I make it to the top, shaking. I start to descend, hands cramping from all the braking. My eyes are blurry from all the rain. My riding glasses are useless, but I keep going. Three hours into my ride I'm thankful to have made in on the other side in one piece.
It was quite the adventure to say the least. It's good to scare yourself once in a while, and facing hard and testing conditions. I'm soaked to the bone, and want nothing more than to take a hot shower and change into some dry clothes.
- 2014 Specialized Epic Expert World Cup (Size: Medium)
- Front Tire: Specialized Fast Trak Control 29x2.0"
Rear Tire: Specialized Renegade Control 29x1.95"