Saturday, January 14, 2017

Running in SoCal: Quicksilver Club reunion on the trails, in Thousand Oaks

Look who I found in Thousand Oaks this weekend: Fred, an ex Quicksilver ultra racing teammate who moved there a few months ago with his family! His wife also goes by Fred (for Frédrique) and did a few ultras with our team as well these past years.

The weather was gorgeous this Saturday morning with a nice breeze clearing up the air for amazing views of the surrounding mountains, and temperatures from 62F when we hit the trail at 9 and 68F by noon: tough winter conditions to train in South California... The trail was also very soft thanks to heavy rain a few days ago, leaving just a few muddy and sticky sections.

Because of a heavy commute back and forth between Silicon Valley and here last year, Fred hasn't been training consistently in 2016 and did lose some of this fitness but I was glad to have him as a guide to explore the convoluted trails up and down the various canyons cutting though Wildwood Park, along the Mount Clef Ridge (see map from the Conejo Open Space Foundation).

Overall, only 13 miles in 2 hours, not counting many picture stops, but some great hill and technical trail training which will be useful in a few months in the Alps!

In addition to the amazing views of the surrounding valleys and the Santa Monica mountains, here are the main highlights of this park.

With such a name, Paradise Fall has to come to the top. Nice flowing after this week's rain in particular.

Then Lizard Rock which you reach on steep switchbacks which reminded me those of the climb to Mission Peak at the beginning of Ohlone 50K.

Panoramic view from under the Lizard Rock:
 View from the top of Lizard Rock
 The water treatment plant
 Fred summiting Lizard Rock

We climbed to the topic of Mount Clef Ridge, crossing landscapes which have been used by Hollywood in many movies, and westerns in particular.

On our way back, we passed by a sort of Tee Pee monument, probably in memory of the Chumash Native American tribe which lived here for 8,000 (yes, 80 centuries!) and as late as the 19th century when they got decimated by diseases brought by Europeans then Spanish settlements.

Because the trails are shared with mountain bikers and mountain biking is such a prevalent sport in this area, here is a cool idea for bikes to announce themselves, the Bike Bell Box!
By the way, from every ridge in this park, you can't miss that Thousand Oaks is home of Amgen, the largest independent biotech company ($21Bn revenue, ~19,700 employees).

I finished my run with an additional climb to the top and end of Lynnmere Trail at the Southern point of the Park, to find this cool sort of cairn, as a huge heart.

Indeed, what's not to love on these hilly trails with amazing views of mountains in every direction! Special thanks to ZeFreds for their hospitality and this opportunity to discover a new running paradise in California!

PS: I'm glad Frédérique gave me a heads-up that the trail were rocky and possibly muddy, otherwise, I would have only brought a pair of Brooks Launch. Instead, I took a pair of old Cascadias which I had not used for quite a few years. The model which included the pretty cool sole with the Western States 100-mile course and Scott Jurek's then course record of 15:36:27.

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