Archive for the ‘Trails’ Category

Sunshine Ride in Sasebo

September 7th, 2014 by MTBBill

Over the last month that I have been working over here there has been about four individual days that it has not rained for some portion of the day.   The soil composition in this area is typically clay based which holds up to the rain well but becomes treacherously slick.    The cantilever rim brakes coupled with the 1.75 tires on my rent-a-wreck hard-tail makes riding of this stuff with an moisture on them at all downright sporty.   

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 It rained early Saturday and had been sunny ever since so I decided to test the waters on one of the prominent mountains in the area, Akasaki.   The trail has seen some maintenance earlier in the year so the tread was in good condition and the trail was well brushed. I could tell during the climb that traction could be a problem on the descent as plenty of finesse was required on the climb to keep from breaking the rear wheel loose.   The views from top were exceptional.

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  The descent of this trail was however still pretty slick and made for a squirrely descent, particularly in the turns.   Notice in the photo above there is some four fingered braking going on.  If I would have known my work project was going to be extended by nearly a month, I would have brought my bike over.   On the plus side this rental is completely unforgiving so it forces you to handle the bike precisely.

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After way too much fun on the “easy” descent, I passed on this trail under the guise of discretion is the better part of valor.   I opted to spend the rest of the ride scoping out trailheads and crossings off the back roads of the area for future exploration when the trails are drier.

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This sign unfortunately does not say “Hiro-San’s Texas Style BBQ 100 meters ahead”.   There are lots of wild boar in this area and I believe the signs either says beware of boars or indicates a typical boar crossing.   Ummmm Bacon!

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Shirahama Beach was the apex point of this ride.    A snack and a little bit of chilling was in order before it was time to start a good bit of climbing on the return leg.

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I have come across about half a dozen of these land crabs here in Japan.   I was a good half a mile from the ocean and at least 100 feet plus in elevation.   These are the basically the same kinds of crabs you see around the rocks in most stateside beaches but these guys have adapted to thrive away from the shorelines here.  Mr. Crabs here was pissed.

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A view of Kujyukushima from Tenkaiho Park.   I have ridden on all of these peaks at one time or another with the exception of the volcano looking peak to the left, Mt Atago.   It is still on the list.

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This is literally the lawn mowing crew at this park.   The grounds keepers stake out the goats and once they eat down their circle they move the stakes.  Pretty cool.

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Got Grass Will Mow!  (Will through in fertilizing your lawn for free)

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By the time I made my way “home” I had covered 22 miles and 3,000 feet of climbing.  A yummy Nippon microbrew was definitely earned.

Pre-Typhoon ride in Sasebo

August 7th, 2014 by MTBBill

Earlier this week, work has taken me back to Sasebo in the southern part of Japan.  I’ll be here for about a month and change.  I had debated about shipping/bringing one of my own bikes over here for the duration but between the cost and hassle, I decided to take my chances with getting a rental.    I’m thinking I maybe should have went with shipping one of my own bikes over as the pickings were slim at the rental place.

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The steed for this trip is a total Throw “Way The Hell” Back rig complete with canti-brakes.   Brakes is a bit of an optimistic term in this case, slowers is more appropriate.  On the plus side, I’ll soon have hands that can grip like a bear trap and I should not be accused of skidding up the trails around here.

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The weather guessers were calling for a typhoon to come through the area the following day so getting a ride in before that was a priority.   The outdoor adventure center were I rented the bike is more centered on scuba and deep sea fishing than biking so I had to spend quite a bit of time get the bike setup and tuned before heading off for the late afternoon ride.   I’m fairly certain that the clipless pedal I put on the bike doubles its value.

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When I started out from my hotel room, a nearby thermometer read 90 degrees with the humidity being around 85%.  I was sweating and I was barely moving.   The climb up Mount Yumihari is on narrow paved roads.  The plan was to take the pavement up and a couple of different trails down and then back into town.

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The climb is fairly steep and it was good workout.   I have done this climb numerous times so I knew what to expect which helped with the climb but I was still getting worked. Once I got to the top I realized that all the pre-ride tinkering had eaten up my daylight margin.   I was pretty certain that taking the trails back down would end up being a night ride.   A night ride I was not really prepared for.  So I went with plan B and enjoyed the views from the top for a leisurely bit before taking the roads back down the mountain.  This should help with the jet lag.   This is not my first time MTBing in Sasebo so you can find other Sasebo related blog posts here.

 

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.

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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.

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

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

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Some play time on the Los Gatos trail was had.

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Jake working on a skinny.

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Jake working the camera.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

Return of Wednesday Stoke in Alpine

July 6th, 2014 by MTBBill

It had been way too long since I had been out to Alpine for some Wednesday stoke with Steve (AKA Aquaholic).  So some emails were sent and in the very first reply Steve was laying the ground for a lackluster performance.  He saud he has been doing nothing but working on stupid human tricks on his Jet Ski and has not been on the bike in five weeks.

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So I know Steve has been indeed working on said tricks, but not whining about no riding and bad fitness, that’s just classic Steve sandbagging.

 

Not that Steve and I race up Anderson, but I can count on one hand how many times I have gotten up that trail ahead of Steve so I was expecting to call him all sorts of synonyms for sandbagger on the ride.    When we left the trailhead it was 89 degrees and we have gathered enough brain-boil data over the years to safely assume that there a few spots along the climb that are typically about 5 degrees warmer than the trailhead.  After the initial bit of pavement spinning and the opening section of descending the climbing started in earnest.   What the Hell? Steve was already waving me around.   I declined and decided to just ease up and chit chat some.  The kind of idle chit-chat that kills me when I’m struggling as it demonstrates the person behind is not completely winded and its some subliminal pressure to give moving you slug! Steve was talking about the heat.  Now the heat normally kicks my ass, but I had just spent nearly the last month working in the middle-east where the daytime highs got up to as high as 108 and the night-time lows got down to maybe 98 at best.   These low 90’s were just downright refreshing!

After the next wave around, I took Steve up on the offer and he slowly started tailing off.  I was feeling pretty strong and the while I was not trying to push myself up the hill,  I was aware that I gears were ticking over easier than they have in the past.   I’m having and good day and Steve is having a bad time with the climb.

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About a little more than halfway up the climb the trail has been jacked by some four-wheeler folks who got themselves stuck off the trail.  There solution was to bring in a dozer and widen and “clean up ” the trail.

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So I made it up Pistachio Point well ahead of Steve and had time to document the lack of any fresh Steve droppings.

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Shortly after arriving Steve was curled up in fetal position and he even had to use the emergency binky that up until now had only been used to taunt the riders behind him.  Shortly after this picture was taken the thing fell apart from dry rot after it first only usage.

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Once the climbing was done, the tables were turned and life popped back into Steve and he was right back into the airborne routine.  I was a completely different story.   I had not been riding any “wheels off the ground” technical stuff as of late and I had not been out here in a long time.   All the rocks looked bigger and more menacing while the ruts looked deeper.

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I was able to get a little bit of air under the tires but for the most part I did not feel comfortable at all.   I just did not have the feel for it today.    I clearly need to get back out on these kind of technical bits more often.

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The main descent back down was in summer dirt mode and the upper section where the doozer had gone through really removed much of the character of this trail through there.  A few good rains should spruce it back up.   It was good to get back out on the trail with Steve again.   Plans for more Wednesday stoke were plotted over tasty beer and BBQ at Alpine Beer Company afterwards.

 

Cruise in the Cuyamacas

July 2nd, 2014 by MTBBill

After working over the middle east for the better part of June it was nice to be back home and get out onto some trails.  This past weekend my girlfriend and I took a cruise through Cuyamaca Rancho State Park.  Here are a few pictures.

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Nice bit of shade in Green Valley

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Some folks seen along the along the trail

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The smile was about to be gone at this point as we neared the bottom of Soapstone Grade.

There has been quite a few changes to the park since I last updated my site that includes some new options for cyclist so I’ll have to dedicate some more time and get my site updated here in the coming weeks.

CRHT Page Added

June 7th, 2014 by MTBBill

I have added a page to the site for the California Riding and Hiking Trail.  At this point its designed to share my on-going information gathering on the trail in the form of an interactive Google map.   I have not physically ridden all of the sections of the trail so if during the course of looking at my information you have some information to share feel free to comment here or email me.

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Exploration the CRHT

May 31st, 2014 by MTBBill

So for the last couple of weeks I have been out exploring and researching the California Riding and Hiking Trail (CRHT) here in San Diego County.   The history of this trail dates back to 1945 when the state legislature  passed the California Riding and Hiking Trails Act which called for a 3,000 mile multi-use loop trail between Oregon and Mexico.  The 3,000 miles never happened but over 1,000 miles did get built/designated.  Here in San Diego county there is about 108 miles of the trail with only 76 of being used. A portion of those 76 miles are having legal/access issues as some land-owners (not just private but other government agencies) are denying access to the public right of way easements.   It is worth noting that the County Parks and Recreation Department has officially put this trail into its Master Trails Plan.  Most of my research has been using their official GIS data on where they recognize the trails to be.  There are some deltas between their data and the current and/or historical trail that can actually be found.  The trail segments vary in quality from sublimely superb to completely obliterated by pavement.  There is a lot more to tell here and I hope to gather up and publish some of the information on the various segment issues in the future.

The trail passes through some of the trail systems that I have reviewed on the site.  The  Otay Mountain Loop, Hollenbeck Canyon, Cuyamaca State Park, and Oriflamme Canyon Loop reviews all have a segments of the CRHT passing through them.  The Warner Springs area has been my latest bit of on the ground research on the CRHT route.

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There are still bits to the original trail (as intended) still in use and accessible.

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Back in the 1940s and 1950s when many of the section were designated that used old truck trails, cattle routes and farm roads as the trail.   That might have been okay back then but as civilization came along some of those truck trails and farm roads have been widened and paved making them completely worthless as a trail.   It seems that there was never any mitigation made to reroute the trail.   Pictured above here is an old chapel that is still on a dirt road that the CRHT uses.

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Lost Valley Road (Which on some maps is called Lost Creek Road) is one of those segments where the CRHT used this dirt road that has since been paved (still single wide)  and the trail was not rerouted.   This would be a nice dirt road climb with good views of the valley below.

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The picture above is of the gate on the CRHT that uses the abandoned section of Lost Valley Road.  A 1/2 mile up the CRHT the PCT joins onto the CRHT.  Now keeping in mind that bicycles are allowed on the CRHT there is a bit of interesting co-use going on.  For  9/10ths of a mile the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) uses the CRHT trail as its route and of course all of the PCT signage says “NO BIKES”.   Now the Pacific Crest Trail was not established until 1968 a full 23 years after the CRHT.   This is not the only place were PCT co-use antics occur.  Up in the San Gabriel mountains, a 1/4mile section of the PCT was rerouted onto the Burkhart trail (a nice long open to bikes single-track) and the PCT folks tried to close that 1/4th mile section of the Burkhart trail to bikes.  It is complete onsense.

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Here is a view along the section of the 9/10ths of a miles of the CRHT discussed above.

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A fair portion of the CRHT route in this area sees far to much of this action.   Landowners illegally denying access to a public right of way easement.  The CRHT uses the dirt road pictured above but the Vista Irrigation District has removed all of the CRHT trail signs and has locked the gates.

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 It also looks they have removed some of these notices as well.

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This is just one of the tasty bits of trail that these landowners are attempting to deny the public access too.  I’m going to publish more information in the future as I gather it up. In the interim here is a Google Earth file (KML) extracted from the San Diego County GIS data base.  It also has some additional data in it and is what I consider a working document.

 

New Review Up! Crestridge

April 15th, 2014 by MTBBill

I have finally gotten off my butt and finished up new trail review on the website proper.   The Crestridge Ecological Reserve.   In the last year I have mostly been doing blog posts or updating existing pages.  I have at least a dozen other trail pages in the works so hopefully it won’t take as long to get the next one out.   Then again beer, bikes and life in general could foil that plan.

 

Lunch time at La Costa

April 11th, 2014 by MTBBill

I squeaked in a lunch time ride today out at La Costa with Michael Paul aka YetiRider. Homee has been a program and been slimming up.  Down 15lbs already.  (I think he is trying to get down to women chasing shape)

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Michael is certainly climbing quicker. Good on ya!

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It was a mighty pretty day out today as well.    All the better to be out riding a bike.    On a final note, this is my first shot at using the mobile app for making posts do I’m going to have to see if this is going to meet my needs or not..