So I have a few options for a MTB ride from my house. Two of them require riding on a section of road I am just not fond of as it twisty and narrow and idiots driving too fast while being distracted are way too common on this road There are a number of trees that bear the marks of dumb asses playing chicken with trees and losing. I am not too interested in playing that game with a car.
So my preferred trail system actually requires quite a bit more street riding to get to than the other two but they are much less dangerous streets and roads. Getting to the trail system also requires a bit of climbing which is good for the whole exercise thing.
There are has been sometime where I felt kinda meh about the local. Since I was off the bike for quite sometime earlier this year with a knee injury, I have rediscovered some of the joy of the local loop when I was actually able to get back on it again. Earlier on in the recover just getting to the trail from my house was all my knee could handle.
Now that my knee is on the mend enough that I can put some work on the climbs it is really nice to get back and enjoy this place. Even if all I do is make it up to the first climb and chill out on what I call “The Perch”. I am thankful for a knee that works again and my local loop.
I was pretty stoked to finally be able to get a way from the house in the midst of all this COVID-19 BS. The plan was to take the RV up to the Herky Creek Campground and base camp there for the weekend Nichol and got up there on Friday afternoon and a couple of hours later my longtime MTB Bud Bill arrived. We spent the afternoon and evening grubbing out catching up and sampling tasty whiskeys. Bill and I have learned a thing our two about our proclivity to try and solve world hunger around a campfire at night when there is a bike ride the following morning. We set an alarm clock, not to get up in the morning but to go to bed 🙂
The weather was pretty foggy the following morning it looked like we might get some drizzle action as well. We had the right gear so off we went. Today’s ride would be Pine Cove and Hub Trails.
We took advantage of the spousal shuttle service leaving Bill’s truck at the Hub Trailhead while Nichol dropped us off up in Pine Cove
It has been more than a couple moons since the last time I had started from Pine Cove so it took me a couple of minutes orientate myself. I ended up taking the route I new and then later in the ride realized that few new connectors had been added that optimized your elevation loss/gain. Our basic route was a bit of Project X, Toptimater, Dreamwalker, Hard Sun and Tubs.
The cloud cover kept the temperatures at just in the comfortable range. We got ourselves turned around a couple of times snooping on some of the new stuff (since the last time I rode there) but that is all part of the fun of this area.
That evening was more tasty grub and good times. The next morning the sun was out and it was time for some more fun on two wheels to the east of where we were base camped.
The Pretty Cool Temps and cloud cover were gone for this ride and replaced with gorgeous sunshine and warmer temps.
Spring was still holding on in a few spots.
Bill harassing the locals
We had a great time out on a nice bit of trail. This was my second time out on this route and I was really stoked to show off some of the bits of trail that included some of the California Riding and Hiking Trail.
Back at camp we enjoyed the rest of the afternoon, before breaking camp and rolling back to San Deigo. I had reserved the spot for Sunday night as well, but I enjoy not having to be rushed out of the site on the last day. This was a nice weekend getaway and good opportunity for Bill to check out live in the RV for some of less local adventures I have planned with this rig in the future.
Well after almost seven weeks off of the bike due to injuring my right knee I got back on the dirt. For this first ride back I decided to head out to San Pasqual Valley and do the section of the Coast-to-Crest Trail from Bandy Canyon Road up to Raptor Ridge and back.
I decided on this route at it starts out flat then has a very gradual bit of climbing before you have a more significant climb at you approach Raptor Ridge. I figured this would be a good opening test of the knee in making the pedals go around. If I had any knee issues I could simply turn around and have a mostly flat or downhill spin back to the trail head.
This whole COVID-19 virus mess has made it tough to get into see doctors and physical therapy places are pretty much shutdown. The doctor currently thinks I have inflamed tendons but I’m not so sure I buy that diagnosis. I have to do some physical therapy first before they will go done the MRI route but getting physical therapy is tough as they are only seeing “critical” cases right now.
It was so nice to be back on two wheels. I was purposely going to take it easy on this ride and not mash on the pedals. Spinning was the name of the game here. The knee felt descent for just spinning along but I was aware I had a knee. It was not in pain but it was not quite right either. The final climbing section up to Raptor Ridge was all done in the granny gear. I was not straining the knee but the knee was definitely feeling worked. While this was an improvement, it is still not right as I was also not really putting much force down on the pedals at all and when I did the knee would complain.
The last couple of weeks January was a busy time with lots of non-biking goodness. I had been getting in some rides but they have been pretty utilitarian in nature. Such was the case on February 4th when I got in spin at Lake Hodges. I started out on the north side near at the storage facility staging area and took on the north side of the lake.
I took the north side all the way out to the dam and back. I was feeling really strong and keeping up a good pace (by my standards anyway).
When I got back to the bridge I cut over to he south side of the lake and started the working my way through the trails there. I was still feeling great. While doing a bit of out of the saddle work to press up a short rise I felt a sharp twinge in my right knee followed by a sharp pain as I neared the top of the pedal stroke. Even in my granny gear just getting through the range of motion at the top of the pedal stroke was quite painful. I had to cut the out rest of my intended route and go home.
Just walking around was a only slight uncomfortable but stairs and getting the knee bent beyond 45 degrees was painful.
So I have resigned to just walking and hiking to keep active. The dogs are pretty happy about this they are getting some longer adventures in beyond just the usual walking circuits.
It has been three weeks since I hurt the knee and it has only slightly gotten better. I have a doctors appointment in a couple of weeks when I get back from a work trip to have it assessed.
So I recently made a tweak to my Santa Cruz Bronson. It is built up as an XC rig and it rocks! It is a single track carving machine. The minor compromise I feel have had been making with this setup is that is not the most confidence inspiring rig when thingd get downhill and gnarly. I’m not talking downhill bike gnarly but both wheels on the ground kind of normal. It is not bad by any stretch of the imagination, I just feel I can “over ride” the bike. I hate all the micro-genre names but I wanted to shift more towards a trail/enduro feel on the bike.
I ended up trying something simple and relatively inexpensive. I switched from a 90mm 0 degree rise stem out for a 70mm 17 degree rise. I took the bike out to La Costa to see how this felt. As I predicted the climbs felt a bit awkward at firdt as my weight was shifted back slightly. On the climb I had plenty of switchbacks as well as some steeper pitches. By the time I made it up to the top of the climb I was feeling comfortable with the new setup. I descended down the back side and then up to the towers. This improvement was immediately noticed and I was feeling much more comfortable with the downhill chunkish bits.
Oh and the trails, the backside stuff was a bit overgrown with the flowerinf weeds starting to dry out. Meaning I got a free exfoliation treatment. Good Times.
My final outing on the mountain bike for this trip to Japan was to head back out to the Takatori area east of Zushi. I passed through here on my lasting outing but it was mostly a transit through it. This time I wanted to futz around a bit.
I did some street riding from Yokosuka to make may way over to the entrance of the trail system. Like most of the trails in the area, you have to do so grunting immediately after the leaving the streets.
I entered the trail system were I had exited on the last outing and I was planning on retracing my way back up to top of Takatoriyama. I was however going to investigate all of the various spurs that split off of the main trail I was on.
There were a few spurs of particular interest to me as I remembered them as being really cool during my last time on them more than a few moons ago.
I just love these kind of locals helping folks signs.
I was armed with my GPS loaded up with my personal archive of adventures in this area. The goal was to jog my memory and avoid a few of the spurs that will quickly dump you off the mountain resulting in pain and/or hike-a-bike to get back up to the prime riding stuff.
On my way up to the summit, I did find the junctions that I wanted to hit on the return half of the route. I even came across about five other mountain bikers out on trail. One interesting thing I noted about this group was that while most of them while had rather high-end new bikes (Within 2-3 years), none of them were running single chain rings up front. Actually most them were running triples up front. My theory is that most them ride their bikes to the trailhead which according to where you live on the peninsula you can easily end up being 7-10+ miles on the streets/roads. While my rental rig is pretty much old and has seen better days I find the big rig to be a really welcome feature on it.
Once up to the summit, I hooked up with one of the trails that I used as part of the Takatori to Sengen-yama (Duckpond) connector. I was not going to take it all the way out to the duckpond trails today but it took me more a couple of minutes to reorient myself at a couple of the trail junctions. That section was just a good as I remembered. This was also my first time on the trail during winter so I was able to see a more things than in the past as most of the foliage was dormant. There were a couple of spots were I had never noticed that I was riding along a ridgeline that was less than 10 feet wide with extremely steep slopes on both sides with homes 100 plus feet below. Other times of the year the trail is just in a tunnel of green.
The particularly trail that I chose to peel off on led me to the top of a long series of stairs back down to a street. Riding these are just part of the mainstream skillset for riding here on the peninsula. The rental hardtail added some additional fun to this descent.
After knocking out the stairs, I did a bit of street riding to make my way back over to the north side of the Takatoriyama area where I then made my way back up to the summit.
From the summit I retraced my way (the trail was really fun in this direction) back the spur I had scoped out earlier in the ride. This trail worked it is way towards the east along a series of ridgelines between two communities/towns. There are several exit trails off of these ridgelines and according to my archives there was at least one I had not done before.
It is my understanding that most of this section of trail has a history of being a primary pedestrian route between several of the local communities. (I suspect trains/buses my have lessened that usage in modern times). One interesting bit is that there are long sections of this trail which have about an 18″ wide section of concrete walkway poured down the middle of it. Pretty weird to have a “singletrack sidewalk” through the middle of the woods. The trail/sidewalk in the woods eventually took me off the ridgeline and in an area of the peninsula I had not been before. It was a bit of an adventure to find my route back to familiar streets which included traversing more topology than planned but it was all good stuff.
My final week of work in Japan end up being more work than I thought it was going to be so I did not get back out onto trails again. Well one thing is for certain, my fondness for riding a bike in Japan has not diminished after this visit.
Bill and I did a ride on the Wildhorse trail near Big Bear and connected it up with the Santa Ana River trail. We typically do this as a point-to-point ride. This logistics of this takes over an hour at both due to the length and the long high clearance road you need to drive to get to the top.
We mixed things up on this ride and met up the evening before and left a vehicle at the bottom and camped at the top.
Since we were camping just for the night we both went pretty minimalist on the camping gear. One area we did not skimp on is the refreshments.
The next morning we came up with a novel idea. We need to start setting an alarm clock to tell us to go to bed. We had stayed up into the wee hours of the night having tasty spirits and trying to solve all manner of the world’s mountain biking problems. (The world has plenty of working on that pesky hunger thing)
Neither one of use were exactly moving quickly in the morning, but we still managed to get rolling earlier than if we had not camped.
Wildhorse did not disappoint and the SART was in good shape. Surprisingly we made really good time on the SART portion. I think we were afraid the wheels were going to fall of the bus of our hangovers so we should keeping movung while we were good.
A little hair if the dog at the bottom and all was well. It was a great day to be out on a bike.
I was stoked to have a couple of my Colorado buds roll into town. In addtion giving them a place to shack up and bourbons to sample we got in some riding.
We had some rain to deal with o. The second day so we went out to Anderson Truck Trail
The skys looked ominous as we were driving out to the but the there was a large patches of blue sky to the southwest which was where the wind was coming from so I felt pretty good about our chances. Things looked good early on.
The skys turned pretty quickly and before we knew it we had hail bouncing off our heads. Now we have a bike ride!
Pretty much by the time we got to the top of the trail the hail and light rain was over and we were back in some sunshine. Time to go back down.
I was so stoked to be to return some hospitality back in Kevin and Greg direction.
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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
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.
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.
(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!