Archive for March, 2011

Palm Canyon

March 26th, 2011 by MTBBill

Last Sunday the weatherman was calling for rain in the San Diego and Los Angles area.   It sounded like a good time to hit up the Palm Canyon Epic out near Palm Springs.  The group for this ride dwindled at the last minute and it ended up with Steve and I coming in from San Diego and John coming over from Burbank.    Smaller is generally better on this ride as you cover a lot of ground that has a reputation for being unforgiving to bikes and riders alike. 

 After leaving a vehicle in Palm Springs we drove up to pretty much to the base of Santa Rosa Mountain to start the 30 mile adventure for the day.   We started from the traditional Palm Canyon trailhead vice the more commonly used Pinyon Flats trailhead.   I love the first section of the Palm Canyon trail with it’s ribbon then singletrack etched into steep sidehills.   Sorry for no pictures of the section, there was way too much grinnage to stop and pull out the camera.

Here is shot taken shortly after finishing off the first section.  Any questions? 

There was lots of greenage out along the the trail

 

The Indian Portero Trail option was taken

John riding a pretty interesting section of rock 

Steve and his camera case racing through the rocks.   The camera case won that heat. 

Plenty of water running through here.  It was snow yesterday so you can bet it was mighty cold.

 As a matter of fact I can assure it was mighty cold!

 More water filled wash crossing fun. 

There was  some time allocated for a bit of playing on the rocks. 

 John ferreting out a line.

The 3-mile Dry Wash climb was in pretty descent shape but it was still a freaking beater.  

Once we got up the wash and headed over to Mike Dunn’s Desert Oasis (AKA the dozer) Steve felt the need for some dozer hucking.   File this under Stupid Human Tricks.

 

After a short bit of singletrack climbing it was time to head down in earnest on the Hahn Trail.   OMG OMFG LOL insert you favorite texting shorthand here that expresses singletrack bliss.  The Hahn Trail is an amazing trail, narrow, fast and etched into the mountainside.

I selfishily keep my camera in the pack but Steve bit the bullet and got a shot of John and I rolling on Hahn.   Way Good Stuff.

After the massive grinfest of the Hahn descent we took a series of trails that got us to the Wild Horse trail which would drop us into the Goat Trails of Palm Springs which was the final segment of the route.  The legs were feeling plenty worked at this point.

The final section of the Wildhorse trail is steep with some tight switchback which are always a lot fun to try and clean.  After Wildhorse we mostly used “The Swartz” to connect together a series of singletracks back down to my  truck.   We have a few flats over the day and one broken chain but made pretty good time.  It always seems like such an accomplishment to finish this ride with plenty of daylight left.  There were some tasty beverages and grub consumed afterwards over conversations about all that goes into to making this an epic ride.  The parts beats the body, the parts beats the bike and the continual string of parts that nutures the soul.   Once again it was a wonderful day to be on a bike out with Mother Nature.

The MBB Mobile is Dead!

March 25th, 2011 by MTBBill

So this past Tuesday morning on my way to work some dumbass in a 1986 Chevy Astro Van decided the red-arrow was a suggestion and decided to make a left hand turn across three lanes of traffic that had the green light.   Mr Dumbass left me with with no options and I clocked hit at about 30 degrees from head on at about 50 mph.   My truck pivots along the front of the van and slides sideways out the intersection and into a large metal pole that holds up all the signals light and thens proceeds to come to a rest about 30 feet past the intersection in the bike lane.

There might be a few of the W

Hmmm the drive shaft looks a little out of place.

It might buff out :-)

That rear wheel does not look to be pointing in the right directions.

The good news was that I had barely a scratch on me and got away with just a concussion.  It could have been a lot worse.    Damn that was good truck that I all tweaked out for road trips. I plan on getting another one pretty much just like it.   Doctor’s orders are no mountain biking for two weeks.     I might have enough to catch up on some things with the rest of the website.

Iron Mountain and Ellie Lane

March 14th, 2011 by MTBBill

I had been needing a  little Iron in my diet so a ride out at Iron Mountain near Poway was in order.    This place is pretty popular with the hikers so if you are going to ride out here you need to plan to be real patient and mind your trail etiquite  as you will certainly have plenty of interactions.  That is one of the reasons why it is best to do this ride on a weekday.   It has been some time since I was last out here and I was quite shocked to see some of the maintenance that was done to the lower half of the Iron Mountain trail.    There were lots of sections were most of the rocks has been either removed from the trail or buried in decomposed granite.   While it may make the trail smoother in the near term I think it will cause more erosion problems in the long-term than it will fix.   There were some sections that had been needlessly widened and debrushed to the point where they may never recover as the vegitation that stabilized the soil has been removed.  

Luckily the upper half of the Iron Mountain trails has not been touched (yet) so the iconic rocks and technical features of this trail are still intact.   The trail can be quite exhausting on the way up and on more than one occasion I had to stop and catch my brest breath.   I felt like a boob for not being able to clean some of the sections that I have handled in the past. 

After a nice break at the top it was time to play on the way back down.  The chunk of this trail is always a challenge and we sessioned our way back down the trail.

Steve working an interesting line.

One of numerous gnarly switchbacks.

Steve taking a roller

After the Iron Mountain trail we hooked up with the Ellie Lane trail.  I had nearly forgotten how much of a grunter it is get get up up the first saddle where the downhill chunk-o-rama starts. 

Once over the first saddle on Ellie Lane there was some high quality chunk to tackle on the way down.

Steve taking on an interesting line.  After the first chunky descent were would have two more grunt/hike-a-bike sections before the final technical descent of the day.  By the time we got down I was feeling pretty worked over but stoked to have got in some solid technical riding.

From there we had some mellow cruising to loop back over to the trailhead where…. 

the marvels of modern MTB frame designs could be really appreciated.  This Santa Cruz frame features a built-in bottle opener!

El Capitan Open Space Preserve

March 12th, 2011 by MTBBill

Last Sunday and this Wednesday I spent some time exploring the El Capitan Open Space Preserve located near Lakeside.   El Cajon Mountain is the extremely promient granite mountain on the preserve you can’t miss if you are driving into El Cajon from the west.  And if you have ever ridden Anderson Truck Trail it is mountain on the other side of the reservoir.  I can’t count how many times I have said I wanted to get up on that mountain and snoop around.  I finally got around to doing just that.  

So for the first go around on Sunday, I checked out this area on a whim.  I literally left my house in the morning and did not know where I was going to go ride.  I did not feel like driving forever and I did not feel like the usual stuff.   After remembering how many times I had commented on “What’s on that hill?”  I started pulling up maps on my phone and headed towards Lakeside and ultimately the staging area for the El Capitan Open Space Preserve off of Wildcat Canyon Road.  

I knew I was in for some climbing, and it started right out of the gate.  After climbing about half a mile on dirt streets I came to the trailhead proper and keep going on a sorta wide singletrack up from there.  The going was steep in spots but I soon came out to a saddle and junction with an old mining road.   I could see lots of ups ahead and some of it looked steep.

All along the route there were wildflowers here and there making an appearance.  

It became pretty clear early on that there was a lot more climbing to be done than the simple bottom to top elevation would lead you to believe.  There was a lot of “UP three” and “DOWN one (sometimes two)” action going on.  One of the mental bummers of this was that you could see that you were just going to have to pay back the elevation real soon.   While most of the climbs were workable (hello granny gear) there was some heinous pitches that required the foot gear.

I was amazed how much water was up here on the mountain, little brooks and the sounds of running water were often heard along the route.   One week ago to the day, there was snow of this mountain. 

One of the things that had been intriguing me about this mountain was all the huge slabs and rocks that could be seen from afar.  On this first outing when I got up to what I thought was the main ridgeline with the bulk of the climb behind me, I started snooping out lines and playing on some of the rocks. 

I ultimately wanted get on the east end of the mountain to be be able to look down at El Capitan Reservoir and across to Anderson Truck Trail.  After checking out an off-shoot trail I saw I still had a long way to go to get there and no trail heading directly in that direction.

Also in this area I came across an old mine that was pretty cool looking.  It had three opening that only went back about 20 feet before stopping.   I don’t know if this was its as-left state or wither the shafts were later plugged but it was an interesting bit of history carved into the rocks.

Beyond the mine site the old mining road turned downhill in a big way.  I followed it for a ways and it looked like it was going off of the ridge and towards the Barona Indian Reservation area.  I did not have good cell coverage here and I could not pull up any kind of aerial or map views of the area.   I thought about continuing on but the thought of slogging back up in the other direction or having to ride way around on the roads did not sound appealing at this point in the day’s effort.   So I chocked it up  to thats what I get for not preparing enough for this exploration and decided not continue downward from there.  I started heading back and played on some rocks here and there on the way.  At the bottom of some of the descents, my rotors had that dark blue hot look and the smell of burning pads filled the air near the bike.

Fast forward to Wednesday and armed with some new information, I repeated the Sunday ride but pressed beyhond the sadddle at the old mine and commited to loosing a good chunk  of elevation, knowing that I was just going to have to gain it back.  The descent had some pretty gnarly steep bits.

(The “Much Steeper Than It Looks” moniker applies here)

I know I did not lose as much elevation as I thought, but knowing that you have to come back up this stuff later in the ride makes the terrain seem much steeper and each foot of descent seems like it is going to be 18″ of gain going the other way.  Just as Google Earth had shown the old mining road soon turned aburptly back towards the ridgeline and started going uphill in a semi-heinous manner.

Part way up this climb there is an old jeep along the route that was pretty cool to check out.   Not sure of the era, but it seemed way old.

The rocks and natural features along the route were also pretty interesting but I did not spend anytime exploring these as it was later in the day and I had some uphill ground to cover still.  To compound things, the signs at the trailhead said the gate is locked at 5PM which seems a little crazy. (Why not something reasonable like “sunset”)

I soon got up to a junction where if I would continue straight to get out to the point I was looking to get to.  Going off to the right would take me to a viewpoint on a secondary peak, and to the left was a foot trail that would take me up to the main peak.   There were still no views of the reservoir at this point.  The old trail out the point straight ahead was quite overgrown, way rutted  and downhill from were I was at so I opted to forgo going that way.   I spent some time working my way up the foot trail towards the main peak but once it started becoming mostly a rock scramble I decided to turn around as I did not want to test the 5PM gate policy.

After turning around I enjoyed a sizable bit of tricky descending before getting back into the granny and foot gear.  I had plenty of UPs to do on the way back but I was ultimately loosing elevation.    I made back with 15 minutes to spare before the gate was scheduled to be closed.  I was pretty good and pooped.  While I had only covered 11.5 miles I had climbed 3,491 feet.   I think I am going to go back out there maybe once more on a weekend just to fully see the rest of the place, but I don’t know how much more beyond that I will spend out here as it is ultimately a high price to pay to play kind of place.

Yet More Alpine Wendesday Fun

March 3rd, 2011 by MTBBill

Another Wednesday and another day to go play in Alpine.

Climb Climb Climb

The winter storm over the weekend through a nice dusting of snow on the mountains.  There was snow all the way down to ATT on Sunday, but I had retreated up the hill by Wednesday.

A little airtime

There was much discussion about how I look way too serious and tense when getting air or in the technical bits.  

So some funny faced air-time was in order!   I did actually feel more relaxed on those moves while trying to make a funny face.  Wither it actually helped or not who knows, but it was cheap comedy either way.

I started thinking about the 911 roll today.  I could not pull the trigger but gave it a few run-ins.  Stay Tuned.

Oh Yeah, there was some Squirrel Hucking added into the mix today as well.   (No dead squirrels were further harmed in the making of this blog post)