December 24, 2016
Holdridge has never been one of my favorite trails. My first time there, back in the 90s resulted in me walking out with my bike, defeated. However, having recently moved, it's now my local trail, being 10 minutes away. I rode it more in 2016 than I have in the past 20 years combined. I still don't love it, but it does make one a better mountain biker.
The Turtle loop is around half a mile long and is a nice, quick warm up.
Next up, the North loop is two miles long and the first 50 yards or so are like being a pinball getting shot into the pinball game. A great way to start riding. The loop is another great warm up with nothing too challenging beyond various roots.
The West loop is the next step up from the North loop. More flow(but not a ton), some technical features such as the occasional rock garden or skinny, and some good root filled climbs. You are rewarded for climbing with fun. flowy downhills. And there's the Wall. Not quite as bad as I expected, the Wall does present a nice challenge. It probably took me 4-5x before I was able to finally clear the root near the top. The Tech loop off the West loop is a blast with a couple of nice drops, and some other features to climb over.
The Lake loop, also off the West loop, is fun, with some good climbs and downhill payoffs.
That brings you to the East loop, aka Gruber's Grind. And it is indeed a grind. About 15 miles of grinding. The start is shared with the North loop, but after half a mile, it breaks off on it's own. This loop has many tough climbs - for the area - and just when you think you can enjoy the reward of climbing with a good downhill run - Surprise! You have to make a sharp turn and start climbing again. It's tough to carry any momentum from the downhill run to the next climb. And as you get further in you will find rock gardens aplenty,. And as you near the end around mile 13, you get a couple of additional good climbs.
Completing the East loop always feels like an accomplishment to me. Again it's not a big smile on your face type of trail like more flowy trails, but overall Holdridge does make you a better rider.
Hats off to the group that maintains Holdridge as in the summer it is a vine strewn jungle that takes a lot of work to keep clear and maintain.
Highland, Torn Shirt at Brighton