Archive for December, 2008

Tacos For New Year’s Eve

December 31st, 2008 by MTBBill

Tacos were sounding good today.  I went to Alpine to take some more flight lessons.

So I’m calling this a successful jump and landing, with a really bad bit of trail riding immediatly afterwards.  My biggest mistake was not really looking at the landing closely before jumping. I have done that jump before but did not take notice of a rut that had developed after the rains and was just chilling there in the shade. If I had I would have made more of an effort to not to go as far left as I did. I really thought I was just going to scrap the bushes a bit and keep on riding.

Here are some shots of the aftermath.

This one taco deluxe!

I thought for sure I would be walking out of there as it was firmly in the hella jacked range.

http://www.mtbbill.com/cpg/albums/ATT-31DEC08/ATT-31DEC08-03.JPG

Surprisingly enough I found that after showing the wheel some luving Ike Turner style, it was okay enough to get rolling again.

One thing is for certain, I confirmed that I am getting the full 160mm out travel out of my front fork. I got a scrap on the my thigh just above the pads and I aggravited an old injury to my right shoulder a bit. I even managed to hit a few smaller things on the return trip back down the mountain but a latter inspection revealed showed that this rim is going to have to be put out to pasture.

Long Overdue Fisher Mesa Video

December 30th, 2008 by MTBBill

Okay so this video took just a wee bit longer to get out that I expected.   Truth is I got a little burnt out on editing video so I just set the footage aside.    I rode Fisher Mesa in May on Day 5 of my Utah Colorado 08 Road trip.  Fisher Mesa is a really cool out-and-back XC ride that falls into the “eat your desert first” category as the mesa descends from the trailhead all the way to the turn around point which can be up to 12 miles at the point.   It is well worth the return effort.  Fisher Mesa is a good chunk of distance from Moab.  To give you a rough idea of where it is at, If you have ridden Porcupine Rim, the valley to the east is Castle Valley with it’s signature Castle Rock and the Priest and Nuns.  The mesa across the valley to the east is Adobe Mesa.  To the east of Adobe Mesa is Mary Jane Canyon and beyond that is Adobe Mesa.   The Adobe Mesa Rim trails is on the east side of the mesa and it over killer views of the Fisher Towers, Top of the World and Fisher Valley.   Like most of my photographic and video experience in this area of the country, it is tough to capture the beauty of the place.  

Right Click here to download the 87MB video that run 6 minutes and 35 seconds.

Anza Borrego Desert Winter Goodness

December 22nd, 2008 by MTBBill

Against my better judgment, I’m going to join you.”  That is how this adventure in the Anza Borrego Desert started when Greg decided to get onboard with a bit of riding way out in the east county of San Diego.  It was late in the evening when we pulled the trigger to do a 28 mile shuttle run bright and early the following morning.   Pretty much all the information I had gathered on riding in this desert was that you have only a small window after winter and spring rains to ride unless you are into abusive sand slogging. Southern California just had a sizable winter storm that brought plenty of rain and snow to the area.   The window was supposedly open so it was time to go.    It was still dark when I started my eastward trek and when I arrived at the upper trailhead in the early morning light it was cold with a little snow on the ground.  It was a pretty winter scene in all directions.  I soon met up with Greg and we beat feet to the lower trailhead about five miles south of Ocotillo Wells. I wanted to be the trail at around 9AM but I had underestimated how long the logistics were going to take so it was just before 10AM by the time we started pedaling.

The first chunk of the climbing up Pinyon Mountain Road off of Highway S2 was not bad at all as the snow was not deep and the tire treads had created dirt lines in the 4WD trail. As we climbed higher the tire tracks became compacted snow vice dirt and climbing became more interesting.  As the snow became deeper, you had to stay right in the middle of the tire tracks other wise your pedals would strike the side of the groove and on more than a few occasions this started a series of pinball pedaling that often ended in putting a foot down in the snow.

 

As we reached the high point on the ride in the saddle between the Pinyon and the Vallecito Mountains at just under 4,000 feet the snow was a good foot deep.  It was a gorgeous scene and the snow riding was still not too bad.  We then came to an unmarked fork in the trail that was not annotated on the USGS topos or the park’s map.  After a bit of head scratching we came of with the theory that one of these forks is a dead-end and the other is the through route off the mountain.  We opted to go with the fork that had the most tracks on it.   Slightly downhill we went and after a quarter of a mile we were presented with a wonderful vista at the turnaround of a dead-end trail.   The reason this fork had more tracks was because there was two sets of tracks for every vehicle, one coming and one going. (This is Bill’s dumb thing not to do on the trail tip #276) The grade of this fork was just enough to make climbing on the tracks in the snow way too energy consuming so we hoofed it back to the fork.     

The correct fork turned out to be the path less traveled.  The trail only had maybe two or three vehicles pass through since the storm so the snow was not particularly compacted.  The temperature had also risen enough that there was a slush factor developing.  This combined to make for a squirrely and often laborious descent that slowed our progress.  It was a great exercise in finely balancing momentum, steering finesse, and body English to keep moving forward.  Get just one of these factors out of whack for a split second and a comically frustrating series of escalating over corrections would ensue.  The end result usually was finding myself standing in deep snow humping my bike back into the tire grooves.

We soon came to one of the signature spots on this trail for the jeepers known as “The Squeeze”.   It is a slot between two rocks that is just barely wide enough for a jeep to get through and it includes a step down.  This was the only technical thing I had seen so far today so I felt inclined to give it a go despite some snow and ice in potentially inopportune spots.  I ended up making it but not without the backend of the bike trying to pass the front for a scary second.

After a little less than two miles of the downhill slogging the snow was not longer a problem.  We had stopped to grab some snacks after our last patch of snowy uphill hike-a-biking when we saw a low flying prop plane pass overhead.  The plane suddenly swung around and made another pass over top.   We joked that this was probably a patrol plane and they were wondering what the hell we were doing out here and were already calling us idiots in for a rescue later on tonight.  We chuckled as the plane flew off thinking that they were up there shaking their heads at the sight of us.

From this point we had a down right awesome bit of downhill riding that would net us our highest speeds of the day.  It was over far too quickly and we soon found ourselves doing a bit of mild climbing before descending into Hapaha Flat.  It was quite comfortable and sunny now and we stopped at Split Rock for a snack and to snope around for the Indian Pictographs which were supposed to be around here.   The reason for the name of the rock was much more obvious than the pictographs. We found indian morteros easy enough but only after carefully examination did we find the some faded and diminutive pictographs.   I was expecting something more on the impressiveness scale like the ones in Moab so I was a little disappointed. 

 

The next two miles was quick and the sandy trail was just what I hoped it would be, packed and fast.   I was digging this section.  The wide open Hapaha Flat gave way to the more defined Fish Creek Wash as we gradually descended into a different geological era when this area was the seabed of the Gulf of California.  The steep walls were composed mostly of large sedimentary rocks that looked like you could pull one out from the bottom and the entire wall could come tumbling down.  I was not going to test the theory.

At we continued along, the wash twisted and turned and the large rocks gave way to mud sediment and sandstone layers.  While the jeep trail was for the most part was “just a wash” the scenery around us was an ever changing tapestry of textures and colors.  We passed by numerous smaller washes that were feeding into Fish Creek wash.  Many of the washes contain interesting features that I have only read about so far.  With each passing wash both the moisture in the soil and the drag on our tires increased. We had about six miles left in the ride when the resistance of the wash significantly overcame the pull of gravity and riding down the wash transitioned from mild spinning to increasingly laborious. 

Fish Creek Wash used to be a free flowing creek that cut through soil and rock faster than tectonic forces could push up what is now Split Mountain from underneath.  The result is a spectacular gorge that I was not expecting to see in San Diego County.  Even though I was pretty pooped and the wash was a solid slog and at this point, this was cool stuff.   The kind of stuff you should see at least once.

While mashing along through Split Mountain a State Park Ranger rolled up in his jeep and eagerly greeted us with “Hey we have been talking about you guys”.   The plane that overflew us was indeed the state park patrol plane and they did do a double take and before radioing in a “You are not going to be believe this” call.   He was happy to see us as he knew he would not have to spend the night out looking for lost and stranded bikers.  After some chit-chat we went along our way and finished up the final and downright brutal two miles of slogging to the waiting car.

This was an amazing ride that is not about the trail but the scenery all around it.  Slogging builds character, and I sure felt like one after this ride.  With the diverse spread of terrain that you travel through, I suspect there will be some measure of slogging no matter when you do it.  While I’m in no hurry to rush out and do it again in the coming weeks, I am going to get back out here with my truck, hiking gear and my boys to do some exploring in the lower reaches where there are mud caves, slot canyons and more pictographs.   I am stoked to have gotten out into this back corner of San Diego County.

Fixed User Registration Bug

December 17th, 2008 by MTBBill

It has been raining here in normally Sunny San Diego for a few days so now is good time to take care of some indoor issues I have been dragging my feet on.

Some of you may have noticed that when you tried to register a user account on this blog to leave a comment that you never got your password sent to you.    After much delay on my part, I finally chased down the issue to a configuration change with my Internet Service Provider.  I have fixed/configured around the problem now so for those that choose to, you may now register and leave comments.

For those of you who have attempted to register in the past you will need to use the “Lost my Password” option from the login screen to have it resent to you.

Completely new users should work properly.  

The email comes from WordPress-NoReply@mountainbikebill.com so make sure your spam filters don’t snag it.

EDIT:  This post looked very geeky and in need of some MTB Content.  Here is a ride shot from sunnier times. (White Tanks)

In the Land of the Rising Sun

December 12th, 2008 by MTBBill

This week started off with a flight from Seattle to Tokyo.  I spent the week here in Japan meeting with clients (so to say) and scoping out some projects coming up in the summer of next year.    I spent the better part of 2004 working and riding in the area so I was looking forward to reconnecting with some old friends and possibly sqeaking in a ride.   I had a very productive week and managed to catch up with my core group of Japanese and American friends here.   It is nice having locals for friends.  Work hard during the day and enjoy friends and off the beaten path cuisine in the evenings was the routine.   There may have been a beer or two involved as well :)   I was not sure if my schedule was going to allow me to get in some trail time or not and early in the week the weather was not cooperating either.   Near the end of the week the skys cleared and while generally brisk throughout the day it was nice.  

Friday morning it was clear enough that Mount Fuji was visible in the distance.  By Friday afternoon the skys hazed up enough that the mountain was hidden, but my to-do list was complete and I found myself with some daylight left to burn.  A couple of phone calls revealed that all my buds were tied up so this would be a solo affair.  This was cool as I have done this trail system many times and I was looking forward to some trail solitude. I grabbed a rental hardtail and headed for the trails.   It is about a 3 mile street ride to the Ogsuyama trail system.  It is uphill most of the way as you head away from Tokyo Bay.   It did not take long to click back in the routine of riding on the other side of the road here.  More importantly you have to remember that most of the danger comes from the opposite direction that you are used to glancing at.  I did have one exciting moment two blocks into the ride that drove the message home. 

The street ride was great as it was just as much of a cultural experience as it was a good warmup.   I was soon off of the main streets and into the back streets and the more rural communities.  It is common to see small gardens in these areas right along the dimunitive streets.  I always enjoy looking at them as they provide such contrast to the cities below.

I was soon onto singletrack and I had forgotten just how slick the clay soil can be with just a little moisture. Often times this clay was combined with roots and leaves.   Even with the tire pressures somewhat low it was often really tricky and it some spots hoofing it was the only way to get up.  Going down was a bit easier but still it was mongo tricky. 

This picture does a poor job of depicting the grade or slickness of this stuff.

The trails are not all a slick rooty mess,  sometimes it is incredibly buff with mucho flow.   Most of the trails I rode today have seen some debrushing work in the last year as they were much less crowded with brush than I remembered.   I also ran into a few hikers and they were always very polite and often they would say something to the effect of “Wow” or “I’m amazed to see you here”.   This trip was also good to brush up on my very rudimentry Japanese.

The route today involved going over the top of Ogusayama and taking an often steep singletrack down the other side of the mountain (and pennisula) to Sagami Bay.   I remembered a bunch of log steps but I forgot it was something like a thousand or so steps.   The rental hardtail was beating the crap out of me on this stuff and I had to take a breather after every 100 or so steps.

 

Those steps and log fencing you see in the pictures are not wood but carefully crafted concrete logs made to look pretty natural. 

Once I got down near Sagami Bay I popped out onto a street and rode about half a mile to pickup a service road to go back up the mountain.    It starts out as narrow pavement, then gravel then dirt.  Many of the local riders call it the “Seven Steps to Heaven” as it is quite steep but flattens on seven occasions on the climb.  You are pretty shaded on most of the climb so the views are limited with the exception of a few spots were you can peek through and get a good appreciation for the general steepness of the Japanese countryside in this area.

After getting back on top of the mountain, I picked up another trail that would take be down the southeast flank of the mountain and back to my side of he pennisula.   This trail is one of my favorites in this system and it did not disappoint.   I have not been in Japan at this time of year before, so I was enjoying more autumn colors that I had not seen before.

This section of trail has a very Pacific Northwest feel to it

I soon popped back out onto surface streets and starting making my way back.  I made a stop at local store to grab a snack.  I forget the name for these but they are rice triangles that are stuffed with different things and then wrapped with seaweed.  I think of them as Japanese Clif Bars.    They have all types and some of the are a highly acquired taste.  I typically stick to the light blue ones as they are filled with tuna.   These are yummy, a great ride snack and only costs 105 yen (About $1).

After the snack it was mostly of series of downhill street cruising back to where I started.

After returning the bike and cleaning up, I spent the evening having dinner with friends in a tiny Mom and Pop resturant near the town of Zushi.  After hitting the post button, I will packing up the laptop and headed for the airport to go home.  Ironically, due to the the international dateline, I am technically already home :)

Tiger Mountain, WA

December 6th, 2008 by MTBBill

Okay, I need to learn to pay attention to the fine print in trail reviews and guidebooks.   Work was done early yesterday and I was heading east with bike, gear and good weather all around.   The destination was Tiger Mountain State Park about 30 miles outside of Seattle near the town of Issaquah.   The plan was to get in about a 3 or so mile dirt road climb and then start hitting up some singletrack.   I got to the trailhead, suited up and started peddling my rather portly rent-a-piggy up the mountain.   Just like me this bike could stand to go on a diet.    It was all good as I need the excercise.  I was not to far up the road when I passed the Northwest Timber Trail on my right that I was planning on coming out on at the end of the ride.  To my non-engrish reading surprise, there was a barricade and a sign saying it is closed from October 15th – April 15th.  WTF?  So I pull out my guidebook I had stashed in my pack and actually starting reading those pesky little details (you know the section that does not include stuff like turn here/there, this is cool, that is cool.)  Yep right there in the guidebook it tells me that all the bitching singletrack I was looking forward to was CLOSED.    What to do now?   So I read around and find out there is dirt road loop I can do up there that will get me a good heaping of excercise, some scenery and a tiny bit of singletrack.   So I was off up the mountain on Plan B.   

The dirt road climb up Tiger Mountain had some steep sections but  overall it was not too bad as there were spots where you got a reprive from the climbing.   There was plenty of forest all around but there were a few spots were distant views could be seen.    

Mount Rainer was the dominant landscape feature, and I could not help but stare at it whenever it was in view.   There was nothing wrong with the weather today that is for sure.   The view of Rainer reminds me a great deal of Mount Fuji in Japan the way it just towers over the surrounding landscape.

The rest of the ride included some bombfest fireroading and as well as some steep up and downs.   There was not just cool stuff to see off in the distance.   There were lots of small streams crossing under the roads that were quite pretty.

I used up the better part of the day up in my loop out here.   It is ashame I don’t have any pictures I can show you of the Preston Railroad Trail, the Northwest Lumber Trail and the Fat Hand Trail which are touted as really killer singletracks.    Oh well, I’m going to be back at some point when they are open.  For now my time is Seattle is over so,

Sayonara Seattle

Seattle’s I-5 Colonnade MTB Skills Park

December 4th, 2008 by MTBBill

The orginal plan for today was to pickup and rental bike for a shop in Seattle and go for a ride on Friday and get the bike back Friday evening.  Well things went smoothly and I am pulling out of the bike shop and I have maybe two hours of light left.   What is close by?  After a minute or two of Googling I found out that Colonnade was sorta close by.   Before you know it I was there.   For those that have not heard of the place, Colonade has gained national attention due to novel concept and the excellent use of land.   This model is starting to find it’s way to other parts of the country.  Read more about Colonnade

Once I saw how cool the place was I had to get to riding.  I had not checked into my hotel yet, so all my stuff down in my suitcase.  Screw it, forget changing I grabbed just my helmet, shoes, and gloves and hopped on the bike.  Polo shirts and MTBing, thing could be a new fashion trend.

 

Blah Blah Blah,  I rode a bunch of it, I got nervous ticks looking at some of it and if I lived up here I would make this a regular stop.   On with some pics:

Wall Ridage

You don’t measures technical trail features per trail here, it a per foot thing.

 

 

Pick your poison

More Wall Ridage

It is not all about getting in the air and steeps, take a look at the skill stuff near the bottom.  There is stuff for the newbs and dews.

Check out Zelik riding this log,  can you say excited?  Zelik’s Dad was nearby and watched his kid giving the smaller stuff a go for well over an hour.   It is so awesome how the mountainbikers here took an underbridge eyesore and turned into a killer skills progression park and a wonderful place for young kids to learn about mountain biking and develop some skills other they video games.

Banner Forest, Washington

December 3rd, 2008 by MTBBill

  I’m spending this week in the Puget Sound/Seattle area. I have been here about four or five times but it has always been during July or August which most folks will tell you is a pretty glorious time here.  The rest of the year is known for a lot of overcast and rain.  The weather was just that when I arrived Monday evening and all day on Tuesday.   However, just as I was finishing up work in the afternoon the Sun made an appearance.   I had not planned on grabbing a rental bike until later in the week so here I am off work with sunshine and no bike.  The time involved with chasing down a bike and then getting to a trailhead would eat up most of my daylight so what the heck, I’m going for a hike.  So straight to one of the Banner Forest trailheads located near Port Orchard I went.


This place is known as a mountain biking area with about 10 miles of singletrack.  I only scratched the surface of the trails here on my hike which may have been 3 miles at most.      

Most of the stuff I hiked was twisty  with some small ups and downs that looks to just be a hoot to ride.

I love the the flora of the Pacific Northwest.    Green green green and very mossy.


I saw a few log rides as well as few spots that have oppurtunities for some minor air time.

This was a pretty cool log ride.  It is optional as the trail runs about half way down it’s long length.  Then the log is cut where it crosses the trail.  Log riders have to come of the log and immediately get back up on it on the other side of the trail,  ride the next section the make turning roll off the log where you merge back onto the trail.   Very Cool!

While I have been up the Pacfic Northwest and B.C. before, I had forgotten how the thick foilage in places can really make for pretty dark shade.  I was enjoying my hike and I traveled back into the woods a little further than I thought so the waning light and thick foilage made for a couple of spooky spots near the end of my loop.  

I’m going to be spending a few weeks in Seattle Area in few months so I have a feeling I’m going to get back over here with a bike. Oh, two minutes after I got in my car it started raining.

WANTED: New MTB Model/Beer Sherpa

December 1st, 2008 by MTBBill

Avid Southern California Mountain Biker/Website Owner seeks Mountain Bike Photography Model/Beer Sherpa.

This is two-three month temporary position with the potential for migration to a full-time position.

Applicant must possess ability to ride technical trails in backwoods remote enviroments.

Must have a loose interpetion on the follow terms:�
– Lost
– “Almost There”
– “Minor Flesh Wound”
– “A Little Hike-A-Bike”
– “Perfect Cycling Trail”

Must have sound interpersonal communications skills required for dealing with rangers, land managers,  locals and hot trail chicks.   Must possess a diverse knowledge and deep appreciation of North American Microbrews.  Applicant must also possess ability and means to procur such libations. (Even in Utah)   Possessing a sense of humor on the suttle differences between an epic and a death march is a plus.

Send resume, pictures of your female riding friends and six of your favorite  microbrews to the following address:

MountainBikeBill.com
4E01 Intense Rules Trail
Notarealplace, CA 92081

If the brews and pictures pan out you will be promptly contacted by a member of the MountainBikeBill staff. :)

—————————————————
 Joking aside, I got some really bummer information today.  One of my closest riding buds with whom I have done countless rides and numerous trips had a nasty crash over the Thanksgiving weekend.  There are probably more pictures of Bill, AKA MrMountainHop online, on my site than anybody else. 

The place was Soquel Demonstration Forest near Santa Cruz.   The place is a awesome place to ride and challenge yourself.   Bill has some folks in San Jose so he rides this place often enough.   The scene of the crime was one of the many jumps out there.  I’m not sure which trail it was on yet, but Bill said if landed, it would have been his biggest jump yet.

 

Well the landing did not go well and his wrist took the worst of it.   This does not look good at all.

 

Ouch Ouch Ouch!   At least he is right-handed.   When I last spoke with Bill, he was about to go into surgery to get somethings put back in the proper spot. 

Bill – Heal well my friend, I guess we just have to straight the beer and mexican food for a while!