Archive for the ‘Trails’ Category

Utah Weekend – Little Creek Mesa

May 18th, 2015 by MTBBill

Our last day of the Utah weekend found us rolling out of the hotel at a pretty descent time and headed out to Little Creek Mesa with a pit-stop at River Rock Roasters  for some caffeine and sandwiches for a mesa-top lunch.  I have ridden Little Creek several times before and this place is just great.  It has pretty much everything I want in a trail.  There is plenty  flowing singletrack with technical goodies.  Huge vistas that start right at your feet , rock slabs to play on with features big and small, and nature’s beauty all around you.  It also has a feel of being far and away and the route finding you have to do (even with the aid of a GPS) offers a kind of mental engagement that I love in a trail.

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We started out on the main loop and soon found ourselves playing on rock slabs with Zion National Park in the background.

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With all of the rain over the last handful of days there was plenty of water pooled up in the depressions in the rocks.  The big rock slabs gave way to forested single track that was just awesome with the fresh scent of moisture.

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I was not expecting to see snow on the mountains west of St George.  I just don’t see how the views from this mesa could ever get old.

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“The Hot Tub” along the western rim of Little Creek Mesa.  This was one helluva spot for snacks.

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The rain had lots the cacti blooming.

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Better to look than to touch.

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The main loop took out to the fork for the North Point loops. There are some sweet bits of single track goodness as you head out to the North Point with Gooseberry Mesa typically in the background.

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I had ridden this thing a couple of times before but failed to notice the gap this slab went across until this trip.  I guess I was too focused on where I was going.

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The same gap after it opens up a bit.   What an amazingly gorgeous day!   Once back out to the main mesa  we enjoyed a bit of route finding as there seemed to be cairns here, there and sometimes seemingly no where.  You could play out here all day.

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Our playing around eventually took us to “The Waterfall”, one of the iconic features of the mesa.  This was my first time doing the waterfall with actual water around.  I dug how the water showed the line I took. The dark line on the slab is the rear tire while the much fainter line to the right of it is the front wheel.  Here is a shot from a previous trip that shows the led in.  We took the Magic Carpet Ride trail back to the trailhead.   After leisurely enjoying some refreshments and more snacks we had to lament about the reality of still having day jobs and the continual puzzle of how to grow old without growing up.    Considering that we spent that last few days playing in the dirt and riding bicycles we had scored points for neither growing old or growing up this weekend.   That shit would have to wait until tomorrow.

Utah Weekend – Boy Scouts & Zen

May 15th, 2015 by MTBBill

We woke up on day 2 of our Utah weekend to find that it had rained most of the night.    After consulting with the folks at Over The Edge in Hurricane, we changes our ride plans for the day to kept from mucking up the trails. We went out to the Quail Overlook Trail System which is beside the Quail Creek Reservoir.  Colloquially this place is known as the Boy Scout trails due to a nearby Boy Scout camp.

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Oh my this place put down some techno-spank right out of the gate that included tight rocky single track with plenty of “power” moves.

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The trail system primarily includes four loops on three sawtooth escarpments.

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The builders have done a super job of laying out the system to maximize the use of a rather small chunk of land.

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This place is advertised as an expert level trail system and I can’t argue with rating, but I will clarify it.   This is a “slow-tech” wheels-on-the-ground playground. There is not a lot flow here and it is not a bad thing, its part of the character of that place that just seems to pack “It” into the miles.

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I particularly enjoyed the combination moves.   Things like a rocky climbs with ledge moves coming out tight switch backs.   There were plenty sections where you seem to be continually in a state of using body English.

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The most northern loop called Adventure Scout was by far the most technical of the bunch out there.   We ran into one of the primary builders of this trail system (Quentin – – Awesome Job Quentin!!) and he described a couple of sections as best ridden “Balls over Brains”.  It is interesting to note that not following that advice could have you literally going “Balls over Brains” into some very unforgiving terrain.   There is a lot of effort per mile designed into this this place.  We only did a little over six miles and it felt like we had done twice that.   I really dug the combination of power moves and the bit of  mental “checkers” required to clean the stuff out here.

As we enjoyed a tasty smuggled in San Diego microbrew over lunch, we decided that we had enough gas in the leg tanks for an afternoon session.

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We hit up The Zen Trail which is right on the outskirts of St George.   I had heard lots of good stuff about this trail and it has always been on the To-Do List but have never gotten to it.

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Things opened up with a climb and soon we were near the edge of the mesa.

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There is about a total of 1,100 feet of climbing on this route.    We could see ominous clouds slowly moving our way.

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The variety of this trail is quite awesome. Rock crawling, sweet single track, vista, there are lots of goodies out here.

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When we got to the top of the mesa we had some great views of Green Valley below.  We could also see the rain a coming!  Shortly after the picture above, the rain caught us and the camera remained holstered in my pack.   The descent was exceptional with a combination of sweet single track and with some slick rock.  There were also a few undulations along the way that put a little sting in the legs at this point in the day’s overall effort.   We also missed a turn and found ourselves on double track.  After a bit of uphill backtracking we hooked back up on the single track that lead us back to the trailhead.

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Just as we were getting back to the truck the rain stopped and the sun broke out.    Ahhh rainbows and microbrews from heaven.  We were living well!

 

Utah Weekend – Guacamole

May 11th, 2015 by MTBBill

This past weekend Bill O’Neil and I made a dash to Utah to get on some good red dirt and killer rock riding.    We were quite surprised that a storm had settled in the SoCal area the night before and brought in some much needed rain along with some snow at the higher elevations.   It was a mighty fine time to get the hell of Dodge.   The destination for day one was the Guacamole trails perched up on a mesa outside of Virgin, Utah.   After copious amounts coffee, beef jerky and a tank and change of fuel (burned at a highly uneconomical rate), we crossed into Utah to be greeted with storm clouds.   As we rolled through St George and Hurricane we were intermittently getting rained on but I had learned that in this neck of the woods if you don’t like the weather wait five minutes.  As we rolled through Virgin there were clear skies above and the dirt road that goes up to the mesa had just a puddle or two.

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It was a bit brisk and windy but beautifully sunny when we rolled out onto the first trail segment called Margarita. This was a new trail to me and I was stoked to check it out.

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It was not long before we juked onto the Salt on the Rim trail and got in some good views along with the sight of incoming weather.   Someone in Seattle once told me that there is no such thing as bad weather only bad gear.  We had the gear, but from the best we could tell it looked like this storm would pass us just to the south.

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We did end up get a little sprinkling on us as we made our way out to the main Guacamole Loop but it only lasted a few minutes.   What we were left with was straight up hero dirt.

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We took a connector trail called Lime (These trail names rock!) that went out to another loop called Holy Guacamole that took all the way to the southern tip of the mesa.  We had good views of Zion Nation Park as well as the north rim of Gooseberry Mesa from here.

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This is some fantastic single track with good technical challenges through amazing landscape with Zion National Park just a stones through away.

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In several spots the trail is literally along the park’s fence line.

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Holy Guacamole this is a fun trail!

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The Holy Guacamole goodness brought us back to the other side of the earlier loops we were on that eventually took us back to the trailhead.   This was some grade A trail awesomeness and it will certainly not be my last time riding on this mesa.   Shortly after we got off the mesa and headed back to St George we got into a good bit of rain.   We were pretty stoked at our window of fortune with the rain and we were particularly glad we had decided to get a hotel room for this trip vice our typical camping arrangements.  It was a mighty fine start to the weekend.

Orosco Ridge – Boden Canyon Loop

May 6th, 2015 by MTBBill

I have added a page to the site for the Orosco Ridge and Boden Canyon Loop near Ramona.  This is 14.2 mile loop that includes about 2,200 feet of total climbing.

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An old road/truck trail turned singletrack through a meadow in Boden Canyon.

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Mother Nature is doing good stuff to the Lower Santa Ysabel Truck Trail.

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This old road in Boden Canyon has turned into some singletrack goodness.    Check it out!

Cool critter encounter

May 4th, 2015 by MTBBill

Sunday I did an MTB ride-along with San Dieguito River Park Senior Ranger Dave Hekel. After my recent Coast-to-Crest Trail trip I had some questions about the park and tagging along on his Sunday patrol was an easy what to chit-chat about the park and get in a ride.  I ride Lake Hodges quite often as of late.   It is right on the way home so it is in the routine post-work ride rotation.   I have seen lots of critters out here on these trails.  Deer, snakes, coyotes, rabbits and all kinds of birds.  On this ride I ended up with a critter encounter of completely different sort.

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While riding the “high road” single track on the north side we came across an obviously distressed little coyote pup stumbling across the trail like a drunken sailor. After a quick look around the hillside to see if mom was anywhere nearby, I scooped this critter up.  It was tiny and whopped and did not resist in the slightest to me picking it up.  A quick scan showed that this female pup was not injured but had pretty big tick in one ear.  Dave went up the canyon to see if there was an unattended den but could not find anything.  We guessed that this little gal had been away from momma for a least a full day or two.

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Talk about camouflage.  Look how the coat is a spot on match to the hillside in the background.  While Ranger Dave made phone calls I gave her some water.  I took the top off of my water bottle and turned it upside down and used it as a small bowl. She drank quite a bit of water and it seemed to help as after about 5 minutes she would have a spat of being squirmy.  I’m thinking instincts were telling her to get away.  I found that if you held her close to my chest she would stay  calm. (Much better than the one-handed holds for posing her for the camera)

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(Whooped but still a cutie)

While Ranger Dave was getting all of the arrangements made quite a few riders came by so the this pup because the star of trailside show and tell session.

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(Check out how long those claws are for its size)

Soon the rangers had a plan.   I rode/walked the rest of upper singletrack with this pup nuzzled up between one hand and my chest to a meet up spot with another ranger with a truck. While Dave and I waited for the other ranger to arrive the pup feel asleep in my hands.  There was a point when we wondered if she had “checked out” but then I could feel her chest going in and out so things were good. Once the other rangers arrived we handed off the pup to them and they were off to a nearby wildlife recovery facility.

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After that we went off to finish out the rest of the patrol.   We did encounter a rattlesnake on the trail and I did a slight bump stop into the back of Dave.    Normally seeing a rattlesnake is kind of a big deal but considering that this was the 14th rattler I have seen this year (I typically only see 2-4 a year) along with the coyote pup just a little while ago, this rattler sighting was kind of ho hum.  It was a beautiful day but after the coyote pup and the rattler then return trip back the ranger office was uneventful.  This was a most excellent day to be out  on a bike and  reinforced to me that your next life enriching event could be right around the next bend in the trail.

Mule Hill – San Pasqual Valley

April 22nd, 2015 by MTBBill

I added the Mule Hill and San Pasqual Valley trails located near Escondido to the site.  You may also hear these trails referred to as Raptor Ridge as that is the top of the climb.   While this is for the most part a non-technical trail, the farmland scenery not typically associated with San Diego it offers is worth a look-see.

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Coast to Crest Bikepacking Trip

April 20th, 2015 by MTBBill

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I did my first bike packing trip this weekend.   A group of six of us set off to do the Coast to Crest trail leaving from Julian with the plan to end with our tires in the ocean on Del Mar’s Dog Beach. The Coast to Crest trail is a long way from completed and our route is basically follows the general corridor of where the trail should someday follow as best as we could follow it.

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We pedaled out on Main Street/Farmers Rd for about 2.5 miles out to the start of the trail at Volcan Mountain Wilderness Preserve.   Full disclaimer here, we did not climb all the way up to the top of the mountain as it is a steep out and back on double-track.   The top Volcan Mountain is the “Crest” of the trail.   From the Volcan Mountain Preseve we zipped down the paved Famers Road to the Santa Ysabel Open Space Preserve East.

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It has been quite some time since I had ridden out here.  I had nearly forgotten just how pretty it is out here.

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The first climb was rather steep and all of the bikepacking gear quickly found myself out of clicks on my shifters.

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The crew taking a break  (Left to Right: Kevin, Carl, Greg, Chad and Ken) at our highest point along the trip.   We did quite a bit of descent and a few short bit of steep climbing before we came out at the lower staging area of the preserve.

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There is a massive section of trail that is not built from here.   Our path from here was a quite bit on Highway 79 north and then a good long chunk of pavement climbing on Mesa Grande Road.

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From there we left the pavement for some dirt road riding on Black Canyon Road.   This was my first time on this section of the road.  It was really awesome that this thing just seemed to descend forever.  (Carl is in the photo above)

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When we did reach of the bottom of the road, we turned onto the San Ysabel Truck Trail which is familiar dirt to me as it is part of the Black Mountain (Ramona) Loop near Ramona.  This is part of the official Coast To Crest trail.  There was some work to be done here as we worked over the south slope of Black Mountain before we had a very zippy descent down into Pamo Valley.   We then pedaled south on Pamo Valley Road (mostly dirt road) before hooking up with Forest Service Road FS12504.

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We chased down a spot to setup camp for the evening.   We did a touch under 35 miles for day one.    Tasty sprits seems to find there way into most of our packs.   Since every ounce counts we felt it wise to lighten our load for tomorrow as much as possible :-)     All of my gear worked pretty much as expected and there were certainly some lessons learned.  I slept really well that night and awoke to the sounds of turkeys gobbling in the distance.   Not long after that a lone gunshot rang out that reminded me it is turkey season.  I did not hear any more turkeys after that.

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I had under estimated my fuel requirements for my alcohol stove but I did have just enough to get a couple cups of coffee made to go with breakfast.   Coffee just tastes better outside.  We leisurely broke camp and were back on the trail.   Forest Service Rd 12504 is referred to as the Lower San Ysabel Truck Trail by the San Dieguito River Park.   After just a bit of climbing, we were treated to a very mild grade descent. Carl and Kevin are pictured above heading down a particularly nice covered stretch of the truck trail.

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Kevin was doing this ride on his rigid single speed and was just killing it.  He also had a killer ultra-light setup.   The Lower Santa Ysabel truck trail took us down to the Orasco/Gueito Truck Trail.  This truck trail is not part of the official Coast to Crest trail at his point.    We did take this truck trail  up to Highway 78.    We had to cruise down the highway for a couple of quick downhill miles where we hooked with some farm roads along the orange groves.

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These farm roads took to the Bandy Canyon trailhead of the San Pasqual Valley trail that is part of the Coast to Crest trail.   The trail goes along the edge of orange groves, sod and dairy farms in the valley before it starts climbing.

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Climbing up to Raptor Ridge was a good bit of work with the gear on the bike.   After that we were back into the routine home turf  of Lake Hodges and we made quick work to the Farmers Market and the gas stations near the I-15 trailhead for some resupply.   Nichol joined us through the Lake Hodges segment.  (I think see liked this ride as the pace was slower than our normal outing speed).

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Nichol turned back at the dam while we continued on down the Del Dios Gorge and onto the Santa Fe Valley trail

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There was some climbing bits to be done including  a sizable set of switch backs. Once we got to the top of the switchbacks we were once again off of the official Coast To Crest trail.  We ended up dropping into the Lusardi Creek area via some singletrack and then working our way up to where the Santa Luz Loop starts.   From here we had to do a five mile stretch of pavement along San Dieguito Road and El Camino Real to connect to the next segment of the Coast to Crest trail.

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The final segment is along the San Dieguito Lagoon and passes by the Del Mar Fairgrounds

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Chad along the boardwalk.   We would cross the Jimmy Durante Blvd bridge and follow the Del Mar River down to Dog Beach

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Ahhh Bike Tires in the Pacific and the finish of 43.5 miles for day 2 for a total of 78.2 miles

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We were able to squeeze out another 1.1 miles to Pizza Port Solana Beach for some yummy pizza and tasty beers!    A mighty fine weekend to be on a bike.

UPDATE (April 22nd, 2105):   I have added a page to the site detailing this route with maps, GPS files and additional blabbery.  Coast to Crest Trail

Woodson, Hodges and Idyllwild

April 14th, 2015 by MTBBill

I had a pretty good bit of mountain biking over the last handful of days.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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) 

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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.

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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!

 

Mt Woodson

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.

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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?

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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.  :-)

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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

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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!

Bikepacking shakedown in the Lagunas

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.

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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.

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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.