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This story is about trailhead: Sycamore Canyon Park - Riverside
The Sandy Lot
Sycamore Canyon is a not so well known spot; it might be due to its appearance from the street. The park entrance is little more than a sandy lot at the foot of some rolling knolls.

My friend Anna and I decided to go riding one Saturday, we were too met there at around 7:00 a.m. I arrived at 6:30 a.m. and the air still had a sharp bite as I forced myself out of my SUV. I shivered uncontrollably as I untied my cycle from the bike carrier on my hitch. I checked my tire pressure and made a few adjustments then I climbed on my bike and did a few circles around the sandy lot just to warm my body up. About ten minutes later Anna roles up in her girly little white jeep, with music so loud the few birds that were still sleeping flew off like something out of a Hitchcock movie.

“Oh my God, it’s freezing out here,” Anna whined, as she shivered uncontrollably while she untied her cycle from the bike carrier on her hitch.

“Don’t be such a baby; it’s not even cold. I think I’m starting to break a sweat.” I circled her jeep with a smart—ass grin on my face.

Anna is a petite twenty—six year old girl with light brown hair and hazel brown eyes. I met Anna about two years ago, at this very same park. She was walking her, then boyfriends’, giant german shepherd Diablo. I was riding with a couple of my friends and we came around a bend and there she was. Diablo is one of the largest german shepherds I have ever seen. He pulled up on his hind legs like a horse and pulled and barked. I was coming pretty fast and must have startled him. I was forced off the trail and into some thorn bushes. As I pulled myself out of the thorny mess, bleeding from my arms and legs, I heard a voice yell nervously.

“Are you alright?” I looked up to the top of the trail and there she stood. She brushed the hair back away from her eye as the sunlight seemed to dance around her.

“I think I’m alright,” I said embarrassingly, as I pulled my bike out of the bushes and pushed it up the hill. By the time I got up the hill my friends were standing there laughing at me and flirting with the new attraction.

“I’m sorry, Diablo is way too strong for me, and I always have a hard time when I walk him. But if I don’t walk him no one will,” she said. We exchanged pleasantries and my friends and I moved on. As soon as Anna and Diablo were out of ear shot I could hear my friends snickering behind me. We finished our run and we arrived at the dirt lot were we parked our vehicles. To my surprise Anna was standing there waiting for us.

“I feel so bad, could I at least help you get cleaned up” said Anna holding a first aid kit in hand. Need-less to say, we’ve been friends ever since. We are extremely competitive and every time we hang out it turns into a battle of the sexes.

“Okay, stop lollygagging, lets get a move on!” yelled Anna daringly. We started up the first trail going past joggers and other people walking their dogs. This particular trail starts up innocently enough, until you get up about a quarter mile, the trail loops around one of the face of a hill and then snakes down and crosses the first of several dry creek beds along the trail. You then come to what I call “the drop”. It goes straight down about 100 feet and then shoots back up like a rollercoaster.
As we straddle our bikes at the top of “the drop” I turn to Anna and ask “Are you ready for this” “Born ready sucka! Race you.” Anna answered as she bolts down the steep drop like some kind of bat out of hell. I start after her; I grit my teeth and tighten my grip on the handle bars, my eyes start to water from the wind rushing past my face. My bike begins to shake violently and my heart is thrust down to my stomach as I instantly pull up from my decent. I finally pull up next to Anna,

“Wow that’s fun every time,” Said Anna. “Well here comes the not so fun part,” I replied. We both looked up in dread as we pulled up on the next leg of the trail.

This next leg involves a series of three steep climbs, the first being the most challenging. This climb brings you up about 600 feet in between two jagged rock faces. We gear down, put our heads down and begin the grueling ascend. Anna pulls up in front and not to be out done I increase my pace and pull up ahead of her. This is were our competitiveness kicks in we go back and forth pulling ahead of each other as the rocky terrain allows. The trail starts to narrow near the top so I know if I’m to reach to summit first I must make my move now. I put my head down and charge ahead. My chest starts to burn and my legs feel like they are being struck by lightning with every thrust. I can feel Anna pulling closer and closer, grunting with every excretive effort of her legs. Just as I’m ready to stop and give up, the trail levels off as we reach the top.

“Ha, I win” I say exhaustedly.
“I would have won if you hadn’t blocked my near the top” replied Anna. I was ready for a break but Anna pulls away and starts peddling towards the next big climb.

This stretch has some nice views to the left you have grassy hills with million dollar homes sprinkled on top and on the right you have a good view of the rest of the park. As we come to the foot of our next climb, we run into a jogger with a distress look on her face. We stop to investigate and I ask “Hey, how’s it going is something wrong?” she doesn’t say a word she just points to the four foot rattlesnake stretched out across the trail about thirty feet in front of her.
I look back at Anna and she doesn’t say a word, her eye’s wide open, she doesn’t say a word because she doesn’t want to show that she’s scared. I climb of my bike and start walking to toward the snake.

“Are you two coming or what?” I say keeping my bike between me and the snake. “Just walk slow and give him some room and it will be fine.” The girls followed close behind me and the snake didn’t even flinch. I knew it was still too cold for the snake to be aggressive but I didn’t tell the girls that.

“Oh, thank you so much, I was going to turn back and go home if you guys hadn’t showed up” said the Jogger.
Anna and I move on, we still have a long way to go. After two more exhausting climbs my legs are so rubbery I can barely keep them on the peddles.

“Oh cool, look down here, I never noticed this before,” I motioned Anna down to a small creek. I’d seen that creek several times before but I just wanted to rest and I was not about to let Anna know my legs couldn’t take anymore. We hang around for a little bit watching the water dance around the rocks and feeding the minnows.

Anna looks at me with disgust and says “Rick, I don’t think that Powerbar is good for the fish.” I just chuckled and said “Well let get a move on, we have a long way to go.” We climbed back on our bikes and circled around to get a running start. I speed toward the creek and just when my front tire was about to touch the water I pull up elevating myself over the width of the creek. My back tire splashes into the muddy bank splashing water in the face of Anna behind me.
“I hate you!” Anna yelled as she wiped her face. At the top of the highest point of the park there is a little rest area that is perfect for a lunch break.

We sat down on the benches and looked across at all the house sprinkled across the terrain like sprinkles on a pastry. We finished our lunch and there was a sense of relief and excitement because we knew the next leg was all down hill.
This leg brings us down the spine of a ridge and it can get very technical. As we scream down the ridge you can hear the screeching of the handbrakes as we struggle to slow ourselves down. We’re like downhill skiers turning and sliding from on side to another picking our lines carefully, one wrong move can spell disaster. My arms begin to burn and I look down I can see that I’m pushing my bikes front suspension far beyond its limits. Being this close to death can make you feel so alive. A hint of burning plastic goes past my nose as the teflon composite brake pads heat up from the constant violent braking. We finally level off and I can still feel my heart pounding in my chest from the adrenaline that is still coursing through my veins.
The rest of this leg is a sleepy trail that extends slothfully for 2/3 of a mile along side some cookie cutter houses. As we coast downhill I reflect on how majestic and beautiful the park is, despite the housing that is crowding in around it. Who would have thought that so much fun and excitement is just sitting there and not that many people seem to know about it. The trail loops around and finally brings us back to the sandy lot.

Posted by ReconRicki a 31 year old Weekend Warrior riding a Diamond Back from Riverside on 04/21/09

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  • Re: The Sandy Lot
    awesome story. i love this trail, i'm on it every saturday morning.
    Posted by Litzinger951 a 35 year old Weekend Warrior riding a K2 from riverside on 04/05/10
     Alert moderators of this post

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