Archive for December, 2009

An incredible ride at Palm Canyon

December 30th, 2009 by MTBBill

What exactly makes an Epic? Wither it is online or recounting the days adventure at the trailhead, the question comes up quite routinely. Difficultly, length, scenery, conditions, the variables in the equation are numerous and subjective. The Palm Canyon trail fits just about everyone’s definition of an epic. It is a big classic desert ride than can be brutal for the ill-prepared or in the wrong conditions. I’ve done this ride a whole bunch of times and have the checklist of extra stuff to bring pretty much tattooed on my brain. There is something about the misery from forgetting this kind of stuff in the past that files that stuff in a mentally easy spot to find.

That ready file was opened up Monday afternoon on the drive back home from our Christmas travels when the phone rang. “Hey Bill, what do you think about doing Palm Canyon tomorrow? Hold on a second…. Hey Honey, do you mind if I do an all-dayer tomorrow? …..Dude, I’m down, how does 7:30am at the Von’s parking lot sound? … Sweet! See you then.” That was all the planning involved for this ride. Both Bill O’Neil and I have been on enough rides and trips together to know the drill. Now lets get to that checklist.

O-Dark:30 came O’Damnearly and I was headed towards Palm Springs much earlier than my body would have liked. There was sugar and caffiene in ample supply on the drive. I was taking the “country” route which took me past the upper trailhead near Pinyon Crest on Highway 74. It was a mighty brisk 37 degrees when I went by there. A made a mental note to give the “fellows” a break and change into the bike gear at the bottom. Neither Bill or I were able to rustle up any of the usual suspects for the ride on short notice so it was just Bill and I headed back up the mountain after shuffling stuff around between trucks. It had been two years since either one of us had done this ride so I was stoked. Bill had never done the Pinyon Flats trail and it had nearly been five years since I had last done that trail so we opted to start from Pinyon Flats vice the Palm Canyon trailhead proper.

It addition to being brisk, there was a biting breeze but it was otherwise an exceptionally pretty day. Layered up we set out. I had nearly forgotten how flowy and swoopy Pinyon Flats is in most spots. I was having so much fun, I did not even pull the camera out. Once we met up with the Palm Canyon trail, one thing became blissfully obvious. The trail conditions were simply the best I have ever seen. The rains had packed the soil and enough moisture remained to provide both great traction with no additional drag on the tires. Mother Nature had served up some downright sexy dirt.

Killer trail conditions and an exceptionally clear day with the temperatures somewhere between cool and mild is what continued to develop as the day went on. With just the two of us, we were not burning any daylight on regroups and other delays that typically scale up with the group size. We were not really hammering, just flowing along taking advantage of the wonderful conditions. Before long we were at the bottom of Dry Wash. A three-mile sandy climb awaited us. While chilling here it was nice to realize that barring some misadventure we had a huge daylight buffer now. The ride up until now had been so awesome that I could have cared less if I had to walk nearly all of the next three miles if the sand sucked.

The sand did not suck. The dry wash was also in the best shape I had ever seen it and for the most part completely rideable. You still had to look for the firm lines in the sand but the wash was not in its usual death march form. After the wash it was time for the Hahn Buena Vista trail after a break at the dozer. Once again the trail conditions were incredible. The camera remained packed away as nearly all things must yield to the sirens song of tires holding their line through flowy downhill goodness.

After the giggling like school boys descent we payed back some elevation up the Catherdral Canyon and then over to the saddle at the Wildhorse and Claire Burgess trail junction. There was a good dose of fatigue set in at this point and the breaks came a little more often. It was all good as there are far worse things to do than stopping and smelling the flowers around here.

I love the Wildhorse trail, the plummeting elevation drop on either side the ridge top section this trail make for some splendid views. There is also a mental boost of seeing your destination below. It is much better seen in person than described.

The ubiquitous trusty steed shot from the peak on Wildhorse with San Gorgorino is in the distance. It had been sometime since the Spider had seen some trail love so it was called into action today. It was certainly the correct weapon of choice today. Man I love this bike, such a wonderful XC machine.

After dropping the steep switch back section of Wildhorse we worked our way through the Goat Trails and soon rolled back down to the lower trail. What exactly makes an epic? There was no debating that question this afternoon, all the variables of that equation were scattered across the 30 miles of awesomeness countryside that lay behind us. There was nothing do now but celebrate the Palm Canyon Epic.

Golden Eagle

December 24th, 2009 by MTBBill

This pasy weekend I ventured about as far as I am willing to travel for a single day ride.    The Golden Eagle Trail is on Liebre Mountain about 60 miles north of downtown LA.   It is a long haul from San Diego.   Why drive that far?  Well is a really awesome trail and with the recent snow and rain, the conditions should be prime.   So I was up at O-Damn Early and headed north.

After meeting up with Bill O’Neil in the LA area continued onto the trail.   We mulled over some kind of epic shuttle but our shuttle vehicle was acting a little flaky so we opted for the out-and-back option. 

It was a rather brisk start when we started the climb up the singletrack, but it did not take long to get warmed up.  Most of the main climb up onto the mountain is on its north slope and offered some shelter from the morning breeze.   The predominate ground cover on the north slope was this incredibly green grass that reminded me on an oversaturated photo.  Simply incredible.   What was not incredible was my climbing speed.   Maybe it was too much breakfast, snacks and coffee on the drive up here but I was having “issues”.     By the time I made it up onto the ridgeline I was feeling rather sick and something bad was about to happen.   It was one of those feelings that creates uncertainity about what should be pointed where.   After some gastrointenstinal “adjustments” I started to feel better and we continued.

Once up on the ridgeline we did quite a bit of rolling up and downs with each undulation gathering a little elevation for us.  The trail not technical to speak of, just sweeting flowing goodness.

There were patches of snow here and there as we cruised along that for the most part were rideable.   Some of the patches were as deep at six inches which offered some challenges to keep going and maintaining control.     After handling a bunch of these patches I got pretty complacent with the stuff, hitting them with more and more speed.    One particuarly small looking patch decided to refocus my attention as I got bit sideways in the patch.  Upon leaving the patch and suddenly regaining traction, I aburptly switched from out-of-control cyclist to amateur geologist.  FYI, there are much easier ways to take soil samples.

Soil samples aside, we had a great time on the ridgeline.   Once the Golden Eagle trail ends you can continue along the ridge on a fire road and explore around a bit.   We did this for a while until turning around.  The return leg was really cool as there was more down than up along the ridge.  The final segment is all downhill and it simple rocked.  The conditions just don’t get any better.  The trail in this section was incredible with the perfect balance between traction and speed.   This trail is also open to motos so most of the turns have berms which made for some insanely fast turns.   Bottomline – We ripped down this section back to the truck!   

MIA Status

December 7th, 2009 by MTBBill

So man, long time no post for me. Truth be told, I have been enjoying other pursuits as of late. After spending plenty of time traveling and riding over the summer I have found life at home in the “slow” lane really freaking fun. I have been on the bike a bit, but first a little catchup.

 

The family (and a couple of friends) played hookie one day and enjoyed some mid-week fun at Knoxberry Farm. No lines was pretty freaking awesome.

 

Over Thanksgiving, we kicked up some dust in my Brother-In-Law’s yard with the go-carts.

 

Then there has been the weekly hockey practices and games. If it is not Jake on the ice at the Escondido Iceoplex,

 

It is Will at Tricity Inline rink. Always good times.

Early this week, a few friends and I did a little riding east of the Laguna Mountains. This is an area that I have not done much riding in so it was cool to check out some new stuff. Kitchen Creek, Fred Canyon, and Thing Valley were all on the menu.

 

It was not too long into our uphill exploration that some of the white stuff made an appearance. While just in the shadows at first, by the time we got up into the Lagunas proper there was more snow that not on the trails.

 

It is always a treat to get snow on your tires here in Southen California. Today’s dosage was just right, while enough to be a bit burdensome in spots it was for the most part  fun to hear the crunch under your wheels.

 

After bit of play up top we worked our way back down to lower elevations and a welcomed bit of warmth.  There looks to be some good scenic loops that can be put together out here. I have to go back a time or two to get everything figured out. One thing is for certain, I had a pretty cool time out there on the bike.