Updated Fugato-yama Japan Page

I have finally got my first of what I hope to be half a dozen a or so updated and new Japan trail pages up.  The Fugato-yama (aka Ghosttown” area is a really cool trail system that I have yet to fully get into each corner of yet.   The updated page reflects a bit of work left to be done as far as the trail information goes. I highly recommend a GPS for riding this area unguided for the first time and I have included a bunch of electronic data to help with that effort.   The primary file is a Google Earth KMZ file that includes a topographic map overlay that I created using data from the Japan Geospatial Institute.   Additionally most waypoints in the file also links to trail junction photos I took while playing around out here.   I hope this will be a useful tool for my peeps who visit the area.   

Updated Fugato-yama webpage

Help Save Calvera!

MTB Comments on the City of Carlsbad Lake Calavera Trails Master Plan Needed
Respond before the COB, Monday, August 24th deadline.

EMAIL your opinion to pam.drew@carlsbadca.gov  (This might be a type also include pam.drew@carlsbad.ca.gov)

1. All trails shall be multi-use. No segregation of trails based on trail width or biking vs. hiking.
2. No use of decomposed granite for trail surface improvements. Leave trail surface natural.
3. No widening of existing trails to meet Type A, B or C requirements. Trails are already wide enough.
4. Addition of quality multi-use singletrack into the trails plan. If the opened trails don’t provide a better experience than the closed trails, users will keep using the closed trails.

We have until Monday August 24th to file comments with the City of Carlsbad.

The next order of business will be dealing w/ DFG property and all the poaching/illegal building. The issue right now however, is public comment on the city plan (not DFG issues).



Pre-SDMBA meeting La Costa Playtime and Photo Geekage

Last night was the monthly San Diego Mountain Biking Associationmeeting that was held at REI in Encinitas.  Before the meeting a handful of decided to get in a quick spin at the Rancho La Costa Preserve.  I got there quite a bit early so I tinkered with a new camera gadget that I have modified for use with a mountain bike.  It is a RF remote shutter release that has a range of over 100 feet.   The remote is a bit on the bulky side for using while you are riding as it could not be mounted on the handlebar in an easy to reach spot.   After some geekage, soldering and a bit of trial and error I made a remote micro-switch for the remote.  This “remote remote” allows me to put the camera on a tripod and then take pictures by just barely moving my thumb on the handlebar.    


Here is one of the first test shots.  I’m snapping the shot using my left thumb.   It was a good test as pressing the button did not detract from the riding.

During the second test shoot, I wanted to test out the range of the system.  The camera is at least 100 feet away when I snapped this first shot of the sequence.    I am going to do another test later at a further distance to see just how far you can push the range.   I also had the autofocus set to servo mode to it refocused as I moved along the trail getting closer to the camera.   Continuous shooting mode also works with this setup.  The main intended use for this setup is when I traveling and riding solo.  While I like taking trail photos, so of them would be so much nicer with a rider in the shot.   Now at least can use myself as photo fodder.    I may have a couple of tweaks left to do with the setup, I’ll put up some additional details on the gadget mods when everything is dialed.

After the photo tinkering, I zipped back down to the trailhead and hooked with the folks for the ride.  It was good ride, but I took next to nothing for pictures as I was doing a lot of chasing.

Here is Gardner Grady, aka SDMBA Vice President and member of the National Mountain Bike Patrol showing how is done on a section know as “Meet Your Maker”.    If you think you might me interesting in becoming a member of the SDMBA chapter of the National Mountain Bike Patrol, touch bases with Gyan Penrose-Kafka who can give you all the 411 on the program.

We finished up the ride with enough time to chill for a bit before heading off to meeting.  There was a really good turn out and there are lots of stuff happening around the county and particularly in North County.  It was well worth a few hours of my time to see what is going on in person without having to sift through all of the talking head chatterbox BS that seems to be so prevalent on the various online forums.    If you can out about upcomign SDMBA events by signing up for thier Trailnews mailing list.

Comfort Dirt at Sycamore Canyon

It was way too freaking early for a Sunday morning when I got up to meet Chip and friends down in Santee for a 7AM ride through Sycamore Canyon.     I had not seen Chip in a handful of moons and I had stuff to do in the afternoon so it worked out well.   I had also not been out to Sycamore Canyon in a really long time.  I think it has been over a year.   It was good to see Chip and good to ride Sycamore Canyon again.


All of the singletracks below the south gate of Goodan Ranch are in pretty good shape and the main trails in the park proper had seen some SDMBA TLC over the winter months.

After making our way to the upper trailhead at the north end of the park we continue northward and the did the area known as “Tip-Top”.   We did a nice lollipop up this area before coming back to the upper trailhead and taking the Martha’s Grove trail.

The run down Martha’s Grove was fun and it it was fairly zippy return back to the trailhead in Santee.   I was done and headed back towards home by 10AM.   This was very satisifying ride that was just the right size.   Like a good meal with a modest portion size, it was just enough to make you feel full but not uncomfortably stuffed.   Not every ride needs to be an epic, a training hammer fest or an out-of-beyond exotic ride.   This was like a comfort food kind of ride.  You know like a PB&J and a glass of milk.  (Pick your favorite)

Mammoth Lakes – Finishing Up

The last half of the family vacation were hella fun.  On Wednesday, the boys and I went up the mountain for some more trail fun.   We got off at the McCoy station about took “Trail Home” back down the Adventure Center.  From there we took the gondola back up to the McCoy station and took “Brake Through”.  The boys were riding quite well and was quite surprised at how quickly they have been progressing over this week.

 Jake on “Brake Trough”

The boys were itching to try some more difficult stuff so we decided to check out the lower portion of “Flow” and then onto “Shotgun”.   They really dug the more difficult terrain and some of the features like the wall ride.  

Will getting some good height on the Shotgun wall ride

Jake getting a little wall action.  Even with just getting barely on the wall he giggled and thought that was the best thing ever.

Will decided to tackle a log ride further down the trail.  I was a little apprehensive about it but was pretty stoked when after several attempts he nailed it.


We finished off the day at Lake Mary by renting some pedal boat to fart around on the lake and do a little fishing.     There was a lot more of pedalling around than fishing and Casey and Jake proved that pedal boats are not swamp proof.   It was the best boat rental ever as got way more than our money’s worth of laughs out of them.

On Thursday, while the family slept in, I we got in some runs on a few of the double black diamond trails.   They have some pretty gnarly trails up there that lett me humbled and stokes at the same time.   I did a couple of runs down Techno-Rock before hitting up Chain Smoke to Twilight Zone.   I was shotting some video and did not get any photos.    I can see a bigger bike in my future if I wanted to ride terrain like that on a regular basis.   For the final run, I went back up and did Bullet to Follow Me.    I was back at the room by lunch.

In the afternoon, the boys and I went checked out the old Mammoth Consolidated Mine.   The remenants of the buildings and equipment all over the site that are pretty cool to poke around.   

There is even a mine shaft that you can check out.  It is plugged some 30-40 down the tunnel but is really cool as you can still see the rails for the ore carts.  When I say cool, literally applies because as soon as you step into the the tunnel it feels like the tempurture is in the 60 degrees range. 

After finishing up at the mine we spent the rest of the afternoon feeding the fish at Twin Lake one baited hook at a time.    The following morning it would already be time to pack up and head home.  Man does time fly when you are having fun.  This was a great vacation and one I sure we will remember fondly for many years to come.

Mammoth Day Two

What a fun day in Mammoth we had yesterday.   After leisurely getting up and around, the boys and I went off to do some fishing at some of the local lakes.    Fishing is a good way to help teach the value of patience and we should have been doing this more often.  With my kid’s daily life of video games, hockey, skateboarding, bikes and all the other things that keep them buzzing with activity it was good to put things in the slow lane for a change.  We were all reminded that is called fishing and not catching.   


On several occasions we watched trout swim right below the rock were were perched on.   One even came up to the surface and gulped down a bug that just landed on the water. 

I was really stoked when my boys not only got to see a Bald Eagle but also watched it swoop down and pluck a trout right out of the water.  The eagle then landed on an dead tree nearby and proceeded to scarf down the trout.

While all Bald Eagles are big birds this was not a huge eagle like the one I saw in Anacortes, Washington earlier this year.   One thing is for certain I was so stoked that my boys got to have such an awesome nature experience without having to turn to the Discovery channel.

My mid-afternoon we decided to cut the fish some slack and headed back to the condo.   Looking at the clock we realized we had enough time to catch a gondola ride up the mountain.  Jake and Casey had some shopping on thier to-do list so Will and I suited up and headed out for a run down the mountain.  Will has been bucking to do some of the more difficult trails on the mountain.   I was also looking forward to some of the more technical and feature/stunt oriented trails as well but at the same time the Dad in me has been apprehensive about putting Will in over his head.  

After talking with some folks I decided to test Will out on the black diamond upper section of “Skid Marks”  that starts off right off the top of the mountain.    Will did quite well through the rocky bits and switchbacks, but did take a minor “soil sample”.   He did have all of the protective gear on so he did not even get a scratch.   I did find that following my son through the technical and semi-exposed sections made my riding more difficult as my brain kept switching back and forth between mountain-biker and dad mode.      

Once I realized that Will’s bike handling skills have been improving significantly I found that I was able to spend more time riding with him as a fellow mountain biker and and less as a protective father.  After Skid Marks we took the more intermediate trails of Paper Route and Juniper down the mountain and enjoyed some great swooping and flowing singletrack goodness down the mountain.  

The late afternoon light was really nice and colors of the mountains were starting to go off.   We stopped a couple of times just to take in the views.  Will has always enjoyed the thrill of riding but I think something may have clicked this afternoon about intrinsic value of experiencing the scenery and of the overall outdoor experience beyond simply the enjoyment of riding the bike.

Family Vacation at Mammoth

I took the family up to Mammoth Lakes for the week to get in some vacation time. The plan is to relax, ride some trails, do some fishing and whatever else strikes as interesting.   Yesterday we hit up the mountain for a bit of lift-assisted mountain biking.   It was pretty nice to spend no energy to get up 11,053 feet and then ride trails back down to the condo at 8,200 feet and many miles away.  

Will and Jake clowning in the gondola

The Boys at “Top of Sierra”.  The views from here are pretty freaking impressive.  

We did the Off The Top trail from the peak.  It was pretty interesting riding above the tree line.  Will led out like shot off like a bat out of hell.  I was happy to see that he followed some directions on waiting at every trail intersection.   He actually did better than that.  He would rip for a ways and then wait to see Jake and I to come into view.   Jake was a little intimdated at first with the expansiveness of the mountain side up top but after a couple of switchbacks he got the hang of it as was zipping along quite nicely. 

After “Off The Top” we hooked up with “Beach Cruiser”  that took up back down to the bottom of the gondola we took up.  From there we picked up “Downtown”.   Downtown was a heck of a lot of fun that I’m guessing is around 5 miles or so long.    

Here are the boys taking breather on Downtown.   Yes they are looking at little pooped at this point.   I’m guessing we did about 13.5 miles of trail riding in the morning.   The downtown trail is really fun and it literally comes out of the woods across the street from the condo we are renting.   Over lunch the boys got some energy back.  A few hours later we were all headed back up the mountain for another run down the mountain.  The boys were certainly good and tired after the second run.  We spent the rest of the evening enjoying a hearty meal and relaxing before the boys zonked out.

Long Time No See! or “Funk Busting”

So there has not been too much on the MTB scene that I have felt like writing about since I got back from Japan.  That does not mean that I have not been riding.  I just did not seem too inspired to write about it.   I have gotten in a couple of quick spins through Lake Calvera on my singlespeed and even caught the SDMBA San Clemente Singletracks Ride.  These rides while fun where just not doing it for me on the trail scene.   I have noticed I get like this for a week or two after epic riding trips.   I have come to think of it as “Post Killer Trip Depression” or “Epic Lag”.  Pick whatever shrink-babble works for you but I was coming off some awesome trail riding and was looking for some new dirt  to ride in SoCal.

I had not ridden with Bill O’Neil in freaking ages.  Well maybe not ages but nine months is a pretty long time.  He busted up his wrist really bad late last year and had to deal with a long recovery.  Combined with my traveling schedule earlier this year and the better part of a year just slipped by.  It was time to kick this “Epic Lag” in the ass and catchup with Bill on some singletrack.   The person who organized this ride thinks it is best to keep the names of these trails “off-the-air” so I’ll leave things as that.  While you may find these trail segments on most of the older topographic maps of the San Bernardino National Forest, you will have to be a little adventurous to ride some of these bits. 


The rewards were certainly there and it was just what I needed to bust out of the Post Epic Funk.  


The trail was just what I had expected, fairly buff and flowing.  One thing I had not realized was that I had been missing the continuous moving that is so much easier to do back here in SoCal.  The steepness of the terrain in the area of Japan I was in often meant that your riding mileage was often broken up by short hike-a-bike sections.  It was pretty awesome to just be able to “go”.   At the same time these trails revealed my fitness level for the continuous “go” has been dropping off.  Way to many rides of stopping to navigate and take pictures.  I suppose there are far much worse ways to get out of shape 🙂

Ultimately we knocked off a good chunk of mileage on some pretty cool trails.   We even had time to stop and smell the flowers.  It is always refreshing to get on the trail less ridden and try something new.    Doing it while catching up with friends is a nice bonus.  Oh yeah, there was tasty microbrews waiting in the cooler at the end of the ride.