Barring weather every Thanksgiving in Marin County, California, USA since 1975 for hundreds of mountain bikers has started with a group ride on the historical hallowed trails where it all began. The tradition known as the “Appetite Seminar” is described best by Charlie Kelly, one of the founding fathers of modern day mountain biking, on his dated but informative web page.
This year I was finally able to join the horde of appetite riders with a group of friends and it was terrific. The conditions were soggy at times and a bit chilly (38° F at our 6am start) but once we were moving that was a non-issue.
The original route was somewhat modified in 2011 to avoid interference with salmon spawning activity in cascade canyon creek which means finding an alternate way down other than Repack which, while not the most fun way down anyway, is the famous downhill that required riders to “repack” grease into their coaster brake hub bearings. The alternatives are generally to drop down White Hill Fire Road and then either through Camp Tamarancho or continue on to Porcupine and either Sir Francis Drake or Old Railroad Grade (which was the route I took) down into Fairfax.
Though we were too early to get a proper sampling of the riders’ festive attire there are those that dress as turkeys or otherwise in thanksgiving themed kits.
Despite our early time the pancake and hot toddie station was ready and busy when we arrived around 9am. We also hit the pine mountain fire road right as the sun came up which seemed to be the meeting time for all the rangers, volunteers and their fleet of ATVs.
And as promised, I was able to roll back home by 10:30 with plenty of time to enjoy all the traditional Thanksgiving day festivities. Truth be told I’m hoping to include the Appetite Seminar as just another of the Thanksgiving traditions.