I recently upgraded by GoPro cameras and replaced a gimbal I retired. I finally broke them out at to tinker around with the setups. La Costa is pretty much a local trail for me so that was where the tinkerfest was held.
While I managed to goon up some of the footage with the gimbal in wrong mode or the mounting positions not best for all conditions I did get some usable stuff. I put most some of that together here.
I moved from Hero 5s to Hero 8s and I am quite happy with the audio in in Protune mode vs what I had to deal with on the 5s. I have added wind mufflers over the mics in addition to setting changes.
The hypersmooth of the GoPro 8s is really good, almost gimbal quality. So why the GoPro 8 and not the 9? Well quite simply the 9 was not out yet and I got a screaming deal on the GoPro 8 while working on a military base overseas. All told, I got two GoPro 8s for $425 out the door which is almost Buy One Get One Free compared to MSRP.
For those of you you ride at La Costa you will most notice there are a couple of scenes where things look amiss. When I had the gimbal in the inverter mounted position, if I leaned over a certain about in a turn, the gimbal would flip and lock on to stabilizing in that inverted position. I flipped the vertically in post, but forgot to also flip in horizontally as well. I did not notice this until after the video was published.
I have had a big project on my to-do list for quite some time since I bought the trail-trailer. That being a highly capable solar upgrade. I had previously installed 500 watts of solar panels on the roof along with a solar charge controller in a earlier effort. The next phase was to add a bank of LiFePo batteries, a 3,000 watter inverter, an automatic bus-transfer and a battery monitoring system. That stuff took sometime to complete and now it was time to head out for a weekend of fun and testing things out.
The Cleveland National Forest was shutdown due to the CA wildfires drawing away all of their resources so we had to wait until the closures were lifted. The morning that it did I was already headed into the mountain to try and grab a first-come first-served site. I was rewarded with a nice spot on the meadow.
After setting up camp it was time for quick spin around the place. It was still early in the day on the first day the forest had opened back up so the place was pretty much empty. From camp I went along the meadow and then up Aqua Dulce to Los Gatos. There was a tree down on Los Gatos that was a bit too big for me to try and muscle out of the way. Another thing that was pretty cool was the the number of pine cones all over the trail. With the forest being closed to the public for two weeks no one has been kicking them off the trail so there we all these little land mines along the trail. It was an added layer of fun for the day.
To go along with the solar/power upgrade I bought a small Traeger wood pellet smoker for the RV. These nice thing about these is you pretty much set, forget and go for a ride. While they use wood pellets to cook/smoke they do need a little bit of 115VAC power to run the controls. The power upgrade took care of this without even thinking about. Considering that this thing uses less than 250Watts max and less than 50Ws most of the time, I basically have a solar powered smoker 🙂
The In-the-field operational test of the smoker was a hit! Pulled Pork awesomeness.
The next day was a pretty mellow cruise around the meadow with Nichol. At the top of the meadow there is a pine tree that the Acorn Woodpeckers have taken over a pine tree to be used as a granary or “Acorn Tree”. The whole woodpecker family/community will use these trees and they will take turns guarding it.
One thing I think is really cool about this behavior is that initially they will get a acorn jammed into the hole so tightly that it cannot be easily removed. As the acorn dries out it will shrink. The woodpeckers maintain the tree and will rotate acorns as they shrink to smaller holes were they will more snuggly fit.
Sunday a friend of mine came up and we did a sizable loop that included a climb up to Redtail Roost followed by a run down the singletrack to Aqua Dulce. When then went up and over Wooded Hills and then a loop around the meadow. Definitely good stuff. We finished off the ride with Pulled Pork Tacos!
We chilled out with the dogs leisurely broke camp the following morning to head back home. So nice to get out of town for a few days.
So I spent that a little over two months working in the Kingdom of Bahrain. No quality mountain biking to be had there. You could make do, and I know some folks who have because they lived there, but not worth it for a visitor. Anyway, I got back and have been hitting up some of the local goods.
I can really say I have been in much of an exploring mood, just getting in some local dirt. After being away for that long, I kinda want to spend plenty of time with my wife. There is also a considerable amount of things that have to be taken care of as well.
I did however manage to grow as scraggly looking beard while I was gone. I don’t know how much longer this thing is going to hang around
I finished off my riding during our camping trip up in the Laguna Mountains with a run down Redtail Roost, Los Gatos, the Meadow and then onto Noble Canyon.
What an awesome day it was with the exception of a total of 345 milliseconds. I clocked myself pretty good on Stairway to Hell and banged up wrist and arm pretty good. (It my defense I was on the original line and not the new lower easier line). I was pretty thumped but shook it off and kept going. I managed to do another endo on the Extra Credit and that was pretty much me for the day.
I banged up my other wrist, gave a little extra smack down to the rest of my upper body and broken my derailleur hanger. The cause of the second endo was pretty easy to understand, I was riding a bit timid which is not a good idea in that section of trail. If I would have been smart I would have skipped that last climb (aka Whore) and extra credit and bailed off for a road finisher. I only had a couple hundred yards of trail left of Noble at this point, but not only was my bike broken, my will to ride was broken. I can’t think of the last time that has happened.
So for the rest of the day, I enjoyed the hammock and settled in for some Motrin and bourbon therapy. The following day I was already feeling more beat up than the day before.
That next morning we did a hike from Camp. I must say that it felt exceptionally odd to be hiking on the Perfect Cycling Trail.
So I have been behind the power curve on making reservations ahead of time for excursions. I had to go the route of finding a first come first serve site for this outing. I was looking to hit up our favorite spot, the Laguna Meadow Campground, but it is currently closed for maintenance. Burnt Rancheria was the other campgroup on the list but they were all booked up so I headed up mid-week to find an spot. Most of the first come first serve sites are tent camping sized sites. I was not the only person who had this mid-week idea as when I arrived most of the larger sites that would accommodate an average or larger RV were already occupied. One of the reasons we went with the size trailer we did was to be able to get into more places and spots. Lucky for me there were half a dozen spots that were large enough for our setup. The spot I got had just enough of a parking spot to use but it made the door face away from the site itself. No big deal as the site itself was huge.
The following morning I decided to do some snooping around on some trails/routes that I had never been or or I had been quite some time ago. My boundaries for the day were Sunrise Highway, Kitchen Creek Rd, Fred Canyon Rd and and Thing Valley Road.
Dispersed camping is allowed on the National Forest land off of Kitchen Creek Road and Thing Valley Road so I had an eye out for accessing those options on a later visit.
The more I snooped around the further east and down the mountain range I traveled. Evidently I found myself by Cibbets Flats campground thinking I had done a good chunk of descending so it about time to head back uphill. I decided to make a loop using Fred Canyon Road and Thing Valley Road to get back up on top of the Lagunas.
The climb up Fred Canyon Road was not too terribly difficult but it had some steeper spots and there was little shade along the way. I evidently made it to the junction of Thing Valley Road and continued climbing. Thing Valley Road takes you up through the Ewiiaapaayp Indian Reservation (Stay on the road) for a ways before you are back in the National Forest. As you approach the northern border of the reservation the flora transitions from desert scrub to pine trees. Evidently gnats love this kinda forest as once I was under the trees the gnats got thick. I realized I have my bug net in my truck and not in my pack. The remainder of the climb was a bit of extra work as there was some additional calories expended swooshing at those little bastards. I heard once that the the Southern California Gnat can fly at up to 6.7 mph. My top climbing speed on Thing Valley Road was apparently 6.6 mph.
I felt pretty good about the effort I put in for the day but I was certainly ready for a siesta. It was a very good day to be out on a bike.
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.
A friend of mine whose mug shots have been sprinkled all around this website took a hiatus from riding in 2017. I am pretty stoked to have nudged him enough to get back to living dirty on two wheels.
We decided to do the south side of Lake Hodges for the return ride. The nice about the south side is you can make things pretty easy, there is some technical spots and there are lots of options to add more mileage.
I went out to Daley Ranch to get my climb on as that place is really good for doing that. There were looks of puffy clouds in the sky which made for some really pretty scenery. I was pretty impressed with just how much water and moisture was on the ranch. Pretty much everyone of the ponds and water holding areas was at capacity. It was impressive.
All of that water was certainly allowing for spring to hold on strong as almost all of the grasses were still good and green and the wildflowers were plentiful.
During the back half of my ride the clouds darkened up and even managed to get sprinkled on a little bit. Not enough to make a mess of things but enough that I deployed the rain cover for my pack.
It has really felt good to be able to ride again and I have been working on getting back into shape while taking a measure approach to the riding as the knee gets stronger. I certainly do not want to have a relapse of the pain issues.
I have been able to get in three rides in this past week. First of was Lake Hodges where I did the north and south sides for about a 20 mile effort.
I did my local ride from the house and felt pretty good on it.
And I meet my buddy Dave for a ride and La Costa which included some of the Back 40 goodness. Maintaining proper social distancing was pretty easy with Dave. I could barely keep him within 100 feet let alone 6 feet.
On the backside trails we came across a Rattler. He was pretty happy where he was at so we had to give him some encouragement to get off the trail. There were no sticks of the appropriate length around so I stood behind my bike, held onto the saddle and rolled the bike up close to the snake. One the front wheel got within a foot of the snake he figured it was best to give up his ground. If you have your arm outstretched to you saddle and lean over while you do this you can keep seven plus feet between you and the snake. I like to get these folks away from the trail when I encounter them as you never know when some Ahole is going to come along think these things need to be killed.
After we got this fellow to move along we finished up the ride. I felt really good about how I finished up the ride. It was a good week of ridin
I meet Steve and Jim out at Big Laguna Meadow for a bit fun in the sun. Road work had the normal staging area closed so we went further up road and started from Red Tail Roost. Starting from there is a lot of fun as you kinda get to have desert before the main course. After the descent we climbed up Aqua Dulce but instead of doing the expected Los Gatos run we continued climbing up to Wooded Hills and took the trails up over that peak.
The knee continues to improve to the point of almost feeling good but I am making a concerted effort to spin more and mash less. By feeling good I mean I don’t feel it at all. It is back to just being part of the whole system and not making a fuss about itself. I have lost a good bit of fitness but that is on the mend as well.
After descending the Wooded Hills trail down to the old county road we turned and climbed up that road to Chico Ravine and took it down to the meadow. I can not recall the last time I have gone down Chico so it fun if for no other reason than it was a switch up from usual route. We futzed around on the meadow and some of the side trails in the area before working our way back up to Redtail Roost
That last single track to get back up top is tough. I was pretty happy with my effort on that section. I was certainly slower with the whole spinning effort to this recovering knee but I had enough energy in the tank at the bottom of the super steep section that I was able to clean it. It feels good to be able to put in a solid ride again.