Archive for the ‘Anything Goes’ Category

There is no MTBing in Bahrain!

September 8th, 2013 by MTBBill

I spent the tail end of July and most of August working in Bahrain.   For those who have never heard of the place it is an island in the Persian Gulf east of Saudi Arabia.    The maximum elevation is maybe 100 feet and pretty much everything is sand so the mountain biking opportunities are mighty freaking limited.    Of course a Surly Moonlander would help a little in that department.   Hmmm I wonder if I could get one with some S&S couplings on the frame?

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Even with a bike, I would have a hard time getting motivated to get out in the heat and ride.  Everyday it was over 100 by 10AM.   Several days in particular it was 108 with 74% humidity.

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I did manage to get out and grab some sights while I was over there including the Grand Mosque

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I took a tour of the Al-Fateh Grand Mosque on one of their “open houses” for non-Muslims. [aka Infidel Outreach Day :-)]   Work involved a lot going back and forth between an office and the outside.  After a few weeks of the cycling in and out of the heat and AC I came down with some chest and sinus crud that required some antibiotics to knock down.      The project I’m working has several phases to it so I was able to come home for a couple of weeks in between one of the phases.

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I was still not completely over the crud when I got home so I refrained getting back on the bike and potentially backsliding with the crud.     My girlfriend and I did make a trip up to Palomar mountain for a bit of mild hiking.   It was really nice to see some greenery in mild temps.

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One of the locals we saw along the trail.

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By this past Friday I was feeling well again so a dawn patrol ride out at Mission Trail Regional Park was in order.   There was some weather moving through the area which made some cool rainbows.  I had ridden on the west side of the park in quite sometime.   So I hit up the Jackson, the Rim trail, S-turns and the Soycott trails.    I had not checked out North Fortuna from the north slope so I looped back around and when up North Fortuna from the north slope.  I had my long-legged bike so it was overwhelming a hike-a-bike in that direction but would be a very techy ride on the descent.

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After getting up to the North Fortuna peak, I descended the south slope to the saddle and then continued on up to South Fortuna.    It had also been a long time since I had taken the South Fortuna staircase.  I knew there were many spots were you had to pick and choose your battles but there were quite a few more than I remembered from my last go at this trail.  I want to say that the techy sections were in worse shape than before, but it is more likely that my skills and/or nerves have slackened up some.

Either way it was great to be back on the bike and again.   I’m heading back to Bahrain tomorrow and I’m not looking forward to another stint of being off the bike.   Work can be so pesky sometimes!

Sweetwater And Rockhouse

July 26th, 2013 by MTBBill

For those of you who have every been on some of Hoser’s Bonita rides leaving from Donny’s Café you know there are 5o,000 ways plus to put together some serious miles out in this area.

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You also know that trying to give by turn-by-turn directions for some of these routes would be pretty damn difficult.

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In the past I have just always tagged along behind other folk’s wheel and just enjoyed the various route without really caring where on how I was getting where.

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Lately I have been putting in some solo miles in an effort to calibrate my own compass out in this area.

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The Rockhouse area has been the latest section of stomping around and figuring out.

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I have been traveling trails and adding new bits with every visit. There is lots of good stuff out here

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Here are a few pictures from the area from the various rides so far.

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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….

Server Migration Complete

April 17th, 2013 by MTBBill

So I have finished migrating my website stuff from one server farm over to a new mo better one with new hardware and software stuff on the backend that will support the front-end better.

Not my stuff I swear!

Like all things touted as “seamless” in the IT world is often does not quite go that way.   Early on in the migration the site was down for a few hours when some DNS records got update too soon and prematurely sent folks to the new server that was not ready yet.  There were a couple of folks who either left comments on the blog or registered for an account, right in the middle of the cutover which will have resubmit there stuff.   Besides that all has all been ironed out and things seemed to be going just fine on the new stuff now….for now.  Time to go ride a bike :-)

Snooping around South Poway

March 26th, 2013 by MTBBill

This past Friday, I went and checked out a loop in South Poway that I had heard about that contained a mix of city approved/created trails and social trails.   I really did not have much in the way of expectations when I set out on this semi-urban adventure.

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The first chunks of “trails” that I went on were what I typcially expect when I hear of a municipality in San Diego county being involved with creating  “Trails”.    Dirt sidewalks and bullshit existing dirt roads trying to be passed off as “trails” which provide little in the way of a quality natural outdoor experience.    After six or so miles of the this homgenized lowest common demominator tripe things picked up as I went further along on this loop.

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Here is a bit of an offical new city of Poway trail that is a  nice singletrack.   Clearly somebody gets it in the city as it provides a nice natural outdoor experience, its sustainable and it is narrow to minimize the enviromental impact.  

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The next section of trails I was on roughly followed the route of the planned eastern end of the South Poway trail.   

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According to the current city trail map the eastern end is still just planned.   I sure hope the intent is to use this trail pictured above as the eastern end of the of the South Poway trail because the trail above  it is just an awesome chunk of cross country singletrack that had great flow and contoured well.

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Once I got onto the “built” western portion of the South Poway trail, I was once again back onto the crappy “THIS IS NOT A F#$^^NG TRAIL“  dirt road junk.  Note in the picture above only about half the width of the road being passed off as trail is in the picture.   It is a wide barren strip of non-native gravel that is an enviromental blight that the city probably spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to “create”.    Everytime I have pulled the string on the  “who designed this”  question,  it seems to typically point back to some trail standard the governing agency has that was written by people who have a background in civil engineering (aka building roads) vice either an enviromental or forestry background (aka protecting and managing natural resources).     People (or contracted companies by the city) then blindly follow these antiquated standards to build these low quality, expensive hunks of crap.

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This little gem (which I think is not an offical trail), was probably built by volunteers and did not cost the city a dime.   Its enviromental impact is a mere fraction of the offical dirt road tripe that scours along the ridgeline above it.     The rest of the route I did during the day was a mix of both the offical junk “trails” and a fair amount of  well done social trails.    Overall the awesomeness of the singletracks outweighed the retardness of the dirt/gravel road abortions (referred to as “trails”  by the city) that had to be dealt with.   I did about 15 miles total that day.  I will be doing some more exploring out here.

More Alpine Playtime

February 28th, 2013 by MTBBill

It was time for another round of playing on the rocks out in Alpine yesterday.  There was going to be four of us on this ride.  Brian was going to start later in the day and meet us up top.   Jim was joining us today and this was  going to be his first excursion out here.  It was an amazingly nice day out which made the climb not too terrible.    After a big ride on Sunday and a really descent workout at the gym yesterday my legs felt flat  for the climb up to four corners.   After that point the kinks in the legs seem to work themselves out and climbing was a bit better the rest of the way up. 

I ride out here a plenty and still think a bunch of this stuff is just crazy so I had forgotten just how shell shocking the first time can be out here.    Jim seemed to be digging the place in “You gotta be f$%^ing  kdding me” kind of way.   I recognized the look and it reminded of the things that came out of my mouth during my first exposure to the technical riding of the North Shore of Vancouver BC in 2003.

We fiddle farted around on some of the features while waiting for Brian to catch up with us.

Steve messing around on the “Collar Boner” section of the “Triple Bypass”.

An Old Skool wheels on the ground line.

Jim rolling along

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Brian boosting a rock

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Brian working the 911 roll.

The trail was in pretty good shape and the descent back down the main trail was a blast. (Meaning No Pictures!)   The Exponential Hoppiness  from Alpine Beer Company after the ride was a mighty tasty beverage to enjoy while chatting up the ride and chimping pictures.    There are far worse ways to spend an idle Wednesday afternoon.

Trabuco – Holy Jim Windfest

February 26th, 2013 by MTBBill

This past Sunday I headed up to the OC to get in some riding in the Santa Ana Mountains.  The adventure of the day was going to be the Trabuco – Holy Jim which combines two really nice trails that are both great descents.   The problem is you have to climb one of them.  It has been quite a few moons since I had done this loop but I did remember that I climbed Holy Jim and descended Trabuco when I last did it. It only seemed right to give it a go in the opposite direction this time. It wias brisk and breezy when we started off on this lollipop shaped route. Instead of driving up the five mile dirt road to the trailhead we decided to ride it on the bikes on this gradual uphill as a warm up. We were only a mile or so up the road when the wind really started howling as the canyon narrowed and funneled the wind right into our faces. The weather reports later showed that the gusts were upwards of 50mph which I wholeheartedly believe was the case.  There were a couple of times when I was hunched over the handlebars and grinding on the pedals and feeling like I was going backwards. We could not help but laugh as it was just so brutal.

Things got better once we got further up the road where the oak trees difused the gusts just enough to take the edge off.   The Holy Jim and Trabuco trails share the same lower trailhead at the end of the dirt road which marks the start of the loop part of this lollipop ride.   The climb up Trabuco is not a dainty one as you around 2,8000 feet or so over 5 miles and some change.    Additionally the trails is often rocky puts a little extra bit of tax on the legs.      While we were mostly sheltered somewhat from the wind we would often got whipped around by wind gusts finding there way here and there through the canyon.

About 3/4ths of the way up we started to encounter some small patches of snow which is just down right cool here in Southern California.   I like going out to visit snow vice living somewhere where the snow just likes to come over a visit for a while (or months).

As we neared the top Trabuco Canyon we could hear the wind just ripping through the tops of the trees and howling over the nearby ridge tops.   While knocking back some snacks at the top of the Trabuco trail which is also the  junction of the Los Pinos Trail along the Main Divide Truck trail we ran into several groups of riders.   A couple of guys were doing an out and back on Trabuco while another few were doing the Holy Jim – Trabuco version of the loop.   The guys coming from Holy Jim talked about snow and ice on one of the passes we would be descending.   We had some minor debate about which  direction of the loop was worse for climbing on Main Divide Truck Trail.   The consenus was that it was uphill in both directions with only minor nuances to be noticed in the “Suck” catergory.

We soon headed off on Main Divide which included a bit of downhill fireroad action.    While we did get some wind breaks here and there we were often pummeled by a hella cross wind.    It was probably 50 degrees at this elevation with  40 mph gusts.   Tacking on another 25-30mph worth of self-imposed wind chill was enough to subdue the usual hooting and woohooing  when ripping down the exposed fireroad sections.  The views along Main Pain Divide were impressive with the mountains of San Gorgonio, San Jincinto, and San Antonio seen to the west and north.

The Pacific Ocean along with San Clemente and Catalina Islands we easily seen to the west. 

These views were not cheap on this day.   The Main Divide Truck Trail’s nickname of “Pain Divide” was certainly fitting today.   There were quite a few spots were the false summits mentally beat on you just as much as the grade hammered at quads and lungs.   The icy descent we were warned about turned out to be no where near as a big of a deal going downhill as it must have been going uphill.   There were a couple of exciting moments when the ice, my tires and my brain had to come to an agreement on our direction of travel vice the intended direction of travel.  

It is very rare that I would ever find myself cussing on a downhill, but on the final big downhill I was doing just that as I knew I would just have to start regaining nearly all of this elevation within a minute or two.  On the final climb the wind was just insanely blowing to the point that it sounded like a jet engine.    The cool thing was that the way the truck trail was cut into the side of the mountain we were nearly perfectly shielded from wind even though it was just a few feet above your head.  That section of the climb was quite surreal.  

 

Once we topped out on that climb it was mostly a traverse or slight descent over to the top of the Holy Jim Trail.   The Holy Jim trail certainly delivered the goods and it was well worth the effort and pain to get over to it.  The sweet flowing narrow singletrack was just awesome and the many sections where you are just flying through a vegitation tunnel did wonders to leave burning quads and wheezing lungs way far behind.   The gravity gods where smiling upon after our sizable offering we had given to them on this day.    When we got back to the trailhead and started down the dirt road back to the truck we had a monster tailwind on a gradual downhill.  We zipped by numerous vehicles tip-toeing down the road while we flew over bumps, mudholes and wheelied through the creek crosings.   We had already cracked open the first post-ride beer before the first truck caught up with us.   We did around 26.5 miles with about 4,300 feet of climbing  for the day which made the tasty post-ride beverages taste even better.  Good Times!

Variations of Palm Canyon

February 19th, 2013 by MTBBill

I spent this past weekend out in Palm Springs with my girlfriend and got in one of Southern California’s Classic Epic rides,  Palm Canyon.  I have done this ride quite a few times but the plan was to do a different variation on the route for this outing.   All of the logistics has been carefully worked out a day or so before the ride which meant that would be not be how things would actually go down.    

Everyone pretty much arrived on time and after some introductions and early morning chit chat while jostling bikes between vehicles we were on our way out of Palm Springs and up the mountain to the upper trailhead.    We met up with most of the San Diego crew at the top and were soon off and rolling through the Pinyon Pines trails which is the most commonly taken variation on the classic route.   It was really good rolling up and down singletrack goodess before getting serious about dropping into Palm Canyon.

Lance, Matt and Ben were the rabbits of the group and they were being mighty zippy with the pace.   I should have known better than to chase those guys but I’m a slow learner.  After  a few miles I found myself in cardio distress hanging over the handlebars whezzing like a 90 year old chain smoker with screaming quads and the only coherent thought I could hear in my melon over the sound of blood pounding through my temples was  “What The F$%k!”.      

After regaining some composer I was back on the peddles and was able to notice what a glorious day it was now that I was back in my proper place in the whole age/weight/fitness lineup.    The thought did not escape me that we connoisseurs of  tasty malted and hopped beverages seemed to be pushing similar paces.

Palm Canyon is known for finding weaknesses in your gear and exploiting them. Steve had one of his pedals strip out of the crankarm. We tried a variety of McGuyver options to keep him rolling but as the ride progressed the pedal got worse and worse and worse. He ultimately ended up have to do at least 6 miles of one legged pedaling, hiking and coasting across the desert before you was able to hit a bail out point and head downhill towards civilization.

The trail conditions were pretty good despite it being a fairly dry winter in these parts.   None of the stream/creek crossing had water in them.  

 

Here are Steve, Michael and Evan heading out on the Indian Poterro  trail.   I managed miss every catcus gauntlet on and along the entire trail but I managed to step into a cholla while getting setup for this shot.     I plucked out a good dozen spines and I’m sure I will pluck another dozen out of my leg over the next few weeks as my body works to push out the ones that broke off flush or under the skin.

Michael had a couple of the evil chollas jump out and attack his tires over the course of the day.   Evan was kind enough to donate a Slime tube after the second flat.

One of the variations on the route involves not going up the 3 mile wash climb and the follow on descent of the Hahn Buena Vista trail which represents a big cost followed by a big reward section of this route.   Instead we only climbed about 10 percent of the 3 mile Dry Wash and the hung a left onto the East Fork trail where we did some rolling ups and downs over to the Vandeventer trail before settling in for a climb along the fern canyon trail up to the saddle of  the upper end of Wildhorse and the Clara Burgess trail.   The next variation that was being thrown in on this day involved taking the Clara Burgess trail up and over Murray Hill and down into the bottom of Goat Trails with a follow on climb that would take us back up near the top of the Goat Trails again.   I have gone over Murray Hill in the opposite direction and I knew it was going to be a real beater.    After taking stock of what I had left in the tank, I along with three others opted to forgo this section and meet at the next variation point along the Garstin trail.   Above are some of the manly mens group heading up the Clara Burgess trail.

Dave and Michael making their way to the top of the Garstin trail.

The peak to the left is Murray Hill and saddle were the manly men started from is off to the right side of the frame.   If you play a little “Where is Waldo”  you can see them working their way up to the Garstin trail.  One of the manly men had to bail after Murray Hill from being completely bonked to the point of being sick.  We ladies of the shortcut crew had spent every bit of an hour changing our feminine napkins, snacking and napping.  Did I mention what a glorious day it was?

The final variation on the traditional route today had us dropping the Shannon and Henderson trail out of the Goat Trails.   Above is the top part of the Shannon trail before it gets really steep with a series of hella tight switchbacks.  It was a really cool section of trail but not for those who get a freaked out when exposure is involved.  Blowing  some of those switch backs to the outside would not make you a happy camper and could net you an appearance on “When Vacations Attack”, “Worlds Most Amazing…” or any one of those other “Awh Shit” shows.

As a bit of coolness bonus along this trail you go by Bob Hope’s house.  Its the big domed pad on the right hand side of the picture.    The Shannon and the Henderson trails dump you out on surface streets that we took back over the traditional bottom of the Palm Canyon route in Von’s Rimrock Shopping Center.      Tasty beverages were soon being had along with post-ride chit chat before more bike jostling ensued before we made our way over to Rancho Mirage for dinner at  Babe’s BBQ and Brewhouse.   I helped shuttle folks back up to top before rolling back down to the hill to finish out the weekend in Palm Springs with my girlfriend.

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.

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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.

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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.   

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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.

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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.  

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 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?”

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