Archive for May, 2009

Green Goodness on Ogusuyama

May 30th, 2009 by MTBBill

It has been raining almost solid for the previous two days which will basically make the trails way to slick her in Japan until early next week.   When I say slick, I mean like butter on a tile floor slick.   While my playtime this weekend is going to be off the trails, earlier this week I got out to one the “local” loops,  Ogusuyama (aka Mt Ogusu).  Like most of the riding I have done over here there is a bit of street riding involved to get there.  I enjoy these street rides as I always see something culturally interesting.  

On this cruise to the trails while on one of the many tiny side streets, I passed by an onion stand that caught my eye.  This stand was totally unattended and there was not even a window of a home within sight.  It was totally on the honor system.  There was not even a one-way coin box.  Just pick out your onion and drop your 100 yen (About $1) in the box. If you need to, make change.  I think this one little stand says a lot about the values and culture of rural Japan.

The last little bit of pavement passes by a really thick and sizable patch of bamboo that always real cool to look into.  The canopy is so thick that I have never seen direct sunlight on the ground here. 

Once on the trail, the light drizzle from the day before had left some slippery spots on the trail.

 

I rode this area back in Decemember, but did not hit up all of the trails. I made a point to hit up the trails I had missed last time.  Ogusuyama is the highest peak on the Muira Pennisula and the trail I took drops down to far side of the pennisula from Yokosuka.  

I have no idea what actual name of the trail I took is but most of my friends have just referred to it as Trail 3.   This trail was really fun as it had great flow and cashed out the elevation in a way that allowed you to carry plenty of speed in most sections. 

This is one really cool trail marker.

Once down the on the other side of the pennisula I did a bit of riding along the streets before picking a dirt access/fire road to head back up the mountain.  While there were some steep pitches on the climb overall it was not brutal.  I have certainly climbed plenty of uglier fireroads.

 

Once back up on the top of the mountain, I decided to a take a path less traveled.  While I noticed this faint trail heading off in the bush before, I had never ventured onto it.  Today I gave it a shot as I had a decent idea of where it should go.   I was riding solo in foriegn country on a lightly used and new to me trail.  Throw in the fact I have an extremely rudimentry knowlege of the language at best and you should see why I felt so alive with healthy dose of excitement coupled with just a dash of anxiety. 

The trail ended up coming out pretty close to where I expected it and I enjoyed the stroll back to the apartment.   It was another good day to ride a bike.

Single Tracking in Zushi, Japan

May 24th, 2009 by MTBBill

I arrived in Japan last Saturday for a handfull of weeks worth of work in Yokosuka.   The travel schedule to get here is a tough one as your internal clock is totally thrown out of wack.   I spent most of the week just stuggling through the day and having a tough time sleeping at night.   It took until Thursday for my “body clock” to get adjusted.   Finally getting some rest was a good thing as I was looking forward to getting onto some single track this weekend.  I shipped my 6.6 here vice putting it on the plane so I would not have lug the cumbersome box on the trains to get to Yokosuka from the Tokyo airport.  

     

 My bike had not arrived on Friday so I rented a hardtail.  One of my friends and his wife had just purchased a new home and invited me over to check it out.  I declined on having them pick me up at my hotel.  Instead I opted to have a nice cruise along the streets which I had nearly forgotten what a cultural experience you can have along the streets of a foreign country.  I had a nice time visiting and catching up on things with my friends.   Afterwards, I had a really cool late night cruise back to the hotel. 

The following morning it was time to get onto some dirt.   I had not been on the trails between Zushi and Kamakura since 2004 and I was looking forward to it.  It takes a quite a bit of riding along the streets from Yokosuka to get to the trailhead, but like last night riding along the streets is an experience all to it’s own.   I had barely started on my way when there was a bunch of of activity going on over the roses at Verny Park.

It had been a long enough since I was last here that there were spots where I was unsure if I was going the right way or not.  Every time I would start to get concerned about my route I would see something that would jog my memory.   I love riding when you are route finding or someplace new as your senses seem to elevate just a little.  While this route was more about rediscovery, it was extremely fun just getting to the trailhead.

Once I got to the trailhead, it was time to get some hike-a-bike on.  Like many of the trails in this area, there are some steepness to be dealt with.   The opening trail up onto the ridgelines was every bit as steep as I had remembered.  I did not count them but I’m guessing there are at least 100 wood log steps that got the calves burning in no time flat.

Once up onto the ridge the trails flowed and swooped gracefully through the trees.  Most times there were fairly buff in nature but there were numerous section of roots and rocks to test your skills.  I rode here many times in 2004 and this ride was like catching up with an old friend.  

I forget the Japanese name for this section of trail but I believe it loosely translates to “Roots of Death”

I like the way this signs bridges the language barrier. :)

Visually this is one of my favorite sections of trail out here as it passes by one of the numerous temples in the area.   Nearby Kamakura is steeped in deep history and many of the trails are centuries old.  I played on the trails here until I late in the afternoon and then enjoyed the street cruising back to Yokosuka.  I finished the evening off with a tasty plate of curry from a tiny mom-and-pop resturant that I was turned onto during my last visit here.   It was not a bad day to have a bike :)

What a Tragic Loss

May 12th, 2009 by MTBBill

Yesterday I found out that a person I highly admired but had never met in person passed away a few days ago.   Anthony Sloan had deep and true passion for the Mountain Bike lifestyle and life in general.  He often shared this love and his zest for life on MTBR.com in the passion forum which he epitomizes.  His captivating words and stunning pictures were simply inspirational.   His incredible ability to take you along on his adventures by way of his near-magical photography and storytelling is something I aspire to cultivate.  Here is a quote of Anthony from his website

I prefer to think that I have put some part of myself on these pages.Through words and images I have tried to share some of the things that touch me.

 

When we were kids, there was a feeling that was so magical that it almost defined childhood. It is hard to describe, but it is a sparkly, exploratory sort of feeling.
A feeling of newness.
When we became adults, we left this feeling behind, only to experience it all too rarely and fleetingly.

This feeling is called “a sense of wonder”.
“rapt attention or astonishment at something awesomely mysterious or new to one’s experience”

Try to have some of that each day.

 

Here is one of my numerous “favorites” from his site which is totally unrelated to mountain biking.  It is from the Khazneh in the ancient desert city of  Petra in Jordon.  I was there as well in 1996 and took a picture from nearly the same spot Anthony would take a picture from some years latter.  Anthony’s version of the experience captured with his photo is a benchmark that I strive for.  From the same spot with just a slightly different angle, some small detail that transforms mundane to extraordinary.   

His perspective and ability to see what “could be” from the same spot allowed him to convey that sense of wonder that mine missed.  He did this with not only his photography but his words as well.  The extraordinary is often right there if you know how to see it. 

Anthony’s imagery and words over the years has often left me and thousands of others in that “sense of wonder”.   A truly great gift to all of us.   If you have not had the pleasure of enjoying his work you can check out his website that will continue to be maintained by his family.   

Anthonysloan.com

Here is a short write up about him on MTBR and a link to some of his articles there.

Here is one of the several active posts about him.

Anthony you are missed.

 

 

 

 

 

The 2009 Archipelago Ride

May 11th, 2009 by MTBBill

This is the second year a group of advocates and friends got together to do a ride that has become known as the Archipelago Ride.  Open Space in coastal San Diego County has become very fragmented over the years into a patchwork of “islands of open space”.  The Archipelago Ride concept is one to demonstrate how these islands can be linked together into a rides of epic length.

This years ride started at the La Costa Preserve and went to Probuilt Wheels on the western end of Penasquitos Canyon.  Getting there was by way of Elfin Forest, Lake Hodges, San Deiguito River Park, Lusardi Creek, Santa Luz, and Black Mountain.

The day started off early in the moaning with most folks grabbing a shuttle from Pro-Built up to La Costa.

Once we got up to the La Costa the gaggle of riders was even larger.  I think the total rider count was 37.  I thought for sure with this many people that the regroup logistics would make for slow going. 

Slow going would not be a bad thing for me today.  Jake had an ice hockey game going on that morning so the plan was to help get the ride started and then catch the game and grab onto the ride around Lake Hodges.   I decided to grab some shots of the group from Harmony Grove Road as they went of the Escondido Sewer Easement and I was quite surprised at the pace the group was making as they got there quite earlier than I had expected. 

Roughly about this same timeframe, I got a call for Jake’s coach that the game was later than what was orginally published, so there was little chance that I was going to catch all of Jake’s game.

I did however manage to get the ice rink for a bit before I got the call from the ride sweep letting me know the group was rolling into Hodges.  I booked it from the rink and got setup below the Hodge Dam.  To lead the group for a bit on a different route from last year.

The general consenus was that everything was going along smoothly…and then I took over :)  So this “new” route had a little “technical hike-a-biking” in it. 

The climb-a-biking was a neccessary evil to get to a creekside trail that was pretty sweet with a bit of technical flow to it.  This was a recent find for me so I was stoked to show it off.

After the creek side riding we followed Lasardi Creek for a short ways and then we took a different route from last year up to the Santa Luz Loop.

I like the congo line of helmets through the flowers above.

Once up to the Santa Luz  Loop things went pretty quickly to Black Mountain Park and the waiting sag wagon.  In addition to snacks there was mighty tasty fluids suitable for rehydration.

 

After Black Mountain Park we continued on the Santa Luz Loop and then took the connector over to McGonigle and Deer Canyons.

 Our last major regroup was just before entering Deer Canyon.  SDMBA had tried to get the permission to use one of the tunnels for this ride, but with all of the controversy with the area we were relegated to “Tunnel Zero” aka the God forsaken powerline climb up onto the mesa.

Once up on the mesa, everyone knew the way “home” so the proverbal hounds were released and everyone seem to move quicker. 

There were tasty grub and brews awaiting back a Probuilt Wheels.  It was a great way to end this 42 mile ride that had 5,000 plus feet of climbing.   I was amazed at how close this group was in relative strength and endurance.  The group was never really strung out and the group make good time over the course of the day.

Here is a photo album with all of the pictures I took during the ride.

Back on SoCal Dirt

May 8th, 2009 by MTBBill

Man, have I been busy since I got back from Washington.  After a solid week of honey-dos and a couple of lingering projects that needed my attention I was finally able to get back onto some SoCal dirt.   This weekend I’m helping out with SDMBA’s Archipelago Ride by providing some “Navigation”.   There was one section in particular that I have been looking for an improved route from last year so some field research was in order.

The area I was focusing on was by the San Dieguito River Park and the Santa Luz area.  I found some good stuff that fits the bill for real trails.   It should be a good addition to the route this year.

Here is a mule deer buck I encountered on the trail.  The buck is on the trail.  Yes, there is a trail there.

Here is the trail from another angle.  Good stuff.   

After spending three weeks in the Pacific Northwest, 81 degrees felt down right hot!   It was however a good afternoon in the Sun.  I’m looking forward to leading the way to the goods on the Archipelago Ride.