Black Mountain & SYTT

December 3rd, 2016 by MTBBill

Last weekend I managed to get back out to the Santa Ysabel Truck and the Black Mountain near Ramona.

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(Along the Santa Ysabel Truck Trail)

The weather guessers were call in for a storm to hit the area in the afternoon, so I packed up the rain gear before heading out.   Typically I do about a 29 mile loop that includes Santa Ysabel Truck Trail, Black Mountain,  Pamo Valley and a bit dirt road and pavement interconnects.   Today I was going to be doing an out-and-back variant of the ride.

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(A section of the area spared from the 2007 wildfires)

I parked at the east end of the Santa Ysabel Truck Trail near the bridge on Black Canyon Road and headed out west.   The climbing is very mild but considering how much of a slacker I had been as of late I could tell there was some rust in the legs.  The last time I had here was when I did this as a section of the Coast-to-Crest trail.

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(Pamo Valley from the lower parts of the Black Mountain Truck Trail)

Once I hooked up with the Black Mountain Truck Truck, I turned uphill and started the sizable climb.

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(Climbing Climbing Climbing, Pamo Valley getting smaller)

I was not sure if I was going to go all the way to the top or not.   I planned on turning around if the legs cried uncle or if I got caught in a sustained pummeling of rain.

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The weather was starting to deteriorate around me as I continued climbing.   I could see it raining in the distance on either side of me but my little patch of the world was dry.  About 3/4ths of the way up my legs were getting to wank but I was able to keep going.    It was also getting colder and the wind was kicking up.  I was too hot with the wind breaker on and my chest was a bit cold without it and just the short sleeve jersey.   I always keep a bandana in my pack and it came in pretty handy in this case.  I unfolded it about halfway  and stuff inside my jersey as an additional layer in the front.

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Now most of Black Mountain has been covered in scrub in the past put the top of the mountain has some pine trees.  These pines were originally planted as part of the ongoing Penny Pines program that started in California in 1941.   Some of those pines were burned in the 2007 wildfire but a patch of the them at the very top were spared.

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(View from the summit with Lake Sutherland in the background)

It was a bit chilly up on the summit and the wind was whipping pretty good.  I typically enjoying hanging out up here and enjoying lunch but the wind made it pretty uncomfortable so after snapping some shots I made my way over to spot back along the trail that offered some shelter from the wind to have my lunch.   While taking those pictures, it came pretty clear to me that my luck with the rain was going to run out soon.    I hurried up with the snacks and then headed back down the mountain.    It was quick work back down to the Santa Ysabel Truck Trail.    There is some climbing to be done on the way back along that truck trail and my legs were pretty shot at this point.     With about 15 minutes left in the ride a steady light rain started.   My windbreaker/raincoat was doing its job quite nicely and I spun my way back to truck.   About 30 seconds after I was all packed up and sitting in my truck the “bottom fell out” and a pounding rain last for most of my drive back into Ramona.    I felt pretty lucky to have snuck in a ride before the storm and was happy to get back out this little corner of the county.   A great day to be out on a bike!

One Helluva Fall!

November 29th, 2016 by MTBBill

What a fall, what a fall!  Well actually has been a crazy last half of the year.    Sometimes work is well, a whole lot of work and this year was particularly so.  I spent way too much traveling this year to places I’m not particularly fond of.

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The work was certainly rewarding and the people I interacted are some of America’s finest, but I’m glad to put this years traveling for work behind.

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The MTB action as been pretty sparse as of late as well.    With limited time back at the homestead I put a priority on quality time with the family.

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Of course I was not off the bike cold-turkey, I was just hitting up some of the local goods for quickies vice big rides.  Sometimes it was more about relaxing out on the trail than the actual riding.  One of my favorite spots out at Daley Ranch is pictured below.

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And of course Lake Calavera is almost in my backyard so there were a few loops done out there as well.

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For those of you who have been paying attention you should have noticed a growing  prominence of pictures of this young lady pictured below over the last handful of years on the site. Nichol and I have known each other for 30 years.  Last year we got engaged and…..

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This month we went and got hitched!   Instead of having wedding and working the logistics of people coming to see us get married, we traveled back to Chicago and got married at the spot where we first met.

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We then went on bit of traveling wedding celebration road show.   We flew down to Virginia where we shared some tasty beverages and grub with friends there.  From there we drove down to North Carolina to celebrate with most of my family that live in that area.

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My oldest son joined us in North Carolina and I was stoked for him to be able to spend some time with my folks.   Will loves to fish so my Dad and his friends hooked us up with some excellent time out on one of the local lakes.

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We ended up with cooler full of fish and memories to last a lifetime.

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While there was no MTBing done back in North Carolina, I did a enjoy taking Will on a stroll through the same woods I tromped around in when I was a kid.  It was every bit as rewarding as a great MTB ride.

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We finished up the road show back in San Diego with a gathering at a Common Theory Public House with some of our local peeps.

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So it has been quite a ride over the last handful of months without a whole lot of riding.   I’m looking forward to the future along with getting the normalcy of two-wheeled excitement back into the rotation.   Live On…..Ride On!

Lower Rock Creek Video

October 10th, 2016 by MTBBill

I finally managed to get a video pushed out of some of the riding I did in August up at Mammoth Lakes.  Here is Lower Rock Creek.  Your video quality may vary based on device but don’t forget to try and bump it up in the YouTube quality settings.   It will go up to 1080p 60fps.

CHRT Recon in East County

September 9th, 2016 by MTBBill

I have an ongoing project of personally surveying the California Riding and Hiking Trail throughout San Diego County.  I have a page up on my site with an interactive map of San Diego’s counties’ GIS data on where the trail is/supposed to be.  I have been adding my notes on the actual placement and status of the various trail sections.   You have to point and click to see much of the pop-up data, comments and some pictures.  Its pretty much my online notes.  Last month after doing a ride out in the Cuyamaca Mountains I took the long way home that included some of the further out bit sections I had not looked at yet.   The first stop was to drive up to Julian and down Banner grade road to pick up the Chariot Canyon truck trail and then over to Rodriguez Canyon.   This is part of the Oriflamme Canyon loop route that I describe on my site.

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What I was looking for was the CRHT north of the Rodriguez Canyon truck trail.    I found it but is was not where the county GIS data said it was.   It was actually about a 1/10th of a mile west.  It appears that at some point in the past the trail was rerouted to avoid going through private just to the east the current actual trail.   The trail has seen little use but it well defined single track.  Once it rejoins the original track it looks to be an old fire road from my visual from across the ridge.

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The section of the CRHT just north of Rodriguez Canyon Truck Trail.

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Next I made my way back to Banner and then down into San Felipe Valley to scout where the trail crosses Banner Grade Road.  This area is part of the San Felipe Valley Wildlife Area managed by the CA Department of Fencing Fish and Wildlife.  This wildlife area encompasses around 17,800 acres.   The CDFW has established that the only appropriate recreation activity out here is wildlife viewing by foot traffic only, shooting the heads of quail and killing deer.    Evidently there is no room for equestrians or mountain biking to enjoy the historic CRHT that passes through this area.

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I was able to find the trail south of Banner Grade Road but it is getting a hard to follow.   The CRHT crosses Banner Grade road and proceeds across the valley on one of the dirt ranch roads.  I did find a wood CRHT makers just north of the Banner grade road and just south of the ranch road. (Its at CRHT-142A if you are following along with my CRHT page.)

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I then drove down to Scissor’s Crossing and went up San Felipe Road (County Road S2) to pickup the CRHT where it intersects this road.  I did find a post that should be a CRHT marker based on its location but the top of the post had been cut off so there was no distinctive yellow painted “cap” on the post.  This side of the property had a CDFW Wildlife area “No Trespassing” signage.   So even if you wanted to enjoy the CRHT as a hiker you would have a perplexing problem of you could enter from the south but somewhere along your northward journey you would be trespassing.    Along the north side of San Felipe Road, I quickly found CRHT marker posts paralleling the road.

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These posts were typically about 30-50 feet north of the road.    There had been a wildfire through here some time ago and I was having a tough time picking up and following the trail.  This section is also part of the San Felipe Wildlife area with the same foot traffic only or no trespassing access management scheme.  After about a couple of miles of heading northwest along the road I was unable to find any more posts.

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A few more mile up the road I started seeing the newer style CRHT markers right of the side of the road and those continued at quite regularly until where the CRHT turn away from San Felipe Road  (This is at CRHT-161A on my map) and heads up an old dirt road.   I believe this trail starts off as an easement through a bit of private property as it is well signed and easy to follow.  I did not proceed much further up the trail from there.   I will have to assess those bits further north at some other time.   The next significant road crossing is supposed to be near the junction San Felipe Road and Montezuma Valley road (County Road S22).   On a previous outing I had looked for the trail in this area but came up empty.   I came up all blanks this time as well from the truck.   Next time I’ll be out with the bike and explore in from the south were I know the trail exists.   I have done the trail north of the road junction before out through Warner Springs so that was it for this recon outing.

While I still have some miles left to look at in the county and I have not crunched the numbers yet, there is a convergence of threats for this trail developing.   It looks like the number one threat for public access and preservation of the CRHT in San Diego County is the California State public land management agencies.    Let that ruminate in your melon for a while!

Playtime at Mammoth

September 8th, 2016 by MTBBill

A couple of weekends I ago I spent some time with friends doing some chair lift assisted mountain biking.   I did not a take many pictures as I was playing with a new video setup.   Here are a few.

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Here is a Megan cruising on by.

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James and Dale zipping down Brake Through

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Dale cruising by

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Michael pointed in the right direction.

 

Lower Rock Creek Trail – Fire Damage

August 29th, 2016 by MTBBill

Last week on my way up to Mammoth Mountain for some chairlift-assisted mountain biking I met up with Dave and Michael for a run down the Lower Rock Creek trail on my way into town.    We met up at the lower trailhead and then made our way to the top for some great riding back down the trail.   I had so much fun that I did not take any pictures.   You will have to take a look at last year’s post for some pictures. Michael did snap a few pictures and one of those is below. I was however running a video camera.   A fire came through this area back on August 5th that burned 122 acres.    Now wildfires are pretty common but the cause of this one was interesting.  The USFS has determined that fire was caused by a mountain bike pedal strike against a rock.  I’m not one to argue on this one, plenty of pedals have steel bits that can create a spark if struck against the right stuff in the right way.    Whatever your thoughts here is a clip of us rolling through the burn area.

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Update:

Here are a few links to articles and forum post on this fire.

Cyclist incensed after being blamed for a forest fire.

MTBR’s NORCAL forum thread.   (Be prepared some comedy in the responses here)

SFist Article (Read the comments)

 

Cuyamaca and the Cold Springs Trail

August 21st, 2016 by MTBBill

This past Saturday I went out to the Cuyamaca mountains to check out the new(ish)ly rerouted Cold Springs Trail.    I started out at the Sweetwater trailhead/parking lot and took the West Side singletrack up to the connector to the Park Vistor Center.  From there I turned from usual route and took the Cold Stream Trail north.

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The trail was pretty featureless but pretty through here until it got to a big oak tree on the edge of the meadow right at the junction with the singletrack connector trail over to the Green Valley Fireroad.

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The meadow must be the typical “tour” turn around point from the visitor center as the Cold Stream trail immediately became must more narrow and interesting beyond that point.

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I had not been on this section of the Cold Stream trail before and I have to say this was a nice bit of trail.

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While stopping to check out this little spot.

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I had some locals come through.  There was somewhere between two and four of them.   It was hard to tell with them zipping in and out.

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Shortly after this spot I went by several junction.  The first was the connector over to the West Mesa parking area and the second was the junction of the Cold Stream Trail and the Cold Springs Trail.   The Cold Stream trail north of her was marked “No Bikes” but the route for today was the Cold Springs trail.  Pictured above is some the trail goodness along the Cold Springs trail.

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The original Cold Springs Trail was 1.2 miles, not open to bikes and was a pretty heinous hike.   The new trail is 2.25 miles long and connects with much further up the Stonewall Creek fire road than its predecessor.  This is a most excellent replacement/reroute of the old trail.   I climbed the last bit of Stonewall Creek fire road and the at the junction with Soapstone Grade fire road I hung a right (east).  Just before I would have to drop down the grade into Green Valley I hung a left (north) onto the California Riding and Hiking Trail.

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That Oak tree in the middle of the picture on he meadow ridgeline was my destination for the day.

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I refer to this group of trees as “The Napping Oaks” because you take a break here, you may find yourself doing just that.

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A wider view of today’s turn around spot.

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While kicking back here I heard some thunder and looking over my shoulder I see that some storm clouds had developed or moved in just on the other side of the ridgeline.   Rain was not on agenda today so I thought it was pretty cool to have a little bit of weather with me on the ride.   No rain ever materialized but it was not long before got rolling again.  I pretty much retraced my path back the way I came all the way to the West Mesa parking lot connector where I crossed the road and picked up the West Side trail and took it south back to the Sweetwater parking lot.   I was a great day to be out enjoying some trails.  I spent the rest of the day doing some recon work with the truck for some of the beleaguered  and neglected sections of the CRHT out in this area of the county.  But that is another story…

Hitting up the SART

August 12th, 2016 by MTBBill

It was mighty nice to get back up in the mountains near Big Bear again.    Outside of the my recent ride in Flagstaff, it has been months since I had been out for a decent ride.  This was just what the doctor ordered.

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Ali, Bill and I started off on the Sugarloaf Trail and I was quickly reminded that the main muscle that I had been working out as of late has been my beer drinking arm.    9,000 feet of elevation and loose semi-chunky climbing soon found me gasping on the side of the trail barely able to see let alone breath.    That kind of punishment was exactly what I needed.   I had been a bad bad lard ass and I deserved to be punished.    While it was not that far, it seemed like a long way before we hooked up  with the loose chunky Sugarloaf connector down to the Wildhorse Trail.

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Ali rolling through the ferns at the upper end of the Wildhorse trail.

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Looking down along a part of the Santa Ana River watershed area from the Wildhorse trail.

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Bill zipping by

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Ali cruising through

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Besides a bit of Where’s Waldo action, you can see a good bit of the impact of last year’s Lake Fire that came through the area.    After finishing off the Wildhorse trail we did a bit of road cruising to the South Fork campground and hooked up with the Santa Ana River Trail for some more single track goodness.   The SART was in just about as good of a shape as I can remember for this time of year.

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Clowning around on the SART.

As usual good post-ride refreshments, grub and general shat talking ensued at the bottom.   A great day to be out in the dirt!

The long way to Flagstaff

July 17th, 2016 by MTBBill

My work projects in Bahrain finally  got to a point to where I could come home for a few weeks.  Combined our schedules have been kinda nuts lately which included Nichol needing to move a vehicle across the country.   I was able to swing my schedules around to allow for a few days at home before getting back on a plane to the east coast.  There I would join Nichol for the country drive that started in Norfolk VA.

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Day 1 was spent taking care of business in Norfolk before heading off to my folks place in North Carolina.   Along with a great visit, my Dad cooked up some of the best pulled pork BBQ I have ever had.  On the evening of Day 2 we pulled into Asheville NC.  We spent the evening enjoying some of the tasty microbrew scene along the Asheville Ale Trail that included Burial Beer and Wicked Weed Brewing.    Not that we had much of a plan to ride here but any thoughts of that were pretty much washed away with all of the thunderstorms they were having with more planned for the following day.   Day 3 we made our way to Little Rock Arkansas where we enjoyed some more tasty beers at Lost Forty Brewing before hopping into a hotel for the evening.    The next day we made our way Albuquerque NM for tastings from Ponderosa Brewing.  Yes, why yes we were making exceptional time! Don’t worry we left no contrails.

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The following day we made a rather quick jaunt over to Flagstaff.   We had made arrangements for some rentals bikes from Cosmic Cycles.  I must stay they some really good rentals at a very reasonable rate for what we got.  If we would have been super on our game we could have gotten out for late afternoon ride, but we somehow managed to find ourselves enjoying some tasty grub and beer at Flagstaff Brewing Co while we planned out what the ride was going to be the following day.

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The route we were going to do was a sampling of the Arizona National Scenic Trail.   I had ridden this section of trail back in summer of 2010 and figured this would be a great intro to the countryside of Flagstaff for Nichol.  We parked at the trailhead along Forest Service Road 418 and took the forest service roads back south along the bottom of Hart Prairie before catching trail that took us up near Aspens Corner and the junction with the Arizona Trail.

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Working our way up to Aspens Corner

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The connector trail up to Aspens Corner passes by a nice little pond.  This views did not suck

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Once on the AZT we were treated to a mix of single track goodness through stands of Aspens

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Views from Hart Prairie

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Stands of Pines

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A ferns that were sometimes head high.  The last few miles along this route were just “La La La La La” singletrack awesomeness that required very little pedaling and very little breaking as you swooped through pines, aspens, ferns, wildflowers etc…. all the way back to the trailhead.

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We enjoyed some tasty Asheville goodness we brought with us for a post-ride refreshment at the trailhead.

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And what a great place to enjoy a tasty post-ride beer.  This was our view next to the truck.    By the end of the day we would make our way to Las Vegas where we delivered and the truck and other move related goods.   The following day made our way back home.

All Work and No Play

June 10th, 2016 by MTBBill

Makes Bill a Dull Boy!

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Since the fall of last year, I have been spending way too much time working in the island country of Bahrain in the Persian Gulf.  I certainly can’t complain about the accommodations.

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It has been virtually one project right after the other and I am looking forward to getting it all of done.

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The work is certainly rewarding but I am ready to get back home to be with family and friends and back on some dirt.

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Not this kind of dirt.

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This kind of dirt!

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So with all of this time I have had over here to pour through all of the MTB resources over here,  I have boiled down things into my number one tip for planning a mountain biking trip to Bahrain…..

DON’T! This place sucks for mountain biking!

I’m sure you could make some kind of lemonade with the bitter lemons of this place.   Maybe with a Fatbike and riding at night when its only like 95 but really try Death Valley in summer first.