April 14th, 2015 by MTBBill
I had a pretty good bit of mountain biking over the last handful of days.
I made a return trip to Mount Woodson on Thursday to reacquaint myself with the other trails on/near the mountain that I did not get to the week before. I took the Fry-Koengle trail up to the summit and then took the Old Fry-Koengle trail on the way down. There has been a bit of trail sanitization going on parts of this trail but the trail is still plenty interesting. I only did a dozen miles but there was plenty of climbing done.
On Saturday, Nichol, Francisco and I did a ride out at Lake Hodges and then some. After doing the north side stuff, we continued past the dam down into Del Dios Gorge and then onto the Santa Fe Valley trail eventually over to the Lusardi Creek.
We did a small lollipop of trails in this area before heading back in earnest. We ended up doing right at 30 miles which was a new mileage benchmark for both Nichol and Francisco.
On the cruise back we came upon this fella (or gal – I can’t tell, and I not looking any closer to figure out either). I was pretty stoked that this snake posed so nicely for the camera while there was some good light to work with. This was rattler #11 for the year. (The following day I would encounter #12 that was quite uninterested in hanging out for a photo op)
Saturday I meet Bill up in Idyllwild to ride “The Hub” trails (currently called Alvin Meadows on my site). This place really rocks and there has been quite a bit of new trails out in this area.
I passed so many new junctions that I’m going to have bump this place up in trail rotation get all the new stuff figured out. I’m always amazed how you can feel like you being putting in huge miles out here and then you look at your mileage gizmo and you have done less than half of what you thought you did. One thing is for certain, the quads were barking on the last climb back to the truck. We definitely earned our tasty post-ride beverages!
April 3rd, 2015 by MTBBill
It has been quite a few moons since I had ridden Mt Woodson so I decided to get back out there this week. I started out at Lake Poway and took the trails around the lake to the bottom of the Mt Woodson Trail. My exceptionally light and spry hardtail had a flat tire when I grab it to head out the door, so I grabbed my long-legged All-Mountain Intense UZZI rig instead. The heft of this rig, the above average temperature and the grade of climb had me getting workout in mighty early on. I was calling myself all kinds of bad names on the climb. I got a short reprieve as I neared the junction of the Warren Canyon trail.
I took the Warren Canyon trail. The west end of the trail is in mighty rough shape with severe ruts. The western end has always been kind of an absurd up and down affair, but the ruts take it to a new level. Reviewing my map and GPS data for this trail you climb 933 feet and descend 789 feet over the course of 2.36 miles. So why ride this trail?
Well I like this trail because it is a path less traveled with a much more outback feel to it. (It could use some more travel and bit of maintenance)
About halfway through the Warren Canyon trail there is a large tree that has fallen over the trail. There is a break through limbs but you will have to walk/scramble through at this point.
A cool little section of the trail near the east end of the trail just before the hike-a-bike up to Highway 67. Once I got up to Hwy 67, I pedaled about 1.4 miles into Ramona to get onto the access road to the summit of Black Mountain.
The access road climb is about 1.65 miles long and gains 1160 feet to top out at 2,894 feet. (Although I believe you have to climb up on a boulder to get to that elevation). There are some pretty views from up here. The highest point pictured above is Cuyamaca Peak. Yeah, the ONNNLY reason I stopped on this climb was to take some pictures to share. My camera was acting up so I had to stop a few times to get the shot I was looking for.
After a break at the summit, I started down the Mt Woodson trail proper. There was a bit of marine layer moving in from the west which made for some interesting light
The ride down along the ridgeline to the west was plenty of fun with some technical spots. The trail eventually turns to the south and starts loosing elevation in a hurry. There are a plethora of very tight switchbacks to contend with at this point. These clearly were made with hikers in mind which makes them exceptional interesting for mountainbikers. I was no longer wanking about having my big heavy bike at his point as it was helping out with steep and tight technical switchbacks. I wish I could say that I cleaned all of the switchbacks but that was simply not the case. I cleaned better than half of them. A good portion of the remainder I would need to gain some trials type skills like lofting the rear wheel around and pivoting in place. What was left after that is simply not executing on my part. (aka wussing out!) Once back at the junction of Warren Canyon trail, the return trip was a bombfest. When I got back down to the lake, I had cashed out 2,000 feet of elevation in 2.92 miles. Today’s ride was real beater with 3,160 feet of climbing in just 11.66 miles, but yeah what goes up, must go down. I certainly paid to play on this day. BEER:30!
April 2nd, 2015 by MTBBill
So I have been gathering up the gear needed to do some bikepacking later on this year. I just recently got all of the “stuff” together and wanted to take it out for a ride before committing to an overnight trip. This was mainly gear around making sure everything was strapped in the right way and see if I had some fitment issues. I also wanted to see how the biked handle with all this stuff on it.
The test grounds was the Laguna Mountains. We did a loop starting from Redtail Roost. Right out of the gate it was easy to tell that there was quite a bit of additional weight to deal with. My normally very flickable 24lb hardtail required a lot more input on the climbs and of course some additional effort to move up the hill. I however was not much different effort wise that lugging around my all-mountain Intense Uzzi. I did have a few strapping adjustments to make but the starting setup was pretty close. Once we turned downhill it was really apparent that the bike now carried a lot more of its own momentum. I felt like I was riding the bike instead of the bike being an extension of myself. After dropping the Redtail Roost singletrack we climb Aqua Dulce fireroad to the top of the Los Gatos singletrack. This is where I discovered something that added to the fun of Los Gatos. With the additional weight over the front wheel, the bike really gripped well through the bermed turns. There were some giggles heard in the ravine after at least one well-railed berm.
Once we came out on the meadow, we took the Big Laguna Trail clockwise around the meadow past Water of the World and Big Laguna Lake. While both are still stupidly low, the water levels were higher than they were this past fall. Once we got to the top of the meadow we took the connector over to Pine Pines and the upper Noble Canyon trailhead. We took the first mile or so of the Noble Canyon trail. (The new rerouted section has bedded in nicely). We then took the cutover trail back (Need to add this to my maps) Big Laguna meadow. From there continued on around the meadow until we peeled off to take the Aqua Dulce connector trail and then peeled off again onto the Redtail Roost connector where we climbed on the Escondido Ravine fireroad until we picked up another singletrack to take us back over to the Redtail Roost trail. It was great day to be out on the bike and I’m pretty happy with how my first ride with the bikepacking gear went.
March 30th, 2015 by MTBBill
I have finally finished a long overdue update of my Black Mountain in Rancho Bernardo trail guide.
It can take quite a bit of work to get to all of the trails in this area so it took several visits. I had forgotten just how easy to rack up a bunch of the elevation gain out at this place.
There has been some nice working going out here. The new Lilac trail is a great addition to the place and Miners Ridge Loop is in great shape. The revised guide includes routes that use the Nighthawk connector which adds some additional options for getting up to the peak of the mountain. So if you have not been to it in a while it is well worth it give the place another look if you call the San Diego area home.
March 26th, 2015 by MTBBill
This past weekend Nichol and I rode a modified version of the Cuyamaca Grand Loop. It is very much looking like spring up in the Cuyamaca Mountains with lots of greenery, blooming plants and wildflowers.
We started off from the East Mesa staging and rode the singletrack up to the park headquarters and then took the Green Valley Fireroad north. Instead of climing Soapstone grade. We took the Upper Green Valley singletrack north and climbed out of Cuyamaca State Park and into the Anza Borrego Desert State Park to the La Cima trail.
You are certainly not in the desert at this point but the cool thing about the topology here is that in less that four miles the Cuyamaca Mountains drop nearly 3,000 feet into the desert proper. We topped out on the La Cima trail at about 4,880 feet.
We rode the La Cima trail west to the California Riding and Hiking Trail (CRHT) where we the turned south. This section of the CRHT is really sweet with some great views of the grassland of the Lake Cuyamaca Basin area. This section of the CRHT is about 2.5 miles long and about halfway through this section you leave Anza Borrego State Park and cross back into Cuyamaca State Park. The trail connects back up with Soapstone Grade fireroad at the top of the grade and we continued along the Grand Loop rout to the east. In years past the state park had the California Riding and Hiking Trail closed to bikes in virtually all sections that were singletrack. They have sense changed there mindset (Thanks to some tireless advocacy work by SDMBA!) and many more sections of the CRHT are now open in the park. Instead of taking the pavement from Soapstone Grade Road out to Hwy 79 (I think the pavement is called Stonewall Creek Road??), We took the CRHT singletrack.
The CRHT uses sections of the Minshall, Los Vaqueros and Vern Whitaker trails. These are some nice sections of singletrack. They do undulate a handful of times that is going to add your day’s effort but I put the cardio costs well worth it to enjoy these trails. The CRHT comes out less than 50 yards south of the where the pavement meets up with Hwy 79. There is also a junction with the northern end of the Cold Stream Trail. The original plan was to turn right and continue along the Grand Loop route and do Milk Ranch Road and maybe a climb up Middle Peak. Considering how cool the last section of the CRHT was and the open to bike signs for the next section across the highway, we opted to continue along the CRHT.
We immediately noticed that next section saw far less travel that across the highway. Most of the users are obviously following the road to the north or the Cold Stream trail to the south. I dig riding on trails that are sometimes defined by matted down grass. There was also some rocky technical bits that added some nice character to the trail. At the Azalea Glen trail junction the CRHT become make off-limits to bikes. This was disappointing and turn west to ride the Azalea Glenn Loop trail which is open to bikes. This lead us to the Paseo Picaho Campground. We wanted to get up on the Azalea Fire Road and Fern Flat Fire Road to close off the Grand Loop but we now had to cover quite of elevation over a shorter distance. A grunting we would up Lookout Road.
Once we made it up to Fern Flat fire road we turn south and enjoy some mighty long stretches of downhill cruising that took us back down to the West Side single track near the start of the ride. All together it was 22.1 miles with 3,190 feet of climbing so we definitely earned the post-ride beers and BBQ and Alpine Beer Company.
March 17th, 2015 by MTBBill
This weekend I got up at O-damn early and I traveled up to the Los Angeles area to catch up with an old friend. What better way to catch up on things than during a bike ride. After swinging by his place we continued northward to spend some time on the Golden Eagle Trail. What a nice chunk of trail.
The lower portion of the trail was scorched by a wildfire in the last couple of years but the recovery process is well underway. The climb was a good punch to the cardio system. The two McDonalds sausage biscuits that I had just recently polished off for breakfast and were now sitting like a couple of bricks in my gut also helped with the challenge. I should know better by now, clearly I’m a slow learner.
Sausage sweats aside, once we got a little further up on Liebre Mountain we cleared the burn area and things got back to how I remembered them. (Both for my stomach and the trail!) There are some seriously nice ribbons on dirt on this mountain with incredible flow across both grassy hillsides and through forests of oak trees.
Now Bill and I have done many a road trip together over the years and somewhere along the way, Bill got me sucked into the pursuit of tasty bourbons and scotch. So in addition to enjoying some awesome single track on the mountain we both brought some spirit samples from the home cabinets to share. I’m pretty sure bourdon taste better outdoors and adds a little something to the flavor of a Clif Bar
After tooling around on the Liebre Mountain ridgelines the descent down the Golden Eagle trail was quite a rip. It was the awesome kind of situation where all your sensory systems are fully engaged to help produce the required muscle/body action and your brain seems to shift from conscious controlling to supervising. That wonderful state of being fully in the moment. While I did not notice it on the climb, the fire damage near the bottom had made the usable trail’s usable tread even narrower than normal in spots which required some high speed precision in spots. It was a great day to be on a bike.
I’ll be tweaking the route description on my page in the coming days to reflect my latest understanding of the place.
March 15th, 2015 by MTBBill
I have hit up several different places over the last week.
I started the week off with meeting some new and old friends for a spin through Sycamore Canyon and then some. There will be some updates on my site in the coming weeks for this area. Biggest takeaway for now is to stay east of the watershed running down the middle of the canyon as the Marines are patrolling their land that is on the west side of the seasonal creek. Instead of parking at the dirt lot near Mast and Medina, park at “Hole in the Fence”. Google Map 9100-9140 Birchcrest Blvd, Santee, CA 92071 and park near there. This is a neighborhood so remember to be a good visitor in their hood. Be quiet and don’t thump your system. Trail starts through the hole in the fence at the end of Birchcrest. Exploration is good for the soul!
I have been refreshing my knowledge of the Black Mountain area in preparation for a webpage update and there were a couple of back corner trails that I had not been on in a long time. So an after work ride was in order here. I kinda had lost an appreciation for how much climbing you can get in out here. Often times when I’m researching an area I put together a route that allows me to cover the most trails and trails I have not been on it a while. This latest research route I did was 14 miles and included 2,900 feet of climbing. No wonder muscles and joints were wanking the next day!
I came across the fellow while out on the trail. Literally! I came across him. When I realized that this big fellow was a snake I was way to close to stop and not prepared to bunny hop over him. Boy was he pissed!
Nichol had been out of town for a while so Saturday we took a welcome back cruise on familiar ground out at Lake Hodges. It was unseasonably warm but as far as I’m concerned there is no time like the present to start getting acclimated to the hot weather. Ahhh, the kind of problems we have to deal with in San Diego.
March 8th, 2015 by MTBBill
It has been long overdue, but I have finally updated my Los Penasquitos page to reflect the current configuration of trails in the area.
Yes, it does include the Tunnels area. More from a trail inventory perspective than a go ride it endorsement. Although, if those trails were legal I would highly endorse them. But it is not legal to ride those single tracks to I won’t endorse riding those really awesome trails.
I also included the miles of mostly shaded single track along Penasquitos Creek. These are trails that provide a quality outdoor experience that are also off-limits to bikes. While the best stuff out at Penasquitos is off limits to bikes, there is still plenty of miles of dirt to get yourself in a good workout here. You can read more about it on the updated page.
March 7th, 2015 by MTBBill
I spent a couple of afternoons this past week getting reacquainted with Black Mountain in near Rancho Bernardo. The Lilac Canyon trail has recently been rerouted and it is way much for the better.
The trail still starts from the Miner’s Ridge Loop trailhead but now instead of steeply descending down to Carmel Valley Road it down contours along the north slope of Black Mountain around to the glider port.
Shortly before the trail reaches the glider port a single track forks off to the north and pass under Carmel Valley Road. This is another nice section of singletrack that works its way around to the north side of the Black Mountain Ranch Park (baseball fields). This provides a direct connection to the Santa Luz/Larsardi Creek Loop. This is a really nice trail connection that I’m stoked about. I’ll be updating my site soon with new data on the trail.
I had kinda lost my appreciation for just how much climbing there is at Black Mountain. The first ride out here I did about 17 miles and 2,500 miles and on the second ride I did 16.75 miles and 3,000 feet of climbing.
It seems mighty early for the rattlers to be out and about already but this fellow above was the third rattler I have seen this year. I came around a turn and I was at that distance where I had to decide wither to bunny hop the snake or throw out the anchor. I chose to throw out the anchor and ended up pulling off a totally awesome nose wheelie stop that I’m positive I could not pull off again if I tried.
The Miner’s Ridge Loop is in fantastic shape right now with the rain we had the previous week. If you have not been out here in a while you should go check it out while the greenery of spring is in full effect.
February 21st, 2015 by MTBBill
With all of the destruction that has happened in the Penasquitos Canyon area over the last decade due to land development coupled with the various land management agencies waking up with from decades of management slumber the whole area is kind of a land management circus show. The only groups that are making out in this deal are the developers and the folks making a living off protecting Fairy Shrimp (I’m still looking for a good recipe BTW)
My Los Penasquitos Canyon page has been absurdly out of date ever since the development started. I have decided to finally update the page so I have been riding out here as of late to refresh my GPS data and try to figure out the best legal way to ride out in this area that is not completely mudane and boring. It is fairly tough as the mountain bikers have very little in the way of legal quality trails. It seems the only things that are not endangered out here are no biking signs. (Just for the record that trail in the picture above is not single track, it is more like a baby stroller trail, ATV trail, etc…) You can get in some good riding with a quality outdoor experience but you are going to have illegally share with the hikers and the equestrians and blow by closed signs.
The Camino Ruiz trail is the nearly lone exception to legal boredom of highway wide fire roads in the canyon offered to mountain bikers. This is a nice chunk of single track.
Ok, ranting aside, the warm weather streak we have been having in February has both plants and critters getting confused. Flower are blooming and the everything is nice and green.
Chasing the sun greenery
It is pretty early for the snakes to be coming out already. This is a rather healthy looking whip snake.
It was in evening time so he was mighty sluggish and very easy to handle. He seemed more than happy to leech some heat off of me before getting anxious to head off.
Last weekend at the San Clemente Singletracks I saw my first rattlesnake of the season but he was uncooperative for the camera. I saw my second rattler of the year at Penasquitos Canyon this week and this fella was more amiable to getting his picture taken. The guys are going to be sucking when the weather shifts back to typical temperatures soon.