Lake Hodge – Highland Valley

The ride for the day was going to be a ride when I can not necessarily where and when I wanted to ride.   To maximize my ride time I needed to get in a ride along my route between work and home.    Lake Hodges fit that requirement nicely.    I started out at the trail head on the north side by the self-storage facility and then cut over to the south side of the trail system using the pedestrian/bike bridge.

South side of Lake Hodges

My original thinking was to just do the typical north-side out and back on the north side, but at the bridge I made the cut over to the south side.   My general impression is the southside trails are a little more interesting, not as wide and not as beat up.   The next round of thinking was that I was the southside stuff and then punch back over to the north side and do some of those trails.

Along the Highland Valley Trail

Well on my way back from the side side as I came up to the bridge to cross back over I decided to go straight over the I-15 and then connected up with the Highland Valley Trail.   Its a nice out and back bit of single track that is add just at two miles total to your ride.   If you are out riding Hodges it is worth the little side adventure.

 

 

Black Mountain – RB

My day job was been rather pesky by infringing on my Saturday so I only had to time to squeak in a short ride.   I had not been out to Black Mountain in Rancho Bernardino.    In had been at three years and change since I last rode here.

Looking west from Black Mountain

I knew some development was in the works in the area but I was a little surprised at how much at been developed since I was last our there.    I will definitely need to update  my page on this area as there home where some trails used to be.       The good news is the open space park is under good stewardship and the San Diego Mountain Biking Association (SDMBA) have a good relationship with the management of this area.   Some new trails are in the works and in progress.

Miners Ridge Loop

I did a counter-clockwise loop from the baseball fields along the service roads to the summit, night hawk, miners ridge and the lilac trail.    All of it was in pretty good shape.    I am going to make a more concerted effort to update things with the latest on this area.   More to follow on that.

BLT, Daley & Gears

MTB Life has mostly been about getting out on the local goods as of late.     Recently I back out in the Laguna Mountains.    We spent sometime playing on a few few rocks around the meadow.   Later in the ride, while trying a tight little squeeze I managed to crunch up my derailleur a bit.   I was able to get the thing aligned back enough to get the shifting back in order.    Later on on the same trail, I have a rock kick up in a pretty freakish manner and get caught between my spokes, frame, cassette and derailleur.    While I was able to get the bike back rolling again, I was pretty much stuck with a few gears in the middle of the cassettes range.    Basically it was really easy to spin out on the flats and painful work on the climbs.    The climb up Wooded Hills was brutal.

We have named this roller “Compressor”

After that ride it was shopping time.    I was running a   one by 11 speed setup with a 11-46 tooth cassette in the rear and a 32 tooth cog in the front.   With that setup there were two compromises I dealt with.   The first was that the easiest gear was not as easy as the 2×10 setup I have on another bike.   The other was the jump between the two largest cogs in the rear.   The old cassette went from 46 to 37 and I often found myself in the one is to easy and the other is too hard situation.

New Parts!

The new setup is still an 11 speed setup with an 11-50 cassette and a 30 tooth chain ring in the front.  It was a bit finicky to get setup on the bench but things came together.

One of my favorite spots out at Daley Ranch

To flesh things out on the trail, I decided Daley Ranch would be the proving grounds.    There is plenty of varying degrees of climbing to see how the new gearing feels.    I had to do some very slight tweaking on the trail to get things fully dialed when under load.  I certainly enjoy the easier gearing and the better stepping of the gears through the larger cogs.

Surprised to see so much water in the ponds out at Daley.

Surprised to see so much water in the ponds out at Daley.

Playtime in Santee

I was long overdue for a ride with Steve and Brian so Wednesday, I met them out in Santee for  some play time on the “Mel Brooks” trails.   The loop we did was only about nine miles but the trail was a beater.   This trail is all about the play not the distance.  With names like Blazing Saddles, High Anxiety, Mongo and Spaceballs how can you not have some fun.

Cuyamaca – ABDSP

It was time for a dawn patrol ride in the Cuyamaca Mountains and Anza Borego Desert State Park.   I was at the trailhead bright and early.    Too early was my first thought as it was quite brisk (mid-50’s) and I was dressed for the heat to come.

I started out at the San Diego River Staging area.  The early morning temps  made for a zippy start to help keep the blood flowing.

Still some flower out and about in the fields.

I made my way up the west side single track and then cut over to the at the visitor center and picked up the Green Valley fire road.

Mule Deer, the Ross Perot of the deer family.

I saw turkeys and some deer along way.   When I got to the bottom of Soapstone grade fire road, I took the Upper Green Valley single track.   About half way up the climb you leave the Cuyamaca Rancho State Park and enter the Anza Borrego Desert state park.   Now it looks nothing like a desert up here.

Along the La Cima trail heading east

Normally, I hookup with the La Cima Trail and head west toward Lake Cuyamaca and the California Riding and Hiking Trail (CRHT).  Today I turned east on the La Cima trail where I went for just over a mile up and over a ridge to the La Cima Trailhead.   This was a nice bit of trail.   At the La Cima trailhead I picked up the Sunrise trail and continued east.

Views along the Sunrise trail

What a nice bit of trail.  There were one spot where you could look down into the Anza Borrego Desert and see the Salton Sea.

The Salton Sea is out there in the haze.

I took the Sunrise trail out to its end at the entrance to the Lucky 5 ranch and the northern terminus of Deer Park Road (private property).   This was my first time on this bit of trail and I must say I liked it.  I have heard that there is a trail planned that would stay on the south side of sunrise highway and connect the Sunrise trail all the way over to top of Noble Canyon.   I am all about new trails and I would gladly welcome such a trail.     Interestingly enough there is already a trail that connects those two points together.  The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is that trail.  There are access points to the PCT at the the entrance to the Lucky 5 ranch as well as at the top of Noble Canyon.  Unfortunately bikes are off limits on the PCT.   Now this particularly section is not off limits to bikes because it is in wilderness.  No it is strictly off limits to bikes because the PCT has a blanket ban on bikes mostly because the Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) feels bike should not be on “their” trail.  (I’m grossly generalizing their position that from their perspective makes sense)   To me it seems to be a nearly a no brainer that allowing bikes on the PCT section that is on the north side of the Sunrise Highway from Lucky 5 to Noble would alleviate the need to build a trail between those two points on the south side of Sunrise Highway.   This makes me wonder, would the Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) rather see additional environmental impacts created in this area to create a redundant trail just so they could continue to keep bikes off of the PCT?  Is their need to maintain a certain trail experience greater than their land stewardship goals?   Would the organizations that support the PCTA simultaneously oppose the creation of the new trail on the south side of the trail due to environmental impacts while also opposing the sharing of the section PCT on the north side of Sunrise highway?   Things that make you go hmmmmmmmm.

Well after my deep thoughts I started working my way back the California Riding and Hiking trail.  It was well into mid-morning at this point and things had warmed up to near perfect cycling temps.  Along the way I came upon the fellow above.

 

After a bit of snake and camera juggling, I was back on my way and rejoined the CRHT which took me to Soapstone and Stonewall fire roads followed by the Coldsprings trail and the then back to the staging area via the westside single

Good times on the trails!

Black Mountain – Coast to Crest

Fresh back from working in the Puget Sound area it was time to hit up some of the local stuff.  I got up at O-Damn Early to hit up a new bit of trail and the Black Mountain Truck Trail near Ramona.

O-Damn Early

Ramona this time of year can get really toasty and Pamo Valley can really turn into a pizza oven.   The plan today was to get some elevation on me before things got to really cooking.

The new trailhead staging area off of Pamo Valley. The pine trees on the top of the mountain is my destination.

I made it out to Pamo Valley good and early.   The new staging area is quite large and can accommodate plenty of cars and horse trailers.   I made quick work of getting ready to roll as it was only going to get warmer.    The trail starts out in the northeast corner of the lot and parallels the road for a short bit before crossing over.   A word of caution, the first section of trail near the road was ate up with goat heads.    If you are not running some type of sealant system you may find yourself having a frustrating day right from the get-go.

This new section of the Coast to Crest Trail eliminates the need to ride along the Pamo Road to connect the Lower Santa Ysabel Truck Trail to the Black Mountain Truck Trail.   It is 3.2 miles long and overall I think it is a nice addition to the trail system.   It undulates on the hillsides following the general route of the road but is not just paralleling the road.   It does cross the Pamo Road several times but I really don’t consider that much of a detractor.

McGuyver Time!

Shortly after I got onto Black Mountain Truck Trail, my dropper seat post started acting up.    It started sagging about 1/2″.   I was able to just raise my post up some in the seat tube to compensate, but it was not long before it dropped about 2-2.5″ down.    I did not have enough seat-post to compensate for this.  The first thing I tried was wrapping some duct tape around the upper part of the post.  It worked for just a short amount of time before the whole tape mass just slide up the post.   Next I tried reposition the table and give some extra clamping power with some zip ties.   This worked better but not for long.    Trying to do a long climb without full leg extension can be rough.    I was about to throw in the towel an head back down the mountain when I saw a sizable stick.   I was able break and trim the stick to just the right length to wedge between the seatpost clamp and the bottom of the seat.    Once I got it jammed in place I zip-tied the stick to the post.    This fix held up and I was back in business.

The remaining five miles or so of climbing I had ahead me after fixing the post when well enough and while the temps were climbing they were not bad at all.   I was joined at the summit by a couple of jeepers and their dog and I had an enjoyable time shooting the breeze with them for a while before heading back down the mountain.

 

The top of Black Mountain lookin to the south west. The new trailhead can be seen at the south end of the valley.

As I descended you could feel the temps climbing and it was really hot down at the valley floor.   I opted to not take the new connector trail back at this point and just zipped back on the road.    I did a total of just at 20 miles and 3,300 feet of climbing.

More Cuyamaca

I was back out in the Cuyamaca Mountains this weekend.

Spring is still hanging on. Today I started out on the west side singletrack and then crossed over to the visitor center and then took the Coldwater trail northward.

If you look close there are two turkeys in the field.

The climb up and over to the Stonewall peak fireroad was quite manageable. This is a really well built trail that I have found to be manageable and engaging in both directions.

Blooming goodness in July!

Once at the top of Stonewall Peak fireroad I turned east. Technically I was in the California Riding and Hiking trail (CRHT) at this point but the next section north of here is what I consider the “real trail”. When I reached the junction of the CHRT and the top of Soapstone Grade fireroad I had to think about my options.

It has been over a decade since I found myself and this location having arrived from the west. I have long ago given up on climbing Soapstone grade to this point as the Upper Green Valley singletrack at at the bottom of this grade is so much better. My other option is to climb the next section of the CRHT which would be good but it is fantastic in the southern direction. I decided to descend Soapstone grade and then climb Upper Green Valley singletrack.

I have been doing a fair amount riding lately and I feel I have been on the fitness and injury mend as if late. I felt really good on this climb and I think I did as well as I ever have in recent time. I still can’t beat that that much younger version of me but that is a different story. I ended up climbing the La Cima trail over to the Lucky 5 staging area (a first for me). I resisted the urge to poach the PCT back to CRHT today and made my way back along the La Cima trail to the CRHT and back the way I came. It was glorious!

La Costa Bike tweaks

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.

Lake Hodges

Lake Hodges is not in bad shape right now. On this particular outing I combined both the south side and the north side trail

South side of Hodges

All together I did about 24 miles of fairly quick paced riding (for me). I did not add in Bernardo peak. If I had that would have made for some pretty legit “in town” mileage. I think I have caught myself being a trail snob and passing by this place to go ride something better. It was nice to give myself a bit of a mental reset on this area. I don’t care how fit you are you should be able to come out here and find a way to both put a smile on your face and wipe it off all while putting some burn on your legs.

North side trail by the dam

If you think I’m stretching things a bit, try combining Raptor Ridge, the south and north side and Bernardo peak in a single ride.