Graduating Skid University on Fallen Angel Island – Erik Nohlin

Graduating Skid University on Fallen Angel Island
Words by Erik Nohlin, photos by Erik Nohlin and Dylan Buffington

Fallen Angel Island is a Bay Area gem tucked away in a hard to get to corner of northern bay just of the Tiburon shore. In fact, it’s not hard to get to but getting one the seven official camp spots is way harder than just jumping on the ferry to get there.

Fallen Angel Island is a stealth campers paradise but with a locust like ranger infested entrance and exit point with the ferry, it’s difficult, almost impossible to enter the island unnoticed and not being asked for a permit when you first enter the dock. Our friend Nick from Pedal Inn had booked the best site on the island about 6 months in advance so we didn’t have to act like we weren’t going to glamp the shit out of campsite 4 with our first time SF visitor from The Warhead Courier Copenhagen chapter – The legendary Simon Busk.

Graduating Skid University on Fallen Angel Island

Our bikes were loaded down with tons of good food, cold beer, Bourbon and Rum. We opted for comfort and focused the weekend on car-camping style camping with bikes – we just brought it all.

Graduating Skid University on Fallen Angel Island

It was one of those magical weekends where bike riding doesn’t have anything to do with miles / hr or distance but rather skids and high fives / hr. The speed we travelled at most of the time was about 44 skids / hr and we’ll tell you this – Fallen Angel Island is a skidders paradise with its manicured dirt loops along the slopes of the 788 ft Mount Caroline Livermore, the highest peak of the Island with an amazing 360 view of downtown SF, Golden Gate and East Bay. It’s truly an amazing place, especially after the last ferry back had departed and the only inhabitants are a handful of rangers, campers and hog sized Crackoons.

Graduating Skid University on Fallen Angel Island

Like pretty much everything else in the Bay Area, The Fallen Angel Island has a rich and fascinating history reaching from Miwoks, Spanish explorers, world wars, immigrants and cold war paranoia with Nike missile sites, all super accessible from a bike perspective. We set camp and rumbled around the island for some hours, fine tuning our skills for the upcoming day’s examinations at The Skid University’s Master’s Program. A more than epic sunset ended the first day of our boyband like bromance weekend of sideways bicycle riding.

Graduating Skid University on Fallen Angel Island

Shit got rowdy during the night, wet in all kidsa ways and our camp got flooded from rain but it nicely framed that feeling of waking up hungover in a tent knowing the day will be full of roaming around doing slow-motion skid captures and laughing with your friends. The Sunday speed got up to an impressive 56 skids / hr and we all got our diplomas in a ceremony with a bay view. Dylan got an honorable mention for his 900 ft + slalom skid down Mt Livermore.

Graduating Skid University on Fallen Angel Island

If it wasn’t for the inaccessibility of the accessible nature around the Bay, we would do this more often – probably most of the time.



Erik on Instagram and Dylan on Instagram


  • AdamBike99

    e-Biking it, eh?

    • NO RULES !

      • AdamBike99

        Hell Yeah! In fact, I work for an e-bike conversion kit company in Seattle. You gotta come visit some time (and bring John)!

      • lol

  • G

    Where are the sin dawgs?

    • Trenton South

      Yeah, where are the sin dawgs………..I heard that Daves killer bread was bought out, is this the demise of the sin dawg?

      • Their new owner promised to let them do their thang and help them to grow. From a family business to an Oregon business and parts of Califoria, now Sin Dawgs will have a bigger and wider distribution, I have no worries about that.

  • Jano

    Can we collectively get some cash together to buy homie a helmet for his birthday?

    • We all have plenty of helmets and feel it’s completely up to each and every one when and how to wear them

      • mrbiggs

        I used to feel this way until dude we were riding with bonked his head on a tree and everyone had to drag him out of the woods and get him to the emergency room for his concussion. Screwed up our ride, where a helmet would have made the bonk a nonissue.

        • Tyler Shannon

          i feel like if anyone hits their head on a tree so hard you have to drag him out, he should probably go to a hospital, even if he is wearing a helmet

          • mrbiggs

            I suppose I may have overstated that with “drag.” He walked. We walked with him. Drove him to the hospital. It was preventable.

          • I hit my head on the bathroom sink sometimes. Do I need a helmet? ;-)

          • mrbiggs

            If hitting your head on the sink sans helmet keeps your friends from taking a shower together, yes. Yes you do.

          • :-)

          • Andy Moore

            As that old Dinosaur comic you linked long ago said: Life is dangerous, kids!


          • Rider_X

            If you make a habit of it… maybe ;-)

        • Richard Lapierre

          It woudn’t have stop him from having a concussion. It would of save him from scratch cuts etc. A concussion is cause by the mouvement of your brain nocking on your cranial box. No helmet can stop that. Case to the point the gigantic number of concussion in hockey. All wearing helmets. Same thing in football. Didn’t the NFL had to pay a pretty big amount of money to retired players recently for that reason ?

          • TLR

            Are you being serious? A 1500 g impact test is reduced to a maximum 250 g for a certified bike helmet. In other words: the movement causing the concussion is much lower due to the EPS absorbing the impact.

          • Richard Lapierre
          • Rider_X

            Football helmets do not have crushable foam, bicycle helmets do. This extends the duration of the impact, reducing peak force experienced by the brain. Peak force is what leads to irreparable brain damage. Helmets that lack crushable foam will have peak forces similar to someone without a helmet, hence why there is such a high rate of brain injury in the NFL. NFL helmets are there to prevent cracked sculls.

            For a more detailed discussion of mechanisms see:

    • Helmets create the illusion of safety. There is just as much evidence that proves you’re more at risk wearing one than you are without one. It’s such an imperial debate too. A lot of countries with high populations of cyclists don’t push helmets. Japan, Denmark, Holland, etc. The Brits and the Americans are way too uptight, which is maybe why our infrastructure and advocacy suffers at the hands of public opinion. Cyclists are entitled, even online, where for some reason, they want to tell others how to ride and what to wear.

      • Jano

        Sorry bud, my comment (joke) wasn’t meant to be taken with such cynicism and ‘entitlement’, don’t mean to be an e-preacher over here. You do you.
        However, there is nothing illusive about protecting a brain from impending sudden deceleration. Physics is one thing, statistics are another. Have a nice Friday!

        • I’m not being entitled, or cynical. Just making a counter-point to what seemed to be a legit comment covered by a “joke.” You’re still making your point, right?

          The new science is based on statistics. Data informs truths. My point was, it’s all preference, for the rider to decide. I don’t like policing other cyclists, personally. Again, the countries with the most cyclists per capita do not enforce, nor even recommend helmets.

          • Andy Moore

            One of my favorite posts ever on ProllyIsNotProbably/The Radavist:

          • Rider_X

            I think you are conflating population level effects with individual level effects. What may true on average in a population, does not necessarily hold true an individual basis. The technical term strangely enough is called an “ecological fallacy”


            Randomized trials a long time ago have shown the efficacy of helmets in crashes. What is up for debate is whether mandated use will make a population as a whole safer due to auxiliary issues that occur in tandem (e.g., as reduced ridership, leading to less visibility and motorist awareness of cyclists).

            These population level effects do not mean helmets will not help an individual in a crash.

        • Montag

          Cracking your skull open is metal as fuck though.

      • Helmets have saved the illusion of my life. Twice. We live in a hologram. This is the matrix. Safety is an illusion. Are we even alive? Existence is meaningless.

  • PNT

    pro riding!

  • brian tester

    “inaccessibility of the accessible nature around the Bay”???

    • Nature is and should be accessible to the people who helps fund it with taxes but due to the system and rangers hunting you down if you haven’t been on a waiting list for 6 months to get one of the 7 sites on the island, it’s been made highly inaccessible….#natureisfree…but not really…

      • brian tester

        No doubt, yet there are many excellent spots that are under-utilized, like Hawk, Haypress, Steep Ravine, etc. Creativity and timing are key components of outdoors fun round these parts.

      • Matthew J

        Of course if those controls were not in place the few wild areas in the Bay Area would quickly fill up with back yard campers, their generators and other comforts of home as well as all the trash they do not feel like porting back with them.

        • See my thought on that above

          • Matthew J

            I did thank you, and definitely respect your point of view.

            My primary concern at least for now is – as current events make clear – there are many who definitely understand nature and natural areas but would just as soon trash them for their own personal gain, the rest of us notwithstanding.

      • colavitos_ghost

        with all due respect, flippantly writing off wilderness management as a hassle or an inconvenience (especially in the halo of a huge population center like SF) really smacks of entitlement and ignorance. i love stealth camping as much as the next guy, but making sure that #natureisfree for future generations if actually much more important than your super-rad weekend skidfest.

        • You could have made a point without being passive aggressive. Erik has a point and so do you, but there’s no need to be petty about it. Now it’s just going to turn into a back and forth of banter, instead of discourse.

          Personally, I’m glad nature is controlled, because a majority of the population isn’t educated enough to care for it. Look at Whitney. You have to have a permit to hike it because idiots shit on the trail and leave their TP right there, rather than pack it all out… Nature is free, but unfortunately uninformed and uneducated people ruin it for the others.

          • colavitos_ghost

            sorry. i didn’t mean to be passive aggressive, but i guess my comment was slightly dickish. as a matter of fact, i was trying to actively criticize his POV on this issue (with all due respect for his contributions to the cycling community in other areas).

          • all good. Everyone defaults on “dickish” on the internet and I just try to keep it positive here. Even if you disagree with someone, doesn’t mean you have to back-hand them. xoxo

          • colavitos_ghost


          • Not flipping it off, just saying it’s reactive, not working for the benefit of the people. Educating the kids, future generations and general public to cherish nature is the way to go instead of shutting it down and make it inaccessible. The rules for back country camping in national parks is good in my opinion. You register, get informed of the rules and codes of conduct and given a responsibility. It’s a more open system based on trust and rangers are there to enforce the dicks and keep people safe, not shove people out of there. Guess that’s point – I believe more in personal responsibility when it comes to nature, allowing people to camp on places like Tam or the Headlands with a permit, not being dicks, pack in pack out, instead of shutting nature down. Closing down Tam for cars and car campers after sun down would do it and still make it accessible for the hiker or biker who wants to spend the night with a view in a close parameter to the city, not having to drive to the Sierras or plan that trip 6 months ahead and stay at a Crackoon infested campsite with partying car campers. This system works all over Europe and many other places around the world and I’m a firm believer that it would work in the US to. There will always be dicks but the majority of people are not so don’t let their bad behavior rule. Makes sense?

          • Well said, Professor Skid!

          • colavitos_ghost

            maybe where we disagree is that i don’t think people (maybe this is an American thing) can be trusted to take proper care of wilderness areas that are so nearby to large population centers. there are definitely examples of less-intensively-managed wilderness areas in the states, but they tend to be far away from the masses of a metro such as SF. these are usually National Forest or BLM lands. i have camped on them and you can, too (in fact, i wouldn’t be surprised if you have). they are amazing.

            i would love for there to be legit, pack-in-pack-out, passively-managed dispersed camping areas near where i live, as well. i just don’t think that would really go very well… and let’s be real; if i really wanted to prioritize that in my life, i could easily choose to live in wyoming, montana, idaho or some other awesome place i don’t live anywhere near. haha.

          • Andy Moore

            I agree with @colavitos_ghost:disqus. Sadly, I think there’s a very good chance you are exaggerating the depth and breadth of wise users, and dramatically under-estimating the level of assholery a few bad apples can wreak. Can you say *Oregon Outback*?

            Making overnight access require planning makes the experience that much more special. It’s not like you can’t go enjoy Fallen Angel for the day without a reservation – and it is those jaunts that last more than a day outing where the irresponsibility is most likely to manifest.

            I do agree that educating the kids via *organized* educational overnight stays might assuage the issue over time, but there is a ton of work to be done if that is going to be the reality. Not being a local, I don’t know to what level such programs exist – I hope they are more present than I am guessing. I would guess that they would be incredibly popular if offered, though!!!

          • More freedom takes more responsibility and a very well defined set of rules. I just don’t see how Americans would be more stupid or reckless than others and why this won’t work here, when it works in so many other countries around the world. Sure, some folks will always be dicks, shit and litter all over the place but right now those dicks are the reason nature closes at sundown and I simply have a hard time accepting them setting the norm ( Shutting down Oregon Outback because of some stupid punks was the wrong thing to do in my view ) All I’m saying is that I don’t believe the system serves the people good enough but being reactive and counterproductive to the point where we need to schedule time 6 months in advance to fully enjoy what we should be taking for granted. Same thing with bikes in designated wilderness, another example where a ban is the easiest way out but really not benefiting anyone…

          • Andy Moore

            Yeah, you make solid points. Drastic, reactive policies definitely suck, and perhaps more than the assholes that inspire them.

            I guess it boils down to my view being that I would rather sacrifice some access, to ensure having the resource, particularly since I’ve moved into an urban center – that may be a particularly American slant.
            Should you visit NYC, I urge you to check out Highbridge Park’s MTB trail system for some pretty disgusting examples of some reasons why. Only having my own perspective to judge by, I cannot answer that question, however.

            Regardless, thanks for doing you – and sharing your experience/perspective with the rest of us.

          • Jonathan McCurdy

            I totally agree with you on this. This is part of why I love living in AZ, where camping almost everywhere out of city limits is fair game. Yet I wouldn’t go so far as to say the wilderness is totally trashed here (aside from some popular target shooting spots, but that’s a different discussion altogether). Perhaps the difference can be chalked up to population density.

  • awesome bikes, what rack is that on the awol?

  • KevinSF

    Angel island really is a gem hidden in plain sight! Such a fun place to ride…. And go rubber side up!

  • Froste

    no.3 #halltunganrattimun

  • Will Hilgenberg

    Nice turbo. With aero seatpost though, maybe do a feature on the bike?

  • Harry

    That’s some John Homes-spec down tube

  • mp

    Fallen Angel Island? Only ever heard it referred to as Angel Island…

    • Yeah, it’s a play on words since Erik is hella metal and all. Fallen Angels = demons.

  • Tom Liley

    What are those phat gumwalls on most of the Awols?

    • Specialized Fatboy tires. 45mm

      • Tom Liley

        Cheeeeeers, time to go tyre shopping.