Moss Beach, CA
Explorer | 21 pts
If I could have only one place to ride, this would be it. Start from the little parking lot on Hwy 1 at Montara (maybe 12 miles north of Hwy 92), which faces eastward, with additional parking to the south. When you hit the ranger's house, you can choose from the trail to the left, which is longer, pleasant and less steep, or you can punish yourself early by going straight ahead. This is a dirt road known as "the wall" that is pretty much straight up the hill. It meets with the other trail after about a half-mile. From here, you can stay on the trail (dirt road) until you reach the top. Expect an unforgiving climb that, while not very technical, is steep and continuous. Near the top it transitions into rolling hills, which are a merciful change (though there are a few more little steep sections). This is perhaps the single best training hill that I've ridden.
The review doesn't mention that along with the ride to the top of the mountain (which is a must ride, by the way; the review sums up the view nicely), there is a fork to the left (east). This heads towards Pacifica and is mostly paved. You can take this down to Linda Mar in Pacifica for a tame, paved descent. For the more adventurous, there is a trail to the left (from a 4-way crossroads at the ridge) that follows the ridge northward above Devil's Slide (part of Hwy 1 between Pacifica and Half Moon Bay). Here you'll find an extremely technical climb (though short), which we call "the Y", and multiple little trails that are worth exploring for the views they offer. Also, there's a branch to the east, know locally as "the mile". This is a pretty hairy descent that meets with the road down into Pacifica. It's loose, sharp rock, followed by a rollercoaster-like singletrack that will really get your attention. I reccomend full suspension and some experience for this, as there are lots of ditches and ruts that can really ruin your day, if you take the wrong line. It's a real blast though.
Where "the mile" meets the road down, there is another trail that is straight ahead from where you exit the mile. Keep your speed up, as you'll hit an extremely steep (though short) hill. Proceeding east, is a racetrack section, with burms and jumps, locally refered to as "boy scout". Continuing down to Pacifica (Linda Mar region) is an extremely technical section of built drop-offs and other craziness. Trust me when I say beware of blind corners here. There's bound to be a surprise.
At the bottom, you'll pop out into the middle of a quiet residential street. From here, head south, and you'll run into that paved road back up to where you came from. This is a good conditioning hill, where climbing speed can be readily developed.
One of my favorite rides is to ride to the top, barrel back down (watching for hikers - please be careful and courteous), head east to the crossroads, head north along the ridge and then east down "the mile" and "boy scout". Then I'll climb up the road over the ridge and back down to the parking lot.
There really is something for everyone here. The variety of trail surface (paved, dirt and rocky) and steepness make this an ideal training ground as well. Ride to the top of the hill once per week, and you'll soon be leaving your riding buddies in the dust.