The "Welcome Back, Gary" Ride

Gary and Wins at the parking area
We had two reasons why we rode in La Mesa Nature Reserve yesterday: First was because our dear friend, Gary Diñoso, is back in town for two weeks, and second was to try out this new trail from the Tower 1 area. Aside from King, Gary, Winston, Ferdie and I, we were joined by Polly, GJ and some of their friends.

That's me at the registration table.
I was running late so I didn't have the luxury of having a good breakfast. I had no other choice but to eat a trail mix bar. Better something than nothing, right?

Usually, groups would start from the singletrack near the parking area and end up by the lake. Ours is different. Because it was farther, we skipped the initial singletrack beside Tower 11 and went straight to the fire road. Our first taste of singletrack was after the first climb to the where the fire roads split into two, and it brought us to Tower 5.

I was strong at first.
You wouldn't know that it was going uphill with all the fun that you're having, playing slalom with the trees. You'll only realize this when you're about halfway in the trail and you start to notice your heart rate increasing from the short climbs. I was at the front during the first part of the trail, but had to slow down to make sure I don't bonk out.

After resting a few minutes at Tower 5, we rode the singletrack at the back. It was a nice and fast downhill before the stream, and then it became another climb to the fire road leading to the Narrahan rest station. But before we hit reached that point, we took a right turn to another trail that took us to the foot of the probably the longest climb on the route.

I took at jab at it, but I just couldn't maintain my pace. I had to dismount, catch my breath, and walk my way up. Some members of the group were resting midway, talking about their failed attempt to conquer it. After resting a bit, I remounted and rode the climb with my slow and steady pace.

After much patience and hard work, I reached the rest station near the foot of the Tower 3 climb. I all my years of riding La Mesa, I never rode up this trail. First, because it's hard, and second, it's because it was a dead-end then. I would be going back the same way.

Well, not anymore.

At first they were talking about whether to take the Tower 3 route or not, but when King and Gary went up the climb, the discussion was finished.

That's me again
The singletrack from Tower 3 to Tower 1 was awesome! I can't believe I haven't tried it before. It's very different from the old fire road route that we used before. If the old one was a long and grueling climb up to the Tower, this one offers fast downhills and challenging climbs. It's not boring at all. It's painful, but fun.

Mr. Banapple rides a bike

Tower One. There's no other tower quite like it.
We rested when we reached Tower 1. We had to. The last climb to the top was torture that I had to push my bike again halfway. Trail mix bar number two was consumed at this point.

Uphill from the new trail
When everyone has recovered, it was time to try out the new trail. From Tower 1, we took the old fire road route but detoured to the right to a freshly opened trail. Like the singletrack route from Tower 3 to Tower 1, this was both fun and torturous. They added a stream crossing to make it a little more different, plus there's an option in the route to visit a cave. It was great! What's even cooler is that you end up at the Narrahan rest station. That means you don't have to climb the cemented path up (but you do get to climb a not as steep route).

Our group
On the way back, the group chose to ride that singletrack from Tower 5 back to where fire road splits in two. I, on the other hand, chose to ride the main fire road.

It was a great ride. Tiring but great. And we rewarded ourselves with food from the nearby Chow King restaurant.

Check out the map of our route below:

(note: you can change the map display to Google instead of the lousy Bing)