Mountain Bike Bill, The Dirt on the Dirt

Midweek Cowles Mountain and Pyle’s Peak

Wednesday was a mighty fine day in San Diego so an after work ride was in order.  The ride today was Cowles Mountain and Pyles Peak.  I have done this ride quite a few times and I always enjoy the technical as well as cardio beat down this place can put on you.  I started the ride at Mesa Road on the Santee side of the mountain and hooked up with the Mesa singletrack.  This singletrack has a bunch of railroad tie waterbars that can really help you work on your uphill ledge climbing skills.  The nice thing about them is you can usually pick how much ledge you want to attempt as the waterbars are a uniform height all the way across the trail.

I still have no idea how many of those waterbars are on the trail, but it is a lot.   It has been some number of years since I cleaned this trail and today was no different.  I suppose if started taken the easier lines I would had a much better chance of cleaning the trail but what is the fun in that.  Yes the singletrack kicked my ass but I certainly felt a little polish on the ledge skills by the time I came out on the fireroad.

It has also been some number of years since I cleaned the freaking steep fireroad up to the top.  However I did just that on this day.   I can’t say that it was physical prowess that got me up the fireroad, nope wisdom was the primary factor in cleaning the fireroad.  Right from the get-go I put the bike in the granny gear and paced myself up to the top.  Having done this climb some number of times I knew right were the easier spots were and I made a point to go even easier through these spots to try and get the heart and lungs under control.   The fireroad is steep enough that in quite a few spots I had my nose just inches above the handlebar to keep enough weight  on the front wheel to keep it from popping up.  My the time I got to the top I was microseconds from a cardio meltdown but was glad to pedal it out.  It was not the most macho way to clean the fireroad but it counts. 

The views from the top were pretty darn nice with quite a few people out on the mountain.

After I was able to get my lungs back into my chest.  It was time for the out and back trail to Pyle’s Peak.  I am a big fan of the trail.  It sees a ton less use than the rest of  the trails and has quite a bit of technical character to it.

The Pyle’s Peak trail is not too long but it is a lot of fun.  Above is the view from end of the Pyle’s Peak Trail looking back Cowles Mountain.   Yep there was some work to be done to bet back up to Cowles from here.

The sagebrush seem to be digging the wet winter.

Once back up to Cowles things were pretty zippy the rest of the way.  The fireroad is so steep that you really can’t enjoy it as much as you should because you have to keep the on the brakes to maintain control.  Once back ont the singletrack of the Mesa Trail life is grand with lots of micro-chunk and  small jump opputunites.  It got even better when I split off onto the Big Rock trail which has even more of the rocky goodness.  This is a really fun in town trail that some often refer to as “Little Noble”.  One thing for certain it was a nice bit of fun.  The Big Rock trail took me back to Mesa Road and my truck.  A mighty fun weekday ride with a really good workout through in as well.

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One thought on “Midweek Cowles Mountain and Pyle’s Peak”

  1. Hello there, I am flat out blown away by your blog. Your tastes for capturing the experience of the rides in verse and photo, great. The techniqu and style – fantastic! I am 41, married with 2 young girls, been MTB since 1983 Huntington Beach but took a HUGE break for sportfishing. Now that I live in Sedona (trails out my back gate) I am MTB to the fullest. If you ever come back this way, please contact me! I did 4 years in GTMO back in 92-96. That was enough. Talk about MTB shredding combined with sportfishing. Thanks for the effort you put into this amazing blog. Bryan b at

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