Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Laguna Mountains Camping

July 27th, 2014 by MTBBill

Last Sunday through Wednesday  my youngest son, Jake, and I did a three-night camping trip up in the Laguna Mountains east of San Diego. We got in some mountain biking, hiking and some good just kicking back time.

BLTCamping-JUL2014-08

Nichol joined us on the first day for a bike ride around the meadow, dinner and some marshmallow destruction before heading back home to play responsible adult while the boys played in the dirt.  Over the last few years there has been some reroutes to the meadow loop as well to some of the spur trails.  I would say they are all for the better.

BLTCamping-JUL2014-12

Back at camp, the marshmallows did not stand a chance.

BLTCamping-JUL2014-17

The morning of day 2 was meet with some leisurely breakfast making before hitting up some of the trails.

BLTCamping-JUL2014-22

Some play time on the Los Gatos trail was had.

BLTCamping-JUL2014-25

Jake working on a skinny.

BLTCamping-JUL2014-28

Jake working the camera.

BLTCamping-JUL2014-33

We spent the early part of the afternoon just chilling out camp watch the squirrels trying to figure out how to get to our camp treats.  This guy was craving some Cheetos.   That afternoon we did a hike nearby that include the PCT connector trail from the meadow.

BLTCamping-JUL2014-59

Day 3 we were up pretty early to hit some of the other Pretty Cool Trails in the area.   We rode the meadow over the Penny Pines Trailhead and then made our way over the Pioneer Mail Trailhead where we picked up the Pine Mountain Trail.  We took the Pine Mountain trail over to the Indian Creek Trail at Champagne Pass.    Indian Creek is the primary legal trail connector for bikes between Cuyamaca and the Laguna Mountains.

BLTCamping-JUL2014-60

We dropped off of Champagne pass to the east on the Indian Creek trail heading back to towards the Lagunas.

BLTCamping-JUL2014-63

Jake loves him some downhill fun but is not a fan of climbing at all. He wonders why every place can’t be like Mammoth or Big Bear. Once we got to meadow pictured above, I took great pleasure in letting him know it was 3 miles to anywhere from here in either direction and it was uphill in both directions.  We continued on the Indian Creek Trail to the east and climbed up to the junction with the Noble Canyon Trail.

BLTCamping-JUL2014-65

From there we turned north and climbed Noble.   (Colloquially known as the “Elbon” trail.)   There is a recently completely reroute of Noble up near the top.  The reroute eliminates a couple of road crossings.    The new section is much tighter and a twistier that the original section and while a bit loose right now it should bed in nicely once we get some rains.   I’m sure some of the Strava-tards and will wank about the reroute messing with their times.  (My suggesting to those folks is shut up, just ride faster or turn to juicing.)    Noble Canyon has its loyal followings of which some subscribe to the “Never Change My Trail” mentality so I would expect there will be discontent for a few months.  Personally I think the reroute is going to be really nice once bedded in.

BLTCamping-JUL2014-75

We took the “shortcut” spur trail that connects back to west end of the meadow vice going all the way back to the Penny Pines Trailhead.  Once back at the meadow it was a quite spin back to camp.

BLTCamping-JUL2014-46

It was pretty hot during the middle of the day so we kicked back in the shade of camp for a while before jumping in the truck for a swing by Laguna General Store for a Mexican Coke (The south of the border variant is made with real cane sugar vice corn syrup…tastier)  and an Ice Cream bar  before we did some recon work for some of the other trails in the area that are on my to-do list. Dinner that night was some tasty rib-eyes, grilled asparagus and zucchini with some brown rice.   That night we shook off the food coma by strapping on the headlamps to do a mini night ride out on the meadow that included some lights off time to check out the stars on that completely dark night.

BLTCamping-JUL2014-97

The next morning I was up before sunrise to get in a solo ride while the boy slept in.  Presumably there would be no one else out of the trail as well.  Sunrise was a Pretty Cool Time of day to be out and about by yourself in the woods.    On the way back from the 16 mile loop I saw Mr. Wyle Coyote out looking for breakfast.  After the initially moving away from me for a bit the coyote went back to hunting once establishing that I was not there to bother him.   I watched him for a good five minutes or so before moving along.

BLTCamping-JUL2014-99

Jake was just waking up when I got back to camp. A second round of coffee was in order for me and it was time for breakfast all around.   After breakfast it was time to break down camp and head out of the mountains.  I had a great time on the camping trip with Jake.   With the exception of a few minutes, we did not have data  coverage so having Jake “unplugged” was a bonus.   With no competition with the all powerful 3G/4G  it allowed for things like watching the “Campfire TV”, gazing at the stars, observations of the “little” things and conversations that would rarely occur otherwise.  Good times.   With some new GPS data and observations,  I’m planning on updating some of the maps, files and pages I have for this area on the site, so stay tuned.

Another Cruise in Cuyamaca

July 9th, 2014 by MTBBill

Nichol and I went back up to Cuyamaca State Park this past weekend for another ride.  We started at the staging area by the San Diego River and went up the west-side connector trail to the Visitor Center

IMG_4470

From there we took the Green Valley fire road up through the valley to the bottom of Soapstone Grade.

IMG_4505

Instead of making the left hander and going up Soapstone Grade fire road which is part of the Cuyamaca Grand Loop,  we continued straight onto the Upper Green Valley Trail and climbed up to the La Cima trail that roughly parallels Sunrise Highway. This section of trail was fairly rocky which extracts some additional energy out of you beyond what the grade would tell. As you near the top of the trail you leave Cuyamaca Rancho State Park and enter the Anza Borrego State Park.

IMG_4517

We then took the La Cima trail west and enjoyed some sweet flowing mostly downhill singletrack for a couple of miles.

IMG_4530

When then turned south onto the California Riding and Hiking Trail (CRHT).   This a is really nice section of singletrack that offers some great views of Lake Cuyamaca and the surrounding grasslands.

IMG_4539

For the first half of this section you are doing some mild climbing before the trail transitions into mild descending with good flow.

IMG_4550

Just before the CRHT joins up with Soapstone Grade fire road at top of that fire road’s steep climb you leave the Anza Borrego State Park and reenter Cuyamaca Rancho State Park.  From here we turned east on Soapstone Grade fireroad for about a mile of flat land cruising.

IMG_4561

We then took the Stonewall Creek fireroad south from here which shed off elevation fairly quickly back down into Green Valley.  There are both some rocky and sandy sections on this fire road that if not handled well, can lead to an unplanned dismount at speed which could be hard to stick the landing.   Stonewall Creek fireroad connected back to the Green Valley fireroad where we retraced our route back to the truck.  This was a little over a 17-mile lollipop shaped route that had a little over 1,800 feet of climbing involved.   This was Nichol’s longest and hardest ride to date that offered some new technical challenges for her.  To celebrate a ride well done that did not include any blood letting we sampled some of the offerings from Nickel Beer Company in Julian before chasing down some Mexican food.   It was a good day to be on a mountain bike.

Where The Hell Have You Been?

June 25th, 2013 by MTBBill

Where The Hell Have You Been?    I have gotten that question a couple of times as of late.  Yep I have been slacking on the posting stuff of my Blog.

JakeHockey-Escondido-02JUN13-18

I have been getting in some quality Hockey Dad time in with my youngest son on most weekends as he is playing on two In-Line hockey teams.  One recreational league team out of Kit Carson Park in Escondido and a tournament team (The San Diego Stingrays).   This works out to practice and games commitments of four days a week.

Poway trail

With both teams practicing out of Escondido I have been getting in quite a bit of riding in at Lake Hodges and the surrounding area as of late.  Besides the stuff already on my site I have managed to find some cool stuff here and there like this patch of woods between Lake Hodges and Poway.

Not a FN Trail

I have also managed to find some complete crap as well.   This tripe located in the city of Poway is simply insulting.  They dumped 4-6″ of gravel beside a stupidly steep road and called it a trail.   The unprofessional asses that did this debacle did not even bother to compact the gravel down.   This thing is so F’d up that had to put signs up ever 50 feet to try and convince people that it is a trail.   City of Poway—This is not a F$%^ing Trail!  If you would care to improve your trail building knowledge why don’t you spend an afternoon on the playground at Chaparral Elementary School.  Pay attention to the six year olds with the Tonka trucks, they get it more than your “trail builders”  do!

IMAG0589

Enough about city governments wasting money, I managed to catch a baseball game with my girlfriend.  The Padres even managed to win on the night we went.

IMAG0629

Of course San Diego is arguably a Craft Beer Mecca so there has been plenty of outings to check out what the latest awesome offerings are from the over 71 (and growing) microbreweries in the county.

Nichol At Del Dios

Recognizing that mountain biking is a preexisting condition with me my, girlfriend he has gotten onboard with the program and is coming up to speed quite nicely.

La Costa Bridge MBB

I have also managed to get in some dirt time at La Costa here and there.    If for nothing else than to check out some advertising dollars well spent on the Copper Canyon Bridges.

IMAG0622

My work schedule as of late has been conducive to grabbing some after work mileage out in South Bay.   I have ridden out here numerous times and there are lots of trails to push the pedals around on.  In the past I have nearly always been with somebody showing me around through the maze of canyons with interconnections through parking lots, culverts, streets and backyards.   It has been kind of fun trying to use the “Swartz” on solo efforts to retrace some of my previously guided steps.   More to follow as I continue to get semi-lost with that ongoing effort.

So as far as where the hell have a been?   I’ve been around on my bike….

Lake Hodges – Benardo Mountain

March 13th, 2013 by MTBBill

On Sunday Jake had hockey practice over at Kit Carson park in Escondido so I took the opportunity to get in some pedal time out at Lake Hodges.

LakeHodges-10MAR13-01

  I stuck to the North Side trails on this outing.

LakeHodges-10MAR13-11

Updating the Lake Hodges pages on my website has been on my to-do list for quite some.   Now that there is a pedistrian and bike bridge connecting the north and south side of the lake there are more ride options in the area on a single outing.   Additionally, a few years ago I got a letter from some of the land owners and the western end of the easement road (known as the high road) that did not want anyone using the easement rsload for recreation and asked that I take down that information from my site.   Well obviously I’m a busy guy and have not be able to get to that yet.    It looks like it maybe all figured out by now since new signage has gone up.  Of course that new signage has made things as clear as mud.  Take a look at the picture above.   The easement road sign says “No Trespassing”  yet they installed a people tunstill beside the gate.  New signs were put up telling you it is okay to hike and bike to the right, but no trespassing to the left.    Looking at the sign above at the far western end of the easement road one would think it is okay to go through the gate and ride off to the right vice on the easement road that goes to the left.   That is not the case at all.   What the signs are trying to convey is that when you are on the easement road, everything uphill of the road is private property and everything downhill (towards the lake) is part of the park.   This is also not entirely correct as the private property owners land typically goes some number of feet/yards downhill of the road.  The park has put up private property signs at the bottom of the trails that connect the lower trails to the upper easement road.   I find it odd that some of the land owners don’t want people on the eastern end of the easement road, yet nearly all of them have gates onto the easement road from their backyard.  Presumably so they can use the easement road to get into the park.  Hmmm so it is okay for those land owners to  get onto the little sliver of the easement road they own and then trespass on their various neighbors property and then enter the park through unauthorized trails but it is not okay for the public to do so.    Hmmmm, the best advice I can give is to do your best to make sense of the various “non-truth” signs you see and make your own judgement calls.    Following the predominate and fresh foot and bike tracks is probably a safe bet.  

LakeHodges-10MAR13-14

The Benardo Mountain trail has no controversy involved with it.   It just a nice trail that will work you over on the climb up to the peak.   There are some tough grade sections and some technical bits as well that will test both skill and fitness.    There was some nice purple blooms going off on the climb.

LakeHodges-10MAR13-19

The view of the bridge connecting the North side to the South side from the peak. 

LakeHodges-10MAR13-20

Snow on the mountains to the east.

LakeHodges-10MAR13-28

After Bernardo Mountain I rode out towards the dam until it was time to turn around and get back to the rink.    I made it back just as Jake was get off the rink so two sweaty Porter Boys to funk of the truck on the drive back to Casa Del Bill.

San Clemente Single Tracking

November 22nd, 2012 by MTBBill

So after getting back from Japan on Monday, I got in some quality time with my youngest son Jake on Tuesday and Wednesday.   The boy has been growing like a weed and was in need of resizing/refreshing some of his hockey gear.   HockeyGiant.com has a large store in Anaheim so a shopping outing was added to the day’s to-do list.   The San Clemente Single Tracks (aka “The Weedpatch”) was right along the way so a pit stop in order.  There a couple of ways to get into the area and we parked off of Cristianitos Road.  This is real popular place for the local surfers hitting up Trestles to park so we looked like the odd men out without a surfboard in tow when we headed out. 

SCST-21NOV12-01-

We had not started out our morning planning on going for a ride so I had made the breakfast equivalent of a extra large all-meat pizza comprised of eggs, toasts, grits (the real all-natural stone ground stuff) and copious amounts of thick-cut applewood smoked bacon.  (Just for the record, all-meat pizza itself a breakfast food group!)   While breakfast had been mighty tasty we were still pretty stuffed when we started pedaling.  Jake had kicked my ass on the climbs during our last outing but that was not the case today.   My youngest buck soon learned that one of the skill sets that Dad honed while obtaining his official old guy qualifications was the ability climb hills with a belly full of bacon. 

SCST-21NOV12-04-

One nice thing about this area is that even when you are climbing there are plenty undulations here and there that break most of the climbs up.    Bacon burps on the climbs and smiles on the descents was the theme on this outing.  I always enjoy all the flowing swooping goodness out in this area.  The trails conditions were also good out today.  My favorite time out here is in the spring when everthing is green but there was nothing to complain about with it today. 

SCST-21NOV12-06-

We did about a 15 miles of trails out here before loading up the bikes and continuing on up to Anaheim to beat up on Dad’s wallet at the hockey store.  Another good day out a bike made even better by spending it with one of my boys.

Back in Japan – Yoko Dirt Time

November 11th, 2012 by MTBBill

Due to my last work project running long in Sasebo, my time back at home was just a week long before I headed back to Japan for some work in Yokosuka.   I flew back into Japan on a Saturday evening and decided to try and shake off some jet lag with ride on Sunday.

After grabbing a rental bike and setting it up with my pedals and some sizing tweaks I was through on the bike garb and on the road.   Today was not an exploration ride but a return to the Fugato-yama area which is one of my regular stomping grounds when I am in this neck of the woods.

It was a beautiful sunny day with a touch fall briskness in the air.  Despite only having about 6 hours of sleep after being up for 26 hours I felt really good on the street riding out to the trails.   I think this was a combination of being a bit fitter than I have been in the last six months coupled with still be ing a bit on Japan time with only having a week on US time.  Whatever the reason, I was digging having some energy in the tank and some iron in the legs while out in some nice nature.

The trails were in exceptionally good condition.   Obviously it had not rained heavy for maybe a week as some of the sections that are hellishly slippery when moist were fairly managable which was another bonus. 

It was a substantual act of being unselfish that I stopped to take this photo.  This is a long section of awesome flowing gravity feed goodness that just makes you smile.  Most times of the year the steep hillside is somewhat hidden by the vegitation.  With winter on its way the mixed forest flora is thinning out some to reveal more of its often “stealth” exposure.

Yoko-Reflective Sign

I did not have a huge route planned out here on this day as I had plans for the evening.   I had a handful of street miles to ride back to my hotel after popping out of the woods.  So there I was “just riding along” on the sidewalk along highway 16.  I managd to clip a sign like the one above while going about 20mph that jerked my handlebar pretty hard.  I was able to correct enough to keep from going full on body surfing on the concrete but the bike went way off line and Iended checking a concrete wall with my shoulder.    My head also smacked the wall, but my helmet completely earned its keep so the melon was no worse for wear.

For those who have been wondering, my test reveal that roadside Japanese concrete seems to have an average grit fact of somewhere between 30 and 45.   

After a very stingy shower, I hopped back on the bike and rode a did a few more miles of street riding over to friends Ken and Emi house.   We had nice evening of catching up things over tasty Japanese microbrews and a yummy homemade dinner.   It was a mighty fine opening day back in the land of the rising sun!

Farewell to a friend and Quality Time

September 21st, 2012 by MTBBill

A wad of short blonde hair going in 27 different directionsu nearly buried under a pillow was all that could be seen of youngest son, Jake’s this past Sunday at  6:30AM when I went to wake him up. 13 year old boys are not fond of this time in the morning and he fully looked the part of a coma rattled teenager when I rousted him out of dreamland.    We were headed out to Laguna Mountains for a different kind of bike ride.

A few week ago a good friend of mine Cliff Walker made an unscheduled dismount from the ride of life.   I can’t use the word “close” and  “dear” without feeling some sense of guilt.   Cliff had lots of friends who were much more involved with his day-to-day life than I.    Cliff was one of my “MTB Buds”.  One of those friends that you primarily assoicate with while mountain biking.   We have done a couple of road trips and races together as well as many rides and some epics together.   A solid good person you just a joy to be around.

Cliff-Tribute-BLT-16SEP12-18

Jake and I were headed to the Laguna Mountains to join some of Cliffs other friends for a memorial ride.   Twenty-nine riders gathered up to take a spin around Big Laguna Meadow and honor Cliff’s Life.

Cliff-Tribute-BLT-16SEP12-05

The ride was timed to end at about the same time that some of his family and no biking friends could gather up as well to celebrate Cliffs life.   The gathering swelled to over 70 people who sit under the shade of the meadow’s pine trees to share and tell stories about how Cliff had touched each of thier lifes in some way.   Cliff had a very diverse group of friends and the stories about Cliff I had never before really showed just how impressive a life he lived and how he had touched so many people’s life in a positve way.   

Cliff-Tribute-BLT-16SEP12-27

There was more than a couple of stories that included Cliff’s perpencity to be the first person up the hill.   More than a few of us recalled getting up to the top of the hill to find Cliff walking around in circles looking under the various bushes and behind the trees.   Once we questioned Cliff would look at you with this devilish smirk and reply “I dropped a hammer have you seen it?”    It was always good for a laugh and the celebration of his life gathering was no different.   A special thanks goes out to Chip Brent for making the celebration event happen.

Cliff-Tribute-BLT-16SEP12-15

Afterwards, Jake was down for just a father/son ride.    The memorial ride was just along the meadow and he had not down some of the other trails in the area before.   We decided to add Wooded Hills and Los Gatos Ravine into the mix.   A pretty significant event happened on the Wooded Hills climb.  Jake was riding strong and then you decided to see how quick he could go.   I saw him lift the pace and I was having a tough time matching it.   It was not long before kicked up the pace enough more.  

Jake-BNN-16SEP12-1

 I saw the half-sly turn his head to see how far back I was.   That was his moment.  The moment when a Son knows he is beating his Dad something.   Not just something, but his Dad’s thing.   He knew he had me and he was not letting up.    I knew he had me too, I was not going to catch him, the best I could do give a good showing for second place.    I was weird mix of pride in my Son and a relevation that I’m slacking.     Sure I could make excuses and rationalize things like the fact I weigh about 90lbs more than he does and I did a respectable climb after a couple of beers at the celebration but no matter who you slice it my son kicked my ass up that hill.      I got to the top about 45 seconds behind Jake and he was already off the bike with his helmet off and was hoofing and puffing.      After a bunch of praise from me, he looked a me with a very smirky look on his face and calmly said, “Yeah, I dropped a hammer. Did you see it?”

Jake-BNN-16SEP12-2

Rolling through the Dog Days of Summer

September 19th, 2012 by MTBBill

Man long time no post.  The Dog Days of Summer have seemed to go on forever.  I spent most of the summer either down by the coast or as high up in the mountains as I could get.   La Costa, Lake Calavera, The San Clemente Singletracks and the Laguna Mountains have been the been most of my main riding haunts.

 Pretty Cool Trail

Of course there have been some excursions outside of the local range as well as places not fit for public blabbage.  Here is a Pretty Cool Trail off the beaten path that during the right kind of weather would be within sight of Palm Springs.

Homebase of my employeer is Philadephia and I am part of small contigent of folks who take care of things here on West Side.   Quite a few of my co-workers back in Philly are mountain bikers as well so we when they are out here we try to squeeze in some “Off Site” time with me playing Julie the cruise director.   Here is Jonathan out of the Laguna Mountains lugging around my UZZI.

Some good summer monsoon clouds rolling in.

Rocking a log ride 

I have been up on the Big Laguna Trail more times this summer than I have in quite a few years combined.    Here is Michael Paul riding the big log on the Los Gatos Trail.

From the top of the of Los Gatos trail near Mount Laguna you can get in some awesome views when it is clear out.   In the center of the picture above is downtown San Diego and Point Loma, 49.5 miles away as a crow flys.

Here is a zoomed in shot.  The downtown buildings are in the middle and Point Loma is on the left hand edge of the screen.  For a number of years I worked out at Point Loma and I always marveled at the handful of days in the winter when you could look at downtwon with snow capped mountains as the backdrop.   It was pretty cool to see the view from the opposite direction on this day.

BLT-16SEP12-02

From another visit, here is my youngest son Jake making a run at the big log on the Los Gatos Trail.

BLT-16SEP12-07

  This was a successful “One and Done” run for the log ride.  I’m going to have to watch out for this boy.

Guajome Park

March 11th, 2012 by MTBBill

So off and on I get asked where are good places to take kids riding.  On my website to-do list for quite sometime has been to create a where to take a kid guide.   Lake Hodges, Big Laguna Trails, Penaqsuitos Canyon are places on the list but I had been thinking about some of the smaller places that would be good for the MTBer with little wheels would be.  Guajome Park is one of those places good for the grommet MTBers to get a taste of dirt.

Guajome Park (Or as my kids like to call it “Yo Hommie Park” is located on the east side of Oceanside right off of Highway 76.   It is a county park that has a campground, a couple of small ponds and a series of trails that are no so overly engineered with split rail fencing and compacted non-native soil dirt sidewalks like are prevalent in many of the county parks near the urban environment.   This place still allows for kids to interact with the environment instead of just look at it.  When my kids where younger we used to hike out here often and go just out the little nooks and crannies of the place.

Last week I was talking to youngest son Jake about the park and that I wanted to get a webpage together so Jake decided to join me on the photo, map recon effort.

With about 4.5 miles of trail out here it can be quite fun for newbie kid.  Even an a newbie adult who is willing to do a lot of hamster wheeling can find the place fun.

There are mainly fireroads here but there are also enough singletrack bits to keep a kid well engaged.   There are two different playgrounds at the park as well as large population of resident ducks that quite fond of stale loaf bread.   This would be a great place to take a little kid out for his first “big” MTB adventure as there are lots of opportunities to do other things besides ride the bike.

When I say “little” kids I’m generally thinking newbies on bikes with less than 26″ wheels as once they get to that big, this place can get rather small and you would have to get creative at this place at that point.   Here is Jake working on riding this telephone pole skinny.   It took him a while to get the technique down but he eventually was able to hop up on the log at the skinny end and ride the whole thing.

This was an after school ride for Jake and we played around here until we ran out of daylight and had to head back for things like dinner and homework.  Good midweek stoke.

The Local Stuff — Week in Review

June 20th, 2011 by MTBBill

This past week was such that I could get out a little more often but for not as long.  They were the kind of windows that you don’t want to burn up too much of your time driving far to get to, you know, maximize your time on the trail and minimize your time on the road.

 Monday was a spin through the Black Mountain Open Space Preserve.   I started off on the east side of the preserve and did some tough climbing and a bit of hike-a-biking to get up onto the East Ridge.  From there I did a sizeable loop that had me pretty pooped by the end of the ride

 The loop included the  Miner’s Ridge and Liliac Canyon trails as well as the service road up to the peak and some more trails back over and down the East Ridge.

 Wednesday evening was the monthly San Diego Mountain Biking Association (SDBMA) advocacy meeting so a group of us met up and did the La Costa trails prior to the meeting.

 I was able to get out a couple of hours before the rest of the usual suspects so I did a couple of loops out there before the group ride.  I was feeling pretty worked by the time I finished up the last loop.

Friday afternoon after work I squeaked in spin out in Santee near Mission Trails and Sycamore Canyon.    Normally I am a stop and smell the flowers kind of guy but I have to admit that I somewhat enjoyed the pressure of having to be somewhere later and the “push” it forced me to do on the trail.   Charge a hill here, push a harder gear there and general keep the engine rev’d higher than I normall would.  It was a short ride that ended up feeling longer on fatique and quad burn at the end.

The weekend was pretty awesome as well, but it did include any biking.   Hockey and quality time with boys were the story of the weekend.  I took them to thier first concert Saturday night which was simply epic.  Rush on thier Time Machine Tour.   I have had a lifetime of missing Rush shows and this was my first time seeing them as well.  They blew the place down and both the boys and I were completely stoked.  It was a good way to finish off the week.