Archive for January, 2008

Alpine Roll Action

January 30th, 2008 by MTBBill

Boy the last week has been quite hectic between work, a new season of my boy’s hockey getting ramped up and of course getting some riding in.  For those who are regular viewers you will notice I am backdating this post to the day of the ride.  

 I recently got my “play bike” back from having the chain stay portion of the rear triangle replaced after cracking it.   (It must have been a manufacturing thing since I don’t think I have been anywhere near pushing the designed limits of that bike)   This was also my first time back on some aggressive technical terrain since my kid-induced injury on the hockey rink a month earlier so my plan was to take it a little easy and mostly keep the wheels on the ground.  

Big Rock

The day was absolutely great with green grass, blue sky and puffy clouds.   The recent rains made for excellent traction that was punishing on the climb.  On the climb up we noticed a new slide had occurred above the trail that had rained about four large rocks down on the trail.  All but one of them bounced on the trail and kept going down the hillside.  The one that came to rest on the trail was the largest and it is going to have to become a trail feature as it will take some SERIOUS effort to move. 

911 Rool

On the return trip down I got a chance to check out the latest edition to the place.   Dubbed the “911 Roll”  This thing is significant and requires some serious mental fortitude to pull off.   The crux move of this roll is the turn onto the roll that is five feet of near vertical (Pictures do no justice here).   You can not hit the roll straight on as you are still turning after coming up onto the rock.  You have to commit to continue turning for about the first two vertical feet of the roll.  Screw up and most likely are you going to be pitched off the downhill side of the rock where you you will get the most vertical fallage. (Your left if you are trying to do the roll)   

Turn -Drop - Keep Turning 

Basically screw this up and 911 may just be what you will be calling.   The rest of the descent was freaking awesome as the moisture in the dirt that consprised to thrash my legs and lungs on the climb rewarded our efforts with Velcro like traction on the descent.    It was nothing short of Rip-O-Rama Goodness!

 -Bill

Spinning One Liners

January 29th, 2008 by MTBBill

Today I got in a spin class at lunch for the first time in a long time.   I had forgotten how much of a beat down you can give yourself in just an hour.  I say “you can give” because you set the tension on the bike throughout the workout.   This allows both beginners and the ultra-fit types to get equally beat down in the same session.  Any who,  It was a good workout, but the reason for the post is that my instructor for this class was really good at keeping everybody motivated and he had a bunch of motivational one-liners.    I’m sure that much of them were not his original creations, but it was a good compilation.  Some were cool and  some were corny but they did help to keep everyone spinning.

The more interesting ones were:

Find your comfort zone…and get out of it!

I don’t want much out of life…Just ALL of it!

Ride for the Hellth of It!

If you don’t act tired….You won’t be tired!

Find out what you can’t do!

That was the warm up (He said that 50 minutes into the 1 hour class when many of us drenched with sweat) 

Do spin classes help with cycling?   Personally it is not so much a “form” thing as a cardio thing for me.  On the cardio front they are really good.   The guy teaching today had us out of the saddle for 85% of the hour so there is certainly some good training of your legs for out of the saddle efforts.   I was certainly not sitting at my desk surfing the Internet during lunch which was a good thing.

 -Bill

Hole In The Ground – Truckee CA

January 27th, 2008 by MTBBill

Okay in keeping with my current trend of taking nearly half a year to get a video out here is the video of the “Hole In The Ground” trail near Truckee in the Sierra Nevada mountains of Northern California.    The music might be a little cheeseball but I dig both the tune and the lyrics and it just seems to match the flow of the trail that day.  This group also has a special place in my heart.  On New Years Eve 1988 (Maybe 89), I went to a concert at the San Diego Sports Arena where I saw a group called the “Love Tractor” open up for “The Red Hot Chilli Peppers” who in turn opened up for these guys.  Great freaking show.

Hole in the Ground

Nostalgia aside,   Right Click on the image to download the 115MB video that runs 8 minutes and 25 seconds long.   You may also want to read up about my Summer Roadtrip in Norcal.

-Bill

Is this a good helmet cam?

January 24th, 2008 by MTBBill

I get questions regarding helmet cams off and on regarding the various all-in-one and lipstick camera setups.  To start off with here is my current setup and Video How-To Page.  The camcorder mounted on the helmet method described there is what I use. You can not beat the quality you get from using an actual camcorder versus the tiny optics of a lipstick camera.   For me image quality is extremely important.  I want my footage to look good even if I viewing it on a big screen TV.      

The vast majority of people I have talked and emailed with on the subject are mostly concerned with sharing the videos online or viewing it on their computer.    For these users the lipstick cameras and all-in-one setups can work just fine.   If you are not going to use the camcorder mounted on a helmet setup here is what I would consider next.

Lipstick + MiniDV Camcorder

A high quality lipstick camera feeding a miniDV camcorder in your bag via an AV input jack.    The recording quality will be the best possible, 720 by 480 DV-AVI (uncompressed).  You can also use the camcorder for other things such as off the bike stuff or around the house stuff.    Should you later decide to do the helmet mounted camcorder approach you already have a camcorder.   I highly recommend that you get a camcorder and that has a LANC connection.  This will allow you to use wired remote controls so that you can stop and start recording easily without digging in your pack.  (The wireless remotes that come with camcorders are almost exclusively infrared which means the remote and camcorder must seet each other to work.  That won’t happen if it is in your pack)

Hoytech has a nice kit at a pretty reasonable price.  I would get the Professional Helmet Camera Kit.  Thier site also has a good list of compatiable camcorders.

Lipstick + minDVR

The next catergory down I would consider is a high quality lipstick camera feeding a mini DVR vice a camcorder.    Most of the all-in-one and minDVR setups involve recording to some type of flash memory card coupled with video compression.   Don’t be fooled if they say they record to AVI.  It is a compressed form of an AVI.  Most of these setups give you a few options for how much compression you use.  The more compression you select the more time you can record on the memory card but the video quality gets progressively crappier.  Remember you can always increase the video compression later, but if you compress right from the start, it is never going to look any better.   I highly recommend that you record with the highest possible quality setting if you use an all-in-one or minDVR unit.  This however will mean you will need to carry an extra memory card or two with you on the trail.  Considering the price of memory cards today this should not be a big deal.

   There is a nice aspect of the tradeoff of using a miniDVR.   You can use the minDVR for other things such a portable MP3/Video Player. 

If I was going this route I would buy Helmetcamera.com’s HC1 kit with the 560line lipstick camera.   The resolution of the lipstick camera is better than the DVR’s recording ability, but should you later decide to use a camcorder, you will get the full advantage of the better lipstick camera.  While Achros has a miniDVR helmetcam system available, I think the setup from helmetcamera.com is a better option as you are not forced to use the Achros lipstick camera which is not a particularly good one.  

All-in-One Systems

Before going with an All-In-One system, you also need to assess how much into the video scene you think you are going to get into as the all-in-one units do not “grow” well.   You can not improve the recording capability later.  You also can not easily use this setup for other things that are not Point of View shooting, like filming your kids hockey games, birthday parties or whatever.   They are however really easy to use out on the trail.  

     I think the best model going in this class is the VIO POV1 as it has the best recording capability in the class, however it is still not on par with a miniDV Camcorder .  It is waterproof and it has a remote that can be mounted on your handlebars or on your camelback shoulder strap.  It however is not anywhere near cheap, but if you go this route you will mostly likely be satisfied for a long time.   

The  VholdR is a nice very convenient and tiny package.  It weigh less than five ounces. The videos I have seen from them look alright.

Finally the GoPro Helmet Hero has a lot of bang for the buck.  Okay quality at a great price.   At less than 200 bucks or so it is an okay way to get into doing video, but you can quickly outgrow it. 

Final Words

When deciding on which way you want to go, I think of this along the same lines as someone first getting into mountain biking on real trails and getting their first bike.   If you get a department store bike you will not be happy for long.  If you go buy a boutique brand bike with all the goodies and end up not really into mountain biking you have wasted a bunch of money.   However if you get a well built bike with a mid-range group of components and you get into mountain biking seriously you will be happy for a long time and you can upgrade to top shelf components later.

A great finish to a 3-day weekend – Daley Ranch

January 21st, 2008 by MTBBill

So my boys were pretty pumped up about the riding at La Costa on Saturday and they were itching to ride again.  I had plans to take them to Lake Hodges or Penasquitos Canyon since that would be fairly kid friendly.   When I woke up this morning to see that it had rained the night before, I shelved both of those trails since they do not fair well after rains.  We hung out around the house until almost 1PM catching one of the new releases on Pay-Per-View.     They were still itching to go so I offered up Daley Ranch which is one of the best places to ride in the county when it is wet out.    I warned them that there was a bunch of climbing to do at Daley. They were undaunted so we loaded up and headed to Escondido.

Daley Ranch

The weather looked questionable at the trailhead, but we opted to head out.   We took the right out of the parking lot onto the Creek Crossing trail and then out to the Sage trail for the typical (and substantial) starting climb.  I was thoroughly impressed with both of them on the climb as they never stopped due to being tired. (They did dab a couple of times, but they did far better than I did when I first came out here some years back)  Due to the moisture we opted to skip the Coyote Run and Rattlesnake singletracks and stay on the fireroads.   It worked out well as the boys really enjoyed catching bits of air off the rocks in the fireroad on the way down to the meadow.  We stopped at the first good view of the meadow and we could hear a pack of coyotes yipping it up below.  Will was even keen enough to spot them before they headed off into the trees.

 Jake Air

Once down in the meadow we did the Jack Meadow loop starting up the east side.   We took a break at a little kicker rock so the boys could get some “mini-air”.

Will Air

 Once we reached the north end of the meadow and headed down the west side it was mostly a gradual downhill affair from there.   I reminded them that they had a big ring on thier bike and it was game on after that.    With my gearing at 32:18, I had to put on some serious cadence to beat them to the Ranch House.  

The damp and cool air kept us from lingering long during our break at the Ranch House.   They were trying to talk me into going to Wings and Things after the ride so I made a deal with them.   If we took the East Ridge trail back instead of “wimping out” on the road I would take them.   (I was going to take them anyway, but they did not need to know that.)   The thing about the East Ridge trail is that there is one really nasty steep section and I wanted them to get a taste of some hike-a-biking.   I really talked up “The Wall” to them and when they first saw it ahead they both gave a big “Whoa!”   They both gave it a good shot making about a third of the way up each.

East Ridge Wall 

I got pretty lucky on that climb as the wet weather made the traction like Velcro and I managed to clean it, my first time ever on the SS.  After that we connected back up with the Creek Crossing trail and made our way back to the trailhead.  I had tired but jazzed kids on my hands who made quick work of their dinner at Wing and Things.

Jake

Will

-Bill

San Clemente Singletrack Mashing

January 20th, 2008 by MTBBill

This morning was to be a fairly quick run through the San Clemente Singletracks in order to get back home to see the Chargers  vs Patriots game. (Yes, I know I’m still slacking on getting a page on this place put together)  I was meeting some folks up there but failed to realize they were meeting near the beach end of the place.   I went to the Dog Park start and did not figure out my mistake until it was time to roll.  It worked out well as I had a nice solo roll through a good chunk of the park to warm up with before meeting up with the group somewhere along “no-turns”.    After meeting up with the group it was apparent they were pushing a good pace.  Since I’m still having to single speed things right now, that was exactly what I was doing.  Either pushing or having a good pace.  Considering my current state of physical fitness it was a little too much pushing.  If I keep riding the SS that will go away soon enough.  I rode with the folks for the better part of thier route which included some loop-backs onto stuff I had done earlier in the day.  I’m still getting to know this place and they took some turns that I would not have done otherwise.  By the time I split off from the group I figured I had done somewhere around 15 miles or so and I still had to make my way back up to the dog park from near the south end of the system.   By the time I got back to my truck, my arms and lower back where fried.  Ahhh the joys of single speeding!

 San Clemente Singletrack

-Bill

La Costa Trailwork Day

January 19th, 2008 by MTBBill

Today my boys and I joined nearly 40 other volunteers to open the new Vista Del Mar trail and deconstruct/rehab and old unsustainable trail at the Rancho La Costa Preserve in Carlsbad. 

  La Costa Trail work 

Markus, Patrick and Jesssica from the Center for Natural Land Managment did an excellent job of showing us how to do the rehabilitation work as well as making sure there snacks and water available throughout the event. The picture abovie is of Jessica showing us how to plant the young plants and install an irrigation supplement. These things are really cool. They are a big glob of gel that is mostly water. We buried a couple of these gels with each plant and over the course of a month or so bacteria in the soil will slowly eat away the gel and release the water suspended in the gel in the soil.

 Schwag Galore

The event was sponsored by SDMBA, Spyoptics, Prana, El Camino Bike, Swami’s Bike Club and Squadra and my what a schwagfest they put on.   They made sure that even if you did not win something in the raffle, you still went home with something.  Very cool!

Will on the Wall 

Jake on the Easy Route

After the trailwork and raffle, we went out and tested out the trails.  This was the first time here for my boys and they had a hoot.   The rock wall technical feature was a major hit. Just before you get to it there is a really cool sign pointing you to either the easy or the hard route. This feature got throughly tested by both the young and the not-so young going in both directions. The really cool thing about the easy route is that it does not look so easy because it is made of rock, but in fact it is not much more difficult than a mound of dirt. It gives newer riders the reward of doing something harder without the actual risk of something harder. Jake (My eight year old son) rode it his first time up and giggled afterwards. Will (My 12-year son) wanted to take on the hard line. I was in catch mode, but it was not needed and he cleaned it on the second attempt.

A Big Hats off to Rich Julien from the San Diego Mountain Bike Association and Markus, Patrick and Jessica from the Center for Natural Land Management for working together to make the Vista Del Mar trail happen.

 Check out my Trail Work page for all of the pictures from the event along with a few more words.

-Bill

P.S.   I should have a page on this trail system in the next couple of weeks.

Back in the Saddle, Bushwacking, and 1FN Gear.

January 17th, 2008 by MTBBill

Yesterday was my first day back on the bike and it went alright.  The ride was to be mostly a show and tell with Rich concerning a La Costa to Elfin Forest connector that I would like to get legalized and improved upon.   I currently have BOTH of my geared bikes out-of-commission with frame cracks which meant I had to bust out the single speed.   The hills that are required on the ride today are not exactly single-speed friendly.  Now for a borderline clyde who has been off the bike for a couple of weeks it was downright hostile.  I put on my recently “Pushed” fork on the singlespeed and gave it a go.   I have to say that I am thoroughly impressed with the work Push did on this fork.  It felt better than it has ever felt.  I wanted plush, I got plush.  I wanted the Terrorlogic gone….Poof..Done!  The blowoff threshold on the new RLC damper was even better than the one on my other fork.  When the threshold is dialed why down and the fork is locked, it operates like the terralogic was supposed to work.   Mainly no harsh transitions when going from locked to unlocked.   Being that I was on a singlespeed I cranked up the threshold pretty good since I spent a good deal of my climbing time out of the saddle.   Money well spent in my book.

Single Speed (Pre-Push)
(Note: Fork is pre-push in this pic)

Rich and I made good use of the time getting a good close look at the lay of the land and getting a better idea of exactly where we want things to go.  Part of that meant a good chunk of bushwhacking up a pretty steep slope or two.  I did not think my legs got too exfoliated at the time, but the hot after-ride shower throughly convinced me otherwise.

If we can get this connector approved, it would make for a good day’s worth of riding in North County.  I won’t use the word epic, but it comes to mind.  We are going to discuss the connector idea more thoroughly with the most of the principals during or after the trail day this Saturday at La Costa.   It is way freaking early in the process, and there are lots of potential landmines out there, but I’m excited about the idea. Here is some additional information of the Trail Day as well some of the on-going concerns and talk about the areas.

-Bill

Giving a little back to Indian Creek

January 13th, 2008 by MTBBill

Yesterday, my boys and I joined other volunteers for some trailwork out on the Indian Creek Trail.   Indian Creek is part of the “Tour de Noble” which each year provides many riders with an awesome trail experience.  Today it was time to say thanks to the trail with a little TLC.  With my Saturday mornings typically being locked-up with my boys’ hockey games, it had been quite a while since I was last out for an organized trailwork event.     Luckily we are in between seasons right now.

We met up at the lower Noble Canyon trailhead, where the USFS Ranger escorted our carpooled caravaned up to the trail.   Getting there was a bit of adventure on it’s own.

Carvaning to trailhead   

Once up to the trail, we had a nice hike hike up past the waterfall where we then started give the trail a haircut as well as little treadwork here and there. 

Trailwork

Trailwork

This was my boys’ third trail work event in the area and they put in a solid days work.  By the time they are up to riding Noble Canyon (Which maybe sometime this year) they should not be surprised by most of the lines. 

Jake with Loppers

Here is Jake getting a little creative with getting some leverage with the loppers.

Afterwards Charlie from CalCoast Bicycles raffled off a bunch of really cool swag that included hats, shirts, tires, pumps and more with the grand prize being a Camelbak.  

Swag Tossing!

I have more pictures from the event on my Got Trail?  page. 

If you are interested to helping out with future trailwork events checkout the San Diego Mountain Bike Association’s website.

-Bill

Goodies in the Mail

January 10th, 2008 by MTBBill

I just had to “push” out a post today seeing that the Fedex guy brought some goodies by.

Push Box

Those who have seen my cross-country bike lately can atest that it needs some TLC.  My Fox 100RLC fork on that bike has about 7,000 miles on it and while I have changed oil and seals as needed, it was in need of something more significant.   The fork on my single-speed is a F100X with the first generation of the terralogic aka “TERRORLOGIC“.   Man did I hate that autolocking feature.   Basically it took the first bump to get it to unlock, which might be okay in someother part of the country, but not here in LoSoCal.   The trails are quite rocky and it seems like I’m always hitting the first bump even which the fork’s bump threshold set to the lowest setting.   Basically I’m not a fan at all.  Anyway I opted to send in the F100X into “Push Industries” to have them put the goods to this fork as well as get rid of the terrorlogic and put in a RLC configuration.

Pushed Fork

So I had some fun in the gararge putting this fork on my XC bike.  The SS will have to wait a little longer for some forking love.  The plan is to send the other fork off to Push as well.   I have not been out on the trails yet, but it feels pretty good just tooling around on the street.