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El Paso Mountains
After years of wanting to ride the upper High Desert, I finally was able to pull it off last weekend. We stayed in Ridgecrest Saturday night, after riding the El Paso's that afternoon. The El Paso range is north of the Garlock cutoff, between Mojave and Ridgecrest. It is on the opposite ridge, where the goldmining town of Randsburg is situated. Never rode it, so had to explore it. We started off on powerline roads and while I knew that these are usually butt-kicker steep, add a broken gravel surface and it just makes for some suffering. We went up and down the gullies and ridges, sometimes coming to dead-ends in box canyons, while the transmission lines jumped up the mountainside.

Finally found a ridge line trail that headed east and soon, we were on some pretty good double-track that ran circle-wise around the end of the mountain range towards U.S. 395. It was mostly large, loose whoops, just like our local Mt. Emma, so it was like seeing an old buddy in an out-of-the way place. Pump your behind into the bike on the downhills and scoop it like an ice-cream scooper on the bottom. The mo' just feels good as the bike zings up the opposite side, cresting and then rinse-wash-repeat, again and again.

It was a very nice, low 80's temp, with a breeze and blue skies. Perfect for an obligatory rest stop, which meant laying out on the trail, head resting on the hydration pack and soaking up the rays. The warm sun baked us into pro-zac-land, leaving us feeling warm and mellow. The greatest natural val!um there is.

Time to head back and we put the helmets and gloves back on. Didn't know how we were getting off the mountain, but we were going to find a way, despite heading the opposite direction from the car. A mile later, hit a reverse fork that was more of a dry stream-bed with some old tire tracks and was all downhill, following the slope of the mountain.

It was a great miles-long bomb-run, surfing the front wheel through the loose stuff and angling back towards the car through dry gullies and such. We got back and after packing up, headed to Randsburg, which Deb has never seen. What a cool town. It was established in the late 1800's and still looks very much like that time period. Yes, people live there and they just stopped mining gold there a few years ago. Kind of like a living ghost town. It does boast two bars, the 'White Horse Saloon' and 'The Joint'. Had a beer at the the first one, before it closed at 4 PM and then went to the second one at the suggestion of the proprietor.

'The Joint' is run by a woman named Olga, who opened it up in 1940. She was already 28 years old, when her (and her now deceased husband) opened it up a year before World War Two started. You do the math. We had another beer and soaked up the local color. Ya might as well get to know the locals and it's usually well worth my while. Better than being the usual So-Cal city-slicker d!ckhead, who's all about themselves. We had a great time and went to Ridgecrest for dinner and then hit the hay. Deb had no idea about what I wanted to do tommorow. In fact, neither did I. Just some rough plans.
Posted by STP a 48 year old Racer riding a K2 Razorpiggie from P'Dale on 04/25/07

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