Archive for the ‘Orange County’ Category

San Juan Trail

December 30th, 2013 by MTBBill

I needed to pedal off so Christmas cookies calories so Dave and I headed up to the San Juan Trail to get in some climbing.   I’m pretty sure there are some Thanksgiving Turkey, Halloween Candy, San Diego Beer Week and Octoberfest calories to be dealt with as well :-)

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It was a bit cool at the trailhead but just a few switchbacks up the trail it was quite comfortable.   The day turned out of to be simply awesome with warm sun and superbly clear skies.  San Clemente and Catalina Islands were easily seen.  The further up we climbed the more impressive the views became.

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I have been spending most of my riding time lately on my XC hardtail so taking out the my long-legged UZZI with it additional weight and heft on this ride was quite a bit more work on the climb.     I was quite happy to see cocktail rock when we got there.

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We did the traditional loop at the top in the counter-clockwise direction.    I had not forgotten how fun this trail can be but I had been away from it just long enough for each to turn had a bit of “Oh I remember you” excitement to it.

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The main descent back to the trailhead was a rip roaring hoot.   I have ridden this trail in what I would call perfect conditions before where the dirt could be best described as “Hero Dirt”.    That was not the case on this day, I would call it “Normal” which was also great.   It was the kind of dirt where you could easily overdue it in the turns and ending up loosing control.  But if you paid attention you could hear your tires and the dirt telling you when you were approaching the limits of traction.  I had big stupid grin on my face every time I was able to make the tires and dirt sing to me in the turns as my long-legged bike was shining in gravity direction it is optimized for.    We polished off a great day of riding with some tasty burritos in San Juan Capistrano before heading back to casas.

 

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!

San Clemente Single Tracking

November 22nd, 2012 by MTBBill

So after getting back from Japan on Monday, I got in some quality time with my youngest son Jake on Tuesday and Wednesday.   The boy has been growing like a weed and was in need of resizing/refreshing some of his hockey gear.   HockeyGiant.com has a large store in Anaheim so a shopping outing was added to the day’s to-do list.   The San Clemente Single Tracks (aka “The Weedpatch”) was right along the way so a pit stop in order.  There a couple of ways to get into the area and we parked off of Cristianitos Road.  This is real popular place for the local surfers hitting up Trestles to park so we looked like the odd men out without a surfboard in tow when we headed out. 

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We had not started out our morning planning on going for a ride so I had made the breakfast equivalent of a extra large all-meat pizza comprised of eggs, toasts, grits (the real all-natural stone ground stuff) and copious amounts of thick-cut applewood smoked bacon.  (Just for the record, all-meat pizza itself a breakfast food group!)   While breakfast had been mighty tasty we were still pretty stuffed when we started pedaling.  Jake had kicked my ass on the climbs during our last outing but that was not the case today.   My youngest buck soon learned that one of the skill sets that Dad honed while obtaining his official old guy qualifications was the ability climb hills with a belly full of bacon. 

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One nice thing about this area is that even when you are climbing there are plenty undulations here and there that break most of the climbs up.    Bacon burps on the climbs and smiles on the descents was the theme on this outing.  I always enjoy all the flowing swooping goodness out in this area.  The trails conditions were also good out today.  My favorite time out here is in the spring when everthing is green but there was nothing to complain about with it today. 

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We did about a 15 miles of trails out here before loading up the bikes and continuing on up to Anaheim to beat up on Dad’s wallet at the hockey store.  Another good day out a bike made even better by spending it with one of my boys.

Aliso and Wood Canyons

June 23rd, 2012 by MTBBill

Bill O’Neil and I met for a cruise through  Aliso and Wood Canyon Park in Laguna Hills of Orange County today.  My last ride out here was cut short due to a mechnical so today was really my first time seeing the majority of the trails in some number of years.   I found it amazingly depressing how bad some of the trails have been widened with go-arounds that seemed to be at nearly every minor obstacle.   The Cholla trail for example is just a complete mess compared to a handful of years ago.  I wish people could just check their ego and get off and walk the stuff they can’t ride instead of making or taking the go-arounds.   (I know preaching to the choir here) 

 

Here is a shot at the top of the Rock-It trail. Plenty of go-arounds here as well.  This was a mighty fun descent (following the original lines).   Once down Rock-It we worked our way over to Mathis.  My memory of the steepness and length of this climb has been dulled over the years.   It was quite vividly refreshed today as it took quite a bit of gruntage to get my Intense UZZI up this climb.

Once up to the top of Mathis we continued up along the ridge fireroad to “Top of the World”   This was a good place to take a breather and enjoy the views of the Pacifc and Laguna Beach.   From here we went back down to Mathis and picked up the “Car Wreck” trail.

This was my first time on this trail and it was quite a bit of fun.  I managed to not get any pictures taken of the technical bits.  The picture above is just after all of the technical bits along with the namesake remains of an old vehicle.  This trail feeds right into the Oak Grove Trail.   A pretty section of trail.

The next trail we hit up was the Dripping Cave trail.   There were some nice tree lined bits as well as some short grunt working climbing in the direction we were going.

We farted around a bit at the at actual dripping cave

Some of it was just downright photo posing.    It was right about this time we thought we heard the sound of tiny bubbles trying to escape from finely crafted brown glass bottled far off in the distance.    We set out to investigate the sound and found the offending bubbles (in my truck).    Ballast Point’s Sculpin IPA and Mission Brewing’s Dark Seas Russian Imperial Stout were tasty accompaniments to post-ride chit-chat.   Another NON-Bad day to be on a bike.

San Juan Trail

April 8th, 2012 by MTBBill

Last weekend I decided to roll up to Orange County and hit up the San Juan Trail which I have done in quite some time.    It weather called for cloudy but I figured it might be different once I got away for the coast.   It was a bit misty as I traveled up I-5 before turning inland on HWY 74.    The misting stopped but it was indeed cloudy all the way to the trail head.    After getting all the bike and clothes bits all setup I started up the six mile climb to the first decision point “Cocktail Rock”.

As I climbed I could see a soupy cloud layer in the mountains up and ahead of me.   I knew that I would get some cloud riding but I wondered the ceiling of the cloud bank was going to be as riding above that clouds can be pretty awesome.    As I worked my way up the trail the clouds got closer and closer.

I did not start this ride at the ass crack of dawn by a long shot (think leisurely brunch time roll out) so as expected and meet a handful of folks on their way down that mentioned that it was clear up top.   As I continued my climb I soon entered the clouds and visibility go down to around 50-100 feet which was kinda cool to be riding through.  Moisture in the air was collecting up on my arm hairs giving me what looked like a water droplet sweater.    By the time I got up to cocktail rock the clouds had moved up higher in the mountains so there was not sunshine to be had for me at the top.

From Cocktail Rock I decided the “Lollipop” at the top which is comprised of the Old San Trail and the current or “new” San Juan trail.    There are merits to doing the loop in either direction on this day I decided to do the counter-clockwise direction.    The clouds settled in amongst the old groves along this route made for a ride that a very ethereal feel to it.  The cloud riding continued for the remainder the loop as well as most of the descent of back down from Cocktail Rock.      By the time I finished the loop I was quite ready for six mile return to the trail that was all downhill except for one “bump” near the top.

As I neared the bottom of trail the sun even decided to make an appearance which was a nice way to finish off the ride.

Playing on the San Juan Trail

January 27th, 2011 by MTBBill

Sunday was a return to the San Juan Trail at the southern end of the Santa Ana Mountains.  The weather was in the typical range of So-Cal Awesomeness. 

The climb up from the bottom went well.  There was a really stiff wind that sometime gusted to what I would guess would be 25-30 mph.  On several occasions I had to put a foot down to keep from being blown off the trail.  Luckily, the trail weaved around sidehills enough that there was lots of wind breaks. 

The views were pretty impressive from up at Cocktail Rock.  On this ride I decide to continue on the New San Juan Trail were I enjoyed technical sections and fun swoopy stuff in the trees.

I took a bit of breather near the junction with the Viejo Tie Trail before continuing on to the Old San Juan Trail.  I got the oppurtunity earn some Karma points by helping out a guy change a flat how had forgotten his pump and tire irons.   After that I enjoyed the descent and cruise down through the meadow along the Old San Juan Trail.   The climb back up to Cocktail Rock was just as much of a beater as I remember, but it was nice in that I had not done this segment in some number of years.  I ran to a MTB Bud (aka Mushroom Dave) there and we chit-chatted a bit before it was time for the fun 6 mile descent back to the trailhead.

The descent was quite awesome, with one 2 second exception.  While I kept looking ahead down the trail other riders on thier way, I got suprised by another rider just past the apex of a blind turn.   The loose decomposed granite in the turn and my hard breaking do not mix too well together and the bike slide out from under me.   Another thing that did not mix to well was my knee and the decomposed granite which resulted in a minor fleshwound (make sure to use your best Monty Python impressionation while saying it).   It cleaned up quite well but pretty ugly at first.   Luckily I did not hit the dude or his bike as that could have made things much worse.

A litte bloodshed aside, it was an awesome day to be out on a bike.

Give the Trails some time!

December 23rd, 2010 by MTBBill

Okay, it is that time again lots of rain and we all want to go for a ride.   

Take a look at Wet Trail Rating Page here.  

Want to get in the conversation?  Check out this thread that comes up every year about this time.

BOTTOM LINE – Give the trails some time to dry out, going out to soon will screw our trails up.

2009 Opener – The Los Pinos Trail

January 1st, 2009 by MTBBill

What a great way to start off the new year with some dirt I have never been on.  It has been on the list for quite a few years but I had never gotten around to get getting on it. From what I have been told we hit the trail when it was in the best condition in years.   This trail is not for everyone, ummmm it would probably not be a stretch to say this trail is not for most riders.  It has a grunch of hike-a-biking and some steep and often hairy descents.  I’ll be getting a page up on the site before long on this one.  For now here are some pics.


Rodman with some earlier “Just a Warmup” Hike-A-Bike.

The views did not suck all day.

Some of the mild Downage.

Where is Waldo on this brutal Hike-A-Bike Section?

Here’s a hint.

Mark on one of the ridable climbs.  We were on the peak in the distance earlier.

More trail goodness.

Pretty much all the Hike-A-Bikage is done now.  The San Juan Trail works it way along the face of the Sugarloaf peak in the distance.

Some techie bit near the bottom.

All in All, I would have to say we brought in the Newt Year in right!

San Clemente Singletracks

August 31st, 2008 by MTBBill

Well after a really long time in the works I finally published the San Clemente Singletracks Page.   It is not my best trail review, but I have found it so difficult to describe a route well that it has languished in the draft stage for nearly a year.  So I basically gave up on my normal style and just went with a general description of the area as well as a few of the major trails.  After that just go ride, get blissfully disoriented and have one heck of a time out there.   I have to give a special thanks to John Early who provided me with a few GPX routes (to share with you) that were continuous from start to finish.    Every time I have every been to this trail system, I’m always exploring and do stuff like doubling back, go the wrong way just cause and basically make a mess of my GPS track.   I will probably clean up the trail review here in the coming months but I got tired of holding on to this one.  So enjoy and maybe go for a ride!

Wallstreet �

Pushing My Luck

March 2nd, 2008 by MTBBill

I have been fighting off the early signs of a cold so I opted to do something non-epic to for my weekend ride.   I had driven by the Ronald Casper Wilderness Park dozens of time on my way out to the San Juan Trail.  I had heard that it was an okay ride but all fireroads for mountain biking.   I figured I would be stopping often to take pictures so a bit of minor chest congestion should not be too big of a deal.  The chest congestion ended up not being much a factor at all.  But something else would be.

Windmill

 I started off from the Old Corral/Windmill area and took the Bell Canyon trail.  I had barely gotten on the bike when I spotted a group of deer.  They certainly knew I was there so I kneeled down and looked away from them and acted like I was looking for something on the ground.   Feigning that I was uninterested in them was enough to calm them enough that they cautiously  moved along the edge of the meadow gettting closer to me.  I spent a good 10 minutes here before they moved along. 

Deer 

After this things went along pretty nicely.  With all of the rain we have been having there was green everywhere.   I eventually made my way to the Oso Trail and started climbing a ridge.  This trail turned steep in quite a few sections, but it was cool as views of Santiago, Los Pinos and Surgarloaf peaks were often seen in the distance.  I was a little over half a mile from reaching Badger Pass when I heard a loud bang and immediately felt the rear tire go flat.    I thought “No Big Deal, I know how to boot a sidewall tear”.   It did not take long to find the tear and it was not good.   I had about a two inch split in the tire just above the bead.   Not a good place at all.   After taking inventory of all my stuff, I was also a bit bummed.   About a month or so ago, I had used up all my duct tape helping someone get a busted chainstay patched up enought to limp home and had fogotten to replenish my tape.   

Badger Pass Gazebo

I ended up using a really big patch on the inside of the tire with strips of first aid tape to help spread the load out.  I also still had a tireliner still in the tire from a dersert ride that I shifted around to the side.   Once I inflated the tire it was obvious the patch was pretty marginal.  I deflated the tire and added two small patches on the outside as well as some more first aid tape to the outside of the tire.  This ended up working better as when I inflated the tire (with much less air than I normally use) there was much less bulging.    I had little confidence that this patch was going to hold and had already committed to about a four mile hike back to my truck.   Looking at the map I figure it would be only be marginally longer to take Badger Pass down to the San Juan Creek Trail and then back to my truck vice going back the way I came.   I could at least see some new stuff on my way back. 

Flowers

So I gingerly made my way down Badger Pass as I wanted to flex that sidewall as little as possible.  Badger Pass ended up being really pretty with all of the growth.  I knew it was a fireroad but in places it was vitrually a hard to follow singletrack.  The poppys and lupines where really going off through as well.  It was quite a treat. 

Flowers

 Once I had made my way down to the San Juan Creek Trail, I was amazed to see how well the patch was holding up.   The San Juan Creek Trail (aka fireroad) was pretty non-eventual as well as mostly fairly crappy as it was very close to highway 74.   Once back near the park entance and back on the pavement I rolled back towards my truck.   The rear tire was slowing loosing some air so I stopped and carefully put some more back in.  

I felt really lucky at the point having averted a sizable hike.   I stopped at the junction of the East Ridge Trail as I really wanted to check out as much of the park as I could at this was on the list.   Since I had already mentally committed for a hike today, I figured what the heck, there are a couple of trails that I can hike back on if the tire blows and only have a few miles to deal with.    So up the East Ridge I went and worked over to the Sunrise trail.   At the bottom of Sunrise I had to put some more air in the tire and bulging and increased some.   

 Hmmmm, I only have about a mile back to the truck from here.   I really wanted to check out the Starr Rise trail up to the West Ridge Trail.   I decided to push my luck some more and went up the Starr Rise trail.  I was loosing air a little quicker now and I need to pump up again when I reach the West Ridge.   I thought heading north would be risking too much, but I was will to push my luck again and headed south the West Ridge trail.

trail

There were some more nice views to be seen from the West Ridge and I took it out to the end of the park.   The bulging was getting bad now.  I had seen pretty much everything I wanted to so it was time to head back.   I pumped up again when I got back to the Bell Canyon trail and it looked like it was going to go at any second.   I worked by way back to towards the truck and sure enough it popped.   The cool thing was that I was exactly half a mile from my truck.   It was still really pretty out and I felt really great about the timing of the flat.   I had planned on a four mile hike and ended up only doing half a mile.

 I got in a total of 17 miles of riding out at Caspers with 13 of it being on a booted, patched, and taped tire.  I feel quite lucky!