Alpine Return

It had been far to long since I have have been out to play on one of my favorite tech play grounds out in Alpine but I finally got back out this week.  This ride was nearly called off due to impending rain, but since San Diego attracts on the sharpest weather guessing minds, the afternoon turned out to be a go.

There was some new trail side decorations on the climb up.  Silly 4x4er, this is a bike trail!

It is funny how after a bit of time away for this trail the rocks look gnarlier upon your return.   

The storm was coming in and the clouds made for some interesting backdrops for pictures that we typically do not see much of here in SOCAL. 

Front row seats for Circ-de-Soul-Steve.   In a rare moment seldom caught on camera Steve did prove that he is indeed not a green blooded alien from a far away solar system in the  in the Dirtus-Major Constellation. 

A mighty fine afternoon on a bike

Wednesday Alpine Stoke

Ahhhh, Wednesday, time for something different.    Uhhhh, maybe next week.   This week it was time for another session of Wednesday stoke in Alpine.   While warm, it was not stupidly hot so the climb was not quite the usual summertime brain boil fest.

The lack of death heat was good thing as my legs has some sting in them from the ride yesterday.   I actually felt better on the second half of the climb than I did on the first half.  I’m thinking I worked some of the kinks of the legs from the day before.    Steve was climbing strong as usual and I’m pretty sure he had litte something extra in the tank today.

Before long we were at the top and with our offering to the gravity gods giving it was time point the bike downhill.

Steve flying the “Garth Gap”  

I was mighty happy to join Steve in getting both wheels a little further off the ground today.   It has been a good while since I had hit “The Corndog” and while I had no style, grace or even looked okay in the air, it was a successful landing.    

Further down the trail I gave the 911 roll a few dry runs but could not pull the trigger.   Maybe next week.

Picture of the Day – – I am pretty stoked to have gotten this shot.     It came out pretty much how I had envisioned it the techncial aspects of the shot worked out for a “one and done” shot.

There whould be no pictures taken on the final descent as way too much fun was being had.  The evening was finished off with a recounting of the day at Alpine Beer Company while enjoying one of the guest beers.    The Double IPA from Hollister Brewing Company apted named “Crosseyed and Painless” was a might tasty beer.   

 

Today did not suck!

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.

Yet More Alpine Wendesday Fun

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)

Wednesday Stoke in Alpine

Time for another round of Wednesday fun in Alpine.  The weather was starting to roll in but most of the time sky was full of white puffy clouds with a pretty blue backdrop. 

I had not been here since the big batch of rain we had a while back and it was pretty astonished to see all the little changes momma-nature had done to the place.  Of course the the trail elves has been out making “shoes” so to say. 

Historically I have had a bad habit of riding this place in the middle of the summer and stewing my brain in the process.   I  have ridden this place quite a bit over these cooler months and it was quite nice to do the climb in reasonable conditions.  Maybe I am not as retarded as I thought (ask me again in August!)  Once at the top it was time to play in some chunk.   Steve up near the top.

Me getting started.

This bump-a-bump line gave me some troubles today.  It took me three tries and a little skin exfoliation to get it done today.

More playing on the rocks.

The Big Black Fatty coming in for a landing.

The trails elves had tweaked this kicker since my last time here and the thing really pops up now.  I carrried nearly all the way over the rock tranny to a rather harsh landing.  Yeah for forgiving suspension.

The descent down the main trail was pretty awesome as the dirt has just right moisture in it be both velcro-ish and stupidly fast.   The dirt was way too good to stop and take pics.   Another great day on a bike.

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.

The Return of Alpine Action

So after a summer hiatus from the Wednesday stoke rides in Alpine, it time to play in the rocks again.    It still is amazing how after spending sometime away from this place,  the rocks and moves look much bigger and intimidating than the I last time I rode them.    It was good and hot but I have certainly ridden in must nastier heat so overall it was not bad.

On the climb up we took a break and help Steve figure out some of the features on his new camera, a pretty trick little Canon S95 (I think).

 Steve, was out on his latest Clown Bike.    Steve thought it would be cool to climb a good portion of the trail we normally only come down on.  While it was interesting it was large Cup of Pain.

 This Jones rig has a massive 3.8 tire up front mounted to a  mega-wide 26″ rim.   Paired in the rear is a 29er wheel with what looks like a “punnie” 2.6 tire.   The normal tired 29er with the clown tire 26er makes for pretty much equal ground to axle heights front and rear.

We swapped bikes a couple time during the ride and you can’t help but laugh out loud within 10 seconds pedaling this thing.   Surprisingly this is a good riding bike, and  you feel like you are steering a monster truck around when you look down at the massive front end.    Steve was airing the thing which he made look easy and giving me a good chance to find some new perspective to some of the features with my still pretty new ultra wide angle lens.

Jeff Jones has recommended to land nose first with this bike and Steve proved that to be sound.    I never got a landing shot but that tire has something like 10psi in the front and you can see and hear the tire squishing on the landing. 

More Steve Air Time.   After the ride it was time for some Mananas grub and a Cervaza

 

Rare shot of of Aqua sans helmet.  On the way back from Alpine an old high school buddy that I had not seen in over 20 years was in town for the night so we hooked up for a couple brews and some long overdue catching up.  It was good day both on and off the bike.

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).