Playing in the Big Bear Back Country

Sunday I ventured up to the Big Bear area with Bill O’Neil for a bit of back country goodness.    The person who first turned me onto this route asked that I not give out the names so I’m honoring that.   Other than having to spend some quality time with the topographic maps there is no reason why you can’t go out and discover this ride for yourself.

We would ride/hike a series of trails over several peaks with some fantastic views.   I had worn my SIDI biking shoes which was not the best choice for the adventure today.   I have a couple sets of MTB shoes that have more rubber in the sole which would be much more hike-a-bike friendly than todays selection.

The terrain in this area is fairly energy sapping.   Squared off rocks that slip and slide underneath your wheels makes for interesting descents where finesse of the controls and the nerve to let the bike make it’s own small line adjustments are a must to keep the rubber side down.   This stuff also puts a little extra calf burn on you in the hike-a-bike sections.  We did plenty of  this in the higher elevations.  Along one of these section I was surprised to see both a solo rider as well as two other riders (Actually at that time they were hike-a-bikers) later on.  It was the first time in 3 years that I have seen anyone other than some hikers and the a couple of mounted forest service rangers.   

For me the long stretches of hike-a-bike were well worth it for the views and the techy descents.

Of course what goes up must come down.   We eventually did a bit of road interconnect  before hopping onto a classic Southern California trail. 

We took a break at a campground near the final trailhead to refill our Camelbaks and to grab some snacks.   The campground was closed for maintenance but the water was still on so we chilled at one of the campsite benches.  Within minutes of our arrival the little guy who runs campsite #1 came over, introduced himself and attempted to persuade us to kick him a little something for looking after the place.

Now, I know your not supposed to feed these guys but he was certainly a veteran of the campground gig.  Not to mention he was so damn cute!

The final trail was in pretty good shape and it was a blast as always.  The creeks were flowing well and the one pictured above got me pretty good.  I picked a bad line through the creek and found the deepest part of the crossing and a sizable rock.  Combined with my less that stellar effort I executed an endo to a perfect 5-point landing in the creek.    That was Brisk Baby!   There were no other unplanned dismounts for the rest of the ride and by the end of the day we had put in about 28 miles and a lot of smiles.

One Flying Dog and a Finicky Bitch

The thermometer in my truck read 89 degrees when I pulled into the Anderson Truck Trail parking area yesterday afternoon.  It was my first return to Anderson Truck Trail in a long time  (October of last year).  I should have known better.   I forget how many times I have been out here in the heat and just gotten pummeled by it.   As least I would not be alone.  Almost everytime I have done something idiotic out here it has been with Steve.  Steve has a way of bringing out people’s inner idiot.  (For some, it’s not so inner)   Steve is an Idiotic Whisperer if you will.

 We both knew it was going to be a brain boil on the climb as we had both done the climb in even hotter weather.   What we both needed was “I’m with Stupid”  jerseys.  Steve further added some beatdown potential to his ride by bringing out his custom Wolfhound singlespeed.  This bike is a thing of beauty build to Steve’s exacting specs.    The climb was indeed a brain boil as expected.  There are a couple segments of the climb that are known to have “Dead Air”  where the afternoon sun hits you from the left while heat is radiated from the rocks on your right and there is no breeze to move the air around.   It is like you are in a brick oven and your head is the pizza.   That was not a surprise as we knew it was coming.  What was surprising was how the lines had changed over winter.    In the past I knew all the turns and bumps like the back of my hand and basically had the descent wired.   That was not the case now as the lines changed enough that I would have to recourt this mistress on the descent.  I tried to make as many mental notes as possible of the new conditions.

I came into the day thinking about hitting a jump I had not pulled the trigger on before, the Halloween Drop.  Throughout the climb I was visualizing my takeoff and landing.   Short of any last minute mental flatters, it was going to happen today.  Despite the heat, we climbed fairly well.  It was not my fastest climb by a longshot but I have lagged much more in the past.    I was mentally prepared for the Halloween Drop by the time we took a break at the top.  Before long it was time to turn the bike’s downhill.  Some new lines had sprung up since my last visit that I was up for trying. 

A little bit of rock wall ride.


Steve navigating the Wolfhound onto the rocks

Part II of the new section was a gnarly bit of rocks.  Steeper than it looks and a bit tricky even on the full suspension rig.

Steve did some good rock surgery on the Wolfhound

Steve on “The Diving Board” letting the dog fly

I had not even thought about doing the Diving Board.  I have done this a bunch of times in the past.   My thoughts had been on the Halloween Drop.   I passed on the jump but later while grabbing the shot of Steve doing the jump, he went into went Idiot Whisperer mode and the next thing I know I’m doing the jump.   I did not stick the landing.  I was way too overconfident and as far as I can tell I had my weight too far back on the landing which allowed the front wheel to slip out on the off-camber landing and I did a nice little thump and slide on the hardpacked decomposed granite.  Ouch!   I had managed to exfolilate a nice patch of skin my left thigh and whack the meaty part of my right palm.   I always find it interesting how you can take the top layer of skin off of your body and the clothes between you and the ground remains intact.    These were pretty minor in the scheme of things but it was still somewhat painful.  (Glad I had protection on my other bits.)    Anderson can be a finicky bitch who does not take kindly to you staying away too long and courting too many other ladies.   She gave me a nice little bitch slapping.

So my little spill messed with my mental game enough that I decided to keep the tires on the ground.  Anderson has plenty of on-the-ground technical goodness so I was still not getting off easy and I hit all the rest of my usual stuff.      

The Flying Dog – aka Wolfhound

I was not the only one who had been visualizing a Halloween Drop launch, Steve had been mentally stewing over this with the Wolfhound.   Steve said this was not going to be a multiple run in thing.   One run in only, the trigger was going to be pulled or the anchor was going to be thrown out.    Steve pulled the trigger, landed like a cat and yelled and giggled for the next five minutes.   We are pretty sure this is the first time someone has hit this on a hardtail. 

A different angle of the 911 roll.  I was digging the moon rising.

On our way over to the final descent, to add insult to injury, some kind of flying insect went into my mouth and as I was spitting it out the thing bit/stung me on my lip.   It was not as full on painful as a regular bee sting but my lip immediately was tingling and I felt some puffing up starting.     Yes Anderson can be a finicky bitch that does not take kindly to being ignored for months and then thinking  you can just show  back up and make lots of heat in the sheets.

For the final descent I had learned my lesson, court the lady, stoke her through curves and let her tell me how fast you can go.  It was a blissful descent with lots of newness from all the changed lines.   The tradional post-ride burritos followed.   I’m sure I will have some interesting technicolor body artwork develop off the next few days but it was not a bad Wednesday at all.

Southbay Father’s Day Ride

Bright and early on Father’s Day, I jumped into the truck and headed down to the Southbay area of the county.   Jamul would be the closest town for a Father’s Day ride with some of the Bonita Biker’s crew.    We met up at the 1,000 trails RV park on Otay Lakes Road.

There were lots of folks I had not meet before.   Ali, “Mr Izi, Jose, James, Gil, Rob were some of the name I caught.  Forgive me (and contact me) if I missed your name.  The ride today was billed as a social ride on some of the fireroads in the and Jamul Mountains.  Having not spent much time in this area I was interested.   We started off north and worked our way through some valleys until we came to a bit of San Diego history.

This is the remenants of the Jamul Cement Works factory which first started making cement in March of 1891.   Jose knew the history of this place quite  well and was quite the cultural tourguide here.    The San Diego Historical Society has a good article on the history of this place that is well worth a read.    Don’t miss the link to the period photographs of the plant.

A couple of barn owls call this place home and we spooked them off as we approached.  At the bottom of the kilns were lots of scat and bones of small rodents.   It was quite the little killing field these nocturnal birds of prey had going.

A view from the inside looking out.

Once back to rolling we had a bit of climbing to do.  It was not long but it had some steepness to it.  Rob made it look almost easy with the Big Hit.

Another view of some uphillage

Israel trying to break a sweat.

After the climbing section we dumped off all of the elevation rather quickly.  There were some mighty  silty sections on the fireroad descent that made following someone really interesting.  I wanted to call the descent “Powder Puff” hill.   Once back down the valley floor we did bit of untrammeled trail riding to connect back to the 1,000 trails RV park.  I thought a section of the California Riding and Hiking Trail went through here, but it may have been destoryed in the fires that went through here a few years back.   Something to investigate later.

A handful of folks had to split at this point for some early Father’s Day commitments.   The rest of us set out to do a loop to the south of Otay Lakes Road.   It was a  fireroad affair, but it was still pretty cool being new dirt for me.   Before we started climbing in earnest we enjoyed the shade of some large oaks which were just past the line were the 2007 wildfire was stopped in this area.   Once we turned up hill there were some mild grinding to to for a bit as we worked up out of a valley.

On a climb.

Along the way we went by an old well.  It had older wooden parts down below and somewhat newer stone work up near the top.  There was still water in the well.

We would do a bit more of ridgeline climbing before turning the bikes back down for another fast and silty descent followed by a quick road connect back to the 1,000 trails RV park and some waiting refreshements.   All together it was about a 16-17 miles jaunt.   Not a big ride but plenty interesting with good folks to boot.  A good time indeed that had me home with plenty of time to enjoy Father’s Day with the family.

North Rim of Grand Canyon Sampler Pics

Still getting through pictures from the AZ trip, but here are some pics from along the Rainbow Rim Trail on the North Rim of The Grand Canyon.  

The waning minutes of the day from our campsite.  My tent was about 40 miles from cell service, 22 miles from the nearest paved road and about 20 feet from the edge of the canyon.   This is not a good place to camp if you are a sleep walker.  For everyone else, this is soooo freaking awesome.

The Rainbow Rim Trail is 18 miles long and easily ridable in a day as an out-and-back if you are “on the pedals”.   Personally, I think you would be quite the bonehead to do so as this ride deserves to take plenty of time to stop and smell the flowers, take in the views and generally just soak the whole place in.  You can hammer on any trail, but it’s not everyday you get to cruise along the rim of the Grand Canyon.  We were camped at Locust Point and did the trail in two days.  Day one was an out-and-back to Parissawampitts  Point.  It is a tricky name to say and we found unending pleasure from seeing how many ways we could butcher the name.  Day two was Locust Point to Timp Point and back.

The trail undulates mildly for most of the time as you gradually descend out to the points and then climb back away from the points before contouring around to the mid-point drainage.   When you do not have the Grand Canyon vistas, you have some sweet singletrack through the mixed pine and aspen forest.

Jeff cruising along

Once out to the end of the trail at “Popabeertopitts Point”  we spent about 30 minutes hiking/scrambling out to the far-tip of the of point for an even better view of the canyon.   Here we enjoyed a sandwich and a little something extra we had packed in our camelbak bladders.   Ahh still nice and cold.

One thing we all firmly agreed upon was that it did not suck to be us today.

The next morning we set off at just about the crack of dawn for an out-and-back ride in the other direction to Timp Point.  The morning light was pretty incredible.

Once again there were plenty of picture taking going on and generally enjoying  the stops just as much as the GOs.

Jeff on the Go

We also came across at buffalo kill that was presumably made by a mountain lion.  Amazing to think about the power of these big cats to take down a buffalo.  Armed only with cameras we were certainly not the apex predator out here.

Hello Kitty Toothpicks

The views from Timp Point (the terminous of the trail) were once again impressive.  The time of day can totally determine what you can see because of the way the light shifts along the canyon walls.  We noticed a small speck of white in the distance and were able to determine that it was Thunder Springs, an impressive waterfall that comes right out of the side of canyon from an underground river.  I did some Googling on this place and I might just have to dust off my hiking boots for a return trip up here.

The “back” part of the ride went fairly quickly but we did stop to smell some of these.

And check out this guy.

We were back at camp at brunch time and Jeff started busting up camp as he had to leave.    It was great getting to hang out with Jeff (aka MTB Mayor of Kernville).  Later that day Bill and I would get in another ride, but that is another story.

Flagstaff Sampler Pics

Got back from Arizona last week and I have a ton of pictures from this awesome trip to sort through.

Here are a few pictures from the first half of the trip in Flagstaff.  All of our riding was done above 7,000 feet of elevation so there was plenty of huffing and puffing on these rides.

Aspens and log rides…There is a combination. Jeff showing how it is done.

Cowboy TV and board meeting to plan out singletrack domination

Dell checking the air pressure in his tires.

Art23RockPile enjoying the finer things in life.

I’m such a sucker for Apsens. Art crusing through.

Bill O’Neil rolling along.

Steppie telling us again that he would be surprised if there was a 1000 feet of climbing on this ride.   (It was more like 2-3000 feet)

From campsite most of the rides started with a cruise down the Schultz Creek trail. It is like having ice cream for breakfast.

Craig enjoying the thin air.

Art playing on the Washabi trail

The was some sessioning done on some doubles. Jeff



Art on a nasty section of Private Reserve

Craig also playing on Private Reserve

Dell on Pickle.

Bill O’Neil on Pickle

The full story to follow…

AZ is Calling

Arizona is calling.    The wanderlust itch has been growing for quite a while now so it is time to scratch it.

Some friends and I are heading out to Flagstaff  tomorrow for the start of a week of playing around on the dirt.   We are going to hit some of the classics on Mt Elden but I’m sure some other stuff is going to make it on the menu.

After some rides in Flagstaff, I don’t know where the compass is going to take us.  Could head north towards the Kaibab Plateau on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. 

To the south things are already pretty warm, but Sedona is not too hot yet.   Then there is always the White Mountain to the east.  Of course there are hundreds of miles of trail in between all of these points that could be checked.     One thing is for certain,   awesome trails, tasty beers, sore legs and lots of smiles are expected over the next week.   Time to go to bed, I have to be up at O-Damn Early!