Archive for the ‘Anything Goes’ Category

Black Mountain & SYTT

December 3rd, 2016 by MTBBill

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

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(Along the Santa Ysabel Truck Trail)

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

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

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

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

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

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(Climbing Climbing Climbing, Pamo Valley getting smaller)

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

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

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

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

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

One Helluva Fall!

November 29th, 2016 by MTBBill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cuyamaca and the Cold Springs Trail

August 21st, 2016 by MTBBill

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

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

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

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

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While stopping to check out this little spot.

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

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

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

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

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

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A wider view of today’s turn around spot.

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

Wildfire threatening the SART

June 19th, 2015 by MTBBill

There is a wildfire burning near Angelus Oaks, Barton Flats South Fork Area.   Hopefully they can keep this contain south of HWY 38 and protect the homes in the area.   It would also be a horrible for the Santa Ana River Trail or Wildhorse to burn.  Major Bummer!

LAKE FIRE UPDATE AS OF 6/19/15 @ 0658 HRS:

The U.S. Forest Service is reporting that the Lake Fire is now at 11,000 acres, with 10% containment. There are currently 1,224 personnel battling the blaze with the following resources on scene: 88 engines, 1 air tanker, 10 helicopters (including night-flying), 1 air attack plane, 28 crews, 3 water tenders, and 1 dozer. Additional resources have been ordered. Highway 38 remains closed from Angelus Oaks to Lake Williams Drive. The Big Bear Sheriff’s Station will continue to provide updates as information becomes available.

You can follow along with the progress of the firefighting efforts here

JUNE 22th 2015 UPDATE

The fire has burned 17,305 acres and is at 21% contained.   If the trends continue in their current form, the Santa Ana River Trail is going to be spared from any fire damage.  Currently all hiking trails into the San Gorgonio Wilderness and the Pacific Crest Trail from Whitewater Preserve to Onyx Summit are closed.

JUNE 29th 2015 UPDATE

The fire has affected approximately 30,716 acres in size and burning in timber. It is now 50% contained. Highway 38 has been re-opened, however all areas affected by the fire remain closed to recreation purposes.

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.

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.

GPS files being updated

June 6th, 2014 by MTBBill

I am in the process of going through some of my older pages that only have National Geographic TOPO! map files.   I’m adding GPX, as well as Garmin Mapsource as well as Google Earth KML files. I’m also adding link/icon to the pages to search the blog and provide a list of related posts.   Currently the Hollenbeck Canyon, Noble Canyon and Tour De Noble pages have been updated with others to follow.

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.