Photos: Jason Fitzgibbon, Video: Satchel Cronk

Weekenders is an occasional series celebrating the potential of those magical days somewhere between Friday and Monday.

Photos: Jason Fitzgibbon, Video: Satchel Cronk

Presented by Schwalbe Tires.

Photos: Jason Fitzgibbon, Video: Satchel Cronk

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Photo Credit: Jason Fitzgibbon, Video

Photos: Jason Fitzgibbon, Video: Satchel Cronk

It was a homecoming of sorts, hosted by the greatest entertainer out there, and we didn’t want to miss a minute. Yet there we were, sitting in L.A. gridlock at noon on day one, staring at a concrete jungle as the first hours of our long weekend ticked away. Myself and my partner Leah Lind-White had taken off early from our respective responsibilities in San Diego, and were on our way north for a weekend full of different kinds of trails, trees, colors and views than we can get in Southern California.

Photos: Jason Fitzgibbon, Video: Satchel Cronk

We were headed to San Luis Obispo, where Leah had spent her college years riding, racing, and yes, actually studying. She’d kicked out into the world as soon as possible after graduation, and neither of us had been back since. Yet after two years in San Diego, we were curious how the trails would ride with some different perspective, and what kind of show Mother Nature would be putting on in the famously green springtime slice of Central Californian Coast. As it turned out, all we had to do was punch through Los Angeles.

Photos: Jason Fitzgibbon, Video: Satchel Cronk

The moment the sprawl alongside us faded into grassy hillsides and we finally got some open road on Highway 101, the whole complexion of the world around us seemed to change. Drivers seemed to slow down, wildflowers became more and more frequent, and Leah and I both took in big breaths and relaxed. The rest of the drive sped by, as we cruised along the white-capped Pacific past Ventura and Santa Barbara, then up through rolling ranch land and into San Luis Obispo–just in time for an evening ride.

Photos: Jason Fitzgibbon, Video: Satchel Cronk

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Photo Credit: Jason Fitzgibbon, Video

Photos: Jason Fitzgibbon, Video: Satchel Cronk

Day 1

To shake out the legs after a day in the car, we pointed toward Montana de Oro State Park, a network of fast, fun, flowing trails that always deliver a good sunset. Jacob Black, a former teammate of Leah’s, met us at the trailhead, and we were off. The wind was blasting (as it’s prone to do in SLO), but we were back on familiar trail, the grass was green, the light glowed golden over the ocean beneath us, and we couldn’t have managed to have anything but a great ride.

Photos: Jason Fitzgibbon, Video: Satchel Cronk

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Photo Credit: Jason Fitzgibbon, Video

Photos: Jason Fitzgibbon, Video: Satchel Cronk

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A classic MDO ribbon.

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Photo Credit: Jason Fitzgibbon, Video

Photos: Jason Fitzgibbon, Video: Satchel Cronk

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Leave from the beach, descend to the ocean. Morro Rock is an ever-present fixture of the landscape from Hazard Peak.

Photos: Jason Fitzgibbon, Video: Satchel Cronk

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Photo Credit: Jason Fitzgibbon, Video

Photos: Jason Fitzgibbon, Video: Satchel Cronk

Day 2

The next morning, we met Jacob at his local hill. He proceeded to put on a clinic in smooth, speedy and stylish riding, as the morning light illuminated blooming flowers, gentle, towering oaks bathed in Spanish Moss and vibrantly green grass.

Photos: Jason Fitzgibbon, Video: Satchel Cronk

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Color coordination. Left: Castilleja beginning its bloom. Right: Jacob’s steed.

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Photos: Jason Fitzgibbon, Video: Satchel Cronk

After a short night and the gorgeous morning, we dropped into downtown San Luis Obispo for a recharge. Nothing gets a mountain biker going like a tall cup of coffee and a breakfast burrito, and pretty quickly our minds were wandering back out to the hills. Next on the list was Cuesta Ridge, for some classic SLO speed and chunk. The plan was to ride high along the ridge so we were praying for a good sunset, but were worried that perhaps we’d used all of our weather points first thing that day. You just never know up high…

Photos: Jason Fitzgibbon, Video: Satchel Cronk

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Photo Credit: Jason Fitzgibbon, Video

Photos: Jason Fitzgibbon, Video: Satchel Cronk

We took our time on the way up, and met up with resident shredder-of-all-bikes, Trevor Roland. Trevor is a recently-minted co-owner of one of the leading bike shops in town, and has lived and ridden in SLO for most of his life. Still, we were a little surprised when he showed to some of the rockier trails around on a single-speed slalom bike, but we needn’t have worried. Throw some downhill tires and flat pedals on there and Trevor could handle anything that came at him, with an added pop and playfulness that can only come from a little bike. And about that sunset…

Photos: Jason Fitzgibbon, Video: Satchel Cronk

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Leah leads Trevor on Cyprus Hill. Err, Cuesta Ridge.

Photos: Jason Fitzgibbon, Video: Satchel Cronk

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Left: Sargent Cyprus bark. Right: The easiest way to ride rough corners is to float above them.

Photos: Jason Fitzgibbon, Video: Satchel Cronk

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@WeDidActuallySleepThere, how nifty is that?

Photos: Jason Fitzgibbon, Video: Satchel Cronk

Day 3

For our final day, we drove farther north, away from the familiar corners of college days and toward a certainly beautiful but condition-unknown stretch of trail high above Big Sur. Up the coast we went, then up, up, up the Coast Range. Eventually, we came back down; a particular piece of my potpourri of experiences on a mountain bike that will always be difficult to capture with words. It was … ripping, beautiful, distracting, breathtaking and a magnificent memory in nearly every sense. I’ll let the imagery try to convey it in however many thousands of words, and the in meantime, I’ll recall fondly, and look forward eagerly. Recall fondly these days on the Central Coast that were so exquisite and exhilarating, and look forward to the next weekend we can hit the road.

Photos: Jason Fitzgibbon, Video: Satchel Cronk

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Cone Peak, of the California Coastal Range.

Photos: Jason Fitzgibbon, Video: Satchel Cronk

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Photos: Jason Fitzgibbon, Video: Satchel Cronk

 

Photos: Jason Fitzgibbon, Video: Satchel Cronk

57 hours, what would you do?

Photos: Jason Fitzgibbon, Video: Satchel Cronk

 

Photos: Jason Fitzgibbon, Video: Satchel Cronk

Photos: Jason Fitzgibbon

Photos: Jason Fitzgibbon, Video: Satchel Cronk

Video: Satchel Cronk

Photos: Jason Fitzgibbon, Video: Satchel Cronk

Featuring: Leah Lind-White, Jacob Black and Trevor Roland

Photos: Jason Fitzgibbon, Video: Satchel Cronk

Previous Weekenders:

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Northern California

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Eastern Sierra

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