Man oh man we had a night ride up on Pleasanton Ridge (Ogrehut Trail Guide) that totally exceeded my expectations. I’ve ridden the ridge trail before during daylight hours and was quite frankly not impressed. The place is everything that East Bay parks are known for, big crowds and lots of steep boring fireroads. Night time transformed this place into a phenominal ride.
When you are riding with lights the fireroads don’t bother you so much and you enjoy the other things about the trail a lot more. There was a stark contrast between the East side of the ridge with the incredible views of the city and constant barage of noise and light and the west side of the ridge which is a quiet nearly hidden valley, dark, serene and nearly silent. The jets flying overhead added their own element to the ride, they were almost all coming in to land in Oakland so they were quiet and their bright flashing lights were a part of the show.
Night rides almost always have more wildlife than day rides and this one was no exception. Of course there were cattle up on the ridge but I think I saw more deer last night than on any other ride I’ve been on. We would come to a stop near a meadow and you would see these a field full of glowing blue reflective eyes. With all that tasty food out there in plain sight we were all to conscious of the multiple mountain lion sightings in the Bay area hills recently but if there were any they stayed hidden. We did see some rabbit, and an owl or two.
Other than a lot of fireroad we managed to ride a considerable amount of singletrack while there. The legal singletrack in the park is great, it’s the sort of fast swoopy switchbacks that leaves you grinning from ear to ear. We rode down the switchbacks twice and the climb to the top is a brutal series of steep switchbacks that are certainly challenging when dry and during daylight, but last night it was dark and they were muddy. I cleaned more than half of them and managed to feel good about it.
In the farther reaches of the park at the bottom of the legal singletrack you are riding in a ravine which has a distinct haunted look to it. Down in the ravine was the wettest part of the trail in an almost swampy way. The trail is not maintained much down there either so is a lot of deadfall and these weird piles of leaves which clump together like bizarre sores on the landscape. Adding in the Spanish Moss hanging from the trees just adds to the effect.
We turned around shortly after that and headed back to the car. While on the way back we were able to appreciate the phenominal job that the local cattle have done at building a system of singletrack throughout the park. The cattle trails merge on and off of the fireroads repeatedly and are the sort of flowy singletrack that mountain bikers often drool over. I’m certain the cattle must have a blast running up and down these trails. Additionally I’m sure the hikers enjoy the fast swoopy switchbacks that drop back down to the parking lot, it looks like just the sort of trail that would have a mountain biker grinning from ear to ear. It would certainly be the gravy that would top off an incredible night mountain biking in the foothills of Pleasanton.
During the day when this trail is clogged with hikers and equestrians the oportunities to enjoy much of this ride would be closed to mountain bikers. But this was an excellent ride which I am really looking forward to repeating soon. Maybe add a few more miles, and definitely bring some longer lasting batteries.