I have never been to Annadel State Park. Never been to Santa Rosa or Sonoma County despite numerous invitations and the foreknowledge that all the types of riding, road, mixed, mountain, are great there. Nonetheless, I have been thinking of Annadel this week, primarily because it just re-opened after the wildfires that damaged it so badly only a few weeks ago.
It got me thinking about how I would feel if my local green space burned or was closed for an extended period. For me, that’s Belmont Woods, actually a collection of small wooded patches connected by narrow corridors of trail, altogether only a fraction of what Annadel offers. Belmont is neither breath-takingly beautiful, nor charmingly technical in its terrain. Mostly, it’s just trails in the woods with graffiti-soaked abandoned buildings, a small, poorly-maintained pump track, and the sort of rooty, rocky single-track New England is known (and not revered) for. It is, full stop, a key part of my mental health routine.
I’d call it a “sacred space” if I was more of a hippy or less self-conscious about making semi-urban footpaths into something more metaphysical.
If I am a little squirrelly at home, I can be on dirt on my bike in about 9 minutes. If I have an extra 10 minutes in the morning, I can weave a couple miles of trail into my commute. Belmont Woods is the adult version of the small, BMX-themed trails behind my house when I was kid. It’s not much, but escaping to it improves my life immeasurably.
Wikipedia says: Trione-Annadel State Park is a state park of California in the United States. It is situated at the northern edge of Sonoma Valley and is adjacent to Spring Lake Regional Park in Santa Rosa. It offers many recreational activities within its 5,092-acre (2,061 ha) property.
I’m pretty sure that doesn’t capture it. I’m pretty sure, for many cyclists (and probably some civilians too), Annadel is a sacred space, and even having part of it back is a great relief to a great many.
This week’s Group Ride asks, where is your sacred space? What stretch of geography, if it burned or was somehow taken by extraterrestrials, would leave you saddest? Please note, if you do not have an answer for this question, then you need to move.