Summer is Here – Midweek Stoke

So I started the mid-week stoke out on Tuesdays with a ride out at Sycamore Canyon and boy was it hot.   The heat has always been my nemesis and it takes me what seems like the better part of summer to acclimate to it.  I took the UZZI out here mainly because that was what ended up in my truck.   There is no reward  to speak of for riding a 7″ travel bike out here.   It was however a good workout and it was a good test for figuring out how the bike would work me over in an XC enviroment.  Overall the bike will git-r-done but it is going to make you work for it.    I was good and pooped by the time I finished up the ride.  
Wednesday, I met Steve out for some Alpine Action and it was even toastier.   It was 92 when we started from the bottom which mean some of the “dead air” zone on the climb were more like 95-97.    We were shocked to see some organ donors on this climb.    No helmet, no water and rocking an old-school Wally World bike.   There was some water donated and some “best to turn around now” advice was given before we continued onward and upward.   
Now that Steve had an audience, a clown bike show was in order.   This was when I whipped and my 4lb DSLR to realize that my battery (that is good for 1,500 pictures) was completely dead.  This is only second time in a handful of years of toting around a big camera that this has happen.   The mental result was still the same, a 4lb camera with a dead battery in your pack feels like a 10lb camera.    Ahhhh, yes the stupid shall be punished!
The rest of the climb went well as far as climbing in the heat goes.  I have certainly suffered much harder out here in the past. None the less, I was feeling worked at the top.   I did not feel particularly comfortable through the first set of features as things were just not clicking.    I think getting worked over on the climb took some “snap” out of my reflexes.
That was not the case with Steve as he had the juices flowing and hit the “Garth Gap” for the first time on the black clown bike affectionately known as “Shoniqua” (named because she is Big, Round, Black and Sticky… just like his…..)
This was Steve’s last shot from his camera before his battery went dead as well.   The rest of the ride went well.   I made really good time on the final run down the hill but there was some scary turns here and there and the summer conditions are pretty much set in now that offer some “exciting” corners traction wise.     The post-ride chatter included tasty beverages at Alpine Beer Company along with a tasty pulled pork sandwich.    (FYI for you Hop Heads, The Pure Hoppiness double IPA is Da Bomb!)   Bottom Line — I have had far worse Wednesdays.
 
 

Shaking down the UZZI

So I got my brand spanking new UZZI out for a shakedown ride recently.   The orginal plan was hit up Iron Mountain and Ellie Lane but with early moring rain, the plan shifted to Anderson Truck Trail in Alpine.

 The boys at BikeBling did a mighty fine job with the mechanicals as it was shifting flawless right of of the gate and even under tension.   (A feat which I often miss the mark on a bit requiring lots of trailside tinkering on the first ride) I was bit leary about going to the 10 speed drivetrain as I like the idea of having only one drive train type to worry about (9 speed).  Between mine and the kid’s bike it good to have some commonality on the logistics side of the house.  Well it did not take long into the climb to notice the marvels of the 36-tooth cog in the back.  I’m sold on it already and I did not even have to try out the 22-36 granny ring setup yet.  

 

My last two longer legged bikes had Fox 36 TALAS (160) airsrung forks up front and I really liked being able to adjust the travel down to make long or steep climbs easier to deal with.    This bike has the Fox 36 Vanilla (180) coil sprung fork without the travel adjustment.  It will take a bit of getting used on some of the climbing bits with this longer slacker frontend as a bit more body positioning is going to be required a steeper bits.    It was so freaking nice to have a VPP suspended bike back under the saddle.  This bike climbed exceptionally well for it weight without any of the dreaded energy sapping “bob”. 

When it was time to turn the bike down the hill that was when this bike really came alive.  The bike is so stinking plush and it only took a few rock rolls and drops to get sold on the coil fork.

 

 I stuck to only the small air bits while getting acquintted with how this bike handles.  This bike is pretty confidence inspiring so I got a feeling I’m going to get myself into trouble with this rig at some point.   It’s gonna be great!

The trail overall was in about as good as shape as it ever gets so it was an absolutely great day to be out testing a new bike.

My the time it was time to head back down the main run, I had a pretty good opening day feel for the bike and I had one heck of fun descent back down the hill.  There was some hooping and hollering on the way down.   A mighty fine shakedown run with the new rig.

El Capitan Open Space Preserve

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.

Alpine Action Again

Man did I have good bit of mid-week stoke in Alpine on Wednesday.   With temps in the mid-70s and sunny skys in December, a MTBer’s life in San Diego does not have to suck at all.  The pleasant temp made for a really low sufferage climb that was one of the best I have had in quite some time.

I forgot to take pictures, but views were fantastic from the top.  Point Loma and Coronado Islands were all easily seen.   After chilling at the top it was time to play.  I have not been riding rocky technical bits of this size and style for a while so I was keeping the bike on the ground for the most part.  I was feeling pretty good on the whole “Mojo” front as well as having some “Monkey Motion” going with the various rock moves.

Steve on “The Fatty”

Steve playing on a spine in an area we call “Little Moab”. 

 

Brian did not have the luxury of an early start like Steve and I had so he caught up to us later in the ride.  After some more sessioning in the rocks it was time to start thinking about the how much time was left in the day.   After catching a couple pictures with the evening light, we released the hounds and had a good run to the bottom.   Afterwards it was time for some tasty refreshments at the Alpine Beer Company.   Good times.

A week of SD Weather Weenie Whining

Okay, so we San Diego folk are self-admitted “weather weenies”, particularly us coastal types.   You get us out of our typical weather of 65-75 and sunny for more than a few days we start whining like a jet turbine.   There was a lot of noise happening this week.

Wednesday, I met Steve for an after work MTB stoke at Anderson Truck Trail.   I knew it was going to be warm as this was our first really hot day of the year.    I was ready with extra fluids and electrolytes.    When I pulled into the trailhead the temp gauge in my truck read 100 degrees.    My first thought was that can not be right.   Within seconds of stepping out of the truck, I knew my truck was not lying to me.   Really rough but manageable was my overall assessment for the upcoming ride.    As I’m pulling out all my gear, I realized I had left my cycling short, shirt and socks at home.   I normally keep an emergency stash of  cycling clothes stashed for just such an occasion.   Opening up the under seat compartment revealed that I had not resupplied my stash after the last time I forgot my digs.    Crap, I was in my work clothes which would not do at all and my after ride clothes consisted of a heavy black cotton Tee-shirt and a thick pair of cotton shorts.   I did find a dirty cycling socks that I missed taking out of truck after the last ride so they were called back into service.     The cotton shorts and T-shirt would be the apparel for the day.


This was the only smile Aqua would make on this climb.

It was readily apparent that these clothes were not going to help me out much at all.  These was zero cooling happening with this outfit and it was blistering already.   The heat of this climb makes you suffer pretty good on its own but the my stifling apparel took it to a whole new level.   I thought about just not wearing a shirt at all, but even high SPF sunblock would not be able to help my glowing white-boy torso out whatsoever.  I would have been fried in no time so the shirt stayed on.   I have to take lots of breaks and had to spin in the granny ring for the overwhelming majority of the climb.   Even with lots of breaks, by the time I reached the top I could feel I was close to some heat stress coming on.      Amazing what the right apparel can do for you – More importantly what the wrong apparel can do to you as well.  

After cooling down as much as to be expected  I felt better and we set off on the descent.   Steve was doing just fine, but I soon realized that I was off-game.  My reaction time was off just a little bit and on this terrain that can cause problems.    I made a point to stay well within my normal limits.   

Brian soon joined us,  he started later in the day,  so he did not get as cooked as we did, but it was still freaking hot.      By the time we finished up the ride, it had cooled off to a “balmy” 90 degrees which felt pretty descent after what we had already suffered through.    I was pretty much a wreck and completely drained.

The following day was the San Diego Mountain Biking Associations annual Beer and Burrito ride.   I was still feeling a pretty beat from the heat the day before, but I had volunteered to help with pictures so I could not back out.  This was a work for your supper event where you do a ride and then got to kick back with a tasty burrito from Chipotle and some tasty brews from Lagunitas.  

Over the course of the day leading up to the event the temps start to drop and a monsoon storm started to peculate.  It was  cloudy with ominous rumblings in the sky in the distance.    This event was capped at 70 RSVPs and it looked like everyone of them made it out.   There were lots of new faces and lots of folks I had not seen in a really long time.  It was good times before we even started rolling.


At a regroup spot

In the middle of the ride, we actually got rained for awhile.    It nice to get the trail patted down right in front of us.  The rain did not last long but it was certainly enough to register as “rain” for San Diego.

Before long we had all did enough to qualify for dinner and the with rain gone, it was time for some kicking back and socializing for a couple of hours.   It was a mighty fine event.   A good chunk of the photos from the event are on SDMBA’s facebook page.

Friday and Saturday were back to the summer toastiness, so Mark and I planned on beating the heat with a crack of dawn ride and the San Clemente Singletracks (aka weekpatch).      Sunrise was at 5:52 so we met at 5:45 and were rolling at 6:00AM.   The morning temps were cool and the  marine layer held off the sun long enough that it was just starting to think about punching through as we finished up the ride.

It felt pretty wierd being done with my ride so early in the day.   I’ll finish of the weekend with a little bit of honey-dos and a lot of lounging (in the shade).

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.

Pulling the Trigger – Mojo vs Mangina

This past Wednesday, I went out to Alpine for another lesson in my continuing effort to get comfortable in the air.   It is was nice day out and the signs of spring were all around.

 

I was feeling pretty good that day with some Mojo flowing and was interested in trying somethings that I feel I should have been hitting already but have just not done yet.  So I started off by hitting the “Satan” jump right off the top.  The run in has always given me some grief as you are turning and there is enough stuff that keeping some speed can be tricky.  After hitting this, I was thoroughly convinced that, yes I was a big wuss in the past for not doing this.  I had to hit it a second time just for good measure.  A good way to start off the descent.

Next on the list was Corndog.  If you have been following my blog, (Or my buddies post’s throwing me under the bus 🙂 )you should remember that I taco’d my frontwheel on my last airing here.  I have balked at this jump a handful of times since then.  Today I finally hit this jump again, I flew well, landed fine,  and then got squirrely in the run out as I was off to the right put managed to ride it out enough to get to a stop without having a yard sale.  The good news was that I just rolled up and hit it.  No looking and thinking, just going.  It felt good.  I decided I needed another one and this time I ended up angled left.  In the air I could see that I was headed for the same spot I taco’d in a few weeks earlier.  The bike touches down, here comes the rut, and just before things were going to get ugly I managed to push the bike off the left while I lunge to the right.  End result, I’m a little dusty but otherwise a very successful bailout without so much as a scratch on me.  I have got to figure out my aim on this launch, I just have a hard time hitting the mark.  Not counting all the forfeits from not launching, the grand total for Corndog Launches is: 2 wins – 2 losses – 1 tie  

The Threesome.  This is a pretty big leap as it is not gravity feed.  You have to pedal as hard as you can to a very narrow, long and uphill tranny.  Adding to this you come off the rock long before the edge and you can’t see where you are going.  A real leap of faith.  The pictures do it absolutely no justice whatsoever.   Needless to say I’m behind the camera here.

This is called “The Threesome” as there are three lines.  The big huck, and big tricky roll, and a much easier roll.  The orignal idea was for the small roll to be a wall ride, but it did not pan out but the name sticks.   The tricky roll actually goes beyond vertical for bit so the easiest way is to roll and then give a little huck part way down.  Here is Steve on the way down, preloading before pushing off.

Gaps scare the crap out of me, even little ones.   Something about the upward trajectories required and the threat of casing that messes with my head.  The one above is one of those that I have looked at for quite some time but have never pulled the trigger on it, until today.  After hitting this I could not help but think, “I fretted over that for that long?”

The drop above is typically called the “Lake” or “Lake View” drop because you can see the El Cap reservoir from there.  I had hit this once before but had balked at least half a dozen times since then.  It is funny how something you have hit before and have never crashed on can mess with your melon.   I stuck this one and about 50 yards down the trail just as I started to mentally congratulate myself, I washed out in a rut and had to step off the bike.  Two steps away from the bike, I twisted my ankle.   It hurt pretty freaking bad and I ended up having to cruise down the rest of the way instead of getting “on it”.   It was still one heck of a fun descent. 

Overall, It was a  great ride and I was glad to finally get my mangina to shut up long enough to try some stuff.

Anderson Truck Trail Sunday Action

Sunday, I went out to Anderson Truck Trail to do some playing on the rocks. Normally I only ride here during the week, but since I had not been here in a few weeks I was up for it. In addition to the usual suspects, I ran into some new peeps and well as some friends I had not expected to see today.

I ran into Allison at the bottom getting ready for a couple of shuttle runs.   Normally there would have some smack talk a fligging at this point, but since she had done some big run the day before she was cut some slack.  Take note that Allison has the St. Pattys day color scheme covered.

DustyBottoms on the climb.

MacRider and Jeff working the climb.

The view on the climb started getting pretty nice.

We are all the way up, time to put the saddle all the down. 😉 

This kicker is known as the Satan Jump.

Me hitting the “Diving Board”.   I was shooting some video so I did not take many photos.  Some of the photos here were shot by other folks in the group.

MacRider playing in the rocks.

Mark and Jeff cruising through the rocks.

Fun Granite Ahead!

We had a great run down the mountain after playing up top.  There was no carnage on the day, but my brake lever took a beating. Believe or not, this lever was able to be straightened out.

Good Ride and Old Friends

Now that we have had a little break in the rain enough to give the trails some dryout time, I went out to Alpine to ride Anderson Truck Trail which handles the moisture well.   I was joined by Cliff, Danny and Chip.  It was first time riding with Danny but Cliff and Chip are old friends.   I spent eight days down in Copper Canyon in Mexico back in 2005.  Cliff is not only one of my biking buds,  he is also my real estate agent who did mighty good by me a few years back when we stepped up to a larger home.    I have not seen too much of either of thes guys in a while so riding together was good for catching up.  Mother Nature has been doing some landscaping on the trail and there are some spots that are going to need some attention on the trail.    I only had my video camera today so no pictures from the day.   The ones here are from a week or so earlier.

The climb up went well really pretty scenery and and blue skies.   There was enough moisture in the ground that you could just feel a little more resistance on the climb.   We enventually made our way to the top and then enjoyed the fruit of our labor.   I did not hit some of the stuff I normally would since I had my XC helmet cam vice the full-face helmet.  If you are wondering why I use a full-face helmet when “playing” in and on serious rocks/chunk read this experience at Goat Camp nearly a year ago.

The return trip back down the main part of ATT was really freaking great with insanely perfect traction.  It was quite possibly my quite run to the bottom.   Afterwords I had a good chunk of time to kill before the monthly SDMBA meeting.  Lucky for me Chip invited me back to Casa Del “ChipandDale” for dinner.    While dinner was in the works, another one of the Copper Canyon crew,  Joey,  swung by for a bit.   For dinner they had some family friends come over so I added some folks in the friends column over a really yummy meal.  I was about to drop off into a food coma, when Chip informed I was about to be late for the meeting.  Luckily they live just a few minutes away from meeting so I got there just in time.   The rest of the night was spent at the SDMBA meeting where Michael Beck, the San Diego Director of the Endangered Habitats League was the quest speaker.  It was interesting to see a different perspective on the land usage debate in San Diego and get a better understanding of what organizations like his are trying to do.   I can’t say that I liked everything I heard but I understood it.   One thing is for certain mountain bikers have more in common with these groups than we have different and hopefully they can see that responsible trail users can be dedicated stewards of the lands.