Archive for February, 2009

La Costa Tuesday

February 25th, 2009 by MTBBill

Yesterday after work I got in a spin at La Costa with Rich.  As always Rich is pretty zippy on the climbs and he has a habit of getting quicker when smells weakness.  Such was the case this afternoon has I found myself having to push myself to keep up.  We check out out some recent damage caused by some idiot who has a key to the backgate of the property.  The bonehead tried to drive his truck up one of the singletracks.  He went up a good ways before he bottomed out his truck and had to turn back.   What a jerk.  Rich the astute steward that he is had already repaired what he could but it will be a while before the trailside sage grows back.   Please call the police if you see something stupid like this occuring. 

Besides the spot the rest of the trail is in great shape.  We went up Vista Del Mar and down Switchbacks.   We then did it going the other way.   The visibility was pretty good today considering when had the marine layer in most of the day.  You could see both San Clemente and Cantalina Islands.  San Clemente is over 50 miles away so it was quite a treat.   Rich was really on fire going down the trails today.  I’m going to give him the trail builder advantage today since he knows every nook and cranny of this place.   Not a bad way to speed sometime after work.

A skinny weekend

February 23rd, 2009 by MTBBill

Tires not my waist :)   This weekend was pretty darn cool in a very uncharacteristic manner for me in that it did include any fat tire action.   Saturday a bunch of the LA bike messenger crowd were doing a century+ ride from downtown LA to the Stone Brewery in Escondido.  By buddy Jerry from the OC was going to do the ride with themas well and asked if I wanted to get in on the action.  Normally I would have balked at the idea of giving up a perfectly good  Saturday to skinny tires, but since there was a good friend and what would be my first trip to Stone, what the hell.

Saturday was really pretty and after a few phone calls to time thingsjust right, I left my house on a bit of a wandering route over to Oceanside to join up with the group.   It had been months since I was last on the road bike, but it did not take long to get the road reflexes reengaged.  It only took one pothole that nearly knocked by fillings out my teeth to drive home that I am was not on my 6″ travel plush-o-rama  mountainbike and I had to look where the tires were going.  It was about a 19 mile route over to Oceanside and I had plenty of time to kill before the rest of the group got there.  Jerry split a little early from the last rest stop and was the first one to roll in.   He needed hit the ATM and grab a snack.  It was not long, before the lead group was in sight.  We hopped on our bikes to join them.  This was a bit of a wake up call, as I had to put some effort into staying with this group.   I’m glad they already had 80 miles on thier legs at this point as I would have been struggling otherwise.

While it had been quite a few months since I had been on the road bike, it had been years since I had ridden in a group.  It was was a little scary at times being so close to other riders.   Over the course of the next 22 miles or so I got a lot more used to it.   We soon found ourselves at the brewing company and over the next 45 minutes we chilled while the rest of the group made it in.  This was a pretty entertaining and talented group of folks.   Soon we all piled into the Brewery which is freaking huge.  The Bistro/restaurant area we really cool and they had great food and brews to boot.   We had a good time there and I eventually gave the wife a call to come pick Jerry and I up.

Of course I could not leave empty handed.  A 2-liter growler of the Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale.  Yummy!   Jerry and I worked a little on this the rest of the evening.

Sunday we bummed around most of the morning and then heading out towards Palomar Mountain to watch the final stage of Tour De California.   The plan was to drive up and what the racers coming up the 5,200+ foot mountain and then let my youngest son (Jake) and Jerry bomb down Nate Harrision Grade while I followed in the truck.  Jake has not done this route yet so I was a little concerned, so I had him bring along all of his hockey arm and knee/shin guards.  My oldest son, Will had climbed the mountain back in April of last year.   

Conerns over Jake handling the ride ended up not being an issue as the road was already closed by the time we got there so we went for Plan B and setup to watch the race from Cole Grade Rd.  There were cars lined up all along the route through here and there was a festive mood on the mountainside.  Cowbells were bountiful as fans were cheering on the many amateurs who were riding along the route in the hours before the pros would come through.  There was a breakaway of four riders and there was a parade of cars, motorcycles with flashing lights and sirens that preceding them.  It was amazing to see the pace these guys were climbing at.

About a minute later the first group of chasers where in view and headed up the grade.  Lance Armstrong was right up in the front helping to push the pace and ensure that teammate Levi would maintain his 36 second lead in the tour.

I have watched many of the Tour De France stages on TV and always liked that look of determination on Lance’s face when he was “working”.  It was really cool to see that look in person, even if it was just for a few second or so.   Oh yeah, the chasers were ripping up this hill and they were looking so smooth in the process.

After the chase group, there was a long train of the support cars following with lots of expensive bikes on thier roofs.  I probably saw a quarter of a million dollars in bikes go by.

Some minutes back came the rest of the peloton

There was some suffering being done in this group. (They were still ripping!)

After the final folks went by we spent a long time in stop-and-go traffic out of the area.   We stopped at a near by taco shop for dinner but the traffic was still pretty screwed after that.   We did not mind the traffic too much as it was good to see so many people out supporting cycling.   This was the Tour’s visit time in San Diego County and judge from what I saw and the TV highlights, I think we represented well in the fans catergory.  We eventually made it back to the coast were I dropped Jerry off at the train station and headed home.  This was a pretty cool weekend even if it did not include any fat-tire time.

Good Ride and Old Friends

February 19th, 2009 by MTBBill

Now that we have had a little break in the rain enough to give the trails some dryout time, I went out to Alpine to ride Anderson Truck Trail which handles the moisture well.   I was joined by Cliff, Danny and Chip.  It was first time riding with Danny but Cliff and Chip are old friends.   I spent eight days down in Copper Canyon in Mexico back in 2005.  Cliff is not only one of my biking buds,  he is also my real estate agent who did mighty good by me a few years back when we stepped up to a larger home.    I have not seen too much of either of thes guys in a while so riding together was good for catching up.  Mother Nature has been doing some landscaping on the trail and there are some spots that are going to need some attention on the trail.    I only had my video camera today so no pictures from the day.   The ones here are from a week or so earlier.

The climb up went well really pretty scenery and and blue skies.   There was enough moisture in the ground that you could just feel a little more resistance on the climb.   We enventually made our way to the top and then enjoyed the fruit of our labor.   I did not hit some of the stuff I normally would since I had my XC helmet cam vice the full-face helmet.  If you are wondering why I use a full-face helmet when “playing” in and on serious rocks/chunk read this experience at Goat Camp nearly a year ago.

The return trip back down the main part of ATT was really freaking great with insanely perfect traction.  It was quite possibly my quite run to the bottom.   Afterwords I had a good chunk of time to kill before the monthly SDMBA meeting.  Lucky for me Chip invited me back to Casa Del “ChipandDale” for dinner.    While dinner was in the works, another one of the Copper Canyon crew,  Joey,  swung by for a bit.   For dinner they had some family friends come over so I added some folks in the friends column over a really yummy meal.  I was about to drop off into a food coma, when Chip informed I was about to be late for the meeting.  Luckily they live just a few minutes away from meeting so I got there just in time.   The rest of the night was spent at the SDMBA meeting where Michael Beck, the San Diego Director of the Endangered Habitats League was the quest speaker.  It was interesting to see a different perspective on the land usage debate in San Diego and get a better understanding of what organizations like his are trying to do.   I can’t say that I liked everything I heard but I understood it.   One thing is for certain mountain bikers have more in common with these groups than we have different and hopefully they can see that responsible trail users can be dedicated stewards of the lands.

New HelmetCam Setup

February 11th, 2009 by MTBBill

I have needed to retire the helmet portion of my old helmet cam setup for quite sometime now as I had simply worn it out. The adjustment mechanism on the back of the helmet was shot and overall the helmet looked pretty worse for wear. I have been tinkering with a new helmet camera mounting design that would allow me to get away from having a dedicated helmet for the camera system. Wearing the helmet camera on long climbs when you are not filming is a bummer so I would often carry a second helmet. I wanted carry a single helment and be able to quickly attach or remove the camera gear during the course of a ride. The new setup basically uses the quick-release mounts designed for professional/prosumer grade camera tripods. I find it much more versatile than before.

Here the main concept piece of the new setup, the quick release mounts. One piece (the plate) is on the helmet, the other (the latch) is on the camera housing. There was two main reasons I put the plate on the helmet vice the camera housing. The first was was because additional plates are inexpensive compaired to the latch. The other was the the plates weighed much less than the latch and I was looking to minimize the permenant weight on the helmet.

Here is a close up the mounting bracket for the plate. I needed to create a vertical surface for the plate. I ended up mixing up a small batch of fiberglass resin from a small repair kit that you can find at most automotive stores for under $20. I used the cap off of a can of spray paint as my mold and made up two small pucks. Once cured, I used a dremel tool with a sanding attachment to shape the puck until it contoured the side of the helmet and was vertical. I used a 1/4″ thick piece of neoprene as a vibration damper/gasket between the bracket and the helmet.

I used a single bolt through the plate, the bracket and helmet and secured with a recessed T-bolt on the inside of the helmet. I used a neoprene backed washer between the bolt and the plate as an added bit of vibration damping. I found these washers at a screw and bolt speciality surplus store in San Diego (They have like 5,000 of everything). Tightening the screw was enough to hold the camera angle inplace but once I had aligned the camera vertically , I drilled a recess in the bracket to allow the small alignment button used on the plate to ensure the plate stayed in alignment.

You may have noticed that the counterweight bracket is at a different angle than the other side. Since I can now switch the camera housing to the other side, I’m experimenting with some different shooting angles on that side.

Another thing I like about the setup is I can now move the camera gear from an XC helmet over to my full-face helmet easily. I actually made the full face rig first as it was much simpler. The extra padding of the full face helmet seem to have added a bunch of vibration damping that smoothed out the video some.  Now I just need to get out on the trail with XC setup.

Give the trails a break already!!!

February 10th, 2009 by MTBBill

With all of the rains we have been getting a good number of our trails have been soaked and need some time to dry out.   I see on a number of forums some selfish freaking idiots/don’t-give-a-shit-types going out on the trails right after the rains and rutting up the trails and going around puddles making our singletrack wider.  It amazing these jackasses are so hardcore they can go out during or right after a rain but have to go around ever puddle.   Anyone who does this crap is not hard core, rad or “gnar”.  They are a selfish jackass! 

Please give the trails thier due time to dry out and spread the word.  We only get to ride a mere 330+ days a year here in San Diego,  surely we can find something else to do for a few days after the rains.  

Here is a wet trail rating guideline that floats around every season.  It is just a guidline and after these current rains, the trails will need even more rain than suggested.

SDMBA Volunteer Appreciation Gala

February 2nd, 2009 by MTBBill

Saturday the San Diego Mountain Bike Association had it’s annual Volunteer Appreciation Event at the Visitor’s Center of Mission Trails Regional Park.

The event started off with an afternoon ride through the park.   A sizable crowd showed up for the pre-festivities ride that included three different routes for various skills levels.

I ended with the group that I believe should have been called “Should have known better group”.

We decided to climb Jackson to Suycutt Wash and then up to the saddle between North and South Fortuna Mountain.  There is some steep freaking fireroads on this route.  Somewhere near the top of the saddle, I remembered why I don’t ride much here.   Freaking fireroads everywhere trying to be passed off to the public as trails.  Just because you designate something a trail does not make it a trail.  I did chuckle pretty hard later in the day when someone said this place should be called  “Missing Trails Regional Park”.   The rumor/good news is that the management is starting to see the light on sustainable multiuse singletracks.   Okay rant aside,  after making it to the saddle we hung a right and climbed up to the peak of South Fortuna Mountain were we got in some cool views of downtown, Point Loma and the Coronado Islands.  From here we got in some mighty zippy descending that included some hike-a-biking down a portion of “The Steps” trails   Before long we were back to Jackson Drive and dumped a lot of hard earned elevation down the gravely fireroad.

Back at the visitor’s center, I along with a bunch of trails rats and dirt divas enjoyed a good time hanging, grubbing and conversating with each other.  Some of these folks I only see during trailwork events.   It was certainly a good time.  

Some people looked to be planning for world-wide singletrack domination.

It was a pretty lively crowd and there was a rumor that a gang sign or two might have been thrown around. (I think I caught the highly secretive “Sparticus” sign in use)

Later in the evening, there was some absolutely funny awards and killer swag handed out.  Many Shimano shiny bits, cool clothes and various assorted goodies found there way to good homes that evening. Nobody left empty handed.

There was one huge item left to the end for SDMBA’s Volunteer of the Year.    For that Dave Turner was on hand to present Mike MacGregor with a brand spanking shiny new Turner Frame!   Mike logged a grunch of trailwork hours at SDMBA events over the past year, established and headed up the new Trailwork committee and devoted a mountain of time off the trail to help out SDMBA and the MTB community at large.   

Congratulations Mike!    

Special thanks to Andy, Minette, the Social Comittee and rest of the folks that put this thing on.  I think everyone that was there would say it was a really great event.