I was out solo on a Saturday doing some pre-riding for an upcoming group ride. I've ridden a lot of the Mendocino National Forest, so am quite familiar with the roads and trails. I spent hours combing over various maps to look for new trails and/or loops to entertain my small crew. I had my gps programmed with many prospective tracks, and I figured I'd just explore what I could with the time I had to work with. I started early, hitting the road by 0730 on my plated XR650R. I had 2L water/powerade in my hydration pack, plus another liter stashed on the bike. A few granola bars was all the food I took with me. I told my parents (who stayed back to watch my son) that I'd be back mid-afternoon, 1600 being the latest. And of course, I had my SPOT. Being that I had the SPOT, I did not share my route with anyone before departure.
One key decision point was a gas stop at about 1100. I topped off the tank (6-gallon Acerbis) and bought a liter of water. Instead of buying extra and re-filling my hydration bladder, I just drank what I bought and rode on. Most of the riding was on well-known forest service roads. But I did find some "other" stuff that took a lot of time and energy to get through. Single track (thankfully downhill), that doesn't show on any map. I didn't even know if it connected through to where I wanted/needed to go. Amazingly, it did. And my confidence was boosted.
By now, I was on Twin Valley Road, heading to home base. I stopped for 'lunch' and ate a granola bar and finished off the stash of powerade/water mix that was stashed on my bike. If I stayed on the road, I was no more than an hour from home base. But I didn't. I found that "just one more..." side trail that had to be explored. Up a steep climb to the ridge, the turn right and follow the ridgeline downhill. The track was only wide enough for an ATV, and at times not even that wide. The vegetation was all shrubs, mostly manzanita. No trees for shade. By the time the end of the trail was in sight, I realized that it was quite a steep drop...and long too. I remember thinking, can I ride back up this thing? By then, it was too late, I was committed to going to the bottom and trying my luck from there. It was about 1330.
"I don't know what you do, but I know what I do, and I don't do that." --Uncle Doug, R.I.P.
"Without the possibility of death, adventure is not possible"--Reinhold Messner